Hi everyone! I’m Alex from Dreams + Jeans and am excited to be guest posting while Jen is away in France! I love Jen’s “Assembled” series and was eager to round up some Parisian finds for you! I’m dying to ride around on that chic bicycle – all that’s missing is a basket filled with cheese and a baguette! thanks so much for having me Jen!
I’m leaving tomorrow and heading to Paris & Provence! I’m pretty excited to spend time with my family and more importantly, eat many many pastries.
I’ve been trying to start sketching again, so I’m bringing along my notebook and hope to fill several pages while I’m there. I also plan on getting some use out of my Instax Mini – I haven’t been taking it with me as much as I should – but France seems like the perfect place to carry it along.
I have a guest post set up for you next Wednesday, but other than that I’ll be back on the 24th, au revoir for now!
Will Miller is a very talented designer based right here in Chicago! He is also the partner & creative director of Firebelly, an award winning design firm that is all about creating “good design for good reason”. I’m very excited to have our first gentlemen in this week’s feature!
What inspired you to become a designer? I was excited by visual communication’s power to create moods, excitement and interest. I was drawn to the organization and interpretation of info that’s so inherent in design. And around all of it is the use of alphabets, letters and language. There always seemed to be a creative path and an organized direction. A larger, louder, bolder expression made understandable through organization and clarity. Design appealed to the wild chaos of my right brain while letting my structured left impose on the process. I love the contrast and the battle.
What do you do to continue to challenge yourself as a creative person? I like to let those battles, mentioned above, play out. Sometimes it’s difficult to have a million creative thoughts at once and know you can really only get to a few and see them through to the end. So I file ideas away in hopes that months or years from now I’ll look at them with fresh eyes and new perspectives and take up the challenge. It’s interesting seeing where your mind was roaming as the months tick by. Elsewhere, I teach a Typography Basics class at Chicago Portfolio School, I try to stay up with my design and lettering feeds, I draw as much as time will allow for, my wife and I foster puppies (70+ so far who’ve found homes!) and I run marathons. While training for these I run routes in the shapes of large letters across the Chicago grid with hopes for putting together a mapped font project. I typically try to find ways to work on design projects while doing other things I enjoy. My hobbies suffer from feature creep in a major way.
What are you inspired by on a daily basis?
Lettering / So much of what I make involves alphabets, I get extremely inspired by people who make beautiful letters. This photo is of Andy Luce making some wonderful letters at the recent You Are Beautiful 10 Year Anniversary exhibit.
The Subjective and Reinterpreted Nature of Information of the Current Day / It sounds really wild, but so much of what happens across the internet feels like a game of telephone, started by an organization with a slant towards their own purposes. In my creative space that feels like deconstruction and recombination; two things collage was made for.
My Team / We all help each other out at Firebelly. We push each other everyday to go farther and get better with each project we work on.
Puppies / My wife and I foster puppies until they can find their “forever homes.” She also runs a non-profit that was started to help puppies get much needed and expensive medicine, volunteers and donates to many animal rescues and we’re working on a book together to tell each of our 70+ foster’s stories. Each puppy name will be hand-lettered in a style that captures that puppy’s personality! (This little guy was called Pigskin)
Music / Often, I listen to some odd music. It helps me get inspired and motivated from a different place. When I’m working, I use music as a tool to hang on to an excitement or train of thought. Sometimes it becomes more a reaction where making/listening feels like digital sketching. Getting things out as fast as possible to get to the next step of a good idea.
Nick and I love trying new places to eat, especially when it’s nice out and they have an outdoor area. A friend told me about this restaurant Homestead on the Roof so we went to check it out on Saturday night. What an awesome experience! Homestead is a literal farm to table restaurant that’s only open during the summer months since it’s almost all outdoors. The patio has a great vibe – gardens filled with fresh herbs and greens, reclaimed wood tables and hanging lights.
Now time for the food. If you know me at all you know I kind of have a bread obsession. One of their starter plates is a bread sampler with pickled vegetables, honey butter and chili oil – it was amazing. We also got the clam bake, octopus and tomato salad . All of the plates are shareable size which we love since we get to try a little bit of everything. As for drinks, they have a great selection of craft beers and spirits; I got the Mescal cocktail with a huge raspberry ice cube, it was nice and smokey and a drink and slushy in one
Nick and I look forward to making it back there this summer – it’s a great spot to take friends or go just the two of us.
Happy Friday! My college professor shared an article this week that really caught my attention. It discusses the role of a designer as a generalist. This is someone who can do everything; design, develop, write, etc., and how it plays a role in our industry that seems to be moving more in this direction.
During my time in the creative field so far I’ve met many creatives that are super specialized in one area of design and pretty darn good at it. I’ve also met creative “jack of all trades” that can design, develop, illustrate, & photograph and are very talented at all of them (which blows my mind). I have gone through this debate with myself a lot lately. Do I want to learn how to develop? With everything becoming so much more digital, I think it would be a good skill to have – not necessarily to use but to help me understand how things work, which in turn will better my design and digital strategic thinking. I still think there is a place for both types of people, depending on their specialty and their role in the creative industry.
What are your thoughts on a generalist vs. a specialist? Which are you? Do you see the role of a generalist becoming more critical as we move forward? I think it’s a really interesting topic that will continue to be discussed as technology allows us to do so much more.