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Yesterday I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for a few friends. It was nice to bring out and use Grandma’s china, my hanai mom’s handblown glasses, and my mom’s special serving pieces. These domestic items connect me to my past and these powerful women who passed down their traditions along with their recipes. I miss them.

When I was washing the dishes, I broke the cut-glass dish Mom always used for serving the cranberry sauce. Aw, sad! It reminded me how fleeting things really are. As my Buddhist friend Betty is fond of pointing out, “It’s yet another lesson in non-attachment.” Indeed.

Today it’s quiet and gray, with the rain pounding on the skylights and Hula snoozing at my feet in the studio. My refrigerator is full of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I am grateful for my many blessings.

Fall harvest bounty at the University Farmers Market

After spending seven months writing content and managing development for a new website for GeoEngineers, I was ecstatic when the site launched today.

Taaa-daaaaa! I’m very proud of the end results of my first really big website experience, and even more glad that it’s done at last. (My brain is toast.)

“Done” is relative when it comes to websites, it turns out. When I managed print projects, there always came a moment when they were, in fact, done: printed, folded, boxed and delivered. My print-related friends know how much I loved the tangibility of holding a finished printed product in my hands and examining it. I could assess its successes, learn from its flaws, and call it good.

But websites aren’t finite or tangible, and I am learning that they don’t really wrap up in the same way print projects do. I had already received suggestions for major design revisions and additions before the thing had even hit the street!

Read more about applying print skills to the web →

I had an email from a print rep the other day, saying he was coming to town and hoped to meet with me to show off some new samples.

He was shocked when I replied and told him I was no longer buying printing, but was now a copywriter for the web.

We emailed back and forth about some of the changes in the printing industry. He mentioned that the large, highly regarded company where he works had sold off a couple of its large presses and reduced capacity. I told him about my tour last year of an all-digital plant that didn’t have a prepress department, but did have an HP Indigo web press, one of the first installed on the west coast.

Read more of my perspectives on the future of printing →

This is Em-Dash. He’s the red fawn greyhound who I brought home to his “forever home” with me when he was 2-1/2 years old. My canine companion of nine years is sweet, reserved, gentle and funny. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Dash is my heart dog.

In February Dash was diagnosed with kidney disease, a progressive illness that prevents the body from using the protein in food to maintain muscle. Since the diagnosis, he’s gone from 73 pounds to well under 60 and his muscles are wasting away. His formerly muscular haunches are shockingly concave and bony now, his spine prominent and his ribs deeply corrugated.

Read more “It’s a Pensive Time” →

Anywhere from $29.95 to $400, apparently

I’ve been snapping photos to consider including in my third annual CD-case calendar this coming December. This one is in the running. I took it at Flower World, a large plant nursery near Maltby, WA.

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

Over the weekend I bought an Apple iPod Shuffle to use at my new writer’s desk. I could hardly wait to unwrap it and start using it!

Apple’s industrial design choices were smart and beautiful, as usual. The iPod came in a sweet little clear plastic cube, sealed with clear plastic tape with a subtle arrow that showed me how to unwrap it. Inside the box, the iPod sat on a little tray, beneath which were the earbuds, a USB cable, and a booklet labeled, “start here.”

Every customer action had been thought through, so taking the components out of the box was like unwrapping a specially wrapped gift. Lovely!

I did not love the instructions, though. They were extremely minimal and were set in tiny type. Nowhere in the booklet did it say, “For complete instructions, go to:”

If I need a magnifying glass to read the instructions, they are too small!

Instead—on the very last page—it said, “For important safety and instructional content, see the user guide:” Instructional content? What is that? As usability expert Steve Krug says, “Don’t make me think!”

Read more about not frustrating your audience →

Path? What path?

Three years ago, I quit my job with the aim of landing work as a print production manager in a creative firm again.

There was just one problem: My liberation, the decline of the print industry and the country’s near-Depression were about to collide.

Design firms laid off staff and eliminated print manager positions. My job hunt became disheartening and seemingly endless, interrupted only by welcome independent projects and contract work.

As my many unemployed friends underwent vocational re-training for replacement careers, I wondered if I’d ever have an “ah ha” that would reveal a new path for me, too.
Read more about career evolution →

Ah, Winter Solstice is here at last.

I can hardly wait for longer days to arrive. The return of the light is a really big deal here in the northern US (latitude N 47°), where today the skies will begin to darken around 3:45 PM!

I love the symbolism of Winter Solstice, too: longer days, the awakening of dormant things. There’s even an uncommon lunar eclipse tonight. The last time a total lunar eclipse and the Winter Solstice occurred on the same date was in 1638!  I hope we’ll have clear enough skies to see the eclipse in Seattle.*

Despite the darkness, it’s been a busy time for me. I’ve been enjoying working with several new clients and bringing their ideas to the inked page. I’ve had less time to blog, but I do have some new printing stories percolating in the dark. You’ll see them start to emerge in the coming weeks.

On this most auspicious day, I want to thank all of you who have visited Printing Disasters, have enjoyed the articles, shared links to them with friends, and have been in touch via comments or the “contact me” page.

May the ideas and possibilities that have been developing in the dark of your year burst forth, bringing you creative satisfaction and pleasure in the new year.

Good Solstice to you all,

*The skies were clear enough to see the eclipse from my front porch. Beautiful and eerie!

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story..

I spent a busy September managing a series of print projects for a Seattle ad agency, including small-scale self-mailers, postcards and invitations; medium-scale posters and large-scale outdoor banners and billboards.

Reviewing all of the proofs for these diverse products got me to thinking about proofing from an audience or end-user perspective.

We print specialists and designers tend to view proofs with our noses pressed right up against them to spot even the most microscopic flaw. It’s necessary to give the proof close-up scrutiny, of course, but it’s also important to hold the proof farther away, too, in order to see it the same way the intended viewer will. Are you seeing what your reader will see? Just remind yourself that most people don’t own a loupe!

Read more about proofing with the end-user in mind →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

Last week I fielded a few requests for referrals to good graphic designers, printers, and building contractors. As I described the vendors I recommended, I found myself saying, “These guys do what they say they will.” That’s high praise in my book.

The Stuckrath maxim

You see, I believe in the maxim handed down by my German-American grandfather, Kendall Stuckrath: “Your word is your bond.” No, he didn’t invent the maxim, but he did try to live by it. (He also seeded two generations of perfectionists while he was at it, but that’s another story!)

Granted, nobody is perfect, darn it, and I for one have felt sheepish when I haven’t been able to keep a promise for one reason or another.

But I’ll bet that 99% of the time, most of us who provide a professional service knock ourselves out to make good on our word and refrain from making promises we can’t keep.

A designer friend and I talked about this just today. “That’s why parents tell their kids, ‘we’ll just have to see,’” he commented.

As the tables turn

A copywriter friend once advised me, “It doesn’t matter where you work next in advertising, it matters how you work. After all, you’ll see us all again.” She was so right! Former fellow employees became vendors, supervisors became clients, and co-workers became hiring managers.

Nobody can foretell which side of the bargaining table they’ll be sitting on in future business interactions. So when power relationships shift—as they inevitably do—and we find ourselves seated on a different side of that table than we were before, I am convinced that being regarded as people who keep our word can only help our prospects and yield great referrals.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
On and on and on on and on.

John Lennon, from “Instant Karma”

Story © 2010 Nani Paape

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© 2009-2015 Nani Paape & Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in any form without express and written permission from Nani Paape is strictly prohibited. Are you aggregating my copyrighted content onto your website? If so, it's polite to at least ASK instead of just waltzing off with it. WITH my permission, SHORT excerpts and links may be used, provided that full, clear credit is given to Nani Paape and, with appropriate and specific direction and link(s) to the original content.