A Three-Piece Typography Starter Kit

Being that most of our written communication is comprised of type, I think it behooves just about everybody to get a little basic break down of typography. Understanding just a few principles can really help you to make your presentations, agendas or your family's holiday update letter to feel more professional and to look nicer. It's not just about looking sleek: paying attention to your type can actually help you to get your points across more clearly. Better still, everything I'm going to talk about you can do in Microsoft Word. Best of all, I won't even get all completely technical type-nerdy on you.

My starter kit for killer typography boils down to just three umbrella rules: 1. Be Context Aware 2. Create Contrast 3. Go Simple So ditch the 12-point Times New Roman and let's try something fun!

1. Be Context Aware The most important thing to recognize in selecting a font is how it will be used and what message the words in that font will impart. Consider the level of impact you want each item to have, what sort of mood you want to convey. This infographic section has a pretty simple breakdown of different categories of fonts (or typefaces, if you do want to get technical).



Another thing to be aware of is readability. Always make sure to set body copy in a legible, clean font. Serif fonts are generally easier to read for lengthy bodies of text, which explains why most books are set in serif fonts. However, for any broken-up text boxes or block-text the length of – oh-let's-just-say – a cover letter, a crisp sans serif can also make a legible and engaging impact. Furthermore, people tend to err on the side of picking fonts that are larger than necessary. Twelve-point is kind of a default in Word, but when printing, I almost never print body copy at more than 10-point, frequently going as small as 7-point or 8-point (it helps to add a bit of space between lines to increase legibility). If your body text is that small, you probably don't need huge headings either–just enough difference to be understood as different types of information. The rules are a little different on screen though; things need to be a bit bigger, which usually means using type that that's about the size you would normally expect to use anyway.

2. Go Simple There are loads of resource sites (Check out Font Squirrel, Google Fonts, and The League of Moveable Type for starts.) where you can get free fonts that range from highly practical and useful additions to your library, to exciting-and-fun fonts that can look a bit ridiculous if overused. Don't overdo it; be sparing with all the crazy-cool decorative fonts to punch up the overall feel of whatever you're making. Think of decorative fonts like neon: a great fashion accent, but it takes a real fashionista with a wild streak to pull off a whole outfit. For example, the largest headers or the title work well with creative fonts being that they are short and surrounded by extra space, but I wouldn't recommend applying them to subheadings–that can get overpowering and illegible (and for the love of Eric Gill, never set paragraphs in script).

The key point of maintaining simplicity is to limit yourself to two or (as needed) three typefaces in a document. One to two of these should typically be very utilitarian and legible, while the other can be a little more expressive in terms of mood. If you don't know what to think about a particular font, search up some reviews. Designers are typically very vocal online, sharing resources and opinions steadily.

3. Create Contrast

The last step is to consider how to create variety in your document. It's helpful to establish something of a hierarchy of information. Different parts are assigned different levels of importance or relate to different elements. The best way to differentiate and help readers quickly ascertain what relationships exist between different pieces of written information is to use different fonts. Think of all the different types of information you might have: headers, subheaders, body, contact info, captions, quotes, time schedules– it's a lot of different things. But didn't I just caution against using more than 2-3 typefaces? Well, sure, but it's all about how you treat them.


A single typeface, particularly a good one, has a lot of breadth. You can use it in all capitals or small caps; italic or bold. Many typefaces have ultra-light or ultra-black weights in their indexes. Capitalize on them! As always, size and scale are other ways to create contrast within a document, but if you can treat the scale with more subtlety and work different weights and complimentary type pairings instead, you'll find you have a more sophisticated final product. When choosing your typefaces, the trick is too make sure that they not only aren't too similar,  but that they also compliment each other. Usually, pairing a sans serif and a serif will work in your favor, but there are some handy pairing guides (herehere, and also here) that I've enjoyed and made use of to help you start. It's a commonly held belief that typography is such a utilitarian element of communication that it doesn't necessarily need to be original so much as it needs to be good. So feel free to seek out and employ precedents. A final helpful way to create contrast is to find different ways of breaking up text. Use columns or pull quotes to add variety to your reader's flow. As we all know, nobody really likes to look at long monotonous documents so the more points of interest, the easier to engage people with content(cue the guffaws at my ultimate failure to provide such things in this post).

Now if you've made it this far, you're basically qualified to take on my internship (That's everything: my entire design BA in a blog post). If you're nerdy enough to still be curious, check this out because it will make you smarter and cooler almost immediately. I wish you all Garamondspeed in your future day-to-day typographic endeavors.

Leaving the land of pixels for inspiration


  Building a career as a creative in the agency world means spending a lot of time in front of screens. We bounce between our core tools, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and dev tools, but rarely do we find time to pull our heads up just to grab our sketchpads and Sharpies. Much less step back and actuallyuse our hands to craft something.

I am a firm believer that in these non-screen related working sessions, new ideas form faster. They also provide a creative mind with moments of revitalization. Just the mere crafting of something new with your hands, using physical tools, and problem solving without the use of a keyboard can make the next time you saddle up to your Mac actually exciting versus painfully laborious.

Even just the workspace will change you. My streaming Pandora is swapped for the crackle of an old radio with a broken antenna. My posture changes as I am literally moving again. I find myself adding fractions that don't involve bleeds and live area. It's in these moments of physically crafting that unrelated yet current problems find their solutions. As if your subconscious needed this blood-flow to pull together the answers for your next campaign.

I've always loved this quote:

“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
— Louis Nizer

Throughout my career I've tried to find ways to involve my professional work with moments of actual craft. They don't always line up perfectly, but when they do they are both refreshing and invigorating. The creative mind will always need to make. Like an itch that doesn't really go away. Next time you find yourself stumped or beat up on a project, stop clicking away, for the answers probably aren't on the screen in front of you.

A few of my projects from the past year:


Sold on Seattle

photo[1] When I first moved down to L.A., I swore I would never again be a Washington resident. Six years later I broke that promise and moved back to Seattle. Returning in time for summer was a perfect transition, and I was convinced it was a great decision to come back. It also helped that I began working at Curator, and unlike most of my L.A. friends, was able to say that I loved my job.

Fall was equally as beautiful as the summer months, but then we set the clocks back and the dark coldness that is Pacific Northwest winter set in. I can handle the rain, and even the cold given the right down jacket of course, but the light is what I missed most. Those were some tough months, but thanks to the crazy holiday retail season, I kept too busy to really agonize over my lack of vitamin D.

What also helped was using the bad weather as an excuse to explore new parts of the city, checking out various restaurants, concert venues and even revisiting some of the tourist spots that I hadn’t been to since I was a kid. I realized that even though I’m “from here” I really had to relearn the city, and once I started doing that it felt like I was actually in a whole new place rather than moving “back home.” I’m now one of Seattle’s biggest fans and am slowly turning every visitor I host into one, too. It will be two years back this June, and I still feel like there’s so much I haven’t done and seen, but here are some of the things I’ve come to love about being a Seattleite:

St. Lucia at Sasquatch! Launch Party


The Music. An avid concertgoer, being in a music hub has been incredible. It’s been such an amazing surprise to find so many people here that share this passion and are always up for a random midweek show at some hole-in-the-wall venue. Because there are always so many shows happening around the city, I’ve found myself not just waiting to see my favorite artists, but rather exploring local bands and music genres I might have never thought to check out before.

The Food. I never knew Seattle was such a foodie city until I started eating my way through town. I thought LA had good sushi, but I’ve got to say Seattle might have them beat. I could eat at Umi in Belltown and Moshi Moshi in Ballard everyday. And holy pretzels! I don’t think I will ever get tired of enjoying a cold beer accompanied by a fresh pretzel and of course the amazing array of dipping sauces (the best part) at Brave Horse Tavern or Von Trapps. Hungry just thinking about it.


The Drinks. I’ve always been a big brunch fan, but these days it feels like I’m more of a happy hour person. Megan wrote a couple weeks ago about the great new app, Sosh, and let me vouch for it again; this is a killer resource for finding the best happy hour spots (and more) around town. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the best perks of being a Washingtonian: the wine. I frequent Woodinville to go wine tasting more than I should admit, but how can you not take advantage of all the incredible wineries that are right at our fingertips! And did I mention most of them are dog friendly?


The Seahawks. It wouldn’t be right to make this list without including our Super Bowl champs! I forgot how much I love professional football. Living in L.A., I settled for college football (Go Trojans!) and really only paid attention to playoff games and of course the Super Bowl. But being able to go to the games and even just be in the city during the season is such a fun experience. While I miss basketball and hockey, I have to say that football season in Seattle takes the cake.


The Art. I’ve always loved street art. That was one of my favorite things about living so close to Venice Beach. There was something so cool about discovering new aerosol art around the city. But the more I look around Seattle, the more I see that here, too. I was just at Pike Place Market over the weekend and realized that every time I’m there I find something new.

The People. It really is true that people here have a friendliness about them that’s I think, pretty rare. At first I had some moments of road rage when someone would signal and take their sweet time to get over in traffic, and maybe still do sometimes, but I’d take that any day over the always hurried pace of other cities (traffic-related and in general). I think Seattle is unique in that as a whole the people are hardworking, but they also know how to enjoy. They enjoy their work and play, and I think that’s what makes the character of the city so kind. It’s refreshing to be around, and everyone that has visited me has commented on this so I know it’s not just me who’s noticed.


The Landscape. I’m not going to lie; I do really miss the beach. And I know technically Washington has beaches too, but nothing beats driving up the PCH from Manhattan Beach to Malibu. You just can’t. That said, I love that Seattle is surrounded by water. Growing up on the lake and then living by the beach has definitely cemented my need to always live near a body of water. There’s something so beautiful about it no matter the season. On top of that, being able to drive 20 minutes and find yourself on a hiking path up a mountain is amazing. Few cities provide the option to live in urban bliss, but offer that rural escape within minutes.

Got any Seattle must-do, must-see, must-try recommendations? Please send them my way at @c_allodi.

Curated Festivals

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 1.53.41 PM My favorite season is upon us – festival season! If you don’t know me, I should tell you that I am somewhat of a concert junkie. I love pretty much any kind of music, especially if it’s live. The way some people justify spending hundreds of dollars on shoes and clothes is exactly how I feel about shelling out big bucks for a weekend of nonstop music and art. However, for those of us who can’t afford to make them all, the tough decisions come when it’s time to choose which festivals to attend.

I’m not going to all of these (I wish), but here are my top picks for U.S. festivals in 2014:

South By Southwest Music Festival -- @SXSW

Austin, TX // March 11-16 (music portion)

You’ve probably heard about SXSW because it’s not your average festival. It's really a week of innovation, networking, shows, speakers, panels, film and so much more. In addition to the music portion, there's a simultaneous SXSW Film Festival and SXSW Interactive component. An ever-growing event, SXSW Music is known for showcasing new talent and young bands, which is awesome! This one is coming up, so if you’re not lucky enough to attend, don't worry, you can actually stream the shows and after performances through iTunes. You can learn more about this, here, and stay tuned because our own Brooke will be going down with our client Whole Foods Market, and she’s been instructed to share the inside scoop on our blog!

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 1.47.29 PM

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival -- @Coachella

Indio, CA // Weekend 1: April 11-13 // Weekend: 2 April 18-20

Coachella is one of the largest and most popular festivals in the U.S. as it features so many music genres, including rock, indie, hip hop, and electronic music, as well as a number of art installations and sculptures. What’s kind of nice is that as of 2012 they expanded the festival to two 3-day weekends with the exact same lineup due to the high demand. I’m a big Coachella fan and have vowed to go every year until I physically can’t, or if it’s just too embarrassing to be there at whatever age I may be. This year will be my fourth year and I cannot wait! #Weekend1


 Sasquatch! Music Festival -- @Sasquatch

George, WA // Weekend 1: May 23-25 // Weekend 2: July 4-6

Sasquatch is an annual music festival held at the Gorge Amphitheater set again the beautiful backdrop of the Columbia River. For the scenery alone, this festival is worth checking out at least once! Much like its festival predecessors, Sasquatch offers a variety of music genres, with an emphasis on indie/rock bands. It’s also a really great place to see smaller and up-and-coming local artists who usually play during the day on the smaller stages. This year the festival will be two separate weekends with totally different lineups. When I attended the launch party a few weeks ago I asked someone from the Live Nation team about this change and he explained that because the sponsorship is all the same and it’s the same design, they decided to use split the weekends and keep the name for both. At the party, they debuted a trailer for the festival, ending with the two lineups, which was pretty cool. You can check it out here.

The Governor’s Ball Music Festival -- @GovBallNYC

New York, NY // June 6-8

If you read anything about last year’s festival, you probably saw a ton of photos making this look like the U.S. version of Glastonbury. Seriously, Hunter Boots should have made an ad! For those unfamiliar, Gov Ball is 3-day festival that takes place on Randall’s Island. Last year they encountered some stormy weather and flood warnings. Nevertheless, the show went on and the concertgoers danced on in the mud and rain. In its fourth year now, the festival is proving to be a new favorite and again features a variety of artists in genres like indie, rock, hip-hop, techno, folk and Americana. Hopefully the weather cooperates this year, but hey, us Seattleites can probably handle a little rain just fine, right?

Lollapalooza -- @Lollapalooza

Chicago, IL // August 1-3

Lollapalooza is another unique festival offering a range of musical acts as well as craft booths. Because of its location at Grant Park, it’s a great one for out-of-towners, too, with so much to do in Chicago! Lollapalooza is also recognized for being one of the better-organized festivals. When inclement weather rolled through in 2012, they were actually able to reschedule a number of sets and carry-on with the weekend – impressive! The lineup for this year hasn’t been released yet, so if you’re interested, keep an eye out!


Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 

San Francisco, CA // August 8-10

Held every August in Golden Gate Park, Outside Lands offers a range of musical acts, art installations, and has a budding food and wine culture, too. Another unique characteristic about this particular festival is its dedication to being eco-friendly and educating the public about eco-friendly movements. There festival features solar power stages, a refillable water program, a waste diversion program, a recycling program, bike valet parking program, farmer’s market vendors and urban gardening workshops. This is another festival that’s a little ways out, so the lineup and ticket sales have not yet been released. I’m hoping to make it this year!

There are so many festivals to choose from, not to mention the dozens that happen around the world, it can be kind of overwhelming to weigh them against one another. One plus I’ve found about most major festivals being back to back, is that a lot of the acts overlap, or the artists are simultaneously on tour, so if there’s someone you’re dead set on seeing, you’ll probably have some options.

If you’re a fellow festival fan, or have seen any great artists lately I’d love to hear about it – let’s chat!

- @c_allodi

Designing With Curator

As the rain returns I can tell that summer has officially ended and with it my time as a design intern at Curator is drawing to a close. I could never  tell you just how much experience I've gained, or how many amazing things I've gotten to do this summer, but I can tell you that this internship has meant so much to me. So what made this internship so great? Curators are awesome. I came in with a typical view of office life where people are friendly and tolerate each other but they don't actually become close friends. Not at Curator. These people are all genuinely good friends with each other, which makes the office environment so much fun to work in.

Never did I ever think that coming on as a design intern I'd get to have so much creative freedom with my work--I half expected to be going on coffee runs for everybody! But instead I've been helping with website building, app creation, flat brochure materials, and movie editing. Did I tell you how cool Shawn is? I can't believe the amount of work that he gets done every week. At most design firms you would typically expect one person to do video, another to do websites, and another to do flat printed work. Not here. Shawn does it all, and he does it really well.

All in all I'd just like to say thank you to all the Curators who have made this a great summer for me. Really--you guys are all amazing people and I'm sad to say goodbye. Thank you for giving me the best internship anyone could offer.

Below are some examples of work I've done this summer:



Will Vote for Food tent




-- Kendra Hobbs, www.khobbsdesigns.com

Curator News Feed: July 12, 2013

Curator has been quite busy this week: Ann Marie and Chelsey were back and forth from California for client events and meetings. Noelle is currently exploring the grounds of another client, Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto with journalists in Mexico. And back at the homestead, the office has been setting its sights on not only back to school, but holiday initiatives for our wonderful clients. Phew! Amongst all the productivity, we still found time to produce some pretty interesting links. So without further ado: the Curator News Feed for July 12th.

"#Fireworks don't fly. (On planes)" via TSA's Instagram account

Marketing Agencies Will Disappear in 10 Years Study Says, PR Daily. Shocking headline. Interesting content. Glad we’re already doing the content marketing and “PR thinking” thing… – Dan

How To Become More Unstoppable Every Day, Fast Company. This is a feel good story about a girl who pushed outside what she thought her limits were and went for it, not to break some crazy world record or become the best at it, but for her own happiness. Her most recent project was to learn to dance in a year, all while holding a full-time job. My favorite line from her is on her site, here: "This isn't a story about dancing, though. It's about having a dream and not knowing how to get there—but starting anyway. Maybe you're a musician dreaming of writing an original song. You;re an entrepreneur dying to start your first venture. You're an athlete but you just haven't left the chair yet." – Maria

TSA's Gun Policy: Confiscate It, Instagram ItCNN Money. It's the reason we arrive at the airport hours before our flight even boards. We all dread it: TSA security. Well, now you can follow your favorite airport gatekeepers on Instagram. The account already has 40,000+ followers with only 11 pictures posted since it joined June 27. No doubt these pictures are alarming--a stun gun disguised as a cigarette holder, grenades, throwing knives, loaded pistols. Reading some of the comments, the account is already pretty controversial. What do you think; does TSA's Instragram account make you feel more safe in the air, or otherwise?  – Megan

32 Tricks You Can Do With Wolfram Alpha…, BusinessInsider. Wolfram Alpha, if you're not familiar, is kind of a nerdy Google that came out a few years ago. Whereas Google is almost entirely focused on searching for links, Wolfram Alpha is a search engine that's focused on answers. Take the first tip on this list: You can input the names of Subway sandwiches and the toppings you want to include on those sandwiches, and instantly find out an approximation of how many calories will end up in the sandwich you build. Crazy. – Paul

The Number Facebook Doesn't Want You To See, BuzzFeed. Here's an uncomfortable truth: None of your Facebook friends care about your updates. Oh, they see them; they just don't care. That's the gist of this article by BuzzFeed, which points out that while most Facebook posts "reach" hundreds or thousands of people, that reach doesn't often translate into interaction. I've found a lot more success posting in Groups and Lists with fewer people, but a narrower focus. That way, my friends who like social media, for instance, see my social-media-news updates, and those posts get a lot more feedback. – Paul

The Pixar TheoryJon Negroni. Ever thought Pixar movies were connected? You were right. This article will blow your mind. Special thanks to former Curator, Lisa Kennelly, for sharing this on her Facebook page and possibly changing my life. – Chelsey


The 7 Types of Hashtag Abusers, NY Mag. Hashtags are everywhere and they're a great tool, but it's also important to keep your hashtag usage in check. Don't be afraid to admit, are you one of these hashtag users? – Brooke

3D Printing, Shapeways.com. As 3d printing has become more accessible, it's still remained a bit out of reach for people who just want to tinker and not drop a few grand in equipment. I ran across a great writeup on the new eBay app that lets you print stuff called Exact, which looked rather interesting, yet seems to be more about customizing existing models. Then in the comments ran across the really interesting site which lets you actually upload your designs, both 2d or 3d if you have the know-how, and get models printed and shipped to your door. Check it out if you've been kicking around a product idea or two, it looks really well polished with a solid community around it. – Shawn

The World's Most Active Twitter City? You Won't Guess It, Forbes. A fun article in Forbes this week that revealed the results of which city in the world is the most active on Twitter. Think the no. one spot would go to New York, Tokyo, or maybe London? Well, guess again. Read the article to find out which city ranked at the top. Funny enough, San Francisco (where Twitter is headquartered) was not even ranked amongst the top 20 most active Twitter cities. – Annie

Wax Dummy for Coupons, Design Taxi. We’ve all seen business beat the street with a stack of coupons to bring in customers, but I’ve never seen a company mix the coupon offer with their service in quite so clever (yet slightly disgusting) of a way. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I’ll just tell you the business is a waxing studio and the person handing out the coupons was wearing them. It’s proof that nothing gets people’s attention like a good mix of curiosity and schadenfreude. – Matthew

Is a Picture Really Worth a Thousand Words?

When we think of the term ‘communication’, whether it be within the context of our work, personal lives, or even across social media chatter, our minds instantly perceive this to be in the form of written words or the spoken language. But the reality is that the definition of communication is changing, especially within the realm of businesses. Gone are the days where every project proposal is submitted in the form of a Word document or client success metrics are reported on an Excel spreadsheet. 

So if we’re not talking about the standard form of communication, then what are we talking about? Pictures. We’ve spoken a lot recently about the drastic popularity growth and intrigue around Pinterest as a relatively new social media platform. But what I think may be underestimated are the images that have pulled such an extensive audience to continue coming back to the site. Several forward-thinking companies are beginning to recognize how you can truly cultivate a brand image and develop a message all through a series of images. Nordstrom has generated an experience on Pinterest as if you were front and center at a fashion show. And, Whole Foods Market has leveraged images on Pinterest that create a mouth-watering reaction. Both are great examples of the power of visual communications.

Whole Foods Pinterest

Nordstrom pinterest

These same principles can also be applied on an individual level. Take a look at one job seeker’s living resume all created through the use of Pinterest. Whether this will become the new standard over traditional resumes is left to be determined. But it’s difficult to deny this woman’s ability to communicate a strong message efficiently and effectively with the use of nearly all images and limited words. You walk away with a strong sense of the candidate’s capabilities, experience and personality.

Pinterest isn’t the only kid on the block that recognizes this popular communication form. ABC News is well in front of the trend and realizes the power behind telling a story through photographs. The news site’s daily blog, ‘Picture This’ has shared with the world some of the most iconic photos that capture in one frame the essence of what is happening at that very moment. Daily posts spotlight everything from breaking news to innovative technologies and images from around the globe.  

So what’s behind the power of images in a world full of chatter? That’s exactly the differentiator – lack of chatter. One still image slows down your thinking and the speed of everyday life, almost begging for audience engagement. Beyond that, images have an amazing ability to capture viewer attention, send a powerful message, and provoke emotion within those people that is significantly more difficult to do with  words alone. Images transport you in the mind, location and emotional state where the artist wants you to be. 

This is not to undermine the importance of the written or spoken word. This will be a necessary piece of our daily lives and, frankly, a positive function of our society that will continue to exist. But it’s important to think strategically about using the best form of communication to disseminate your message effectively to your target audience…even if this means thinking outside the box. So, how will you curate your next brand message? Will you use words, images or both? 

Is Shorter Always Sweeter?

In a world where attention spans are decreasing at about the same rate that the influx of information is increasing (and by that, I mean QUICKLY), we’re seeing everyday experiences evolve and adapt to cater to the changing desires and needs of the consumer. Several years ago, the phenomenon of “curated consumption” began. In a world where free time was also quickly shrinking, we increasingly began to take cues from both traditional and non-traditional influencers. They shared with us their music playlists, home décor choices and favorite restaurants, making it easier for the consumer to choose from a pre-edited list of options. More recently, we see actual experiences being tailored to this “fast turnaround” mentality. These experiences are becoming quicker and more intensively curated, only asking users to spend their precious time and waning attention span on what the creator feels is the most noteworthy and relevant portions. In fact, yesterday only, if you had a free 24 hours (or less) you could have visited Prada’s 24-hour museum in Paris designed by Milan-based artist Francesco Vezzoli. But you had to be quick, it was only there for 24 hours! The space was designed to represent three viewpoints showcasing only the most important pieces in each – a curated version of 16 years’ worth of work in 24 hours.

Or if you live in Palm Beach, you’ll be pleased to know you’re the next stop for The Styleliner, the self-described “mobile style gallery offering limited pieces of extraordinary pieces hand-picked by The StyleLiner’s creator...” It’s a pop-up boutique on wheels traveling the country offering customers only the best of the best, as determined by the founder.

While it may seem to some that we are losing the depth of experience and thus the true value of our activities, to others it’s just the natural progression of, and adaptation to, how we live our lives. It’s an interesting phenomenon to observe, because it makes you wonder whether this highly curated, “flash” experience is a genius time-saver – or a testament to a decreasing investment in savoring and creating our own experiences.

What do you think?

A peek into the Styleliner from The Styleliner on Vimeo.