One of the more painstaking memories of my childhood is not that a boy pushed me on the playground one afternoon in 5th grade, or that I once had a sleepover where I invited a mixed group of friends who instantly hated each other, thus invoking a lifelong fear of events where people don't know each other to begin with. It's that my name is and has always been difficult to say or spell. I don't think you truly realize that fact until you look at a delivery receipt and see "Juslen Eu" in the To: field. Talk about a case of mistaken identity. 

When you meet someone for the first time, one of the initial things you do is introduce yourself. When you take a test, the first thing you do is write your name. When a baby is born, one of the first acts of passage is giving he/she something with which you can call. So many emotions surround what you are identified as, that having someone mispronounce or misspell it can be a buzzkill.

How does one cope with this? By taking charge of the situation of course, and that's exactly what Brazilian graphic designer Guilherme Dultra Villar did with the identity of his personal studio. Guilherme provides a phonetic pronounciation of his first name in a way that makes it instantly clear as to how you say it. Instead of having future prospects be embarrassed of completely butchering it or waiting until they do to correct them, he proactively gives a helping hand in a smart and friendly manner. Using neutral colors such as dark gray and muted yellow along with a middleweight sans-serif typeface like Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk ensures that the introduction goes smoothly and the transition to his work is seamless. 

What have I done? When all else fails, I go by "Jess". Especially in Starbucks.


Lately, I have been seeing an increasing amount of branding design that specializes in a mix of illustration plus graphic expertise. Typeverything is a site that collects and curates many such examples of typography whose profilic, old-Italian yet contemporary style makes its owner stand out to the masses in every shape or form. Designers Jessica Hische and Dana Tanamachi (the latter whose work I have described here) are two artists who subscribe to this authentic and timeless look in their work.

Despite the rising popularity that this has in our industry today, I sometimes find myself yearning for something that feels a bit more substantial, hefty even - a design that I can grip by the horns, shake, and know that the pressure will render it undamaged. Vietnamese studio Egregius's new identity for local coffee shop M Teafé hits the spot right on the head and brings forth memories of the Bauhaus era with its industrial appeal and heavy block lettering. My favorite piece of the project is the menu, which has been printed on thick cardstock with the type clearly displayed in equivalent width and stroke for each letter of every word. 

Utilizing the stark color(less) backgrounds of black and white, the design is a unique identifier for a place that is stereotypically supposed to exude a folksy charisma, and its bridge-like logo of "M" is an appropriate call to action for connecting the gap between the two. Egregius has assigned the same importance to everything on the page, and the deliberate nature of these elements is not one that should be missed.


Once in a while, you come across a studio whose keen perception and diligence to application spawns work that can only be described as visceral. Minneapolis-based (and aptly named) Studio On Fire is one such place where ideas go in and stunning, tactile work comes out. It is amazing what kind of information our senses of sight and touch can provide to us, and founder Ben Levitz keeps that in mind while interlacing ink and paper through his Heidelberg letterpresses. What started out as a hobby for Ben has ended up becoming a medium without which his graphic design skills would not be complete. 

I am particularly enamored by the attention to detail that is paid by this incredibly talented team of creatives. From the crisp, clear notes of the ink to the exact imprint of each letter and shape, nothing is too insignificant or small for the studio to examine. This reaction then gives us the power to notice the slightest dot, spot the thinnest line, and fully appreciate the level of effort and passion it takes to produce art like this. The final product is thus stamped into our memories because of its visual richness and the emotional connection it evokes in all of us, rendering it indisputably successful in every way.