Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bookmarks: Kate Wong

Ta dah! Cover debut!
Graphic designer Kate Wong designed the cover of Camelot & Vine as well as the book's interior. Kate is a dream to work with and I'm so happy with the way the book is going to look. For today's Bookmarks, I thought an interview with Kate was in order. Check out her links. She has a lot to offer.

I understand this is your first book design project. Do you plan to do more? 
I would love to do more book design—especially covers or illustration. I’m guilty as sin when it comes to judging books by their covers, but perhaps being a graphic designer makes that impulse unavoidable! One thing I love is a special edition book that’s highly designed inside and out: gorgeous cover plus extra bits and pieces of beautiful illustration or graphics sprinkled throughout. That is a project I would love to be a part of. 

What do you like about designing books? 
I’m also a writer, so I think book design really unites the visual and verbal elements of my career. I also love the idea of designing a cover that can make someone like me pick up a book. While interior layouts on most books aren’t as much fun to do, there’s a sense of accomplishment to completing a design that is clear, readable, and undistracting—it’s an exercise in restraint. 

What's the hardest part? 
With any project—book design, branding, editorial—getting on the same page as the client is always the biggest obstacle. Once we’re both clear on the desired result, things fall together easily. As for interior layout design, it’s really difficult to choose a typeface! It’s tough to get that perfect font that looks beautiful and readable. 

Where did you study graphic design? 
I’ve taken a few courses at UCSD extension to learn how to use Adobe Creative Suite, but when it comes to theory I’ve learned from reading—mainly design blogs. I like to think I’m artistic and have a natural instinct for this, but just absorbing the images out there does wonders! Someday I would love to study graphic design, or maybe illustration, but right now I love just working. As a side note, my real degree is a B.A. in humanities, with a focus on political satire. 

What inspires you? What influences your style? 
I’m always inspired by anything colorful, quirky, or whimsical. Like a lot of designers right now, I love a modern, super-clean look, but a sense of playfulness is something I really gravitate towards. I love unexpected pairings—for instance an ultra contemporary design with a classic font. I think the contrast gives the design more impact! 

Tell us about Dog Stalking and Striped Cat Studio.
My design blog, Striped Cat Studio, started as a way to promote my freelance business, but it’s sort of taken on a life of its own. I try to focus on graphic design in relation to other aspects of life (fashion, for instance), and the way graphic design can make our lives prettier. Dog Stalking is probably the column least related to the rest of my blog, and it’s also my favorite. It was born from my obsession with dogs, and the fact that I don’t own one—I spend weekends intentionally visiting places where people take their dogs, then feature watercolor portraits of dogs I’ve met on the blog every week. Someday, I’d love to turn Dog Stalking into a book. 
(Boz got stalked and I bought the original!) 

What are your plans for this year? 
I have too many plans this year to count! Focusing my business, marketing, building relationships with new clients…plus non-designy things like refinishing the mid-century chair I found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. 

What does your ideal career look like? What's your vision? 
My dream is working on a project that falls somewhere between Anthology magazine and Bri Emery’s blog Designlovefest: amazing writing, style, travel, beautiful design…I want to be involved with all of those things! I’ve never had a full time job working for someone else, and at this point I can’t imagine that sort of career for myself.


Thank you, Kate. I'm so glad I got to work with you and I hope we do it again.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Picture Walk

I liked the red and green of yesterday's photo, so I'm continuing the theme.

We're having a walk in Bungalow Heaven. It's a famous neighborhood, so you'd think tourists would be taking pictures there all the time.

Okay, well, that's what I would think.

But I'm usually the only one there taking pictures. I've seen tourists there only on Bungalow Heaven Tour day, which can be super-crowded. Otherwise, it is a pleasant sector of Pasadena for perambulation.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Candid Frame #169

I just enjoyed a podcast you might like. Altadena photographer and photography teacher extraordinaire, Ibarionex Perello, interviewed author and historian Michele Zack at The Candid Frame. It's podcast #169.

Michele talked about photography's relationship to history, how it makes a clear statement when you can show how things once were while you're telling the tale. She brought it home to me: part of what I do here I think of as making a record. Not all, but part. A lot of City Daily Photo bloggers do this, whether they mean to or not.

Michele Zack's contribution to our area can't be measured. You must read her book, Altadena: Between Wilderness and City, because she tells truths you'd never guess about the place. Southern California Story, about Sierra Madre, is another must-read. And Ibarionex is a good interviewer, not to mention an Altadena treasure himself.

Full disclosure: Michele briefly mentions me on the podcast. She mentions the Altadena Hiker, Karin Bugge, too. Further disclosure: I took the photo above on private property in Altadena, on on 5/29/11, a day when that property was open to the public. Just in case the owners, who don't know me, wonder how the hell I got a close-up of their sweet old Ford.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Litfest Pasadena, 2012

I've been tagged by best-selling thriller author and former Pasadenamanian Dianne Emley to participate in "The Next Big Thing," an internet meme where authors share what they're working on. Big thank you to Dianne! She's been a friend to PDP since the beginning, and was the first author I profiled here.

The deal is I answer a set of questions about my novel, Camelot & Vine, then tag someone else to answer the same questions about their book next week on their own site or blog. Here we go:

1. Where did the idea come from for the book?
Some years ago I spent most of a summer in England, studying acting at Oxford. I fell in love with the country, its ancient architecture, history, and legends.

2. What genre does your book fall under?
I'd call it "historical time travel adventure." There's no such genre officially, but not every book fits a genre. A bookstore would probably shelve Camelot & Vine under general fiction, or maybe even fantasy.

3. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Update: We decided in comments not to reveal this, because people will picture the characters their own way. Although if you read the comments you'll see who I picture as King Arthur.

4. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A failing Hollywood actress heals her past and finds her future when she falls through a gap in time and lands in a Dark Ages war camp, accidentally saving King Arthur's life.

5. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm publishing the book under my own label, Boz Books.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft only took a few months. The other drafts took forEVER.

7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The closest thing I can think of is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. There's no "onstage" sex in Camelot & Vine, though, so if you want sex with your time travel, Gabaldon is a must-read.

8. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I have a strong desire to visit ancient times, to really see history, and I wondered what it would have been like to know someone like King Arthur, had he existed. Because I can never know, I immersed myself in 500 A.D., studying it and visualizing it as completely as I could.

9. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
I set most of the story atop Cadbury Hill, an iron age hillfort in the Somerset region of England. Legend says Cadbury was "Camallate." There's archaeological evidence of an early sixth century settlement on the hill, with a wall, a great hall and a church. We don't know if King Arthur existed, but if he did, the Cadbury settlement would fit. Using real places and real history made the story feel authentic to me.

That's the Q&A. With this Saturday's Bookmarks on PDP, I'll introduce you to Kate Wong, the talented artist who designed Camelot & Vine. We're going to reveal the cover!

My final task with "The Next Big Thing is to introduce you to Kat Ward. Kat is the owner, editor, and head writer at Hometown Pasadena. She's also a novelist. Her "Next Big Thing" post goes up next Wednesday, January 23rd. Be sure and visit her.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


People have seen icy puddles before. I grew up in northern Illinois, where icy puddles were the norm in late autumn. In fact, an icy puddle in January is the usual in many parts of the world. So forgive me for showing you this picture of something you've seen a million times.

But an icy puddle at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, California on January 13th, 2013 at 1:27:08 pm is momentous. A record should be kept. A notation must be made. This should be posted, publicly, for future generations to see in some archive somewhere.

You will not be surprised that upon our return an hour later, the ice was gone.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Zen Monday: #228

I realize the picture is huge. I hope it doesn't take too long to load. I just want to make sure you can read it.

Oh, I love my Monday Zen.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Navel Gazing

Boz at Devil's Gate Dam, October 2009

City Daily Photo didn't have a theme day on January 1st, so today we're celebrating The Festival of the Belly Button by contemplating our navels. The question I'm to ask myself is, over the time I've been blogging, how has my photography changed?

Boz has eyelashes, November 2012

Mostly, two things:
1) I'm more aware of little details than I used to be.


2) I am now more interested in telling a story or conveying an emotion than showing you a thing.

You'll find the links to other worldwide navel gazers here.