graphic design

Book Recommendations for Designers

by tatiana on September 18, 2014

Book Recommendations for Designers  |

As graphic designers, it’s our job to make sure things look great, convey messages effectively, and solve problems. How do we step outside of what we know and use everyday to create something innovative and unique? For some, this is an innate and organic ability, and for others it’s learned over time through trial and error — I think it’s a combination of both.

That being said, over the last few years I’ve been asked for book recommendations for designers who are just starting out, or people who are interested in the field. I am by no means an authority on what the right things to read are, I just know what I really like and what has worked for me. So here are some books that helped me grow as a designer, and some that helped me become a better businessperson — which is very important if you decide to do freelance or contract work. Others served as inspiration and reminders to embrace what you love and what interests you and to bring those influences into the work you do.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I had to read this for a film studies class when I was in college, and it’s a book that I’ve held onto and re-read every few years. It poses a lot of important questions about how we view art, film, the media around us, and how those messages that we receive may or may not be manufactured to change the way we perceive ourselves and each other. It is a very critical book, but it helped inform the projects and clients I take on as a designer and the pieces I create.

Golden Nuggets:

“The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images.” // “Publicity images also belong to the moment in the sense that they must be continually renewed and made up-to-date. Yet they never speak of the present. Often they refer to the past and always they speak of the future.” // “[Publicity] proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives, by buying something more. This more, it proposes, will make us in some way richer — even though we will be poorer by having spent our money. […] The state of being envied is what constitutes glamour. And publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour.”

Book Recommendations for Designers |

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

A brilliant marketing friend recommended this book to me a few years ago when I was feeling stagnant and uninspired. This book is brief, brilliant and bold. This is a book I read whenever I need a good kick in the pants, which is about once a year. It happens to all of us right? This book also lives on the bookshelf by my front door so I see it when I leave my apartment every day.

Golden Nuggets:

“Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people. Being right is also being boring. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas. You are rooted in your own rightness, which is arrogant. Arrogance is a valuable tool, but only if used very sparingly. Worst of all, being right has a tone of morality about it. To be anything else sounds weak or fallible, and people who are right would hate to be thought fallible. So: it’s wrong to be right, because people who are right are rooted in the past, rigid-minded, dull and smug. There’s no talking to them.”

Book Recommendations for Designers |

The Non-Designer’s Type Book by Robin P. Williams

I took a community college typography class and absolutely hated it (because the instructor was terrible) but I LOVED this book. It claims to be for non-designers, but I think it’s really for designers. If you wanna work with type, you better know how to use it, and this is a terrific guide.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller & Veronique Vienne

I didn’t go to school for design, so I’m sure there are tons of books out there that cover the history of graphic design, but I particularly love this one. The layout is sexy, letsbehonest, and it’s fun to flip through hundreds of years of history that relates to design. It’s kind of a coffee table book, but also a lot more informative than a lot of the other books I’ve come across about design history (that are not text books).

Book Recommendations for Designers |

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte

When I started my third (and current) full-time design job, I was working under a senior designer who was very meticulous and had a great eye. I wanted to learn everything he knew, and asked for book recommendations. He brought me this gem and I devoured it in a weekend. It’s a pretty dry but incredibly intelligent book about the history of communicating data visually. Written in 1983, this book illustrates how information graphics are used correctly and basically, how easy it is to f*ck them up. It has, as a result, made me very critical of basically every infographic I see on the internet.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Suffragettes to She-Devils by Liz McQuiston

This is a book, as I mentioned in the intro to this post, that inspires me on a personal level. The personal is political, right? This is more of a coffee table book, and I have never actually READ it. I just look at the photos and captions. It’s a wonderful collection of suffragist and feminist posters, postcards, artwork from the last two centuries. Some of my favorite artists are featured in the book, including Guerrilla Girls, Judy Chicago and Barbara Kruger. Really phenomenal book to keep in your arsenal if you can find a copy.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers by Shel Perkins

I actually took Shel’s class a few years ago at UC Berkeley Extension. I believe it was called Business Basics for Designers, and this book was our text book for the class. It goes over registering your business, how to set your rate, legal things to consider when creating your invoice and contracts, and more. I think this book would be helpful for any type of creative starting their own business or doing freelance work.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Role Models by John Waters

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of John Waters’ work, and John Waters as a human being. In this book he shares stories about the people he looks up to. What I love about this book, and about John Waters in general, is that he is unabashedly proud of 1.) where he grew up, 2.) the people he surrounds himself with, and 3.) who he is — and I think this is incredibly inspiring. It’s important to embrace where you’re from and who you are and use it to your creative advantage. He did! And now he hosts a Christmas special every year where he gets to talk about poop and people EAT IT UP. (You’re welcome for that visual.)

Golden Nuggets:

“True success is figuring out your life and career so you never have to be around jerks.”

Have any book recommendations? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re a fellow bookworm, add me on Goodreads!


Postcard from NYC

A few weeks ago I went to New York. I’ve been once before, I was an 18-year-old college freshman who had never really taken public transportation. I navigated my way around Manhattan (and Queens where my high school bestie and I were staying) via paper map (pre-iPhones and GPS). It was an adventure I’ll never forget, so I was especially excited when my friend decided to have her bachelorette “party” (or weekend, rather) in Brooklyn.

Postcard from NYC - Adventures in T-Shirt Design

Photo above was actually taken in Manhattan.

Five of us rented an apartment in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, which was conveniently a block away from a subway stop, and also a block away from Dunkin Donuts. (YES.)

Postcard from NYC - Adventures in T-Shirt Design

Another photo taken in Manhattan on our way to brunch.

Most brides-to-be these days have cheesy t-shirts that they wear with their bridesmaids at their bachelorette party. We decided that we are not that kind of bridal party. If we’re going to wear t-shirts, we said to ourselves, they’re going to be a.) not wedding related at all, b.) cool enough to wear again outside of the context of a bachelorette weekend, and c.) not embarrassing to wear around New York. All of that being said, I designed this bad boy, inspired by Barbara Kruger, who I’m a huge fan of, and know my friend is a fan of as well.

Let's Rage - Bachelorette T-Shirt designed by Tatiana Jimenez


Here are the shirts in action, with the bride-to-be.


Bachelorette apparel, sartorialized.


The design appeared to be a hit! I even got some requests from folks not in the bridal party for apparel. It was fun to wear around town, get confused looks from people on the street, and we even were asked at one point if we were in a band(?).

We explored both Brooklyn and a bit of Manhattan. I loved the trip, and I can’t wait to go back to do more sightseeing and visit museums. Until next time, NYC!

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Monday Inspiration: Tin Can Identity

by tatiana on May 27, 2013

I stumbled upon this video on Logo Design Love and had to share. I’ve never seen a brand identity presented in video form. Pretty brilliant.


Adventures in Print Design: Wedding Program

by tatiana on February 6, 2013

Josh x Katrina's Wedding | Photos by Beautiful Day Photography (Laura Grier)

Photo by Beautiful Day Photography


A few months ago, my good friend Katrina asked me to design the program for her wedding. I had so much fun designing a customized map for another friend’s wedding back in June, so I jumped at the chance to contribute to Josh and Katrina’s special day.

Wedding Program | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez

Josh and Katrina tied the knot at Wayfarer’s Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes, designed by Lloyd Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright’s son). Considering the minimalist architecture of Wayfarer’s Chapel, and how it allows for the surrounding nature to take the starring role when you’re inside, I wanted the program’s design to function similarly. Finding an elegant, simple way to present the information was my challenge. Katrina provided me with a lot of inspiring designs that she liked, so that helped solidify my understanding of what they were looking for.

Wedding Program | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez

To my delight, Katrina and Josh chose my favorite of the design options I presented to them, and after a few rounds of edits, I’m really happy with the way it turned out!

Wedding Program | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez

Congrats, Josh and Katrina!


2012 Portfolio

by tatiana on December 26, 2012

Since 2012 will soon be coming to a close, I thought I’d update my portfolio. So, here it is! Feel free to click on the iMac below to take a peak at a PDF of my 2012 portfolio, or hop on over to my Portfolio page.

Web + Print Design Portfolio | Tatiana Jimenez

My online portfolio is currently under construction, but should be up by the end of this week. It’ll be a more comprehensive look at the work I’ve done over the past 6 years. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment below or contact me if you have any questions!


A+K Photography Website Design

This snazzy little website is something I’ve been working on with the gorgeous and talented gals from A+K Photography (spoiler alert: they’re my sisters!). Around the end of May they decided that they wanted to move from a Facebook page to a website where they could post blog entries and present their photography in a gallery. They work out of Southern California, and like in any bustling area, I knew that they would have lots of local competition, so I wanted to design an elegant and clean website that would help convey their professionalism, excellent taste and modern edge.

We started with the logo. Initially they explained that they wanted something that they could turn into a stamp to brand their packaging (when they ship photos or cds to their clients). They also wanted their logo to looked vintage yet modern… which is a challenge in itself, so here’s what I came up with.

A+K Photography | Logo | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez

The official logo is this seal. It’s the most “complicated” of the three variations and the idea is to use it as a “seal” on the photos they use to promote their business (example below).

A+K Photography | Engagement Photo

A+K Photography | Logo | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez

This is the simpler version of the logo that the gals can use as a stamp if they’d like.

A+K Photography | Logo | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez

Lastly, this is the horizontal logo variation I used for their website. On the website I used inner shadow styling, which is the way it’s presented here.

Back to the website and A+K’s branding… I was really happy with their decision to use a bright teal. It’s a fun color that really pops when used against their black and white photos. I’m also happy they trusted me enough to let me make the background texture gray. Originally they wanted beige, but it frankly didn’t feel right. The beige not only clashed with the teal of the logo, but also with their beautiful photos. The focus was more on the background texture than their work, which was not what we wanted!

A+K Photography | Website designed by Tatiana Jimenez

All in all this was a really fun site to work on. I’ve never worked with my sisters in a professional capacity before, and am happy to say, we worked well together! I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished already in their careers (I think they’re fabulous photographers) and am excited to see where their business takes them!

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Wedding Invitation Map | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez |

This week I had the honor of designing a map to include in a wedding invitation for two good friends whose nuptials will be taking place in San Diego at the end of this year.

When they had initally asked me to design a map, they emailed a few they liked for inspiration. I really liked the idea of customizing the map to highlight not only the mandatory wedding stuff (i.e. hotels, parking, wedding venue, etc), but also highlight places that are unique to them and their relationship. So that’s what we did!

Wedding Invitation Map | Designed by Tatiana Jimenez |

I’m really happy with the way it came out. I designed this bad boy in Adobe Illustrator, and used the gorgeous Monte Carlo font, which can be found and purchased here from The map is not to scale (obviously) but I think it serves its purpose, is clean and elegant, and hopefully everyone will end up at the right place, on time!


Using Fabric Textures in Web Design

by tatiana on May 27, 2012

As some of you may know, I’m a pretty big sewer and fan of vintage fashion, so naturally I love texture in design. For my website redesign, I decided to use less collages (as were seen on my last site), and experiment a little more with fabrics.

Then (2007 – 2012):


For my website redesign I scanned a handful of fabrics I had on hand to see what would work best. I decided on a beautiful navy lace (that I am currently using to make a cute Built By Wendy dress), some gray & white striped fabric for the background (which I made a little more subtle in Photoshop by adding a gray overlay), and muslin (unbleached cotton fabric) to add some texture to my header background.

I scanned all of my fabric using my trusty Epson V100 at 200 dpi (since this is for the web I could have scanned it at a lower resolution, but it’s always nice to have a high quality scan on hand in case of… design emergencies? Those totally happen). Anyway, scanned they were. The result is what you see on my site!

Last night, a friend came over who was not loving the default header and background on her WordPress hosted blog, Fog City Vintage. There wasn’t a lot we could do without paying $$ (since we couldn’t access the CSS, and in order to “customize” her free theme she’d have to pay $30 to access the code), we could literally only change the header and background, so I helped her come up with this:

I used a pretty floral corduroy fabric for the header (which can also be seen here in my room. Can you tell I’m absolutely in love with that fabric?!), the Bellerose font, and the same gray and white striped fabric that I used on my site, but we added a beige color overlay in Photoshop.

I’m excited to continue exploring using textiles on the web. Maybe in addition to fabric, yarn, lace, ric-rac and buttons would be fun to play with? The possibilities are truly endless.


Just for fun, I’d like to share my textiles with you. Feel free to download the texture pack below (8.7MB). Please note that these are for personal use only. Let me know if you use them for any of your projects! I’d love to see your work.

You can download the entire pack by clicking below:


Almost a year ago I decided that it was time to look into doing some volunteer design work. I’d done some pro-bono projects in the past and had great experiences, so, since I was well settled in San Francisco with my living situation and full time design/marketing position, the timing felt right to spread my wings a bit and donate some of my time and skills.

I stumbled upon the Taproot Foundation while sifting through the volunteer listings on, and after perusing their site for a few minutes was pretty impressed. Taproot works with business professionals across the country (and around the world) to place them with nonprofits who have been awarded “service grants”. There are applications on both ends – you have to apply to be a Pro-Bono Consultant, and the organizations have to apply to receive a service grant.

I applied and was accepted within a few days. Once you’ve been accepted, you’re entered into Taproot’s well organized online system (which feels more like an online community), where Account Directors assigned to projects can find consultants to recruit for their teams.

I was recruited to be the graphic designer for a brochure project for the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay. I was thrilled to be a part of this team – working as a designer/marketing professional in the financial industry on a daily basis, I had my heart set on a project that focused on kids (to change things up) – and I was lucky to be chosen to work on one! [click to continue…]


As you’ve probably noticed, sniffing around my blog for even a few seconds, I’m all about making things by hand, and supporting my friends and fellow crafters/artisans/designers/artists to make beautiful things and keep pumping the DIY spirit into the marketplace. [click to continue…]