Recommended Reading

While on my way to my hometown of Coopersburg, Pennsylvania to visit my parents and my girlfriends this weekend, I’m taking a minor detour to Lancaster (which isn’t exactly Amish Country, but it’s the same county). I’m visiting an AIGA student group of graphic designers at PCAD, whom I worked with while at the National AIGA Design Conference in Memphis.

As I began to consider what I’d speak to the students about, I kept going back to books. I love books and I’ve always loved books. While working towards my undergraduate degree from RIT in Graphic Design I was always in the library. Not only did I continually have the maximum number of books out (25) I worked there too, at the RIT Archives and Special Collections. This is where I developed my love for gorgeous books. These books were my extended education. They became my bible for design inspiration, encouraging me to think beyond the project.

So, I prepared my top 10 list of all-time favorite books. Some are current, some are historical and some are pure inspiration. Enjoy!

1. History of Graphic Design by Philip Meggs

2. The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters by Chip Kidd

3. Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

4. Lester Beall: Trailblazer of American Graphic Design by my former RIT professor, R. Roger Remington

5. How To Think Like a Great Graphic Designer by my mentor, Debbie Millman

6. The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier

7. The Elements of Dynamic Symmetry by Jay Hambidge

8. Inside the Business of Graphic Design by Catharine Fishel

9. Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design by Steven Heller

10. Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World by Rick Poynor

Here are two more books that are really important for anyone to read (designer or non-designer):

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Informing and Delighting

A week ago AIGA DC hosted a film screening of Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight, a film by Arthouse Films and directed by first time filmmaker, Wendy Keys.

Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight Poster

I first heard of Milton Glaser when I was in college, but he was never as big as Lester Beall for some reason. At RIT, we had a design archive which included the work of Lester Beall, Paul Rand, Will Burtin, Saul Bass, Alexey Brodovitch and of course my all-time favorite, Cipe Pineles. There are so many historical figures in graphic design that have really paved the way for where design is today, it’s very hard to focus on just one.

Of living historical design figures, Milton Glaser represents graphic design. Among all of the things he’s famous for, in my mind Milton is I ? NY, which was part of a campaign to bring tourism to New York State, not just New York City. Milton always describes the logo as part of his campaign to bring “love” back to the streets of NYC in the late 1970s. He never would have guessed how far his little mark would go and did this work pro bono. Now, I ? NY is everywhere. It repesents other cities, it’s on key chains and coffee mugs and it was also recreated less than a month after September 11, 2001 when the logo became especially prominent.


Overall, the film’s content artfully personifies Milton Glaser, capturing his immense warmth, humanity and the boundless depth of his intelligence and creativity. The film took over five years to complete, by first time filmmaker, Wendy Keys who is a former student of Milton Glaser. The cinematography is very basic, shot with an ordinary video recorder and edited by Wendy herself. At first I thought it felt like a student project. The lines are fuzzy, the colors are not vibrant, and I thought it lacked luster, but as the film progressed I was less interested in the film quality and found myself submersed in Milton. I felt like I was right there next to him, learning about his life and being inspired by his way of life.

If you’re a graphic designer, you know Milton Glaser. If you’re not a graphic designer, you probably don’t know Milton Glaser. That’s the great thing about this film, it’s one that everyone (designer or not) can enjoy. It’s a film you absolutely should not miss.

60 Seconds with Ethel Kessler

Over the summer, Debbie Millman emailed me and asked that I participate in the AIGA National Design Conference (which I just blogged about) as one of the 20/20 presenters. 20/20 is a short skit that started a couple of years ago as an inspirational addition to the main stage presentations at the AIGA conferences where 20 designers are invited to give a presentation on a specified topic in 60 seconds, totaling 20 minutes. In the past I’ve seen David Gibson singing opera, Michael Bierut singing the Star Spangled Banner a cappella, and last year at GAIN Moira Cullen reciting her secrets to success.

To be honest, my first reaction after reading Debbie’s email was: Are you sure she meant to email me and not some other really important “Jill”? But then I read on. This year’s 20/20 highlighted representatives from AIGA chapters nation wide, including a representative from Washington, DC and that meant me! I had a little over two months to brainstorm and prepare 60 seconds on “Make|Think” in Washington, DC. This left me with my next very heart pounding question: What the heck am I going to talk about for 60 seconds in front of 1500+ people?

It was easy to come to the right answer after brainstorming with my presenting partner, Emily Carr (a former AIGA DC President). Below is the video we produced of Ethel Kessler, and influential government designer who’s been working within and for the government for over 25 years. Ethel is as charismatic as they come and it was a delight to have the opportunity to interview her for this project.

DC: Ethel Kessler from Jill Spaeth on Vimeo.


On Sunday, I got back from 5 bliss-filled days in Memphis, Tennessee, where I was volunteering at and participating in the AIGA National Design Conference, Make|Think. AIGA, the professional association for design, holds a National Design Conference every two years. I was in Denver for the 2007 conference and in 2005 I was in Boston. Each conference always has it’s own theme, and this year it was Make|Think.

Purposely left open for each attendees’ interpretation, to me this year’s conference theme, Make|Think, is backwards. Shouldn’t it be Think|Make? Then I wonder if maybe that’s the reason for structuring it purposely opposite? Either way, the theme represents the dual roles of designers as makers of beautiful things and as strategic problem thinkers and solvers. Interestingly enough, Joe Duffy‘s recent article on Fast Company outlines the same idea of the conference, but reminds us to air on the side of simplicity in all aspects of the design process.

From the “thinking” to the “making, he says, “It begins with collecting as much input as you can regarding a particular subject and understanding the context of the world in which that product or service will exist and compete. It’s about looking for gaps in the marketplaces where others haven’t thought to go. It’s about finding the truth of an organization, where they’ve come from and what they’re capable of. And then it’s about organizing and mixing ideas and visual elements to deliver a succinctly meaningful and artistic perspective.”

It would be impossible to recap the amazingly, awe-inspiring time I had in Memphis amongst 1500 designers from across the country. In fact, much of it was captured by Alissa Walker of Gelatobaby who was the official conference real-time blogger. Make|Think with Gelatobaby is still being updated with articles, tweets using the #makethink hashtag and images on flickr that are tagged “makethink”. Here are a few of my favorites:

Make|Think by jkali1
By jkali1

Make|Think by girl*alex
By girl*alex

Make|Think by girl*alex
By girl*alex


Make|Think by Calebyte
By Calebyte

As Stefan Sagmeister reminded us during his main stage presentation, it’s a good idea to take a sabbatical and experiment. He closes his studio every 7 years for 12 months and spends his time trying out various little design experiments, for which there is never enough time while running a regular practice. You too can take a break from your routine. Join us next year for GAIN, AIGA’s Business and Design conference. Mingle with old friends, search for new ideas and find your inspiration.

See you in NYC!

And it’s August. I was busy.

“Where did the Summer go?” Is something that you’ll start to hear right about now and through the end of August. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been asking yourself (and possibly others) this question since the middle of July. My last post was JUNE for crying out loud. That’s a disgrace.

Before I write the excuse that I HATE hearing the most, let me first apologize. I’m sorry. Really, I’m sorry. The reason I have not updated dear and faithful Innerspaeth is because…




I’ve been busy.

Now I know to some, this is an OK excuse, they use it all the time. When is it acceptable to say “you’re busy” and how “busy” are you? Busy is about as relative as beautiful anymore so it really has no meaning without some detail. So, I’m sure your next inevitable question is “Well, what have you been up to then?” Let me save you the asking and I’ll just get to the highlights:

1. June was the start of the chaos. I officially became AIGA DC‘s Chapter President. In my first official role as president, I attended the National Leadership Retreat in Portland, OR with six other board members in tow. We mingled and brainstormed with other chapter leaders from across the nation, within 64 other AIGA chapters! The main focus of the retreat was the future of the design profession, and how we, AIGA, as the largest professional association for design should adapt, which brings me to the Mandate for 2014.

2. From there, the AIGA DC chapter board members got together for our annual retreat over the last weekend of June. We gathered at FOX Architect‘s DC office for two days of interaction, brainstorm and good, old-fashioned fun. We spent a lot of time discussing what AIGA is, how we engage our members, the mandate and programming. We paused for a break on Sunday for some cake decorating fun. Everyone broke up into teams of two to discuss then decorate a cake on the question: What does AIGA mean to it’s members?

Cake by Allison Bucheere & Roy Whilelm
Cake by Allison Bucchere & Roy Wilhelm

3. I got an iPhone.

4. I downloaded lots of Apps.

5. Had my first ever dinner at Nora in DC.

1. I’ve been in the DC Metro area for five years now and have never seen fireworks in DC! With that, I went down to the mall with some very lovely friends (and Mr. M) and watched them. I also used my Pano App and took this picture of the Washington Monument, seconds before the fireworks started.

The Washington Monument on July 4th
The Washington Monument on July 4th

2. I grew out my eyebrows. They were getting way to thin and it had to be done. In case you’re wondering, I’m STILL trying to get them back into shape. Tip: Don’t pluck when you’re stressed or angry.

3. Solidified AIGA DC board positions. You can see all the wonderful people who put their blood, sweat and tears into our chapter here: AIGA DC Board of Directors.

4. Successfully dropped two percentage points of body fat by spinning two more days a week.

5. Really got to rolling on this year’s AIGA DC design competition called AIGA 50. Working with the interactive team at Grafik, we’ve hit the world wide web with the competition. We’re set to launch in September. Stay tuned.

6. Selected the AIGA DC Fellow, David Franek of the Design Channel and begun planning a cocktail hour in his honor. The event was held last week and was quite a success!

7. Hit the pool 2 or 3 times on the weekend.

8. Decided to get a road bike.

9. Started researching road bikes.

10. Went to Pennsylvania to visit my lovely family: Chris, Jenn, Mom and Dad. It was just like old times. Oh, Cipe and Sirloin came too. They hated the carry case though.

Cipe (left) Sirloin (right) having a blast.
Cipe (left) Sirloin (right) having a blast.

And now it’s August. It’s time to ramp up for September, wave buh-bye to the summer and get back to business. I just need to remind myself to stop back and blog again. Did you guys miss me?

The Designer of 2015

Tomorrow AIGA DC will be holding it’s annual Member Roundtable at FOX Architects. Each year we ask members and non-members alike their opinions on the chapter, our programs, initiatives, processes, communication, etc and use their feedback as the checkpoint for the following year. However, this year we’re trying something a bit different.

As we begin to restructure and further define AIGA before it’s hundredth anniversary in 2014, we’ve begun to ask ourselves what opportunity we offer the future of the profession. With the country currently focused on the conundrum of change and the endless search for optimism and innovation, it’s high time we ask ourselves and the community what future role design will have for the designers of 2015. With this it’s most important to understand how our members believe AIGA should serve them, but it’s equally important to adapt to serving new design disciplines of communication professionals in our community.

AIGA must make hard yet strategic choices in restructuring itself for the future. Each of the choices relates to how AIGA commits its resources beyond the basic membership function in the years to come. Everything we currently produce, organize, create and facilitate are subject to change with the feedback received from these questions. Below is the list of key strategic choices AIGA must make and will be asking during the Roundtable tomorrow night.

1. Should AIGA focus on individual benefits that members receive
now (like discounts on products and/or services) OR on
benefits that strengthen the profession for all designers in the
future (like raising the standards of design, raising respect for
the value of design)

2. Should AIGA focus on issues that relate to designers within the
profession (such as design standards) OR to designers’ role in
business and society (such as leadership)?

3. When AIGA selects models of design excellence, should the
focus be on inspired creativity OR the achievement of
business objectives?

4. Should a member’s investment in AIGA yield immediate and
tangible results to the member OR build stronger demand for
design (including for that member) in the future?

5. Should AIGA, in advocating the value of design to business,
focus on examples of great design (artifacts) OR examples that
show the contribution design thinking can have in problem
solving and creating value for clients (process)?

6. Members want AIGA to explain the value of design. This can be
accomplished either through published materials stating the
value, with some case studies, OR by committing resources to
demonstration projects that make the case by being
newsworthy, like election design.

If you can’t make it to the roundtable, participate in the conversation through the website: Defining the Designer of 2015.

Story Time With Stanley

Tomorrow the branding badass, Stanley Hainsworth, will be at the Corcoran speaking on behalf of AIGA DC on his experiences in the constantly evolving world of branding, design and agency life.

But really, who is Stanely Hainsworth? Here is a snip-bit from a Q&A with GD USA:

Wireless access and bananas. Whoops, that’s two, okay, make the banana wireless then.


Rereading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. What a study in juxtapositions.

The Office – BBC and U.S. version

Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders

Music: Alterna-rock/pop/opera/folk
Band: Tom Waits
Song: What a Wonderful World – Joey Ramone version


The same as every year: World domination.

Make every pixel, period and moment count.

A filmmaker and author.

My iPhone and moleskin. They have become one thing. The analog and the digital attached, afraid to separate and leave each other behind.

Philippe Starck, he has branded himself while designing anything he feels like.

Rebranding the U.S.

Get Inspired!!! What is AIGA?

Many of my non-AIGA friends often wonder what I’m doing when I say “oh I have an AIGA meeting (or event, or happy hour, or conference or retreat etc).” This video was first unleashed during our Leadership Retreat last May in Omaha, NE and it explains what AIGA is and begins to quantify everything that we’re doing as a professional organization. It’s worth the 7 minutes (ooh! Don’t miss the outtakes at the end!)

We come together, with like minds, to share ideas and passions for promoting the value of design! For more information visit the national AIGA website or my local chapter (DC)