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ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
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Entries in Design (96)


Great Miquelrius Resource:

Mike Rohde's Sketch Kit (Open)A few weeks back I received an email from Todd Berryman, a radio host at 92.3 WTTS FM in Bloomington, Indiana.

Todd found me because I use Miquelrius notebooks daily for logo, icon and web design work. He wanted to know where I buy mine, as he was having trouble finding them at his local Barnes & Noble.

Since I'm on my last Miquelrius sketchbook, this issue hit close to home.

I haven't found them at my local B&N either. I figured they were simply out of stock. This email got me thinking — I should really locate a good online source for Miquelrius notebooks. Just in case.

Todd mentioned, the online store for Miquelrius USA. Sure enough, they have a good selection of the soft-cover books I love so much, and several other options as well.

From Oops to Oh Yeah!
I ordered 3 green notebooks, but accidentally chose lined books instead of gridded. I immediately emailed the ShopMiquelrius help desk and within hours, I had personal emails back from Jennifer and her staff, letting me know they would take care of the error. Wow, that's what I call service!

I'm ordering all of my Miquelrius notebooks from from now on. Yeah, they sell the notebooks I need at a decent price, but what sold me was how well they treated me, and how quickly they solved my problem.

An Affiliate Idea
Because of my personal contact with Jennifer, I asked if they happened to have an affiliate program for their products. Since I use the products and love ShopMiquelrius's service, why not share the resource with others and earn a few dollars leading buyers to them?

Jennifer said they didn't have an affiliate program in place, but she was very intrigued by the idea. After a little research and requests of the director, she got the green light to launch a trial affiliate program for 3 months. Very cool!

Today their new trial affiliate program is live on the site.

Support a Great Source
Seeking a good source for Miquelrius notebooks? I invite you to try ShopMiquelrius by using my affiliate link.

If you like their service, sign up for the affiliate program yourself, so your friends can use this resource, ShopMiquelrius can sell more books, and you can earn a little something to buy more Miquelrius notebooks with! :-)

P.S. I wasn't paid to write this post, didn't receive any free notebooks, and have only signed up for the affiliate link a few moments ago. I'm just a very happy customer who wants to share this great resource with other Miquelrius buyers, and to help grow and thrive. It's the least I can do.

P.P.S. Just got word from Jennifer that ShopMiquelrius is having a Thanksgiving sale: 10% off all purchases for registered, logged-in users, from Noon EST November 15th through 11:59 PM on November 18th. To get the discount, use the code THANKS07.


Declining an Apple Job Opportunity

John Harbor's Main Street Coffee HouseAbout a month ago, late on a Monday night, I received an intriguing email.

A senior recruiter at Apple found my blog, reviewed my design work and wondered if I might interested in a position on the iPhone/OS X design team.

At first I thought it was a joke. Surely this was a prank, sprung by my good buddy, Michael Ashby.

Then I did my research, and it was the real deal.

This was definitely Apple calling.

Holy smokes!

Talking with Apple
After the shock wore off, I setup a initial phone interview. I had to find out more. I contacted several good friends living in Silicon Valley, to learn more about working at Apple and living in California.

The next day, I had a great conversation with the recruiter. I shared my background and skills, learned more about the potential position, Apple, and California.

If I was interested in moving ahead with this, the next step was an icon design project and an essay on my solution for a UI design challenge.

With this huge opportunity on the table, I took time to get counsel from my wife, family and friends, to think through the ramifications and to pray for God's guidance.

After much thought and consideration I decided to decline the opportunity.

Decline? Are you NUTS Mike?!
The very idea that I was completely nuts did cross my mind. After all, this is Apple, and an opportunity to work on the iPhone/OS X design team!

The opportunity was extremely attractive. A potential opportunity of a lifetime — doing design work on the iPhone, for Apple. But upon reflection and reviewing who I am and what I'm all about, the answer was clear.

Here are the reasons I decided to decline:

I Love My Work
I realized how much I love the design work I do, and how satisfying it is to build brands with small companies. I love being an advisor to my clients, sharing my expertise with them. I enjoy working directly with business owners and entrepreneurs, developing brands that reach their customers and help them compete and win against bigger competitors. I love being my clients' secret weapon!

I Love Milwaukee
A move to California would have been part of the deal. I've been to California and it's a beautiful place, but I love living in the Milwaukee area. I like being able to own a home we can afford, in a quiet neighborhood with great schools. I've spent my life building lasting relationships here. My family is here. It's a wonderful place to raise a son. I love the seasons, the Packers. This is where I belong and I where want to stay.

I Love MakaluMedia
The company I work for is a large part of my success. MakaluMedia's owner, Matt Henderson has been a strong supporter for my 10+ years with the company. He was willing to try remote working in 1998, when it was new and untested. He was willing to let me go after clients and create a design firm within the company. Every day, I get to work with amazing colleagues and clients, and that's very meaningful to me.

Maybe I'm crazy for passing up a chance to work at Apple. I'm cool with that.

I know in my heart and soul, that declining this opportunity was the right decision for me and my family. I'm content knowing this is the place where I want to be and where God is working through me to help others and love others.

For my money, that's the right place to be.

Related Links
Cameron Moll: Why I passed up the chance to work at Apple


SEED Conference Thoughts & Sketchnotes

SEED Conference: Sketchnotes 17Whew! I'm back from Monday's excellent SEED Conference in Chicago.

What a great event! The Illinois Institute of Technology and Rem Koolhaas' Tribune Student Center building, was an incredibly cool venue. Funky lines and the architectural space provided a unique backdrop for the sessions of the day.

Carlos Segura
All of the sessions were very good, though the most interesting for me as a designer was hearing Carlos Segura speak. He talked about taking risks and thinking deeper for clients and going beyond only what they ask to figuring out what they really need.

I was especially inspired by the Corbis Stock Photo case study, where Carlos' team changed the stock agency's overall approach to consider their clients (designers) and in doing so, changed an entire industry.

Segura also stressed keeping small, working on projects and with clients you really want to work with. Good work comes from these situations, and by staying small you aren't constantly taking jobs you dislike just to keep everyone busy. In fact, this turned into a thread that connected all of the talks of the day.

Jason Fried
Jason spoke very briefly, so he could open the floor for lots of Q&A time. He recommended these 5 items:

  • Watch out for red flags
  • Keep your team small
  • Make sure your staff has alone time
  • Keep meetings short and focused
  • Make tiny decisions instead of massive ones

Jason also recommended a small team size, though his perspective focused a little more on communication issues with small vs. large teams and scaling projects to fit your team size rather than scaling your team to fit scope.

I resonated most with Jason's call for alone time. I work remotely, but even though I work alone, there is always a temptation towards IM, email or phone calls, and I find that blocking out chunks of alone time makes a difference. I know this may be a tough one for the multi-tasking generation, but I think it really can help your focus.

Jim Coudal
I loved Jim Coudal's candor and relaxed approach, and especially his openness in sharing his firm's successes and failures. He shared several stories and films, and drew ideas from them. My take away:

  • Be curious
  • Choose people on their taste
  • Don't be afraid to fail

Jim talked about his curiosity and how many of the things he's been curious about have turned into business ideas. Curiosity helps with client work, since you can get to speed quickly and often see a problem from a different perspective than the client.

He also talked about identifying people and hiring them on taste over technical talent. Not untalented people with taste, but rather if you had to choose between two people and one had good taste, go with taste over talent.

Coudal suggested that failures are OK. They're learning experiences which often create opportunities that might never have happened otherwise. You have to learn to identify and capitalize on unexpected opportunities that often grow out of failures.

Discussion Session: Segura, Fried & Coudal
The most interesting of the sessions was the final hour or so of open discussion time with Carlos, Jason and Jim at the front of the room. They fielded all sorts of questions from attendees about their ideas. Questions about small teams, marketing, simplicity, community, building products while still managing client work, questions about creating apps that rely solely on other platorms (Facebook), and more.

Of all the sessions, this was the one I and the 4 other guys I met, thought was the best of all. Why? Because they had a chance to respond immediately and candidly to random questions. I also enjoyed hearing them discuss and explore ideas in depth that hadn't come out in their talks. Finally, it was interesting to hear their similarity of thought and subtle differences of approach and opinion on the same questions.

As mentioned last week, I took my pocket Moleskine sketchbook along and captured 17 pages of sketchnotes, from the entire day's talks and discussions, including Carlos Segura, Jason Fried, Edward Lifson and Jim Coudal.

I didn't try to capture everything said during yeterday's event, since others were probably doing that.

Instead, I took time to listen and analyze the talks, distilling and capturing the main ideas I was hearing. By doing a bit of on-the-fly processing, it forced me to boil down what was being said, then express it in ink on the page in a way that would be meaningful to me and to others who might read my sketchnotes later.

To make the notes interesting, I played with typography and images with the sketchnotes, to provide a little texture and depth beyond pages of gray text.

SEED Sketchnotes on Coudal Partners
Seems my notes have struck a chord. Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners emailed about my sketchnotes on Flickr and made mention in their Fresh Signals feed. Thanks Jim!

SEED Sketchnotes on Signal vs. Noise
Awesome! 37signals noticed them too: Mike Rohde's SEED Conference 2007 sketchbook notes. Thanks Matt!

Pretty cool to have speakers and sponsors mention notes taken during the event. :-)

Overall, SEED Conference was well worth the time and price to attend.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


BarCampMilwaukee2 Shirts: To the Printer

This afternoon, I took the final BarcampMilwaukee2 T-Shirt art, sizes and specs to MJM Ventures. 290 shirts are now in production, with delivery of the shirts set for Thursday October 11th.

BarCamp MKE 2 Shirt Mockup: Side View

After 12:00 today, I closed the window for new BarCamp registrants to gurantee their shirt sizes. I had to deliver the information and art today, so MJM could make the October 11th delivery deadline. That's the way it goes.

Registranst will still have shots at shirts, as I have about 75 extra shirts ordered for walk ups, to be given given out on a first-come, first serve basis.

Final Artwork
Here are snapshots of the final front and back artwork:

BarCamp MKE 2 Shirt Front (Final)
T-Shirt Front: Navy blue and rich gold.

BarCamp MKE 2 Shirt Back (Final)
T-Shirt Back: Solid Navy blue logo and sponsor names in the shape on an X.

Thank You!
Thanks go to Jen Anne for her wonderful illustrations, MJM for shirt selection and production, Pete Prodoehl (A.K.A. ChaosLord) for advice and information from last year's shirts and Blake Hall for all of his help creating t-shirt lists in Drupal.

BarCampMilwaukee2 is less than 2 weeks away! Sign up now!


Ecto 3 Icon Design

In the flurry of activity here, I've not had a chance to mention the release of the new ecto 3 application icon I've designed for Adriaan at Infinite Sushi:


Working on this one was quite fun, going through the sketch process, until we came to this solution of a box with items you might use for blogging inside. It was a different approach for a blogging app icon, but that's just what Adriaan liked best.

Fireworks & Upscaling
I designed the original icon as a standard 128x128px icon, then later in the process, Adriaan needed a 256x256px version for other uses. I took the opportunity to refine the details, like adding actual lines of text to the documents.

Because I used Fireworks' vector tools to build this icon, it was relatively easy to upscale the 256px icon from the original 128px icon. The initial up-scaled icon wasn't perfect, but good enough to save a god chunk time rebuilding the icon from scratch if it were a 128px bitmap icon.

Thanks Adriaan for working with me on this fun project! :-)

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