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Entries in Milwaukee (36)


Web414 Stickers

Web414 Sticker (Rounded)Recently, I was invited to try PSPrint printing, by marketing manager Trisha.

For a while I've wanted to create stickers for Web414, the local Milwaukee web design and development group I'm part of, so I sent some EPS art to PSPrint.

A week later, I received a package of 50 white stickers with a 2 color Web414 logo on them, and they look great!

The stickers were designed at business card size: 3.5" x 2" then trimmed above and below the logo. Using my wife's corner rounder from her scrap-booking toolkit, I rounded the corners to complete the look I was aiming for.

I could have gone with a custom die, but since this was a free test run, it wasn't in the budget. If I were running a large quantity, I'd most definitely order a die.

Sticker Quality
PSPrint uses a medium weight vinyl for their stickers, printing the logo in 4/color fade-resistant inks with a 6 months fade-free guarantee, under normal use.

The substrate is tough and resilient, though these are not intended for extreme situations. For heavy duty stickers, check out

Still, for placement on a laptop, notebook or other medium duty applications, I'm very pleased with the results of the PSPrint stickers created for Web414.

Come to the Web414 May meeting and get one free 'til they're gone!

Related Links
Flickr Photos: Squared, Rounded, and shown In Context with a Moleskine.


The New Gig: Art Director at Northwoods Software

NWS-Door-NameSM.jpgLast November, I mentioned in detail Apple contacting me about a job opportunity with the iPhone/OS X design team. After taking time to ponder and reflect on the opportunity, I felt it wasn't the right move for myself or my family.

I loved living and working in Milwaukee, helping independent software developers with branding and design challenges at MakaluMedia.

These were the major reasons I decided to decline the Apple opportunity.

Fast forward to spring 2008.

Following several discussions with leadership team and design/development staff at Northwoods Software, I've been offered an art director position, which I have accepted. I start my new job in mid-May.

After 10 great years at MakaluMedia, I'm taking the next step.

A Tough Decision
This change was a very tough decision. I love the design work I do, the clients I help and the many colleagues I've had the pleasure to collaborate with. I've spent several years building a reputation for doing good design work, solving problems for my clients and being a designer who listens and is easy to work with.

There is nothing wrong with MakaluMedia. I've loved my time at MakaluMedia.

This change in direction is about new opportunities and challenges on multiple levels. This is the next step in my growth as a person, a designer and art director.

10 Years at MakaluMedia: Priceless
Working for MakaluMedia since 1998 has been a wonderful experience. Matt Henderson, the owner of MakaluMedia and I have been through quite a bit together.

office.jpgI was Matt's first employee, leaving a position with Hare Strigenz, a Milwaukee print design firm. I'd developed a passion for the web and wanted to learn the new medium by diving in head first.

I learned HTML from books and building sites in BBEdit. in 2003 I shifted from tabled design to web standards, thanks to Designing with Web Standards.

I was the first MakaluMedia employee to work fully remotely. This was way back in 1998 when it was still a little quirky and unusual. I produced my design work on a Powerbook Wallstreet, with a 19" Sony CRT on a folding table in my apartment.

I experienced a shift from larger design projects with the European Space Agency, to building a network of small, independent clients over several years. The first year was tough, but a long-term, steady approach to doing good work and making clients happy has paid off in many referrals, a backlog of work and profitability.

By working remotely and having to build my own network of clients and partners, I've effectively run a small design business. I've enjoyed the entire process: finding clients, winning projects, solving design challenges, selecting and managing partners, producing the solutions, invoicing the work and promoting the work.

These past 10 years have shaped who I am, formalized my iterative design process, provided a better understanding of business, built my knowledge of helping clients, improved my customer service and more. It's been a priceless experience.

Northwoods Opportunities & Challenges
Becoming an art director at Northwoods Software is a step in my process of growth as a designer and a person. I'll be working on larger projects, exercising research, analysis, problem solving and visual thinking skills in new and different ways. I'm looking forward to bringing what I've learned to new projects and users.

I'm very excited about working within a creative group again. Working alone has developed my focus, but I've missed being in an office with a small group of creative people. Over the years I've built a network of design colleagues online, but IM, Twitter and voice chats are just no substitute for having colleagues close at hand.

Sharing with my team will be satisfying part of the position. I'm looking forward to offering up my 20+ years of experience in design practice with colleagues. I hope that all of the joy and pain gained from many years of working on projects with clients will benefit my colleagues at Northwoods.

The company is focusing on new creative areas of expertise, and I'm extremely excited to be part of this. I'm hoping my skills and experiences in building a small design business from scratch will be helpful in this regard.

Finally, the company attracted me with its unique working environment, including a private office with shower and toilet, ping pong tables, popcorn on Thursdays, workout and nap rooms and space outside for frisbee. Northwoods' family first approach and flexibility made a positive impact on me, as I'm coming from a pretty family-friendly and flexible work at home environment.

All in all, I am very excited about this new Northwoods opportunity.

I'm very thankful to Matt Henderson for the opportunity to be a part of MakaluMedia these past 10 years. It's been a great ride, I've learned quite a bit, and I know the team will continue to produce great stuff.

I'm also grateful to the team at Northwoods, for making me a part of their team at this exciting time in the life of the company. I'm looking forward to being a contributor to Northwoods' success and growth.

Northwoods Movies & Photos
Tracy Apps, a friend of mine and my future Northwoods colleague, has grabbed several movie clips and photos of the Northwoods offices on Flickr. I thought would be fun to post several of them here for a little context. :-)

My New Office at Northwoods

Yep, that's my own private office with a window, bathroom, shower and vanity. Northwoods has retrofitted an old hospital space for their offices, so every employee gets an office just like this. Pretty slick.

The Creative Wing Tour

Tracy takes the camera down the hall from my office, and shows the central area where the ping pong tables and other amenities are located.

Brian Artka Scootering in the Creative Wing

A few weeks ago, Northwoods picked up scooters for the team, and of course my friend Brian Artka had to show off his scootering skillz!

Tracy's Extreme On-Board Scootering

Here we have Tracy capturing her thrill-a-minute extreme scooter ride!

Ping Pong Tables
working hard...
And here are several Northwoods team members playing ping pong.


The MilwaukeeDevHouse Experience

2333772887_9473dfd861_m.jpgLast night, Nathan and I packed up the MacBook, Canon scanner, 27 of his "transportation" themed drawings and headed downtown.

We were off to take part in the first ever MilwaukeeDevHouse at Bucketworks — an opportunity to hang out with a bunch of local Milwaukee tech geeks, doing stuff together.

When we arrived, Bucketworks was already hopping! I counted 30 people, and I may have missed some attendees wandering around Bucketworks (not to mention those who came after we left at 9pm).

2334510917_cd798e2924_t.jpgWe found a spot at one of the tables and setup the MacBook and scanner, then Nathan and I worked together as a team to scan, tune and upload his drawings on Transportation to Flickr.

Today I asked Nathan his thoughts on the event, and he said:

"I liked the people and the noise and the food. I liked pushing the buttons to scan my drawings. I liked everything there!"

This was an excellent experience for us both on many levels:

  • We shared quality father and son time in a fun, shared environment
  • I was able to encourage Nathan in his creative work by scanning his art
  • Nathan met a variety of Web414 pals and learned how to interact with others
  • We were able to build a memorable experience with tangible results
What's MilwaukeeDevHouse?
In a nutshell, a DevHouse is a space where people can work on serious or fun projects, either by themselves or in a team. Here's the official description:

MilwaukeeDevHouse aims to be the premier regularly scheduled hackathon event that combines serious and not-so-serious productivity with a fun and exciting party atmosphere.

If you’re a coder, designer, or just someone who enjoys software and technology development, MilwaukeeDevHouse was made for you...

MilwaukeeDevHouse is intended for passionate and creative technical people that want to have some fun, learn new things, and meet new people.

If you have the chance to check out a DevHouse locally, do it! Our experience was wonderful. Even better, start a local DevHouse in your area.

Special thanks to Pete Prodoehl, one of the leaders of MilwaukeeDevHouse.

We're already looking forward to MilwaukeeDevHouse2! :-)

Related Links
MilwaukeeDevHouse1 Photos on Flickr
Nathan's Transportation Drawings:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


February Blizzard in Milwaukee

February Blizzard: Climbing Everest!Milwaukee was hit with a big blizzard today, dropping 16" of snow across the entire area.

Around 3pm, I took a break from work to clear our snow, and was shocked by just how much white stuff was in our driveway.

Our neighbors helped me shovel, and a little later, Nathan came out to play. I took a few shots of him climbing the Mount Everest pile near the driveway to give you an idea how much snow we've got up here.

Holy Cow!


BarCampMilwaukee2 Was a Success!

Another BarCampMilwaukee has been successfully pulled off!

IMG_7702.JPGIn my wanderings and speaking with people in attendance tis weekend, BarCamp was a success.

I repeatedly received positive comments such as "what a great event!" or "wow, people here are so helpful and friendly!" and "this was very well planned and managed" from attendees.

Those who have been involved in putting on a conference will know it's a different view from the inside. We certainly had our glitches, but I was always impressed with the team of organizers and random attendees stepping up to help.

It was very encouraging to see the group do it for themselves, giving of themselves and sharing what they had to make BarCampMilwaukee2 happen for everyone.

As an example, I was set to handle registration and t-shirt handout with several helpers. All was well until I found that the spreadsheet I was using was somehow un-searchable in NeoOffice, two co-organizers moved the file to another machine, while several others started taking names and shirt sizes on good 'ol paper and pencil. Several fresh registrants stepped up to help distribute shirts to other registrants.

Things like this happened repeatedly throughout the weekend, problems being identified and helpers stepping up to solve them. It was a great experience seeing that sort of ad-hoc willingness pop up again and again.

Great Sessions
Sessions were varied and interesting, ranging from personal branding, portable apps, web and graphic design and analog tool capture, to hacking elevators, the Flickrverse, social networking history and more. In each of the sessions I attended, fascinating discussions got going, and kept right through to the end of each hour.

Piano GraveyardI went on the BarCamp Photowalk and had a great time shooting a few images and getting to know several campers better. Check out photos from the event on Flickr. We wandered Schlitz Park, and we then invited into the building of an attendee to snap images inside. We rode in a creaky freight elevator in a old warehouse building, to explore a room full of busted piano parts.

But I think I most enjoyed meeting new people. People like Marcus and Jen and Tracy. There were many more and everyone had a story, an interest, a passion. And those I met seemed to be having a great time, just like me.

Thank You
Thank you to Pete and all of the organizers! I'm very proud to be counted as a small part of the BarCamp organization team, handling t-shirt design, production and printing as well as various other tasks. It was a true honor to be part of this group, watching it move from planning, to preparation to fruition.

Thanks go to our sponsors, who made this event possible. On a several occasions I had attendees ask who was paying for food or shirts — it was a great feeling to tell them that everything was covered by sponsors and individual donations. I'm very proud that the company I work for, MakaluMedia, was a sponsor of this event.

If you're curious about the event, check out the batch of photos generated at the event on Flickr, or check out other postings on Technorati.

Attend or Organize a BarCamp!
If you learn of a BarCamp in your area — go! It's a blast and you won't regret it. If there isn't one in your area, start one! You'll find fellow BarCampers very helpful, and full if ideas and information.

Lord of Chaos T-Shirt
You can see the story behind the Lord of Chaos T-Shirt I designed for Pete Prodoehl, and if you like itm pick up your own directly from GoodStorm:

Lord of Chaos T-Shirt (

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