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Entries in Observations (73)


What Would My Great Grandfather Think of Me?

John Martin Rohde SketchtoonHave you ever wondered what your ancestors would think of you, your life and the time you live in?

About a month ago, I received a book of family history, which traces our family history from Bobitz, Germany in the Mecklenburg region (near the Baltic Sea).

My great grandfather, John Martin, came to the US in 1873, and settled near Juneau, WI where he lived, established a farm, and had children, one of which was my grandfather Edwin.

What Would He Think?
Reading through our family's story, I've begun to ask: what would John Martin think of me, my life and the time, place and culture I live in?

I ask this probably for validation, but I think more for curiosity sake. I'd be very interested in his reactions, and to hear his wisdom, learned from years of hard experience as an immigrant, husband and father.

I wonder if he would he be amazed at the Internet, which allows me to work from Milwaukee with colleagues, clients and friends around the world? Being a farmer, what would he think of the virtual world I live in?

Would the "magic" of computers and tiny gadgets surprise him or would they seem like cheap flashing toys to him?

I wonder what he would have been like, quiet or talkative? A reader? An artist?

Obviously, I may never know, but it's interesting to ponder.

If I Were to Guess...
I think he would be proud to see the family continuing on, adapting to the world in which it found itself. John Martin lived through some amazing shifts in culture: the German Revolution, the turn of the century and the rise of industrialism, World War I, the Great Depression and more. How cool it would be to hear his stories now.

The sketch above was done early this morning, as these questions bounced around in my head. I wanted to capture an image of John Martin as a way of personalizing and honoring him as my great grandfather.

John Martin, I hope I'm making you proud.


The Power of Encouraging Words

enc.jpgThis week I've been given many encouraging words from friends and family on my design, writing, for the person I am, and what I mean to them.

Sincere words of encouragement from people you trust, are incredibly uplifting. Words of encouragement can keep me going strong for weeks or months.

Here's my challenge:
if you admire someone, either for who they are, what they do, or what they mean to you — tell them today! The surge of positive, heartfelt words will encourage them, maybe more than you know.

Life is so short — don't miss a chance to make a positive impact!


Doubt Sketchtoon Notes

DoubtA few weeks ago, Tom Slye, the youth director at my church gave an excellent message on doubt. He talked about what doubt is, and offered ways to think about and deal with doubt in a realistic ways.

I often take notes during messages, as it helps my mind process the words. Lately I've been toying with the idea of capturing notes in a graphical way — using typography for emphasis — to force myself to focus on the core of the talk within a limited space.

On the right is my one-page sketchtoon from Tom's talk on doubt, which I think turned out pretty well.

There are a few things I want to try on future talks, like mental imagery and drawings embedded in the text, even color if I can pick up a small set of markers or pencils that are easy to carry along with my Moleskine sketchbook.

In general, I find sketching out notes offers a different, more focused way of engaging of my whole brain, rather than just left brain.

Just yesterday I was inspired to explore this idea of sketching notes, when I came across Dave Gray's wonderful LIFT Conference sketches. His stylized sketch notes are another cool way to capture notes from a talk in a more visual way.

Here's a great talk by Dave Gray and Dana smith on Visual Thinking, with some exercises you can follow along with. Be sure to check out Dave's Visual Thinking School on Squidoo. All good stuff, check it out!

I'll post more sketch notes here as I do them, now that I'm inspired to explore this area a bit more. If you have ideas for me, leave them in the comments! :-)


Learning Good Value from My Local Garage

Tires by Duff SudsToday I was pondering why customers hire me to help solve their design challenges.

I believe it comes down to one simple thing: providing good value.

What's good value?
It's demonstrated by my local garage, Gordy's Service on 84th and Bluemound in Milwaukee.

Why? Because the guys there treat me well, tell me when fixes are truly critical and try hard keep my costs reasonable, as long as it doesn't jeopardize our family's safety or our car's well-being.

They open early and stay open late. They're up the street from Stone Creek Coffee, so I can do a little work while I wait for my cars to be serviced. Their guys are friendly and quick and they tell me the truth.

When it was time to buy new tires last year, I went to Gordy's. Turns out they weren't much more than the big retailer at the Mall. I know if I have questions, Gordy's guys are there to help. In fact, I think they were a better value, because I knew the same guy who installed them would be there if I had a question.

What happens when Gordy's gives me a good value? I tell other people about them, and faithfully get my work done there, even if I have to schedule an appointment because they're busy.

This is what I strive for daily in my own business dealings with clients. To be honest and clear, helpful and understanding. To help solve challenges for a reasonable price. To be fast, good and to tell the truth.

To provide a good value to my clients.

What's your definition of good value?

Photo by Michael Bowman (Duff Suds)


Embrace the Creative Process

Mike Rohde's Sketch Kit (Open)I've noticed a recurring theme emerging in the logo, icon and web design work I've been doing the past year — the importance of loving the creative process and embracing design iterations, rather than fighting them.

Sometimes design iterations can feel like barriers to finishing a project. However, I find that by flowing with iterations and the process of design, I end up with better work in the end. Design is all about iteration, and exploring crazy, spur of the moment ideas.

I think this quote sums it up nicely:

"Keep in touch with your soul by developing your technique. There are no mistakes, so... just work. The more you work the more you'll figure out if that's your bliss."
— Fernando Araujo

Embrace the process. iterations are a chance to push yourself to the next level. When you embrace and enjoy the process, you'll see your joy reflected in your work.

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