October 3rd

October 3, 2011: Dancing with Demons

400 Troy Brooks - CybeleCybele. By Troy Brooks.

A year ago I was on my way to a meeting and I walked passed a small gallery on Queen East. If I wasn't such a punctual person I would have stood there for hours. The woman glared out of the canvas and looked right past me. She was divine. Cold, bewitching–she was otherworldly and yet I felt I knew her.

I wrote the artist's name on a piece of paper – Troy Brooks – and hurried to my destination. When I got home the paper was gone, and with it, the artist's name.

The next time I went past the gallery I was on the streetcar and saw the woman again. I had that same feeling when I saw her and I knew that I needed to meet the person behind her face. I made a special trip to the gallery to get the ... Read more »

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August 31st

August 31, 2011: Tomorrow is September

399 Danforth Radio

In one week school starts and I begin teaching 2 nights a week again. I have been stressing out and working my butt off to prepare for the 2 new clases that I will be teaching this semester –Type 1 and Graphic Com 1. I brough my signed contact to school today, updated my ID and photocopied all my handouts for the first day of class. No matter how prepared I am I always have nighmares of forgetting something for at least a week ahead of time. In my prep for Type class I have been photographing interesting type in T.O.

397 Yard Sale

Not only do I need to prep for classes I also need to cook for the year and have been pillaging my garden for fresh tomatoes, beans, zucchinis, eggplant, beets, swiss chard, fennel and leeks. My freezer in my fridge is jammed and my basement freezer if stuffed to the brim with soups and sauces to last me through the winter.

One of the easiest, tastiest and freshest recipes I discovered this year was Jamie Oliver's smashed cherry tomato and olive salad. That's it. That's all it is. Cherry tomatoes, smashed. Black olives, smashed, pits removed. Mix them together with herbed vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil. DONE. So Good. Thanks Jamie.

398 Tamblyn

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August 23rd

August 23, 2011: 2 more weeks left

394 Starship4000What does one do to end the summer on a high note?

Go on mental rides, eat deep fried cola, Montreal smoked meat sandwiches with saurkraut and a pickle on the side, Tiny Tom's donuts, drink beer, get the hiccups, go on more mental rides and end the night wanting to barf and start all over again.

395 Rides

Awesome. Although I did miss out on the corndog.


There's always next year.

393 FireBallPhotos taken at The Ex.


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August 2nd

August 2, 2011: Runaway Summer

392 Detail.August Already?

I just got back from a week off, dividing my time between relatives on Georgian Bay and my mom's Oasis East of Toronto. Both paradise for relaxing in the sun – although Georgian Bay can't really compare to cooling my feet in the kiddie pool at my mom's place.

Here is a pic of the sign I made for my mom's place in the country. Maybe I should start a custom sign shop?

391 Cabin Sign by Saskia.Scrap wooden plank, acrylic paints and varnish. By Saskia van Kampen

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July 7th

July 7, 2011: I didn't realize...

382 Si Scott Bird detail
These past few weeks I have begun to build my lectures and assignments for my new courses that will begin in 2 month (yikes). I will be teaching Typography 1 and Graphic Communications 1 in the fall semester and Graphic Communications 2 and Graphic Translations in the winter semester. I was seeking out inspiring typography and was on Si Scott's website when I came across these images...

381 Si Scott Bird

383 Si Scott Dragonfly

384 Si Scott Dragon fly detail385 Si Scott Dragon fly detail 2

387 Si Scott pen drawing

388 Si Scott pidgeon389 Si Scott Fish390 Si Scott Deer

I didn't realize how much I miss drawing. 


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June 20th

378 Photo by Ross McAuley– photo by Ross McAuley

I thought that my next blog should highlight Spearhead Brewing Company. This is the company my brother started two years ago and it launched last week. The brewery focuses on hand-crafting extreme beers, and boy are they tasty. I have been working evenings and weekends for 2 years designing all the branding – from logo to labels, vans to t-shirts, pens to tap handles, glassware to booth displays. The crush is over now and I am a bit bewildered with the  free time I now have. I feel the need to phone my brother at midnight just for old-times sake.

379 DimitriDimitri van Kampen, President of Spearhead Brewing Company – Photo by Ross McAuley

Most people caution against going into business with family but in this case it worked very well. There were a few bouts of sibling rivalry to keep things interesting but for the most part, my brother, Dimitri was open-minded. I give him full credit for embracing an illustrative approach to the label designs a route most clients are afraid to take due to it being interpretive. Being a new and innovative craft brewery I wanted to visually express the hand-made quality of the beer without looking traditional or old-fashioned. I created bold illustrations to simulate the carved look of block-printing. I added a highlight colour to simulate the look of a print that is slightly off-register to visually communicate "Beer Without BoundariesTM" which is the Spearhead tagline.

What a crazy few years, I doubt my brother will ever forget them. I wish him and the Spearhead team evry bit of success. I know they have earned it.



377 Spearhead MaddnessSpearhead Maddness. The Spearhead team having some fun.

380 Comraderie

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June 7th

375 mimi owl music charmPhoto taken from etsy.com/shop/mimishop?ref=pr_shop

I went to my first baby shower of the season on Saturday. I am not one for knowing anything about babies, baby care or baby needs as I have a cat instead.

The mother-to-be is the wife of a colleague of mine. They both have impeccable taste and appreciate good design. I was beginning to panic about "the gift". I became desperate about what to get for this shower. What colour, what pattern, what if the gift doesn't go with the decor, what do babies like, what do mom's need?

On my walk home from work I saw a shop called 100 Mile Child. To quote their website: "we are a Canadian company based in Toronto and specialising in local, ethical and safe products for kids." What a fabulous shop. I highly recommend it for any of you non-kid people faced with the dilemma of the baby shower gift. Though I'm not quite sure about the 100 mile aspect, since mimi is based in North Vancouver.

376 mimi music box plushiesPhoto taken from etsy.com/shop/mimishop?ref=pr_shop

I ended up buying the sweetest musical owl, that does not need batteries and that plays Brahms Lullaby. It can be used in a crib, hung in a car or on a stroller. The colours are fun but neutral enough that it will not offend any decor. And most importantly – the gift was received with great enthusiasm. Success!



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May 31st

373 The Two Industrious GirlsMichelle Matsui of Kempton Jones and me at the first Kraft Karavan of 2011.

On Sunday Michelle and I had our first Kraft Karavan of 2011 and what a terrific success it was. The hostess was my mom and the event was at her house so I arrived on Saturday in order to help her put some goodies together for the guests. By noon on Sunday Michelle had arrived, the table was organized and the treats had been plated and set out. Just after 1:00 we heard the sound of tires on gravel and watched as 5 cars pulled into the driveway. It was GO TIME! Our guests took a few moments to introduce themselves and then headed over to our table of Handmade Hapiness.

371 GranolavicGranola made fresh by Tomislava and Granolavic.

This Kraft Karavan featured a new seller – Granlolavic (http://www.granolavic.com/) made fresh by Tomislava. I urge you to take a peek at her beautiful website. Her granola is every bit as tasty as it sounds

372 Bunny Bags by VlastaBunny Bags hand made by Vlasta van Kampen.

We also had a few new products including my mom's Bunny Bags and Piggy Pockets: Fun fleecy creatures with a secret spot for you rchild or grandchild to tuck their pj's after they wake up in the morning.

Of course we also helped Guillaume and his charity called Earn and Learn. The cards, gift bags and notebooks that the syudents made were on our table too. Earn and Learn is a program set up to help keep children living in India in school instead of having to work and help provide for their family. The money that Guillaume earns from selling these products goes towards this program. The Kraft Karavan hopes to be able to continue helping Guillaume and this amazing organization.

The day was a big success. Everyone left happy and a few more sock monkeys have found new homes.

374 The Kraft Karavan SpreadThe Kraft Karavan table – What a spread!


KemptonJones: http://kemptonjones.com

Kraft Karavan: http://www.kraftkaravan.com


Granlolavic: http://www.granolavic.com

Vlasta van Kampen: http://www.vlasta.ca

Earn n Learn: http://www.earnlearn.org

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May 24th

May 24, 2011: Music and creativity.

370 Crystal Stilts 2011Crystal Stilts Live in Toronto at Sneaky Dee's May 22, 2011. – image by Saskia.

Whenever I hit the wall and cannot find my creative energies I seek for inspiration in my music collection. Over the years my musical tastes have broadened so that I now have a vast selection of genres ranging from folk and bluegrass, indie, pop and rock to classical, world music and electronica. There isn't a mood I cannot enhance or alter by my choice of tunes.

Last week I was on vacation – staycation actually. I stayed home to  finish my basement renovation (did not get it completed–sigh) and my backyard patio. It was interesting staying in the Toronto because I took advantage of my evenings by going to see live music.

One of the bands I saw was Crystal Stilts at Sneaky Dee's. They are a band from Brooklyn who tend to sound a bit like Joy Division with some surfer sounds and punk mixed in. It was fantastic and the crowd was diverse and fun.

It was a good and inspirational night.

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May 10th

369 OCAD U New logo
- image taken from www.ocad.ca/
Being a graduate and now a teacher at OCAD University I have a first hand understanding of how difficult it would be to summarize this institution in a logo. One of our 3rd year design projects was to design a logo for OCAD (not yet a university). No one in our class nailed it. It is not an easy task especially now that is has become a University with a much broader outlook on the art and design world. 

The school has gone through several changes since I have known it, including several logo changes of which none have done the school justice. Until now.

The creative process brought forward by Bruce Mau for the development of this new logo was quite unique. There were open forums where students, alumni and faculty could be a part of the discussion. There were walls in the school dedicated to information gathering. Anyone could write their ideas for the identity and general thoughts about the school on note paper and stick them on the wall. This process was open to everyone.

On first glance the logo seems uninspired and, actually, a little dull. It is only one colour – black – for an art and design school? But it’s the endless possibilities and the unique individuality that has been captured in this truly inspired result.


–This post was originally written for SOS Design by your truly.

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