Monthly Archives: March 2016

Call Me Loré Project Highlight

Call Me Lore header

Call Me Loré is Lorena García’s personal fashion and lifestyle blog. As a side project to the Bloguettes, Lorena asked Monomyth to develop an identity and responsive web experience that would allow her to share her passions on a more personal level.

We created an identity that is simple, casual, and intimate. The typography was also intended to set Call Me Loré apart from other fashion blogs that traditionally use a slab serif. Followers of Call Me Loré should feel a sense of light, simple sophistication.

Call Me Lore imac

As this is a personal fashion blog, the color palette is based on the more predominant tones of Lorena’s wardrobe – whites, light neutrals, and subtle blues. Too keep it from appearing too stark, we used a dark brown instead of black for all the copy and navigation.

Call Me Lore iPhone

Call Me Loré is a heavily responsive web experience, allowing her readership to fully access the blog from wherever they are. This was an important point for Lorena, as she encourages her readers to experience fashion and culture outside the confines of the computer screen. 

Call Me Lore iPad

To experience more of Lorena’s personal adventures, follow along on Call Me Loré and Instagram.

Call Me Lore Instagram

5 Reasons to Start Writing by Hand

How often are you writing by hand? Do you find yourself typing everything, from text messages and to-do lists, to blog posts?

writing by hand

If so, you should probably go out and buy a notebook today. And here are some reasons why:

1. Writing by hand gives us the feeling that we are still drafting.

Taking a pen to paper feels more like a sketch than typing does. By being hand-written, whatever you’re working on is inherently unfinished. It may seem counter-intuitive, since writing by hand is physically more permanent than digital words on a screen, but most of us have been trained for the last two decades that handwriting is rough. Since our computers are used primarily for sharing finished products, once our work is digital, it feels more completed. A computer is the venue for a final product, where polished ideas live. If your idea is put into the digital realm prematurely, you may not be inclined to edit it like you would in a notebook. Because it looks finished on the screen, it might not be given the time to be shaped, sculpted into something more advanced.

“Even a scrap of paper and a stub of a pencil are more preferable for philosophizing than typing the same words down, since writing a word out, letter by letter, is a more self-conscious process and one more likely to inspire further revisions and elaborations of that thought.”

2. Writing by hand evokes a rawness, a humanness, that is hard to achieve with typing.

“It’s not just a question of writing a letter: it also involves drawing, acquiring a sense of harmony and balance, with rounded forms. There is an element of dancing when we write, a melody in the message, which adds emotion to the text. After all, that’s why emoticons were invented, to restore a little emotion to text messages.”

Writing by hand is a very personal thing. The pen becomes, in essence, an extension of yourself. If you are trying to empathize, or reveal yourself in a very human way to your readership, writing by hand might give you the voice, the personality you might lose when typing. There is a sense of formality involved with typing, which could be a hinderance to writing something personable. While writing by hand, you might come across a thought that is too informal for typing, but might be the most relatable take on what you’re writing.

Writing by hand is laborious, and that is why typewriters were invented. But I believe that the labor has a virtue, because of its very physicality. For one thing it involves flesh, blood and the thingness of pen and paper, those anchors that remind us that, however thoroughly we lose ourselves in the vortex of our invention, we inhabit a corporeal world.”

3. Writing by hand is limitless.

It is structureless. Writing on a computer is limited by its interface—spacing, font, left-to-right, top-to-bottom. But in a notebook, preferably an unlined notebook, you are free to do what you like. You can write in spirals, landscape, draw little graphs or doodles in the corner, releasing the creativity that a computer, an application, limits.

In fact, we learned that the FitBit had originally started out as a doodle in the corner of a sheet of paper a designer was brainstorming with.


4. A piece of paper does not have push notifications.

Overall, a piece of paper is less distracting than a computer. You can not get a text or email to your piece of paper. There is no refilled Two Dots life in your notebook.

Your notebook is a place to be loose, free, but focused. It is a place to regurgitate your creative mind, let go, and let it spill out.

Zach Sims, the co-founder of Codecademy, encourages his employees to leave the laptop outside during meetings. He says:

“Paper forces you to be present with the people in the room and your thoughts. When people aren’t messing around, they’re more engaged and finish faster.”

5. Writing by hand helps foster memory.

A study at the University of Washington showed that:

“…printing, cursive writing, and typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns — and each results in a distinct end product. When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas. And brain imaging in the oldest subjects suggested that the connection between writing and idea generation went even further. When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.”

So, you remember things better when you write them down. Think back to taking notes in college. Did you do it by hand, or did you have a laptop? How engaged were you with what you were typing or writing down?

We’re not saying everything should be written by hand. Because, well, most people’s handwriting is not legible. However, there is a time and a place for handwriting, when it’s more beneficial than typing, and we encourage you to try it out.

Marana Center Project Highlight

Marana Center logo

Marana Center is a factory outlet shopping center Northwest of Tucson, Arizona. Our client, Vintage Partners, developed the property as a lifestyle center, a place for the people in the communities north of Tucson to shop and explore, outside of the confines of a traditional indoor mall.

We were asked to create an identity and web experience for the shopping center. We developed an identity that pays homage to the desert landscape and the nearby Tohono O’odham tribe. 

Marana Center color palette

We referenced basket weaving patterns and textures in the brand’s logo and related imagery, using the M’s as the hidden but foundational structure. We also created a simplified version of the logo to imprint into the concrete in the plaza.

The color palette alludes to a modern Southwest. It coincides with the desert landscape without blending in or getting lost.

Marana Center web experience

The web experience functions as a landing page, focusing on new releases for people to keep up with the development of the center. It is a site that can be expanded upon easily, a temporary introduction to Marana Center while it is under construction, with room to grow. 

 Marana Center brand inspiration

An Interview with Bill Taggart (DADSOCKS)

“Taming this Wild Medium,” an Interview with DADSOCKS

Dadsocks artist interview image

DadSocks is Tempe, AZ-based stencil artist Bill Taggart, whose work is highly influenced by street art, hip hop culture and social justice. A New Jersey native, Bill was first introduced to art during his boyhood travels across the Northeast and discovered stencil art more than a decade ago while watching some street artists stenciling against a south Manhattan building. Bill’s stencil method involves layering different shades of spray paint with hand cut or laser cut stencils. His work often takes anywhere from 15 to 100 hours to complete from concept to canvas.

Monomyth Studio: When/How did you know you wanted to be an artist? How did you get here?

Bill Taggart: I don’t know if there was a moment where the clouds parted and sun broke through to reveal my desire to become an artist; it just kind of happened. But, I was always fascinated by the arts in general. Other than music I am particularly fascinated by all things visual, particularly tattoo flash, pop art, film, and most importantly street art and graffiti. But I don’t think there was ever this deep desire to be an artist. I think the label was cast upon me and I struggled to accept this identity for myself until very recently.

How I got here is a long story that involves being a stock broker… and hating it. It also involves being surrounded by and encouraged by incredibly talented people. Without those friends and family I would not be doing this interview. They pushed and encouraged me to share my work and handed me my first opportunity to show publicly. Those first two pieces I showed in the lobby of Redemption Church sold the first week and gave me the confidence to pursue other opportunities to show.

Which of your pieces are you most proud of? Why?

This re-mix of a David Bowie illustration I had found and painted back in 2013.

Dadsocks artist interview image

To understand why I have to take you back to 2012 when I was confronted with a crossroads to continue painting as a hobby. I hated everything I did and I was displeased with the design/execution of my paintings. I literally decided to quit.

The next day after this decision I watched a short 3 min motion graphic video of a monologue by This American Life host, Ira Glass. In summary, he talks about taste versus your abilities. When you’re in the early stages of your ambitions, your abilities and your taste are misaligned. He talks about the only way to triumph over this is to keep making work until one day your abilities and your taste finally come into alignment. I decided that my decision to abandon stencil art after 5 or so years of on and off practice was pre-mature. I gave myself a year to create as many stencils as I possibly could.

Almost a year later, my skills and my taste aligned with this piece (in my opinion at the time). But, I am still not happy with certain things about it and continually struggle to love my work holistically.

Dadsocks artist interview image

Many of the readers of our blog are less familiar with stencil art. What can you tell us about stencil art and graffiti? Why are you interested in these art forms?

Well, I can tell you a lot about stencil art and graffiti, but a lot of graffiti writers wouldn’t consider it to be the same thing. I think the biggest differentiation is imagery versus lettering. Graffiti is more along the lines of hand lettering with a spray can – it’s about self-promotion and leaving your mark all in a way that says Fuck the System. A lot of street artists today found their roots in the graffiti scene and have capitalized off of this new branding of their art form by adding imagery and abstract stylization.

Stencil art on the other hand, while birthed from the same motivations and done just as illegally, has largely been protected by governments over the hand styling seen above. Look up any video about Banksy and this topic will most likely come up. This has created a rift because it demonized the style that laid the foundation for street art forms like stencil art that didn’t make an appearance until the 80’s.

Stencil art was birthed in Paris by the street artist Blek Le Rat. He pioneered the life size multi-layered stencil and was arguably the largest influence for Banksy (even down to the rats).

But, on a more technical side, stencil art is layering spray paint using uniquely cut stencils to create an image. Some hand draw the base image but most use a photo as a reference and break it down in Photoshop or Illustrator. If you are familiar with screen printing it is a very similar process.

Dadsocks artist interview image

I’m attracted to this whole street art/graffiti movement because of its subversive nature. It’s a way of getting around curators and getting your work out to the public. It, in turn, provides art to individuals who wouldn’t otherwise be caught dead in a gallery. Not only that but it sparks conversations that wouldn’t otherwise be had; negative, positive, political, etc. I think it beautifully merges culture and breaks down the class structure that has been created around art in general.

I’m attracted to stencil art in particular because it’s mesmerizing to people. It’s taming this wild medium into an image that people just don’t understand right away. There is also immediacy to your successes and mistakes. There’s always one layer in a painting that reveals your complete satisfaction with the piece or your deep sorrow in your failure to execute your vision properly. This tension has given me a ton of patience and has made me a serious planner.

That’s a long-winded response… but you asked!

We read in an article in Arizona Foothills that you’ve spent time in a myriad of places: Central America, the Middle East, New Jersey, the south of the US, somehow landing in Phoenix. What brought you here? What does Phoenix have to offer an artist?

What brought me here originally was that job right out of college as a stockbroker for Charles Schwab in 2010. I made my adventures over seas to the Middle East with a non-profit about a year after moving to Arizona after I quit Charles Schwab. The relationships I built working for that non-profit introduced me to much of the modern design and art world I knew very little about – outside of street art.

Phoenix has a ton to offer artists but I think one of the most important things, that is not to be overlooked, cheap living and good day jobs.

Being able to pay rent, feed yourself, save, and have left over spending cash to invest in your art is an incredibly huge benefit for artists living in Phoenix.

Not to mention the incredible breadth of talent that is here in all mediums. Outside of New York and LA I have not witnessed this deep of an art and design network before. Now we just need to get them all working and supporting each other to show the rest of the country this is a place to grow in your art or design career.

Dadsocks artist interview image

What other prominent stencil artists have influenced your work? Why?

Logan Hicks a.k.a. the workhorse was one of my biggest influencers when I was learning. He revealed what was possible with multi-layered stencil art and keeps pushing those boundaries. I’ve been chasing his quality ever since.

Shepard Fairey a.k.a. Obey is another huge influence. His well executed concepts and simplistic design that always communicates what is on his mind, clearly, is always inspiring.

If you weren’t an artist, what other career would you consider?

Well, this is an interesting question because art is not my full-time gig. I am actually a full time Business Analyst for a large international staffing firm. I’m trying to move those skills into Web Analytics and/or Marketing Data Analytics. So, either what I’m doing now or, graphic and web design would be great too.

Have you had any mentors? How have they had an impact on your craft?

In regards to stencil art, YouTube was my biggest mentor. I have never had anyone teach me a thing outside of YouTube tutorial videos. But, I have learned a lot about design and I have received tons of constructive criticism and have been challenged by amazingly talented friends like Mark Gabriel Laos, Anthony Ferrara, and Amy Radcliffe.

What risks have you taken to get where you are now?

I think taking on any public project, from gallery shows to murals, is a risk. You’re showcasing your abilities for countless eyes to see and your success or failure is entirely up to the opinion of the viewer. But, absolutely, solo shows have been the biggest risk I have taken thus far. I’ve done two and I think I might take a break on those for a while. They are challenging emotionally and physically but well worth it if you put in the time and effort (not necessarily financially).

Dadsocks artist interview images

What mistakes have you made along the way that have led to beneficial discoveries?

I’ve made countless mistakes with stencil technique and have learned countless lessons. I think this is a difficult question to answer as I have made SO MANY MISTAKES!

If I have to narrow it down I would say in murals. I have constantly evolved this process but when I was attempting my first mural I planned on hand-cutting the entire thing with an exacto knife from a projection onto paper on a concrete block wall. I quickly learned this process would take me a year to complete and thanks to Mark Gabriel Laos, who was helping me at the time, convinced me to think of other solutions. If it wasn’t for him I might still be stubbornly at that wall cutting countless stencils.

Could you tell us a bit about what you’re working on now? What’s next for DadSocks?

In all honesty, not that much because I am getting married this year and I want to put my emotional and physical energy to making that a special day for my fiancé.

But, I am putting the finishing touches on my first super public mural on Mill Ave and 14th street in Tempe, AZ and I am in talks about another VERY LARGE wall near Desoto Market just off of Roosevelt Row.

In addition to that I am trying to focus less on client work and more on collaborating with and building relationships with other artists. Building a deep and supportive creative community is incredibly important for the thriving of the arts here in the Phoenix Metro Valley and I want to be a part of that in whatever way that I can.

One Thing You Learned About Branding in Psych 101

How much do you actually remember about that class you took freshman year? Maybe something about Freud. Maybe you remember how to draw a neuron (or not, we don’t). Recently, while we were listening to Carolina Rogoll talk about her book Star Brands in the Design Matters podcast with Debbie Milman, we were transported back to our lecture desks, pen and paper in hand, all of a sudden taking notes on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

As a brief summary, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychological theory that was developed in the midcentury. Essentially, Maslow created a pyramid that categorized five facets of human needs:

    1. Physiological: air, food, water, sleep, etc.
    2. Safety: personal security, financial security, health and well-being, etc.
    3. Love and belonging: friendship, relationships, family, etc.
    4. Self-esteem: how someone feels about themselves in relation to the world.
    5. Self actualization: the desire to be the most that one can be.

The bottom half of the pyramid represents the more foundational, survival-based needs. The top of the pyramid represents the more immaterial things a human needs.

Rogoll uses this theory to analyze successful brands all over the world. Since brands and products exist to solve human problems or meet human needs, successful brands know their place in this hierarchy.

maslow and branding

Higher Order Purpose & Branding

According to Rogoll, one of the most important characteristics of a “star brand” is having a higher order purpose. These brands stand for something greater, speaking to a higher ideal i.e. the top half of the pyramid. Essentially, these are brands whose focus is beyond the product or service they sell. In this podcast, she uses Google as an example. Their higher order purpose is to organize the world’s information—not just be a search engine. Brands need to be able to explain why they exist, but in a broad enough way that they allow for growth and adaptation.

An important part of assessing a brand is deciding where delivers on human needs. By putting your brand’s focus higher on the pyramid, you’ve created a purpose that transcends. Tangibly, your product or service might serve lower on the pyramid, but your brand should be known for accessing humanity’s more elevated needs.

Rogoll also uses Apple as an example. One of the most famous brands in the world has palpable products and services: computers for work, phones for communicating with loved ones, iPads for playing Minecraft, etc. Realistically, Apple focuses on the social level of Maslow’s hierarchy, maybe safety if you consider the fact that most of us need a computer to make a living wage. However, Apple’s branding doesn’t acknowledge the tangible. Apple’s branding focuses on the higher ideal of “Think Different,” and “Here’s to the crazy ones….” Thus, Apple’s branding works within the esteem and self-actualization sections of Maslow’s pyramid. Yeah, you’re buying a computer, but when you’re buying a computer from Apple, you’re buying their ideals, you’re buying the possibility of changing the world.

This is what successful brands do well: provide tangible products and services that are useful, but also establish a sense that we will achieve something greater for buying it.

Out of curiosity, we took a look at one of our most recent branding projects, The Bloguettes. Though we didn’t go into the project with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in mind, it’s interesting to see where it fits in. Making sure a brand has a higher order purpose in mind is an innate part of our jobs, but thinking about it in these terms allows us to focus on what that higher order purpose is.

The Bloguettes provide education, information and business resources to their members. Essentially, they sell their knowledge about creating a successful online presence for businesses via membership subscriptions, events, workshops, and classes. This is tangibly what the brand does: they provide a way for you to learn how to monetize your business online, which in turn increases your profits. They also provide a social atmosphere that allows you to be a part of a community of entrepreneurs. However, their higher order purpose thrives in the “self-esteem” section of Maslow’s hierarchy. Their branding says that by participating, by taking these classes and educating yourself to help your business succeed, you will feel accomplished. Continually, by teaching you to grow your business, the Bloguettes are asking you to be everything you can be, inspiring their consumers to take leaps in what they call the “entrepreneurial age.”

Questions to ask when discovering a brand’s higher order purpose:

  • What practical products and services is the consumer buying from this brand?
  • What beliefs, values, and ideals does this brand hold?
  • Who are the consumers of this brand?
  • What kind of language does this brand often use?
  • How do consumers ideally feel after purchasing a product or service from this brand?
  • What sets this brand apart from their competitors?

People who are successful in branding naturally feel inclined to create a higher order purpose for their brands. Maybe they answer these questions without realizing they’ve been asked. However, we like the idea of being able to categorize them, put them into a psychological theory, and talk about them in terms that are widely recognized. It is important for us to be grounded in the idea that all brands need to solve practical human problems and aid to some of our more intangible needs.