This blog was created for my Marketing Management class as a part of my personal branding plan, which overall, went well. After all, there were no major catastrophes. I’m fairly happy with the results of my efforts but they are merely a stepping stone and a launching point.

I didn’t get as many posts up as I had originally intended but I feel I did cover good design and talk of good design in various ways ranging from asking for feedback on my own work, critiquing an info graphic designed by a professional (that I got a thank you for via twitter), reviewing a talk by Michael Hendrix of IDEO from the AIGA Vermont speaker series, and featuring student work from the Champlain College senior design show. The biggest challenges I had were finding content that I wanted to review and getting other people to participate in the review. I didn’t generate a large enough of a following to get any real discussion out of it.

Though I didn’t always find content I wanted to critique, I did, on occasion, find content worth sharing. Throughout the semester I tweeted and retweeted examples of good design, interesting articles about design, notifications of new blog posts and other information I thought would be relevant to and valued by my followers.

What I learned is that when I tweeted people read and clicked on links. When I didn’t, they couldn’t. It’s as simple as that. My tweet readers were primarily from the United States, but I also had viewers from Canada, Brazil and Other regions. Most of them were via referrals from with at least one coming from a link from the twitter sidebar in my blog and a few other other assorted sources.

Throughout the semester I also periodically posted my thoughts and feedback on posts on other blogs such as The Dieline (a packaging design blog) and GOOD (an integrated media platform for people who want to live well and do good).

In addition to my efforts for this class and the Design Gutter I also built and launched my graphic design portfolio website to make my skills more visible and broaden my footprint on the internet. Since it was launched it boasts roughly an 18% bounce rate and an average time on site around 12 minutes. I wish I had visuals and analytics to show for this but the profile was somehow deleted in the few days I left it unattended.

Somewhere in the middle of the semester I found myself questioning whether I had chosen the right passion to build my brand around. One afternoon while sitting in Skyburger on Church Street having lunch with my boyfriend I realized it has always been a dream of mine to open my own restaurant someday. Of which I would of course have complete creative control from the brand to the storefront, interior, signage and menus and THE MENU. I am in fact a foodie and love both cooking for myself and eating out. A food blog would have been a fantastic idea. However, If I had to do this again I might simplify it to being a design blog… period. I wanted to be sure each post embraced and enhanced the Design Gutter brand. But sometimes, I just wanted to blog about design, whether it was good or not, with or without a critique. It might also broaden the topics I could talk about.

Thank you for sticking with me this semester. I’ll likely keep up the posting and tweeting in the future, so stay tuned.


It’s that time of year again. The Champlain College Graphic Design seniors are proudly displaying their work for the senior show. Students began hanging work bright and early on Sunday the 18th. There are a lot of great pieces already up and more are expected to be hung. Stop by the lobby of the S.D. Ireland Family building on the Champlain College campus to get an up close look at the work for yourself.

And now, a preview:

Amanda Jones (of course I had to include myself)

Amanda Jones' senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Anthony Libera

Anthony Libera's Senior Show at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont

Anna Nadeau

Anna Nadeau's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Craig Winslow (it’s all about the minimalism) But seriously check out his website. It’s an experience in itself.

Craig Winslow's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Emily Fitzgerald

Emily Fitzgerald's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Emily Regis

Emily Regis' senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Eric Moulton

Eric Moulton's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Howie Le is always clever and this time most interactive. Tabs allow you to slide different pages into the computer screen.

Howie Le's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Kyla Timberlake

Kyla Timberlake's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Lindsay Webster

Lindsay Webster's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Nichole Magoon

Nichole Magoon's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Sean Cater

Sean Cater's senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Zach Matys

Zach Matys' senior show at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont

Tonight I attended a talk at the Firehouse Gallery downtown as a part of the Refresh Speaker Series put together by AIGA Vermont. It was an amazing story of how Michael Hendrix went from a college student saying he’d never work for an ad agency to, working for an ad agency (isn’t that the way it always goes) to starting his own thing, ending up on the sustainability track and now working for IDEO, a design collaborative. His story enlightening and inspiring demonstrating his try and try again attitude and his presumed fearlessness when it comes to jumping into an unfamiliar field.

Judging solely on my own criteria, I’d say Hendrix’s designs are good designs. They’re thoughtful and inspired, and designed in such a way to reinforce specific behaviors, for example the association of turning on a light to the cost of energy with the coin operated lamp. He helped revolutionize the carpet industry while simultaneously reducing costs and wastes associated with producing carpet samples, all by allowing people to realistically preview samples that traditionally would react differently under varying light sources. Now that’s smart design.

Confession. The first thing I did when I got home was look up IDEO. It may now be on my DREAM BIG list of places I’d like to work… along with Google and JDK.

Crunch Time


With graduation approaching quickly, I’ve come to realize just how much work needs to get done in so little time. Non-stop work on my graphic design portfolio has had me up for a series of late nights and early mornings but it’s looking really good and almost finished. I can’t wait to get it printed with Blurb. I’ve heard great stuff about the quality of their books from several of my professors. Even my computer lab printed comped up version looks official. The month of March has flown by consumed with design of graduation invitations, business cards, resumes and typography projects galore. I hope to get some of that stuff up here soon.

Great and Impactful Info Graphic designed by Caroline Hadilaksono about how far the non-salary income of top ceo's could go and be used for good.

This morning while browsing the web, I stumbled across the Transparancy Contest on the GOOD blog. There were a lot of really great and impactful submissions but this one, in particular, caught my eye. Designed by Caroline Hadilaksono, the piece focuses on what could be accomplished if the 5 top paid CEOs donated all of their 2009 non-salary income to a different charity organization.

So what did catch my eye? What stood out? Why, of all of the entries, am I compelled to blog about this one?

Maybe it’s the way the green bars, reminiscent of stacks of money, are juxtaposed against a corporate-esque graph. Maybe it’s the way the illustrative details call attention to the greed of big business and the stereotypes surrounding high paid individuals. Beyond the strong hierarchy of information, clean type and refreshing yet, appropriate, color scheme, the finer imagery within each bar that reinforces how these otherwise incomprehensible sums of money could be used for good.

This info graphic left me feeling as though I had learned something. It’s effective, it communicates. I understand it without much thought. It’s not just visually appealing it’s a well crafted piece of communication that makes a statement. Hadilaksono’s piece reinforced to me that design isn’t always about a killer logo, a flashy website, a new branding campaign or a series of ads — it’s about the ability to distill information and effectively communicate it to the people who really need to understand it.

What are your thoughts about this piece or any of the others? What about the role good design plays in communication?

The Design Gutter, what is it? Loosely defined, it is the arbitrary line that exists between good design and design produced to meet a requirement but is not necessarily good.

During my time as a design student I’ve always questioned my own work. Knowing that any kind of art is subjective, I question the good grades and positive feedback. I find myself asking if the work I produce is good design or if it just fell within the parameters, if I just met the requirements of the project. I also wonder the same about the “real world” design. Did it just meet the client’s requirements, is it good design or both? Just because a design made it to the marketplace doesn’t mean that it’s good.

Class critiques often fall short of providing constructive criticism with exchanges of “that’s good” and “I like that” if student’s like each-others work and the sound of crickets chirping if they don’t. I know part of it is the nurturing nature of the school I attend. They focus on the positive aspects of student work to foster creativity rather than to consider every aspect — unity, balance, emphasis, rhythm, color, attitude etc. of a piece to identify where the underlying design issues might exist. It’s not enough to ask if the design is good. We should also question if it’s interesting, if it’s different, would it stop us in our tracks if we saw it outside of the classroom, would we stop and look at it? And, when it comes to logos and branding, is it good and different, is it’s silhouette different than others in it’s category? Could a piece of your logo be exchanged with an existing logo and nobody would notice? In the array of design clutter it can be difficult to sort the good from the bad, both in the classroom and in the corporate world of design.

When it comes to design I know when I like something that I see. However, I know I don’t necessarily have to like something for it to be good design. I want this blog to be an exploration of this thought. The gutter. The defining point of good versus sufficient.

As I approach graduation and I look for jobs, I want to know the true quality of my work. Where does it fall in the spectrum of design? I’d like to put my work out there for a critique that I might not get in a classroom. Be constructive, be honest, be brutal if really think you need to, I can handle it.

Sometimes, I might call pieces of real world design, interesting and not, into question. Other times, by permission or at their request, I may feature the work of other students who are also seeking additional feedback.

If you would like to have your work featured, please email me at or  send me a message on twitter @designgutter