Category Archives: Graphic design

Jessica Hische

We’ve enjoyed a fairly quiet week or two here at the end of February. Vivian and I went back to Omaha Sushi with her parents to celebrate their anniversary with another round of all-you-can-eat sushi. Donna swears the restaurant lost money on the transaction. Then we got to have Hannah’s friends Sammy and August over for some Saturday morning babysitting, the latter sleeping through the whole visit.


On Wednesday, I headed up to the Waiting Room in Benson to hear Jessica Hische — letterer, illustrator, and drop cap specialist — give a talk about her creative process. The event was held by AIGA Nebraska and the venue was packed wall-to-wall with young hipsters, and I was reminded both how rarely I get out and rub elbows with creative types and just how many other graphic designers there are out there (especially ones willing to drive through snow to get to an event like this).

Ms. Hische also had a great presentation, dropping a new names of celebrities she’s bumped into and high-profile clients she’s worked for before going into her creative process. She had plenty of tips about using Adobe Illustrator, which is how she produces her finished work, as well as the research and thumbnail sketching she goes through to get there. “You have to enjoy the journey,” she said. It gave me some thoughts about what I could do with my own work, and I felt encouraged to try a bit harder to attend the next Nerdbraska event — a local meetup for designers — just to be around more creative types again and perhaps learn through osmosis.

Getting out, about, and a little damp

Having two little ones in the house has certainly been keeping Vivian and me busy these past two months (mostly Vivian, being the stay-at-home mom). We’ve learned to trade-off on certain duties, allowing each of us to get some time outside of the house, and we have some wonderful babysitters right around the corner as well, of course.

AIGA at Krug ParkRiffTrax Godzilla

On Wednesday last week, I hung out with a cluster of other graphic designers at Krug Park in the ultra-hip Benson district. I’ve been dropping by gatherings like these sporadically for many years now, ever since they were called Third Thursdays and hosted by the AIGA. I met the very impressive Donovan Beery back then and his chain of creative cohorts via AIGA, the Be A Design Group blog, and now his 36 Point podcast (events like these are usually dubbed “36 Pints”). It was a much-needed chance to hang out with other designers in the area, something that comes in handy when I’m the lone “go-to” guy for all things designy at the office.
(Photo on left by Ben Lueders of Fruitful Design.)

Thursday, we had “movie sign” at the Twin Creek Theater, which is MST3K short-hand for RiffTrax live. I’ve attended every one of these since they riffed Plan 9 from Outer Space back in 2009, and this year they’ve been doing Kickstarter Campaigns to riff big-budget movies like Godzilla and Anaconda. A bunch of us formed a peanut gallery in the back row (including my dad), and Vivian and I shared a pizza with the last of the coupons we grabbed at the Ralston Independence Day Parade.


As for the kids, Aaron’s been growing up fast, turning two months old and looking remarkably like Winston Churchill. He also slept through the night for the first time, which called for a French Toast breakfast to celebrate. Then on Friday, we braved the drizzle to watch The Lego Movie at the Soggy Sumtur Amphi(bious)theater. The crowd was notably smaller than usual, but unfortunately not small enough for me to win a year’s membership at Sam’s Club for a #sumturselfie. Lexi and her kids joined us on the blanket, though, as well a few other friends of hers, so Everything is Awesome™.

On Saturday, Vivian had a day to herself and her WAG friends at Platte River State Park. Apparently, they made T-shirts, but for more details, Vivian will have to tell it all in her own blog (which has been collecting dust for a couple years). Hannah got some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa Johnson in the meantime as I mowed the lawn. Then on Sunday, we dropped by Lindy in the Park after church to do a little bit of dancing outdoors (thank you Billy and Lindsey). We also let Hannah run through the fountains a couple times, since the weather was feeling like August once again, and getting a faceful of water was more than appropriate.

Field Notes from Omaha

Is it spring, yet? We’re get thunderstorms, morning frost, and dandelions in our part of the world, and the whole Johnson family got slammed with a nasty cold that left us somewhat paralyzed this week, but we’ve been otherwise busy having fun with friends here in Omaha, as usual.


I spent some time hanging out with some fellow graphic designers in Omaha. On Tuesday, the full-bearded (and foul-mouthed) Aaron Draplin dropped in for a visit at the Waiting Room lounge. Draplin’s a one-man design studio who I first encountered in a video rant posted on the blog 37 Signals. He had an impressive portfolio (which includes the logo for the Stimulus Package back in 2009) and an appreciation for old school design that I had to admire. I also discovered he’s behind these things called Field Notes books, which are like Moleskine books except that they’re made in America and don’t cost $20 each. (You’ll have to buy your own rubber band for them, though.) They came in handy when I had to write down stuff.

I got to hang out with some designers again on Thursday at the Crescent Moon, which was great. My pocket full of Field Notes came in handy then as we traded design-related stories (and gabbed about Superman).


On Friday night, Grammy and Pops got to babysit Hannah so mom and I could have a night of mayhem together. Mayhem, of course, meant stopping by the Saints Pub for dinner with Mark. We gave him a six-pack of presents to open later and shared a plate of blue cheese chips with the table while catching up with a few friends.

After that, we dropped in at the Eagle’s Lodge, where Vivian had invited a bunch of her co-workers to Jitterbugs Night Out. The crowd seemed light for whatever reason, but Vivian was able to recruit Jitterbug Veteran Dan Wondra to dance with all of them during the night. It definitely felt good to get out and dance again, especially since we didn’t have to spend half our time corralling a little one and keeping her from getting shim-shammed underfoot.


On Saturday, we celebrated Jen’s birthday and welcomed her and Phil back from their trip to Taiwan. They had an assortment of unusual treats from the far east, which included fish-flavored gummy snacks and banana Fig Newton style cookies. They also cooked dinner for us, an assortment of vegetables, fermented tofu, marbled tea eggs, and other things, all of which we ate over rice with chop sticks. Hannah got the chance to try some while running in circles and playing with some of the other tots who dropped by (all of whom she called “Bee bee.”) Hannah’s perspicacity has been increasing by leaps and bounds, and she finally learned the word “mommy,” which delighted Vivian to no end.