Gerhard Steidl | Perfection of Print and Photography



Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker profile, “The Book Monk*: He is the printer the world’s best photographers trust most” opened the pages on a man whose German heritage influenced not only his work product – critical attention to detail and perfection – but his footprint on the world.

Gerhard Steidl captured my fascination for three reasons.

1 – He is someone who is an influential person in an unexpected niche of industry

Who knew printing could be an elite art? And yet, once again I am reminded that success comes from excellence, not industry. “Steidl, who is sixty-six, is known for fanatical attention to detail, for superlative craftsmanship, and for embracing the best that technology has to offer…Steidl seeks out the best inks, and pillars new techniques for achieving exquisite reproductions.”

2 – His heritage influenced a self-awareness of impact and community

Steidl’s father was in the German army during WWII, from which he learned one shouldn’t separate life and work. Officers who ran concentration camps would work in the camps, then leave the walls to their families, completely leaving behind the impacts of their actions. Steidl refuses make a negative impact on others, so he keeps himself honest by living where he works. “I control my noise, because I am sleeping there, with an open window every night.”

3 – His success came from being ballsy

My two favorites stories are ONE: He printed his first works on snarfed newspaper and he earned money to buy his first printing equipment at 16 by selling his prescription diet pills. “‘The empire was built on family crime,’ he told me with satisfaction.” TWO: Karl Lagerfeld won a prize to have a monograph printed about him and he rejected it. Steidl – needing the money – proposed alternatives until Karl agreed to have him test a photo book. While reviewing the test prints…“Presenting one image, Steidl cautioned, ‘This is beautiful paper, but it is very expensive.’ Lagerfeld responded with four words: ‘Gerhard, are we poor?'”

I now need to watch the documentary “How to Make a Book with Steidl“**, read Günter Grass, and track down some of his books in real life.

*This title is from the print version of the article.

**God bless the german accent.

Inspiration | Fashion and Thrifting from Open Ceremony

Please excuse my absence, I’ve been in a feminist depression.

And now for something completely different:

I’m reading “Annals of Retail: Mom-and-Pop Shop” the March 20th volume of The New Yorker about Opening Ceremony’s founders, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, and this quote really hit me:

In the nineties, U.C. Berkley became an unlikely incubator for the future of fashion. Leon (who majored in communications and art) and Lim (economics) overlapped there…Fashion wasn’t offered as a major. “It was more, like, this is my tribe, that’s your tribe, based on how you dressed,” Laura Mulleavy [co-founder of Redarte] told me.

“‘I like your Docs’ – that’s how Humberto and I met,” Cynthia Leung, a Berkeley classmate who is now a fashion publicist, said. She introduced Leon to Lim during their sophomore year, and she accompanied them on epic shopping trips to the Salvation Army. “Carol would find one or two things, maybe a cashmere cardigan that was beaded and lined. And then Humberto and I would have these mammoth piles. Our main question was ‘Is this ugly? Is this beautiful ugly?’

May we always embrace the beautiful ugly. And may we always be ballsy enough to love doing so.

It just kinda clicked

The past twelve months have given me an unexpected change of course and I didn’t see it until today.


In that time:

  • badass28I was given a promotion based off the belief I step up into what the role would require.
  • My boss quit, leaving me with even more responsibility to figure out.
  • I was invited to speak as a token Millennial at the Bullhorn conference with the President of my company.
  • Hillary Clinton was nominated the first major female candidate for President of the United States.
  • I was put in charge of the relationship between my company and Levo League.
  • I hit the 18-month count-down to my 30th birthday.


Each event was unrelated but lead me to today where I had a clear moment of realization – I need to take all my excitement, insights, and desire to learn and be inspired, and I need to curate them in a way that I can expand my network to and with other nasty women.



Because that’s really what happened. I watched my opportunities slowly expand as I fell in love with my inner bossy girl, my nasty woman. And now, I want to take my Millennial label, my “feminist rage” for inclusive quality, and talk about that.

That design is so 2014

Three years in a row now, I’ve created a Christmas card summarizing Taylor and my life together and for three years in a row, I’ve done nothing with them.

It’s a mix of reasons for not actually sending the cards, I suppose: my dislike of performing, the enjoyment of design surpassing the gratification of showing off that design, and my tendency to move on as soon as something ends (if not before).

Regardless of the reason, I feel guilty for ending my work so uselessly. So, here you are: A preview of my life and design.

2014 Jarman copy

In all honesty, I am proud of this design.

The Benefit of Youthful Cynicism

I try really hard to be educated about the world around me. Not just aware, but an understanding member of society. It’s tough. Regardless of my well-organized Twitter lists, Feedly account and Economist iPhone app, there is too much history, too many conflicting perspectives and just simply not enough time to build a deep understanding of our international world, from politics and government to economy and environment, all while working full-time, maintaining meaningful relationships and satisfying creative outlets.

So, I have to rely on the “experts” to analyze and explain. As a member of the millennial generation, I am disenfranchised with authority and I don’t know who to trust.

One platform I watch regularly is the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Not because I think he’s always right, but because he is an intelligent, analytical and understanding member of our society. The other night I watched Jon Stewart deliver a pointed perspective of the Eric Garner Grand Jury decision. He was direct in his analysis of the racism, he was honest in his disgust with the system and he called for a change.

It got me thinking: Viewers of the Daily Show use Stewart’s stories as a foundation for understanding the larger story. According to an older article by Larry Rosen Phd. On Psychology today:

“[The Daily Show] uses brief (often just a few seconds) video or audio clips, in engaging formats, with snippets of information leading the viewer to an obvious conclusion. Whether Jon Stewart is dishing out “fake news” or not, the impact is the important feature. That young viewers clamor to watch his show … and they pay attention to the information he dispenses. They do not look at him as some sort of icon. Rather, they see him as a leader in bringing them news in a manageable, hip, understandable, and humorous format which they can digest, return to at a later date, forward to their friends, and post on Facebook. As one 19-year-old told me recently, ‘Yeah, I know Stewart says he is giving us fake news but he’s really just getting me interested in following up a story myself to see what else we are not being told…It’s not the news. It is a portal to more news. That’s The Daily Show Effect. It has turned my friends and I into wanting to know more and we know how to find more but it helps that he gives us a starting point.’”

This is good. The Daily Show Effect means “viewers exhibit more cynicism toward the electoral system and the news media at large. Despite these negative reactions, viewers of The Daily Show reported increased confidence in their ability to understand the complicated world of politics.” (Source)

Bertrand Russell

Here’s what that means to me, a Daily Show viewer:

  1. I distrust news stations. (And not just Fox News, but also my local television stations.)
  2. I believe our government is partisan to a point of uselessness.
  3. I am astounded at the “Them versus us” that is pervasive in our country on both extremes.
  4. Despite this, I believe I have a balanced understanding of the world and I believe if more people were capable of being honest with themselves and others (like I am learning to do) we would have a better system.

In short: As I was watching the Daily Show, I realized that I believe I can make informed decisions that will be of long-lasting benefit to our country. I also believe that those who lean toward cynicism will be more honest with themselves and others. The Daily Show produces people who can break us out of our country’s stifling partisan wars. But are these balanced individuals so doubting and cynical that they view their participation as ineffective?


The 2008 election had the second-largest youth voter turnout (52%) in American history [Psychology of Today]. The 2012 election had a lower turnout – though not far behind. My hope is we can continue strong. That we can not only show up en mass to speak our voices, but to continue honing our voices and opening our minds to be receptive to change.

Advertisement Interpretations – Bvlgari Lvcea Ad

I’m constantly being sucked into advertisements.

Sometimes it’s the fairy book lighting of an Olivia Bee Hermes Ad, other times it’s the simple, yet effective story telling and then there are times when I’m visually captured.

 This advertisement – Bvlgari advertisement for the new Lvcea watch – caught my eye simply because of the composition of the rose gold with the red dial. It’s such a subtle ad, and yet I was instantly reminded of those stubborn flowers that inevitably seem to appear in the harshest of conditions.

bvlgari lvcea ad

I think this is an interesting look into my personality. I pour over high fashion and its advertising and yet the rawness of a desert sheep herder is stunning and to me so much more beautiful. A part of me wishes I could be a photo journalist like Lisa Kristine. But then again, the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. I wander through this topic because I’m still trying to figure out how I can best mash up all my interests.

Have you seen any ads, recently, that have struck you for some reason?

3 Ways to Make Your Day Productive

The workplace has become a world full of interruptions: meetings, noise, and Facebook. And even I – someone who’s always been good at switching gears between different projects quickly – find my productivity getting as chopped up along with my day.

As with most people, I’ve found ways to work through the distractions, but I still face those weird, 15-minute windows of time when I’ve finished up one task but don’t have time to start something new before a meeting or a phone call. It may not seem like much, but 15 minutes here and there add up quickly. Here are three ways I fill those potential “dead times” in my day:


  1. Start the day with a plan. (This one is super obvious, but we all need reminding, right?) You may know what you need to do (run social media accounts, plan a campaign, create supporting collateral), but it takes a block of time to really get into your projects. If you start your day by listing out your projects, then break them down into bite-sized tasks, you’ll know which you can knock out in 15 minutes.

Articles for productivity

  1. Collect articles to read. Whether it’s bookmarking a webpage, favoriting a tweet, or physically printing out something, keep a couple quick articles handy to read when you have a couple open minutes. This will keep you on track, and up-to-date on your industry.

stack your meetings

  1. Stack your meetings back-to-back. Whenever I plan a phone call or meeting, I try to schedule them adjacent to any other meetings I have scheduled for that day. That limits those dead times and also allows longer stretches of “heads down” time.

  2. Don’t do anything. Sometimes the best thing you can do, is let yourself do nothing. And I’m not talking about mindless Buzzfeed binges, I mean real moments of meditation. (Yes, even you extroverts.) There’s a lot of benefit in just taking a moment to remove yourself from the trenches and regain some perspective.


Full disclosure: I’m not great at doing these, but I know that when I take my own advice I’m better off for it. What about you? How do you maximize your day?

Practice what you train

training icon

One of my big focuses at work, right now, is to train our colleagues on how to use Twitter. And I’ve realized that trying to convince baby boomers of the importance of 140 character blurbs can be overwhelmed by “handles,” “hashtags” and “live tweeting”.

So I begin my training with three fundamental points, with the hope that they will motivate the trainees to figure out Twitter, as opposed to relying on my examples to get them through:

  1. The digital world is highly integrated with our off-line life. The more you can be aware of the digital conversations, and take part in them, the more influence you will have.

  2.  Create a personal brand. Read my post on personal brand tips.

  3.  Integrate social media into your current patterns. If you read news every morning, tweet the articles you find especially interesting. If you are in and out of client visits, check the Twitter app while in the elevator. Stuff like that.


Despite my awesome advice to people, I struggle with keeping on top of my social media. I question my personal brand, and I wonder if I am creating a voice worth listening to.


Last night, I was going through my notebook of random thoughts/inspirations and I found an old note to myself:

“I don’t have to have all the insights, knowledge and thoughts, I just need to add my voice to the conversation and the connections will come.”

And that’s what I’m going to do. If you have any advice that has helped you, please share!

A snapshot of my life – October 2014

I’m sitting at a large, wooden desk – purchased from GoodWill for $30 and meticulously painted and distressed by my husband. I’m wearing a down coat, because I’m directly beneath the air conditioning and I hate being cold while he is always hot. (It’s the biggest struggle in our relationship.) We’re watching the Crimson Tide drown the Gators, which I like, and I smell as much like Chanel as a pulled-out magazine ad will allow.

I love looking through fashion magazines – today it’s Elle – because my quirky, creative side enjoys the pulling pieces from high fashion, but more importantly I can’t get enough of the stories about young, entrepreneurial women who are kicking ass in designer heels or designing jewelry in industrial Los Angeles.

I’m inspired by them. They remind me that I need to act, and not just watch; they prove that you don’t have to follow the rules to be successful and I really just want to be friends with them.

Fast forward two weeks and I’m at the same desk, this time in light green bush hat eating dried mangos and cheddar jalapeño Cheetos. Every day I feel like I’m closer to grabbing the entrepreneur-bull by the horns full-time, and every day I find something that keeps me going.

This week, I was inspired by a Wisconsin bar tender who told me of his big plans in a small town. Thank you, for the push.

Landing at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport