New Home: Havana Designs

December 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hello! Please visit the NEW site + blog at

Thanks to all who’ve visited this blog!


Stop Overthinking Social Media!

July 28, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Links, Personal and Business Branding | 1 Comment

By RyanRasmussen via Flickr

If you’re frustrating yourself trying to find the “secret” to social media, STOP!

I want to share a couple of golden articles I found enlightening. Scott Berkun wrote an article about The Bullshit of Social Media and how social networking sites are just new tools to do an ancient art:

We have always had social networks. Call them families, tribes, clubs, cliques or even towns, cities and nations.Β  You could call throwing a party or telling stories by a fire β€œsocial media tools”. … These tools may improve how we relate to each other, but at best it will improve upon something we as a species have always done. Never forget social networks are old. The best tools will come from people who recognize, and learn from, the rich 10,000+ year history of social networks.

John C. Welch says we’re overthinking social media:

All this shit, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, DoucheBlog, all of it, is just people talking to each other, in a fairly direct way. It’s analgous to a telephone. You don’t really think much about the phone system, it’s only there to allow you to talk to someone far away. Same thing for online shit. It can be a one to one, one to many, many to one, many to many, or all of the above, but it’s just people talking to each other.

John has a pretty brash tone for some, but he certainly drives home the point. πŸ™‚

Stone Payton also showed me a series of videos that give simple explanations of social media and social networking:

As I find more help resources on the web, I will post them! πŸ™‚ Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @havanachan.

Happy Birthday, Havana!

July 2, 2009 at 11:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This Saturday is going to be my birthday! πŸ™‚ Don’t know what the family has planned but I may have some sort of celebratory dinner next week.

Oh yeah …

Saturday’s the 4th of July too or something like that. πŸ˜‰

Happy 4th!

How Improv Made Me A Better Designer

June 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Posted in process, projects, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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By kevindooley

Creative ruts are frustrating and suffocating. The sad thing is that we all go through it! For the past 4-5 weeks, I have been taking improv classes at The Basement in Atlanta. While I can’t say I’ve become the best improv actor or even a decent actor, the lessons I extract from each Thursday evening have become valuable and insightful in mt overall creativity. Improv stretches your thinking and forces you to become more intuitive. Since the classes, sketches and ideas have been erupting into my notebook.

So how do the principle of improv apply to you as an artist?

    1. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid– any idea will do.

    I don’t know too many creatives who aren’t perfectionists. While we are raising our standards for ourselves, we’re also running the risk of losing golden ideas by dismissing them too quickly. When I would sit down to do concept art, the only ideas that made the page were ideas I approved in my head. No one is going to look at your sketchbook. If something tumbles across your mind, sketch it down. Purge all ideas, even stupid ones, onto the page.

    During two-person scene exercises, one of the players would have to come up awith a scene on the spot to act out. Most of the time, the most mundane ideas would progress into hilarious skits.

    2. There is always something to add to a scene.

    Those mundane ideas would progress because the players would add different elements to the scene. Adding elements also solidifed the setting. We did an exercise where we would have to name as many different objects in a room as possible. For example, one of our settings was a guy’s bathroom. After naming out the obvious elements, the players started to name other things like “the broken soap dispenser,” “the amateur graffiti in the stalls,” “the gross, outdated pink urinal cake,” etc. (Okay, sorry for the visuals. LOL) After we named the basics, we were forced to stretch our creativity and imagination to find more to add to the setting.

    So if you were designing a logo for a automobile-related company, what kind of elements could you play with? After you sketch the obvious, what other related elements can you add to your notebook? License plate? Dice in the mirror? Seat belt? The grill? Create a pool of images to play with.

    Beware, however, that you do not compromise simplicity. In the two-person scenes, we were encouraged to add but not to add so much that the scene becomes convoluted, confusing, and unbelievable. For now, just purge out all your ideas but know to subtract and narrow down later.

    By Darren Hester

    3. Look at what you have and adapt to it.

    Okay, I modified the original lesson a little bit. The original reads, “Look at your body posture at the moment and adapt to it.” It is easier to improv a character based on your body as it is now than to come up with a character and then adapt your body accordingly. When you do the latter, you often get so caught up in trying to act and sound like that character that you neglect the relationships on stage. The scene never progresses anywhere.

    As designers, we may sometimes try a little too hard to make the most perfect, most zen, most powerful logo and we end up aggravated when it’s just not happening. Stop and look at the sketches you have now. Interrogate each concept: is this concept aligned with the purpose of the logo? Is it conveying what the client wants? Is it straightforward?

    Now, how can you improve it?

    4. Always pay attention to what people are saying and doing.

    The improv warm-up exercises were, oddly, some of the most insightful. Games like Zip Zap Zoey, King Monkey, and Patterns forced us to pay sharp attention to the flow amongst the group. It challenged us to memorize, multitask, and stay focused all at once. The point of these games? In improv, you will have to bounce actions and reactions from other players on stage. To be a coherent part of the scene, you must develop a good ear for certain phrases and concepts as they happen and extract/expand them.

    Ideas come from the least unexpected places. If you want ideas, don’t tune out your surroundings and try to visualize ideas in your head. Tune INTO the nearby conversations and activity. Someone may say or do something that sparks a new train of thought and lead you to a new idea.

    5. If you get lost or reach a dead end, return to your original intentions.

    When a player on stage would get stuck in a scene, it helps to simply return to that character’s original motivation (i.e. wanting that damn cookie, trying to cheer up a friend, trying to get rid of the nosy neighbor). When we add elements to a scene, we may find that the scene has become so complicated or has strayed so much that the player may not know where to take it.

    Similarly, we can become enamored with a couple of concepts and run with it until we reach a dead end. Return to your first sketches. Return to those notes you scribbled at Starbucks when you met your client. Return to your conversation with the client. Examine the original intentions of your client and yourself. Can you find a different path to reach those objectives?

I would have never imagined that improv classes would be so insightful to me. They gave me solutions to tackle creative blocks. Stretch your imagination, play with your sketches, and pay attention. Leave no idea out; bad ideas, after all, can lead you to good ideas.

The downside is that improv is not something you can practice alone. If you live in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend taking the improv classes at The Basement! They also have shows at 8 & 10 every Friday and Saturday. If Atlanta is a bit of a drive, Charisma Studios in Marietta will be offering an improv course too! If you don’t live in the area, please look up where improv classes are being offered in your city; it is WELL worth it!

Business Cards for David Powers

May 31, 2009 at 12:27 am | Posted in Personal and Business Branding, projects | Leave a comment
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Today, I went to a surprise birthday party of a recent client I did business cards for. πŸ™‚ It seems only appropriate that I showcase the business cards I worked on for him on my blog today!



Happy birthday, David! Hope this year is even better than the last!

Pose Experimentation and Spock!

May 12, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Posted in doodles | 1 Comment
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Recent pages from my sketchbook.


A possible character for a promotional t-shirt. I wanted to play with a superhero concept while adhering to the heart motif of “Kokoro Graphix.” Obviously unfinished!






Frames from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. I sat down and paused the “Out There” segment to practice expressions.


References from Character Design.

By the way, saw Star Trek over the weekend, TWICE. πŸ™‚ Loved it! Especially Spock! He was so cute.




I also got Illustrator over the weekend. πŸ˜‰ Live long and prosper!

10 Ways to Promote An Event

April 28, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Posted in social, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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My launch party finally happened last Wednesday on April 22nd! Thanks to everyone who attended! It meant so much to me. I think we were a record-breaker in turnout and anticipation for ImprovAstorm! Seeing so many people from different parts of my life blend together under one roof was so surreal to me.

I do admit that my launch party was also my way of creating awareness for ImprovAstorm. What is ImprovAstorm? ImprovAstorming is a Blank Stage-exclusive event in which they round up improv actors to churn out commercial, marketing, and campaign ideas for business owners.

It was so much fun. I couldn’t believe all the ideas they came up with! You can see a couple of them (and these weren’t even the best!) in the embedded video above!

The ImprovAstorm taught me so much about promoting events. I’ve tried to promote events before but with little success. This was indeed a learning experience.


10 Ways To Promote An Event

  1. Promote the event way ahead of time. Not always possible but promoting it a month and a half beforehand gave me time to find different ways to get the word out, remind people about the event, provide information, and prepare the event accordingly.
  2. Use social media. Facebook helped me reach my entire network easily and tell them about the event. It also helped me disperse information, keep track of attendants, send mass notifications, and create chatter about it.
  3. Use strategy in invitation. Brent gave me the idea to first invite the people closest to me whom I know would be coming, and then invite people whom may or may not come. Seeing that there are already people on the list is social proof. It also creates comfort to know who is coming. The list of attendees just snowballed!
  4. Bring it up in conversation. Often. Be sincerely excited, though! Keeping up my own excitement level became contagious. There were folks who were looking forward to the 22nd since February! Ramp up anticipation and you will build participation.
  5. Guests come first! Your guests are like your customers: they come first. Make an effort to ensure entertainment, food, and atmosphere. I paid special attention to my guests pre-event and post-event and did my best to facilitate a comfortable, chatty environment. I got good feedback so I hope I did a good job!
  6. Individually invite guests. I learned this from an officer from the KSU Kiwanis Club: people are more likely to respond to an individual email than a mass email. Take a minute to write out a couple of sentences or call a guest and tell them that you’re excited to have them be a part of your event. Again, be sincere! Insincerity is often transparent. Make your guests feel like kings and queens!
  7. Delegate host duties. I wish I had asked a couple more people to help me welcome guests instead of flying solo. I ended up conversation-hopping and it was overwhelming being the only one overlooking the crowd. Gather the social butterflies and ask them to help welcome guests, warm up wallflowers, and create conversations between people.
  8. Keep in mind flake rate. Because I had so many people wanting to come to the event, I had to cut down the list to 50 due to the room capacity. Even then, I still had a marginal flake rate. People will have to cancel at the last minute for various reasons. next time, I’ll go ahead and invite more people to fill in the flake rate. πŸ™‚
  9. Take the opportunity to break out news and accomplishments! My new business name, Kokoro Graphix, and logo made their debut on April 22. Make announcements and celebrate while you have your supportive audience there with you. Letting your guests know first makes your event special.


  10. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare food. Fortunately, the food I chose was simple but it would have been far less stressful if I didn’t procrastinate!

The success of your event is a result of your effort! Have any other tips on promoting events? Share them in the comments!

Mock-Up Environmental Blog Layout

April 2, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Posted in projects | Leave a comment
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My environmental illustration proved to be one of the strongest pieces in my portfolio but somehow, I was disappointed in its presentation. I wanted a portfolio piece that could show the illustration in action!

This is the latest addition to my portfolio:


Of course, “Love Her” is not a real site. This is just a mock-up just to show off the illustration. I had another motive though: I wanted to also show that I am open to web design as well! I should do these layout mock-ups more; this was fun!

I <3 Blogging Entry: The World Is Waiting For You

March 30, 2009 at 6:07 pm | Posted in projects | Leave a comment
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Goodness, I can’t believe I am so nervous about this. I just submitted a design to the I β™₯ Blogging contest; mind you, I haven’t been in a art/design contest for a years.

The original:


The entry file:


My comments: Blogging is a phenomenon that lets ordinary individuals spread their ideas throughout the world. You don’t have to be a politician or a celebrity to be heard. You don’t need a personal jet. The blogosphere tears down geographic boundaries and this revolution is illustrated in my “I ❀ Blogging” entry. Blogging flattens the globe and is quickly changing the way we give and receive information.

Wish me luck!

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