Category Archives: Design Related

6 Gifts For Designers, Under $100

Looking for a gift for that special creatively inclined someone in your life? Look no further.

I’ve compiled some of the coolest gadgets to help you last minute buyers get the designer in your life something amaze-balls.

Crowdsourced Items From

Quirky may be relatively slim in the pickings section, but what they lack in quantity they make up for with pure awesomeness. Their products are all crowd-funded and they’re representing some of the most interesting and stylistic utility objects on the market. These products are so good they’re destined to be copied, imitated, and bastardized so much in the coming years that you should get them here first so you can proclaim it to your friends when they get theirs at Walmart in a couple years.

What’s also pretty cool is most of the stuff is under $100. #frugalityFTW

Pivot Power Genius

Simple in idea, and genius in execution, this surge protector offers what others on the market don’t: maneuverability. Oh, and it lets you turn your connected devices on and off… WITH YOUR PHONE. Whether you’re managing awkward and bulky electrical plugs or just want to bend this bad boy around a table leg, you can. And you can turn that shit on from across the room if you wanna. Epic.


Shopping for someone seeking a little less remote controllyness and a little more organizational…yness?

Space Bar Desk Organizer


“Space Bar is a sleek desk accessory that minimizes clutter while providing additional USB ports for your computer.”

It’s simple. It’s elegant. It gives you more USB ports than you can shake a flash drive at and it looks perfectly at home with Apple products.
Check out the video below:

Let’s move on from Quirky. That place is awesome and it’s easy to put everything on the site into this list, but let’s explore what the rest of the internet has to offer, shall we? We shall.

Essentials From

The beauty of the internet is that has a lot of the stuff you want, but for a hell of a lot cheaper than any retail store. No one knows why. It’s just internet magic and we have to accept it. Here’s a run down of some of the cool shit you can get your designer pal without breaking the bank.

Micron Pens

Omg it’s a six pack. Awesome. Oh and it’s all of $9. Get two and don’t be cheap this holiday.


Western Digital 1TB External Hard Drive


It’s no secret that technology is getting smaller, cheaper, and even better looking. So with prices and style like this why not go all out and make sure that space is never an issue?

Manage Your Day-To-Day

Arriving earlier this year and followed up by Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career, Manage Your Day-To-Day is the perfect gift for a freelancer who is looking to grow his or her insight into what makes successful designers, successful!


Stop doing busywork. Start doing your best work.

Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven’t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office?

The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, Manage Your Day-to-Day will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.

Featuring contributions from: Dan Ariely, Leo Babauta, Scott Belsky, Lori Deschene, Aaron Dignan, Erin Rooney Doland, Seth Godin,Todd Henry, Christian Jarrett, Scott McDowell, Mark McGuinness, Cal Newport, Steven Pressfield, Gretchen Rubin, Stefan Sagmeister, Elizabeth G. Saunders, Tony Schwartz, Tiffany Shlain, Linda Stone, and James Victore. Plus, a foreword from Behance founder & CEO Scott Belsky.


Finally lets move away from gadgets and focus on some truly inspired apparel.

Shirts From Pilot & Captain

Most designers have seen, and no doubt tried to redesign an airline ticket at one point. Trust me on this one. The appeal of tall and large type is an allure someone in the industry can rarely deny.

The guys at Heads of State took that idea a step further started to adapt the beauty of airline typography and abbreviation to t-shirt designs. Now with over a dozen international airports to select from, have established themselves as a a staple in the designer tee collection.

Check out the store by clicking here.


More and more

I know I’m getting this list out a little late, but it’s important to remember that giving thoughtful gestures doesn’t need to be done only when it’s expected. Keep these items in mind for future surprises or special occasions and use it to inspire your gift giving moving forward.

Have a great Christmas everyone, even if you aren’t celebrating.

19 Inspiring Vintage “RCA Victor” Typographic Opera Covers

_001 _002 _003 _004 _005 _006 _007 _009 _010 _011 _012 _013 _014 _015 _016 _017 _018 _019_ _019

I really love these covers. The style feels familiar to something that is achievable with simple Photoshop techniques like “color”,  “overlay” and “multiply”. The text used at the time is still contemporary and is incredibly bold and vibrant. The juxtaposition of each cover is playful, but serious and has been replicated countless times over the years.

Please remember to share these great pieces with your friends by clicking the social media icons below.

Have a great day!

Spinnerin Magazine Photography

Spinnerin_BackCover Spinnerin_FrontCoverSpinnerin was a knitting magazine that existed from the 60s and 70s that really knew how to engage it’s audience with great photography. The covers pictured above (Back and front, respectively) must have been a lot of fun to shoot. I would have loved to been there on the day of the shoot, drinking soda and engaging with the crew. All the details, most notably the way the colors really pop in contrast to the background setting are so much fun to look at. Remember this was shot way before Photoshop was around and editing these in post must have been a real bear!

I’ve taken the time to scan all the photography from this issue at high resolution (300 dpi, RGB) for your enjoyment and sharing. I’m not sure who owns the copyrights so I’d be careful about how you use them.

You can download all the images here. The file is just under 100mb, so make sure you have the bandwidth available.

Weather Conditions Icon Set, Free Download

This product is completely free, I just ask that you “pay” for it by sharing the product on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

TWEET/POST to Download

Check out my other vector sets by clicking here:

WeatherIcon_GreyOnWhite DownloadNowButtonSet contains 10 unique outlined vector graphics.

File is less than one 1mb

This download includes Adobe CS5 compatible .AI and .EPS files.
This document is protected under a Creative Commons License for Copyright purposes.
This product may be used privately or commercially, but may not be resold.

Inspiration Overload

There comes a time when you have to stop searching for inspiration and start making.

Easier said than done, right? In fact limiting ones own sense of visual intake can be nearly impossible in today’s “touch of a button” society in which everything we could ever require is available at the swipe of a finger or a key stroke.

There are certain things I do each morning when I get to work that always determine how the rest of my day will pan out, and even though I recognize these trends within my own routine only by acting on them continuously can I begin to break and reshape their influence on my day-to-day life.

These actions almost always include getting lost in “Inspiration sites” like Behance and Designspiration, and while these are both invaluable resources for designers, they can also be a terrible burden when you allow yourself to become overexposed.

Nothing works harder to kill my own motivation for design than to overload myself with inspiration. The fact of the matter is that there is so much data out there, with so many people producing amazing work that when it comes time to actually knuckle down and create you may run the risk of creative paralysis. You may become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of professional level work that you will find yourself unable to settle on an aesthetic direction, or your motivation may backfire and you could find yourself paralyzed with fear of failure or mediocrity.

In order to combat this paralysis, this dragging weight of impending failure and mediocrity, I’ve begun to limit my own exposure to the very thing I once I sought to inspire. The simple strategy to fight this burdensome irony is to consciously limit yourself from it and allow creativity to flow through execution.

Besides the more you look at the work of others the greater the chances will be that your work will end up looking like theirs and there isn’t much worse than being known for doing something that looks like something someone more famous has already done (and probably did even better).

So if you’re like me and you get bogged down by all the beautiful things on the internet, don’t fret! Take a step back and make something. It may not be game changing, but it may be a step towards something that is.

— Have a great week

Kitchen Cooking Vector Set, Free Download


You can download the vector set for free by clicking the image above or clicking here.

Get 34 more vectors in the Premium Vector pack! Click here or the image below. Only $3!


Creative Commons License

Kitchen_Vectors_2013 by James Michael Viola is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
You are free to download, alter, and manipulate the vectors within the files as you see fit, however the redistribution or sale of this file or the vectors contained within is strictly forbidden

An Interview with Concept Artist Eric Tran

Eric Tran is a multi-disciplinary illustrator and concept artist from NJ. His conceptual work is primarily digitally driven, however his strong roots in traditional media have served to benefit his current “video game style” and establish him as a true talent in his field. Picking up regional and national acknowledgement with the launch of his new portfolio site Eric is truly an upcoming talent that is no doubt destined for fame.

Subsequently I also designed Eric’s logo — at the time one of my first logos ever!

Looking back I see a lot of things I would do differently now, but I’m still pretty proud of it.

I sat down with Eric on Facebook and conducted this interview over a few months (when we both had time).


ZOMGIMBORED: I want to start by thanking you for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. I know you’ve got a lot going on so why don’t you start by telling the readers some things about yourself. What’s your art education? What got you started and excited about what you’re doing conceptually?

ERIC TRAN: I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, and growing up with an amazing artist as a father, I had a natural urge to draw. I grew up on video games and comic books, so when I learned that there is an actual job market for drawing monsters and fantasy landscapes, I felt that it’s something I’ve been doing as a kid and I wanted to learn from the best. As far as my education goes, I went to rowan university for illustration, and my professors didn’t know how to help me learn this exciting contemporary digital art, so they helped me with my traditional skills like figure drawing and oil painting but when it comes to digital, I pride myself in bring self taught.

I’m always on a quest to learn, which is why you can find me regularly studying classical sculptures at the metropolitan museum.

ZOMG: Very cool, can you tell me a little about your short term and long term goals as a conceptual artist right now? Are you primarily working freelance?

ET: Currently I am doing freelance work. I enjoy the freedom of it, but I wouldn’t mind working with a team. I’m a good team player and there are many things to learn from other artists all around you. My long term goal I suppose would be to establish myself as one of the greats, and to have employers seek me for my vision and style.

ZOMG: Never short on ambition! That’s what I like to hear. Tell me a bit about some of the steps you’re taking to motivate yourself to achieving the best portfolio you can. Are you finding working solo to be detrimental to excelling?

You’ve mentioned several times that your father is an artist as well and worked for DC Comics briefly. Do you tap him as a resource for critique?

ET: Well, one thing I always do when I’m approaching a piece is I always look at master drawings and painting and try to pick them apart. I truly want to understand anatomy and light and shadow to the fullest and I figure I can’t go wrong by looking at the best of them. Never compare your work to someone who is not at your level yet. If some artist’s work makes you jealous, don’t be discouraged by it, be motivated to be better than that. Even if you never succeed in doing so, you’ll be a lot better than you ever thought you could be.

My father was working on a small team for DC to develop a comic that never saw the light of day. It was being funded by a game company who pulled the funding early. He is one of the best artists I know honestly. He can create scenes with multiple figures, in any pose, in any environment without the use of reference material. He is a great critic of my work and he does indeed give me another perspective on tackling certain design elements.

Can you talk about some of modern influences you have? Who’s work are you looking at the most to get inspired?

ET: There are plenty of contemporary artists who’s work I admire. I grew up drooling over Magic: The Gathering card art, so of course Brom is one of my all time favorites. I love Daarken’s work because it seems like he can paint anything. Carlos Huante has some of the best organic forms I’ve ever seen. And of course Justin Sweet is inspiring, his style is so effortless looking but impossible to replicate.

It seems out of place to some, but I gather a lot of inspiration from the masters of the past. These artists were brilliant draftsmen, and learned the value of figure studies. I study classical art from Rubens, Raphael, Gericault, Tiepolo, Van Dyck and others.

ZOMG: I always find it so awkward to study Masterworks in person. I can never get comfortable. You just bring your sketch book and stand and draw, don’t you?

ET: Yeah, it can get uncomfortable at times. Usually I get in the zone and don’t really notice my legs or my hand going numb. Usually small crowds of people gather around while I draw and I answer some questions, it’s a nice experience.

ZOMG: That’s pretty cool – how something like that can become an interactive experience.

So let’s talk about your new website, anything ground breaking coming out with it?

ET: Ground breaking? Haha I don’t believe so. I just want my work to speak for itself and I want it to be an open hub of activity; a place where fans and other artists can come by and watch my progress over the years. I’ll have a blog on it where I post things about upcoming events, jobs, and just whatever is on my mind. Also I plan on selling prints, as well as having free tutorials for those who are interested in my technique. I feel like since I basically learned how to paint digitally on my own, I would like to pay it forward to other artists out there. Hopefully provide some inspiration as well.

ZOMG: That’s awesome. I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from seeing how you work and manipulate digital paint.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers? Any parting words of wisdom?

ET: Well, since I’m not some super famous artist, I can’t really say “I got successful following these steps”, however if the readers enjoy my artwork and want to know what it takes to become a better artist, all I can say is that time and patience will take you there. I believe that if you spend enough hard working hours into learning something, you will succeed at it. It does not come without a price though. You may have to sacrifice going out as much, or drinking, or playing video games; whatever that thing is to you that stunts your artistic growth, you have to sacrifice it. Also, don’t ever doubt yourself before taking on a project! You are a warrior with a unique set of skills that serve to conquer the task at hand. The more you practice, you broaden your arsenal and increase your stamina.

Thank you for honoring me with your time James, and thanks to the readers for checking out my site. Stay tuned for updates.

You can contact Eric Tran for commissions through his website: