Monday, March 20, 2006

Project Runway, interior design, and your "post graduate" education

As a creative person, being inspired by things that I come across on a daily basis is one way in which I educate myself. I've found inspiration in the metal fire escapes on the side of buildings, the way shadows fall on buildings in the middle of a city, and in great storefront signage. My point is, my post-education education came from opening my eyes and my mind, not just from opening a book.

It may sound odd at first but books on loft design really fascinate me and encourage me to think outside the box as a designer. My favorite kind of interior design is minimalistic yet powerful through small accents of color and texture, I own an interior design book on that exact topic. Another source of inspiration are reality design shows such as "Project Runway". To see the level of creativity that designers come up with when using a different medium(s) than what I'm accustomed to using is amazing. When I think of the differences between graphic design and fashion design, they are numerous but at the very basic levels they are the same...continuity, color, form, assymmetry, texture etc are all dealt with by designers of business cards, interior spaces, and clothing. For me to not learn from their passion, frustration, and dedication would be denying myself an insight into how other designers deal with certain challenges and frustrations.

Yes, there will always be some sort of "grand standing" involved with TV but the underlying reality is that an existing thought process and problem solving ability is revealed as materials become scarce, time runs out, or outside expectations become almost unbearable...all of which could be related to graphic design or photography.

Education is often thought of in the formal sense and sometimes when the doors close behind the student, their line-of-site on education diminishes. Formal education is but a first step, the reality is education can't be quantified by an amount of time or a piece of paper. It is a process and a neverending process at that. Alternative means of education exist all around you, you just need to open yourself up to the intricacies of your surroundings whether they be books or store signage. Be inspired! Don't fall into a mundane creative existence! Keep learning and keep challenging yourself because your education will end only when you let it.

Friday, March 10, 2006


...coming soon...

"The Coffee Bean"

name: "The Coffee Bean"
location: 110 S. King Street, Leesburg VA, 20175

tel: 703-777-9556
coffee orders: 1-800-BEAN-USA; no website available

This is one of my favorite coffee shops in Northern Virginia. Located in an old house in Old Town Leesburg VA, it is the kind of place you stumble upon once but frequently re-visit.

Never before have I seen such a wide variety of flavored drip coffees, which they ground for you while you wait. From pumpkin to chestnut to macadamia nut, the flavors are varied and never disappointing; feel free to open the various jars of beans to take in the powerful aromas. They also have a variety of syrups to accompany your espresso drink.

While you enjoy your tasty beverage, you can browse through their knick-knacks or lounge in the seating area..which looks more like a living room than a coffee shop. It's bright, entertaining, and comfortable and depending on what day your there, you'll probably notice the barista starting a conversation with a local regular. But if you don't feel like sitting down with your beverage, feel free to step outside and take a walk through the historic part of Leesburg; there are plenty of old buildings, interesting restaurants, art galleries, and other entertaining places.

I highly recommend visiting "The Coffee Bean" if you're in the area. A great product and environment truly come together for a fun and memorable experience!

[return to "coffee & tea"]

Thursday, March 09, 2006

coffee & tea

Coffee and tea have rich history and great depth. They are not only functional on many levels but they have limitless potential when it comes to providing an experience to accompany their consumption. Since abstractLatte was inspired by bookstores and coffee shops, I thought it was appropriate to provide information on these fascinating products so that others can learn about them as well as enjoy them.

There are a few criteria that I use when deciding what shops and brands to include in the blog. While each product does not need to have all three in their brand experience, they do need to have at least one.


There are enough corporate coffee shops in the world. Not that there's anything wrong with corporate coffee, I'm just trying to provide interesting options and promote small business.

An interesting vibe

Cafes provide an experience beyond the taste of their product. From artwork to furniture, cafes communicate a way of thinking, possibly even telling a story in the process. And a cool vibe can provide an even more memorable experience...and may even inspire!

Humanitarian goals

There is nothing more admirable than helping people who need help. If a brand of coffee is being sold so that its income can help others in need, it deserves exposure.

the coffee + cafes

"The Coffee Bean"
110 S. King Street
Leesburg, VA 20175

features: living room environment, jars of fresh beans, and great location

[click for pictures and information]


[...coming soon...]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

ink snacks

Zine name: "ink snacks"
Concept: bite-sized creativity
Content: prose, poetry, and small format artwork...along with a few surprises in each issue
Dimensions: 4"x4", unfolding to 14"x17"


open zine

ink snacks (tm) content and design © joe blend. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


All of the pieces are sold as individual prints (no frame or matte) and each are part of their own limited editions (unless otherwise noted). Once an edition is sold out, no further prints will be made. Each photograph is printed on Epson photo paper and signed on the back, along with its number in the edition. All work includes a certificate of authenticity with purchase.

Please visit for purchase information.

subject: wall imagery
location: Harpers Ferry, WV

subject: found objects
location: Occoquan, VA

subject: street gutter trash
location: Washington, DC

all work © 2007-2009 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.


Handmade, and generally inexpensive to produce, these small self-published books can cover any topic that your imagination can think of...from your daily gardening routines to drawings and pictures of your favorite signs to funny faces that your pet makes every week. There is no limit to the possibilities of their design; while some may choose to use paint and markers, others may photocopy their zines in black and white.

While it's true I've published a zine through abstractLatte before, and that I am working on a fresh version of that zine, I would like to make other zines around different concepts. Regardless of how easily they can be printed, zines require illustration, design, and production in addition to writing so they generally take longer to produce from concept to completion; check back periodically for updates!"

upcoming zines:

"ink snacks [bite sized-creativity], second edition"

"ink snacks" (tm) content and design © 2008-2010 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.