Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autumn Design Inspirations: October 2013

Emilie is always on the lookout for great design in L.A.  Interesting color in manmade or natural objects or an unusual texture may provide inspiration for a client brochure, logo or website design. And she needs no excuse to go shopping, either — all in the name of "design research." Concerts, art exhibitions, zoos, historic buildings and gardens are favorite places to visit. The many varieties of plants and flowers feature great natural color combinations, especially during autumn.

Our studio has a fantastic library of digital typefaces, and it's fun to review them once in a while. Like all designers, we have our favorites: Gill Sans, Huxley, Univers, Futura, Garamond 3, Perpetua, Michelangelo, Shelley Allegro, Poetica... Yes, these are mostly tried and true classics, but we also use a '50s-inspired type called "Mr. Sparkly" once in awhile, or an obscure European type or ornament.

Web Projects
Clients benefit from our comprehensive type collection and knowledge of letterforms. We always specify the bulk of a site's text as "web-safe" for the best search engine optimization (SEO) and solid Google rankings (plus compatibility with Mac, PC, various browsers and mobile devices). For instance, we'll set body copy in web-safe Helvetica, Palatino or Verdana, then choose something "finer" such as Rotis or Adobe Caslon Italic for headlines and pull quotes. This presents a unique look and coordinates with print materials, which we've also created.

Good page composition, beautiful letterforms and smart navigation make our designs engaging and dynamic, online and in print.

Contact Emilie for help with your company or organization's creative projects: websites, identities, marketing collateral:

Good design is good business.

Here are some of our inspirations this month —

Huxley — one of our all-time favorite typefaces. Designed in the 1930s and just as cool (and modern) today!

Historic 1927 Train Depot: Glendale, California
French dressing at Macy's (formerly Bullock's) department store on Lake Avenue
Pasadena, California
Is there anything more beautiful than the flagstone facade of Bullock's Pasadena?
This classic store was built in 1947 and designed by architect Welton Becket.
Total design, inside and out. And still gorgeous!
Color-coded spools of thread add an inspired design motif
on the wall of our favorite dry cleaner/tailor shop
Hollywood Bowl outlook with downtown L.A. skyline in the distance:
The gorgeous sparkly lights of Tinseltown.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy Birthday to a World-Class Artist: Sir Thomas Allen

Sir Thomas Allen 
(born on this day in 1944) is an extraordinary artist — internationally known baritone and operatic director, author, painter (he exhibited paintings at the Chelsea Flower Show on more than one occasion), and now Chancellor of Durham University. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.

We have seen Tom sing many times in person, in Donizetti to Mozart (the title character in "Don Giovanni" and Count Almaviva in "Le nozze di Figaro," both signature roles). I first heard him in 1991, as Sharpless in "Madama Butterfly." My half-price L.A. Opera student subscription seats were in the very back of the 3,000 seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The stage was a tiny speck, but this extraordinary voice carried all the way "to the heavens."

His most recent performance in Los Angeles was in 2011 in Rossini's "Il Turco in Italia." After the performance, I had the chance to meet Tom and chat for awhile about art and music. When I gave him my business card he said "Nice card — isn't that Charles Rennie Mackintosh type?…"


Inspiration is everywhere — in nature, in architecture, in literature, and in the arts. Bravo, Tom. Here's to many more years of creativity!

Good design is good business.

Sir Thomas Allen and Emilie
backstage at the Music Center

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Swiss Design Classic

H E L V E T I C A , the unadorned, utilitarian typeface which graphic designers have used for more than half a century, is the subject of a 2007 documentary by director Gary Hustwit. Helvetica is everywhere — from bus benches to food packaging.

A documentary about a typeface?... What a great idea! Watching this film gave me a better appreciation for the 1957 typeface formerly known as "Die Neue Haas Grotesk."

As an art director/designer, I always like the challenge of choosing the perfect typeface(s) for each creative project. For print design, the choices are practically limitless. (Although I must admit to having my own sans serif favorites: Gill Sans, Futura, Frutiger, Rotis...)

W E B  - S A F E   T Y P E F A C E
In the last few years, I've used Helvetica quite a bit. Its clean, minimalist design is a plus for all-digital online (website) projects. Helvetica is "web-safe," reads well on both large and small screens, and still feels contemporary.

Many well-known designers are featured in the documentary: Massimo Vignelli, Paula Scher, Michael Beirut and Erik Spiekermann, among others. Mr. Vignelli, an award-winning Italian designer living in New York, shows some of his firm's work including the iconic 1972 New York City subway map — a project which used Helvetica extensively. Type designers are featured, too: Matthew Carter, Hermann Zapf, Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. Definitely "A-List."

Films about typography are a rare treat. Anyone who is interested in design and communication will enjoy "Helvetica."


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At Emilie Pallos Graphic Design, we create print, web and signage projects, and are known for classic, yet modern design. For a FREE consultation about your marketing or visual communications project, please send a note to Emilie at View our work here:

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Photos: Spread from "Helvetica Forever: Story of a Typeface" by Lars Muller Publishers (2009)

Type specimen book featuring different weights and point sizes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Saul Bass: 20th Century Design Icon

In honor of the 93rd birthday of the iconic designer Saul Bass (1920 - 1996), a new "Google Doodle" debuted today. This short film pays tribute to many of Mr. Bass' film designs: The Man with the Golden Arm, Vertigo, North By Northwest (my favorite — how can you do better than Cary Grant starring in this 1959 Hitchcock movie?!), West Side Story, Anatomy of a Murder, and Around the World in 80 Days (my dad Vic's favorite), among others. And turn the sound up — the jazz score is by Dave Brubeck.

Illustrator/designer Matthew Cruickshank created the short tribute film.

Mr. Bass was legendary in the graphic design profession — his client list boasted a "Who's Who" of Fortune 500 companies, and his Los Angeles firm won every major creative award. The office produced marketing communications and comprehensive corporate identities, print and environmental graphics (and airline graphics, too). This was the respected, successful practice designers dream about.

Mr. Bass also created brilliant film titles and posters in the 1950s and '60s — WAY before computer graphics and Photoshop. Some of his identities are below. Notice how many of them are round or rounded, and many appear to be dimensional, even though they are flat. All have strong, solid colors.

Saul Bass' corporate identities.
How many can you name?
(The answers are below if you get stuck!)

A Personal Recollection
I heard Mr. Bass speak once in person, at a 1993 AIGA seminar in Culver City, CA. He walked with a cane by then, but still had a commanding stage presence. I still remember how a fellow young designer seated near me stood up and asked Mr. Bass for a job at Bass/Yager & Associates. How bold! Mr. Bass' response was "Come over to my office and we'll talk." The young designer was dumbfounded.

I kept my notes from that roundtable discussion (which also included designers Jim Cross, Toni Hollander and Rod Dyer). Even after almost 20 years in the profession, I still consider myself a 'student of design.' We have much to learn from our predecessors — IF we take the time to listen.

Last week, as I was finishing the last "Savannah Smile" cookie of 2013, I noticed Mr. Bass's memorable green silhouette Girl Scout logo on the box. Girl Scouts have used this identity for decades because it still "works."

At Emilie Pallos Graphic Design, we respect and study the talented designers of the past. We also create meaningful, powerful creative design solutions for clients in a range of industries, from healthcare to the arts, for private businesses and non-profit organizations.

Contact Emilie to talk about your project:

Good design is good business.


Background information on the Saul Bass Google film is HERE.

Saul Bass logos (shown above)
From top left: Bell System, AT&T, General Foods, United Airlines, Avery International, Continental Airlines, Celanese, United Way, Rockwell International, Minolta, Girl Scouts of the USA, Lawry's Foods, Dixie, Quaker Oats, Frontier Airlines, Alcoa, Warner Communications, and Fuller Paints

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's a Skating Tooth!


One of our newest creative projects is an advertising campaign for a longtime dental practice client — the artwork above is now on view at the Pasadena Ice Skating Center in Pasadena, CA. Clients are Drs. Hillary Kim and Ray Kwok, DMDs, who own one of the best contemporary dental practices in the area. 

Original Art: Joanna

When a photo is just too ordinary, why not consider illustration? 

This fanciful tooth (we call her "Joanna," after the doctors' young daughter) leaps off the page to land her jump perfectly. The artwork captures the structure of a "tooth" in a fun, kid-friendly way. Joanna even sports a jaunty ponytail — just like the real girl!

Our talented artist colleague/friend Sandy McDaniel created the original illustration. Sandy can draw or paint just about anything which appeal to the most discerning clients. Little wonder, with a background working with Walt Disney Imagineering, Mattel and The Getty Center. Emilie handled art direction and typography for the project.

We're looking forward to incorporating the new "skating tooth" character into other promotional products for the practice. T-shirts, stickers and a prime spot on the practice's new website are on tap for Joanna.

Please contact Emilie to talk about YOUR next design and illustration project:

Websites / Marketing Communications / Illustration & Photography / Corporate Identity

Good design is good business.

Pencil sketch of skating tooth — she's cute in black and white!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Spectacular Cavalia

A  V I S U A L   F E A S T
For any art director / designer, Cavalia, the French Canadian equestrian/acrobatic show (based in Montreal), is a visual feast. Cavalia was created by Normand Latourelle of "Cirque de Soleil" fame and features some of the best trained and pampered horses (stallions and geldings) anywhere. Add to this trick riders and acrobats who do amazing feats on a multi-acre dirt "stage," with bigger-than-IMAX high-definition background projections
from Easter Island to waterfalls, Iceland, the steppes of central Asia, to the African desert in all four seasons - including a rain and thunderstorm sequence. Audiences are swept away in a worldwide tour: an Odyssey. The tent alone is an amazing feat reportedly the largest in the world at 10 stories high with seating for 2,000 people.

"O D Y S S E O"
I saw Cavalia for the first time here in Feb. 2011, and it was spectacular. The show returned to nearby Burbank in April, even better than 2011 with all-new sets, imagery and theme – "Odysseo." And new this year, a ridiculously talented troupe of acrobats from New Guinea enthralls the audience with spectacular athleticism and skill. Music, performed live by a small ensemble, is a blend of native sounds from around the world, with lyrics in French. Everyone, and especially those who work in creative fields, will appreciate the artwork and the fantastic performers. Aerialists, musicians, equestrians. Exotic costumes and makeup. Scenic design like no other. And those gorgeous horses….

G R A N D E   L I B E R T E
My favorite part of the show was the opening sequence
six Arabian horses wander onto the stage, guided by a single trainer. The "Grande Liberté" is performed unbridled, and is simply beautiful. These four-legged charmers are the gorgeous stars of the show. The other sequences are breathtaking from jumping to trick-riding. The finale began simply, with a single dressage rider and horse, and then grew to include the entire company cavorting in a lake that filled the stage with 80,000 gallons of water. Inspired!

Following a six-week run in Burbank, the show is returning home to Montreal and scheduled to open in mid-May. You can experience some of this amazing show on I can't wait until it returns!

Click on the link below for a dramatic preview:

Friday, March 22, 2013

A suburban L.A. policy blog makeover

"Timeless" new identity

Client Elise Kalfayan hired us to design a new logo for her Glendale, California-based policy blog "Sunroom Desk" which originally launched several years ago. She wanted the 2013 identity to "be appropriate for a publishing company." Elise and I met at one of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce's Business Expos. (This fall event is always a nice opportunity to exhibit my work personally and talk with clients.)

The logo (above) is featured on the newly-redesigned blog We also assisted client on creative direction for site, with updated layout, colors and customized WordPress theme. Our firm oversaw professional local programming and launch.

Client is now able to write and post new content as needed, quickly and efficiently. And the blog is easily read on all modern devices, both desktop and mobile.

Classic Roman type (Baskerville Small Caps) works seamlessly with clean, bright colors (blue and yellow). We also added a stripe of reddish brown color underneath the letters to signify client's "Sunroom Desk." Color fields add dimension and interest to the typography.

We always start by considering how best to communicate a client's service or business in a "visual" manner.

We'll ask the following questions for every project:
What is the marketing strategy? Core audience?
How will final art be used: Online, print, signage?
Do we need original illustration? Photography?
How about a specific color scheme?

Addressing these details prior to Phase One is important for a successful project. Collaboration between designer and client is key. Many of our clients still use identities we designed more than 10 years ago because our work is "timeless" (to quote a client) and effective.

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At Emilie Pallos Graphic Design, we help businesses in all industries reach diverse markets — online and in print. Creative, custom websites, printed marketing materials, signage, corporate identities, and more… Since 1996.

Call Emilie today to discuss your project: 818 242-9055 or send a message to

Good design is good business.

Two-sided business card

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An inspired tribute to America

"...the unexpected song bird on your clothes line..."

Today's entry is not specifically about art or design, but it's certainly creative, and an inspired tribute to America by poet Richard Blanco.

In our design firm, we appreciate  G R E A T   W O R D S  just as much as great artwork.

And we have the talented creative staff to create both. Please give us a call for your next project.

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January 21, 2013: Inaugural Poem "One Today"

Friday, January 11, 2013

Roses are red...and gold, pink and orange!

Ingredients for the Glendale float  - seeds and crushed flowers in a range of vibrant colors.

R O S E S ,  S E E D S ,  B A R K . . .
Last month we viewed eight Rose floats during the last few days of floral decoration. Hundreds of varieties of flowers, grasses, seeds, bark, and other plants are used on each float, and the end result is exquisite! 

These floats are true works of art — congratulations to our fellow artists and designers and the thousands of dedicated volunteers for another terrific parade. Thank you to our friends at Phoenix Decorating and Glendale Adventist Medical Center for a sneak peak.


At Emilie Pallos Graphic Design, we haven't designed a Rose Float yet (someday!), but we DO help clients in all professions with marketing and creative design projects for business.

H O W   A B O U T . . .
• A new company  L O G O —a unique, modern, yet classic look, which tells your story.
• An updated  W E B S I T E — new design, photos and text creates a successful online presence for 2013 and beyond.

• A new  B R O C H U R E  about your company (never underestimate the power of a great printed piece — it drives sales, enhances credibility and looks great on your reception desk).

A dynamic, interesting brochure will set you ABOVE your competition. Our firm specializes in high-end print design work — it's how we began in this great profession 20 years ago.

And let's not forget...
Some new, eye-catching  B U S I N E S S   C A R D S.  Still the best (and most cost-effective) "little brochure" about your company or service!


Let's talk! Please contact Emilie at 818 242-9055 for a free consultation. Or send a note to 

View our designs here:

Good design is good business.

P H O T O    G A L L E R Y
Photos by Emilie Pallos and Vic Pallos

Carefully prepared flats of trimmed roses, gerberas and other stunning flowers.

Bunny on Nurses' Float: A Healing Place (Craftsman Award),
is completely covered in tufts of real cotton. 

Soft and huggable was the theme on the Nurses' Float, which featured a menagerie of cute animals.

Peep's favorite! (Nurses' Float)

Ready to fly! We watched the decorator apply "feathers" one by one (Pampas grass).

City of Los Angeles float "before" the flowers were added to the front.

And "after." Flowers always add vibrancy and dimension!

Lions' Club float featured well-known architecture — from Big Ben to the Sydney Opera House.
The Alamo looked small on this float...just like the REAL thing!  ;)