Re:iterations — a few short lessons from making my podcast cover designs

Here’s the evolution of my podcast logo.

First, this.

Then, this.

Next, this.

Now, this.

Some short lessons from doing it myself:

  1. Reiteration leads to confidence.
    By removing the unnecessary bits, you leave space for your personality.
  2. Basic is better.
    Most fonts look terrible. Think of it this way: everyone else wastes time looking for the perfect font, and you spend 3 seconds selecting Sans Whatever. Remember the Avatar poster fiasco?
  3. Technique > fancy
    Fancy is futile. Anyone with enough money can slap a fancy effect on a design or video. Technique shows attention to detail. A love of technique means a love of the craft. For example, Matt D’Avella. 3 million subscribers. Few fancy effects. All technique.

Reiterate. Reiterate. Reiterate.


Big thanks to LLA for sketching my head.

Selfish and I know it

I see something grotesque every time I open WordPress:

It’s poppin’ at 8 in the morning

Now, it’s not the stats that I see. It’s my addiction to numbers.

This next paragraph was going to be about how I don’t care about the numbers. That I’ve entered Nirvana. That I’ve transcended my desire to raise these bars higher than the bars I set for my content.

But then I’d be lying.

I’m selfish. I like seeing the numbers go up. High numbers means I’m a better blogger, right? A more powerful, influential, smarter, sexier blogger. 100 views in a day is more prestigious than 75. But 175 is more prestigious than 100. And so on and so on.

I’ve tried creating a desktop link to WordPress’s editor. So far that hasn’t worked. But I have another solution, one that I’m applying to other areas of my life.

I know that I like seeing the numbers go up. And that means I can work around my own vice.

Knowing that I like seeing the numbers go up is like a cognitive rehab against my addiction to stats, bar graphs, and metrics.

So, the lesson I have for you today is this:

Knowing about your vices is one of the best ways to work around them.

The literature on self-control suggests as much. Hagger and colleagues write:

From “Trait Self-Control and Self-Discipline: Structure, Validity, and Invariance Across
2 National Groups”

In other words, design your environment around your vices.


P.S – I’m still addicted to Mammal Hands. Here’s a tune I had on loop while writing this.

Variety is a constraint

Every design choice is a sacrifice. A podcast about the financial markets can’t be a podcast about the psychology of religion. And if you’re blogging about about a variety of subjects, it’s likely that you won’t be the go-to expert on the probability theories of economics.

Variety is a choice, and so it’s a constraint — a useful constraint.

By applying a constraint, you’re telling us, “I’m this, not that.”

The Penguin Latte Podcast #17 – Marketing as Self-Expression with Arielle Kimbarovsky

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

Are advertisers evil? Are marketers the scourge of the earth, hell-bent on stealing our attention and selling it off to some nameless corporation? Yes, and no. It’s every good marketer’s job to capture our attention. And advertisers get paid to understand what makes people want to buy things. But to call either evil would be like accusing your grandma of being a Satanist (unless she really is one). The best marketers get us as excited about products and services as grandma makes us excited about fresh chocolate chip cookies.

In this episode, I speak with one of the most delightful and creative marketers I’ve ever met: Arielle Kimbarovsky (@ariellekimbar on Twitter). Arielle Kimbarovsky is the head of social media and marketing for M1 Finance. Her spec work portfolio (got it right that time) is full of an exuberance that reveals her eye for color choice, words that evoke powerful emotions, and stories impossible to forget.

If you’ve listened to my episode with Robbie Crabtree, then you know how much I value communication. Design is a form of communication. Some of the most difficult problems I’ve had with the blog and podcast were to pick the right words, color choice, shape, and names for titles. What you say matters less than how you say it. This episode serves as an opportunity to learn how to express yourself through multiple mediums: painting, writing, talking, music, video— nearly all the topics we discuss relate to communication. We also discuss reading, being introverted, taking breaks, being yourself, and thinking big. It’s a wide-ranging conversation full of possibility and delight.

So, please enjoy my conversation with Arielle Kimbarovsky!

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube


This episode is brought to you by my weekly newsletter, Hey Penguin. Hey Penguin includes tips for improving yourself through creativity, plus a bunch of extra goodies like drafts of blog posts, art I’m digging, letters from my audience, and previews of podcast episodes. Sounds good? Click here to subscribe and get the next issue delivered straight to your inbox.

PS: Does The Penguin Latte Podcast remind you of the excitement of fresh presents on Christmas morning? If so, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts/Itunes. It takes all of 60 seconds (or 120 seconds if you’re feeling extra spicy). By leaving a review, you’re making the podcast 1% better. So, if 500 of you leave reviews, the podcast gets 500% better (if I have my math right). Plus, I love reading all of your juicy comments.

Thanks so much!