Chika says farewell

Today is Rollins Fellow and Graphic Designer, Chika Otas, last day working at the Office of the Yale University Printer! John wrote and delivered a lovely farewell to Chika during our open house:

You have transformed our office with your hard work, talent, and entrepreneurial energy. Your ability to win the confidence of our clients and colleagues by interpreting their needs in keeping with Yale’s institutional goals has added much to our office’s reputation. It’s not exaggerating to say that you have raised the University’s perception of design’s power to serve its communication goals.

Among your many projects, your work for New Employee Orientation, Emergency Management, President Levin’s send-off book and event, and Peter Salovey’s inauguration, your organization of classes for Yale designers, your term as a Prelim TA, and your establishment of the OUP blog stand out—not just to us, but broadly to Yale’s audiences and offices.

It’s diffcult to think of our workplace without your cheer, energy, style, memorable questions, adventurousness, and friendship. We know that you will make the most of every opportunity and that your new colleagues will love you as much as we do. 

We offer our most sincere good wishes and love as you leave Yale. We know you will fare well.

In celebration of the wonderful work she did for our office, here is a look at a small portion of the beautiful work she designed for Peter Salovey's inauguration. 


The schedule of events.


Festive colonnade banners on Commons.

Specially designed scarf to commemorate the weekend.

Specially designed scarf to commemorate the weekend.

Tickets for concert, lectures and other events throughout the inauguration.

Tickets for concert, lectures, and other events throughout the inauguration.

Celebratory neck tie designed specifically for the weekend.

Celebratory tie designed specifically for the weekend.

Invitations for Peter Salovey's Inauguration

Invitations for Peter Salovey's inauguration established the graphic theme of "Many Yales."

Close up of two designs for the inauguration weekend tote bags.

Close up of two designs for the inauguration weekend tote bags, one featuring the 23rd president motif, the other featuring "Many Yales."



Notice something new at Bass Library last week?

bastents in situ

We worked with Bass to design table tents intended to enliven study spaces and show support for students during reading week and finals.


We felt that our design should in some way speak specifically to studying in Yale libraries.


So, we paired text with archival images of Yale students hard at work in the libraries back in the day.


The table tents provide encouragement,


illustrate common experiences,


provide moments of comic relief,


and document nostalgic scenes of studying 60 years ago.


The incongruity between the 1950s-60s photos and the invitation to tweet drives this concept, confirming the trope that  “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Contrasting styles in exhibition design



Today I stopped by the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery to check out two very different exhibition designs. 


At the YCBA, the pieces in Sculpture by Nicola Hicks are installed among paintings selected by the artist from the museum’s permanent collection. 


The labels and exhibition graphics reflect this quiet integration. 


Labels that describe Hicks, her work, and its connection to other British art adhere to the standard formatting used throughout the rest of the YCBA. 


This exhibition design strategy waits in the background. The viewer decides whether to consider Hick's sculpture in the context of the adjacent artwork and label information.


Across the street, the exhibition design for A Great Crowd Had Gathered: JFK in the 1960s inserts itself boldly into the viewing experience. 


The blue-painted walls demarcate the exhibition’s physical space, separating it from the rest of the gallery. 


The large timeline organizes the photographs around related events in presidential history and popular culture.The timeline, labels, and groupings together exert nearly the same visual weight as the images themselves, unequivocally drawing viewers to consider the photographs within their chronological and cultural context.

Van Sinderen Book Collecting Prize Now Open!

Van Sinderen Book Collecting Prize Poster

In order to encourage undergraduates to collect books, build their own libraries, and read for pleasure and education, Adrian Van Sinderen YC 1910 established two prizes—one for seniors and one for sophomores—in 1957.   

More information, including instructions and the application form, is available here.  

Special thanks to Edward Wang TC ’16 for designing the winning publicity poster. An honorable mention was awarded to Ava Tomasula y Garcia CC ’17. Learn more about the Van Sinderen poster competition here.


Infographic: 2013 Yale Men's Hockey

hockey graphic closeup

Since this Friday is the men’s hockey season home opener, I designed an information graphic that introduces the team, each player’s position, and his point contribution to the team. 

hockey sketch close-up

It was challenging to express this quantity and variety of data in a clear and compelling manner. I first tried organizing the data in concentric circles around each player’s number. Although intriguing, the design did not use space efficiently—it repeated labels and overcomplicated the reading of the graphs. 

hockey infographic

The final linear model organizes the data more concisely around shared axes and eliminates redundant information. It also makes evident broader observations, such as that the team consists predominantly of new players and underclassmen.

New Work: The Sterling Memorial Library Nave: Past & Future

Navel panels hallway

In the Sterling Memorial Library for the exhibit corridor—one of the few places not covered in scaffolding and temporary walls—Chika designed a series of panels that describe the library’s history and current renovation project. 

Stained Glass panel

A grid system maintains order among the varied elements in each panel. Its consistent structure also ties the fives cases together, especially important given the distance between them. 

A New Library Panel

A New Library close-up

The grid system dictates subtle attributes such as leading—the space between two lines of text. This grid allows for wider space between the panel title and introductory text than between each line within the text block. Leading is based on the size of type and the length of the text lines. It separates different types of content and makes long blocks of text easy to read.

Restoration en situ

Installing the panels, which extend the full length of the cases, brought about additional challenges. Each case is divided into four sections, each with its own door. Since only one door can be open at a time, the exhibition team had limited room to maneuver. 

The panels were adhered to the metal case with long magnetic strips along the top edge, eliminating the distraction of visible pins or grommets.

What's in a typeface?

Cover and title page of Cole Porter Exhibition booklet.

For an upcoming exhibition about Cole Porter, we selected a typeface that would reference the visual context in which he worked—Art Deco—without looking like a document from that time.

Close up, title page, Cole Porter exhibition booklet

We used Nobel types for this project. Originally inspired by Futura (the quintessential Deco face), and designed in 1929, Nobel was expanded and updated in the 1990s by Yale School of Art Critic Tobias Frere-Jones. 

Inside spread, Cole Porter exhibition booklet

Close up, caption, Cole Porter exhibition booklet

Our reference to the Deco style, which began with this typeface choice, is also evident in other aspects of the design, such as the tall narrow arrangement of the titling type, captions, and text blocks.

Close up, text, Cole Porter exhibition booklet

Nobel presented unique challenges in typesetting. The regular text weight font is unusually heavy. In order to create enough hierarchical difference between titles and text, we decided to set the section headings in the extremely fine, light version of the font. While this treatment contradicts typographic convention (setting headings in heavier weights than that of body text), inverting this wisdom, and incorporating the red accent color, seemed to create an appropriate hierarchical distinction in this instance. 

Type as Image: Inauguration posters

Installed Woolsey posters

Last week I designed posters—now in the display cases in front of Woolsey Hall.

The objective of the project was to extend a cheerful welcome to Inauguration visitors while conveying simple messages about this celebration.

XXIII poster

The diagonal tiling of the large roman numerals, XXIII, serves as a decorative attractor, and the much smaller Celebrating the Inauguration of… that runs between them provides informational payoff at close range. The 23 has been used in a variety of decorative typographic forms for President Salovey's Inauguration communications and keepsakes.

Presidents poster

Designing this poster presented the problem of how to maintain a flush-left-ragged-right arrangement of presidents' names—essential to the clarity of the design—while dealing with the fact that several of the names run to two lines. Indenting or adding additional line space between names spoils the effect, but the solution of alternating the colors of names—blue and gray—adds some cheer while it solves the turnover problem.

In Process: Color matching

zoton color matching example

The printer’s proof (left) looks pinker than the sketchbook drawing (right), by Kiowa artist Zotom depicting a horse parade.

Uncle Tom's Cabin color matching example

This proof, of a page from Beinecke’s hand-illustrated copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is veryclose to the original. Nevertheless,  excess magenta ink simultaneously makes the color of the cloud more purple and the paper less yellow.


A designer’s job does not end when he/she sends project files to a printer. During production, designers and printers work together to ensure that every aspect of a project is produced to a high standard. Currently, our office is working on the book for the final installment of Beinecke Library’s exhibitions celebrating its 50th anniversary.

So, Rebecca Martz and I headed to Beinecke with our printer’s rep from GHP, Inc. to review how accurately GHP had reproduced the artwork in the exhibition slated to appear in the book. This process is called color proofing. We used ink jet proofs, test prints of each image that appears in a project (see below), which we compared to the original works. From this comparison, we gauge disparities in color. This was perhaps not the most exciting aspect of designing, but it is always critical to producing an accurate and appealing printed reproduction. 

Painting color matching example

Here, Rebecca holds the printer’s proof up to the original work, hanging in offices of Beinecke Library.

Color discrepancies arise primarily during two phases of production.

First, colors can change when image files are prepped for printing. Digital photographs of original objects are made using the RGB color model (in which red, green, and blue combine in various proportions to produce the full visible spectrum of color). Printers, however, use the CMYK color model (in which cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks reductively combine to produce the printed color spectrum). Since many colors that exist in RGB lack a CMYK cognate,  converting RGB files to CMYK files can alter colors and distort the color profile of images. (see the below color swatch comparison). 

color matching diagram

This example comparison shows the closest CMYK approximation of the RGB color (9,227,0). The difference is very noticeable.

The second major source of color discrepancy results from the printing process. In offset printing, images are split into four separate color layers (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black), which are layered one on top of the other by the printing press. There is an almost infinite combination of variables in this apparently simple layering of inks, requiring a great deal of mechanical adjusting during printing and visual compromising along the way to ‘matching’ the approved printers proof.

CMYK separation

Today, we found that the proofs were too red and often too dark. To address this, GHP will subtract a small percentage of magenta ink and add a little yellow back into the process. GHP will also try to lighten the midtones and increase overall contrast to brighten up  the highlights in many of the images. The printer’s rep took notes to guide the GHP color department through the necessary adjustments to the image files. 

Sometime next week, an updated set of proofs will take us back to Beinecke for round two of color matching. To learn more about the Beinecke’s 50th anniversary and exhibitions, click here.

On View: Everything Loose Will Land

title wall and text

Everything Loose Will Land is on view now through November 9 in Paul Rudolph Hall. The exhibition features pieces of art and architecture (often in-process works and sketches) that embody the relationship between art and architecture in 1970s Los Angeles. The exhibit comes to Yale from MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in Los Angeles.

atrium installation

The introductory text on the title wall explains that the exhibition organizes the work into four thematic categories: Procedures, Users, Environments, and Lumens. Each node stakes out its own area of the gallery, demarcated by white vinyl lettering on the floor. A rather unexpected strategy! Several exhibition pieces are not installed within the labeled boundaries, making it difficult to determine to which theme they might relate. 


environs label

lumens label

individual labels

Since the exhibition explores the loosening, expanding, and increasingly experimental ways in which artists represent architecture, surely the architectural ambiguity of the exhibition itself is intentional. As the interdisciplinary subject matter suggests, these pieces do not fit neatly into just one category. Content and image-making strategies used in one section resonate with that of other sections. All of these ‘loose’ pieces do indeed land somewhere in the space between these nodes. And I found challenged to “locate” how each piece related to every other in the show.