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Epic Silly Love Song Typographic Valentine.

Epic Silly Love Song Typographic Valentine | by Sarah Zagacki of RustyFeathers Design

Here’s a Throw-back V-Day (patent pending) special for you.

2 years ago, i made this Typographic Valentine for my then-beloved boyfriend and now fiancé, Justin.

The idea was inspired by the movie Amelie. Specifically by the scene when she cuts up some old love letters to her landlady from the woman’s husband, who was lost at war long ago. She puts them back together in a new composition. She then gives it to her landlady, claiming that it is her husband’s last letter to her, and was just lost in the mail for decades.


(It was also inspired by the fact that i was flat broke at the time, and needed something that made up for in meaning what it lacked in expense.)

Since we never had any real love letters (unless you count the flirty tongue-in-cheek facebook and livejournal posts we made for years before we got together), i had the idea to use love song lyrics. One of Justin’s first and most meaningful gifts to me was a mix CD called Silly Love Songs. We were both dating other people at the time, but he claimed it was simply an assemblage of love songs for intellectual comparison, from one music-aficianado to another.

He was lying, obviously, and just trying to get with me.

i came up with this idea in January, and was excited about it for weeks, working on it every chance i got.

i listed some of our favorite and most meaningful songs, (including the quintessential Wings song that started it all), and chose my favorite lines from each of them. Then i put them back together in a way that created a poem, and sort of told a story.

After that, inspired by the typographic quotes and poetry i was finding on my then newly-discovered Pinterest, i designed up the lyrics in a variety of fonts and affixed them with little illustrations befitting the subject of each one.

i don’t think i’ve ever poured so much thought and love into a gift, or been so proud of it. It’s so mushy and yet so very *us.* Even the punky girl at the counter that printed it off for me, who seemed totally morose and bothered to be ringing up another customer when i dropped it off, was much more interested and talked to me about it when i picked it up. (She totes wanted to be my Valentine…)

Since then i think my type skillz have improved a bit, but i still treasure it as a snapshot of our relationship. It hangs in our house now, and i plan on displaying it at our reception next year when i marry my best friend (best friend with benefits). i hope i can pull it together and create a wedding for us that is just as mushy and meaningful and *us* all at the same time.

See if you can recognize any of the lyrics i picked!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Detroit Dog Park

Something awesome is happening in Detroit.

This sort of goes without saying, though it might surprise some outsiders to hear. In the past few years, Detroit has been fighting ups and downs as usual. But this time i’ve seen a number of non-profit granting creative community hub information exchange organizations popping up. These young entrepreneurs are scary educated, as well as determined, and pledge to transform Detroit into the next Portland. This arguably recession-inspired economic development has been gaining media attention nationally. From Detroit SOUP to D:hive, we’re seeing the city becoming a humming welcome to innovators and green future global growth connector engagers. Of course, this comes at the same time that the city is wrestling over bankruptcy, faced with no funding for basic public services such as street lighting, garbage pickup, and even police and firefighters. The Detroit dichotomy. But that’s for a more qualified writer to discuss.

Enter: Detroit Dog Park. Detroit Dog Park is one of such organizations of ambitious young professionals that saw a need and has made a pledge to meet it. Dog parks are a symbol of a thriving and self-actualized city (Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, New York). i myself ended up leaving the city after living there for 5 years partly because i knew i wanted a large dog, and found the answer to how to exercise such a beast on a daily basis tricky. Fast forward to 2012, when we have been approved to transform a lot adjacent to famous Detroit landmark Michigan Central Station into a doggie playground haven.

This has proven to be the most involved freelance project i’ve taken on, and i’ve made the acquaintances of some brilliant, wonderful people who are taking a real stance on positive change in Detroit.

i happened upon Detroit Dog Park years ago through an accidental friend-of-a-friend notification on facebook. (i have an extremely love-hate relationship with facebook’s inherent oversharing of information. Usually it is more hate than love, but this is an instance where i was glad for it.) Very shortly after i joined, the group was holding a logo contest. Being an opportunistic freelance designer with a lifelong seldom-rivaled passion for canines, i came up with something and submitted. Then got about half of my facebook to vote for my design (thanks guys, you are the best).

My design was pretty simple and based loosely on a few other relevant Detroit business logos that i related with the prosperity and grassroots growth of the city, like Canine to Five and City Bird. i thought people would associate the block color, skyline and simple cutout figures with a modern, thriving Detroit that already carried those connotations with the similar look of other local logos. (A side note – Canine to Five is a huge supporter of what we’re doing!) i thought the clean, apple green and white would indicate a new feeling about Detroit. The logo contest runner-up, DistinkDesigns, applied the term “unleashed,” and Detroit Dog Park incorporated that into the final logo as well.Image

My design was pretty simple and based loosely on a few other relevant Detroit business logos that i related with the prosperity and grassroots growth of the city, like Canine to Five and City Bird.

From there the identity took on a clean dark grey as i was asked to create business cards, flyers and other promotions. More recently, for our Kickstarter campaign (which comes to a head in just 9 days – December 17th!), i added pops of bright cyan, to call the right kind of attention to our usual branding that people had been used to seeing around the city, to say, hey. This is new and awesome.


With our Kickstarter campaign has come an unexpected (and very welcome) amount of media attention, and we have been so far featured on mLive Michigan News, Curbed Detroit, AltDetroit, the Huffington Post, the Detroit News, the Free Press, CBS Local, and even had a morning news TV spot on Click On Detroit (Channel 4 News).

And here i was filled with pride when Justin and i sidled up to the Detroit Dog Park tent at Tour de Troit in September, and saw a table spread with our banner, stickers, and volunteers. i’m sorry, but i was kind of geeked to see my logo on TV.


For our next appearance, look for us at Detroit SOUP presenting our idea for a rain barrel system in the park. Winning the grant for this expense would free up money for us to use the $15,000 from our Kickstarter campaign on other elements of the park, like gates, fencing, benches, and poop bag dispensers. (Yeah, i said it.)

It started with a logo contest that i thought would be a good fit for me, and has culminated with hours of meetings, brainstorming and a branding campaign that have all been surprisingly eye-opening for me. My buddy Calvin, normally an oversharing heart of gold involved-in-everything-we-do super cuddler, is on his way to becoming arguably more socially learned than his owners, and loves the monthly Pop-Up Dog Parks that have been hosted at Old Tiger Stadium in lieu of an upcoming permanent park.

This has proven to be the most involved freelance project i’ve taken on, and i’ve made the acquaintances of some brilliant, wonderful people who are taking a real stance on positive change in Detroit. It’s been an exhilarating experience, and i’m continually amazed by what this group of people has been able to accomplish. i hope to update again in the summer when our little logo is situated firmly on the front gate.

See below to watch our Kickstarter video (Calvin and i make a dorky cameo at 1:15), and go to to back our project. We have some cool Detroit-themed rewards to thank you for your donation!

What about second breakfast?

i remember when i bought my very own complete 120-piece set of Prismacolor pencils.

Colored pencil has always been my drug of choice, but Prismacolor in particular for their soft core and almost oil pastel feel. i always wanted the brilliant, deep hues of paint but without the mess and with more precision. i started out with a small set, 48 or so, probably a birthday gift, but also collected them from my dad, an artist by trade. [Although in designing cars for the Big Three, he was more likely to use Prismacolor fine art markers, the smell of which i still find myself nostalgic about.]

i wasn’t satisfied with those 48+, though: i had my eye on the prize, the 120 piece set. Back in high school $150 was a lot of cash to drop on a box of pencils. i didn’t even have my first ‘real’ [re: retail slave] job yet.

i saved, [and i used a gift certificate and a Michael’s coupon], but eventually i bought them for my own. My precious.

And do you know what i did with that glorious, 3-tiered glossy black case of subtle wood aroma?

i put it on my bed and stared at it. For months, those pencils went without so much as seeing a sharpener. In fact, i did not use them to create the portrait you see below. i was like a fangirl who wanted her collection to stay mint-in-box. Trust me, i did eventually break the seal, and if you look at them today they are obviously well-loved. But enough about pencils.

Let’s get out our geek flags.

Those of you who know me personally will roll your eyes when i come out with this astonishing fact: i am a huge nerd. i found Fellowship of the Ring in my parents’ basement and blew through it in 2 days. In fact, i met the love of my life over an Elvish alphabet exchange. But that’s another post…

Pippin isn’t necessarily my favorite character in the epic saga written by an Oxford professor nearly a century ago. i did portraits of most of the movie characters at some point. He is, of course, a beloved one. Pippin’s dichotomy is the best thing about him. He’s silly, young, green, foolish, adorable (in the movie adaptation, at least), a drunk and a weed-smoker. And apt to get beaned in the head with flying apples. But when the world is darkest, he is surprisingly and endearingly melancholy, serious, and full of heart. He is the childlike innocence for which the world must be saved, sobbing over a lost friend, complaining about the noticeable lack of food while roaming the wild, and singing a song of death’s indifference to a corrupt king.

i was aware that Tolkien Gateway [a large not for profit Tolkien encyclopedia using the MediaWiki software] had found this image of mine on Elfwood [a fantasy art community that i belonged to in my early days] and was using it as their profile image for Peregrin Took’s entry. i was pretty flattered. They recently contacted me and asked for official permission to host my image and link it back to me, so… here it is, at the end of all things.