Four Fifths Design

Inspiration for the Creative Mind

Finding the Perfect Pumpkin Beer

This fall I decided to publish my quest to find my favorite pumpkin beer. It began last year when I tried over 40 kinds of pumpkin beer. I was constantly asked to suggest good options to purchase. It became so much of a demand that I decided this year I’d publish all my findings, tastings and reviews. I began my reviews in September and will continue to publish them through the end of October. If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, or perhaps a pumpkin beer lover like myself, feel free to browse the ongoing archive of pumpkin beer reviews I have going over at Bumpin’ Pumpkin Beer.



You Are Your Portfolio


I recently had the pleasure of speaking at a portfolio workshop hosted by AIGA  (Upstate New York chapter). The audience was a crowd of students and professionals alike, all with the intention of learning something new. Even I was quite excited to hear everyone speak their mind on various issues related to the transition from student life to the professional realm as an artist and designer. After all, I was a part of a student body, in a similar situation to many of these folks only three years ago. As I made my own transition from a student in design to a professional in design, I made sure to stay consciously aware of how my mind transformed, as well as remind myself to not take for granted that which I learned as a student from the many mentors I was lucky enough to work with. Since graduating I’ve made it a priority to give back any insight and advice I can to design students whenever I can, however I can. This was a perfect opportunity.

Many wouldn’t guess that I’m a shy individual. I don’t consider myself to be all that shy, but I will admit that I get extremely anxious, even nervous, when it comes to preparing for a presentation that doesn’t have to do specifically with a project. The build up kills me, yet as soon as I take the stand beside my presentation in front of an audience, I feel golden. It’s a weird habit…rather behavior…that has always stuck with me.

I was tasked with choosing a topic to present to students that would help them particularly with building a portfolio that would increase their chances of success. I’ve been to these sort of lectures before. I feel as though I expect to hear about specific issues and technicalities that come along with building a student portfolio. I had to do it myself. So instead of harping on that which I imagined many students were already at least decently aware of, I chose to speak on a topic that perhaps gets overlooked too frequently in my opinion. My topic was “creative confidence.” The title of this presentation would be “You Are Your Portfolio.”

I spent my fifteen minutes or so speaking briefly on a variety of notions that relate to building your confidence as a student and how self-confidence coincides with the work that is showcased in a portfolio.

Learn Yourself

It is important to define yourself not just as an artist, but as an individual. Knowing what you love is an asset. Knowing what you’re good at is an asset. Making it a routine to reflect on your values and finding ways to infuse these values into a creative industry that appeals to you is key. It’s important to be aware of the fact that you as an individual are your own canvas. You are the single canvas that will never be defined by another individual. Take advantage of that fact. Learn yourself and find out what you want to become. You’ll begin to gain a sense of control as you begin to prioritize your values. This will begin to build your creative confidence.

Write It Down

Writing things down sounds simple because it is simple. Writing is an organized method of legitimizing the insanity that is your creative mind. In other words, writing things down helps you make sense of what you’re subconsciously absorbing. It helps with forming predictions, conclusions and connections pertaining to your thoughts. These thoughts are ideas unique to you, so it’s important to expand on them! As you enforce these ideas, and write them down, you begin to see the lifecycle of an idea from concept to fruition. You begin to sense possibility as you log all that is important in relation to your ideas. As you build these logs and reflect on your writing you will begin to realize that your ideas are in fact more flushed out than you could have imagined, that in fact your ideas can be realized. That makes for creative confidence.

Give & Take

It is important to learn how to become vulnerable. Criticism helps you refine your creative process, so make it a point to give it as well as receive it. The more you do this, the more you’ll find yourself seeking criticism. You’ll begin to recognize constructive and destructive criticism. It builds character and intelligence as you begin to think of “thick skin” not so much as a barrier, but rather a membrane which captures and holds criticism for you to assess and contemplate. Don’t harp on changing a project that’s being criticized, rather apply that criticism to the next project or your future ventures when you can freshly incorporate that which you’ve learned into a new idea.


If you don’t already, start making decisions for reasons. Explaining and communicating thought will only help you grow as a creative. This ability will open doors for you, particularly when your portfolio is filled with reasons for creative decisions. Yes, reasoning helps express the fact that you are intelligent and know why you made the creative decisions you did that led to a specific portfolio piece. But more importantly, reasoning shows that you legitimately care about the work that you’re doing. This exudes a sense of trust to a potential employer, buyer or audience. Humans like to work with humans, they like to interact with personalities. So make sure to show some emotion, give some reason for people to care about what you’re doing. This will build a sense of accomplishment, and inevitably build creative confidence.


Take time to sacrifice normality, comfort and routine. Say yes more often. Doing this will allow you to become comfortable in exploration and experimentation. This experimentation will reflect back in your work and make your work more dynamic, more engaging. This not only will build your creative confidence, but it will probably help in building recognition, for better or for worse – after all, we as creatives long for reaction. Experiment. Explore. Apply.


Believe in yourself by proving to yourself. If you don’t have a vision for five years from now, get one. If you want to learn something, learn it. If you you want to accomplish something, do what needs to be done to achieve success. Convincing yourself that you and your work is worth it will help. It sounds weird faking yourself into potentially thinking everything is dandy, that everything will work out. But the advantage to doing this is that you will loosen up mentally. You will banish worry and stress. You’ll build on your self-efficacy. This will lead you to not only have greater creative confidence, but certainly help increase your overall self-confidence.


Remember that you always have two weapons: Your portfolio AND you, the individual.

Mother NY Creates Concept Store With Wired Magazine

I don’t take on too many requests now days having to do with specific projects or artist works. I’ve begun transforming Four Fifths into more of a portal into my personal thoughts as they relate to design and parallel areas. However when Krisana Jaritsat, Communications Manager at Mother NY, reached out to me to give me a look into a new project I felt a sense of nostalgia, as it is these kind of projects I longed to explore and post for readers in years past. I’ve also featured Mother NY before and enjoy the work they do. I felt it fitting to briefly return to an inspiration piece.

Recently the team at Mother NY worked on a tech driven collaboration with Wired magazine. The project was to become Wired magazine’s annual Wired concept store, which is a showcase of the year’s best technologies and products. Propelled by architectural and design elements, the team took inspiration from the work of photographer Todd McClellan (old-war technology products and what not) and the magazine’s “What’s Inside” features (where products are chemically dissected) to achieve an experience that reaches beyond the display case.

From an architected space to custom built furniture, the team created a cohesive experience of sight and store by generating wall-sized interactive elements, engaging visuals and uncommon physical materials. In the end, Mother NY helped bring to life what most viewers only read on pages in an elegant and enticing fashion.











Nintendo’s Annual Report

Designer: Sebastian Napoli

Sebastian Napoli is an artist and designer who currently focuses on creative solutions for the studio Burgopak, located in Chicago, United States. With a portfolio spanning from HBO to LG, and many in between, Sebastian has quickly become an accomplished individual who seems to have everything going right. I happened to stumble upon his work via Daniel Mall who advertised to the social world his liking for one piece in particular: Nintendo’s Annual Report. Being a video game fanatic myself, I instantly fell in love with it as well. I enjoy most the fact that it is not over the top in production. It’s make up is fairly standard, and its graphic elements are specific – drawn straight from the Mario franchise. Being that Mario, and related franchises are known for overly vibrant worlds and color characters, it’s a beautiful thing to see a printed piece mesh such an explosive entity with the boldness of white space and visual simplicity of seemingly grid-like layouts. Now if only I could grab a copy…


Starting Up

Recently I’ve taken the little free time I’ve had to begin working on a couple personal projects. One might call them “start ups” but I’d argue they’re simply explorations. In doing some research, and sifting through a plethora of resources, I came across the Foundation series. This video series profiles some of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs by investigating the creative mindsets that have led to some of the most well-known ventures of recent time. Kevin Rose, a serial entrepreneur and technology investor is the host, and is better known by some as the founder of Digg.

I began listening to these interviews and absorbing the advice and suggestions given by Jack Dorsey, Tony Conrad, Elon Musk, and many others. I was in search of inspiration outside of the creative fields specifically – design, development, media, etc. I’m in search of escapes from my constant routine of web design, and traditional print projects. It’s not that I dislike the projects I’m working on day in and day out, but it’s always good to keep the mind fresh and indulge in some artistry away from the computer. Perhaps this is why I’m heavily involving myself in these personal projects (I’ll discuss at a later date). But it’s human reassurance that I find myself searching for. I want to know what inspires others. I want to know other peoples’ stories and how they came to be. I am interested in third party takes on existence, communication, science, politics, etc. I want to step away from the constant critical, repetitive conversation between the designer, like myself, and the client. I found that these videos are quite remarkable.

There are patterns and trends that I began to notice from each person Kevin interviewed. Many suggestions are positive and inspiring. These brilliant minds are willing to share ideas, processes, and reflections, many of which are relatable even to those without the entrepreneur spirit. But I especially found two common themes interesting. Just about every individual that Kevin interviewed touched on the following:

First, the reality is people are not simply successful and forever made of gold. Just about every individual who’s become successful in one way or another has in fact experienced downfall and failure, often times early in their careers. I always found the “rags to riches” story to be cliche, relating them to celebrities and athletes. But when you hear from the inventor of a world wide service that they spent much of their creative time in tough and rough circumstances, life is put into perspective. You quickly get the feeling that these success stories are in fact human, and that no one is ever super human for long periods of time. What’s more intriguing is that these individuals pay tribute to the tough times, regards them as periods in their lives that molded them and drove them to their successes. I find that this eases the fear of failure and further ignites the fire inside to want to take action, regardless if the outcome is successful or not. I appreciate and embrace that.

Secondly, almost every individual, in one way or another, suggests to spend time in creative environments outside of average work spaces. More importantly, step away from the routine and simply reach out to people, particularly those who you feel you’d never have a chance to talk to. Going out on a limb is one of the most positive things a creative mind can do. People are willing to talk, they’re willing have a coffee, they’re willing to grab lunch, they’re willing to spend 10 minutes of their time listening. People enjoy and appreciate honest dialogue, so why not involve yourself in just that? Opening up to others and pursuing those who you gravitate towards, whether it be due to portfolio, experience, or confidence, is simply beneficial. It’s up to you to surround yourself with, and interact with those who share your values. As you’ll find out if you watch the videos, it’s actually not that hard to do.


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