Sunday, December 20, 2009

Southern Shores. Outerbanks 2008

Home: Counterpoint
Realty: Corolla Classic Vacations

Favorite elements of home: Porches. You could sit on the back porch and view the beach or sit on the front porch and view the ocean that touches inland N. Carolina. Southern Shores is a very thin strip of land and not built up (...yet). It might become the next Pine Island but the housing market really hurt the obx so it may be a while before it reaches that potential. If you're in the market to purchase an ocean front house, I highly recommend this area.

As you can tell, Meg endured last years vacation. Since the trip to Pine Island, Meg had studied in Italy which was enough for me to realize I didn't want her leaving again. I proposed the weekend she flew back to the states so this trip to the obx we had our engagement photos taken.

Here are some photos from the online tour. For more photos, click here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pine Island, Outerbanks. 2007

Since 1997 the Cook family has made it a priority to spend time as a family away from the routines that consume the other 358 days of our lives. The location has always been the Outerbanks of North Carolina but the location within the Outerbanks has changed almost every year.

I was 13 years old the first year all 18 of us traveled from Ohio to North Carolina. We stayed in Nags head and rented an 'oceanview' home. That was the only year we didn't rent ocean front.

Most of the homes are owned by families but rented through a variety of realty companies. All of the homes have names and the home featured in this post is called "Absolute Ambiance" and is located in Pine Island .

This was by far my favorite house we've stayed in (My grandma wouldn't agree). It was very modern and the interior was stunning. (My grandma prefers rentals with a look-and-feel of a beach cottage). This year was also special because it was the first year my wife joined us. We were only dating at the time but we knew that if she could survive a week with the entire cook famliy in one house, she could handle anything :) For More Photos and Rental information, Check out the rental Page: Absolute Ambiance

Here is the tour:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Miles Design Holiday Card(s)

If you haven't already seen the Miles Design collection of Holiday Cards, check out the process here!
(photo via Josh Miles)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Design Dialogue #1 // Allison Lehman

JC // So tell me a little bit about your discoveries as a designer in Columbus, Ohio vs. Upland, Indiana
AL // It's crazy different. I felt like I was unable to think outside the box when I lived in Upland, Indiana. I didn't have my own space to create because I shared a house with 7 other girls and there was no way of networking within the town that I lived in. In Columbus, I've met so many people interested in the same things that I am. Especially through twitter, I've connected with clients that I currently have now. I had a chance to visit Sandbox Columbus and meet the team of Egolabel and collaborate. Plus, I think there's a feeling of legitimacy that you gain as an artist when you're positioning yourself in an urban area around people striving for the same things.

JC // Who makes up your clientele?
AL // My clientele is great. It took about a year to build up quality clients. I work with Emily Elizabeth Jewelry a lot. She's a designer in New York City. I also with a photographer in LA. She has a lot of small start up companies that are fun to work with. I get a lot of grooms/brides looking for invitation designs.

JC // How do you market yourself? What tools have you found most successful?
AL // I used to market myself through Etsy. About 2 years ago I started designing banner designs for small business's shops. Now I market myself through past clients (referrals are huge!). Twitter has also gotten me connected with clients/projects. And lately I've started blogging everyday and decided to buy an ad space on a widely read blog. I get a lot of visitors to my blog/site and randomly will get an email or two asking about my prices/processes.

JC // Who is your most significant artistic influence?
AL // Oh that's tough. I've always had a hard time picking influences. As far as fine art: that would have to be Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. When it comes to design influences, I actually don't have a 'famous' artist influence. I keep track of a lot of blogs of designers who aren't huge. They're so talented but they're making a difference in their community and within their network.

JC // What is your favorite thing to design?
AL // I love designing for print. There's something magical about seeing it printed. There's a choice that goes into what kind of paper you use, or what type of printer you use, should it be letterpress, can I afford letterpress? Ha. When I design for print but it never gets printed, it's just this electronic file on my screen. Someday I want to invest in a really nice printer and print all my projects that never get to come alive.

JC // What is your all-time favorite piece you designed?
AL // Oh my gosh that's so difficult. Well I really like my design for TotsPups and most all the work I create for that client. But honestly, I become incredibly unhappy with my designs the longer time passes after I finish them. Every design I create is my favorite at that moment. Then I get frustrated and want to do something different and new.

JC // Last question: Give me 1 reason why I should hire you.
AL // My personality and who I am at the core is rooting for my clients. I want to see them succeed and gain recognition for what THEY are doing. I work with really creative people and I've made great relationships with those that I've worked with. I work hard and I don't send my clients designs until I'm personally happy with it.


Allison Lehman graduated last May with a degree in Visual Communication Design from Taylor University located in Upland, Indiana. She is currently a freelance designer in Columbus, Ohio where she resides with her husband, Adam, and new puppy, Desh. If you are interested in working with Allison Lehman, please contact her via email: and make sure to check out her online portfolio.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Guest Blogger for Miles Design

So this week I was a guest blogger on the Miles Design blog. The post is titled "What are Your Brand's Affordances? To read the post, click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Before & After | Dining Room

Brown. Blue. Black. White.

Our dining room table was a wedding present from Meg's Aunt. She found the drop leaf table and chairs separately at a flea market and repaired, painted, and reupholstered the set. The framed photograph on the black shelf was taken by Meg when studding abroad in Italy. The photograph is of a young girl feeding the pigeons. It was this experience that inspired Megan to write and Illustrate the children's story
What Peapa Learns in Florence. See images of children's story here

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Home Sweet Home.

It's hard to believe it has already been a month since August 15th! (...which means it's already the middle of September? yikes!)

I took a small break from blogging but am now ready to get back into the full swing of things. There are a few exciting things happening with the blog. I'm pleased to announce that you will not only be viewing posts from jcook -- but also from mcook. We're going mix things up a little bit...It could get interesting.

We're finally starting to feel settled in our new home so we plan on sharing some of our before/after shots of the townhouse. Stay posted....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recognizing The Routine.

The first time I remember a broken routine was in the first grade.

Miss Griffin was my favorite teacher and I'm pretty sure I was her favorite student too. Everyday was just like the previous. I would stay inside during recess to grade papers and help Miss Griffin decorate the classroom (odd now that I relfect on it...) I remember a few days during my time in the first grade that upon arriving to school and entering the classroom there would be a different teacher in the room. It was not Miss Griffin but it was her desk! Her Classroom! I remember tensing up as I realized it was a substitute teacher. It was at this point I would sit at my desk and begin to cry. Everytime. It wasn't a sad cry -- it was an uncomfortable cry. Although the schedule remained the same, there was a piece of the routine missing. I don't remember much from 1st grade -- but I do remember this. (I also remember that in the future when Miss Griffin had a substitute teacher I was given permission to join a different 1st grade class whose teacher I was familiar with.) //

I've been thinking about routines lately and it wasn't until tonight's drive home that I remembered this experience. Routines are powerful. They can be incredibly efficient and they can be incredibly dangerous (not to mention their comfortability.) In my thinking about routine, I'm beginning to see the significance of being able to recognize it for what it is. What is your routine? And what drives your routine?

Lately I've been trying to remove myself (mentally) from my own routine so that I can recognize what is happening and regain perspective. I'm amazed at how quickly a week can pass when I'm caught up in my routine. It's usually not until the routine collides with the unexpected that I'm reminded of the fragility and preciousness of each day.

I'm currently reading Tribes, by Seth Godin, which is about gaining the confidence and skill to lead (rather than manage). In his book he mentions how the concept of factories has been woven into our genes. The notion that a routine developed for efficiency and profit is something we strive for not only professionally but in our personal lives. It causes me to seriously consider what profit I am working towards personally (not financially speaking-- although it may be for some). Is it a daily profit? Or A yearly profit? Maybe the profit of my life's work. Whatever the profit is, I believe recognizing the routine and regaining a clear perspective of the 'here and now' will help determine the success of achieving it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wedding Invitations Printed!

Thanks to Able Printing (chicago) for doing such a great job!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Before & After 01

As many of you know, I am meg-less this in order to quickly pass the time I decided on Saturday to visit a local flea market and check out some furniture pieces that could use some repairing. I've been interested in the practice of repairing for a little while now but haven't had much time to pursue any more reading or writing. About four months ago I came across the
Repair Manifesto and that is what sparked my interest. So here is my repair 01. It is not a huge transformation but it was an enjoyable first attempt. I'm not totally sure what my plan is for the pieces I repair, but if your interested in them -- shoot me an offer and maybe we can work something out. Stay 02 is almost complete.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't you mean "Speed Bump Ahead" Correction!

After being informed that there was a difference between a 'speed bump' and a 'speed hump', I did some more research and found out that speed humps are often implemented as a 'municipal solution' where as speed bumps are used in a more residential/private area. ( Also, the dimension for a speed bump is around a foot wide where as the 'hump' can range from a few feet to as many as 14 feet. Very interesting. Thanks to Josh Taylor,, for pointing this out -- now instead of cracking up in the morning, I try to guess how wide the hump is. (ha).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sneak Peak...

Our wedding invitations have been sent to Able Printing in Chicago and should arrive early next week. Here is a sneak peak at the 4 piece invitation...less than two months away!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Don't you mean "Speed Bump Ahead"?

Every morning when I arrive at work I pass the sign that is pictured below. I never paid too much attention to the wording until the other day I realized it read "hump" instead of "bump". I'm pretty sure in Ohio they're called speed bumps so I've always read the sign as just that. Now every morning as I approach the parking lot I read the sign as more of a command: "Speed hump ahead". Cracks me up every time. Oh Indianapolis.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Apartment

Finally getting around to posting some photos of my summer apartment. In a few short months I will be moving closer to Indianapolis but this is great for the time being. There is also a bedroom, bathroom and living room that are not pictured...more photos to come later! (**Glass/mirror installation by Glass artist, Cara Camp)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Vendor Client Relationship

A few weeks ago during our weekly job meeting we watched this classic demonstration of what designers have to endure on a day to day basis...painfully funny. Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Woah...what was I thinking?

This week I spent much of my time sorting through years of stuff. From Elementary school yearbooks to college papers, I revisited approximately the past 16 years of my life. Exhausting to say the least! When it came to sorting through my artwork from jr.high/highschool, my response was "woah...what was I thinking?"

As much as I laugh at this work, I'm reminded of the art teachers who have to put up with jr. and sr. high students. It was my high school art teacher who really encouraged me to pursue design as a profession. I really believe that if it wasn't for her push, these few works may have been my last....thankfully I listened -- ha!

(Art teacher: PhD. Mary Porter and Me after Commencement, June 2005)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pursuing "the new" & Clinging to Consistency

I am an ecstatic owner of a brand new 2010 Mazda 3i Touring. Growing up I had a neighbor that drove a red Mazda Miata (2 seater, convertible). I was as envious as a child could be! As he would drive down the street, I would watch with amazement. I decided that when I grew up I would buy one. Well, as most of you know, this past weekend was graduation and the phrases "You're all grown up" and "Welcome to adulthood" were mentioned quite often. I took this as my cue...and family friends who are car salesmen helped too!

Graduation marked the first of many transitions to come in the next few months. Saturday I move into my summer apartment, Monday I start working at Miles Design, and in a few short months I get to marry my best friend. I'm finding that "growing up" can either be a stressful transition or one that is enjoyed and lived well. It's going to be a challenging transition as I relocate from where I grew up in Northeast Ohio to Indianapolis.

As I begin this new chapter of life, I'm reminded of an article I read on Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright believed that consistency was needed, but that consistency alone was not enough. Consistency must be joined with the new, for consistency alone would kill creativity. Although Wright may have been speaking to the underlying unity of his architecture, I believe this notion holds true to the necessity of transition. There is discovery and opportunities for learning that come with transition, or rather "the new". I am looking forward to pursuing "the new" while at the same time clinging to what is consistent for comfort and reassurance.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

" name is" Miles Style

Tonight Megan and I attended the Open House for Miles Design. Not only was the food delicious (Qdoba) and the work superb, but the name tags were incredibly entertaining! I wish I could remember what some of the others said...If I'm remembering correctly, one tag read "I'm only here for the beer".

I can't wait for May 18.

(click image to enlarge)

2009 Art+Design Seniors

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Black Pleather = Power?

So I bought this great chair for only $15.00. When it comes to hand-me-down furniture, I'm always a little skeptical about the quality/oder, etc. but this chair is unbelievably odorless and clean -- no flaws -- and it makes me feel powerful when I sit in it...?

Megan and I decided a while back that our color pallet for our future living room would be black/white/khaki so I guess we're off to a
good start.

If you find yourself compelled to contribute, we are registered at Target, Crate & Barrel...and accept gift cards at IKEA. ha.
(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Miles Design

It's not very often that students get their first choice when being hired out of college. I feel incredibly blessed and privileged to start working with the designers at Miles Design starting in a few short weeks -- my first choice! I could go on and on about their work and their approach but they say it best--

Over the past year I have become more excited with the collaborative side of design and really appreciate that Miles Design focuses much on the collaboration between design, client, and business and the success of all involved. I can't wait to start //

(images from