A year or so ago I walked into Brothers K coffee shop in Evanston and saw this keep-an-eye-on-your-belongings sign at the front counter. I told the barista that I was impressed they hired a professional to design a notice like this — one that most businesses just write out with a magic marker.
He does our website, too, the barista said.
I thought of that artist when I decided to start my own site. I wanted him to design JimRomenesko.com. The people at Brothers K gave me his name: Jonathan Liss.
Many readers have complimented this site’s design, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about Jonathan: He lives in Evanston with his wife and young son, and his background is in fine art. He graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1995, then worked in a few Chicago art galleries and tried being a painter.
That life never felt right so I turned to art direction and design.
I’ve been working for myself for three years.
My clientele are half creative professionals like authors, journalists, composers, musicians, bands, furniture designers and visual artists; the other half are small to medium sized businesses in industries like health and wellness, accounting, food service, retail and philanthropic consulting, among others.
I met with Jonathan in early August and gave him very few instructions.
I told him I had checked out his online portfolio and trusted his design sense.
For this piece, I asked Jonathan to assess me as a client, and to share his thinking about the site’s design.
Jim was very focused and that made our collaboration really smooth. His only directives were that the site should be minimal, be easy to read and should feature his name prominently. [Romenesko interrupts: I knew there might be two ROMENESKO sites in 2012, mine and Poynter's, and I wanted to make sure mine stood out.] Making JIMROMENESKO.COM feel like a tabloid was pretty logical and my interpretation of that was to try for something bold, and understated, but that still would have enough visual interest and character to lend the the design some warmth. The post title font is Oswald, the rest is Helvetica.
About that watch-your-stuff sign that made me notice Jonathan’s work:
The owners asked me to make a sign that would be a tactful plea to their customers to guard their belongings. This was a delicate task because we didn’t want to freak people out. So we hoped by being sincere and warm people would read the sign and come away feeling that the shop was trying to protect them, which it was.