For Tompkins Square Middle School I printed a series of t‑shirts. They will also be available on my webshop shortly and also at Alvin’s boutique at 97 Crosby Street.

“Students often come in thinking that the word ‘criticism’ means finding fault with something, looking for the weak spots, finding something harsh to say,” says Natalia Ilyin*. “But ‘criticism’ in design and in writing is not that; It’s trying to figure out what problem the writer or designer has set up and then deciding whether the designer or writer solved that problem. … Criticism that points out something that you may have missed or made a connection that you didn’t see—is of immense value.”
Personally, I like the concept of the game “Musical Chairs” in design. Where everyone moves and works on somebody’s design each day. Musicians get their songs remixed or performed by other artists, so why not get your design remixed? Someone else will find things that you didn’t see in there. It’s also refreshing to see that someone can give away a design without envy, ownership, or jealousy. For programmers, this is called “open source code.” Only then we can grow a robust and un-hackable application. At my pharma job that was very common. And at the last step, the “pre-press,” was the rule.

During a Parsons workshop about meaningful critiques, we were lucky to hear about CalArts’ Allison Yasukawa’s conversation starter cards. I made a set of them (each one is using a different classic typeface). Just like the words “calm down” has a 100% failure rate, the words “don’t be shy” do very little to start the conversation. These cards do start a conversation.
Allison gave us these instructions to talk about an artwork.

Things to do as a viewer if you don’t know what to say:

1. Describe the artwork’s formal qualities including the following: line, shape, form, space,
color, surface, balance, emphasis, movement, repetition, variety, unity, and/or pattern
2. Respond to the title, materials, and/or process by which the work was made.
3. If you know the artist, compare this work to their previous work.
4. Respond to another speaker’s comment(s).
5. Also for more information about something someone has said.
a. Could you say more about that?
b. What do you mean by…?

Reality TV and Casting Shows

Allison started the workshop with questions into the room:
— do you like reality TV?
— which show do you like, or hate
— do you know American Idol?
Very often they have some kind of competition.
What roles do the people take on as part of the shows?
Competitors, judges, hosts, audience.
American Idol example:

The judges are:

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul was born in 1962 in California. A natural-born dancer, Abdul was selected as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers while in college. She continued her career as a dancer and choreographer and eventually worked with The Jackson 5 before becoming a pop star in her own right during the ’80s.
She is the descriptive judge, she mentions what she sees. Her sentences start like: ”I noticed that you…”
Paula is sometimes referred to as the show’s “den mother,” hovering over and protecting her cubs, particularly from the scary man next door, Simon Cowell.

Randi Jackson

Randall Darius Jackson is an American bassist, singer, record producer, entrepreneur, and television personality.
Playing with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Bob Dylan. He was even a temporary member of the 80s rock band Journey. Jackson also recorded and toured with such well-known artists as Jerry Garcia, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna.
The interpretive judge, he talks compares things to ideas and concepts.
When Randy says something is “pitchy,” it means nothing except to those who have had some kind of musical training.

Simon Cowell

After each performance, his criticism tends to focus on the actual singing and song choice, but he’ll often acknowledge the role other factors play. This season, he told one contestant, “This came over as a bit of a joke. Having said that, I have a feeling the audience at home will like you.”
Simon Cowell basically says something like, “You really sucked just then, mate” while Paula tends to say, “Puppies kittens bunnies teddy bears not the best song choice for me but that’s okay, sweetie, sunshine happiness flowers.”
The insufferable studio audience nearly always erupts into applause after Paula says something inconsequential, and then obnoxiously boos Simon for being honest. He never softens his responses the way Paula does, and they hate him for it.
Allison then asked us to split into 3 groups to each design a costume representing one of the 3 judges, using some very basic material such as newspapers and tape. Additionally, we could make one item to hold, that represents the character archetype.
Each group then displayed the costume.
The hand-held items were kept and used for future critiques. They act as representational totems to speak from the archetype’s point of view.

* Natalia Ilyin’ second book: “Writing for the Design Mind.”

The vocabulary list is here
The printable PDF is here

Type Safari booklet or poster of New York’s Urban, Ephemeral Vernacular

While walking around the city, always pay attention and hunt for exciting colors, images, abstract shapes (counter shapes too), patterns, typography, or other textural details.
Collect those pictures. New York City has too many unique textures, smells, and cracks. Each neighborhood or street has a vernacular of its own urban fabric. As a conscious observer, you should stay aware to ensure that the objects are authentic because imposters can fool us and make a mockery of the originals.

examples I took (mostly type):

Collect at least 12 samples of:


pictorial form

abstract form




Take it back inside to work. Make visual form out of at least 30 examples and combine them into a large-scale composition. Vary the sizes to let the viewer’s eyes wander and form connections while giving clues of where we are, or even embed a message or statement. 

Does it represent where you reside in some way? What might that mean to you? Does it represent where you reside in some way? What might that mean to you?

Tools: Compose it using sketches, printouts, collages, photocopies, or anything that can be tactile*** (avoid going straight to the computer). To experience composition and layout in real, it might be easier to print out some of the elements and arrange them by hand, then take a picture to bring it back to the computer.

These examples are from an older website that I designed in Flash. I redrew houses on Broadway, a Tokyo street, doors, and “space invaders” graffiti sightings in NYC, my roof… Your project will be a printed-out poster portfolio piece, not a website—unless you are good at coding.

*The language or dialect spoken by ordinary people in a particular country or region.
**Things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time. like stickers, graffiti, construction site
***Touchable, material, physical object

The vocabulary list is here

The printable PDF is here

Moodboards are an excellent start for any project to explore different visual themes, styles, and concepts and get your many far-out ideas into focus. It’s good to keep the ideas on a mood board abstract, lucid, and not too literal.

The purpose of this set of mood boards is all about you. Please introduce yourself using visuals. Please make a “me”- mood board. What is your brand? By that, I don’t mean a logo but rather what makes you unique. Anecdotal imagery to show values you have, concepts that inspire you, the food you like, the things you love, the stories you tell.

The mood boards should be explorations using pictures, textures, shapes, colors, smells (you can write those down). You can find sources on, on the internet, your photos, and books, scrapbooks, sketches, or on the street, anywhere.

Group those ideas into the five category boards. Once you start working, more ideas will come up and form clusters. After that, you will see some core ideas begin to crystallize. You will find that it’s hard to make decisions, but don’t overthink, do, and move to the next idea; not everything has to be explained; it might make sense later on. Let’s vary the sizes of the pictures; otherwise, you can arrange them however you like.
Delivery: Physical collage or post PDF slides (horizontal, so we can share them onto the screen in class)


Like a squirrel collecting nuts to save for winter, or a stylish car for a man’s perfume, or an antelope for African dance music, or a telegraph pole for connections. What abstract concept could you be?


Is the space feeling wide or narrow, spikey or round, plushy or hard, soft, or hard, aligned along a grid or floating amorphously.


What colors describe you (can be many)? Grab a color palette from any picture. Are the hues saturated or gray, bright, or dark, electric or taupe?


You can choose actual typefaces, but they could also be abstract shapes or a zoomed detail of a letterform; any form can give a hint to the font, style, or period in history.


Think of Icons as representatives, primary, raw and immediate. They are between letterforms and images, yet, they are not as detailed as some illustrations. They nedd to be simple shapes. I.e. round represents unity, a swoosh is movement.

We will eventually make these into a poster or booklet, but for now, we will use them as visual helpers for a 5–10 mins presentation to introduce yourself in class next week.



Sites to find pictures:
Japanese Design really cool inspiration, but also idea of rights make mood boards and explore other people’s boards, better than Pinterest

for UX/UI design:

or I have a folder with tons of pix I collected


• You can start with one of mine as a blank I use these to build mine, but you should build your own once you feel comfortable.
• This has a helpful template to download, but it’s always better to make your own

I start everything with a mood board. Life should be a mood board, like “where do you see yourself in 5 years”. This is the most fun part of the job, the time where you get more and more hyped up. Mood boards are a great tool to explore different visual themes, styles, and concepts. Make them from a “gut” instinct. Don’t try to explain or justify any decision. Work fast and don’t worry about mistakes.; at first glimpse at least.
They can be done using Pinterest, but I find that it is somewhat limiting and uninspiring. One cannot change size or relations as quickly as in photoshop. However, use Pinterest to search for trends and keywords, over time I started building my own library of images (you know, there really is an image library on 42nd St, I haven’t used it for a long time since the internet became one).
For example: on The Doctor’s Cohn website is a website with information for older people, They talk about health and retirement, for instance (also an excellent sponsor opportunity). So I chose the image of two squirrels gathering nuts for winter. In this case, I showed the client the boards, and they found it rather funny. Usually, I wouldn’t show clients the mood boards. It just leaves them confused. It takes practice to make or read them.
Through the design, I often take a look at the initial mood boards to help me make decisions and check if the ship is still sailing on course towards the goals.


Moodboards for

a website for Joan and Peter Cohn podcasts and archives of publications (

Moodboards for Ansikun logo

my own logo when I did a lot more video work and DVD, besides building websites. Ansi (nickname some people call me, and ‑kun is the Japanese “boy” pronoun.

Moodboards for boyzandgirls

This is my first company, I am trying to bring some ideas of it back (aka midlife crisis). Clients (promoters) would walk into the office with a “How are you boys and girls?”, and that became our company’s name.

Parson’s “Me” posters mood boards

from a Graphic Design class I taught at Parsons. I asked the students to introduce themselves by means of mood boards. This is the entire lesson plan.

Often students ask me about where to find good fonts. There are countless places, but you can start building your font library at some free or not too expensive places. You can use your friends’ and co-workers’ type libraries for print because, technically, one can’t Copywrite shapes (or colors), but programs —like web fonts– are protected. 


Adobe Typekit

If you subscribe to Adobe cloud apps, you will already have access to this huge font library, web fonts explained here

This also exists as an app for on-the-go, and has webfont generator

(what can my font do) Many of the free fonts will not include all the glyphs (numbers, currency symbols, accents…). with this tool, you can check what the font can do

Sites With Free Options

kind of funky options, but fun and free to play with

lots of free fonts, not too shabby

has many free options for web and print, a great filtering system and suggestions, and the other fonts are also not over-priced. Thanks to Oliver Schöndorfer who wrote about this in his newsletter
from awwwards 2021

Free 2021 from awwwards
Pangram Pangram

some are free for personal projects aka your portfolio
Pimp My Type

Oliver Schöndorf has a nice youtube channel and newsletter too, kudos
Typelab France

many free trials
Free Faces

and hugs — kinda cute
BB fonts

large selection of somewhat average quality
List on Smashing Mag

this artcile has a few good free options
Google Fonts

expanding list of fonts, at least they are technically pretty dependable

yeah, not a good choice, but it exists

also a webfont generator
Planet Web

this very nice guy contacted me with a link to his list of free, and also royalty-free fonts

some are free
Dev Fonts

for us nerds

Paid or Rent


cool fonts from Nagoya, Japan

beautiful fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts
Future Fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts
Commercial Type

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

From Lausanne

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

Erik Spiekerman’s project
Frere Jones

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts
Grilli type

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts
House Industry

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

New Zealand sin’t particularily knows fro great fonts, but here they are.

No Words, just awesomeness

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

clever move to register Also, you can see a very good netflix special “Abstract” about Jonathan Hoeffler

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts
XYZ Type

if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts
and many more…, i.e. here



if you know that the project is only for a short time you can rent fonts
Fonts in Use

by Stephen Coles:

To make the “me” poster we start with Moodboards, or collecting swipe or swatch.

these were some examples of the “me” mood boards of color, composition, concept, icons, and type.

and someone else’s set

with the ideas collected in the mood boards Students then made a self-portrait graphic design poster. This set is more self-portrait then I had aimed for but I am happy that there is a lot of type and composition and concept.

I also posted pictures of the students on the last day presentation:

2018 Typography photos that I posted on Instagram with the hashtags #parsonstypes#vernaculartypographyafari #typesafari #typography #typographicsnyc #nyctypography #anselmdastner #vernacularphotography


not sure how the other sessions are, but I juststarted listening to the episode with Oliver Schöndorfer. 

Design Futures

Chris St.Cyr interviews designers about what they do after college. My friend Whitney Dobladillo just was on his podcast. 

Users Know

Laura Klein, Author of Build Better Products & UX for Lean Startups, and Kate Rutter 

OHno‬ Radio

If you are a type nerd this is for you. Calli-based James Edmondson of Ohno Type Co. interviews a bunch of Type@Cooper typographers, i love this stuff, fun. 

Design Matters with Debbie Millman

Famous artist guests in a personal atmosphere. Some of my biggest heroes: Neville Brody, Matthew Carter, Jessica Hische, Paula Scher, Chris Ware, David Byrne, Seth Godin… 

Design Review, UX/UI

hosts are Chris Liu and Jonathan Shariat talk about their UX/UI, graphic design business experiences 

Design Thinking 101, UX/UI

it was recommended on CareerFoundry slack channel, but I haven’t had time to listen to it yet. 

UI Narrative with Tolu Ajayi

about UX and portfolio and job search and more 

Honest Designer


Smashing Podcast

Smashing magazine is actually based in my hometown Freiburg in Germany. It’s about websites and design and UX and a very reputable magazine with great content. 

Lexicon Valley — Linguistic Podcast


fourth seasson with design stories 

99 percent invisible

a podcast about everything, much of it design-related 

Future of UX

Let’s Make Mistakes

about design with your hosts, Mike Monteiro and Jessie Char 

Honest Designer

User Defenders UX podcast

CSS podcast

from the makers of 99 invisible 

Mex design talk

Welcome to Qanta Ahmed’s new website which is home to her journalism. Here you can find her latest publications, television segments, and radio interviews. You can also search for specific areas of interest using the subject tags. And, if you want to connect, you will find lots of ways to engage in social media.


Dr. Qanta Ahmed


web design, TV appearances/radio interviews/publications archive, mailchimp newsletter sign-up, social media post preperation and archives of all media appearances 

2018 Typography photos that I posted on Instagram with the hashtags #parsonstypes#vernaculartypographyafari #typesafari #typography #typographicsnyc #nyctypography #anselmdastner #vernacularphotography


The “Hub” in Long Island City is an old warehouse that is being converted into a large cool office building. The 4 floors and the main floor’s skylight are really amazing. There are several similarly converted warehouses in the neighborhood, like Falci and The Factory. The Hub is envisioning having a retail floor with food markets, a roof deck, and coffee shops in a brand-new concierge lobby, that will lead to elevators to the upper 2 floors. Eventually, they plan to go even higher and add floors on top.
Marketing Thru Graphics was hired to plan and build the Marketing Center that the brokers from Cushman & Wakefield use for their tours of potential companies.
I designed the large Plexiglas wedges around the columns to let the light from the spectacular skylight pass and reflect through them.
The building is located just one block away from the 7 train that connects to Manhattan within 10 mins. This area has become a center for new office developments of companies like Uber, Macy’s, Ralph Lauren ie.

The Marketing Center:

photos by

some more pictures from MKDA

The Website:

Shortly after installing the Marketing Center MTG built the website. I designed the pages for Desktop, as well as responsive states for horizontal and vertical Phones. Becca went out to Long Island City to take a few photos of the neighborhood, and Ian programmed it. Looks nice, doesn’t it?

Here is a link to the MTG portfolio, of which I designed large parts
brochures, logo: