From the Design Desk: Dirty Little Secrets for Moms & Designers

When the book Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms landed on my list, I didn’t realize at first how close to home some of the “secrets” would hit. I should have known better. As I read the manuscript and set the text, I heard Lauryn Hill covering “Killing Me Softly with His Song”: I felt he’d found my letters and read each one out loud. Yes, my two year old proudly announces, “That’s mommy’s water!” when he sees a bottle of wine. Yes, I often volunteer for a late night diaper run just so I can linger in the magazine section and catch up with Britney, Angelina, and the rest of the gang. Does a one year old really go to “school”? No, but it sure sounds better than “daycare.”


But it was one woman’s confession—“Sometimes I feel guilty for liking going to work so much”—that got me thinking. Work. Secrets. Surely moms aren’t the only ones with secrets? And what better way to feel better about my imperfect self than to coax confessions of imperfection from my fellow designers? Some were a little shy about coming forward, but I know that they feel lighter of heart for having shared. Here are just a few Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Designers:

Sometimes I try to Command Z something and I’m not even at the computer.

Some of my best designs happened by mistake.

After all of these years as a designer, I still can’t draw to save my life.

I never thought I’d shown design inclinations as a kid. But then I remember the greeting card business I started when I was nine and my obsession with creating the perfect monogram.

One night, after a week of long work hours, I dreamed of nothing but pulling green guides across a blank computer screen. For eight hours. Guide after guide after guide…

I can actually remember the days when design was all done by hand.

Nothing makes me madder than a poorly kerned billboard. Why would anyone want to advertise sloppy letter spacing at such a ridiculous scale?

When I’m visiting a friend’s house and left alone in a room, I rearrange objects ever so slightly to make a more aesthetically pleasing display.

I make type too small on purpose, so that when a client says, “Make the type bigger” I can actually make it be the size I want.

I cried openly when I stepped into the Alexander Girard exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt. I felt like I’d found home.


Jennifer Tolo Pierce
Design Director

Jennifer Tolo Pierce

Jennifer Tolo Pierce is a Design Director at Chronicle Books with a love of all things words and images, particularly as they intersect in the realm of lifestyle and children’s publishing.
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