Author Archive

I’d Rather Be In Fiji

We found ourselves in the fortunate position of having more than one beautiful image for our January/February cover. Penn State professor Jeremy Cohen has dived in some of the most exotic places in the world and was willing to share his gorgeous underwater images with us. As a staff we were torn over which image to put on the cover — do we play it safe with a cute clownfish, or do we get up close to a more unusual-looking bigfin reef squid?

Some of us loved the yellow clownfish and his warm, colorful reef world, but wondered if the image was exotic enough. Others were fascinated by the painterly quality of the squid but worried that readers wouldn’t want to ring in the new year face-to-face with a strange creature. (I seem to recall the word “gross” tossed around the art department.) As for me, I’ll admit I can’t resist the opportunity to use a purple logo on the cover.

The spectacularly colorful squid won out, and so far, all the feedback has been positive, but we thought you’d like to see the other contender. Either way, we hope we provided you with a distraction from winter’s chill — and maybe a little dream of Fiji…

Carole Otypka, art director

January 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm 6 comments

A Model Scarecrow

Every once in a while we have photo shoot with a person so comfortable in front of the lens that it’s hard to pick the one great shot.

Adam Jepsen, our Everyday Person in the November/December issue, was just that kind of subject—the camera loved him. Adam, a musical theatre major, took last year off from school to play the Scarecrow in the national touring production of The Wizard of Oz. Here’s a slideshow of outtakes from the shoot, photographed by Bill Cardoni on a farm in nearby Lemont, Pa., where we were lucky to find a real Tin Man for Adam to pose with.

Carole Otypka, art director

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October 28, 2010 at 3:02 pm 1 comment

What We’re Reading: Carole Otypka

Fourth in a series: Inspired by the faculty reading list in our Jan/Feb issue, we’ve come up with our own lists of the books we’re reading this winter. Check back all week long for picks from The Penn Stater staff, and let us know what you’re reading.


What I’m Reading Now: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, about the corrosive power of a family secret. It’s harrowing but keeps me coming back.

Favorite Books: I’m not someone who can have only one favorite, so here are a few: Anything written by Anne Lamott, who can make me laugh out loud, even on a NYC subway. Daniel H. Pink’s A Whole New Mind, which recognizes the importance of “right-brain” qualities like creating, inventing and storytelling. I devoured A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg (she writes the cooking blog Orangette). Her book is personal, charming and delicious—a total delight—plus she concludes each chapter with a related recipe. Though I read it a long time ago, I never forgot Flatland by Edwin Abbott, a “math” novel written about what life would be like if there were only 2 dimensions. The world he creates is unlike anything I’ve ever imagined. I loved the stories in Einstein’s Dreams written by MIT physicist Alan Lightman, where time moves differently in each chapter—backwards, in circles or in frozen moments. The book was so creative—and so tiny, it felt good in my hands. Finally, One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead. Part journalism and part sociology, this book takes an honest look at the fiction of the American wedding. I read this as I planned my own nuptials (and battled with the wedding industry); it helped me see its tricks and kept me grounded.

Book I’ve Read Most: The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness by Virginia Postrel. This was the crux of my master’s thesis and though I must have read it 20 times, I never grew tired of it. Postrel explores the role (and value!) of design and aesthetic appeal in our lives and consumer culture.

Books On My Nightstand: Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

Books For Eye Candy + Inspiration: (In my opinion, every designer should have these in their library.) Legendary art director Alan Fletcher’s book, The Art of Looking Sideways is a rich, visual journey—I turn to it when I need a creative jolt; and A Year of Mornings: 3161 Miles Apart by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes. Two friends living across the country from each other posted a photo each morning to their shared blog. Their sweet photographic conversation was published into a lovely book. They’re working on A Year of Evenings now….

Carole Otypka, art director

Coming Friday: Designer Jessie Knuth’s picks

January 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

The Sight of Spring

With the January/February 2010 issue at the printer, we’re already thinking about our March/April magazine. We’ll be bringing the welcome sight of Spring to your door with a feature on George Griffith ’56 and his striking water lilies and lotus flowers. Griffith has been one of the early financial supporters of the Arboretum at Penn State and has also donated some of his water lilies to a pond at the Arboretum.

Back in August we sent Pittsburgh photographer Scott Goldsmith to shoot the gardens surrounding Griffith’s home in Ligonier, Pa. It’s clear that Goldsmith was very inspired by what he found blooming in the 32 ponds scattered on Griffith’s 60-acre farm. The images are too beautiful to keep them to ourselves, so with 6 inches of snow on the ground and Spring feeling a long way away, it’s the perfect time for a sneak preview. Here’s a little shot of color for these white-washed winter days….

(sigh.)

Carole Otypka, art director

December 22, 2009 at 3:54 pm 2 comments

Adventures in Illustration

annb_098456_roostersmBChoosing an illustrator is always an adventure; finding an artist whose style matches the mood and direction of the story you want illustrated is no easy task. We’ve been lucky to work with some extremely talented illustrators.

In our Nov/Dec issue, we featured the work of Ann Boyajian, whose work graced the pages of the Long Way Home feature—a first-person essay by an alumna traveling through Slovakia in search of family roots. Ann did her research and perfectly captured the feel of a Slovakian village, complete with its folk patterning and lace curtains. I should knowI’m a Czech girl who’s lived in the Czech Republic, and those lace curtains are in every window. Ann’s images gave the feature a real sense of place. (Personally, I love the rooster… )

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Ann Boyajian

Also in the Nov/Dec issue, we featured Jon Cannell’s work for the My Thoughts Exactly essay. Jon is an illustrator and designer, and if his images look familiar, you’ve probably seen the artwork he created for Starbucks. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for anyone who draws aqua scooters, but Jon’s art brought great energy to Pete Lisicky’s essay on writing a real-life resume after an 11-year career in professional basketball.

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Jon Cannell

Coming up for the Jan/Feb issue, I’m excited to be working with Susy Pilgrim Waters. She uses lots of layers, rich textures and hand lettering in her collage-style illustration. I can’t wait to see how she brings our latest My Thoughts essay to life. Her images are below and you can also see her work here.

Carole Otypka, art director

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Susy Pilgrim Waters

November 10, 2009 at 6:28 pm 4 comments


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