Inspired and a tad profane. (Emphasis on inspired.)

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life67 Comments

I wanted to share a website today that my friend Lee Currie shared with me over the weekend. The name of the site includes the f-word. I generally have a current blog policy to not use this word. While it may be a word I use in my personal life (and believe me, I've uttered a few in my day), I've never used it on this blog in an effort to not offend my readers.

This post may not be for you, if you're easily offended by language. But I hope you won't be, because there is a larger message at work here. Disclaimer over.

Good F#%@ing Design Advice (you can click on a link in the lower left of their main page to create a family-friendly—more or less—version) is the coolest web site I've come across in a long time. At first, when Lee sent me the link, I just looked at their store and thought, "Oh, that's cute. Cheeky, swears… racy humor for designers. Kinda cute."

Then I realized, "The product design is pretty tight."

Then I realized, "This site design is pretty tight, too."

Then I realized I loved it not just for the cheeky message, but for the perfect and copious use of Helvetica. And the color orange. And the white space.

Then I watched their video. 

And I realized: I love this for the message.


I love the idea of a passion project—what would you do if you could focus on what you were passionate about, first and foremost. And how would that spill over into everything else you did?

Think about that. How many of you got into crafting or scrapbooking because of a true passion for the creative process? How does the act of creating spill over into how you live your life every day?

It reminded me of the day last summer when I realized that my tagline of "Taking the 'Crap Out of Scrapbooking" was truly a message that I not only connected to but that I had consciously been cultivating for years. I remember feeling so, so inspired that day, as if my passion and my work melded together in that moment and I was suddenly aware of how fortunate I was to be able to do what I did for a living.

These guys are really thoughtful young designers. Their message is inspired. Hearing their process on this project, realizing this isn't just about using an f-bomb for shock value. Then watching them screen print by hand, the whole tactile expression of beautifully executed design… this entire video—as a designer myself, I just feel inspired.

I connected to it on so many levels. On one hand, in my professional life as a graphic designer, I try to bring real passion and expertise to my work, even though my work is not going to show up in any design annuals or awards shows. I care about quality work. I care about how well that headline is kerned. Or if things are lining up on the baseline. Or if that sentence ends in an orphan. I wish I knew web design so I could truly have a blog that reflected my design aesthetic.

I care about simplicity and elegance and delivering the message in a clear and concise manner.

Now take that into the scrapbooking world—a world in which let's face it, many designers would scoff and say, "Design has no place in scrapbooking,"—this too is also something I really care about. About showing people what principles of design look like when applied in a thoughtful and caring way. And showing people what elegance and simplicity can do on a craft-based level.

So I decided to print out and take their pledge. If you think about it, how universal is the potential application? How many of us, as we strive to earn our daily livings, find ourselves faced with doubt or fear? How many of us will give into not offering up the best of ourselves to the tasks at hand? I know that for me personally, that's never going to be okay.


I hope you get a chance to watch the video. Or poke around their site a bit.

I just wanted to share something this week that reminded me of how much I love what I do. And to remind me to trust in myself, engage and connect to the passion at hand.

F-bombs or not.

Oh yeah, and to look forward to the coffee I'll soon be drinking from my new mug.


Cathy ZielskeInspired and a tad profane. (Emphasis on inspired.)

67 Comments on “Inspired and a tad profane. (Emphasis on inspired.)”

  1. #1

    Seeing this post had me laughing this morning! One of the creative minds behind this was for a couple of years an intern with our design group! While I’m pretty sure we have little to do with what he’s become, I have watched him (and this idea) turn to something so inspiring and am really proud to have watched it happen. I have a mug of my own, but it’s a bit too cheeky for corporate america( so sad). I’ll be sure to share this post with them!

  2. #2
    Paula Flávia

    Cathy tks for sharing these inspirable stories. I am not a designer, but would like to put some ideas out so I scrap. As I am Always too much critic analyser, many times I stuck, then I decide just let my inner child play and be happy. This post of yours reminde me that. Tks.
    I am a f word controler ,lol because of my boy and also to not offend my readears, but I am a f user os the f word, so many times I feel like it´s not me wen not saying…lol.

  3. #3

    That’s so cool! These guys just remind me of some of the really talented young designers I had the pleasure of working with a decade ago. I learned so much from them at the time.

  4. #4
    Sarah MacKenzie

    Love this – so glad you shared. I would definitely be ordering one of their Inspirational Advice mugs if I didn’t have a 7 year old at home who is just starting to read quite well and is sounding out EVERYTHING…

  5. #5
    kelly sill

    OMG!!!!! Cathy (and Lee, too), I sooooo needed to see this right now! For the past few weeks I feel as though I’ve been aimlessly trying to figure out the direction I want to go as a digital designer, feeling sorry for myself because I am not in the place where I would like to be. This was truly inspiring and motivating! Thank you so much for sharing! Off to take the pledge and buy my mug (and maybe a poster since I don’t have kiddos in the house anymore!) This was awesome!

  6. #6

    Yeah, that would be a problem. Im in a different place, as my kids are teens, but still… not sure my hubby is going to like the mug I just ordered. Hes a bit more reserved on that front. : )

  7. #7
    Lee Currie

    I just watched the video again from your link and LOVE it – the message is brilliant 🙂 I am in the midst of raising four teens and what hits home for me is that I should simply let their brilliance evolve while I lay back and cheer from the sidelines and encourage them to find – and follow – their passion. I can’t wait for my mug – and poster – to arrive!

  8. #8
    Patti Q

    I love it! Just perused their site and you are right, it is very well done. I am a designer and have worked for the last year or so with a younger designer who reminds me of these guys too. He has lots of ideas and enthusiasm and is a hard worker. This old dog learned a few new tricks from him too! I will be ordering some of those mugs for my whole family! Thanks for sharing the link.
    Patti 🙂

  9. #9

    What an amazing post!!! I LOVED the video and will be taking their pledge as well! (I think I might add it to my Move More Eat Well album!!!)
    I am a big user of the F word… The rule at my house growing up was it’s all how you use it. We were never allowed to use it against anyone (f off, f you,that sort of thing).
    I’m off to look at the site…I think I’ll be able to find some birthday gifts for my family LOL!

  10. #12

    One of many things I really like about you Cathy…is how f*%$#@ real you are! You are not afraid to put yourself out there (or maybe you are and chose to do it anyway, which is even better!) and share your thoughts, dreams, aspirations and all the “crap” in between. You make me think…most of all rethink all well established ruts I have created in my head. I love you man…

  11. #13

    I would like to just ditto what Dolly said…I’m not a designer, but loved their stuff and ordered “believe in your effin self” – because come on, we all need to do that.

  12. #14
    Burned out photog

    Oh my God – thank you SO much for posting this! I have been a professional photographer for 8 years and I took 2012 off because I was DONE – my passion was just burned out. I was sick of dealing with pain in the ass clients, letting others dicate what I shot and my shooting style (newborns shouldn’t wear pink glittery feather wings with flower headbands bigger than their heads!!), and the effort of running a business I no longer loved. But what I discovered in my year sabatical was that I missed taking photos and being creative. So I have begun to reestablish my business and rebrand and focus on what “I” love to shoot. This video comes at a perfect time for me. What an amazing message – thanks so much for sharing! And I just ordered myself a mug too! Cathy, you are awesome!!

  13. #15

    I thought the design and message aspects were great. But, frankly, was a bit sad that the profanity makes this great message and design inaccessible to many. Talk about limiting your audience!! I am not offended by the f-word (and I have used it myself at times), but I can remember my grandmother talking about profanity as something “ignorant people” used because they couldn’t find a better way to express themselves. Grandma’s message has always stuck with me and I frequently hear profanity used when people really aren’t creative or literate enough to express themselves more succinctly. These guys are obviously creative and literate … so it is sad to me that they have built a business on the f-word.
    I guess I wish they had been creative enough to find a way to promote their message and products to a broader audience.

  14. #16

    awesome…the concept the site the goods..the message
    thanks cathy you have no idea how much I needed to this post!

  15. #18

    I can totally connect to how you use the word. When my kids were younger (and well before I was working with a therapist) that word would come out in anger and it was really crushing to the kids. Theyve told me as much, that they have no problem with it unless its used in anger.

  16. #22

    I can see that perspective too. Definitely. But Ill tell you something that this site has made me think about: there are things out there that I write off because I personally dont agree with what I see and this has made me realize that learning to consider perspectives other than my own are potentially going to add to my overall knowledge base. If that makes sense. I believe these guys are being extremely creative because they are doing something they feel passionate about. : )

  17. #24

    “…newborns shouldn’t wear pink glittery feather wings with flower headbands bigger than their heads…”
    Welcome back to your creative self!

  18. #25

    Love the universality of this message. I personally feel that their pledge can be applied to so many things in our individual lives. In addition to scrapbooking I thought of motherhood, being a homemaker, a volunteer in my child’s classroom, my church responsibilities. The possibilities are endless when you truly believe in something and are passionate about it. Thank you, as always for being so real and sharing.

  19. #26

    I love this! I don’t exactly know how I am going to make sure no-one will ever f***ing look at title insurance in the same way, since it’s not the most creative of industries but I love the passion behind the principle. I have the luxury of working from home most of the time so there is no-one to object to my mug. Because f*** knows, I need the reminder.
    Thanks so much for sharing this!!

  20. #27

    I’m using kiddos new laptop and I’m laughing because I didn’t realize there were parental controls set on it. I didn’t know I had control, I didn’t set it up. Anyway I”ll have to go to my computer to view the site. I could see the video though and I appreciated it very much, very inspiring thanks for sharing. Now to think on this concept of parental control…. is that a thing? 😉

  21. #28

    Thank you Cathy!
    I too feel I have a rich enough vocabulary that I don’t use (what our society classifies as) profanity on my blog. But in my everyday life I do use ALL the words I know! Oh, and sometimes on Twitter too.
    These guys are doing something brilliant and well intentioned. It’s that intention that wins the day.
    For those that turn away because of the F word, there are many other creative, inspiring people, books and sites that they can turn to in order to feel nourished, in sync and motivated.
    To each his own.
    These guys – and you, Cathy – work for me!
    – Lee

  22. #29

    Thanks, Dolly. Truth be told, Im always afraid of offending people a bit. Im trying to get over that, actually, as I strive to be authentic in my life.

  23. #31

    After I read your response, I watched the video again from the perspective as a parent. Wow, so glad I saw this for me as a person and as a mom. Thank you Lee and Cathy for sharing this. Off to make some purchases.

  24. #32
    Debbie O'Neal

    Thank you Cathy and Lee for bringing this inspiring message to our attention ! the F word to me is just a word…I am not offended by words. Actions speak louder than words IMO. Their message is so inspiring…following your passion and taking a chance is a wonderful message everyone should hear and embrace. I really need one of those mugs…as I am starting my own passion project…to create an all encompassing die cut community to share ideas and inspire others creativity using their die cut machines no matter which one they use. I do have doubts about my journey down this path but my passion is leading me in this direction and I am going to follow it ! Embrace your passion people…it is what makes life worth living.

  25. #35

    Guess I’m in the minority here – I’m one who finds that word extremely offensive, for a variety of reasons. If someone wants to inspire me in my life, creatively or otherwise, I am more open to listening to a message from someone who respects that sensitivity while they communicate.

    So thank you, Cathy, for the warning ahead of time.

  26. #36

    I have to agree with you, Dar. I clicked on the link to the mug Cathy ordered (not realizing it was from the same people) and after seeing it knew I wanted to see no more, no matter how creative they may be. Even seeing it used here by others in the comment section with characters (#*$, etc) to replace letters of the word is disappointing.

  27. #37
    Teresa B

    I rarely comment on anything! So please give me a second to find the words. I am a scrapbooker and have been for many years. I have been to a CKU a thousand years ago and have had no training in design or anything even remotely close. I do my own thing with paper and adhesive and simply try for balance knowing the purpose is to remember a moment using a photo and some words. These guys remind me not to judge my creativity against others. Such a wonderful feeling! It is so very nice to be reminded to follow your passion and let it free! Thanks for letting me ramble on 🙂 Oh! regarding the F’s…..didn’t notice them really, just another part of my world!

  28. #38
    Marjorie Nienhius

    Society makes words offensive. Words are just letters piled one in front of the other. It is “YOUR” views/opinion that cause words to be offensive… I LOVED this video, the site, the message and I LOVE that I found some gifts for my Hubby. He LOVES the f-word. He says it adds PASSION to what he is saying. HAhaha!! He is a blacksmith by hobby, metal fabricator by profession, the guys in the shop are gonna LOVE this too!!Thanks Cathy for the inspiration. You ROCK!!!

  29. #44

    Sorry, but I disagre with Marjorie. I think words are extremely important. They help define a culture and its ethos. I’m fascinated by the fact that some African tribes don’t have many of the words important to our culture and the Russian language has more words to denote the color ‘blue’ because of their Siberian landscape. I’m saddened that our culture has embraced the word this post is talking about. Every swear word is inherently a description of something specific and this word is a course and ugly name for the beautiful and sacred intimacy between a husband and wife. I don’t demean anyone who doesn’t share my point of view, but have to say that everytime I read or hear the word it feels like a punch to the chest. So I stear clear. Cathy, I love you and you have been the primary inspiration to my passion for design and preserving life through scrapbooking. Thank you for your policy of not using this word on your site.

  30. #47

    the choice of language aside, I loved this video as it shows that there are young people who are not afraid to take a chance on something about which they are passionate. Too often our young people chose professions for the money, the status, the kudos from society at large and not because they are passionate about them. Something gets lost in their lives as givers and as people and in our lives as receivers and fellow humans. Here’s to passion! Thanks, Cathy, for sharing.

  31. #49
    Maggie Taylor

    Cathy, you are such an enabler! I’m pleased to see they ship internationally, as I’ve just ordered the poster and two mugs. (Wanted more, but hey, let’s show some self control here and there’s always another shopping day)
    Their philosophy is something I need to tell myself daily. I am definitely my own worst critic.
    Kudos for being brave enough to link to the site. Stand tall, girl, you’re doing ok. 😉

  32. #50

    Thanks for this link. I really needed that kick in the b&$#. I forwarded this to my daughter who is in Industrial Design (and prolific user of the f-bomb). I will be ordering a mug and some orange tape; my mug will then be like their Family Friendly Site.

  33. #51
    Ami E Pilon

    Cathy this is so YOU. I find a touch of fear in each of the successful scrapper/bloggers and wonder why. Love your pledge. Love your design ethic now as I have all along. Congratulations on finding your new stance and voice. It is a joy to spend our lives learning and growing.

  34. #54

    love it! i am sending the link along with a coffee mug to my son who is in Computer/Game design in college!

  35. #56

    I so wish I could buy the t-shirt and mug for my home, but my DH is a bit more conservative than I am. Thanks for posting. Your blog is always fun and unique.

  36. #57

    Thank you Cathy, so much conjecture around the f bomb, the underlying message of following your passion is the journey I am on, excited to be on, dont know how I couldnt be on, and sure as (insert f bomb) dont want to get off! I too am in the scrapbooking industry not as a graphic designer but as a store owner and I have finally found the right time to use the words I use for myself but not for my customers or blog readers – my mission statement is to make products affordable for everyone not just those that can afford to be ripped off…. see its offensive, as offensive as the ‘f’ word but its real, and it drives me and I am passionate about it… and …..I will continue to tone it down as I dont wish to offend my dear readers and customers. However, I love your idea of a pledge and as soon as I finish this message thats exactly what I am going to do next – type up my own pledge using my own words, might even throw in the ‘f’ word just cause I can and because its for my eyes only, thank you xx

  37. #62

    Thank you so much for sharing this, its been a grotts morning with one thing and another and the longer i spent looking at their site the bigger my grin got till I was laughing out loud. Love it, thank you again 🙂

  38. #64
    Design Editor

    I almost cried watching this video. Amen! Hallelujah! With a full time job and very young kids, people often ask me how I’m able to do all of my scrapbooking/blog related work. My answer is simple and always the same: Powered by passion. (And I’m tired all the time.) So I really connected with this message. Thanks for sharing. Love the way you think, CZ!

  39. #67

    This is exactly what I needed. This message. I am kicking off MY passion project this week! Thanks, Cathy

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