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A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book

Justin Barber only graduated from college a couple years ago, but since 2014 he's become a visual designer on Google's Android team, launched an email campaign, and published a book — 100 for 100. The project started as an email series and a personal project to improve his writing and open himself up. The goal was to write 100 words every day for 100 days, and send them to a list of strangers who signed up to receive them.

“The first entry that I wrote was about a moment I had battling depression and that really set the tone for the level of personal thoughts and feelings and emotions that I infused the project with.”

 A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book  A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book

He got a lot of heartfelt, positive feedback and he felt like he could do more with the project, so he raised money on Kickstarter to turn the series into a printed book. To print the book, Justin said settled on Blurb's printing services because it's simple and cost effective as possible, while still maintaining an acceptable level of quality.

For the branding, he said, "I knew right away that I wanted to use the "100" emoji as an anchor point in the design as a fun way to capture the zeitgeist." He also embraced the theme of repetition with the circular badge logomark and eventually locked a flexible system combining the two.

He said, "That solved the individual use case of the logo, but I still didn't have a great solution to represent the project as a whole since the final three-digit number didn't fit in the center as well as 1–99 did. That's when I thought to use the kanji for "100" which was a nice nod to having grown up in Japan, and that was really the final touch."

 A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book  A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book  A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book

“These kind of ephemeral emails are now made permanent in something that you can actually hold. ”

Backers of the Kickstarter campaign could choose from the original printed and stamped version of the book or the signed and numbered, limited edition, gold foil editions. The limited editions were actually gilded using Lumi metallic decals on and every backer's book was stamped with a rubber stamp.

 A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book  A Google Designer Made His Personal E-mail Series Into A Beautiful Book

Justin has learned a lot from his 100 for 100 project, and it wasn't all about writing. He said, "Personally, I learned how powerful being honest and vulnerable in sharing our own stories can be as an incredible source of encouragement and hope to others. Confronting so many of my fears and insecurities was not only cathartic, but also grew my capacity for empathy.

"Professionally, it gave me more confidence in my voice as well as the courage to pursue more ambitious creative endeavors. I've read how a lot of designers' side projects lead to their best opportunities, and this was my first, small taste of that. It definitely [made me wonder] 'What can I do next?'"

Well, next for Justin is the medium of audio. He's working on shape.cool, a podcast on life, design, and tech. Sign up to see when it launches and if you're a design student, think about signing up for his free, 10-week mentorship from anywhere in the world.

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