Visual Vocabulary

Visual Vocabulary: Éclat (and my first ever word-gif!)

Éclat: Brilliant or conspicuous success or effect. As in, “Once the overloaded socket and off switch issues were worked out, the light display at the Griswold home became one of great éclat, deserving every last beat of the drumroll and each note of the ‘Joy to the World’ serenade.”

Visual Vocabulary: éclat, Julie Rado Design

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It’s a Christmas miracle in so many ways! 1) I posted the word on time, 2) it’s an animated gif because why not out-do myself, and 3) I even managed to make it Christmas-themed, which is becoming a tradition! (Last year we had the Abominable Snowman in ambuscade). Now I have to stop looking at the gif and go wrap some presents before I gif myself a headache. Har har. (Yeah, that was pretty bad, wasn’t it?)


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


Visual Vocabulary: Aplomb

Aplomb: Great coolness and composure under strain. As in, “The coal faced the diamonds with aplomb when they pressured him to change who he was and join their group.”

Visual Vocabulary: aplomb, Julie Rado Design

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First off, I’m hoping that next week I’ll be back to posting my word on Wednesday instead of sliiiiiding it in to Thursday. December is kicking my ass (anyone else?) and I haven’t even bought a single present, decorated the tree, or watched ANY Christmas movies yet (Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?) None of this bodes well for my timely posting, but we can hope for a Christmas miracle. Second: I had this drawing sitting in my head for a few weeks and was considering how weird it was of me to anthropomorphize coal, and then this morning on the radio I heard the new Killers Christmas song, “Joel, the lump of coal.” So I guess I’m in pretty good company. What makes you weird makes for good illustrations. Or songs. 


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


Visual Vocabulary: Soporific

Soporific: tending to induce drowsiness or sleep; tediously boring or monotonous. As in, “Thanksgiving turkey has a soporific effect on me, but I like ‘turkey soporific’ better than I like ‘polishing-the-crusty-silver’ soporific.”

Visual Vocabulary: soporific, Julie Rado Design

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Oh hai. You may have noticed (?) that this week’s illustration has gone all bezier curves over fluid stylus lines. Yep, the old first gen iPad Paper app finally took an extended vacation to the land of “I aint doin shit!”, so I was forced to turn to Plan B (which is why this is running a day late, sorry to my one blog subscriber who pays attention). I’m kind of bummed because one of the things I like about doing Visual Vocabulary is getting back to drawing. At the same time, it’s kind of fun to change it up. So...maybe this Illustrator style will become my new go-to, out of necessity. I can’t lie, I do like playing with set type instead of having to draw it every week...


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


Visual Vocabulary: Apocryphal

Apocryphal: of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true. As in, Each night before you go to bed, my baby, whisper a little prayer that your life story will never go the way of the apocryphal Mama Cass—who did not choke on a ham sandwich, but rather, died of a heart attack.

Visual Vocabulary: apocryphal, Julie Rado Design

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OK, so I know that this joke was made in Austin Powers (“Mama Cass—deceased—ham sandwich”) but it was either drawing ham sandwiches and drugs or President William Howard Taft being stuck in a bathtub. When in doubt, always choose drugs and food over large naked men in bathtubs. 


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


Visual Vocabulary: Garrulous, Voluble, Fatuous

Garrulous: excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters.
Voluble: talking incessantly and fluidly.
Fatuous: silly and pointless. 

As in, Julie was trying to find a rambling movie quote to illustrate what she meant, but then she realized that good old Charlie Sheens Twitter rants were the perfect garrulous, voluble, and fatuous spouting base of blathering nonsense for this weeks drawing.

Visual Vocabulary: garrulous, voluble, fatuous, Julie Rado Design

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I’m on a roll this week: three words in one drawing?! BAM. Sometimes I get words that are similar enough that I don’t want to illustrate them separately, so they come in clumps. Or they just work together (Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! Thaumaturge and ensorcel!


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


*GUEST* Visual Vocabulary: Dilettante by Scott Davis

The last illustration of our guest series almost didn’t happen. Let me back up and explain: as I was putting together the roster of guest posts, it looked like there might be a gap in the schedule. I started to worry that I would need another illustration, so I put on all of my wifely charm while also sounding my silent, internal Type-A panic alarm. I did the unthinkable: I asked Scott (“I don’t draw”) to be a pinch hitter and do an illustration for me in case something didn’t pan out with the schedule. 

Me: So, I know this wasn’t in our wedding vows, but I have a huge favor to ask of you. Can you please, please, please draw a word for me?
Scott: Silence. Panicked look.

The look of sheer terror that glazed across his eyeballs made me feel like a terrible person for asking him to do this for me. I thought to myself “This would be like him asking me to defend our constitutional rights before the Supreme Court. Or something.” I gave him my notebook of future-words-to-illustrate. He reluctantly picked one, but wouldn’t tell me what it was.

This morning, I got a text message with his illustration. I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s perfect. 

Dilettante: A person who cultivates and area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge. 

Visual Vocabulary: dilettante illustration by Scott Davis

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I now owe Scott a sushi dinner and several hundred reiterations of my thanks. (Now to hope that I never have to go before the Supreme Court on his behalf...) And on that note, thank also to all of the awesome friends who contributed to the one year celebration of Visual Vocabulary: John Saal, Sarah Rado, and John Breakey. I’ll let Kermit take us out: 


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. I'm celebrating the one-year anniversary this week with some guest illustrations (hooray!) You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


*GUEST* Visual Vocabulary: Image by John Breakey

The third guest illustration comes from someone who whipped my design sensibilities into shape when I first answered the call of the marching ants and x-acto knife: John Breakey, my graphic design professor at DCAD. As I entered my sixth year of college and moved closer to finishing my second degree, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what kind of design job I could get with my (to put it nicely, budding) skills. It was John who pointed me in the direction of Portfolio Center (yup, tack on another two years of school for me), which I consider to be one of the best moves I ever made as a designer. Thank you John, from saving me from the fate of in house designer at Clipper Magazine. 

John’s post is about the word image, and breaking down our preconceived notions of the meaning of the word.

Image: we may think in a more immediate sense of the word as representing tangible things that are visual, like something seen in a media environment… The intent here is to remind us that we look in the mirror and account for a reflection of the way we hope to be seen. Inasmuch as we all pretty much share the same human characteristics, our psyches character shapes our personality into forms and counterforms. It seems we can’t help but have some wayward and in-progress qualities; deconstructed, reconstructed and otherwise. 
John Breakey, November 2014, Wilmington, Delaware

Visual Vocabulary: image illustration by John Breakey

Visual Vocabulary: image illustration by John Breakey

Thanks, John Breakey, for elevating us beyond pretty (but sometimes ugly) pictures.


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. I'm celebrating the one-year anniversary this week with some guest illustrations (hooray!) You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


*GUEST* Visual Vocabulary: Gustatorial by Sarah Rado

The next guest illustration comes from my sister, Sarah Rado. I can always count on Sarah to keep things the best kind of weird and creative, and she didn’t disappoint. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first ever vocab word to appear in the fine medium of...pancake batter! How very fitting.

Gustatorial: of or relating to gustation: the act of tasting; the sense of taste. As in, “As soon as the buttery pancake touched her lips, her tastebuds were overcome with heightened gustatorial pleasure.”

Visual Vocabulary: gustatorial illustration (in pancake batter!) by Sarah Rado

Visual Vocabulary: gustatorial illustration (in pancake batter!) by Sarah Rado

Visual Vocabulary: gustatorial illustration (in pancake batter!) by Sarah Rado

It seems we have an ongoing theme of om-nom-nom this week, am I right? I love that there were no re-dos to this word, because Sarah confessed to me that she ate her artwork right after she took the pictures. It’s making me hungry for buttery pancakes right now....But wait...how about some coffee with those pancakes?

Visual Vocabulary: coffee illustration (in pancake batter!) by Sarah Rado

Visual Vocabulary: coffee illustration (in pancake batter!) by Sarah Rado

Thank you so much for always being game for creative adventures, Sarah!


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. I'm celebrating the one-year anniversary this week with some guest illustrations (hooray!) You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


*GUEST* Visual Vocabulary: Chimerical by John Saal

The first guest illustration comes from John Saal, who I work with at Untuck Design. We spend most of our days designing awesome stuff for clients, answering emails and talking on the phone, so I’m very glad he agreed to add “draw a word for Julie’s weird project” to his to-do list.

Chimerical: Existing only as the product of unchecked imagination; fantastically visionary or improbable. As in, “The chimerical creatures were so fantastic, so absolutely amazing, they proved perfect models for his illustrating adventures.” (You can click the image to see it in its full glory)

Visual Vocabulary: chimerical illustration by John Saal

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I love the wide range of crazy monsters here, especially the boy and girl angry Sam-the-Eagle “M,” the creepy used car salesman “A,” and the om nom nom L. Thanks again for the super fun illustration, John!


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. I'm celebrating the one-year anniversary this week with some guest illustrations (hooray!) You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.


52 Weeks of Visual Vocabulary!

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You guys. It's been 52 weeks since I started posting Visual Vocabulary. (Actually, this week marks 53—I never said math was my forte—plus, it wasn’t as easy as looking back to the one year date since I took a few weeks off here and there for holidays and such.) 

I racked my brain for a while trying to think of a way to celebrate this momentous milestone. We’re going to call it momentous because it’s nothing I have to do for work and no one is counting on it, but I still forced myself to draw a word every week and post it. I thought maybe I could set up some sort of word quiz, so people could play along at home. But then I remembered we all stopped taking vocabulary quizzes in high school and that unless it’s a “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You” quiz on Buzzfeed, most people don’t really consider quizzes a fun diversion for their daily lunchbreak browsing. I even thought maybe if I made it a word bank quiz...or what about a crossword puzzle? But no. That's veering further back into middle school territory. Let’s leave that safely in the past where it belongs (with frizzy hair and enormous glasses and film strips).

So then I had an idea to celebrate by asking people to contribute guest word posts. I felt sort of silly asking people to illustrate a word for my humble speck on the internet, but hey, they agreed! I’m excited to say you get to learn a few new words this week with fun illustrations! Instead of getting a lame vocabulary quiz! Aren’t I the best teacher ever?! The guest illustrations start tomorrow, and I’m so excited to see what everyone does. 

To recap with statistics:
I’ve illustrated 30 nouns, 7 verbs, and 16 adjectives. (Lest you think I can’t add, one of the words could work as both a noun and a verb: bivouac).

My favorite noun illustration: spermaceti (runners up are philistine, bailiwick, riposte—damn I love a good yo mama joke!)

My favorite verb illustration: strafe (I’m probably partial because Scott’s in the strafing copter that could “report the shit out of some traffic”) (the runner up would be ossify)

My favorite adjective illustration: fubsy, but hirsute is a close second. 

What about you guys? Any favorites? They're all at a glance here on Pinterest


Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.