An Open Book

Fluency: The Experience

Fluency: The Experience

Fluency, A Series of Courses and Components by Lisa Gillispie,

Fluency: Experience the Occiput

Fluency:  Experience the Intracranial Membranes and Ventricles

Fluency: Experience the CranioSacral Anatomy for Therapists

Lisa Gillispie, BSW, LMT, CST has been practicing craniosacral therapy since 1995. She works with infants, children, teens, and adults, to support them in finding greater ease and wellbeing in their body. With a background in dance, she is also a Healthy Foot Practitioner™ and a Restorative Exercise Specialist™. Integrating alignment work with craniosacral therapy, Lisa’s clients experience an empowering combination that supports their optimal health and overall wellbeing. Lisa also mentors other CranioSacral Therapists and designs courses of study – live workshops and online webinars – that are now also available for Continuing Education credits.

For this project, Lisa needed the Fluency experience to be represented as a series of ongoing collateral marketing materials that could be built upon as she created more courses. CranioSacral work is as multi-layered and in-depth as the deep self-awareness and connection to the self that the therapist practices. Lisa teaches and guides therapists to unfold the textured map under their hands for the advanced development of their own practice which in turn benefits the therapist’s clients.

The Design of Fluency

The design of Fluency is anchored in the testament to the rich anatomy that it is based on. A deep and vibrant palette of contrasting tonal values and the fluidity of line, texture, and typography communicate the passageways, intentional directionality, and pulse of the power of craniosacral energy as it illuminates channels and encourages flow.

In addition to the main identity for Fluency, the collateral materials I designed included multiple components such as posters, four-color and two-color workbooks, printed cards and printed worksheets to hand out at a conference, a greeting and thank you card, a postcard for mailing, slide show and webinar materials, and website components such as banners and sidebars. Lisa teaches online courses as well as live workshops across the country so the collateral materials are developed to be consistent and available for both scenarios and for existing students and potential new clients.

You can read more about Lisa’s experience of the design process and of working with me, here.



Posted by on Mar 23, 2013 in Blog

Pilgrimage of Desire: An Invitation


An Invitation

I would like to invite you to a special Book Preview Event for Pilgrimage of Desire: An Explorer’s Intimate Journal of Art and Flow as a Way of Life, a memoir written by Author and Creativity Coach Alison Gresik.

Pilgrimage of Desire has an emotional depth and stunning realness about living an art-committed life that is unmatched. Alison’s writing is exquisite, you will really have to let me know if you’ll be able to put it down. Luckily we are printing a limited edition book so you can hold it close while you try to put it down.

Alison’s writing is naturally rich with intimate crisp details and real time revelations. While you will be immediately drawn into her captivating style you will also simultaneously be in full conscious awareness of all roads barefoot and bumpy and smooth that you’ve traveled on your own inner and outer pilgrimage. This connection you feel to her writing and your life at the same time is by natural design and speaks to Alison’s ability to open herself up to being fully present for her self and you the reader. It is one of the many unique characteristics that I admire about Alison’s art and work.


Strength of Character and Commitment

I honor all of Alison’s traits and gifts but the trait that makes her extra special spectacular is the fierce strength of her commitment. And by commitment I mean the kind that requires every morsel of your own being to hold your feet to the fire while you hold your course and do your work and breathe deeply into backing up your values and  beliefs with your words and actions. Her commitment to mastering her self and life while living from the place of fullness and substance comes from the inner core of her being and because she does the work to maintain this equilibrium. You cannot miss all the benefits of witnessing this in her and while instantly applying it to your own presence of being. The architecture of this book, both visually and verbally, corresponds with the interconnection of her work and yours, also by design. She sold her house and has been traveling the world with her family while writing this book as an account of her life to date. She’s been traveling during all of our work together but our inverted time zone difference was unnoticeable even as her day was my night and vice versa. It’s an impressive undertaking to write your own story of truths with chilling detail and acceptance while you are walking your talk and bringing everyone you care about — not to mention the entire universe — along with you. Can you even imagine the strength this requires? If you can, you will love experiencing this memoir.



The Landscape

Alison and I met in Autumn 2010 and met in person last summer, June 2011. I had already known of her exceptional writing talent because as a book designer I have an inherently refined attunement to the art of exquisite writing. Alison was describing her newsletter idea for her Operation Hejira and as I listened to her thoughts I was transported into a much larger more expansive landscape, as though a new field of art and meaning opened up right in front of me and I painted it with a brush on a fresh canvas while I was listening. I shared this landscape and larger picture with her as I saw it from that moment in its every detail. I can honestly say that this project and its depth has been strong and clear for me from the onset. In August I began to lead Alison through my creative process via a series of Design Briefs for Identity, Book, and Cover Design for what was then aptly titled the B.I.G. Project (because we needed something to call it!) and is now known as the Pilgrimage of Desire Project. {}

Symmetry by Design

Although I have a clear vision, my Design Methodology is designed to incorporate and integrate words, emotions, and facts that I collect through a series of communications. I’ve created this process and mastered it over the course of my own work and creative process throughout my career over the span of just-this-side of two decades. My design process seamlessly unites my vision with the vision of my client.

I used my Naming Structure Formula which integrates a multi-step process to analyze the information Alison provided to my specific questions. I titled this body of work, Pilgrimage of Desire: An Explorer’s Intimate Journal of Art and Flow as a Way of Life, and created its identity, book interior, book cover, and marketing collateral. I will also be designing, art directing, and producing special limited edition printed books and all of the collateral materials you will see from here. Alison has chosen to self publish because she is also committed to symmetry which means producing the highest quality representation of her memoir in the shortest time without compromising a single detail. You can understand why Alison and I are symmetric in our collaboration! In this case, this is also another account of the commitment to the quality of work that Alison creates for herself and at the same time generously shares with her readers.

I’d like to point out that Alison is already in all ways invested in her own work and in this book and its larger significance and has been for quite some time. This fundraiser is offering you an opportunity to pre-order a limited collector’s edition printed book or a digital book. There is no small amount of support here, it is all of great value. This is a real volume of work of her life’s work and how it naturally relates to your body of work and life’s work. It’s a magnificent achievement on all counts and it is again by its very design redefining the quality and depth and genre of what you know as a memoir. As self-employed professionals the lines we choose to follow are in fact our own desire lines and these lines twist and turn as we navigate through the complexities and delights of being the creator of our own experience and abundance.

Frames of Reference

I invite you to experience Pilgrimage of Desire as a special preview. Here you can read the Prologue and the first chapter, “Lighter by the Minute”. The rest of the chapters are full and overbrimming with intricate detail, presence of being, and emotional connection.

I also designed Alison’s book, The Field Guide to Truth and Beauty: Explore Your Creations and Move Forward with Purpose. You can have a look and read more about some behind the scenes aspects of the creative process from Alison’s point of view.

Self Publishing

Self publishing your  work is a testament to creating and producing your own work in the world because you are intensely dedicated to having your message reach the people who are waiting for it. It’s far and beyond selling a book but more living your book. It is creating a collection of work that has a deep and wide impact throughout every aspect of your own life as well as throughout every relationship in your life. Creating a collection of work with commitment and investment is not a risk, it’s a deliberate choice knowing what really is at risk by not doing it full out. The open road of our experience is laced with choices that define our own pilgrimage.

It is my wish that you contribute and support this campaign so you can experience this story of truth. I am proud of my contribution and honoring of Alison’s work. It’s been an honor to design this book and bring her words into a three dimensional form so it can gift more and more value. It has a great significance to me both as the Design Director on this project, as an independent self-employed professional, and also as Alison’s true friend in the dedication to and mastery of creative flow and commitment. This is her story of internal acceptance and determination of how to create art and flow to live your work and prosper but it also represents our own internal individual determination and perseverance for living an extraordinary life by design through every ordinary and unmistakably raw moment in time.

Publication Date

Pilgrimage of Desire has a publication date of November 2012. This is a quality publication from cover to cover. It will also be a great gift book for anyone you know who is determined to live their desire and live an art-committed life. I hope you enjoy this preview in all of its depth. I hope if you choose to contribute that you revel in the satisfaction and pride that comes with believing in your fellow creatives who relentlessly bring their best to you in words and intention.


I sincerely appreciate all of your beautiful words and emails, thank you so much. I hope you will continue to let Alison and I know your thoughts because we value and appreciate all of the voices that contribute to our creative community. Creative commitment thrives with sincere appreciation and acknowledgement. I warmly thank you with all of my heart for all of your acknowledgement of me, my work, this project, and for your support of Alison’s work.

It is with great pleasure and tremendous grace that I look forward to sharing this present and future Pilgrimage with all of you.

Michelle Farinella
Design Director

Posted by on Jun 3, 2012 in Blog

Field Guide to Truth & Beauty


Field Guide to Truth & Beauty by Alison Gresik

Alison is quite a talented writer. Her writing is clear, concise, and layered with crisp details and deep emotion that you cannot help to keep thinking about long after you’ve read. It’s truly a joy to work with Alison for many reasons but one reason is that she is devoted to her art and to the art of the word. In the design process when the word is clear and concise the design process is a wellspring of words coming into form. I thought it would be interesting to illustrate Alison’s perspective on the design process in her words. Here are her responses.

What were your initial thoughts and feelings about your book after having seen the new design of the new Truth and Beauty Cover and Interior?

My first impression was that the design lived up to the product’s name: the layouts are jaw-droppingly beautiful. I knew that my clients would notice and appreciate this immensely. I also thought that the page layout was so evocative and amplified the text perfectly. You really captured the mood of my writing and added a polish and clarity to the words. I was reviewing the pages late at night and I was filled with such excitement and had a big grin on my face the whole time.

In what ways does the creative design process and ultimate result add value to your brand?

I serve writers and artists, people who know and value aesthetics, innovation, and attention to detail. The design for this book tells my clients that I understand what’s important to them, that I’m willing to go the extra distance for art, and they can too. The result is a premium product that gives my clients a lush experience.

When reviewing your new interior book design was there anything that revealed something new or different about your own content or story or purpose?

I loved seeing the segments that you highlighted and called out, which messages were most important. I could also see the underlying structure in the way you organized the document and distinguished different sections. I had a sense that the design revealed the richness in the plain words — it increased my sense of what the material was worth, from a price perspective but also in the effect on the reader.

When presenting your new book do you sense a shift in your own perceptions? A shift in the marketing of it or in the introducing of it to your audience? Do you anticipate the response you will receive, and how does that feel? Do you sense any other shifts that are worth noting?

The high quality design made me proud and eager to get the book out there. There’s no doubt in my mind when I send it out that the response will be strongly positive, and indeed it has been. Having your posters, banners, and 3D image has shifted the emphasis in my promotion from text-based to more visual — I can showcase the images and let them speak for themselves which they do.

What do you feel is the most significant benefit of the design process, or the final result, that you think you appreciate and value the most? Which do you sense your readers appreciate and value the most?

I loved the way that our collaboration refined and reflected the content of the book — you were able to point out places that were incomplete, or affirm choices I’d made about what to include, because the design process showed you that. I also loved having a visual expert prepare the final product — having each of us contribute our strengths made the book that much more robust and timeless.

And I love how the design gives readers a visceral experience of the book’s message — that truth and beauty feed our creative appetite, and that making, creating, and enjoying art gives life meaning.


Thank you, Alison. The Field Guide to Truth & Beauty is a beautiful contribution for artists and writers who want to go on a creative retreat to go deeper.

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Blog

The Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook

You say, tomato. I say, pomodoro. Yes, one of the more flavorful words that I learned to speak in Italian before I learned to speak it in English. Yellow, orange, red. Round, plum, cherry, green. Leaves, then flowers, then vines. Then salad, and simmering red sauce. Growing, outproducing itself right alongside the fresh green basil, mint, and lettuce. The scents of the garden in summer are sweet.

Aside from a generational symbol of family tradition, the tomato represents the abundant harvest that comes from caring for, cultivating, and planting a seed. One little seed. Add good light. Tender care. When the time is right, transplant the seedling into the fertile earth. To root. Water, every other day. Watch the leaves flower. And then turn into green, firm, unripe tomatoes. As they ripen, they soften. And come into their magnificent color. Beautiful and luscious.

Tomato Cover LRThe Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook, Classic & Exotic Recipes from around the World, © 2009 by Brain Yarvin, Photography by Brian Yarvin, published by The Countryman Press. Cover and Interior Book Design by Michelle Farinella Design.

*Design Award*
Bronze Medal for Book and Cover Design
The Art Directors Club of New Jersey, 2009

*Design Award*
American Graphic Design Award
Excellence in Communication Design, Book and Cover Design
Graphic Design USA, 2010

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This 224-Page Cookbook includes over 100 mouthwatering recipes. The concise instructions are easy-to-follow, the photography exquisite. You will learn how to process and preserve the freshness of your own homegrown harvest straight from the garden. You will enjoy traditional to unique recipes from salads, side dishes, soups; to meat, poultry, and fish dishes; to rice, pastas, pizzas, salsas, even desserts. Prepare yourself, though, it’s hard to choose a favorite among these recipes.

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Some of the recipes are: Bruschetta with Tomato, Greek Salad, Hawaiian-Style Salmon Salad, Indian Tomato and Lentil Soup, Italian-Style Tomato Soup, Beef and Tomato Chow Mein, Southwestern-Style Spicy Gazpacho, Japanese Beef and Tomato Stir-Fy, Chicken Cacciatore, Vegetable and Cheese Lasagna, Dried Tomato and Olive Bread, Tomato Pesto, Chutney, and Marmalade. And, for dessert, Tomato Soup Cake and Green Tomato Pie!

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Brian Yarvin is an enthusiastic chef, educator, and photographer, who has written about and photographed food for many local and national publications. Brian lives and cooks in Edison, New Jersey.

I have also had the honor of designing Brian’s previous cookbook,  A World of Dumplings, also published by The Countryman Press in Vermont. Also full of the most wonderful recipes from every tradition.

This week I’m reminded that creativity is at times a seed that needs to planted. It needs to germinate. It needs good light, and tender care. The idea seedling needs to root. When the time is right. It will flower, and flourish. It naturally ripens on the vine. As it ripens, it softens. And comes into its harvestable form.

Like the pomodoro.

What idea seedling has flourished into the most bountiful harvest for you?

The Rusty Parrot Cookbook

Designing a cookbook is a treat. It requires a well thought out plan, a fair amount of organization, and order. And an eye towards aligning the complex more towards simplicity and clarity. It becomes a sacred, reverent experience for me. One similar to preparing for and cooking a special meal for a table full of your favorite people. In its truest form, the reader feels a certain excitement, confidence, and sense of proficiency ~ at a glance. The sense that the perfect process will ultimately lead to a lovely completed masterpiece of form, function, and flavor. Visually, the order and composition of each page must have a rhythm and a flow so that the images, ingredients, yield, and the directions are clear, concise, and structured to be easily referenced. Enticing. Ravishing perhaps.

The Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa in Jackson Hole is renowned for its gourmet and exquisite cuisine from its Wild Sage Restaurant. This 224-Page hardcover cookbook includes gorgeous photography and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for scrumptious breakfasts, dinners, and delicious desserts.

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The Rusty Parrot Cookbook: Recipes from Jackson Hole’s Acclaimed Lodge, © 2009 by Darla Worden and Eliza Cross, Photography by David Swift, published by Gibbs Smith. Book Jacket and Interior Book Design by Michelle Farinella Design.

*Design Award*
Certificate of Excellence in Design, Book and Cover Design
The Art Directors Club of New Jersey, 2009

*Design Award*
American Graphic Design Award
Excellence in Communication and Design, Book and Cover Design
Graphic Design USA, 2009

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The book is organized into recipes that correspond with each of the four seasons. And, throughout the seasonal recipes, the authors share some photos, essays, and poems of Jackson Hole’s history, art, and wildlife.

A small sampling of the recipes include: Grand Mariner French Toast, Rosemary and Green Tea Smoked Duck Breast with Sweet Potato-Sage Gnocchi and Pomegranate Jus, Cinnamon Beignets with Espresso Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate, and Kahlua Cheesecake with Vanilla-Macedamia Nut Crust.
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The Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa was named the number one hotel in the Continental U.S. and Canada by Travel & Leisure readers World’s Best Awards. We certainly get the sense that this destination lodge in the West would be a treasured experience year round.

This cookbook lets you share in the experience of being part of The Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa by providing lots of wonderful recipes to enrich every season.

Organization, order, and clarity are often the perfect recipe!

Posted by on May 9, 2010 in Blog, Book Design, Books, Cover Design, Design Matters