New Sample: Folk Tales for Children

Reading Vietnamese children folk tales reminds me of my childhood in Việt Nam. My personal favorites included Lưu Bình-Dương Lễ and Sơn Tinh-Thủy Tinh. I was glad to see these stories translated into English. I created this sample page hoping my kids will read these folk tales to learn about their root. I selected Skolar and Skolar Sans, by Rosetta Type, for the reading text. I chose Nickel Gothic for the cover title and Map Roman for the story titles. Both typefaces designed by David Jonathan Ross. Check out Cổ tích nhi đồng.

Some Minor Updates

Over at, I added a big typographic footer to give people a quick way to contact me. They don’t have to hunt around for me email anymore.

Over at simplexpression, I changed the logo once again. The wordmark is set in all lowercase to give it a simple style. I chose Pomfret, designed by David Jonathan Ross, because of its elegance. I like the simple, elegant, expression.

Because my wife has been so busy, she hasn’t had the time to devote to her passion project. We haven’t sold anything in a while. I want to see if I can use other platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Amazon to make some sales. I need get her inventory together before I kick off the experimentation. I did OK with selling used skis and snowboards on Marketplace. I want to see if I can also sell other things.

Youtube Shorts

I have been playing around with YouTube Shorts and starting to get into the creative process. I love the ability to mashup my videos with my favorite songs. Some of my silly shorts are hitting 2.5k to 3.5k. I want to try to create a short a day for the next 30 days or so to see how it goes. If you are interested in following along, check out my shorts on YouTube.

Scalia Law Sites

SLS is a network of Scalia Law sites powered by WordPress Multisite. When I led the law school digital experience, I saw the need to provide anyone from the law school community to have a web presence. From centers to institutes to students to faculty to administrators, they need to have their websites separated from the law school main site so they can update and maintain themselves. As a longtime WordPress user, I knew Multisite was the solution. I installed the software, architected the domains (URL), designed the themes, and launched the network in 2017. I trained developers, content strategists, and directors of communications to create and maintain their own sites. As more sites came on board, we needed to migrate the network to WP Engine to handle the scaling. The Scalia Law networking is hosting over 40 sites.

Chào! Some Updates

On the previous homepage of my portfolio site, I wrote an intro text that read:

I’m a creative director who brings decades of design expertise, technical experience, and collaborative energy to the teams.

I set the font weight to extra heavy, which didn’t look too good small screens. I wanted to remove it, but I had nothing else in place. Then I read Robin Rendle’s recent redesign. He writes:

The goal here was to merge the about and index pages into one since they’re always the same thing anyways and this now saves you a click if you want to learn about me.

Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? I moved the about page to the homepage and set the word “Chào!” (Hello!) really big. Why not include a Vietnamese word? It was a small change, but it made me happier.

Over the weekend, I tweaked the “Tục ca” sample page a bit. I reset the type to Cormorant, designed Christian Thalmann. I really liked the upright style of Cormorant for poetry.

I also turned the “Trịnh Công Sơn” sample page into hide-and-show function. Since the page has so many songs, it is easier to scroll to the title of the songs in alphabetical order without showing all the lyrics.

New Sample: Phạm Duy

I have been obsessed with Phạm Duy’s music. The more I paid attention to his lyrics, the more I appreciated his gift for words. In addition to relistening to his songs, I wanted to take a deep dive into his lyrics. The result is a sample page featuring songs I have loved as well as songs I haven’t heard. I wanted to create a page I can read on my phone when I have a few minutes to spare. While I can visit various Vietnamese music websites to read Phạm Duy’s lyrics, I prefer an ad-free page with all the songs in one place. Furthermore, I want to have a pleasant reading experience. For the typesetting I combined Fern, designed by David Jonathan Ross, and Case, designed by Erik Spiekermann, Anja Meiners, and Ralph du Carrois. Since Phạm Duy had written over 1,000 songs, the selection for this sample is only my personal favorites. I left out political, controversial songs and epic compositions. Take a look!

Là Việt: Being Vietnamese

This sample contains ten selected poems from The Secret of Hoa Sen, written by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai and translated by Bruce Weigl and the author. For the title of this project, I chose “Là Việt” because Ms. Nguyễn speaks eloquently and proudly about being Vietnamese. “We have crossed the glorious cities / Paris of light or ancient London,” she writes, “Our souls still drift back to our harbor.” For typesetting, I selected Kaius, by Lisa Fischbach, for reading text, and AT Kyrios, by Stephen Nixon, for display text. If you like this sample, pick up a copy of The Secret of Hoa Sen for the full experience.

Tình Ca Phạm Duy

In his vast repertoire, Phạm Duy had written a handful of songs about feelings. “Tình Ca” expressed his love for the Vietnamese language and people. “Tình Hoài Hương” expressed his nostalgia for his homeland. “Tình Kỹ Nữ” expressed his feeling for a prostitute. “Tình Hờ,” my personal favorite, expressed his pity for a poor lover who had no idea that she had been deceived. He even confessed: “Khi tôi tìm đến em / Là tìm vui trong chốc lát / Đến một lúc rồi quên” (When I looked for you / I only sought for a quick pleasure / I came for a moment then I forgot). In this sample, I put together 15 songs with the “tình” theme. I typeset them in Aneto, designed by Veronika Burian, José Scaglione, Azza Alameddine & Roxane Gataud. Check out “Tình Ca Phạm Duy.”

Phạm Duy Music Typography

I discovered striking covers of Phạm Duy’s songbooks on Phạm Duy’s website. The illustrations are beautiful, but I am drawn into the custom typesetting with Vietnamese diacritics. I have to create a sample page to feature the covers. Of course, I have to add some text to the page as well. I selected Eric Henry’s “Phạm Duy and Modern Vietnamese History,” which was written in English with proper diacritical marks for Vietnamese words. For reading text, I chose Be Vietnam Pro, designed by Lâm Bảo, Tony Lê, and Nguyễn Việt Anh. Check out Phạm Duy music typography.

Dương Thụ & Patrick X. Gallagher

Back in 2002, Mr. Patrick X. Gallagher gifted me his handmade book, which consisted of his English lyrics to 50 Vietnamese popular songs. After discovering Mr. Gallagher’s passing in 2019, I wanted to pay a tiny tribute to him. In this sample, I selected 11 songs written by the renowned lyricist Dương Thụ with translations by Mr. Gallagher. The text is set in Warbler, designed by David Jonathan Ross. Take a look at the “Dương Thụ & Patrick X. Gallagher” sample page.