Phillip Gessert

I design books for indie and emerging authors.



I feel like the rain made the Color Run more awesome.

A work-in-progress illustration for a book cover. The shape of the giant was made using my own shadow, which is especially evident in the way it deforms / elongates near the lower hand.

I already ate them all.

Here’s something I make for breakfast quite a bit



Prep Time: 30min | Cook Time: 30min | Servings: 2 | Difficulty: Medium


  • 2 Flour Tortillas
  • 1/4 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1/8 Sweet Onion
  • 1 Potato
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar
  • 2 TBSP Salsa
  • 1/4 Cup Chorizo
  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • S & P to taste


Take cheese block out of the refrigerator to warm up and soften.

Peel and cut potato into 1/4” cubes. Place in large lidded pan with 2 TBSP melted butter and cook at a low temperature for ten minutes.

While that’s cooking, slice peppers and onion and set aside in a bowl. Do basic cleanup up to that point.

Place two eggs with butter and milk into a small pan, but do not cook that yet. Add s & p.

After first ten minutes, raise temperature for potatoes to a medium heat, place lid on pan, and cook another ten minutes. Stir or disturb them occasionally. Taste one when it looks right, if necessary do an extra few minutes at a higher temp with the lid off for crispiness.

Warm oven at 250.

Pull potatoes off heat, replace that pan with a medium frying pan coated with 1 TBSP olive oil. When the oil is hot, add 1/4 cup chorizo and cook until brown.

Heat a small burner on high, and prepare to cook the eggs. In the chorizo pan, push the chorizo to the side and add the peppers and onions. Shred the cheese and clean up to that point. Place 2 tortillas into warm oven.

Place egg pan on hot burner, stirring and removing from heat occasionally, until the eggs are light and fluffy. As they near that point, empty the cooked potatoes into the pan with the chorizo, peppers and onions. Stir.

Place warm tortillas onto plate and sprinkle 3/4 of the cheese onto them. Add the eggs on top of that, and the potato / chorizo / pepper / onion mixture onto that. Top with remainder of cheese and 1 TBSP salsa each. Serve open. 

Turn off oven and all burners and oven, and remove all pans from heat.

Notes: Great for energy.

Nutritional Info: 820 calories per serving.
Fairly high sodium (chorizo)


Don’t style your manuscript.

When editing (or even writing) your manuscript, you may be tempted to format it as near an actual printed piece as possible, and make everything ‘look right’. If you plan to use a professional layout designer for your book’s interior,  you can save yourself a lot of work by skipping this step—because your designer is very likely to strip out all that style and formatting.

When your layout designer begins setting up your book, he’ll first move through it to identify each distinct structural element. Under the hood, he’ll designate chapter titles as distinct from the paragraphs that follow, he’ll designate lists from block quotes; and will generally define every different piece of your book so that he can efficiently style like elements all at once, and create a harmonious whole.

If your designer is using software like InDesign, he will have robust tools that give him a lot of control over how all these elements look—once he’s identified those elements as such. So that identification is extremely critical. As your manuscript moves nearer and nearer to a definitive ‘final’ version, you’ll want to point your attention at things that will make it easy for your designer to IDENTIFY each element. However, you can safely resist the urge to STYLE them.

For example, you may be tempted to set up a title and half-title page for yourself, taking a lot of care to position your text so it looks as close to a printed piece as possible. Or you may want improve the look of your chapter titles by bolding them, centering them, or even placing a few extra carriage returns before the first line of that chapter. Most designers will undo all that hard work immediately, because technical styling is handled differently within their toolsets.

If your work includes a Table of Contents, you can simply ask the designer to add one rather than adding one yourself—your text will flow differently than it did in your source manuscript, and your page numbers will shift as well. That’s why page numbering and running heads are not super critical to the manuscript, either.

Now, if you’ve already got a heavily-formatted and styled manuscript, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily encounter problems, After all, all that styling probably does an awesome job at helping the designer identify each element—and he’s probably got methods in place to help him transform your work. However, if your manuscript is fairly plain (but clear), you can absolutely spare yourself the time and effort of making it beautiful before handing it off to a designer.

Design is craft.

There is a fundamental difference between an artist and a designer. While an artist’s primary motive is self-expression, a designer’s objective is to solve problems visually.

Yes, a designer’s work is typically creative, and can move people emotionally. But because the form must follow its function, it lies somewhere on the spectrum nearer to ‘craft’ than ‘art’. 

It is not possible to dive fully and passionately into design without first accepting it in its suchness, and for precisely what it is. We don’t have to squash it into the mold of another discipline, even one we also feel passionately about, just to make it ‘count’ for us.

Visual identity must be fluid.

Identity is a human element—non-human objects and products don’t ‘identify’. Even an organization, made up of actual flesh-and-blood people, doesn’t have a cohesive and homogenous ‘personality’—until we give it one.

And we have given these entities personality the same way for a very long time. Trends come and go, but our execution of them has remained mostly the same: we identify a group or groups with whom we hope to resonate. And then we give our organization or product a relevant sort of personhood—by way of concrete, static and unchanging visual rules.

It’s a bit like a new student in school, who observes his classmates’ clothes and speech, then apes it somewhat (even subconsciously) in order to fit in. Works fine, and that’s actually how socialization works.

But a fundamental problem arises when his learned behaviors fail to modify over time. His peers will evolve, as people do, but he’ll remain the same—and will feel he’s fallen into irrelevance. The identity he’s assumed no longer has any traction.

That’s because human beings don’t work that way. We are meant to move, and that movement is a most salient aspect of our humanity. Often, the consistent thing that makes us most relatable is our inconsistency. Fluidity is a part of being alive.

For visual identity, we’ve got a strong and safe notion that our best move is to establish a very precise, visual ‘code of conduct’. Straying from it is, of course, permitted—but only intelligently. This serves to protect the integrity of the brand, and is essential—so that at this instant, we can be sure and speak with a single, clear voice. At this instant.

But what about later instants? In order to make an entity truly human, in order to be fully relatable, that voice must evolve as well. Again, at any given moment in time, we cannot speak multiple messages at once—but as time steps forward, excess rigidity and lack of a sense of ‘flow’ is directly contrary to the principle goal of identity. To imbue our product with humanity.

Corporations and the like deal with eroding identities a lot like that new student would. Pick up some new slang, try to get into Pogs or whatever, maybe grab some clothes in a newer style. Not too much newer, of course—only as new as he’s comfortable with. Wouldn’t want to put his old friends off!

Maybe even still tries to hang out at the school. Hmm, anyone really want to hang out with the guy?

This approach makes an identity never fully one thing or another, it is trapped in an ever-growing gap between two worlds. If a timeline were a rubber band, the unchanging identity be a mark on the middle of it—and as the band is stretched between right hand and left, he is farther and farther away from both.

And this is the problem with identifying through static rules, and small ‘refreshes’ to them. We create a consistent state rather than consistent growth, and as such our brand loses its humanity over time. To be truly relateable, an identity must carry a sense of fluidity, and embrace future unknowns.

Since I now use ProSite for my portfolio, I’m going to fold my blog into this account. That means my next three posts are basically reposts, but after that I’ll behave myself. It also means all the posts before this are basically portfolio work.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

Divinities, Entangled

Vodka Shot, Pickle Chaser

Broken Angels

Bloodlight: The Apocalypse of Robert Goldner

Patsy Rae Dawson LLC

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