Sunday, January 31, 2010

Website: Pat Love


Dr. Pat Love is a renowned relationship expert. I was incredibly honored and excited to be chosen to design her new website. This was one of the first flash sites I had built, and definitely pushed me to the edge. Flash sites are tedious to build, and aren't good for SEO, so generally I don't push them for my clients. But for this, she wanted a fun look and music with a lot of movement. Here, check out the site

So other than writing her own books on relationships, being an expert on Oprah, Dr. Love (and yes, that's her real name!) has advice in Cosmo, Glamour, and loads of other magazines and print. The Truth About Love was a great read, and Hot Monogamy is next on my list. Seriously, go check out her (*beautifully designed) website and read up on her research. It really blew me away.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Booth Display: Wedding Monograms

Have I mentioned that I have my first booth at the Lakeside Bridal Fair coming up? Hm, no? Not in pretty much every other post on my blog? Oh, yeah I have! And I can't help it, I'm just so excited to be part of the action. I'm hoping to get some good business out of it too. But I have to admit I'm scared silly. There are thousands of stationers out there. What's going to make them want to pick me?


I'm hoping it's going to be my creative presentation! Please ignore the busy background of crafting materials, and the calendar with my workout schedule on it. But I thought it would be cute to make my booth a play on my business name. Little beans in pots will hold up my monograms. I'm thinking of having white porcelain trays covered in beans to lay my invitations on. So brides can pick them up and take a closer look, beyond just flipping through binder pages. As far as the rest of my booth, I'm still in the concept phase. Intimidated by filling the 10x10 space all by my lonesome, I've asked a fellow fledgling artist to share the space with me. She's a photographer, so I think the images will complement my design nicely. And maybe having a dual purpose will draw us more traffic. Fingers crossed!

Friday, January 29, 2010

WIWOT: Wedding Monograms

Wedding monograms are a cheap, easy way to completely personalize your wedding. I've built up quite a stash designing them for friends' weddings over the years. I love how each one displays a totally different personality based on the couple. 
I'm trying to prepare a group for the Lakeside Bridal Fair that shows off the hot wedding colors this year. I've also designed a variety of initials so brides can see themselves easily in any of these options.
Formal or casual, modern or classic, a monogram fits perfectly into your big day! You can feature them on stationery, napkins, programs, or even make a light gobo for your dance floor with it. There are so many options with these, and spending $15 for one with your date and initials is the best bang for your buck on your wedding day.
So if you're interested in having a monogram done for your wedding day, or even just personalizing your stationery, please email me and I can personalize one for $15 or create a custom design just for you for $30.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My First Gig

Way back in my college days, we would have class assignments turned into contests for real work. Those were always my favorites, because not only did everybody bring their A-game, your art had the potential to be seen far beyond the art building. It was a taste of the real world. We all couldn't get enough. So for this project, Waco Heath and Wellness needed a new cover for their quarterly magazine. We were all asked to present our first draft. Here's mine.


Very similar to the final draft above, but with a different woman posed on a simpler background. I was absolutely ecstatic when she chose mine! This was my first class using Adobe Illustrator, and this program became my favorite to work in by far. After modifying everything to be the final version shown above, it went into print and I'm sure I took over a dozen copies to bring home to my family. It was the first time I was chosen as the printed artist. I hope teachers today still employ these methods, here I am five years later still bragging about mine!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's a New Dawn

Well, since it's now 45 minutes to a new day, I'll make it the dawn anyway. It's my blog, I get to make the rules! Especailly the ones where I can pose inspirational pictures of my boxer. She finally learned how to jump on the bed by herself. At seven months old. She's a slow learner. But that's not what this post is about.

 I finally did it. I took the leap. I decided to quit my 9-5 and freelance full time. It was a scary decision. No more regularly scheduled income. Not that it was that great in the first place, but it was reliable. But it was certainly past due. I did not enjoy being a leasing agent. I came home exhausted from acting fake-chipper, dealing with whiny, spoiled students, and navigating my horrendously moody and fake regional supervisor. Having residents vandalize my car because they know where I live (on property) and what I drive, so when they get angry at the office they can easily take it out on me. And I was just done with the schoolday drama that workplaces can be. So I took the chance. It's probably not the best time, but when is it ever? I always kept putting it off. So now it's time to put up or shut up. And I intend to make it work. If this is what I want to do, then now is the time to take my last chance and see if I can really make it out there on my own. So please, if you have any graphic design needs, contact me. Comment here, email me, look at my website. Help this woman find financial, and personal, independence.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Puttin' My Fancy Pants On

This weekend I was lucky enough to be hired (ok ok, maybe only slightly cajoled) to shoot a fundraiser for my dear friend's nonprofit, The Landon Exchange. And let me tell you, this was one snazzy event. The table centerpieces, in particular, were so cute and yet so sophisticated.

And the venue was perfect. It looked like a vintage gym, with these giant letters and concrete floors with faded basketball lines. There was a country band, great barbecue, and a lot of good dancing. Sounds like a good preview of my wedding coming up!

I learned that it is very very hard to shoot indoors, especially in low light. I've done my best to edit all the photos so they look chic while still being visible. I think I did okay, but I certainly need more practice. I'm still so excited that I got to be a semi-pro photographer. Thanks love! The event was fantastic!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fond Farewell My Friend

I sold my first blanket last night. My shop had been full about an hour, and I had my first sale! I was completely ecstatic. I'm making these felt two-toned blanket, screenprinted in my own design in a contrasting color. I think these are my favorite things to make. I really hope it takes off and I can spend my days sewing and printing.

I love my little deer. They're so sweet. I used my inkjet printer on my transparencies to add a little unexpected texture. The ink beads and gives it almost a tweed look.

Bye little loves! Enjoy your new home. I hope you're not the last.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Shop is Live!

Finally! I've finished sewing all my blankets, heat-setting inked designs, altering dresses and taking photographs. My shop is reborn! I'm so excited. Now I just have to hope people visit and buy. The Twilight tees did really well in November, but I'm hoping that I'll have a little luck before Valentine's Day. Deer seem to be the hot new item right now. Aren't those two cute? I like the heart between them.

So please, if you have a moment, go take a look around and tell me what you think. My fingers are crossed that I can start making crafting and freelancing my main source of income and stop suffering at my mindless 9-5 every day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rip Roaring Rodeo

Okay, maybe not so much rip-roarin', or really a rodeo, but the Boy has gotten into bullriding. Oh, yes. Nothing like a man in chaps and a vest hanging on for dear life while a massive beast runs around an arena. So now whenever we visit his hometown, we meet up with some friends and do a little roping and riding. This was the first time I got to play around with my first DSLR, and I think the results aren't too shabby!

He really wanted a picture of his peanut. Isn't he a cutie? This little kiddo ropes and rides better than half the big boys I know. He's going to be such a rodeo star. I see the Buckle Bunnies in his future already...

Gearing up for the big ride. Yup, that's a big one, eh? Since he's technically still a bull he counts, but I see a steer future coming up for him soon...

Sorry for the blurry, dark photo. By that point it was pretty dark outside and the lights in the arena aren't nearly bright enough to illuminate what's going on inside. And my flash only served to show the sand around me. But as you can kind of see, the little bull boy got pretty high! And the Boy did pretty well riding him. But eventually he did fall off, and got stepped on which gave him a spectacular hoof-shaped bruise he showed off to everyone. Because all real cowboy bullriders have hoof bruises, didn't you know? I'm ready to break it out again when they go riding here. Now those are legitimate bulls. It's gonna be a good time!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Relaunching the Shop

Here's a little sneak peek of what's to come in my Etsy shop. I've kept myself surprisingly busy crafting my little heart out to restock the shop for February. I've got blankets and tees coming, as well as some revamped rescued dresses I've screenprinted for some added interest.

I can't wait to get them all in there and see how they do! There's still heat-setting to be done, removing all the dog hair (thanks Juno) and some Glamor Shots to take. But don't things look cute so far? Who would say no to such a fluffy cute fleece blanket?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spotlight: Sprout Graphics

My logo makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. This bright spring green is by far my favorite color right now. I have a whole wall painted this color in my room. I'm so excited to build a whole booth around it for the first time. I really haven't done too much building of the brand as of yet, and I can't wait to start this year!

As far as the logo itself, I like the whole idea of fresh ideas and growth. I wanted to make it look floral and symmetrical and snowflakey. I wanted everything to look bright and new! My business card was just as much fun to design. Except way better because there was more green! I love the unexpected vertical layout, and the fun font I got to use for my information. Sometimes it's good to mix it up when it comes to fonts. I can't wait to do more promotion for Sprout Graphics if it means designing fun stuff like this!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And Now For A Public Service Announcement...

I make no secret that I'm a survivor of domestic abuse. My story is common, more so than you might think. Though I had to deal with severe emotional and increasingly physical abuse, many women all around you deal with emotional and verbal abuse.

Recently I had to help a friend leave her abusive husband. It was a hard road for her, and she spent a lot of time talking to her counselor to come to this decision. When she asked me if I would help her pack and take her to the airport in secret, I agreed without any hesitation. I felt that I was put in this position to help her. I don't for a second regret my decision. I want to take a moment to spread awareness about the seriousness of emotional abuse. It's severely detrimental to physical and emotional health. If you know of anyone who may be suffering, (even yourself) please take a look at this website to know the major warning signs. I cannot express enough just how important it is to get the word out to all the women in your life (and men too, emotional abuse often transcends gender). And if you know someone who is being abused, please take them seriously when they ask for help. And be prepared to deal with the fallout. It will be one of the most rewarding yet demanding things you ever do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shirt: Crawfish Boil

I love it when things get Sassy! Someday soon I'll have to print this design myself for my own crawfish boil. But for now, enjoy the innuendo in this snazzy design dreamt up for a corporate party last year. I think the splash of red adds a really nice pop, don't you?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wedding: Tree Invitation

For the short while I dabbled in Elance, I was lucky enough to have a handful of great clients. This invite was for a wedding at a horse ranch in California. We needed a romantic yet casual feel, and I thought an oak tree silhouette would be just right. The bride came up with the fun wording, and we were in business! I plan on displaying this at my booth in the Lakeside Bridal Fair coming up in February. I've got some great ideas in mind for decorating the booth, so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Illustration: Happy Couple

Ok, so illustrations may be #3 on my favorite projects to design. Aren't they pretty? Maybe you've noticed by now I love bold, bright colors. Here we have a happy couple who gave me a photograph and asked me to vectorize them for facebook home decor use. Don't they look ecstatic to be in living color? I prefer to have a paper-cut feel to my illustrations, and this piece is a good demonstration of that style. I've recently started playing around with gradients and drop shadows as well, but I'll have to show you one of those another time. For now, I'll just leave you with this. The happy smiling faces of two people in love.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spotlight: Denim and Diamonds

Nothing like a good ol' southern logo, huh? A local private school was in dire need of a eye-catching logo for their yearly fundraiser, and I'm always here to provide. I think logos may be my favorite thing to create. Maybe. Wedding invitations are way up there with it.

This one was a no brainer. With an event titled Denim and Diamonds, and the theme being boots and buckaroos, I knew where I was going pretty fast. The Lakeland Academy logo is the navigational wheel in the background. I incorporated some faint swirls (which look even fainter against the white background, but as it was going on black it popped real nice. Promise.) The very Texan stars paired with the diamond jacks makes a perfect pair. Above would be the understated final version. But me, I'm all about the va-va-voom! Here's what I started with.Not too shabby eh? Yeah. I like it punchy. And the card suits fit me just fine. But, they wanted a more night-time grown-up feel. And being the nice, caring (and paid) artist that I am, I gave 'em just what they wanted. Now if only someday I could find a repeat client that has my exact same style...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Spotlight: Expect Respect

Now this is a program I can get on board with. Expect Respect is a class geared towards teens in high-risk dating relationships. Taught in classrooms in the Rockwall, Texas area, this program was the brainchild of the Rockwall Soroptimists, a community group that I fondly refer to as "girlscouts for grown ups". You can follow their blog and see just what they're getting up to these days. But it's a highly admirable organization and if you're a professional woman out there, you should look up the Soroptimist International for a group in your area.

I was approached to design their classroom materials and website pro bono. As a survivor of domestic abuse myself, I was honored, if not ecstatic, to have this opportunity. I wanted to make everything interesting and fun so high schoolers wouldn't be bored to tears thinking about the lame class they have to go to this week. I kept the whole urban vibe in mind, and made it so kids could doodle along with the imagery while they're learning. It's a well-known fact in montessori-style learning that hearing and drawing are linked, so you actually retain more information while doodling during that meeting with the CEO. Spout that fact next time they catch you scrawling clouds and flowers in your board meeting.

This was a one-night site, which was a pretty common theme in my past. Once again this is an iWeb template customized with my own graphics and images. It's so much fun to see a plain template come to life and look so polished. Everything is cohesive with the print material. I get so excited over these sites, sometimes even moreso than ones I build from scratch. I don't know, maybe it's just the whole prettification process. Whatever it is, it makes me happy to be a designer!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

WIWOT: Dallas Black Marriage Day

Have you ever heard of Black Marriage Day? It's a day of celebrating marriages in the national African-American community. Dallas Black Marriage Day is the annual celebration on a local scale. I started on this site in 2009, and had a few versions before we found the final fit. This was a quick whiz-bang job, and they wanted to keep costs at a minimum so I decided to customize a website using iWeb on my mac. I know, it sounds strange, a designer using a basic editing program? But you really can do a ton of cool stuff in there, and it's so easy to edit. I can customize images in photoshop, pop them into iPhoto and edit to my heart's content. We've added sound bytes, a nomination form (which I actually had to implement in Dreamweaver post export, so I did get a little fancy there) and a photo gallery. All are simple drag and drop edits.

I love these photos from the winner's gallery. These go on display all over the city of Dallas to promote healthy marriage awareness and the DBMD event. But the point of this whole post is, don't underestimate the power of simple programs. Unleash your creativity on templates, no matter how generic. You can always achieve a custom look at a fraction of the cost, since you don't have to worry about coding all the structure behind it. And iWeb really is a great program for the first time user. I'll come back tomorrow with round two of iWeb's fun and simple website turnarounds.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shirt: My Name is Earl

Warning: This post has adult content! Well, not really. I'm skilled in the art of euphemisms.

Every now and then I have a commission for only 1 shirt. Soon I should be able to offer this as more of a regular service, but for now I just wait for people to request one. In this case, it was a friend wanting a joke shirt. You see, this man's middle name is Earl. And he's decided to name his, well, his "middle". And he picked Earl, his middle for his middle. And Earl makes an appearance pretty much any time alcohol is involved. So he thought it would be downright hilarious to have a tongue-in-cheek reference to his drunken debauchery. And he loves it. Though as for his wife, lets just say she likes to lose it in the laundry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What I'm Working On Today: Providence Place website

Providence Place is the bridal shop owned by some of my dear friends in Rockwall, TX. They have quite a wide selection of bridal gowns, evening wear, bridesmaid dresses, and cute formals for prom. You can find shoes, tiaras, candles, and accessories in their displays. They also have in-house vendors to make a complete wedding an easy package deal. It truly is a one-stop shop for weddings and events.

When they opened their doors last October, we knew we needed a really impressive, polished look for their website. We used images shot on site with their gifted photographer Elizabeth Stanley for all the headers and detail photos. Don't they look great? I think the site is one of my best so far. Today I'm changing up a little content, adding a news feature, and starting a gallery for the events center and dresses (of which I was somehow tricked into modeling for, so get excited about that!) Honestly there's nothing more satisfying than coming up with beautiful work for a friend. I'm so excited to keep enhancing the look of the site, be sure to click over and check it out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Boots and Barbeque, aka the Sand Dollar Wedding

(sources, from top left - Rings, Invitations, Barbecue, Bouquet, Picnic, Barn, Frame, Cans, Gazebo, Bridesmaids)

I'm not really a ritzy kinda gal. My favorite places to eat are locally owned, I love consignment shops and parks. So after getting engaged, I already started dreaming about my perfect wedding: Rustic Summer Barbecue in the Park. Basically more of a big ol' party than a fancy-pants wedding. We've already picked the perfect place, a huge pavilion in a park by a river filled with picnic tables and a stage for our band, the Midnight River Choir. In my head I see two-stepping under thousands of christmas lights, tin-can luminaries on tables covered in butcher paper people can doodle on, horseshoes and washers pinging in the background, boots and hats and s'mores and pie.

I'll have nine months and about four grand to pull everything together. Sometimes it feels like I'm on one of those old-school wedding shows from TLC when you have two weeks and a tiny budget to throw the wedding of your dreams. Anybody remember what that was called? All that comes to mind is the episode where they had the cannoli cake and I drooled for hours. Progress is moving, and in the end I can have a comparison Polyvore collage of my inspiration vs. execution. And I know the second one will be even better than the first!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

That'll Do, Boy.

(personal photo)

Isn't she a beauty? After dating for just under a year, Mr. Sand Dollar decided it was just about time to pop the question. He may have been nudged and bumped to this decision with a little help from me though ;) He had me completely thrown off the scent that it would be coming soon, and he swore up and down that it would never happen on my birthday or any other significant holiday. So when he mentioned that he had a surprise weekend in store for me as a birthday present, alarm bells didn't immediately set off. I was just excited to finally get a weekend away!

(personal photo)

He was so sneaky! I should have known, he had been calling my Bestie E to have her help surprise me. All I'd known was that we were going to Dallas. Once we pulled in to a beautiful b&b though, I knew something was up. The innkeeper was on the phone, so we killed a little time wandering around the gorgeous place admiring the Christmas decorations. He didn't even seem nervous, we just chatted up a little small talk until the time came to check in. It all went smoothly, then the innkeeper said I had a little paperwork to take care of too. Then she handed me a paper titled Will You Marry Me? With little boxes for yes and no. But here's the best part. I turned around to see him on one knee, pulling the ring out of his dip can! Oh yes ladies. Nothing gets more romantic than this!

(personal photo)

It's a toumaline set in recycled argentium silver from Etsy seller SingleB. I love having such an untraditional engagement ring. He had me completely surprised. I burst into wild laughter, accused him of lying, exclaimed "No freakin way!" then shed a tear or two.

(personal photo)

Definitely the best birthday/anniversary/engagement weekend ever. We followed things up with a trip to the art museum (breezing through at a cool 45 minutes), ate lunch at a niche restaurant (Cowboy Chow, for you Dallas kids), stopped by my friend's bridal shop Providence Place to play around in poufy white dresses. Then a casual night with my best friend and her family with a little ice skating tossed in. I have to say this was hands down the best birthday ever. We'll see what he comes up with next year!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Makeover: College-style bedroom

Working at a college property can be tough, but living at one post-degree? It can be a huge blow on your self esteem. Here you are, thinking you're moving up in the world and can finally start nesting like a grown up. But no, you're stuck with plywood cabinets, squeaky doors and formica countertops just like the old days. Well, maybe better, as I'm no longer in a place with emerald green shag carpet. Luckily, my place lets me paint, apply vinyls, and generally do anything I want decor-wise so long as its back to basic on moveout. So here's what i did to spruce the place up:

I've already talked about my snazzy desk revamp. Plus I love my tried and true IKEA mirror, and some cheap chocolate drapes to keep the peepers out (yes, we actually had a peeping tom here, creepy). I added a Target lamp to add some extra light to sew by when the ceiling fan isn't enough.
There's really not too much you can do with exercise equipment. I love my elliptical, so I wanted to keep it nearby where I could exercise without my roommate and all his beerbuddies watching. I ordered some vinyl circles from Etsy seller tweetheartwallart in green and brown to match my fabric and paint.

Oh glorious paint! Lime green and hot pink. Ain't nothin better! Seeing these walls every morning makes me smile. My room feels more personal with powder blue furniture and bright colors everywhere. I heart color. And the finishing touch on the walls is my art-turned-jewelry displaySo that's it! My recipe to spice up a dorm-style apartment. Though still counting down the days until I'm back in a house.