Daily Instagram Challenge

One of my goals for the year of 2017 was to post more on Instagram, specifically posting once a day (or at least one post per day of the year, because sometimes I forget to post for a day or two and I have to post several in a row to catch up) and so far, I’ve been doing great! I wanted to focus more on photography and posting quality pictures (though, sometimes I just post random pictures of whatever I’m doing that day) and flexing my photography skills more. I used to do a lot of photography in high school but sort of stopped doing it recently and wanted to get into it again.

Sometimes I take a few pictures in a day and post them sporadically, sometimes I post whatever is happening that day, or post an old picture from high school. Most of them are new, however, and a lot of them are just snapping my day-to-day life, but a good amount are thought-out photographs and special ones captured on a whim.

I’ve also had a lot of fun editing pictures—recently, I’ve been using the ColorStory app for effects and filters, and Polarr for more advanced editing and some great filters, too. Sometimes the Instagram filters and editing are fine, but these apps are great.

So far this year, these are the best I’ve posted/my favorites of 2017:

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Illustration Progress #3

So, the last time I made an update about my illustrations was in May. I hate to say it, but I haven’t had much time to work on a whole lot. But I have done a few and I think I’ve improved, just from looking at the ones I posted back in May. I haven’t been sketching every day like I’d planned and the summer has been so busy, I haven’t been working with my Copic markers or doing anything too elaborate. I’ve wanted to do more animals and take a shot at some landscapes. I haven’t done a lot, but I’ve done a few that I’m proud of.

Here’s some illustrations and doodles I’ve done over the summer:

Hand Lettering

Each month, I’ve been focusing more on one goal for the year over the others, setting aside a few hours a week to one goal instead of trying to fit them all in. This has been making it easier to dedicating more time to them rather than spreading myself too thin by trying to do a little of them all. One of my goals was to work on my hand lettering skills, and having only taken a calligraphy and letterform class in design school, I wanted to practice it more and get better.

Over the month of May, I practiced as often as possible—which ended up not being that much, but much more than I had before—and, though I still need to work a lot more, I can definitely see an improvement from just one month alone! Some were done quickly, some when I had a few hours to spare, so the quality varies. Overall, I definitely felt like I had improved by the end. (Also, if anyone has tips or books on lettering, please share!)

Here are a few pages of work I’ve been doing over the course of the month:

After doing some on paper, I wanted to try vectorizing a piece of lettering to use in a full design, and because I’m already working on redesigning book covers of some favorite books to add to my portfolio, I though I’d give it a try and add some lettering to my redesigned cover of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I’m not entirely happy with it—my lettering skills still need a lot of work, but it was still worth it to try out.

I also designed the cover without the lettering, which I prefer anyway, to go into my portfolio. I did it in a few different color options, and I think I prefer the white cover with the single star shape.

Illustration Progress #2

For the past few months since my last update about my journey in bettering my illustrating skills, I’ve been incredibly busy. Because March was busy and April was spent focusing solely on reading in my spare time, my sketching every day streak I had going dwindled to a few times a week. And, I’m behind on doing a full color illustration a week—by like ten. But! That’s okay! During the month of May, I’m going to be focusing on hand-lettering (another one of my goals for the year, I’ll also have a full post about this after the month is over) and in June, I’ll be focusing more time on illustrating specifically. Instead of trying to do all of it all the time, I’m going to work on one more heavily than the other in certain months, which is why I have very few works in this post. But still, I’m very  happy with the progress I’ve made these last few months despite not being able to put the time I want into it.

I definitely have a tendency to draw exclusively people, so in June, my hope is to illustrate more animals and objects. And, all of the self-portraits of myself seem to have much larger heads than they should—I don’t know if I’m just bad at proportions or my brain just knows I have a large head and is making fun of me. I think that I’m starting to develop a style, at least somewhat of one, which is great. The floating heads all together with names are characters from one of my book, a little series of sketches that have been so fun to do! Anyway, my skills are improving, I’m still learning a lot, and most importantly, I’m enjoying the process!

Art + Design: Favorites

Since the last time I posted about my recent art and design favorites, I’ve stumbled upon more – as I often do thanks to Pinterest and Tumblr. There’s a mix of new album art of songs that I’ve bought, some art and design finds from scrolling through Pinterest, and some newly discovered books with incredible covers. Here they are:

Album + Single Art

Illustration + Miscellaneous Design

Book Cover Design

Note: the cover of A Conjuring of Light, the final book in one of my favorite trilogies by my favorite author VE Schwab, is A+ and matches perfectly with the others, which I love— they’re my favorite covers of all time.

Illustration Progress

Since late last year, I’ve been working on my illustration skills by trying to sketch everyday for about a half hour, as well as working on different projects more often, when I can. So far during the first month and a half of the year, I haven’t really been able to sketch every single day—but I’ve been sketching as often as possible—probably a few days of the week. Because I hadn’t done any art for a while during design school, it took a while to relearn how to do the basics. I can definitely see the difference and improvements since starting again, even if they are slight.

Right now, I’m just drawing, sketching, whatever I feel like to sort of feel a groove, find a style. I’m looking at a lot of other illustrators and work for inspiration, feeling things out. Here’s a few examples of sketches and illustrations I’ve been done over the last few months—some are just quick doodles, some took a little more time. Some more cartoonish, some more life-like and shaded (and obviously, some are better than others, especially from the start of all this to now). And apparently, I tend to draw girls almost exclusively.

I’m really excited to be doing art again, learning and growing. My goal has always been to get better at illustration in order to be able to incorporate it into my design work and be able to do more. And just being better at illustration in general, having another outlet and getting back to what I fell in love with as a kid.

2017: New Year, New Goals

2017

It’s a new year and the following are my new goals—some the same as last year, some tweaked to better suit my life. 2016 was definitely a year of realizing things (you were right, Kylie Jenner) and I realized I needed to stop aiming so high.

So here are my goals for 2017:

Design & Illustration

In the new year, I want to work on more design projects for future plans of mine, continue working on my illustration skills, and practice my hand-lettering skills more. Since I just finished with school, I’ll be hopefully doing some freelance work here soon (after I’m able to quit my current job and make all the necessary preparations to start) and I’ll continue to do all the design work for the small business I co-run.

Writing

My goal for this year is to continue revising the two projects I’ve been working on. Both books (and related series) still get me excited after years of writing and rewriting and outlining and planning whenever I could fit it in while being a student and working. (And now that school is finished, I may have more time? Fingers crossed.) Whichever book is the strongest when finished, I’m planning on using it to start the process of querying for a literary agent (which may be this year or next year—the hope would be this year). Another writing goal is to finish the book I won NaNoWriMo with in 2016—I still love that story and want to get back into it, just to finish the first draft. And the final writing goal of mine is to again participate in NaNoWriMo. Though the election sort of made it more difficult to concentrate, making it harder and less fun, I had a blast doing it in 2016 and I want to do it again!

Reading

After the disaster of a reading year 2016 was, I’m setting my goal much lower: 35 books. That’s it. I always set it for 50 on Goodreads, always mark it down several in July and again in December after I realize 50 is too much. Not this year. I’m starting low and being less rigid with my list and schedule, because it only made reading more stressful than fun. I think I’ll be able to reach my goal this year of 35, which will be more than 2016’s 24 books and 3 books more than any other year of reading for me. And who knows? Maybe because of being more relaxed about reading, I’ll hit 50? Probably not, but you never know. (I know, actually. I probably won’t.)

Film | Part One: Import

Last year, I had a goal to see at least 12 films in the theater (as I realized I hadn’t seen a single one in 2015) and only saw two films in the theater; better than nothing, but disappointing. My goal for this year is similar, but on a smaller scale: I want to see 5 films in the theater, as well as watching 20 films via other sources (DVD, Netflix, TV, etc.) bringing the total of 25 new films in the year of 2017. A goal, I think, I can do—at least I will with the 20 outside of the theater, as I see most new (to me) films that way (and I’ve already watched 3).

Film | Part Two: Export

I want to do more film projects, but on a small scale. I first want to write a short film (should this have been up in the “writing” goals? oh, well)—I have ideas and ideas scribbled in notebooks and on files on my computer and on notes in my phone, but I’ve never sat down and finished a screenplay (though I’ve started a few). Second, I want to do more experimenting with the camera, making smaller videos like I used to do. It’s a muscle I haven’t stretched in a while.

Exercise

Hahahahahaha—No, wait. I’m serious this time. I started 2016 off really well with walking/running almost every day for a while and I lost ten pounds. I’ve since gained it back and slowed down on walking to a full stop, only to slowly start up again at the end of the year. But when I was doing it, I loved it. Now that I have a Fitbit Alta, I’m really getting back into it. My goal is to just try to exercise more. I don’t want to have a rigid schedule, I don’t want to set too high of expectations—especially in the winter when it’s more difficult to get up to drive to use the treadmill. I do have a recumbent bike at home that I can use and the treadmill once in a while, and I have an app on my phone for a 7 minute workout (which should be called 7 Minutes in Hell because omg working out like that instead of just walking is so awful how do people enjoy it???) So I’m going to start slow and really get going for when spring arrives and I can walk/run outside again—I really, really enjoyed it when doing it outside in the fresh air. It truly makes a big difference.

Instagram

I’ve been wanting to post more on Instagram and decided to post one a day for the entire year. Some will be from planned photo sessions, spread out over a few days, some will be just random and whatever I’m doing that day. I’ve already done it for 14 days in a row and I’m really enjoying it.

Those are my goals for 2017!

Art & Design: New Favorites

I’ve posted design favorites before in different categories (book covers, film posters, motion graphics, patterns, etc.) and I made some “update” posts with recent finds, but I decided to expand from just design and share illustrations and other forms of art in my favorites. So here are recent favorites that I’ve found and became obsessed over:

BOOK COVERS

FILM POSTERS

ILLUSTRATIONS

Design: Favorites – Updated Album Covers

Like I posted in March, my series of posts about my favorite designs (cover art, title sequences, prints, etc.) need to be updated from time to time to reflect recent favorites that I’ve discovered or forgot about. For this post, I’ll be adding to the original post here about my favorite album covers.

Here are the covers of Birdy’s Beautiful Lies with art-deco-like typography with an image of her, standing in a field, draped in red against a darkening blue sky; Halsey’s Badlands, showing the blue-haired singer among the rocky desert, bold type covering her face with a vintage, textured layer over the image; the band Lucius with Good Grief, the sort of childish cursive type under an image of a woman holding an invisible person, a blip of color in a sea of black; and SOHN’s Tremors, an photograph of a man walking down a dirt road with snow on either side, white smoke climbing out of frame ahead with the large, simple type at the center.

All great album covers, all some of my favorite designs.

Design: Process – Mamacita’s Recipe Post

Last year, on the first of the July, I started up a new business with my mother, packaging and selling her famous salsa that she’s been making for years for different events and parties. Because we’re still small and working locally, the two of us do everything. We split the tasks of owning and running a business equally, and since I’m a design student and fairly handy with social media, I take on the tasks of all design work (which I’ve posted about before, doing the logo, label, branding, website for Mamacita’s.

Our Salsa Fresca isn’t just for snacking with chips, but can be used to add a flavor boost in different recipes. We test and write up blog posts with different recipes to share and get the people who love our salsa to try them out, too. We make the food together, perfecting the recipe, then photograph it for the post. I’ve designed all the featured images (the original few are slowly being redesigned when I have the time to do so) and write up the blog posts, sharing them on our social medias.

In this post, I thought I’d give a little insight into the process of what I do to get the recipe posts ready to go. This past Tuesday, we posted a new recipe for deviled eggs for Easter with our Salsa Fresca—which are amazing—and this is what went into it:

After perfecting the recipe and tasting them, we style the food and I photograph them. I take as many photos in as many angles as possible to get variety to choose from later.

Once uploaded, I choose the right photo that will work the best, then edit it: contrast, brightness, exposure, and bumping up the saturation. I always want the food to look beautiful and vibrant. Because I started designing these in Photoshop, that’s what I’ve been working in for these, but I typically would work in Illustrator. I place a grid over the image and align a solid rectangle in a light tan at 50-70% opacity, depending on the photo and what’s needed. I try to align everything, centered at a third of the image and centered horizontally.

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After I add the logo and the titles, I adjust everything to be in the right position. Often times, I move everything within the rectangle over to where it looks best, not always at a third of the image. I then save the image and start the blog post.

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deviled_eggs

We use Squarespace for our website and the blog service that it comes with for our posts. I write up the recipe, add the featured image, and post it to our site, then share on our Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s the post for this recipe.

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That’s the entire process of creating our recipes, or at least my side of the design and social media aspect to getting it up online. It’s definitely not perfect, and eventually, I think I’ll do another redesign or tweak what’s already there—even just creating this post, now looking at it critically, I see things I want to change and fix. Which is good! That’s part of the reason I wanted to start posting more about my own process and my own design, to look at things more critically instead of having that “good enough” attitude. Talking about the process makes me see things I know aren’t perfect and will push me to make it better and better.

That’s all for now!