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.

Screen (+ Relief) Printing

Recently, I’ve been getting into the idea of printing—both relief printing and screen printing. If you don’t know what those are: relief printing is like a stamp, using linoleum or rubber or wood as a surface to carve into, and using ink or paint to print the carved image onto paper or fabric using pressure; screen printing is using a meshed screen in a frame, having the image displayed through a hardened emulsion layered on top of the mesh, allowing the ink to go through where the emulsion hasn’t been hardened—it’s a complicated process, and if I didn’t explain that very well, Google it, it’s cool.

Anyway, I’ve been following a few printers on Instagram and have been inspired to try it out. There’s some awesome DIY ways to go about printing, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on the best way to do it and most cost effective way to get the supplies I need. I never had a chance in school to do any screen printing before, though I have done some relief and have all the tools needed to do it, so I’m excited to give it a go. I have plans to design a lot of different things in the future and would love to be able to print them myself, giving them a more handmade, personal quality to them.

For now, I have most of the thing I need to do some relief printing, so I think I’m going to work in that medium for a while and get to screen printing later (I’ll have to gather the supplies needed for screen printing gradually because of money). There’s a lot of choices to make and I need to save a bit of money for the supplies, but I’m excited to work on some stuff and document my journey on here.

On Instagram, I’ve been following Eva Stalinski and Chris Neuenschwander.

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!

The End of Part One

Recently, (as in a few days ago) I finished school. I completed all my classes and I’ll officially have a degree in graphic design. I’m both excited that it’s over and excited for the future and terrified that it’s over and terrified of the future.

I’ve always sort of had my plans up in the air and thought I’d figure it out eventually. Well, I did that, and I sort of figured out what I want to do (I mean, I know what my passions are and I know what my dreams are) but now that it’s here, right now, I feel like I’m not ready for it. But at the same time, I feel ready enough. It’s a weird limbo-like roller coaster ride of anxiety with a lot of pressure that makes me feel like I’m dying. But it’s totally fine, I’m fine, it’s fine.

But because of that pressure, I feel more focused. I’ve suddenly became aware of my surroundings and things—specifically that I lack a good set up to start doing anything. My work space is broken up into three different rooms and I’m in the process of planning to reorganize my life and work space (after the holidays, I’ll be actually moving and organizing—and I think I’ll post all about the setting up my new work space.) There’s also a lot of researching that needs to be done, some purchases I need to make (like possibly a new computer, some more storage, and definitely a new printer) which all has to happen as I need it and as I can afford it, but it a mostly all takes planning.

The end of school sort of feels like going off a cliff. You’ve been able to see the cliff the whole time as you were running toward it, but you’ve always seen it further away than it really was. And while running toward it, you were supposed build a plane along the way before you fell off. Well, I’m off the edge of the cliff with only half a plane. All the schematics are there, the plans to build the whole plane are there, I just have to finish the plane—as I’m going down. So that’s what I’ll be doing in the new year: building the plane before I hit the ground.

My plans/goals are this: the small business I co-run is expanding in January, so I’ll be working hard on that; I’ll be drastically reducing my involvement with my current job, sticking just to freelancing design work for them; I’ll be doing more freelance here and there when I can; and I’ll be working on my own art and design to hopefully start selling online, prints and stationery and other products. And of course I’ll be writing.

So there is a plan. There are goals. Planning and focusing and working is the only way it can happen. I just have to begin. The time to do it is right now—and I think I’m ready.

Sketchbook Progress

While studying design, I haven’t really done much drawing or sketching for fun like I used to. I was never great at it, always disappointed in my sketches (with a few triumphs that I could brag about, even though I see them and think “yikes…that’s not as great as I thought it was in high school…”) But I loved it a lot. I loved sketching and doodling and drawing little characters. I didn’t do it often enough to get better at it, always choosing painting in art class over drawing, but in high school, I thought about going into illustration before I eventually chose graphic design.

Over the last few years, I’ve heard other designers say that they can’t draw to save their life or they’re terrible—and so I sort of gave up drawing, too busy working on design, thinking “well, if they can’t, I don’t need to draw well.” But recently I’ve been inspired by illustrators on Instagram and YouTube, and I realized that being good at both can only be a plus. So I’ve been wanting to work on my illustration skills for a while—and for the last few weeks, I’ve been sketching and doodling for a half hour every day. And I’m really enjoying it.

This particular one didn’t make me want to throw it across the room, so I thought I’d share it as the start of a progress. It’s not great, but not as bad as my first few days starting this new journey (seriously, at one point I said aloud, “I think I forgot how to use my hand to draw things”). Eventually I’d like to experiment with using watercolor paints and do full on pieces, but for now, I’m going to try to sketch (nearly) every day in my little sketchbook and get the basics down, find my style. I’ll be hoping to buy some markers (I have my eyes on Copic Ciao brush-tip markers) and do some color work, too. I don’t know! It’s all knew (and old) and exciting.

I will for sure be updating my progress, starting with this sketch and updating in the next few weeks with work that will be much better (hopefully). I’m slowly improving—and I’m falling in love all over again.

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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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!

Design: Career Goals + Recent Projects

At the beginning of 2015, during the spring semester, one of my classes (Business for the Designer, I think it was called) really changed what I wanted to do with my design degree. Most of my life, I’ve wanted to be a published author, and because that could take years and years before I ever see any money from it, I chose something that I loved just as much to get a degree in, a more “safe” career to fall back on as I used to say to those who asked the crippling question “What do you want to do after you graduate?” Since I’d always been interested in art and design throughout high school, graphic design seemed like a good fit.

Even throughout my first few semesters, I didn’t really like it—I mean, I sort of realized that I more enjoyed the idea of design, and I could appreciate good design, but doing it wasn’t for me. That terrified me. I spent a lot of time panicking, believing I’d made a mistake. But slowly, I started to not only like it, but love it. As I learned more and honed my skills, it became something I enjoyed doing, not just appreciating. And it was that business class I took, almost a year ago now, that finally pushed it over the edge for me to realize graphic design is on the same level as writing.

This class is the same class that I started this blog for—a semester-long project to focus your goals and a place to network in the industry. While working on the blog and coming up with different ideas to do with it, a thought came to my mind: I always saw these incredible prints and posters and calendars online or on a wall in someone’s apartment, and it had always intrigued me about the idea of doing that for myself, creating those things. And it all sort of clicked together.

My goal is to design and illustrate prints, calendars, cards, and anything else I’m inspired to create and open an online shop. Now of course it will be small at first, I don’t expect this to be a great money generator (especially right away) but with the combination of my other business and writing, I think that it will all be enough to support me—hopefully. I’ll have to keep my job at the restaurant I work at for a while longer until it does, I’m sure.

I don’t have a projected timeframe, but I’m designing 2017 calendars at the moment…so…maybe? I don’t know. If they aren’t completed by then or if it’s just not working out, adjusting them to be 2018 won’t be too difficult.

That’s what I’ve been working on for the last year, slowly and not knowing exactly what I’m doing, but getting ideas down and sketching and making plans. Of course, with my job and school and business, it’s a bit hard to carve out the time, but it’s working nicely for now.

Hopefully within the next year, I’ll be able to set everything up and start promoting my work around on social media and in my area.

Projects:

Here are a few things I’ve been working on this passed fall/winter.

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Inspired by Charli Prangley’s map outline poster tutorial, I made an inverted version of my home state as a Christmas gift for my aunt and I’m really proud of the result. And because it was so cheap to have printed, I printed a few extra and sold them to a few friends and family who asked for one.

For the business I co-own and run (called Mamacita’s, we sell our Salsa Fresca locally—working toward expanding) I’m the social media manager and designer, among many other things. I do all the design work for our marketing and create images for the recipes using the salsa we post on our blog. Here are a few of the recent ones.

Design Goals:

For 2016, some of my personal design goals include:

  • design 3 calendar sets, and 2 holiday card sets
  • practice hand-lettering skills more often
  • design and illustrate at least 2 prints
  • set up online store, or at least begin the process

2016 is going to be a big, busy, and beautiful year—I can just feel it.

Yes, I used beautiful because of the alliteration. I couldn’t help myself.

New Year, New Goals – 2016

Happy New Year!

It’s 2016!

Now, I’m a huge fan of resolutions. I think they’re great. Don’t let anyone tell you resolutions are stupid, because the new year is a perfect time to realign your goals and self—which is why people do it.

I’m not really doing resolutions this year, but I am doing some planning/new goals. Some of them have to do with this blog. So here they are:

Design.

Because school a takes up a lot of my time, I’m unable to do the projects that I’d like to do. Especially because I’m planning to start up a site or online store with prints, calendars, cards, etc. Carving the time out to do these things is sometimes difficult when I have so much other work to do, so I’m going to make more of an effort to set aside time specifically for working on new designs.

Another goal is to take the time to learn more to further my skills. One thing that I’ll be starting really soon is practicing on my hand-lettering and illustrating. Hopefully, I’ll be able to document all the processes here on this blog.

Writing.

Writing is one of the most important aspects of what I do. And in the last few months, it’s been on the back burner. My goal is to write more—especially this month, when I have time off—and to work on getting an agent and getting my work published.

And, if all goes well, document that process here on the blog as well. It was always my plan to talk about writing here on the

Travel.

I have traveled very little in my life. And I want to change that. I want 2016 to be the year I travel as much as possible. Even if it’s a short trip, a road trip, maybe take my first flight in a plane. I don’t know if it will happen at all, but I want to do more of it.

Reading.

I always set a goal on GoodReads of 50 books. Each year I get closer and closer (in 2013 I read 15 books, in 2014 I read 25, and this past year I read 32 books). I want to achieve it in 2016. I want to read 50 books (novels, graphic novels, short stories, novellas, whatever).

Film.

As someone who professes a love for film, I rarely go see a movie in the theater. And I want to do it more often. In 2015, I didn’t see a single film in the theater. Not one. (A lot of the reason was not having a lot of money to spare.)

My goal for 2016 is to see a movie in the theater, at the very least, once a month. That’s at least 12 films. I’ll have to plan out what’s coming out for each month, and maybe I’ll have to skip a month and double up on another if there’s nothing I want to see out that month, but as long as I see 12, I’ll be happy.

Exercise.

I don’t know if anyone has told you, but spending the majority of your time as a designer and as a writer, you do a lot of sitting. Crazy, I know, but it’s true. And to top if off, all of my hobbies include watching YouTube videos, television, and film. I do a lot of sitting.

So I want to be more active. This summer I want to play more tennis, I want to go for more walks, exercise regularly, and eat better. I want to fit into the clothes hanging on that “maybe someday” side of my closet.

2016 Video.

One of the projects I want to do (well, have started already) is making videos on YouTube again. I used to a few years ago, but stopped because of time and drive to do it. I don’t know if I’ll start vlogging again or making short films again, but I’d like to do something. Even if it’s one project.

To start with, I’m starting a new project of a mega-video compilation of my coming days in 2016. I’m going to (and have already started) filming a short clip, 1 to 2 seconds long, a day. Something that I’m doing that day that is interesting or completely ordinary. I want my year documented visually.

Some of the clips will be a bit longer, the more important and interesting ones might be 5 to 10 seconds long. It’ll be quite a long little film, but I’m excited about it.


 

My goals for 2016 are fairly simple, seeing how they’re things that I do on the regular anyway, but now with more focus and with more of a plan to accomplish them.

And hopefully, I’ll be able to document a lot of the progress of these goals here on this blog. I’m very excited about it all. I have a good feeling about 2016.

Hope you have a good new year, too!

Design: Obsession – December 2015

Since it’s December and almost Christmas, I thought I’d share a winter/holiday design that I’ve been obsessed with this month: this print by a Denmark design studio called Daddy.

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http://site.danamcclure.com/2010/12/daddy-graphic-design-studio/

The snowflake design (which I just learned was stamped from hand-carved wooden stamps!!!) are overlapped in different colors. It has such a vintage, mod vibe to it – I’m in love.

In fact, I loved them so much, I recreated a similar digital version of the concept (just for myself to hang up in the living room). And to be honest, if these were available to purchase, I would have. (There’s more colors in the link above.)

Mine are above – not that they are better, I’d love to buy some prints of the originals, but I like mine too. I chose to stick to just bluish colors (the originals have orange and red, too).

I just really love snowflakes and I miss them—it’s December 14th and Michigan still has NO snow. It is unusual and sad. Still hoping for and dreaming of that white Christmas.

Wait, that reminds me. It’s time to watch White Christmas and drink some hot chocolate. Bye!

Design: Geometric Bird + Dog

As I had said with the Dot Series I was working on, I’ve been working on others including these geometric pieces of a bird and a dog (as well as others, but these are the finished ones, as they take quite a lot more time than the dots.)

For these, I am more interested in eventually having these available to order prints of (along with the rest that are not finished/not started.) But that’s down the road when I have my life figured out better and I’m not constantly pulling my hair out.

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These pieces were done from an actual photo reference. I was walking by our garden one day and a bird flew into the fence and his claw became stuck in the wire. He was trying to flap away, but was going no where and he was obviously distressed and panicked. After a few minutes, I was able to get him free—but he stayed in my hand. He clasped onto me and wouldn’t let go.

So, I put him on the garden post to recuperate (I think he was a little dizzy or concussed or something) and I ran inside to get my camera. I came back and snapped a photo, later using it for the reference of the geometric piece.

For the dog, well, that’s my dog. So that’s less of an exciting story.

With these pieces, I wanted to stay with triangles only. However, the more I worked, the more I realized that sometimes the occasional trapezoid looked fine (which let’s be real, a trapezoid is like three triangles together, and sometimes the colors of the fur/feathers were so close to one another it didn’t matter or detract from the overall look.) I kept the original colors of the animals as they were, and chose the background color to both compliment the color and let them stand out against the background at the same time, so neutral browns and tans worked best.

Anyway, I am quite proud of these two. I love the way they turned out and can’t wait to finish the rest.