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!

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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

 

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: 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.

Monthly Selections: May 2016

May has been too busy of a month to even enjoy much. With buying a car, finishing up the spring semester of school, starting up my summer job again (which won’t be just in the summer anymore), and co-operating a small business—not to mention side projects and writing and living—I haven’t really had any extra time to accumulate a solid list of favorites this month. But there have been a few things, so here they are:

Orphan Black

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One of my favorite shows came back (actually in April, but it has aired mostly in May) for its fourth season. This weird, crazy, addictive show about clones has been a favorite since it first started, but honestly season four has been its best since the first half of season one—which arguably is some of the best television work ever created. Yes, I’d say it over and over. The first half of season one is A+++ (it starts to go a little wobbly later; but picks back up in season two). It’s genius and brilliant and Tatiana Maslany is the most fascinating, mind blowing actress. I watch each episode and forget the characters are played by the same person. Since the previous third season had become a bit murky in focus, season four started with a risky, reboot/flashback of an episode that worked so incredibly well and it completely changed the game for the show in the best way.

Spring Gardening

I’d always liked flowers and planting with my mother, but for some reason, I was bitten by the gardening bug because it’s all I can think about in my (small amount of) free time. I started creating a flower garden in the backyard near our vegetable garden. My small-scale garden will be complete with rock walls, a small seating area, and flowers fenced in with pre-existing lilies, more flowers planted around, and my mint plant in a large vessel. I’ve been having a lot of fun planning and buying flowers. It’s been a great peaceful place for me to go and work, digging up the current landscape to create something new and beautiful out of a crowded, bushy bit of forest.

Design Obsession

The covers for Richard Dawkins’ (an evolutionary biologist) three books were given new designs for a special edition from Penguin. Using a program to mimic evolution, no two covers are alike. Each copy different from one another. This combines all the things I love: design, books, and science. I cried a little with excitement.

Monthly Selections: April 2016

After a busy month, I sort of forgot to keep track of my favorites throughout the month of April like I usually do. But I do remember the following three things that were definitely my favorites the last few weeks, anyway. Here are my selected recommendations/favorites for the month of April!

Amanda McLoughlin

A week ago, I stumbled on this YouTube channel hosted by Amanda McLoughlin, where in the month of April she was doing VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April) with a whole bunch of videos talking about goals, reducing anxiety and stress, budgeting, organizing, meal prepping, being a good host/guest—and those are just the ones I’ve watched so far. Her videos are really helpful, she explains things in an easy-to-understand way—seriously, helping me be a better adult. I instantly subscribed and can’t wait for more. And I have to catch up on the videos I’ve missed! She also co-hosts a podcast called Spirits, which is fantastic.

Coolors.co

In a recent YouTube video by CharliMarieTV, she mentioned this handy website that I fell in love with right away. It’s an incredible website that helps you come up with random color palettes, edit it to your liking or create one from scratch. Super useful and easy to use. And you can export them and download it right to your computer to use them for whatever project you’re working on—I’ve also used it to make a color palette for an interior redesign for paint colors, too.

Here by Alessia Cara

Let’s just say that this song has been on repeat for a week straight and I’ve listened to it upward of a two hundred times. Because this song is so popular right now, I’m surprised I love it so much. Not to say I don’t listen to things that are popular or on the radio—I love me some Top 40—but I’ve never been this obsessed with a song that’s this popular. All of my favorite songs and music is from artists or bands that aren’t popular or on the radio.

This song is fantastic—Alessia Cara is incredibly talented, as a former introverted-teen I relate to the lyrics a whole lot, and I’ll be honest, I’ve had a lot of fun learning the words to sing along with it while alone in the car. There, I said it. It’s a difficult song to sing along to—holy breath control—and I’m proud of myself for being able to do it while remembering the lyrics at the same time.

Design Obsession:

These labels for Harvest Moon juices and shakes reminds me of the same illustration style of Rifle Paper Co. Perfect color palette, great illustrations, awesome design, and a killer typeface that I’m in love with and want right now.

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Monthly Selections: March 2016

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

A beautiful, rough look into two odd teens who fall in love in the 80s and deal with their families, school, and each other. Eleanor & Park is such a good book and it’s now at the top of my list of favorite contemporary YA. Cute and heartbreaking and incredible.

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In Progress by Jessica Hische

After it was recommended to me, I bought illustrator, designer, and letterer Jessica Hische’s In Progress, a look into her process and the work she’s done. Since I’ve been wanting to practice my hand-lettering skills ever since the calligraphy class I took a few semesters ago, I was really excited to get this and I’m ready to look to this for inspiration for practicing my skills.

Birdy – “Keeping Your Head Up”

I’ve listened to Birdy a few times, especially her rendition of “White Winter Hymnal,” which I listen to all the time in my usual rotation of playlists. Her newest song, “Keeping Your Head Up” is beautiful and I dig the video’s style and costumes.

Design Obsession

It’s a toss up between these Caran d’Ache pencils and their packaging/the wrappers for Mast Brothers chocolate bars.

 

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: Favorites – Updated Finds

Since starting this blog, I’ve been posting about my favorite designs in different categories: book covers, prints, web, etc. and have since found more recent work that I’d like to add to those lists, so periodically I’ll be doing updates in one post for all of those categories if I’ve found a recent favorite, starting with this one. A few recent new favorites I’ve discovered:

Web Design

I posted about my favorite sites recently and since then, the Apartment has relaunched with a new design and since I love it just as much as the original design, I thought I’d share that in the update as well.

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Title Sequences

 

The show Fear the Walking Dead, the spin-off of one of my favorite shows The Walking Dead, has a title sequence much different to the parent show, shorter and much more chilling. This title sequence jumps out at you after the cold open with the blood-stained and cracked title flashing on a black background, more horror and fright than The Walking Dead’s dramatic pace of decaying images. The tones of the two shows are slightly different and it’s reflected here in the title sequences. Two great shows, two great title sequences.

Book Cover

Here are a few book covered that I’ve recently discovered that I really love: the Eternal Sky trilogy by Elizabeth Bear have beautiful covers with incredible illustrations and use of subtle typography allows the art to truly shine—I put them on my TBR list because of these covers alone; I’ve known about The Martian by Andy Weir for a while but haven’t read it or seen the film, but ever since seeing the cover, I fell in love with the composition of the image and the bold type, reminding me a lot of the poster for the film Gravity, which is another favorite; the cover for The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (UK version) has a beautiful style of illustration; and the sequel to one of my favorite new series by my favorite author, Victoria (VE) Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows perfectly matches the first book with the same style of illustration and incredible bold graphical elements in black and red that really pop.

Over time, I’m sure I’ll be updating even more every few months. That’s all for now!

Monthly Selections: February 2016

I know that February only had 29 days, but honestly that month went by incredibly fast. Because I had the entire month of January off from classes, I’d had so much time to write and be productive in all my side projects and I felt great! And then the semester started again. All my time disappeared. I’m tired.

But I did have just enough time to enjoy some great stuff and now I’m going to share!

Mauve Reviews

Mauvereviews

First off, speaking of not having enough time, I ridiculously decided to start another blog, though this one for reviewing things. I watch a lot of TV and love to share my thoughts, but nobody I know watches the shows I watch, so I started Mauve Reviews to express my opinions on a few of my favorites shows! Because most of them happened to be sci-fi/fantasy related, I decided to just go with it and those are the shows (and later films/books/podcasts/whatever I feel like—may even do more than just sci-fi/fantasy) I’ll be reviewing. So far I’ve been reviewing the episodes of two new shows, Syfy’s The Magicians (which I recommend!) and Freeform’s Shadowhunters (I’m a fan of the books, less so of the show so far), and one of my all-time favorite shows, AMC’s The Walking Dead.  These are only three of the dozen or so shows I watch a week. (What do you mean I’d have more time if I stopped watching all that TV. That’s ridiculous.) I’m having a lot of fun doing it, though I’m looking at the shows more critically than I usually would, which makes me wonder if it’s skewing my enjoyment of it (I’ve noticed this with The Walking Dead specifically.) Still having a good time being able to express my opinions about the shows, though.

Limetown

Another thing I’ve enjoyed this month is the podcast Limetown. It’s a fictional radio-show told by a young woman named Lia Haddock who is investigating the strange disappearance of over 300 people of a small town called Limetown. The show begins similarly to Serial, though shifts after the first episode when one of the survivors contacts Lia to speak with her—what happened ten years previously isn’t the sole focus:  strange things start happening to Lia since starting her search for the truth. Honestly, the podcast is so incredible I started listening thinking I’d just listen to one (since all of the episodes for season 1 are available on iTunes already) and listen to them sporadically over some time, but I couldn’t stop. I listened to the first three in the same day and finished the whole season two days later. The show freaked me out, honestly. There’s a lot of disturbing parts, even if it’s just the sound—even non-significant moments had an intense effect on me. Just listening, not seeing or anything else is an incredible way to take in a story. I couldn’t listen at night, only in the day, because I was that freaked out by a few parts. My heart was racing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it days later. It’s just so good.

American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson

Another new show I enjoy is FX’s American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson, a spin-off of the show American Horror Story, both created by Ryan Murphy. Because I was a baby during the OJ Simpson trial, I know very little about it. Watching it with my mom (who was around my age at the time of the trial) is incredible. She watched everything on the news, completely invested, and it’s even more enjoyable watching with her, who is constantly saying “I remember that! I remember exactly where I was when I watched that.” The show itself is incredible, too. The acting is absolutely top notch—especially Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown—and I think they’re handling the story really well, showing things that even my mom didn’t know about, what wasn’t on the news or in the courtroom (obviously not all accurate, but still interesting). It’s fantastic stuff.

Design Obsessesion

For one of my classes, we use Pinterest to search for great design examples and share them, and while I searching a few weeks ago, I found this set of labels for a (I’m assuming French) marmalade called La Tia Fina. The use of stamping actual fruit to create the graphic elements on the labels themselves is both genius and beautiful, giving it a rustic, homemade feel. Really love this idea.

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