2016

3 weeks into the new year, and I finally feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things. It's been gradual for me, but I hope everyone had a nice time relaxing over the holidays!

As someone who is goal-oriented, I get excited to make resolutions every year, even if I'm not perfect about sticking to them (Where's the fun in that, right?!). I like to strive to get better, but not get caught up in the possibility of falling short.

I prefer to aim high.

Here's a glimpse at what goals / ideas I'm thinking I want to focus on this year:

1. Run my first full marathon. Where? I'm not sure yet. All I know is that running keeps me inspired; it keeps me creative and awake and alive. It sounds very cliche to non-runners, I get it. But the electricity I feel when I am gliding through the cold air outside has changed my life. I always run at least one half marathon every year (and I intend to this year too), but why not step into full territory this year? I have nothing to lose and I am motivated to train and do this. 26.2, I'm coming for ya!

2. Continue to freelance + build my design business outside of work. 2015 was the first year I made a serious income from freelance design work, and I really want to continue that. Now that I have a new computer with a working trackpad (hallelujah), I will strive to push my creative limits in my work. I want to create wedding collateral, web materials and start learning Sketch + more about UX design. At my day job, which has been going wonderfully, I've been learning SO much about web and digital design, and I feel very comfortable in Photoshop. I hope to build on that too so that I can eventually make a bigger leap to designing for digital platforms + experiences. 2016 is my year to grow more as a digital designer, as well as build up more of a client base on the side. Practice, practice, practice! I'm proud of how far I'm come since I started working.

3. Explore more cities + states. I went on several trips in 2015. It was the first time I ventured up north to Connecticut and Maine, down south to Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as out west to several parts of California. I would love for 2016 to bring new cities and states into the mix for me, too. This means putting away more money than usual, but I know it's worth it to spend on travel. Experience > Things. I have yet to visit places such as Portland, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, Austin and even Canada. Maybe one of those will be a trip this year for me.

4. Read + watch + listen more. I always want to educate myself, and 2016 is an important year to do so because of the election in the fall. I want to watch more documentaries and listen to more podcasts regularly, too, to keep up on issues I am passionate about, such as public health and women's rights. I'm not in school anymore, but I never want to stop learning, listening, engaging. I want to spend more time learning and less time binge-watching shows at Netflix. OK, so there's a time and a place for that, too. But there should be more of a balance!

5. Be more present. I'm not very good at this. If it's 2016 and you have this down pat, I really am jealous. After being out of my apartment for 12 hours a day during the week (commute, work, gym, commute) I'm just happy to eat dinner, take a shower and pass out at the end of the day. In the middle of all of the commuting, working and craziness, I'm constantly on my phone or my mind is elsewhere. I need to actively shut down my phone and my brain sometimes. Maybe at the beginning and end of each day I will get better about this, but I think it would improve my anxiety in general.

There are several mini-goals I haven't sprinkled into this post (learn to play guitar better, cook more vegan food), but you get the idea. Reflection and striving are good, and they're where I'm comfortable. I like fresh starts. You should, too.

Next Steps / A New Gig

Happy almost Thanksgiving time! I just started a new job this week at Moroccanoil, where I'll be working on the design team for the marketing side of the beauty brand. Digital + print projects are coming my way already. I'm so excited to dive in and soak up working on the client side of design at a gorgeous, well-known brand!

See you after the holiday, when I will probably still be dreaming about eating copious amounts of sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and stuffing :)

Den of Geek Magazine: My Largest Project (So Far!)

About 3 months ago, a writer I used to work on Backdrop magazine with at school approached me about an idea he had. He was working in the city for Den of Geek, a website and community for nerds who love TV and movies and superheroes, in a nutshell. He wanted to create an inaugural edition of a print magazine for their audience just in time for New York Comic Con in October.

This was in July. Nothing was done yet. I kind of thought he was crazy. They had no designer or creative direction at all. Did I want to take this on?

I'm so glad that I agreed to design this magazine from start to finish. It was hours upon hours of work to produce almost solely myself (with the help of an awesome Infographics designer, too). Lots of layouts, editing and late nights after working my day job.

It turned out beautifully though, 30,000 copies later! With exclusive coverage and interviews, including the cover story with Bruce Campbell, I felt happy to be working on something cool + relevant. 1 in 5 New York Comic Con attendees have one of these magazines! The entire project will be up on my portfolio soon, but you can view the web version now right here.

Special thanks to Chris Longo, Mike Cecchini & Olivia Reaney, without whom this project wouldn't have happened.

Brush Lettering Love

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Hey there! Hard to believe it's fall, but I'm loving it. When the leaves finally turn, I feel the transition in the air. Sometimes, change is good. I believe that fall is a good change.

So I've been practicing some brush lettering lately, and while I was initially intimidated by the practice, I love it now! I think hand lettering is beautiful, but I also don't think some styles of lettering are really my style, or match my design aesthetic. And that's completely OK, you know? I don't want to force something that's not me. However, I feel that brush lettering compliments my simple style more so than a decorative dropcap or fancy, colorful phrase spelled out in several different typefaces. Good brush lettering is clean, swift + simple.

I'm going to keep practicing while I listen to Ryan Adams' take on Taylor Swift's 1989. It's on repeat in my Spotify playlists as we speak ;) Anyone know of any fun brush pens to try? I'm all for experimenting now! Enjoy the fall weather.

Designers MX: Digital Nature

Happy August all!

So I wanted to share something semi-design related. A couple months ago, I fell in love with Designers MX, a community of designers who create mixes for inspiration and motivation — but here's the kicker — we design our mix covers. How awesome is that?! The site had apparently been taken down a few years ago but is up and running again. I feel the most creative when I have a killer playlist backing me, so I was beaming when I discovered this.

I had the opportunity to create a mix on the site myself, which includes electronic, alternative and indie tunes — aka some of my favorite genres. My idea was to create a mix full of "digital nature," which I define as freedom and freshness when working with pixels. A weird idea, I know. But obviously we usually can't get outside when we're pushing pixels. I wanted listeners to feel they were getting a dose of productive bliss, even if that doesn't involve actual greens, air or water.

Take a listen!