Here’s the birth story to my first painting collection and Etsy shop:
Back in the beginning of May I had a streak of inspiration. An artist I follow on Instagram shared a series she started based on the desert. They were simple abstracted paintings of desert things and they really caught my attention. It got me thinking about composition and how to be better at it. As an art teacher it has been a hard concept to teach to middle schoolers. It’s difficult to explain why one arrangement of shapes looks better than another arrangement of shapes to thirteen year olds. Hell, you might be lost at the concept.
How I attempt to explain it is composition is just the arrangement of elements. Those elements are or some combination of shapes, colors, textures, and forms. For example, a banana, an orange, and an apple and where you place them on the table.
One day when I was watching students in ISS (in school suspension, yep, that’s right) I started sketching.
Prior to this sketching, I had taken a Skillshare class exploring the elements of art and illustration style. I didn’t expect that little class to be groundbreaking for me but I did realize I am drawn to combinations of warm and cool colors where one accentuates the other. Thus, my color palette for the series.
The shapes and colors together reminded me of summer. The first painting I made reminded me of a sunset at Big Sur which then reminded me of my trip last summer. So I titled it “Summer Forever Because Everything Else Sucks.” And put it on Etsy. If you would like to purchase any of these paintings (I would love you forever) they are $30 and that includes shipping!
After that one, I decided to do 10 in the series and give each a name that made me laugh or roll my eyes about summer.
Let’s Go On A Hike in the Desert But Not Too Far **SOLD**
I Buy Expensive Sunscreen **SOLD**
Hey guys! I did a little Q & A with Borrowed & Blue (a resource for locally inspired weddings all over the US). No matter where or when you are planning a wedding, good design never goes out of style. If you are in the market for custom wedding invitations or just curious about design keep reading below.
A wedding invitation is the first piece of information your guests will receive regarding your big day. It’s an insight into your affair’s personality, offering clues about what’s to come (things like formality, mood, size, and setting). It’s a gift, really, and can be as pretty as any present—if done well. That’s why we came straight to the local design expert, Mollie Blackwood of Mollie Joy Design, when talking wedding invitations to couples planning their Birmingham weddings. Her designs are thoughtful, striking, and aesthetically brilliant. Take a design hint or two from her expertise and we promise your wedding suite will shine all the brighter for it.”
– Stephanie, Borrowed & Blue’s Birmingham Market Specialist
What are the elements of “good design?”
Although there are general good design principles, when we say “good” design it means appropriate for the project and the client—so it’s in context. When it comes to wedding invitations or wedding suites my top three criteria for good are consistency of elements, clear hierarchy, and attention to detail.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
It reflects my personality: neat (as in clean, tidy), slightly feminine, fun, a bit quirky. I like for the finished product to bear marks of the human touch—that means some strategic “imperfections.”
What inspires you?
I love art museums. I leave a museum feeling refreshed with ideas so I find a lot of inspiration in fine art. I’m always searching Pinterest and blogs for new contemporary artists or reading about famous ones.
Runway fashion is another. It’s probably no coincidence a lot of those designers are inspired by fine art. Fashion designers update their aesthetic each season but somehow maintain a consistent identity.
Unexpected color palettes are a point of inspiration for me too—in nature or in urban environments. One of my favorite things to do is to experiment with color.
What are your 3 most memorable designs?
Chelsea and Brut’s wedding suite :: I have been lifelong friends with Brut and friends with Chelsea since they started dating (in high school!). Chelsea was a dream to work with. She had ideas but not preconceived outcomes. We arrived at a clear vision, only made possible by reciprocal honesty and feedback. I was able to incorporate some of my illustration and play with color. I attended the wedding and it was so neat to see everything in action and how my designs represented and worked with the event. That’s not a common experience for most wedding invitation designers.
Bamboo Bicycle Company :: I was hired to illustrate a design for printing on tank tops. This design was to be marketed toward teen girls—not a project for the fun-phobic. I had a blast playing with different bright color combinations and drawing the most perfect happy sun. We ended up with two different color combinations and I can’t even pick my favorite.
Animal Sterilization Assistance Program :: I am a huge animal lover and have three ragtag dogs of my own. It’s extra incentive to work for a cause you believe in. I was given free rein on the design (as long as it had a dog and a cat in the logo), which is great (when they mean it, as in this case). I wish I could draw puppies and kittens for every design!
What are some things to stay away from in terms of design for invitations?
I would stay away from doing something because that’s how everyone else has done it. These days anything goes when it comes to invitations. It’s more about reflecting your personal style and personality as a couple than adhering to strict rules. I would tell any couple I’m designing for not to feel pressured to go in a direction that won’t make them happy. On the other hand, as a designer, there are places I’m not willing to go—anything that looks like Curlz font, or other cliché/garish borrowed ideas.
Who would be your ideal client to design invitations for?
My ideal client would be a couple that wants something that isn’t totally traditional, wants to experiment, and is trusting of the process. I love playing with illustration, color, and different techniques. I like clients that have ideas to get me started in a direction but leaves room for me to make it my own. Communication is key—we’re in this together!
If you were to design your own wedding invitations today, what would they look like?
I’m not engaged but i’ve had the same boyfriend for 8 years. IF I were designing our wedding invitations (hint, hint Greg!) I think I would make them hand-lettered and simple. I’m really into brush lettering these days. I would pair them with different colorful patterned but somewhat coordinating envelope liners. Maybe include a quick painted sketch of our portraits somewhere. Making decisions for other people is much easier than making them for myself!
For couples trying to design their own wedding invitations, what advice would you give them?
Don’t do it! But seriously, good design is 10% natural ability and 90% hard acquired skill. You might have an eye for what looks good but there is a difference in being able to spot good design and producing it. Non-designers have a tendency to over design. An important part in being an effective designer is editing. If you don’t want to end up with an embarrassing, gaudy design, hire a graphic designer.
Most designers can work within your budget to give you something that will still represent your vision. You may need to make sacrifices but if you’re up-front about your budget, you can get something that won’t embarrass and still make you happy. If you have absolutely no budget or very little for invitations, think of alternate ways to invite your guests, something digital maybe.
Any suggestions for design tools that they could use at home?
Pre-made templates are good if you don’t have a strong independent vision for your wedding and you need something fast. But, if you want something personal and cohesive you need a creative ally. You don’t pay designers only for the finished product. You pay for expertise and skill.
Do you have any favorite local stationery shops around Birmingham that are worth checking out?
I try to support local businesses as much as I can. I like A’Mano in Mountain Brook Village. They have a small selection of stationery but it is well selected as well as a variety of art and gifts. I also like to support artists of any locale. Anthropologie and Paper Source have beautifully curated selections of stationery and paper products from independent artists and designers.
Any final design advice for couples deciding on their invitations?
I am speaking from experience here, proof read, proof read, proof read! You still have to pay for printing even if your name is spelled wrong. Take some time to find a designer that is going to be a good fit for your vision. Look at their portfolio and don’t be afraid to reach out with any questions you might have. Choose a designer you trust and stick with them. I know I’m speaking for all designers when I say we want happy customers!
I came upon this image deep in a Pinterest haze one day. After I pinned it, I kept thinking about it, wishing I had designed it. I have since seen it re-pinned a few times and started thinking about what specifically makes this design so appealing. Like any good creative, I needed to learn from it, I needed to know why I craved it so! For my first installment of “Design Dissect” I’m going to tell you five reasons why I think this design “works.”
1 :: The first thing that caught my eye is the mixture of two-dimensions and three-dimensions. This technique is not rare but I feel like it is rarely done successfully. In this design it is simple and not literal which makes it more interesting to me. They could have used an actual scoop of ice cream but they went more abstract which I like.
2 :: Next, I noticed the subtle color palette. Part of this is my own preference since I’m really into blush pinks and neutrals these days. I ultimately think it works because it is not screaming for attention. It stands out for its subtlety. Color is powerful.
3 :: Not to get real designer-y on you or anything but I am because the layout of this design is supreme. There is a clear hierarchy of elements. You eyes are drawn to the image which leads you to the title of the event then to the bolded text then to the secondary copy. Perfect.
4 :: This design employs a classic good design move: balanced type pairing. There are two different typefaces and each are used consistently and appropriately. It’s always nice to mix a san serif with a serif font. It is also smart practice to limit the amount of typefaces (usually two in a small design like this one).
5 :: Finally, this design has a touch of the unexpected which makes it more interesting and memorable. In design and art it is so important to be memorable especially if you are trying to sell something or advertise. I love how the designer broke the grid by placing the words “what’s not to love” like they are a cherry or candy peeking out of the ice cream. So smart!
*BONUS* The sixth and most obvious reason why this design is appealing is because it’s ice cream y’all! Man, I wish I could have gone to this event (although I don’t think it was a real event but I wish it were!).
I see you, www.sheisvisual.com. And I cannot wait to see more!
One Friday earlier in January Greg and I went to a favorite spot in our neighborhood, Hot Box, for dinner. As we were walking up to the airstream trailer to order (yes, really) I noticed a twenty dollar bill on the ground. I Asked the people around if it was theirs. No one claimed it. Mine! So, I used it to pay for our meal. Awesome, right? (Image above by me)
Two days later we went to The Summit to shop for Greg a new pair of jeans. As we were walking back to my car a delivery truck passed and we heard something fall out. We turned around to look and Greg says, “It’s meat!” We saw a car coming towards it so we had to decide right then what we were going to do… (Image)Obviously we stopped the car so that we could pick up TEN POUNDS OF FRESH GROUND BEEF that literally fell from the sky. Thanks Evans Meats! Do you know how much ground beef is going for per pound these days?! They happen to supply some of the nicest restaurants in town so you know it’s good quality. (Image)Two weeks later on a Saturday, Greg was scrolling through Facebook. He saw a post from one of our favorite venues, Iron City, about a surprise Blake Shelton concert that night. Normally you wouldn’t think of either of us as Blake Shelton fans but I am a big Gwen Stefani fan. Iron City was giving away free tickets to the first 1300 people that showed up RIGHT THEN… (Image)
We contemplated for about two minutes and decided it would be a fun time because Blake is funny and I might get to see Gwen in real life. We jumped in the car and made it to Iron City eighteen minutes after the post… (Image)
There was no line and we were about the 50th people to get tickets. Thirty minutes later there was a line around the building and people were getting turned away. We didn’t see Gwen but we still had a great time. I mean, we would never pay for Blake Shelton tickets anyway. (Image)
Be mindful, be present, be in the moment y’all. It also helps to be a little shameless. You never know what you will find. Be on the look out. (Image)
Have you every wondered what it means to be an illustrator? According to Wikipedia, “An illustrator is an artist who specializes in enhancing writing or elucidating concepts by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text or idea.” Of course this is the simplest most pared down definition.
Illustration blends the lines between designer and artist. When I was in design school at Auburn, we didn’t have an illustration major or minor. Some of my design classes had more of an illustration component than others. I also took illustration specific courses. Illustration is definitely a part of design but not all designers are illustrators and not all illustrators are designers. I’ve always had a propensity to drawing so I consider myself a designer and an illustrator.
If you’re still not sure on what an illustrator does, stay with me as I share some of my favorite illustrations in varying styles and applications.
You most likely have illustrations all over your house. Many times the cover on books is an illustration (and duh, children’s books!). You will also see illustrations accompanying articles in magazines. Jackie Magpie / Jen Collins
Illustrated recipes have been a thing here recently. You might also think about all those info graphics that have been popping up all over the place, those were probably made by an illustrator/designer. Corina Nika / Bene Rohlmann
A variety of materials and techniques like collage, watercolor, and stamping are used in illustration. Illustrations are sometimes turned into surface design like fabric or wallpaper. Brittany / Bouffants & Broken Hearts
These days (as in the technological era) illustrations can be colorized, enhanced, or entirely made on the computer. The best illustrations to me are the ones that are definitely started by hand. Once you have trained your eye you can spot the difference most of the time. Charlotte Farmer / Josh LaFayette (Classmate/Friend of mine from Auburn. Hey buddy!)
I hope you’ve learned a thing or two or at least enjoyed looking at pretty pictures. If you want to see more of my favorite illustrations head on over to my illustration Pinterest board. You can also check out some of my work in the ol’ portfolio.
Spring is the time to break out the pastels. I’m all Milli Vanilli about this mood board…. (I) Blame It On the Rain. I’ve really been drawn to powdery, steely blues. It reminds me of spring skies and foggy mornings. I love monochrome but I thought it would be fun exercise to take these colors and make a specific palette for each. I envision they could be used as a starting off point for a work of art, interior design, or graphic design branding. Colors can have different feelings depending on what other colors they are paired with. It’s important as a graphic designer to have a good understanding of color.
This is the most feminine of the color schemes. Because of that I feel like these colors would be great in fashion. I’m envisioning a flowy maxi dress in a painterly abstract pattern using these colors. With that, I could also see these colors working in a large scale abstract painting. Or even a color scheme for a sophisticated girl’s bedroom.
I think this color scheme would be great on packaging using the blue and gray as the base colors and the green and pink as accents. Maybe this would be packaging for cosmetics or for French macarons. Mmmm, macarons…. The colors are sweet but not sickly sweet.
This bunch feels the most “spring” to me. I could see these colors working for a fun, light-hearted brand. Maybe a children’s boutique or a juice bar. I like how the blue and green are calming and fresh while the purple and pink add a little bit of a punch.
This color scheme would be beautiful for a bedroom. It mixes femininity with masculinity and feels so cozy. Although the colors are mostly cool toned it still feels warm and calming. Accents of peachy-blush never get old to me and they pair so well with all kinds of blues.
This color scheme feels the most modern and clean. I could see these colors being used for a brand that wants to feel innovative and new. These colors also feel calming for something like a pilates studio or gym. The aqua brings some brightness to the otherwise neutral palette.
Side note: Pastels always look nice and fresh when paired with white and a little edgier when paired with black.
Let me know if you have a favorite palette!
So you have your shopping done, right? Now you need some gift tags? I got ya covered gurrrlll/duuudddee.
Last year I could not find gift tags I liked. I mean I could have just written the names straight on the package like my grandmother does but instead I went on a mad search. I found some cool free downloads from designers that I ended up using. So this year, I’m paying it forward y’all (it’s not just for the Starbucks line).
No strings attached (haha, literally you have to add your own strings) here you go:
Print them on 8.5 x 11 paper. I recommend using cardstock. After you print, just cut them out, punch you a hole, and put on a package! If you don’t have a printer, just take them on a flash drive to your local office supply store and they will print them off lickety split. (Always print extra incase you mess up!).
I took some time this summer to plan, gather, and narrow my creative thoughts. I felt spread too thin with too many ideas and possible directions. My life has continually been a journey of figuring out my passion. I feel like I can do anything I’m interested in (hello, I’m a millennial) but I know that is not rational nor feasible. So I read a few books, did some inner research, took a couple of ecourses, and talked to a creative entrepreneur coach (more on all of that later). I finally feel like I have a narrowed focus (but let’s be honest, I’m still dreaming of what’s next).
During and after college I knew I didn’t want to be a designer for a bank, law office, or any other super corporate-y business (which these jobs are most abundant). I do acknowledge they all need good design but just not from me. Thus I pursued other interests (ie, teaching art) and freelancing. Recently in my freelancing projects I noticed I was left wanting to do more! I wanted a complete picture, I wanted to design more for my clients. Like I said earlier, I took time to process all of my thoughts and I came to the conclusion: I want to work with other passionate creatives that want to make an impact in the world. This could include artists, yogis, stylists, restaurants, bakeries, florists, shops, nonprofits, etc. My focus with these passionate creatives is branding. To help make this happen, I have recruited some of my passionate creative friends in order to offer more complete branding packages. Check out my Services page if you are interested in more information on what I offer.
I want to use my blog to express my interests, connect, and overall have fun. I have planned out broad monthly themes in which I’ll connect most of my posts. I’ll also be posting in three main categories: Art, Design, and Lifestyle.
This month’s theme is LEARNING. I felt this was appropriate as I took some time to learn about myself and I’ll continue to learn as I go. I will be learning to manage this blog, my life, and the life I want to live. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner and I hope you are too. Happy August pals!
You know my 9-5 job or rather 7:45-3:15 job is teaching art at a public school just north of Birmingham. My school is around 600 students and I teach grades kindergarten THROUGH eighth grade. In October I attended the Alabama Art Educators Association Fall Conference (super inspiring and really fun!) that was held down in Orange Beach, AL. I was able to go because I won a scholarship from the Birmingham chapter that paid my way. This scholarship was funded by money raised at their first annual silent auction. I designed the poster for the auction last year and they asked me again if I would lend my services. I graciously accepted.
My creative process usually goes two ways. Sometimes I sketch and sketch and sketch. Then I narrow down on an idea that I think is working. Other times, I think and think and think. I’ll end up doing one or two sketches (usually on the same idea) and get down to business. This time it was the latter. I knew I wanted to do something simple with typography and incorporate the paintbrush that I used in last year’s poster. For some reason I always envisioned it in a light blue. So there you have it. A peek behind the curtain.
Here is this year’s poster for the event.
If you find yourself in Birmingham on March 7th, by all means stop by! Or if you want to donate to the cause let me know!
… Christmas decorations!
Y’all, I love Christmas but who doesn’t? Last year was the first year I bought Christmas decorations for my apartment. It was kind of on a whim. I didn’t think I was going to decorate and then at the last minute I was like, “I need some decorations or I’m going to be depressed!” I bought a few things and didn’t really plan out what I wanted it to look like. I went with a natural/plaid/traditional theme that incorporated some blue. I’m still using those decorations this year but I’m planning to stock up for next year when everything is on sale.
I already have a natural and mixed metals thing going on in my house. I like this option because it would incorporate easy and look cohesive with the rest of my decor. This feels understated but the shine of the metals make it festive.
I like this option because it is more modern but not so modern that it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Black makes the green really pop. I do have black furniture with neutral fabrics so it wouldn’t be a stretch for me to make this work at my house. Who says black isn’t a Christmas color?
I like this option because I can’t make up my mind. It combines everything I like and it all kind of goes together anyway. This is a winner!
You can always check out the rest of my inspiration for the holidays here.