December 29, 2010

Side Projects & Theories

I thought I would share with you some recent design jobs I have been working on. One professional, one not, but it's all practice to me and it's always fun to share :)

One request was from my brother-in-law who is getting back into running his own glass and screen company and needed some new business cards. From our consultation I could tell he needed something that would stand out and send a clear message to his potential customers.

After some minor edits, here is how the finished product turned out...

Shortly after completing it I realized I had subconsciously designed his cards with Cowboy colors without even realizing it (Andrew is a huge Cowboys fan)! Hehe.

And just so you all know, Andrew is legit in his business. He knows everything there is to know about windows, he does all of his own consulting, measuring, delivery and installation and only has one employee- himself- which means you get the best deal without any overhead costs. You know you have been meaning to replace those 1970's windows for years now, so what if it was actually affordable and you could easily earn back the money spent by having a lower heating & A/C bill? Not to mention a more comfortable home. Instead of hiring the pricey workers at Home Depot, why not try him out? He will most likely beat any price you have been quoted! Call the number and he will hook you up! (local orders in Utah only)

* * *

I also recently got the pleasure of doing a small favor for a friend at work. She purchased a home beer brewing kit as a Christmas present for her Dad complete with beer bottles and everything. She wanted to add a personalized touch by adding his very own beer bottle labels! (It really helps that we work at a printing company or else this could get complicated!)

With Christmas swiftly approaching, I ended up having only one night to complete this project for her. I usually will spend hours and hours, coming up with several different ideas, repeatedly editing until it's perfect for review. I like providing people with choices so they have a better chance of really liking one, and then when they pick their favorite I go through a series of edits until it's perfect for them.

But since I just had a few measly evening hours to work on it, I only had time to come up with one design. Nervous, I carried my laptop in the next day afraid of what she would think... and to my surprise, she loved it! We changed some minor things like adjusting one of the fonts and line colors, and when it was printed on brown craft paper, it looked SO awesome!

I didn't get a picture, so I added the craft paper effect to give you a better idea of how it turned out:

And now for...

Kristen's Design & Marketing Tangent:

At my last job (the one I quit) I remember one day this poor guy came in trying to market his trumpet skills. He brought these plain white business cards with his name and number and some random trumpet clip art. It was awful. It didn't even say what he did or what business he was in. He ended up spending a good 20 minutes talking to the receptionist while I listened in my office, laughing uncontrollably. He actually went through each one, and with a pen he wrote his title, something like, "Trumpet Player for your events". It was sad. When he finally left the receptionist showed me the cards, and upon close inspection we realized they reeked of his cologne! It was awful... like what I would imagine "Sex Panther" by Odeon in Anchorman would smell like.... "it stung the nostrils." And not in a good way.

So, where do you think these lovely business cards were placed?

That's right, the trash can. That may sound rude, but am I really going to refer our clients to some random, pen writing, awful smelling, sad little trumpet player? NO!

The point is: First impressions are everything. If you are serious about wanting a successful business, then you need to promote yourself with some really nice and professional looking marketing materials that will send a clear message on what you offer. They might keep it, and if it stands out in the junk drawer, their wallet, or their car, then that's a chance for them to call you when they might need your service. If not, it may just look like trash and get thrown away, which is just a waste of time and money on your part.

Let's be real, everyone always comes across a time or two when they have needed some design work done. From what I have witnessed, most people try to either do it by themselves or hire a pricey designer.

That's where I might be able to help! Contact me through email ( and we can discuss your design needs and budget friendly pricing in detail :)

December 28, 2010

Merry (Late) Christmas!

I'm just gonna say it... I've been slacking! Mostly because it's the holidays and I find myself eating, drinking, and being merry rather than focusing on my school work. (Paul would be so disappointed in me...)

Really though, this whole "one drawing a day" thing is getting old pretty quick. I know it should only take a half hour a day and at first it doesn't sound too bad, but it's kind of like exercising...

You know how it goes... things are going well for a while and then one day you think, "I've been so good, I could miss one day no prob!" And of course that one day turns into a week, then a whole month goes by and as you sit down and get ready to eat a bowl of ice cream you somehow end up watching The Biggest Loser and think, "Ohhh yeahhh......." and instantly feel like a pile of fat.

I really admire those dedicated athletes that work out every day like I admire what I call "true" artists that find the time to create something every day because they feel a physical, mental, or emotional need to do it.

Me? I'm more physically, mentally, and emotionally drawn to watch reality TV.

Damn you, Jersey Shore!!!

Well, remember one of my previous posts where I mentioned my lack of inspiration when it comes to drawing with no references? Well, I did try it out and I think I did OK. I just sat down and drew what I was thinking of, and that was easy because it was Christmas time!

I know Christmas is over and this post is late but I just wanted to wish everyone a...

Hope you all got lots of...

and wrote your letters to Santa...

Now it's time to take down the tree and start getting ready to celebrate the new year!

I'm thinking one of my new year's resolutions should be to stop procrastinating so much  :)

December 23, 2010

The 27th Letter Project

So you might have read my last post called The Stupid Pretty Girl where I summed up my first excruciating experience with Illustrator... and while it might have been humorous, 'twas not so while being the one going through it...

I forced myself to go back and try again, not that I really had a choice because this would be the last day I could work on it before the project was due. And the fact that I won't receive my Macbook computer until my second term, my two hour class time would be my only time slot to get it done.

And folks, I'm very happy to say.....


What do you think?

It was actually fun once I started figuring out all of the secrets. I felt redemption. Like saying, "See! I'm not such an idiot after all!"

A few helpful things I encountered the 2nd go-around...

1. My teacher asked the other teacher to switch class rooms, so everyone would be in the Mac Lab with me and I wouldn't be surrounded by strangers :)

2. When I asked a question people would try to press the buttons on my keyboard or click my mouse, basically do it for me. You know what I did? I smacked their hand and yelled, "LET ME DO IT!" Not in a psycho sort of way, but seriously, if I don't physically hit the buttons myself I will never remember!

3. I asked more specific questions, and got more specific answers. But this time, since I half knew what I was doing, I was able to figure out a lot on my own and solved a lot of my own issues without sounding like a hopeless hobo begging for change.

I ended up finishing the project Monday and turned it in last night. I think the teacher likes it, and even if he finds imperfections, I'm very happy and very proud of myself that it's completed and looks decent! I was an Illustrator virgin, and now I at least have one notch in my belt. I can't wait to see what other projects I can tackle with this program.

And on a side note, I'm really starting to enjoy the school and love it for what it is. I think I was expecting too much and it was making me sound like a snob...

So it's not an uppity big town university, big deal.

So the teacher sometimes watches Youtube videos of British comedy while laughing so loud I sometimes cringe... so what?

We joke, we laugh, but the important thing is that I'm still learning. They are art nerds, as am I, and somehow, someway, I fit in.

Speaking of fitting in, I think I have made a friend in Paul, who I can't even begin to describe since he is such a unique soul, but it's amazing how even though we are almost complete opposites, we share a lot in common when it comes to our goals in school. He is probably the only other student in my class that is taking this seriously, even more seriously than me to the point where he goes above and beyond with every assignment, turning them in super early, adding things to it that were not required, and still coming to class even though he has nothing to work on just because he wants perfect attendance. It's incredible and disturbing at the same time. Whether he's just extremely passionate or has too much time on his hands, it doesn't matter, because at least he is giving me some friendly competition which I needed so badly.

He even gave his letter a sound.... "Craw." Yes, you read correctly, "CRAW!" as in the sound a crow makes. He is so proud of it too, it's hilarious.

Now the only question left is... what sound does my letter make?!

December 20, 2010

*NEW* Free Giveaways!

Hi everyone! :)

So, since writing my last post I was trying to think of some fun incentives to engage my readers. In the spirit of Christmas I came across an idea...

What do you think of a "Drawing Giveaway" every month?

It would go like this...

*Whoever leaves the most comments (maximum of 1 per post) in one month's time will receive a matted photo copy of one of my drawings of their choice and it will be mailed to you for free!

*If it's a tie then I will write everyone's names down, throw them in a bowl, and pick a winner at random.

*The winner will be announced and spotlighted in my first post of the month :)

Keep in mind...

*You will need to leave a comment on my actual blog (not on Facebook) for your comments to count.

*You need to either be a follower or an email subscriber of my blog.

*Comments will only be counted for the month of the drawing (for example if it is for January's giveaway I will only be counting comments from January's posts, not older ones)

Obviously, in the future I hope to be able to give away bigger and better things, but for now my drawings will just have to do! I think it would be a fun way to show my appreciation towards my readers who are so supportive, and hopefully gain new readers as I go along.

We'll see how it goes... and if people don't care about my drawings, well, then I will have to think of something else! LOL

I'm going to start this in January, so remember....

Leave a comment!!! :)

December 18, 2010

My Vision

This post is inspired by my current job at Ferrari Color (which I am loving, by the way).

On my first day the owner personally walked me through a power point presentation of their vision, their goals, and their mission statement. It's such a great reminder to not only the employees, but the owners as well. How many times do we do start something for a specific reason, but over time we forget our purpose? How many businesses start off well with fresh thoughts and dreams, only to lose themselves in money and power? It made me think that if businesses do this to stay focused, why not people?

So today I figured  I would share with you what my personal goals were for starting this blog in the first place:

1. To share with my friends and family my most intimate thoughts and experiences as I venture towards becoming a graphic designer.

2. To keep everyone up to date with what's happening in my life, because let's be honest, it's easier then making a bazillion personal phone calls.

3. To have an audience so that I keep my standards high. Lets face it, everyone does better when they know someone is watching.

4. To have a reason to keep going, because I wouldn't want to disappoint anyone by giving up on my dream.

5. To have a support system so that if I'm feeling like a failure, I have a foundation that will be there for me through the rough parts of my journey.

6. To practice my God-given talents through visual and written communication.

7. To build up my confidence and better my artwork by listening to helpful comments and feedback.

8. To slowly but surely grow my blog's popularity and someday reach thousands of people worldwide.

9. To build up a network of fans of my work, so that if I do have a business in the future these fans will not only think of me when they need an artist's touch, but will also refer me to their friends and family.

10. To simply inspire people.

In order to reach these goals I encourage you all to help out in some very small ways...

To my fellow bloggers... if you haven't already, please follow me and add my link to your list of favorite blogs :)

For those who do not blog, please subscribe by email. And if you love my post, share it by forwarding to others who you think may like it too.

If you are an avid reader, don't be shy... leave a comment! Every comment is another boost for me, and I appreciate every one of them.

If I have other artists out there, critique me! I do love a nice compliment, but what I love more is a criticism so I know what I can improve on.

If you see my links on Facebook, like it! The more likes, the more I become part of the "Top News" and that means more possible readers.

And to all my current followers, subscribers, commenters, and likers...
THANK YOU x1,000,000! :) I love you so much... you know who you are!!!

I'll be honest, I do have big dreams of making this blog a popular site, and I know it will probably take years, but every little bit of support helps. I see some of my favorite blogs today (see my list of "Personal Favorites" on the right hand side) and they inspire me to someday become that large of an influence on people. I would love to eventually have businesses want to advertise on my site and then be able to give back by doing free giveaways and prizes for my fans. That would be SO awesome!!

Obviously, to reach my goal of becoming a graphic designer would be an amazing accomplishment, but to be able to inspire thousands would definitely be the ultimate prize. 

As the late Marilyn Monroe once said, 

December 16, 2010

The Stupid Pretty Girl

So, last night in my Typography class I had my first ordeal with Illustrator...

...let's just say my experience included a mini anxiety attack, several waves of embarrassment, the reaching of maximum frustration...and oh yes, there were tears.

Seriously people, I think I went from being optimistic to depressed in the span of 30 seconds. And no, I'm not bipolar.

Let me bring you to the beginning....

We were given our first project called "The 27th Letter" which requires you to create an additional letter of the alphabet using your creativity. I needed to create uppercase and lowercase versions of my letter and then design it using the same styling as a specific font type of my choice (such as Baskerville, Garamond, Helvetica...etc.).

To be able to do this project we needed to use Illustrator, which at first I was really excited about. After all, this was the main reason why I want to attend school so I could learn the software graphic designers use. I noticed a lot of students in the class were complaining about Illustrator and how they hated using it, however, I remained fairly confident that I could handle it. Not phased by the fact that I was the only one in my class with no Illustrator experience, I took a fearless approach to the project and knew I would create a really amazing design in the end.

The teacher brought us into the "Mac Lab" where another class was already going on consisting of many experienced design students. He started his demonstration and projected the computer screen onto the white board so everyone could see. He asked for my letter sketches and began giving an example of how to do the project using one of my favorite designs. The trick was to take bits and pieces of common letters and use them to form our new letter making adjustments as we go along.

It all seemed so simple!

I was amazed to see how many unlimited things you could do with the program. I thought to myself, "This is GENIUS!" It seemed user-friendly and somewhat like Publisher (stress on the 'somewhat') so I figured I would try it out on my own...


So my teacher walks out of the room, says to ask the teacher in the class if I needed any help, and left me.  I instantly felt like a baby bird inching towards the edge of my nest, observing my weak wings, afraid of plummeting to the ground. But I puffed up my chest and took a leap...

I first try selecting the letter and using the eraser. No go. I failed at using the ERASER of all tools... for god sakes! Clicking in panic mode, I ask the guy next to me for a hint. He clearly wasn't amused by my interruption, grabbed my mouse and starting clicking on things I didn't understand. Then I hear shouting from the other students on what to do... "Click this!" "Hit Shift (something)!" "Hit Control (something)!" A wave of embarrassment came over me.

I always felt a little out of place in this school, being that I'm the only one in my class unaware of the Japanese alphabet, Kanji (and that's only one example). In fact, one of my 27th letter sketches that I was going to use was later pointed out to me that it was the Japanese letter for "sa." I thought to myself, "HOW DO THEY  EVEN KNOW THAT?!"

They are as to History Channel as I am to E! News... Antiques Roadshow is to America's Next Top Model.

They study books about culture, and I read Marie Claire.

They didn't even know what "Smizing" and "RDJ" meant... HE-LLOOOO!

To put it plainly, I feel like the stupid pretty girl... like Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.

I was already feeling dumb enough when I realized the last 15 minutes of my retarded looking design work was still being displayed on the white board.


Thanks for the cherry on top of my sped sundae.

Not to mention I think the teacher was irritated with me because I would ask him how to do something, he would show me and walk away, and I as I tried to move on to the next step I would get stuck, yet again. I clearly didn't know what the %&$# I was doing and I was starting to get annoyed with my own voice asking for help. Upon further struggle, I felt my face getting hot and an overwhelming urge to get up and leave the room.

Thankfully my teacher ("Momma Bird") came back to rescue me as I almost hit the ground. He asked if I needed help, and with a discouraged nod, he pulled up a chair and I started over.

He began walking me through each step and patiently answered every question I had (even the millionth one). I think he could tell I was frustrated and wasn't used to feeling so behind. That was the worst part... because up until last night I felt like I was in the top of my class. My lack of design knowledge was starting to show and I was slowly sinking to the bottom.

The class came to an end and I drove home feeling like a failure. I called my husband and during my explanation of my rough night I started to break down and cry. He reminded me this was my first time working with Illustrator and that I shouldn't feel so bad about it.

Of course he was right... he's always right. Inside I knew I was overreacting but I guess I'm just used to naturally being good at things the first time around, or at least decent. I wasn't expecting to be utterly, ridiculously, and hopelessly lost. My perfectionist mentality was beginning to work against me.

After a drink with Captain Morgan and a few belly laughs later, I realized that just because I don't know what I'm doing now doesn't mean that I won't be great at it in the future. And just because I don't know Kanji doesn't mean I'm not smart. My celebrity gossip knowledge will somehow pay off in the future...

And I know I will figure it out eventually, and maybe with a little patience, eventually will soon be today.

What frustrating experiences have you had that would put mine to shame? 
Please leave a comment below with your story!

December 14, 2010

Endangered Species Project

This last week in my drawing class we were given an assignment to research the current endangered species list and pick one animal to draw. I had no clue just how many species were endangered until being given this project... it was so sad!

After careful consideration and several Google image searches, I decided on the Chimpanzee:

"The exact population of chimpanzees in the wild is unknown, but experts believe that there may be 190,000 left in the wild as of 2008. Threats to the species include habitat destruction due to human expansion, hunting, and commercial trapping for the animal trade." 

I didn't even realize that chimps were endangered in the first place, which is why when I saw this photo I fell in love with the sense of desperation in its eyes and the message it would send. However, when I noticed its deep set eyes, wrinkled hands, and massive amounts of hair, I knew the detail work would be quite the challenge!

You would figure drawing an animal would be somewhat easy, but I found my experience drawing this chimp to be very similar to drawing a portrait of a person, which, if you want it to look right, requires intense concentration and attention to detail. One of my favorite art teachers in high school always advised that drawing was 90% observation and only 10% real drawing. I thought of that advice very often while working on this one!

Since I only had one week to finish the project, I spent A LOT of time on it. Mostly with the shading... oh my goodness the SHADING! It was insane....

I started with the face, then the ears, then the hands. I was getting excited to finish, but as you can see there was a ton of overwhelming white space left...

After much procrastination I had finally finished (an hour before my class started!) and here it is:

PHEW! :)

How do you think it turned out?

December 09, 2010

WANTED: Inspiration!

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."  
~Mark Twain

I have found that the hardest part of keeping up with these journal drawings is finding the inspiration. I notice myself searching around the house for subjects and hurrying while trying to draw them as realistic as possible.

While I enjoy this type of drawing technique, I can't help but feel a little uninspired observing the same surroundings in my home every day. I'm pretty sure I'm going to run out of ideas soon...

I came home from school last night and showed my husband the artwork I had been working on. After discussing different types of drawing, my husband said, "The best art comes from what's inside your head." And that's when it hit me... I got the technique down, but now I need to draw from my imagination.

While it sounds simple, I'm finding this hard to do.

It's so weird, I used to doodle all the time, anytime I had paper, even on the margins of my homework assignments. I remember carrying a drawing pad to church every Sunday and coming up with these really crazy drawings, mostly people and animals, but without any references other than my brain. I still have boxes of my artwork all the way back from when I was 5 years old and I'm still amazed with how I came up with the stuff!

I can't help but wonder... where did all that imagination go?! Have I become one of those adults that has become full of responsibility and maturity? In the midst of growing up, when did I move my innocent childhood imagination to an old trunk in the attic? I can't seem to remember where I put it....

So folks, while I'm searching for this trunk of imagination I hope you enjoy the last of my realistic drawings (for now at least):

I decided for the next week I am challenging myself to tap into my childhood mind and just doodle whatever I feel like...without references or expectations. We will see with what I come up with....

...until next time! :)

December 07, 2010

More Journal Drawings!

Before I post any more drawings please just keep in mind these drawing subjects are completely random and the crappy photography is done by my oh-so-professional camera phone! Wish I had some kind of theme going on but for now I shall call this collection "Random Objects Kristen Suddenly Decides to Draw."

My good friend Kelsea came over the other day and we were both working on our homework assignments. Uninspired by my usual surroundings I decided to draw Kelsea! Why not? It had been quite a while since I had drawn a person (hmmm maybe 3-4 years give or take?) so I figured a quick sketch would test my abilities to see where I was at.

And this is how it turned out...

It's rough, I know. But this took me about 20 minutes, so its unfinished, but I kinda like it that way. What do you think? Do I still got it?!

I must have been on a live subject kick because next I decided to draw Nelly, my little female dachshund!

 Also quickly done, and not an exact look-a-like, but hey, it's good enough!

This next drawing is this brass deer sculpture looking thing... I'm pretty sure my husband told me he found this little guy in a box at his work with a bunch of other brass sculptures, mostly animals. They were pretty cool looking so I have them scattered around on bookcases and such.

Honestly, it reminded me of one of Santa's reindeers, so it tied in with the Christmas season... and speaking of the season, am I the only one having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit this year? I have even watched "Elf" twice now and still nothing.


Maybe "Home Alone" will do the trick.

Anyway, with this drawing I thought the texture would be fun since you can see a lot of contrast in the darks and lights. I think it's one of my favorite shading projects I've ever done. And here he (or she?) is...

....and no, it's not getting ready to take a dump, even though it kind of looks like it! LOL

So, which one is your favorite? :)

December 05, 2010

RoverWrap Logo Designs

Recently, I had the pleasure of working on some logo designs for a relative I had met over the summer. She has this awesome business in making blankets for small breed dogs and she was looking for a fresh new look to help make her company stand out. This was technically my first favor for someone with a real business so I was nervous/excited, but definitely more excited :)

She originally asked for something possibly with a blue/brown or pink/brown color scheme and stressed a high importance on a "boutique" theme. This was going to be so much fun!

I got busy right away and worked on several different ideas (with my unemployment streak I definitely had some useful time on my hands!) and sent them over to her to see if I was on the right track. 

Here is the first draft of ideas...

She liked all of them, but after careful review and consideration from her family and friends, she decided on the light pink & white striped logo. Great choice! We added the paw print, made some shaping edits, and did up some abbreviated "RW" logos. 

After the final edits and approval, RoverWrap has got itself some fabulous new looks!


This last summer I had won a RoverWrap of my own and my little Sammy loves it! The fabric is so soft and comfortable they just can't resist it! If you have a small dog that likes to be buried in blankets or just needs a warm place to snuggle or travel in, then check out RoverWrapTM today! They have all sorts of fun designs and colors to choose from and easy ordering can be done online. They also make great Christmas gifts for the dog lover in your family!

Designing these logos was just way too much fun for me! Mostly because I got a taste of what I would like to be doing professionally someday. I'm thinking of maybe starting up a small business of my own... hmmmm :)

I would just like to say thanks to Lori for taking a chance on an amateur like myself and for giving me this opportunity! I wish you and your business all the best!

NOTE: Please be nice and do not steal, copy, or use any of the logos and designs you see in this post. Thank you.

December 01, 2010

Christmas Snowman Drawing

I drew another picture today :)

This time I chose one of my Christmas decorations as the subject....