Hard to believe, but it’s already been a year since I decided to dive into the sea of uncertainty that is freelancing. I’m happy to report that it’s been a fantastic ride, and I’ve been having more fun and more adventures than I ever anticipated for the first 12 months of this journey.
Looking back over my progress, I am most pleased to have found a niche in designing infographics. Hindsight is 20/20 and it seems so obvious from where I am now that this is where I was headed, but it really took having the flexibility and initiative to design/take projects around it in the last year that made it possible.
An added bonus for this new phase in my career has been the confidence I feel in my own abilities. I have had to put myself out there in ways I never had to before, and having a few more projects under my belt and a growing client list makes me feel like “I’ve got this.” It certainly still feels like a roller coaster, but I kind of enjoy the ebb and flow.
Most of all, I have had a ton of fun working on a variety of projects. Every one has its challenges and rewards, and I’m learning so much. Here are some highlights from what I’ve been working on in the last year.
San Francisco Infographic
Launch & Iterate Game Design for Google
Beyond the Sea Branding and Packaging Project
Fixated on Fernet Infographic
25 Classic Cocktails Poster
StumbleUpon Honey Infographic
Shadowbrook Restaurant Website and Social Media Graphics
Loving Pup Charity Logo & Website
Here’s to another year of fun projects and learning!
I was very happy to help this young, energetic non-profit get off the ground earlier this year. Called Loving Pup (if I recall my conversation with the founder correctly, I believe there is a play on words about a song called “Loving Cup” they attributed the name to), this non-profit organization is raising funds to help families pay for vital veterinary care they otherwise may not be able to afford.
Their dog Kaelen
Moved by an emergency operation they had to perform on their own beloved dog, Kaelen, they were struck by the high cost of emergency veterinary care and having been involved with local animal rescue for years, they bemoaned how some pet owners might have had to choose to put their animal down instead of pay for their emergency services and wanted to offer people an alternate option. They had already started getting their project off the ground when a mutual friend put us in touch to have me work on their logo and website needs. The name having been decided, they sent me some ideas for logos they liked and were hoping to have a similar feel to. They also wanted to incorporate their own pets into the graphic, and to be clear that their charity while called Loving “Pup” was not for dogs only, to include their cat, too.
We decided to go with a variety of bright, fun colors in the background for them to pick and choose from so that the pink of a heart didn’t dominate the feel of the site or project. I chose the green to work with on the website. For their site, I set them up with a solution using Squarespace. I put together the backend set-up, working with an existing template and uploading custom images and graphics to fill it out and give it the right character. The site is a very simple portal to link people to the cause, accept donations, and hopefully soon, get information about upcoming events.
They are starting small, working around their home base in Morristown, New Jersey, providing funds to local vets in their area, but hope to expand as the non-profit gets off the ground. Check them out at www.lovingpup.org.
I really enjoyed working on the mock ups for this rebranding project. The mission was to bring back to life a mom & pop business located out of San Francisco that has been making all natural, organic soaps and beauty & healing products for decades. They used to have a brick and mortar shop, but gave it up years ago and have been working out of their home doing online sales here and there. My clients were excited by the idea of updating their brand to be more modern in order to capture some of the business bigger brands offering similar products have been getting.
Background: The company name “Beyond the Sea” was inspired by the Bobby Darin song of the same name, and they intended to keep the continuity of the name. Their original branding included an image of a mermaid, and wanted to keep her in the logo. They wanted to stress the value of their product, and their commitment to using natural ingredients. I absorbed those criteria and applied a few of my own desires to the project. I wanted to make sure the product would stand out on a shelf with similar products; I wanted to make it feel as light-hearted as the song is; I wanted to incorporate bold but natural colors and patterns; I wanted to use materials that felt or looked natural or handmade.
Step one was defining the color palette. I put together a pinterest board with some inspiring images and color samples to get me going. I chose faded beach colors that I felt were relaxed and fun, and that I felt worked well together.
Then I made a few patterns that worked with those colors. 2 kinds of waves, shells, and kelp. I could make so many more patterns like this. It was a lot of fun.
Next, I set up a few mock ups based on the products they had available, so, soaps, a spritzer, body butter, and moisturizer. The labels would ideally be printed on a natural, possibly even handmade paper. There are two layers, first the patterned paper underneath, topped with a with a sandlike patterned, cream paper for the product info to be printed on.
Finally, I made a website front page mock-up to show what style site I had in mind for showcasing their product. I grabbed a stock soap image, but preferably would have actual product images in that hero space. I incorporated the patterns and colors I made in both the background, and for some fun hover effects.
I was a really fun project, and look forward to digging deeper when it comes time to realize the mock ups into actual products.
I worked on a personal branding project for a client who made a move from Seattle to Monterey. I worked up a change of address card showing the move from “the Space Needle to the Cypress Needles” and worked in an illustration of one of my favorite trees here in California, the Monterey Cypress, using a California Craftsman style, with the warm earth tones, art nouveau inspired curves, and outlined shapes. I wanted the overall shape of the tree to parody the shape of the space needle, as I had originally thought a 2 sided mailer would look neat if they lined up, but changed the plan when I decided to make it a postcard instead of a stuffed mailer. The shapes are still similar, but I relaxed the curves of the tree which I think worked out much better in the long run.
Knowing my client loves the color cobalt blue, I worked that in to the overall branding, including envelopes, which I think will really pop when compared to other mail. I included a design for a regular natural colored envelope as well, matching the paper used for the letterhead, and printed a blue bordered version of her branding directly on the envelope.
I recently worked on a project for an entrepreneur who has a few apps out there, but the most recent one is called ifAnyone. It’s a Facebook app that you can program to search through your news feed for keywords you find relevant, so that in case your stream is too much to keep up with, you won’t miss anything that you might actually be interested in. It’s a clever way to sort through the onslaught of Facebook data out there.
My charge was to help him set up a landing page that would quickly describe the program and link directly to the in-Facebook app. He asked for “friendly and professional” and after a few ideas back and forth, the final result ended up having bright cartoon elements, both with little Facebook cartoon avatars and the star blast background, while still holding up a straight-forward, easy to read layout. I had fun creating the little characters (always nice to get in a little illustration where you can). I also had fun with the mock names, which I was glad my client was on board to play around with.
I also made business cards utilizing most of the graphic elements of the landing page for a cohesive branding.
Finding a new job is difficult for anyone, especially when the economy’s still suffering, but I can only talk about my own experience as a designer, and I have to say, it’s really difficult to get your foot in the door anywhere. One pretty serious mistake I made after graduating college was leaving my network behind.
So how does one move along without word of mouth or referrals? Well, you have to really impress someone, I think. So, I was browsing through a few job descriptions online, and this one for Airbnb really stood out to me. It was one of those descriptions that really excited my interest and felt like it was made for me. So I went into cover letter mode, and was going into great lengths to describe how and what I would do for their company when I just sort of said to myself, “do it, don’t say it.” I am a visual designer, after all. I think it’s more appropriate to show them what you can do, versus make them take your word for it. Of course, it’s terribly impractical to put this many hours of effort into what is essentially a job application, but when you think it’s the perfect job, and at an amazing company, I think it warrants the extra effort.
So for a little background, Airbnb is a VC backed start-up that has made a business of turning every day people into vacation home/room renters. Basically, if you have a spare room, you can make a little extra cash by renting it out to tourists and travlers. On the flip side, you as a traveler get the chance to stay with cool, local people, making your travels that much more engaging. I love the idea, and happen to love traveling, so it seems like a perfect arrangement for me.
As for their design, it is really exceptional. Their website is clean, simple, straightforward, and fun. Their mobile UI is so easy to use, and the graphics they’ve made to highlight special deals or places of interested are visually rich and engaging, and often verge on punning, which is delightful.
Pulling from my own love for vintage/retro graphics, and the company’s status as a travel company, I decided to create a resume that emulated the look and feel of 1960’s travel documents. Overall summary of items in resume package: Passport, Boarding Pass, Luggage Tag, and Safety Guidelines Card.
To start, I decided my own personal logo wasn’t going to evoke the right feeling for the piece, so created a logo for the project that I felt captivated the look of a mid 20th Century travel company. Of the many logos I referenced, the elements I liked and took for my own were those that were bold, monochromatic, usinga modern-looking font accompanied by a script, and somehow incorporated a wing-like graphic. My color scheme is my own, using a dark warm red and a light mossy green, which I thought worked well for the period piece I was creating (what, you think I should have gone with avocado, brown and orange instead? Don’t forget the goal is to suggest I have good taste).
First piece, the Passport, was the perfect vehicle for laying down my previous work experience, suggesting all the places I’ve worked previously are analogous to the places I’ve traveled to. It took a few google searches to find reference material for what passports in the 1960’s looked like. I finalized a version that had the US seal as a watermark on the interior pages, along with an archaic security pattern printed in the background. I also took a a new “passport-like” photo and edited it to look aged (the paper, of course, not my face). Remember how to bind the single signature book took a few times, but I think I finally got it. Making the rubber stamp graphics was definitely a challenge. Using a font and trying to adjust filters and brushes in photoshop was looking really photoshopped, so I instead hand typed out all the images, inked (and smudged) them, scanned them in, and edited a little more from there.
Next came the boarding pass. As they are more like evidence of where you will be traveling, I liked the idea of making it my objective statement, stating the “desired destination” as the position at their company, and the to and from fields being “from my current position to Airbnb”.
The luggage tag, which fits into the “travel documents” folder along with the boarding pass is actually a link to my portfolio website. I mean, my previous work is kind of like baggage, though with a more positive connotation.
Finally, the Safety Guidelines Card is probably the most adventurous of the bunch. Mimicking the safety cards you never actually bother to read when flying, my “guidelines” highlight my skills and interests in the same illustrative style as an old fashioned card. I think it most effectively describes me visually, in ways a typical cover letter never could.
The only thing I think that is missing from the total package is the air sickness bag. I’m sure you can imagine why I felt including that would send the wrong message. Now fingers crossed that they give me a call!