Inspirational Friday #2

It's almost September already! Where has this year gone?? Here's what's inspiring me in August.

Still dreaming about my future home office. It's going to be light and bright, like this space! (I'll take that skull print, too)

Mary Kate McDevitt is one of my favorite lettering artists!

Great quote on this poster (I'm a sucker for inspirational quotes).

Maiden Voyage is one of my favorite Etsy shops! This shirt is featured in my profile picture.

Waiting for this artist to restock her shop, because I LOVE these intricately painted animal totems. I need them all!

Looking at sketches by Leah Goren gives me screen-printing ideas! Animals + screen print = love

I've been in the mood for vectorized drop caps!

And last but not least, I'll leave you with some words of wisdom.

What has inspired you this week? If you're digging this post, follow me on Pinterest for more! Happy Friday!

Photo Roundup: August

Hello! Here I am with another monthly series: Photo Roundup! Some of you might have been around last year when I tried my hands at Project 365, where you take photos every day for a year. I only lasted a few weeks before realizing I just didn’t have the time to continue. Bummer, right? I might try Project 365 again in the future, but in the meantime, I’m going to post my photography once a month. The goal is to force myself to use my camera more so I can continue learning. Between our volunteering at the zoo and some fun trips coming up, I’ll have lots of opportunities to blow the dust off my DSLR!

Meet Eduardo, the three-banded armadillo! He was out on display during a Zoo fundraiser,
and I couldn’t stop snapping photos of him. Too cute!

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I went to an organic dairy farm with my friend over at The Mobile Monger and got
up close and personal with some baby cows!

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The Seattle LGBT community held a vigil in June after the Orlando nightclub shootings. I was very moved by all the people who showed up, filling the park to show their support.

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My cousin’s kids are so much fun! We got to spend some time with them in late June during our family vacation in Iowa.

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I still have a ton of camera cards to clean out, but I hope you enjoyed this batch of photos. I'm flying back to Minneapolis at the end of the month to go to the Minnesota State Fair (corn dogs, yay!). I'll be excited to share some of those photos with you next time! Is anyone else messing around with their camera and trying to figure out their style?

Portfolio Makeover: 5 Step Plan

I graduated from art school back in 2008 and I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve been toting the same design portfolio around all these years. It’s in serious need of an over-haul! Every creative person knows it’s important to keep your body of work up-to-date, because your style naturally changes over time. Adding and removing pieces keeps the variety of work fresh and cohesive. When’s the last time you updated your portfolio? Are you in the same boat as me right now? If so, it’s time to abandon ship and get to work!

How do we undertake the huge process of re-working our portfolio, and how do we fight the anxiety? My weapons of choice this time around are planning, research and inspiration. I’ve created a 5-step list to help navigate the process and make it feel less overwhelming.

I’ve come to the realization that I’ll need to create brand new work for my portfolio because the current examples are outdated, but thinking about all that work gives me paralyzing anxiety. That’s the reason I haven’t updated in so long. Your portfolio is a very personal body of work. It defines who you are as an artist, and sells you to potential employers and clients. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself! Also, making new pieces takes a hefty chunk of time (and stress!). 

How do we undertake the huge process of re-working our portfolio, and how do we fight the anxiety? My weapons of choice this time around are planning, research and inspiration. I’ve created a 5-step list to help navigate the process and make it feel less overwhelming.

Step 1: Cull

Look through your portfolio and pull out any outdated pieces, work that no longer speaks to you or represents you as a designer today. You might not need to completely over-haul your body of work. See if there are any old pieces you want to keep or update, and recycle them to save yourself time.

I realized I needed to make several new pieces of work after I took a helpful class on Skillshare. It’s called Expressing Yourself with Personal Passion Projects, and you’re asked a simple question: What are you passionate about and how can you convey that in your work? The goal is to create fulfilling art that is distinctively ‘you’, not only showcasing your skills, but also highlighting who you are. Ask yourself what your dream portfolio would look like.

Step 2: Skills and Strengths 

You’ll know how many new pieces to create after you thoroughly cull your portfolio. I like to make lists to help with my brainstorming process, so I started listing out my relevant skills and strengths. Are you good at photography? Illustration? Typography? Photo manipulation? Website design? UX/UI? Are you strong at web design, print, or both? Let your skills guide you in deciding what types of pieces to create.

For my work, I want to show a good balance of web and print design, with a focus on typographic elements, hand lettering, vector shapes, and a dash of screen-printing.

Step 3: Passions and Interests

This is the part where you sit down and think about what message your body of work will convey. What are your passions? What type of work do you do in your spare time? What do you someday hope to be paid to do for a living? In other words, find what you love and love what you do. List out anything you can think of, even if it seems silly. You can go back later and sort the list.

I’m really passionate about environmental and wildlife conservation, human rights, and travel. I’ll be incorporating these passions, at varying degrees, into my new projects. I’m not passionate about sports (sorry sports fans) or theater, so you won’t see that reflected in my portfolio.

Step 4: Form Projects

Now that you know what skills and passions you want to incorporate, you can start thinking about what type of projects you want to make. Combine steps 2 and 3 to form project ideas. Maybe I’ll make a vector illustration of an endangered species, screen-print a travel poster, or re-design the website of a local nonprofit. While I’m at it, I could even re-design their logo.

This is also the step where I’ll gather inspiration (think pinterest, art museums, or design books) to help get the wheels turning. There are lots of projects out there with unlimited possibilities. Narrow the ideas down to a handful so you can build a strong portfolio.  

Step 5: Goal Setting

We should have a good list of projects at this point, with a vague idea of what our new pieces will look like. Setting goals for completion is something I find very helpful, and it eases the overwhelming feeling you get when you first sit down to work. I like to plan out when I’ll complete each new piece, and list out what resources I might need.

I have a full time job, so I know my personal time is limited. That means it wouldn’t be practical to set goals of more than 1 project every month or two. I just can’t work that fast!  Think about the amount of free time you have and plan accordingly.

How do we undertake the huge process of re-working our portfolio, and how do we fight the anxiety? My weapons of choice this time around are planning, research and inspiration. I’ve created a 5-step list to help navigate the process and make it feel less overwhelming.

So there you have it, not too complicated, right? These are the 5 steps I’ll use to tackle my portfolio’s makeover. I hope they are helpful to you, too! Just remember to focus on planning, research, and finding inspiration. It will take some anxiety away from the process. Is anyone else updating your body of work? I’d love to hear about it.

Inspirational Friday #1

I'd like to introduce the new monthly series, Inspirational Friday! Just like the title hints at, for one Friday a month, I'll post handpicked designs and products that are creatively inspiring. It's no secret that I love good design, and I've been hoarding such things over on my Pinterest account for a few years, which is where I’ll pull the majority of my picks. So please follow me on Pinterest if you like what you see!

I'm digging the clean and simple hand-lettering. Plus, I bet we all feel this way about our jobs from time to time!

This snake illustration is beautiful! I love the mix of light and dark colors.

I need this ceramic chubby cat miniature. It would look so cute on my desk!

This fancy Y has me brainstorming ideas for my own drop cap series.

More simple and clean hand-lettering, this time in ink.

I'm dreaming of the day when we move into a bigger place and I can have my own office!

I've been into clean, geometric designs lately, like this lovely planter made by a Seattle local.

Words to live by. I have this print hanging at my desk.

I could doodle cats all day long. And I'm a crazy cat lady.

And there you have it, Inspirational Friday #1! What has inspired you this week?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Babs Levine!

In late January, Jeff and I had the opportunity to photograph local celebrity and raconteur, Miss Babs Levine! To those not in the know, Babs is a known associate of our friend Kevin Harris - who was mysteriously absent when Babs turned up in her finest. Taking her place in front of the camera, her only requests were a cocktail and that we remain on her good side. After assuring her that every side was her good side, we got underway.

It was a fantastic shoot with a fabulous lady. Though it was the most fun we’ve had shooting in a long time, life got in the way like it is apt to do. After five months of work deadlines, life changes, and any number of petty distractions, we finally got down to business with these files. And here they are! Better late than never, right (sorry!!)?

We actually owe a lot to Babs’ friend and associate, Kevin, because he introduced us to each other nearly two years ago. I got a text from him asking if I’d be willing to help out with his talented (Jeff made me write that) friend’s personal photo project (scroll down to see me transforming into Kevin), and that is how I met Jeff!

Even more than usual, this project was a team effort. Jeff and I took turns shooting, directing, and editing the photos. When one of us was shooting, the other was posing, when one was fetching the soda, the other was drinking them, and all the while Miss Babs Levine stood around for 4 (or was it 5?) hours looking marvelous. We took hundreds of photos, but have culled them down to just a handful of favorites here. The rest are going straight into the manicured hands of Miss Levine, and I’m sure you’ll see more of them in the future.

For those of you who don’t know about the Divine Babs Levine (shame on you!), take 5 and check out her videos. You’ll thank me. Babs is the funniest, sexiest, and most entertaining 78 year old I know. She is charming and campy, and this lady can perform the hell out of a lip-sync! That's why we thought the best way to show off her personality was with bright colors and loud expressions. Enjoy!  

-Wren & Jeff