Monthly Archives: September 2012

Link Love: 9.20.12

link love

Bazaar Spain, October 2012

• Time just gathered up its list of the 50 best websites of 2012.

• Are you on the lookout for a clean, minimal WordPress theme? Here’s a list to get you started!

• It seems like guest columnists are popping up more and more on my favorite blogs but this isn’t necessarily the right fit for everyone, including me. I loved Kartina’s thoughts on this.

• A pretty cool DIY: Make your own collar necklace!

• Have you seen Jessica Hische’s Drop Caps popping up on classic Penguin books? So pretty.

• Jenna of A Sweet Fine Day pulled together a little guide of restaurants in the Northwest she just visited.

• 25 lessons from Patti Smith’s Just Kids.

• Construction on the tallest residential building in Manhattan is happening and naturally, the apartments within are being snatched up by billionaires. Yes, billionaires.

• My friend Anna has been blogging for 14 years! I enjoyed reading about all her past blogs and her thoughts on where blogging stands today.

• 9 warning signs of an amateur artist.

• If you’re currently apartment hunting, PadMapper allows you to plot locations on a map and then filter for what exactly you’d like.

Advice #49: Do I Need To Draw Well To Be A Designer?



I’m considering changing careers from biological research to graphic design. I’ve always loved graphic design, and while I have an eye for color and composition, my drawing skills stalled somewhere around 8th grade. How necessary is drawing ability in graphic design? Will I always be passed over for designers who can create their own illustrations?


Makers Gonna Make by Jude Landry.

Don’t let your lack of drawing skills hold you back! This is a surprisingly common question — but you know what? Don’t sweat it. I’m not a great illustrator either but what I realized long ago is that instead of spreading myself too thin, I’d rather be awesome at a few things than a jack of all trades, master of none. Instead of questioning your lack of drawing skills, focus on your strengths and do everything you can to play those up.

My Story

From the time I was four, I drew almost every day. I drew so much on my worksheets in the first grade that I won my school’s art award. I kept on drawing and won contests but as soon as I discovered other mediums, my level of interest began to drift. In my early 20s, I fell in love with collage. It fit in better with my love of fashion magazines, type and textures and this became my preferred art style. My interest in drawing waned even further once I discovered computers. I got my first laptop and a copy of Photoshop 7 in college and that changed my world. I barely picked up a pencil after that except for a life drawing class. I did well in it but I wasn’t passionate about it — design was where my heart was.

Your Role

As a designer, it’s often necessary to do quick thumbnail sketches of concepts, especially when it comes to storyboards and logos. But even more important is your ability to describe your ideas and effectively sell them to your audience. For example, if I’m at an agency and five designers are given an hour to knock out as many logo concepts as possible to present, if I can’t get all of my ideas into the computer, I may sketch a few. And while I’m not a brilliant sketcher, I need to be confident enough in my ideas to stand in front of a group and explain my thought process and how each design relates to the brief. In these instances, sketches are meant to be more gestural — a means to get the idea across.

While you should get to a point that you’re confident putting basic illustrations together in Illustrator and on paper, beyond that, if a studio or agency needs a professional illustrator for a project, they’ll often call in a freelancer for this specific purpose. Don’t get me wrong, there are some designers that naturally excel at illustration like my friend Jake Hollomon — but even more often, you’ll be called upon for your creative concepts, layout solutions and production-based skills.

Market Your Strengths

If you’re not an awesome illustrator, ask yourself what else you can bring to the table. Where else can you excel? Perhaps you’re amazing at photography, social media or trend forecasting? Focus on your positives!

In closing, while it’s an added bonus to be able to illustrate as a graphic designer, if you’re not passionate about it, don’t let it hold you back. Instead, push yourself in other areas. We can’t be the masters of everything but we can excel at some things. Choose your battles and most importantly, do what you love.

Latest & Greatest #9: Olle Eksell

Olle Eksell

Olle Eksell

Lately, Swedish illustrator, writer and graphic designer Olle Eksell’s iconic eyes, which he designed for Mazetti’s Cacao seem to be popping up everywhere I go online. Eksell’s work ranges from wacky to geometric but no matter the style he was working in, the outcome was always thoughtful and precise. When Eksell came to the U.S., a close friendship developed between him and Paul Rand that lasted throughout their lives. He participated in international exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the Biennale in Venice and continued to work until his death in 2007.

Olle Eksell

The Eyes poster was printed in 1999 for his exhibition at the Form Design Center in Malmö, Sweden. Though best known for his design and illustration, Eksell also penned the classic Design = Ekonomi.

You can purchase Olle Eksell merchandise through this shop, see more of his work in his Facebook tribute group and see even more images of the famous cocoa eyes poster here.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3.

Nubby Twiglet Stickers

Nubby Twiglet Stickers

Well, I just couldn’t stay away from Moo. We had such a great overall experience with our Blogcademy cards and stickers that I thought I’d give them a spin for Nubby Twiglet. After all, who doesn’t love stickers?! The five year old in me is jumping for joy — I was queen of the sticker books as a kid.

My favorite branding element in my updated identity is the cross so I featured that on four of the eight total designs. Secondly, I did hello and thank you designs. Third, I pulled in two more graphic options. These stickers will be used for sealing official correspondence and adding that final bit of polish.

Nubby Twiglet Stickers

To give you an idea of pricing, a pack of 52 stickers costs $12.99 and goes up from there based on quantity. And, you can upload as many different designs as you’d like! I think these would also be great for artists and designers to feature snippets of their work, for business owners to feature their logo or for simple, inspirational words and quotes. The sky’s the limit!

The Week In Pictures: 9.14.12

The Week in Pictures

The Week in Pictures

Happy Friday! Today is my birthday! Hello, 31! I just took this snapshot to commemorate the occasion! Behind the scenes, I’ve been sick all week but I think the worst of it has finally passed and I’m hoping to stop coughing like a maniac at any moment. Overall, this has been a rollercoaster of a year, luckily filled with mostly good things and I’m thankful for that. Really, really thankful.

The Week in Pictures

I didn’t have a chance to get out and do a whole lot this week (see previously mentioned sickness) but that was fine with me because I had about all the eyecandy I could handle last Friday night when I walked into Union/Pine, which was hosting a show curated by Beam & Anchor. These chairs and a pretty amazing installation were waiting inside. I love the Pendleton fabric on these — being a native Oregonian, I see Pendleton stuff everywhere but it’s not normally my thing. But, in black and white, I totally dig it.

The Week in Pictures

I had a slight crush on that second painting with the dark haired man — simply titled The Hungarian, my friend and I couldn’t stop staring…he had a bi-level haircut going on and we couldn’t tell if it was an old masterpiece or a hipster take on an old masterpiece. This whole wall was my favorite part of the exhibition. Built out in various kinds of wood with planters, paintings and knick-knacks strewn about, it was cleverly done.

The Week in Pictures

When I discovered a stack of old Pantone fabric swatches laying around and then landed upon Phantom, I declared it the color of the season and demanded that my entire wardrobe be remade of it. Not really, but a girl can dream!

And that’s a wrap — keepin’ it short and sweet this week! My dad made dinner reservations at my favorite German restaurant for my birthday so I’m set. Party time! See you Monday!

Link Love: 9.13.12

link love

link love

Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Avedon

• If you read only one thing here this week, make it #socialmediatheories. It’s a glimpse into what we’re using particular social media streams for these days and how we’re navigating and splicing up various areas of our life for them. Truth: Instagram is the new go-to platform for saying “I live a full life and here is photographic proof.”

• Um, this story is awesome. This person was $90,000 in debt and ended up in Kosovo and then Iraq (with lots of twists and turns in-between) to pay it off!

• Betsey Johnson just turned 70 (!!) and is still rockin’ her trademark look and doing cartwheels! Love.

• Find out what to do when you have to work with someone you don’t like!

• Fast Co. gives us 4 steps to breakthrough ideas.

• Managing your own business can leave you feel like things are slipping through the cracks. I’ve definitely felt this way and it’s good to hear I’m not alone!

• 5 hosting mistakes bloggers don’t know they’re making.

• I enjoyed reading Promise’s views on blogging and success. I am still a die-hard blogger and love the medium but at the same time I can understand why so many have switched to microblogging.

• Slightly entertaining: Famous people I thought I saw on the street…but it wasn’t them at all. Haha!

• I LOVE it when Anna of D16 shares her beauty reviews — she keeps it real and funny. I may just have to give this Bobbi Brown undereye concealer a shot.

• Naturally, every ad agency should have a ping-pong conference table.

Advice #48: What’s Your Secret to Shooting Photos?

Photoshop Actions

First off, this is just a quick note that I’ve changed my long-running advice column from Ask Nubby to simply Advice. I felt it needed some clarity and the “+” comes into play since my goal has always been to give positive yet relatable advice. If you have a question of your own, contact information can be found in the sidebar.


I’m wondering if you could do a post on your photography for blogging. Your images are always consistent in style and very punchy with colours. I’m a junior-intermediate user of a high end DSLR camera, but can’t seem to get the most out of it in a blogging capacity – your journalistic style photographs and pics of your work always look lush!

Photoshop Actions

Shooting away at The Viceroy, Santa Monica! Photo by Gala Darling.

One of the key components that you’ll notice across the board for established bloggers is that they have a fairly consistent style to their photos. This is one of those more ownable elements that you can use to differentiate your content. Shooting almost all of my own photos has allowed me to add my unique take to blogging over the last ten years. I bought my first Nikon digital camera in 2002 and it opened up a whole new world to me.

I’ve been carrying a camera in my bag since the sixth grade and am constantly shooting. But the straight-up truth is that I’d never call myself a photographer. I’m first and foremost focused on being a designer — I just know how to manipulate my photos to look the way I want. I am not very technically savvy in the photography department — I have a very point-and-shoot method to what I do. I keep my settings on auto and shoot in natural light 90% of the time. If I need something above and beyond the basics, I call on one of my professional friends or my brother to make it happen. I’ve been around enough pros and have also been on enough sets to realize that photography is an art all it’s own and I have major respect for that.

This is the exact setup that I use.

Here’s the exact setup I’ve been using for the last 2+ years: A Nikon D40 paired with a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G Lens. I particularly like the D40 because it’s on the small size as far as DSLRs go and super tough. I just throw it in my handbag and go! I’ve tested a few of the new micro-sized DSLR cameras but too many of them feel cheap and breakable. The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens is great for detailed, close-up shots which I do a ton of. I still need to do some more research about what lens to invest in next! That’s it, though. I like to keep things as simple as possible and shoot almost everything on the blog with with this combo.

I use Actions to edit all my photos.

Between the camera and lens, I can get a good base image to work with but beyond that, it’s all about using Photoshop Actions to implement a consistent look. Actions are a series of recorded steps that help you edit your image without having to do each step manually — they are essentially a one click editing process! Can you say time saver?

If you’re wondering how to load an action in Photoshop, it’s easy! In your menu bar, simply go to Window > Actions. Once your Actions palette is up, click in the top right corner on Load Actions and you’re set!

Over the last three years I have pulled from a number of other actions and tweaked my process until I was happy with the style. Some actions are too soft for my taste while some are too harsh so I never use them straight out of the box. I personally have three of the below sets of actions and after much research, I really want to try out the fourth as well!

1. Making Nice In The Midwest Photoshop Actions are great if you’re going for a soft, vintage effect.

2. Devlin Photos has an awesome variety of Photoshop Actions that are geared towards weddings and beyond. As a sidenote, Lisa Devlin will be at our Blogcademy New York launch teaching you about Photoshop shortcuts as well!

3. Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess shared examples of the actions they use and now I really want to try out Totally Rad Actions!

4. As a sidenote, I know not everyone can afford a set of actions right away so I also included a link to my favorite free action: Vintage Film Effect by Fallout 75. I modified this one a lot when I used it but there’s some good layers in there to tweak and learn from.

Here are some real life examples of befores and afters of images I’ve featured on my blog. All of these were edited with actions:

Photoshop Actions

Photoshop Actions

Photoshop Actions

While I wish I could give you the exact formula of actions I used on these, I’ve built my own mix over time with many elements from the above sets of actions. I tend to like my images to be bright, vibrant but not too saturated and to have an overall cool tone. I’m constantly adding and subtracting to get what feels right to me but always depend on actions to get me off to a solid start when editing.

Readers: Let me know if you have any more specific questions about my photography setup or editing in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!