Monthly Archives: June 2013

Link Love: 6.20.13

link love

link love

William Eggleston

• Is social media encouraging us to act out online? The New York Times thinks so. “Our growing collective compulsion to document our lives and share them online, combined with the instant gratification that comes from seeing something you are doing or experiencing get near-immediate approval from your online peers, could be giving us more reason to act out online, for better or for worse.”

• I love this advice that covers how to have a fascinating conversation with anyone!

• 3 awesome summer art camps!

• The Everygirl offers up two strategies for managing stress.

• Classical statues dressed up as hipsters? Yes, really.

• Mike McDerment just released a free e-book that teaches you how to charge what you’re worth.

• 27 is a weird age. I remember it well!

• Are your blog posts falling short of greatness?

• Facebook is introducing hashtags. The downward spiral has begun!

• Did you know that some public service jobs in the U.S. have loan forgiveness that can wipe away college-related debt after 10 years in a field?

• Looking for some simply beautiful thank you cards? These new designs from Blow got my attention.

• Remember, we’re all just people.

Check out even more Link Love columns here.

How To Get More of the Work You Love

Tools of the Trade

One of the questions I get asked most often by fellow designers is how they can land more of the types of projects they actually enjoy doing. In my personal experience, the answer is pretty straightforward:

Showcase the work you want more of in the best possible light.
Lock up the work you don’t desire more of…and throw away the key!

While that might sound slightly dramatic, I’ve reviewed many portfolios where designers felt that they didn’t have enough solid projects and filled in the gaps with work they weren’t 100% satisfied with. I promise you, it’s always better to have less work in your book (that you’re totally over the moon about) than a whole lot of mediocre work that doesn’t represent where you see yourself going. In the world of portfolios, less is usually more.

My Personal Experience

Looking at my portfolio, I showcase mostly branding, web design and editorial-based projects — you probably wouldn’t guess that I’ve done campaigns for the NBA and NFL! While I was proud of the outcome of these other projects, since I don’t desire more sports-focused work, I never show them in my portfolio. I actually have a stockpile of 20 to 30 projects I’ve never publicly shown because for one reason or another, I don’t seek more of that particular style of work.

I know that in the beginning, it’s not easy to pick and choose who you want to work with. Your ideal projects might not come along very often or at all but don’t ever let that stop you! Dream up your own projects — there’s nothing wrong with including a self-initiated project or two as long as it’s credited as such. Sometimes you have to prove yourself first so that potential clients know that you have what it takes. And if those clients still don’t come knocking once you have work in your portfolio you think would appeal to them, don’t be afraid to contact them and introduce yourself.

In my career, I’ve always dreamed of doing more editorial design work. Yet because my portfolio was full of branding and web projects, not a whole lot of those opportunities came along. So I started out small to test the waters. First, I started offering media kit services. Media kits are traditionally what print magazines have sent out to potential advertisers — they feature rates, readership stats and an overall feel for the publication. Media kits tend to be 8 to 16 pages in length and are like a mini magazine in themselves.

I figured that if print magazines had media kits, maybe blogs could, also. In 2009, I started by producing my own for my blog first and shared it in a post — almost immediately, clients started hiring me for that service. It was ideal because a lot of smaller businesses just don’t have large print budgets but they could afford my design services for a digital media kit and I used these opportunities to build up my editorial design skills. Some examples are here, here and here.

Leverage your projects for new opportunities

Once you have a few projects in your portfolio that you feel are in line with your dream customers, the goal is to turn that work into new opportunities. Kat of Rock n Roll Bride was an early media kit client and loved the outcome so much that she came back within a year to produce a promotional brochure, showcasing her ‘best of the blog.’ She was attending a wedding fair and wanted a print piece she could hand out to her target audience but I saw one glaring issue — when it comes to print and weddings, I automatically think of magazines and invitation suites, not brochures.

I took it upon myself to transform the concept of her 14 page brochure into a 40 page magazine. Yes, it took a lot more time but I saw a gap in my portfolio and an opportunity to turn paid client work into something even better. It was a win-win outcome: I got an editorial design piece in print and a much needed project for my portfolio. In turn, Kat got a great deal on a project that turned into a much bigger scope (since she hadn’t actually requested the extra work, I kept the quote the same).

And, all that extra work paid off: when those thousand copies flew out the door, Kat came back with a bigger budget and a much bigger project: an 80 page magazine. Finally, I had the opportunity to design a magazine, cover to cover. Once that had wrapped, another client, Luke Copping hired me to do a magazine as a promo piece for his photography business. It’s a domino effect: you do a good job on one project, another client likes what they see and hire you, and so on.

Prune Your Portfolio

I now have a few more editorial-based projects in my portfolio to share and each time I finish something new, I try to edit down the work I’m sharing and remove a few things that aren’t as strong. As a designer, remember that your portfolio is part of your brand audit. Is it telling the story you want it to?

When potential clients come across your work, they might not know anything about you and it’s up to you to curate what you are seeking more of. If they can only see things you absolutely love, they will probably only hire you for those things. In a nutshell, that’s how you get the ball rolling. Put more of the work you love out into the world and you’ll get more of it in return. Share wisely and before you know it, the clientele and projects you’ve been dreaming about will find you.

* Image: Modified from Luke Copping’s print portfolio.

Join The Blogcademy Live From New York for a Q&A Session!

The Blogcademy Livestream

With two east coast Blogcademy workshops quickly approaching in New York this weekend and Minneapolis next, we decided it was high time to do another livestream event for those of you who can’t make it!

We’ll be broadcasting live from Gala Darling HQ in New York City on:

Monday, June 24th
10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT

During the hour-long session, Kat, Gala and myself will be talking about changes we’ve implemented with our own blogs, things we’ve learned since launching our blogging workshop last August and last but not least, we will be answering as many of your questions as possible!

If you’d like to join us, tickets are $7.00 and if you aren’t able to tune in at the designated time, don’t fret! The video can be watched at any time. If you have a question to submit, you can tweet us (@theblogcademy) or email us (headmistresses @ with it beforehand.

You can snap up a ticket right here.

See you (virtually) next week!

Tools of the Trade #5: My 4 Favorite Photo Editing Apps

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

When it comes to posting photos from my iPhone, nothing ever makes its way onto Instagram these days without a run through some of my favorite apps. My four go-to’s at the moment are:

• Afterlight: Hands-down, the app I consistently use for every single photo I edit on my phone is Afterlight. Each option has a slider bar so you can decrease an effect with ease. The sheer amount of creative effects, from beautiful filters to tons of light leaks and a number of simple frames make this indispensable. Frames consisting of letters, numbers and shapes add a unique touch and even better, you can add on a pack of Polaroid frames for 99 cents.

• VSCO CAM: All of my pro photographer friends religiously use this app and absolutely swear by it and I’m finally giving it a spin. The effects are simple, subtle and proof that when editing, less is often more.

• A Beautiful Mess: This app is more decorative but perfect for adding a fun flourish or two. I especially love the collection of words handwritten by Elsie — “travel” above is an example. The ability to change the doodles to a number of fun, saturated colors makes this even better and there’s a ton of add-on packs available.

• House Industries Photolettering App: I just downloaded this app but already love it so much — it’s the perfect addition for type aficionados. Even though packs of some of the fancier fonts are 99 cents a piece, the uniqueness of the offerings make them totally worth it. I used Quaint to add the white and yellow “Y” above.

What photo editing apps do you swear by? Is there anything else out there I should give a try?

* All photos from nubbytwiglet on Instagram.

Latest & Greatest #19: Fornasetti

Latest & Greatest: Fornasetti

When it comes to collections, I dream of having a handful of Fornasetti plates scattered across my living room wall someday. While plate collections had always seemed a bit antiquated to me, my mind was quickly changed two years ago when I spotted the plate-covered wall at The Viceroy, designed by Kelly Wearstler.

Latest & Greatest: Fornasetti

I’ve long admired the endless expressions of Fornasetti’s signature plates. Over his lifetime, founder Piero Fornasetti created an astounding 11,000 items, many of which featured the face of opera singer Lina Cavalieri. To date, over 350 of her expressions have covered the world-famous plates!

Fornasetti’s designs are instantly recognizable because they most commonly feature black and white motifs, the sun and time themes. Here are a few of my current favorites, all available through Barneys:

Latest & Greatest: Fornasetti

Check out more Latest & Greatest roundups here.
Viceroy photo by Made U Look.