Yearly Archives: 2015

Looking Back: My 25 Favorite Posts of 2015

Looking Back: My 25 Favorite Posts of 2015

As the year comes to an end, it’s always nice to take a look back. I know that personally, I get so caught up in the day-to-day of running this blog along with my businesses that I’ll forget about what I even wrote about the month before. It’s good to take stock of what you accomplished because what you did this year provides a solid base for an even better next.

When it came to putting together the list of posts, I didn’t compile them based on views or comments — instead, I scrolled through the entire last year of content, picking and choosing my favorite moments around the posts that I felt were the most helpful to you. Next, I added in a few personal stories with teachable moments and finally, rounded out the mix with a handful that I felt were the most aesthetically pleasing.

All in all, 2015 was a great year. Thanks for closing it out with me and taking this walk down memory lane. Your comments, emails and yes, even snail mail mean the world to me. Let’s continue sharing and growing together. Cheers! -Shauna


1. My Biggest Takeaways During A Decade Of Graphic Design

2. 5 Tips To Fight Fear In Your Freelance Career

3. Why I Chose Community College For My Design Education

4. 6 Must-Have Documents To Automate Your Creative Process

5. 15 Must-Have Items For Running A Design Studio

6. 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs A Media Kit

7. My Top 5 Portfolio Tips

8. Dealing With Negative Feedback

9. 15 Tips To Rock Your Stay At Designer Vaca


10. My New Office Tour

11. My Black, White and Green After-Hours Hangout


12. The Cape Dress In Los Angeles

13. Venice Beach Goth

14. A Neon Day In Sydney

15. Black and White Layers in Portland


16. Live Your Life First, Then Blog

17. Cheers To 8 Years Of Blogging

18. Blogging Completely Changed My Life


19. Give Yourself Permission

20. My Wedding Anniversary Letterpress Invites

21. You Have To Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

22. Keep Your Goals Fun and Attainable

23. We All Have To Start Somewhere

24. Your Squirrel Questions Answered!

25. There Are No Shortcuts To Greatness

Creative Chronicles: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #8: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

As the year winds down, it’s the perfect opportunity to get super organized. I’ve been in full-on organization mode all this week, cleaning out random junk that’s piled up around the office and once that’s done, I’m moving onto cleaning up our digital files — because let’s face it — when you’re in the midst of juggling multiple client projects and tight year-end deadlines, things can get messy. Fast.

When you launch your freelance business, chances are that it’s just you and therefore….who cares if your files are a little messy? Who cares if your desktop looks like a bomb went off? Who cares if your files are named with some variation of “Untitled” every single time?

Probably nobody.

Things start to change very quickly as your business grows. The second you have more than a handful of open projects, these messes can compound big time.

When I started freelancing in college, I had one big folder on my desktop of client projects (please tell me I wasn’t the only one). I knew that what I needed at any given time was in there. And as you can guess, it evolved into a hot mess that involved plenty of late night tears.

I finally got my system together when I started designing professionally and working at larger studios. File organization suddenly became super important because we were all working from the same sets of client files on the same server. If one of us saved a file under a random name or dropped it into the wrong job folder, it really impacted our deadline. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to sort through someone else’s mess, especially when a project is due.

When I started Branch, it was such a breath of fresh air. All my old messes were safely saved to an external hard drive and I had a digital rebirth of sorts with a fresh install on my computer. Sweet relief.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #8: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

I want to share my studio system with you in the hopes that it can help you keep your client files in tip-top shape:

On the top level of our studio server, there’s a folder called !!_USE_THIS_STRUCTURE with a clean set of our filing system. Make a habit of copying this folder every single time you book a new project. Always start with the job number, then the client’s name and a brief project description. Here’s an example:


For instance, a new issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine might be named BRNCH_256_ROCKNROLLBRIDE_MAG_ISSUE_6.

Inside each folder, we always use this system of six folders:

1. Client Questionnaire

Before we begin the design process, we have new clients fill out a questionnaire. This reminds us of what the client is hoping to achieve with their business and how our design solutions can best help them. We like to keep it in this easy-to-find spot as we move along with their project.

2. Feedback

Whenever a client sends us feedback, we save it down into a text document and file it in this folder. That way, whoever picks up the project is aware of what the client specifically asked for.

3. Assets

In this folder, we store fonts as well as visual research, stock photos and related assets.

4. Concepts

This is where we save our rounds of work. Each round gets a subfolder inside of here (example: R1, R2 and R3) so we can quickly backtrack and make design updates if they’re referencing multiple rounds during feedback (for example, they loved the branding option of direction 1 in R1 and would like to combine it with direction 1 in R2).

5. Presentations

We save all of our presentations in here inside labeled subfolders (example: R1, R2 and R3). There’s always a working InDesign file for each round as well as a web-ready PDF to send off via email.

6. Sent Files

This is the place to keep all of your clean, completed files. Once a client has signed off on final concepts, we save all of the assets we’ve sent them into this folder so if they ever need any changes, we aren’t digging through old rounds of work.

That’s it! It’s a pretty basic setup and you may feel the need to tweak it, adding and taking away folders to make the system work for your business.

I can’t tell you how much time has been saved by having this system in place over the last few years. As Branch has grown, the number of completed projects on our server has ballooned to a few hundred. When a client emails us asking for a specific file, if this system wasn’t in place, it could literally take hours to find what they need. When you’re running a business, time is money. And, customer service is super important — the sooner you find that client file, the happier they’ll be.

I hope this system helps you get organized for the new year!

For even more Creative Chronicles, please click here.

Project Spotlight: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Before I take a little break from going into the office for a few days (hot apple cider, terrible movies and present opening, here I come!), I have one final project to share with you for 2015.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

If you’re looking for ways to make 2016 the most magical, special year ever, the Radical Self Love Coven Almanac (what a mouthful!) may be just what you need. The brainchild of Gala Darling, it features over 100 pages of exclusive content contributed by an eclectic group of women and reading through it as I was putting this project together left me with so many ideas on tweaks I could make to my own routine.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

And, let’s get real for a second — as a designer, a lot of the projects I take on are very structured. There are very specific guidelines, wants and needs so when a client comes to me and hands me a few folders with complete free reign of the design, I use it as an excuse to get weird. Projects like this reignite that creative spark that can sometimes feel dormant. Working on this over the last few weeks reminded me why I became a designer in the first place all over again. Really, it was a perfect way to end this year on the project front.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac


Some of the contents included in this digital book / magazine hybrid include:

• A 12 month calendar, complete with magical + fun dates to celebrate.

• Morning routines submitted by the savviest women around — just WAIT till you read Danielle LaPorte’s! Seriously, so epic.

• Horoscopes hand-penned by the Astrotwins (I met them last year and boy, do they know their stuff.)

• Personal essays that will motivate you to kick your life into high gear big time. Feeling that support when you need to make big changes is AWESOME.

• Illustrations by two of our super talented friends, Emily Faulstich and Louise Androlia.

• A collection of 12 worksheets full of prompts for every month next year to keep you on track.

There’s much, much more but I want to leave a few surprises. 😉

Gala and I wove 109 pages of exclusive content together into one beautifully designed, downloadable document which means that you can have instant gratification. YES! No waiting for the mailman (or Santa!) necessary — save down this content-packed PDF, click through the hyperlinks included inside (just wait till you see Gala’s epic list of book recommendations!) and then, print this beauty out to give your 2016 a kick in the ass.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

I’m so proud of this project because it’s essentially the makings of a magazine. I’ve known Gala for well over a decade now and her dream was always to have a magazine but all those years back, due to cost, she started a blog instead. Well, it’s finally happening! If this incarnation does well, we’re already talking about creating a print version for the following year and THAT has me really excited.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Here’s to supporting your friends and making cool shit happen.

You can order a copy here. Let me know how you like it!

Have an amazing 2016, friends!

Featured: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac by We Are Branch. All content copyright Gala Darling.

The Week In Pictures: 12.19.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Ahhh, welcome to the very last Week In Pictures of the year! It’s always a little bittersweet for me to say that, even after seven years of posting this column. This time of the year always feels a bit crazy between Christmas shopping, decorating, wrapping up work and plenty of parties. And, there’s been a lot of celebrating around here as well with family as my mom just turned 60 and my grandpa turned 88. Gotta love those milestones!

Onto some of the week’s highlights…

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

1. Weird selfies. I’m not the best selfie taker and this set of photos was especially difficult because I was trying to show all of my hair. Haha. I kiiiind of forgot just how long it was. After a year of letting it fade to a more brownish tone thanks to some nasty allergic reactions, I finally found a natural dye that works. Back in black, finally!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

2. Oh Christmas tree! I worked retail for a big chunk of my 20s and honestly, it kind of wrecked Christmas for me for a really long time. After decorating the store (I sold shoes) and dealing with difficult customers, the last thing I wanted to do was to go home and put up a tree. Now, I love coming home to a living room full of Christmas decor and a stack of presents under the tree. Our stockings are hung from the fireplace and yes, even Rocky and Chubs have one. 😉

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

3. Blue Star Donuts. Why didn’t I try these sooner?! Portlanders, if you’ve been waiting, give in. Now. For my mom’s birthday, we decided donuts were better than cake and these are hands-down the best I’ve EVER had.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

4. Color play. I never had the chance to take color theory in college so I’m constantly playing around with combinations and learning as I go. It’s so much fun gathering objects around my office and piecing them together in different compositions.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

5. Happy Birthday, grandpa! Can you believe he’s 88? No glasses and no walker in sight. The key to Sharkey’s long life is chopping wood every day….in cowboy boots. He’s the sweetest guy and I’m so thankful that he’s been in my life so long considering that he had an aneurysm 5 years ago. He celebrated his big day in the best possible way — a little drinking and a little gambling. 😉 Next week, Joey and I are joining him and my grandma at their cabin near Mt. Hood for Christmas. Always a highlight to the year end!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

6. Quiet time equals reading. One of the things I’m looking forward to most during the break next week is having some time to go through the stacks of books in my office. I am especially excited to finally have a chance to flip through Coralie Bickford-Smith’s book Penguin sent over — she’s best known for illustrating the hardcover classics series and has the coolest style.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

7. Present wrapping time! I surprised my design assistant Samantha some goodies and had a great time wrapping them all up. Am I the only one that finds gift wrapping oddly therapeutic? Probably!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

8.Holiday browsing. I’m always looking for a good excuse to visit one of my favorite Portland boutiques, Alder & Co. Right when you walk in, there’s a florist making custom arrangements and the staff is so welcoming. I’m always finding the most unique gifts for friends here.

Have a great holiday break, friends. I have a few posts lined up for next week and then I’ll be off until the new year. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Link Love: 12.17.15

Nubby Twiglet: Link Love | Jorge Lawerta

• Best link this week: Instagram husbands. Over 4 million viewers agree. Ha!

• Bill Gates shares the best books he read in 2015.

• Our addiction to technology is taking over our lives.

• Designers, if you’re feeling stuck, Pocket Art Director is here to save the day!

• Pitchfork has rounded up the 100 best tracks of 2015.

• Made me laugh: I’m Comic Sans, asshole.

• Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere just wrote a really transparent post about blogs and advertising.

• The best films of 2015.

• This creative timeline is pretty accurate.

• The oldest known video footage of New York City, with an accompanying map! Pretty cool.

• Being an activist is easier than you think.

• Sarah shares some tips on how to manage internet overwhelm.

• Want to give your loved ones something really meaningful and special? Alex has 15 holiday gift ideas, most of which are experiences.

• Grain Edit just rounded up 30 top design books that will make the perfect holiday gift.

Image: Jorge Lawerta.
Check out even more Link Love columns here.