Category Archives: Advice

Creative Chronicles: Overcoming the Pull Between Creativity and Criticism

Nubby Twiglet | Overcoming Creative Criticism

Criticism and flat-out meanness stings…and we’ve all been on the receiving end of it.

This topic has been back on my mind a lot lately because I see negativity everywhere. Whether it’s a rude comment left on the video of a Youtuber or a nasty one-liner left on an Instagram post, I cringe because firstly, artistic expression of any kind boils down to personal taste. Secondly, I think about how much confidence it takes to release work for public consumption in the first place, which is so easy to forget.

Maybe all the senseless violence lately has me feeling extra sensitive (2 incidents just happened while I was in Florida last week) but the world needs more compassion and caring. We can each do our own part in spreading positivity and being supportive, no matter how small it may seem.

When I think of sharing, this quote from Taylor Swift comes to mind:

“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”

The fear of judgement is real when you’re sharing. I speak from personal experience when I say that praise from people I don’t even know feels like the ultimate adrenaline rush but on the flip side, just one negative comment can tear it all back down.

I’ve written thousands of blog posts, shared tens of thousands of photos and released hundreds of projects and the only reason I mention this is because sometimes I think that over time, it should feel easier to put it all out there. But sometimes, I still feel like retreating.

Part of being human comes with vulnerability and a personal attachment to your work.

The one truth we can all agree on is that as creatives, whether you’re writing your first book, creating a logo for a client, filming a makeup tutorial or putting together a solo art show, it all comes from the same place: your heart.

Not sharing your work and expressing who you are in the short term is easier but in the long term, you’re only hurting yourself.

Nubby Twiglet | Overcoming Creative Criticism

If the fear of rejection is holding you back, always remember:

1. Not everyone will love what you do. It’s as simple as that. A body of work, no matter how brilliant, is never universally loved. Accepting this from the start makes putting yourself out there easier.

2. You are the only person who can produce creative work in your own, unique way. There is power in what you do…so own it fully. Trust yourself.

3. If your work elicits a reaction of any kind, that’s good. Art should do that. Attracting and repelling is necessary, even though it can be uncomfortable.

Sharing your work and who you are on some days feels harder than others. Sometimes I’ll sit on a blog post an extra week because I’m afraid to release the words. There are also times I’m scared that a client will hate everything I’ve just created. But after giving the content space, I always hit publish / share / send because buying into fear is never worth it.

Always remember, you are brilliant in your own unique way and any negativity coming your way usually isn’t even really about you. Remind yourself that you never really know what the person on the other side is going through.

Leave your mark. Keep sharing and keep shining bright. And most importantly, pay it forward and support those around you who are brave enough to put themselves out there.

Positivity drives more positivity and we definitely need more of that in this world right now.

I believe in you.

Photo: Made U Look.

Creative Chronicles: What’s Your Story?

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

As a designer, your portfolio is important because it helps potential clients connect with your visual style. But beyond that, there’s another key part to standing out: telling your story.

About pages have been on my mind A LOT lately…because I desperately need to re-write mine. It’s so easy to procrastinate and push these kinds of things to the bottom of the list because you may be like me and find creating visuals much easier than writing.

For a lot of creatives, images flow easier than words. Sometimes, you just don’t know what to say. That’s compounded even more when you’re asked to write about yourself. Maybe you’re convinced that you’re happier saying less anyway. Maybe you think your work can do all the talking.

Whatever your reasoning, people are more likely to hire you if they feel a personal connection.

Nobody said it was easy but learning how to convey who you are in words can help you stand out in a crowded market. Never underestimate the power or telling your audience who you are and what you stand for. Remind yourself that people might not remember every project you’ve created…but they will remember a great story.

So, how do you get started? When I’m feeling stuck, I love looking at the about pages of people I admire and learning from them. Some are short, some are long, some are funny and some are surprising. The key is that each fits their unique personality.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

5 Great About Page Examples


Key to standing out: relatablility and humor

Never underestimate the power of being funny! Writing a bio (let alone reading it!) can get boring really fast so spice it up with some fun, random facts to add dimension and show who you are beyond just your job.

Excerpt: “Never someone to sit on his laurels (what are those “laurels,” anyway?), Paul has also been a touring musician, veterinary assistant, paperboy, and ad agency monkey. He began working for himself full-time in 1998, so he’s pretty much unemployable now – and that’s a really good thing.”


Key to standing out: personal design flourishes

One of the reasons I admire Sian’s design style so much is that she’s brilliant at piecing together images and type. When you look at her page, there’s a depth that immediately comes through. It’s simple yet exudes an edgy style.

Excerpt: “Once upon a less-than-awesome time, I worked in an office 9-5 as a graphic designer. My day-to-day projects were a mashup of snooze-worthy deliverables: car decals, banners for banks, casino promos… yawn. Before long, it hit me: I was not cut out for cubicle nation. I spent most of my days staring out the window at the beautiful sunshine of Sydney, Australia (where I’d moved to start my career), and a whole country waiting to be explored. Why the hell was I locked inside for 80% of the week, designing pieces that weren’t exactly fulfilling?”


Key to standing out: making you feel like her success can be yours, too

Marie is massively successful but her about page comes across as welcoming instead of intimidating. Sure, there’s candids alongside Oprah and Richard Branson (no big deal — ha!), but she tells her story in way that makes you feel like somehow, you could do the same. And with all her accomplishments including founding B-School, that’s no easy feat.

Excerpt: “After several failed attempts at corporate jobs and a lot of angst trying to choose just one thing to be in life, I realized that my unusual combination of interests and skills was a strength, not a liability. I gave up the security of the 9-5, began bartending and waiting tables and doing a multitude of odd jobs to keep a roof over my head while slowly building a coaching business from the ground up. I later coined the term “Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur” because I just didn’t (and never will) fit into a conventional box.”


I adore Alex’s about page is because it’s very clear and direct, just like her copywriting. There’s a conversational tone that comes across as approachable, like you’re having a good chat over a coffee date with a friend. It’s positive, inspiring and has a few funny moments woven in…like the one below!

Key to standing out: a warm, conversational tone

Excerpt: “I started my “writing career” with a self-published coloring book about flying unicorns, which I photocopied and sold for 25 cents a piece to my 3rd grade classmates. It was a big hit! Sadly, the project got shut down by a teacher who felt that charging money for my book was not appropriate. (In my defense: I was merely responding to market demand…)”


Okay, so Danielle’s about page is really long. But, everything she says flows and makes you feel like you’re on a mini journey through her life. The #1 thing I LOVE about Danielle’s about page is the timeline, hilariously titled Creative Highlights and Lowlights. Take a journey back to the beginning and find out what went right (and what went terribly wrong).

Key to standing out: going big and sharing it all

Excerpt: “I think the best self-help is self-compassion. I hear a variation of this all the time — when I get off stage, from readers, through friends of friends: “It was 11:30pm the other night and I needed something [soul salve, a kick in the ass, wisdom for a friend, a confidence boost for work…] so I went to your site and got what I needed. Really, I just wanted some encouragement.”

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

5 Quick Tips

1. Great about pages don’t feel sleazy or sales-y. All of the above examples were written by successful entrepreneurs yet they feel genuine and even relatable.

2. Always look at about pages outside of your niche. It’s important to get a broader perspective and the best ideas often come to you from beyond your chosen industry.

3. Not sure how to start off your bio? Use Alexandra Franzen’s free template. SO GOOD.

4. There is no such thing as a finished About page. I’ve rewritten mine at least 10 times since starting this blog. It’s meant to grow and evolve so let it go.

5. If you need more help and want even more about page examples and templates, You In Words is brilliant.

And with that….go forth and write! Share your story.
You never know who will stumble across it…or where it will take you.

Your turn: Any tricks for writing an awesome About page? Let us know in the comments!

Photo: Made U Look.

An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

It feels like just yesterday that I started running a creative business full-time….but it’s already been nearly three years! Time flies.

When running a business, beyond the usual ups and downs, I’ve noticed a specific trajectory over the last few years and wanted to talk about that today in the hopes that if you’re thinking of starting a business of your own or in the early stages of running one, you can start imagining what the future will look like. The more you can visualize and plan, the better.

Your first three years in business will probably look like this:

Year 0: The Preparation

Year 1 :Work, Work, Work

Year 2: Attract and Repel

Year 3: Diversify, Baby

Let’s dig in…

Year 0 — The Preparation

This ain’t gonna be easy.

Leading up to starting your own business, you have to prepare. Ideally, six months to a year in advance, you’ll be tallying up your monthly expenses and visualizing what your working environment will look like.

Do you plan on working from home, in a co-working space or in an office that’s all yours? What do your rates need to be like to afford your new lifestyle? How will you find new clients? And….what’s your plan if it takes a few months (or longer) to land that steady stream of clients?

I first started freelancing on the side back in 2006 while still in school. While my side business steadily grew, I began freelancing at agencies and worked a few full-time design jobs in-between to pay the bills.

This went on for years….and looking back, there was no balance in my life whatsoever. To be completely honest, I had no life. I held out way too long because I was afraid of how I would pay my mortgage without a steady gig. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough clients. I was afraid of what would happen if things slowed down. Fear kept me hanging on by a thread, even though I was completely exhausted.

The tipping point came in the form of a small business class about 6 months before I left my full-time job. Our teacher asked us to write our worst case scenario on a piece of paper if our dream didn’t work out.

As soon as I wrote mine down, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My plan was to find a corporate gig for a year and then try my dream out again. The writing was on the paper, literally: I had to push the fear of the unknown aside for good because my lack of confidence was holding my dream up.

After that class, I slowly built momentum through trademarking my business name, working on the branding, building a media kit and designing a very basic website.

A few months later, I gave my notice and walked into my new life which was set up in a spare room across from my bedroom. My dream was 5 steps from where I woke up but the best decision I ever made.

Advice: Only prepare as much as you need to….and then go live your dream. Gaining life experience is infinitely more powerful than sitting around and reading about it.

Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Year 1 — Work, Work, Work

Work all day. Work all night.

The first year in business tends to boil down to taking on any and every project you can get your hands on to gain some stability.

When it came to bringing on clients, I definitely went for quantity over quality because I just wanted to keep working and build a cushion. If I wasn’t working, I felt guilty, like a backwards slide was imminent. In this case, the irrational fear wasn’t all bad because it kept motivation strong. But once again, I was exhausted. So many small business owners burn out because they’re afraid to give themselves a break.

The first year went well but in hindsight, I worked way too hard for too little because I was still figuring out what made my business unique and how to actually convey that. Easier said than done, right? Still, I felt relieved making it through and supporting myself. Because man, that first year is scary.

Advice: Don’t overthink things. Do good work for good people, stay true to your ethics and word of mouth will spread. Reliability, honesty and friendliness are everything.

Year 2 — Attract and Repel

Make what you want more of crystal clear.

The first year in business was all about doing the work (and doing a good job) while the second was all about getting clear on who I actually wanted to do work for.

I’d grown Branch just enough to finally feel a sense of stability which led to me signing a lease on an office space. I was on the fence…but my mom convinced me to do it and moms know best. Getting an office changed everything for the better because I felt like I had a home life again.

Even better, having a space to show up to every morning and set up however I wanted created an ideal working atmosphere and the good vibes drew in more clients.

As the business grew, I quickly learned the value of attracting and repelling. There weren’t enough hours in a day to be everything to everyone and I found that path mentally and physically exhausting. Instead of trying, I re-wrote sales copy. Reworked packages. Focused in on creative small businesses. Brought in a design assistant to help out.

The clearer I got on what I wanted the studio to work on and the more effort I put into our portfolio, the better the fit new clients were. It was really as simple as that.

Advice: Figure out who you are, reflect that in the work you produce and share it consistently.

Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Year 3 — Diversify, baby

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Year three for me has been all about diversifying.

By now, you’re going to be more established and have a core client base that appreciates what you do and keeps coming back for more.

While I am super happy with the mix of clients I’m working with, the biggest issue with running a service-based business is that your income is directly limited to what you can produce in a set amount of hours.

A reality check came earlier this year when I ran a report and realized my #1 client was my own product. Project Prescription held the top ranking, even though I spent 90% of my time on client work. Moving forward, my goal is to maintain current client work while slowly diversifying offerings through digital products.

Diversifying in your business is smart because if one area drops off, you’ll still be okay. I’ve learned from some personal experiences that panicking about how you’re going to pay the bills destroys creative mojo in a second flat.

Advice: Find ways to diversify so you can work smarter, not harder.

It’s your turn:

Do you run your own business?
Is it something that you’re interested in doing? Any questions for me?
Let me know in the comments!

Creative Chronicles: Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Q: I’m reaching out because I feel stuck in my career. When I graduated with a design degree, I was hired by a company that I’ve now been with for  7 years and I’m ready to move on. I have applied for Art Director positions at many companies with no luck so far. It seems like I’m getting a lot of no’s instead of a yes but I don’t believe in giving up so I’m wondering what else I can do. Maybe my portfolio needs a big improvement? I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

A. To this very day, the most common questions that land in my inbox relate to portfolios and landing a job. And trust me — I get it. As a designer, your portfolio is the link to your next big opportunity. Have you ever heard of that saying, “Show, don’t tell?” Well, a portfolio does exactly that. There’s only so much you can say about your accomplishments and the notable clients you’ve worked with. Showing your interviewer actual outcomes is the proof.

Though I’ve written a handful of portfolio-related articles in the past, today’s is a little different since the writer isn’t a freshly graduating student but someone with years of professional experience looking to transition out of her current role and into a new company.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Without ado, here are 10 pieces of advice to succeed when you’re prepping for an interview for a design position:

1. Show relevant work

This is a big one. Think about the company and the industry it is in. What types of projects do you have in your arsenal that would be a good fit? Once you’ve been working professionally for a few years, chances are that you’ve weeded out most of your school projects and have a mix of both corporate and smaller freelance projects to share. Remember that your interviewers have a limited amount of time and usually, there’s no need to share more than 6 to 10 projects. So, how can you make the most impact?

When I was looking for a full-time job a few years back before starting Branch, my previous position had been mostly production work but I was interviewing for a spot on a brand team. Because of this, I left most of the work from my previous employer out and showed mostly branding projects I’d personally completed with freelance clients since these were more relevant. If you do have a project you’re proud of and want to include but it’s not super relevant to the position, just make sure you have a really good story to go with it!

2. Self-initiated projects are fair game

I know how hard it can be getting the right types of projects you want during the first few years of your career. If you don’t feel that you have the ideal mix to share with a potential employer, that’s totally fair. I felt that way for a long time, too but the easiest way around that is to create a project or two for your ideal fantasy client.

This isn’t misleading as long as you’re clear that it’s self-initiated and if anything, it’s a strength to be able to show that you took the initiative to complete a large-scale project on your own time…and finished it! My brother interviewed at Nike years ago and though he didn’t have a lot of work that tied into the job he wanted at the time, he designed his own dream shoe and included it at the end of his portfolio. He got the job!

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

4. Keep descriptions short and sweet

For the most part, designers have a harder time writing than they do putting together visuals and oh boy, do I get stuck when describing my own projects and the outcome! The thing to remember is that you really don’t need more than 3 sentences max to get your point across. If you’re struggling big time with getting to the point and keeping your descriptions short and snappy, I’d recommend hiring a copywriter. It’s worth its weight in gold to have a second set of eyes that can tighten up your writing.

5. Do your homework

When I think back to the best interviews I ever had, yes, my portfolio mattered, but equally important was having a personal connection to the company through a story I could share. When I interviewed for my first-ever design job, I was familiar with the studio’s work and style because I’d attended many of their art openings and parties so it was easy to make them feel like I already fit in.

Be friendly, sign up to newsletters and follow your dream company on social media. The more integrated into their world you are before the interview, the easier it will be to make a great impression. My current employee, Samantha had been following this blog and knew about key Branch projects I’d shared on social media so when she interviewed with me last year, I felt like she was already familiar with our culture and shared common interests. I hired her by the end of our interview because she felt like the perfect fit — I could sense that her integration would be seamless.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

6. Conduct market research

This is one of my favorite pastimes! Some people would call this stalking (ha!) but hey, I look at it a little differently —everything you need to know about a company is already out there. Take some time to read through your potential employer’s website, scan their social media accounts and get familiar with some of their notable projects and accolades. What are they most proud of? If they list employees on their website, get a feel for the kinds of work they personally produce. Look at as many portfolios as possible to find ways you can improve — because I have news for you — your portfolio is never really done! Preparation is key for any interview and the more you know, the better chance you have for sealing the deal.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

7. Mock it up

One thing I’ve learned from redoing my own portfolio dozens of times is that the work you show can always be presented better. There’s always room for improvement and a lot of that has to do with mockups. I am a big fan of mockups because I don’t always have hard copies of printed materials from projects (90% of Branch clients are remote) and also, I don’t have pro-level photo equipment to consistently capture the work I do have on-hand. Mocking up your work allows you to present your ideal scenario of the outcome of a project and create a level of consistency with backgrounds and lighting.

If you need some fantastic, free mockups to get started, I highly recommend Graphic Burger. And, if you have a bit more of a budget and need very specific items, give Pixeden a try.

8. Simple is best

I know it’s hard to avoid because as designers, we’re naturally overachievers, obsessing over the tiniest details to built the best portfolio ever but perfectionism can also paralyze you. When in doubt, keep things simple. White space speaks volumes about your confidence as a designer. Allowing your work to breathe instead of overwhelm is key. Let your crisp, concise visuals and short and sweet descriptions placed on white backgrounds do the talking.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

9. Always send a thank you

If you truly want the job, always follow up the same day with a short but specific thank you message. While actual thank you cards are nice, it’s important to be immediate with this step so I’d recommend an email. Reiterate that you appreciate the interviewer taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you, include one specific fact about the company that stood out in the interview (it shows that you care AND that you were paying attention!) and finally, let them know you think you’re the ideal fit and are ready for the next steps. You can definitely be forward and confident without coming across as pushy.

10. In the meantime, gain experience

If your dream job doesn’t pan out right away, that’s okay. I know it’s easy to say that but I speak from experience. In 2009, I interviewed at a studio I’d always wanted to work at. While the interview went well, they didn’t feel that I had enough experience. I’d only been out of school for a year and while I showed potential, they needed a more senior-level designer. Instead of getting upset, I threw myself into freelancing at every studio I possibly could.

In 2012, an unexpected email landed in my inbox from that same company. What I thought was a quick informational interview morphed into a meeting with the owner and by that night, I had an offer letter in-hand. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. I was able to jump in with both feet and all that additional experience I’d gained was priceless.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Playing the waiting game is hard and building out a portfolio is a monumental task but all that preparation eventually pays off. You’ve got this — sometimes it just takes awhile to get what you want.

If hunting for a design job is something that interests you but you need a boost, I’m working with career strategist Ellen Fondiler and digital product mastermind Paul Jarvis to create Future So Bright, a new course dedicated to helping designers find their dream jobs. The best part is, this course will have a digital portfolio and resume template included. We’re launching later this Summer and I can’t wait to share more!

In the meantime, let me know if you have any portfolio questions in the comments. Always happy to help!

Featured work: We Are Branch.

Creative Chronicles: The Battle for Quality Over Quantity


Today I want to talk about something we face constantly as designers in a fast-paced world: making the choice between quality and quantity.

Every single week, I get inquiries from potential new clients who need something done right away. More like yesterday. And trust me, I get the urgency. The online world is evolving fast and small businesses are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the curve. Updated branding, marketing materials and websites help project the right image. The sooner they can implement updates, the sooner they can potentially book up and sell more.

Even though I get it (I run small businesses myself), I won’t bend my processes or timelines to make it happen. In this world, being the cheapest and / or fastest is a race to the bottom because there’s always someone who can slice margins even thinner. It’s best not to compete on those principles. A few sloppy jobs to appease clients or make a quick buck will do nothing for your image and hurt your bottom line in the long run.

What you do have is the quality of work you put into the world, your ethics, your process, your unbeatable customer service and your personal story. Use these things to convey your worth instead.

Hold Your Ground

Breaking processes and bending ethics to make a quick buck is never a good idea. Things will go bad. Every time I have made an exception, I’ve learned the lesson again. It’s painful when you end up with a disappointed client and it’s your fault because you caved.

A few weeks ago, I was on a call with a client I really wanted to work with and after explaining my branding process, they mentioned they’d already done most of the steps before with another designer. Couldn’t we just skip ahead and use that content, they wondered?

While I explained that it would be helpful to see what they had, we still needed to go through my process in order to get the best results. We’re now a few steps into my process and making some major tweaks to the outcome of their new branding based on things I learned from their questionnaire and pins that weren’t immediately obvious during our original call. If I’d skipped the steps, we would be at a much different outcome (and not necessarily a happy one).

Red Flags

If you’ve explained your process and why it works but a potential customer is adamant that you change it for them, it’s usually a red flag that they’re not an ideal fit. And that’s totally okay — keep a list of referrals on hand for these situations so they can find a better suited partner.

Always remember that you’re a professional. You’ve done this before. There’s a reason for why you do what you do. You have the proven results to back it up. For a project to run smoothly, there has to be a level of mutual respect and a process in place.

I know how tempting it can be to stack on more work, bend your ethics and skip steps in processes to make more money but is it worth it? Does it make you feel good? That’s the only answer you need.

Quality over quantity, always.

P.S. If you need some help with your client process, I created Project Prescription with Paul Jarvis to make it easier.

Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

Creative Chronicles: If You Build It, They Will Come


There are easily thousands of articles scattered across the internet that dish out the advice that your portfolio should be specialized. The thought process is that if you focus in on promoting the projects you want more of, more of the same will flow in.

Specialization and zeroing in on what you’re passionate about is great and I never disagreed with that advice because it makes complete sense. The tricky part for some of us is when exactly we should start specializing. After all, if you focus in too narrowly before building your clientele and audience, it may be harder to make a living.


When I started freelancing 10 years ago, I cast my net really wide for a few reasons:

1. I was still building my client base and audience.
2. I was hungry for experience in a variety of areas. The best way to learn is on the job.
3. I needed the extra income since I was still in school / working retail.

Over time, I did start to specialize and drop projects from my portfolio that I didn’t want more of but really drilling down was hard because I still wasn’t sure who my audience really was.

When I started Branch, I’d just ended a stint working on a branding team at a large agency so I was still trying to find my design style away from heavy art direction. I admired the work they did and their clean, crisp style felt familiar so I used that as inspiration when I built out my own brand.


That was fine because in the first year of business, it’s best to not overthink things. Just go with what you know and start moving forward. Everyone says you should just launch and learn and I agree because you may think you know who your audience is — but it could be completely different than you expect.

Over time, your audience will subtly let you know what it wants. Certain projects will bring in tons of new inquiries while others fall flat. It’s hard to say what that mix is and the only true way to figure it out is through trial and error. Also, your aesthetic and interests will change and that style tends to be present in the work you produce. The more work you do, the more your style comes through.

Going into my third year of business, I finally feel like it’s time to fine-tune the look of my design studio and be more picky about the projects I choose to share. I’m now asking myself what I love and focusing in on that mix — creative businesses with a heavy focus on lifestyle and beauty brands. It’s good to get specific about what you want.


As a creative, what kinds of brands, services and products are you naturally drawn to? What brands share your aesthetics? Once you figure that out, your brand will naturally start to evolve. Once I’d decided what niches were my focus going forward, I felt comfortable softening up our overall look because I now had a customer in mind. The orange went from 100% opacity to 80%. Blacks and dark grays were replaced with creamy carrara marble. Hard geometric patterns were replaced with a halftone image of an orange tree I’d photographed over the summer.

The truth is, things are still a work in progress. Business has literally doubled over the last year and it’s been harder to get all our content switched out. If you’re struggling with the same thing, I feel ya. Treat your own brand as you would a client. Make changes in manageable phases.


After I started implementing changes in the brand and what we shared earlier this year, the impact was near-immediate. The kinds of brands that I’d coveted for a long time started reaching out. As this has been happening, it reminded me of some simple truths:

Your brand is up to you to define.

It’s your job to decide exactly what you stand for.

Ask yourself, “What do I want more of?”

Ask yourself, “What do I want less of?”

Once you know where you stand, you can make changes. As I’ve gotten more focused on what I want and have seen the positive shifts happening in my own business, it’s been a great reminder that anything is possible; you just have to be willing to step up and be clear about who you are and what you want.

Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

Creative Chronicles: The 3 Best Places To Find Stock Photos

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: The 3 Best Places To Find Stock Photos

Sometimes, stock photos are an absolute necessity. Whether you’re a blogger who needs a very specific image for a post or a designer who needs to make an impact with a client presentation, they can set the exact mood you’re tying to convey.

The problem is, there are more bad stock photos out there than good: think of the typically cheesy, overdone 90s-era variety of people in ill-fitting business suits shaking hands or awkwardly composed family photos with fake smiles.

I’m always looking for great stock photos and in an effort to help you find what you need quickly, here are my top 3 picks (two of which offer free downloads):

1. Death To The Stock Photo

I’ve been subscribing since the very beginning because this site offers a free download pack of 10 high quality photos from a guest photographer every month when you join their list. The variety is truly awesome — everything from creative work-related setups to flowers to beautiful landscapes round out the mix. If you want instant access to older photo sets, there’s also plans for that.

2. Stocksy

Hands-down, for creative photos, this is the best paid stock photo site out there. The pricing is very straightforward (no confusing credit plans needed) and allows you to buy small, medium or large sizes for set rates. One feature I love is that when you click on an image, it shows you the exact gallery it’s from directly below so you can find similar styles from the same photographer. One thing that’s also worth mentioning is that if you buy a smaller image size but need to upgrade later, just log into your account, click on your purchase history and pay the difference. No starting over! Genius.

3. Unsplash

This site offers gorgeous, high resolution photos that are completely free and you can do whatever you want with them. Simply click the download button underneath each photo and you’re set! Plus, you can subscribe and get 10 new photos delivered directly to your inbox each week. Unsplash has a variety of photos but the standouts are the natural scenery and modern architecture. The mix is truly eclectic because the number of pro photographers submitting their work is massive.

I hope these three recommendations help you find some beautiful stock photography for your next project!

Photo: Death To The Stock Photo.
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