Category Archives: Graphic Design

Getting Creative with Very Very V

Nubby Twiglet | Getting Creative with Very Very V

As this year winds down, there’s one personal project I’m extra excited about: Very Very V. It’s turned into something much bigger than a course and is a chance to explore design concepts for my ideal vision of a brand.

When Erika and I started working on this business a year ago, it was because we were both seeking a creative outlet not attached to a dollar amount, client expectations or a deadline.

Nubby Twiglet | Getting Creative with Very Very V

We wondered: what would happen if we threw out the pressure of delivering content by a certain date and instead, experimented like style-obsessed mad scientists who worshipped Diana Vreeland?

We took our time, allowed ideas to blossom and in the meantime, began sharing personal anecdotes on our mailing list along with black, red and pink-filled graphics over on Instagram.

Nubby Twiglet | Getting Creative with Very Very V

Each week, VVV blossoms bit by bit and we’ve moved beyond just a course. That will happen eventually but there’s talks of something so much bigger than just that: a community — a place for women who want to hone their voice and visuals. Over time, there will be products. This is just the beginning.

Nubby Twiglet | Getting Creative with Very Very V

As Very Very V continues to grow, I hope it inspires women to tell their stories honestly and fully, dress exactly the way they want, express themselves visually and be unafraid to go big.

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If you want to keep up with VVV, you can join the mailing list and grab Vroom, a free style guide with stories to get you inspired right here.

More Than a Pretty Picture: The Story Behind the Cover

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 11

Good design is great but when there’s a great story behind it, that layer of depth makes it even better.

This cover Rock n Roll Bride is my favorite yet because of the story inside. Of course, the couple is beautiful and photogenic. What you can’t see is that the bride, Jaquie had been wheelchair-bound for the 8 years prior to her wedding day after a spinal cord injury left her paralyzed from the chest down.

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 11

After a year dedicated to intense physical therapy and countless hours spent at the gym, she surprised the audience at her ceremony by not only walking down the aisle but dancing the night away. As my designer Sam and I were laying out the cover, I thought a lot about how too many magazines focus on putting models and unattainable ideals on their covers instead of real people with amazing stories that can inspire us to strive for more in our own lives.

When I read an article or blog post, I want the grit, I want the comeback story and I want the passion. I want to feel like maybe the seemingly impossible is somehow possible, that whatever setback there is can be overcome, even when I’ve heard otherwise.

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 11

The timing of this cover really hit home because my cousin’s surgery had complications and he hasn’t been able to walk since. It’s been a very difficult time and this cover and story is a reminder that anything is possible. This year has been a tough one for many people I know and perhaps you, too. Working on a magazine dedicated to real weddings and love always leaves me feeling good about those happy moments in the world.

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 11

If you’d like to pick up a copy of issue 11, you can have it shipped straight to your doorstep!

This post is a reminder that sometimes, all you need is love.

Creative Chronicles: Show Up and Do the Work

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Show Up and Do the Work

There are classes and courses that promise all sorts of things that will get you ahead but there is no shortcut for simply showing up and doing the work.

Over the weekend, I met a graphic designer named Calypso (best name ever!) for coffee. As we sipped our lattes, the conversation turned to careers.

“How did you get your start?” she said.

“I interned and that led to my first job” was my first response but that was too nice and neat. There’s always a story behind the story and it’s usually full of hard work and years of sacrifice.

The truth is, new skills can be learned by nearly anyone. There’s always going to be someone more skilled than you. So…how do you get ahead in your industry?

1. Arrive on time.

2. Show up and do the work.

3. Be a decent person.

4. Make the lives of the people around you easier.

5. Get the work done, even if you’re having a bad day.

6. Stay late if needed and don’t complain about it.

7. Have a sense of humor.

8. If your job is done, help someone else out.

9. Clean up after yourself.

10. Act like you want to be there.

Rinse and repeat.

I know this all sounds like common sense but it’s easy to forget these little things when you’re in the thick of it and stressed out with looming deadlines. I clearly remember that I was never “the best” at any of the jobs I worked at. Most of the designers around me had a lot more experience. The reason I was still able to get ahead was the exact list above.

I learned something early on: showing up and doing the work and being gracious while making the lives around you easier will take you further than any advanced degree in your industry (which I didn’t have).

The next time you see someone who you internalize as being more talented and skilled than you, remind yourself that’s not all that matters. That’s only part of the equation. Being the best possible version of yourself and showing up and doing the work is the other half. And once you realize that…things seem much easier.

This quote from Chuck Close drives the point home perfectly:

“In life you can be dealt a winning hand of cards and you can find a way to lose, and you can be dealt a losing hand and find a way to win. True in art and true in life: you pretty much make your own destiny. If you are by nature an optimistic person, which I am, that puts you in a better position to be lucky in life.”

Showing up and doing the work isn’t easy but if you’re driven and treat people with kindness along the way, there are so many doors waiting to open for you.

Coming Soon: The Art Of V

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What’s that big dream you’ve been holding back on? I think we all have something we’re afraid to do or maybe we just aren’t sure if we can pull it off on our own.

I had something rumbling in the back of my mind but it took me awhile to pinpoint what it was.

Design and blogging have always been the core of what I do but after a decade of doing both, I knew there was something more I needed to add to the mix.

I’ve always loved design because it’s a way of being creative while also helping small businesses see the bigger potential in what they can do through a polished, cohesive brand and visuals. Design can be very isolating, though. Sitting behind a computer all day gets lonely at times and that’s where blogging has always come in — it allows me to connect with you, to share more personal stories and to be creative outside of work.

Still, there was something more pulling at me — maybe there was a way to combine the aspects of both sides of my career and help more people feel that electric, creative energy that can light up a room.

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The more I thought about it, a specific lady stood out as the perfect partner in crime. We’d met years before at an early Blogcademy workshop in LA. I spotted her in the crowd right away — she had dyed black, long hair like I did and a penchant for over-the-top fashion. She was polished but really funny at the same time.

Her name was Erika Lyremark and she had one of the best stories out there (and trust me, I love a good story — my favorite pastime is reading celebrity Wikipedia pages).

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We reconnected a few years later and the The Art Of V was quite literally born over a single Skype call.

What is the The Art Of V? It’s a marriage of voice and visuals.

Quite simply, it’s a course for women who want to own their voice (via Erika) and elevate their visual style (via me). By mastering and those two things, they can transform their creativity into profitability.

While the course won’t be available for a few more months, we wanted to give you a taste of what’s to come so there’s a freebie at the bottom of the page called Sneak Peek. Sign up, download and please let me know what you think — it’s packed with personal stories from both of us along with tips to get inspired and be more of who you are.

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“There’s only one thing in life, and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration.” —Diana Vreeland

Creative Chronicles: When Your Job Is Uninspiring, How Do You Stay Motivated?

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: When Your Job Is Uninspiring, How Do You Stay Motivated?

An email from a long-time reader just landed in my inbox and I think it’s something we can all relate to. What happens when you feel like your creative spark has dried up and you’re just going through the paces, trying to do your job but nothing feels inspiring?

Her Question

I graduated high school in 2010 and during those years I felt so inspired by every project and was given 100% creative freedom. When I enrolled in college, I learned more structured things about design, how I couldn’t just paste pretty pictures wherever and that it had to have meaning.

Now I’m into my first real job with a real paycheck in marketing. I’ve been here about a year and a half and somehow I feel like all my ambition I once had is gone. I’ve become so used to doing everything how the client wants that most times I no longer feel like a designer but a middle man clicking and dragging things in InDesign.

How can I get that passion back for design I used to have in a job where everything is based on templates or dictated? What are some things I could do outside of work to help? I no longer create much of anything and don’t even draw anymore. How do I overcome the fear of failure when I try to create and it isn’t as good as when I was practicing/using my skills weekly?


My Answer

Let me start off first by saying that this isn’t a permanent feeling. It’s not the end of the world. With a little effort, it can get better.

Secondly, we’ve all been there. Remember, what you see online is only part of someone’s story. Most designers only show the hyper-creative, stylized work they want more of because that’s what makes sense to build their business.

The truth is, most designers have other gigs, some on the side a few hours a week and some full-time that pay the bills. These other gigs allow them the wiggle room to take on the fun, creative jobs that are often lacking the big, juicy budgets while giving them the opportunity to build out their portfolio and attract more of the right kinds of clients.

Quite a few years ago, when the economy was dismal, I took a long-term freelance gig that was mostly production work for sports brands. I loved the people I worked with but the work I produced wasn’t exactly what I was passionate about. Still, I stayed for over a year because that steady paycheck allowed me the freedom to take on freelance jobs I was excited about on the nights and weekends.

Thanks to that job, I was able to set aside extra money to travel and stay inspired. I was able to splurge on beautiful letterpress business cards for my freelance business. I was able to design the branding for a makeup company that had a smaller budget. I was able to pay all my bills on time. So, while the job wasn’t the perfect position I’d dreamed about, it covered my basic needs so I had the luxury to explore the creative side of things on my own time.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: When Your Job Is Uninspiring, How Do You Stay Motivated?

A job is only as uninspiring as you let it be

Yes, you have to listen to your boss and the clients you’re responsible for but you can find ways to still have fun.

At my past jobs, I would often do a version of the design I was told to do but also include a second version of what I thought it could be.

You might not always have the time to do this on quick turns but when you do, flex your creative muscles.

Between projects, I would scroll through Pinterest and look at design and style blogs to get a creative jolt.

There’s a world of inspiration out there and it is also a great reminder that your current position is temporary if you want it to be.

When I felt really uninspired, I would walk to the nearest coffee shop.

A few minutes away from what’s dragging you down can provide much needed clarity.

On really bad days when I felt like I needed to quit immediately, I called my agent, Dan and he gave me pep talks.

Find that one person who can help you keep things in check. Your situation isn’t that bad.

No Job Is Perfect

I’ve gotten hired at places I thought were perfect from the outside and they weren’t. Branch isn’t perfect, either. It’s always easier to think the grass is greener on the other side.

Think of every job you have as a stepping stone. Each place you end up teaches you something new. The jobs you struggle the most at will also teach you the most.

The times where I felt uninspired, exhausted or was driven to the point of tears felt completely unbearable in the moment but I learned a lot about myself, what I was good at and where I fell short. Those moments taught me what I wanted more of in my career and what I should steer away from all costs.

The only way to learn these things is through life experience. It’s not fun…but it makes you stronger and it makes you a better designer.

Your Job Is Not Your Life

Outside of your job, do whatever it takes to get inspired and bring that energy with you to work.

Make friends with other creatives who are driven and motivated. Invite them to classes, events and parties.

Commit to creating a self-initiated project that will keep your skills fresh.

Make time to visit bookstores, museums and coffee shops.

Always carry a camera, even if it’s your iPhone. Pay attention to what you’re drawn to.

Remind yourself that creative slumps are normal. Nobody is “on” all the time.

Being a designer isn’t easy and you’re going to have plenty more ups and downs. But, I think the ups far outweigh anything and you’ve got this under control. Good luck!

Create a Seamless Client Experience with Project Prescription for Photographers

Nubby Twiglet | Project Prescription Photography

Photographers, I’ve heard you loud and clear: you need a process that works, too.

The one thing I know for sure after freelancing for a decade is that earning a living as a creative becomes easier when you have a process in place that you believe in and can easily relay to your clients. The more they understand about how you work, the easier it becomes for them to commit to working with you — because quite simply, it alleviates the fear of the unknown.

Most creative school programs teach you how to produce epic, jaw dropping work but the trade-off is that they don’t teach you how to be a good businessperson. And, as much as creativity matters, it’s not enough on its own to pay the bills.

Nubby Twiglet | Project Prescription Photography

The Backstory

Today I want to share a new version of Project Prescription with you, specifically designed for photographers.

As you probably know by now, Project Prescription is a set of customizable documents I originally created with Paul Jarvis earlier this year to help graphic designers take the guesswork out of creating a client process, from beginning to finish.

Creating this offering seemed like a no-brainer because I’d struggled so much in the beginning of my career conveying my worth to potential clients and it held me back big time. Because I didn’t know how to explain the strategy and steps behind what I did, I wasn’t able to charge livable rates and lacked confidence in presenting the work I produced.

After years of trial and error, I created my own process and perfected it across hundreds of client projects. Project Prescription for Designers is based on the processes both Paul and I use on a daily basis to run our respective studios.

Shortly after launching Project Prescription for Designers, Paul I started receiving emails from other creatives who were also struggling to figure out a process that worked. What we didn’t expect were the emails we received from another audience altogether: photographers.

Nubby Twiglet | Project Prescription Photography

Project Prescription for Photographers

Luke Copping is a photographer I admire immensely. He was one of my first-ever clients back in 2009 and we’ve built out dozens of projects together in the years since. I admire his creative work, his dedication to the photography industry as a whole and his willingness to help other photographers understand how to build viable businesses.

What sets Luke apart from his peers is that he isn’t just a photographer — he is a process fanatic. Luke has every step of his creative process precisely documented and knows how to clearly communicate to his clients how he works and how they’ll benefit directly from that work. As a professional that not only manages his own studio but is often traveling to remote sets for extended periods of time, he has to be extremely organized.

For Paul and I, partnering with Luke to create Project Prescription Photography made perfect sense. After years in the trenches working directly with professional clients, he knows what it takes to produce stunning images. But, like any photographer will tell you, snapping the perfect shot is just one piece of the overall puzzle. There are contracts, shot lists, questionnaires and so much more that happen before that even takes place.

Nubby Twiglet | Project Prescription Photography

What’s Included

Project Prescription Photography includes the following:

• 20 fully customizable process documents broken into 4 areas including Onboarding, Pre-Production, The Shoot and Post-Production & Delivery (read all the descriptions here).

• InDesign and Google Doc file formats so you can use whichever software you’re most comfortable with.

• U.S. sizing (8.5 x 11) and European sizing (A4) for every document.

• A screencast that explains how to quickly customize your documents in InDesign including changing out the logos, colors and fonts.

Project Prescription Photography is available at a discounted launch price of $88.00 for this week only. After that, it will return to its regular price of $108.00.

Nubby Twiglet | Project Prescription Photography

Whether you’re a beginning photographer looking to build a process from scratch or a seasoned photographer interested in perfecting your process, Project Prescription Photography makes it easy to customize your documents and get back to what you’re most passionate about — your work.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about Luke’s background and how having a process transformed his own career, you can read more about his experiences right here.

Creative Chronicles: Pay It Forward

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Pay It Forward

Pay it forward is defined as responding to a person’s kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else.

There are points in our creative careers when we need a helping hand — someone who is willing to reach out and make a connection that gives us a chance to take a much needed leap.

When I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer in my mid 20s, it was a bit overwhelming. Learning the skills needed to find a job in the industry was hard enough but perhaps more challenging was the fact that I didn’t have a single connection to make it happen. A decade later, I’m happily running my own studio but it was a battle to get here. Luckily, a few kind souls along the way believed in me and gave me a chance.

So that’s the topic of today: paying it forward and being genuinely helpful without expecting anything in return.

I’ve been thinking about this topic because I get emails from fresh design graduates all the time wanting to meet for coffee or do portfolio reviews. Though I can’t say yes to everything and am often traveling, I always try to respond and make the time whenever possible.

A few weeks back, I met a wonderful girl named Rose and as we were reviewing her portfolio, I mentioned that it was really important for me to get out and meet with new graduates because it was my small way of giving back.

The reason for this is because if it wasn’t for the four people below believing in me, I don’t know where my career would have ended up.

Here’s the backstory: when I decided to go back to school for the third time at 25 (yes, it took me awhile to figure out I should be a designer AND that it was a viable career), I knew that I wanted to work at a studio or agency within 2 years…but knew no one.

I got to work on making that happen but with rent to pay and full-time hours at a shoe store, I never had time to go out and make many connections. The one time I did was to a party at Nemo Design. I walked in and thought, “I want to work here.” Little did I know that a few years later, it would be my first design job.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Pay It Forward

ENCOUNTER #1: CHRIS

Chris ran my design program at Mt. Hood Community College and as our first year of classes came to an end, I told Chris I wanted to have an internship during my second year. “Where at?,” she asked, without missing a beat. “My dream would be Nemo Design.” She fired off an email to a former student who worked there a minute later and that eventually opened the door to my first interview.

ENCOUNTER #2: PADDY

I spent the summer of 2007 sending emails and walked into Nemo a few months later for an informational interview, my cheap plastic portfolio with just a year’s worth of projects pieced together. All the designers and art directors were busy so Paddy met with me instead. We hit it off because she liked that I enjoyed blogging and working in a variety of design styles. Thanks to her kindness, I started my first ever internship a few weeks later.

ENCOUNTER #3: DAN

When the economy tanked, design work was hard to come by but a chance meeting with Dan changed everything. He became my biggest cheerleader, sharing my work with studios around town and eventually got me a gig at Nike. One placement at a studio was supposed to last 3 days and ended up stretching on for over a year, giving me much needed stability. To this day, Dan and I still grab lunch and keep in touch — I know I can trust him, no matter what happens in my career.

ENCOUNTER #4: JULIE

Cinco Design was somewhere I’d always dreamed of working but it felt completely out of reach. Their work is so smart, sleek and polished. A day before I was supposed to sign a contract with another studio, Julie emailed me out of the blue. We’d met during an interview at another company years before and she asked if I wanted to stop by. At the end of that meeting, I had a job offer. Soon after, I started working on their branding team. I only had the chance to stay for a year and a half (Blogcademy took off and traveling kept me on the road) but I’ll never forget everything I learned during that time with Julie as my Creative Director.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Pay It Forward

A lot happened in between each encounter but these 4 meetings stand out as being the catalyst that helped me build a career. We’ve all had moments where someone believed in us when things felt impossible and their acts of kindness helped us reach our goals. The great thing is, as we reach new levels, we can each do the same.

How can you pay it forward?

• The next time you have an overflow of client inquiries, recommend a friend who needs some extra work for the job.

• The next time you hear of an opening where you work, think of the people you know who may be looking for a new job.

• The next time someone asks you to introduce them to someone you know, take the time to make it happen, right then and there.

• The next time you spot an opportunity on Twitter, Instagram or a blog, forward it to to the first person who comes to mind.

Acts of kindness don’t have to be massively time consuming — setting aside 10 minutes can literally change someone’s life.

Pay it forward.


Photos: Made U Look