Category Archives: Graphic Design

New Beginnings at Branch

Nubby Twiglet | New Beginnings at Branch

Have you ever built a website for yourself? Yes? Isn’t it funny how without fail, it always takes three times longer than expected?!

Branch launched two years ago and the time had come for some nips and tucks. What I thought would happen six months into the life of the business is now just taking place. Where does the time go?

Please take a look around and let me know what you think! Overall, the site is much more comprehensive. In particular, I’m loving the bigger images in the portfolio and blog. Not having a sidebar is such a breath of fresh air!

Nubby Twiglet | New Beginnings at Branch

This relaunch also marks the debut of a feature I never quite got around to the first time — a mailing list! You can sign up for the Branch Bulletin at the bottom of any page on the site and as a thank you, you’ll receive an immediate gift of a PDF linked with our 50 top design resources. Expect behind the scenes stories and exclusive goodies every month.

And with that, I’m off to celebrate….and hopefully take another two years off from redesigning the site! 😉

Thanks for your continued support!

Strengthen Your Presentation and Charge More For Your Work: My Top 5 Portfolio Tips

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Portfolio Tips

Portfolios are like all great things in life: on the surface, they tend to look effortless but behind that facade is a ton of blood, sweat and self doubt.

I’m no stranger to portfolios. My first one was pieced together back in 2006 inside a cheap, borrowed vinyl cover full of thin, plastic sheets. Even with its lack of prestige, it helped me land my first design internship. From there, I refined the look, invested more money into assets and eventually, translated my print book over to digital.

With nearly 10 years of creating portfolios behind me, you would think it gets easier but the same sticking points always pop up. Creating a portfolio is pressure-packed because it’s a culmination of your entire career sandwiched into a handful of projects. And that, my friends, is no easy task!

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Portfolio Tips

As I’ve been reworking my own portfolio this month, I wanted to share my top 5 tips to make your process easier:

1. Focus on quality over quantity

It doesn’t matter how prestigious the client is if you don’t feel strongly connected to the work. Bottom line: if you don’t want more of it, don’t share it. I’ve completed projects for the NBA, NFL, Forever 21, Foot Locker, Virgin Records and Adidas but the aesthetic no longer fits my current style of work so I’ve chosen to leave them out.

Tightening up your portfolio and focusing on only your absolute best work can be scary because you’ll have less work to show. That’s okay! Always remember: you don’t need to be everything to everyone. With this fine-tuned approach, you may get less inquiries but the ones that do come in will be more solid and lucrative.

As a side note, If you’ve done work for big name companies but don’t want to share the outcome due to a nondisclosure agreement or it just not being your style, the solution is to add them to a list of clients you’ve worked with on your website. That way, you still get the recognition.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Portfolio Tips

2. Tell a story through your order

What kind of story are you trying to communicate with your body of work? When you’re arranging projects in your portfolio, there needs to be a beginning, middle and end.

The golden rule is to always start and end with your strongest projects. These are the bookends of your portfolio that make you memorable. In between, this is your opportunity to tell more of your story but make sure to mix it up! If you have two strong projects from the same genre, don’t put them next to each other because then it then becomes a comparison game to the viewer. “Oh, the last one was WAY better.”

When I’m deep in the zone of arranging, I’m thinking about the following: genre, services offered, masculine vs. feminine styling and the color story. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to arrange your projects but you should have a reason behind the order.

3. Include brief but powerful descriptions

While a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s important to frame up each project with a brief backstory. A few sentences is plenty. And, if writing isn’t your strong point, it’s totally okay to hire a copywriter to polish up your ideas. Portfolios are a direct gateway to your next job so spelling and composition must be spot-on.

To get you started, a basic project description usually includes this three part format:

1. Title: client / project name, date completed

2. Subtitle: services offered

3. Description: explain how you helped them achieve their desired outcome

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Portfolio Tips

4. Mock it up

If your client only had a budget for a brand identity but it’s one of your best pieces of work, show its full potential with mockups. While people viewing your portfolio do care about your actual work, they also want to see the bigger potential of transformation. They want to be moved and inspired enough to hire you.

A logo on its own doesn’t express its full breadth but when mocked up on business cards, websites and products, it becomes larger than life. My favorite sources for mockups these days are Pixeden and Creative Market.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Portfolio Tips

5. Specialize, specialize, specialize

A truly great portfolio attracts and repels in equal measures. Stand your ground and be confident in what you want more of. The immediate effect of being confident and selective is that you can position yourself as an expert in certain areas instead of being a jack of all trades. And by doing this, over time you’ll be able to charge more for your services.

These days, I want more lifestyle, beauty, food and fashion brands so that’s nearly all I show. It’s amazing, too — once I elevated the two beauty brands I’ve worked with in my portfolio, larger beauty offers began rolling in.

Saying no isn’t easy but drawing a line in the sand will allow you to have more time to focus on the projects you truly love.

Portfolios are a constant work in progress but it feels good to know that what you’re showing is your best possible presentation.

If you still have questions about your portfolio, let me know in the comments!

Featured projects: Aroha Silhouettes, Kay Li, Brand New Ways, Shien Cosmetics and Olivine Atelier.

The New Look of Rock n Roll Bride Plus 6 Awesome Printing Resources

Nubby Twiglet | The New Look of Rock n Roll Bride

Today, my friend Kat’s alternative wedding publication, Rock n Roll Bride Magazine hits newsstands across the UK and if you’re located somewhere else in the world, you can order it here.

When your friends do awesome things, lift them up and celebrate their accomplishments! I know how hard Kat worked on this project because my design studio Branch spent most of the summer collaborating on both her new branding and magazine design. These are some peeks at the outcome!

Nubby Twiglet | The New Look of Rock n Roll Bride

I know that many of you are either branding new businesses or going through a rebrand yourself and with that comes the need for promotional materials. While Kat’s magazine was sent off to a professional printer, I use a lot of print on demand companies for projects and wanted to share some businesses I’ve had great results with to get you started.

Nubby Twiglet | The New Look of Rock n Roll Bride

1. Moo

Moo is by far my most-used printing resource. I’m constantly ordering business cards, stickers and flyers for clients and the Luxe line is especially awesome. The paper stock is extra thick and you can even get different colored edges on many of the products. While the quality of their offerings speak for themselves, what really elevates Moo above the rest is their fantastic customer service. I’ve had my share of customer misprints and they fix them every single time, free of charge. Pretty amazing.

2. Overnight Prints

When I need postcards fast, I rely on this company. Their prices are the best around and they can get you what you need very quickly. I’ve been a customer for 10 years now and while I don’t use them for more premium print jobs, they are a great solution for one-time events or when a generous print budget just isn’t an option.

3. Magcloud

I use Magcloud all the time. They are the best around for print on demand items like workbooks, look books and posters. Even better, they offer a bulk discount when you order 20 of the same item. I’ve ordered from them a few dozen times when we need Blogcademy workbooks and every single time, they’ve arrived on time and perfectly printed. Even better, they ship worldwide and provide immediate tracking numbers for peace of mind.

Nubby Twiglet | The New Look of Rock n Roll Bride

4. UPrinting

UPrinting is great when you have a specialty piece in mind. They can do tons of die-cut items including business cards and hangtags. I recently ordered square business cards through them for Branch and the quality is really good.

5. Blurb

If you’re self-publishing or doing a print-on-demand book, Blurb has beautiful pre-made templates and even better, hooks in directly with Amazon to help you get your book in front of an oniline audience quickly and easily. The quality of their printing is great and you can produce anything from trade paperbacks to coffee table books.

6. Artifact Uprising

This is a VSCO owned company so naturally the design of the site and examples of what they offer are top notch. If you’re interested in producing keepsake-worthy fine art prints and photo books, this is your place. I use them to produce square Instagram prints.

Nubby Twiglet | The New Look of Rock n Roll Bride

I hope these resources help you print your new collateral with style and ease!

Project Spotlight: Miracle Worker

We Are Branch | Miracle Worker

Miracle Worker is an online course designed to help you find your next meaningful career opportunity and earlier this year, Branch had the honors of designing the branding, workbooks and social media assets.

I have a major obsession with gradients and I know it’s one of those love / hate things in the design world but I can’t get enough! The gradient solution worked especially well here because there are two distinct personalities behind Miracle Worker: Gala, the queen of fuchsia and Ellen, the queen of orange. Blending their two key brand colors made sure both of their personalities were represented.

We Are Branch | Miracle Worker

To learn more about Miracle Worker (and what that icon means!) please click through to the full post on Branch.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my design work — I always love hearing your feedback!

2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

In late 2009, I sent Joey a message on Facebook. Though I’d known him for years through some friends of friends, I hadn’t realized that he made really cool art. I loved making art, too and was curious to chat about his style and process.

One quick drink that fateful night turned into five dates over the next month. He moved into my place 4 months later and within 9 months of that meeting, we were married. Things moved quickly by anyone’s standards but I wasn’t worried — I’d learned to trust my intuition and have always lived by the premise that when things feel right in life, you’ve just gotta go for it.

I’ve never been known to be traditional and I wasn’t about to start with our wedding. We had basically no budget and the thought of running up debt for our special day just didn’t feel like a smart start to our life together. Instead, we flew to Vegas in September of 2010 with my BFF Bianca in tow and headed downtown for a quick ceremony in a chapel next to a pawn shop. It was short, sweet and full of lots of laughs. We did things our way and I don’t regret it at all.

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

A few years after we were married, I was walking through Nordstrom when I spotted a dress on the mannequin with a bold, chartreuse stripe cutting through the middle. It was perfect for a trip I was taking to Palm Springs the next day to shoot promotional photos with Made U Look. I bought it on the spot.

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

Little did I know at the time that a single dress would end up inspiring our 5th anniversary party invites. Joey and I never had a celebration for our families and skipped taking a honeymoon. We passed on a lot of the more common wedding basics and I love a good excuse to throw a party so 5 years in, we are hosting a backyard gathering in September and inviting all our loved ones.

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

And, it just happens that I’m really good friends with a letterpress shop in town, Darling Press. Our upcoming party felt like the perfect opportunity to embrace some special touches and design a letterpress piece my family could keep forever. Last week, I brought in my dress and we color matched the chartreuse stripe to the edges for a perfect match.

After our backyard party with our families, Joey and I are flying to Palm Springs to relax and commemorate our 5 years of marriage and it’s the perfect opportunity to bring that aforementioned dress along to once again shoot with Made U Look. This time, I’m even going to have a legit bouquet! 😉

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

It’s funny how everything works out. I’m glad we went with what we had at the time. Having a limited budget and little time never impacted how we felt about our day or each other. Without all the flash and distractions, it allowed us to focus on what mattered most: our relationship.

Five years in, this all feels right.

Whatever your plans are, always make sure that outside pressures don’t get in the way. Do things exactly the way you want — it’s your special day, after all.

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Letterpress Invites

2010 Till Forevs will be continued later this year with photos from our backyard celebration and also, our shoot in Palm Springs. Thanks for reading!

Palm Springs Photos: Made U Look.
Letterpress: Darling Press.

Project Spotlight: My Non Leather Life

Nubby Twiglet | Branch: My Non Leather Life

My Non Leather Life is a vegan lifestyle brand that Branch recently worked with on rebranding, print collateral and a blog design.

What made this brand particularly unique is that it had two separate interests content-wise. This led to two distinct outcomes — for lifestyle and fashion-focused content, branding featuring moon cycles is used while vegan / fruitarian health focused content features fruits and veggies.

It’s been fun moving deeper into the food and lifestyle categories this year and there are many more projects in this realm to come. Feel free to check out the rest of the branding outcome here and thanks as always for your support!

You Have to Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

Nubby Twiglet | You Have to Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

This week has been very full-on as my studio wraps up the newest issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine. The whole thing was redesigned from scratch over the last two months and even though it’s the largest scale project I’ve ever personally taken on, it’s also been one of the most rewarding. Editorial design for me doesn’t really feel like work in the same way other genres do and that’s partly because it’s like an old, dusty dream finally coming to life.

When I was a teenager, I read Vogue and Bazaar as I sat in history class (and that’s exactly why I know most fashion designers on a first name basis while my history knowledge completely sucks). My dream was to work at one of the big, glossy magazines in New York but I don’t think I’d quite figured out what job I’d actually have there because my discovery of graphic design as a career was a ways off.

Even with blogging and agency life over the next decade, the thought of working at a magazine never really left. At my jobs, I always took on the lifestyle campaigns and anything with print was my jam. Life was good but the thing with dreams is that they never really go away. Sometimes, they just manifest instead in unexpected ways.

When I first started working with a British wedding blogger named Kat in 2010, it was first on a logo project and then a blog revamp. A few years in, she mentioned needing a brochure to hand out at a wedding fair and even though I knew I’d be taking on a lot more work for the same pay, I volunteered to turn that brochure into a 40 page magazine. That magazine turned into a print run of 1,000 copies and within a few weeks, they were completely gone.

Nubby Twiglet | You Have to Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

That eventually led to an annual self-published magazine. And finally, here we are producing a 160 page magazine with distribution across the U.K. including newsstands and supermarkets. I never thought something I designed would end up on the rack sitting next to the big guys I’ve long admired. As we get ready to send the files off to the printer in a few days, the nervousness is kicking in as I roll through the spell checking and print production. This is real life.

If you have a dream, always keep an open mind and look out for opportunities to make it a reality, even if things unfold differently than you imagined. My dream of working at a magazine got put on hold for a decade while I worked a variety of other jobs and then, with Kat’s small project, I saw an in. I had no idea it would turn into something much larger and in a way, that was a godsend because there wasn’t the pressure of expectations.

Keep a flexible attitude with your dreams because sometimes, the reality turns out to be even better.

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” —A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Images: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine, Issue 4.