Category Archives: Graphic Design

Paint, Glitter + Flowers: A Peek Inside Art Bride

Nubby Twiglet: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine — Art Bride

For the most part, I spend my days at Branch rotating between creative direction and design on a mix of branding, print and web projects.

While these are the core focus of what we do, I’m always game for a surprise — something that’s a bit off the radar. Those little surprises keep you on your toes and as a creative, there’s nothing like that jolt which I think of as an equal mix of adrenaline, excitement and fear.

Nubby Twiglet: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine — Art Bride

Nubby Twiglet: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine — Art Bride

So when Kat of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine emailed me with an idea for an editorial feature that included doodling over the top of the photoshoot she’d commissioned, I was ready. I’ve always wanted to test out this style but the deadline was tight and…there were A LOT of pages to fill.

Nubby Twiglet: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine — Art Bride

My lead designer at Branch, Sam was once a fine art major and after we went over the idea, she felt we could pull it off — so we jumped in. Since this had a fine art angle, I wanted to keep the style more organic than our typical processes to see where it took us. We collaborated on a total of 14 images (on top of designing the full issue — basically, that’s where I was for the last month!), a handful outcomes of which are shown here.

Nubby Twiglet: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine — Art Bride

Nubby Twiglet: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine — Art Bride

There was a big team that made Art Bride happen (see below) and I am in love with the beautiful images they shot in London, allowing us to embellish them here in Portland, thanks to modern technology.

If you’re interested in seeing the full outcome in print, copies of Rock n Roll Bride are available here and can be shipped worldwide.

Nubby Twiglet: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine — Art Bride


Art Bride Team: Photography: Devlin Photos. Styling: Mr & Mrs Unique & The Bijou Bride.
Art Direction: Kat Williams. Hair: Lovehair & Co. Makeup: Louise Seymour.
Model: Kenya at Lenis Models. Illustrations: Branch (Shauna Haider & Samantha Sacomano).

Creative Chronicles: Managing Negative Client Feedback

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Managing Negative Client Feedback

Let’s tackle one of the hardest parts of owning a service-based business today: managing negative client feedback.

I’ve talked about the negative feedback that comes along with sharing your work publicly but negative feedback from clients can sting on a much more personal level because they’ve sought you out and hired you for your expertise.

Even if negative feedback is very rare, it can stick wth you much longer and really affect your mindset. I’ve heard stories of fellow designers wanting to throw in the towel completely or change the direction of their business after negative feedback. It can make you question everything.

Before digging into tips that can help you manage negative feedback, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Long before I was a graphic designer, I worked in retail for about 5 years selling shoes and it taught me a lot about working one-on-one with a variety of personalities.

As a salesperson, negative feedback is inevitable. Sometimes, you’ll have an off day and a customer will complain that you weren’t friendly enough, though you can’t pinpoint what actually went wrong. And on others, an irate customer may take out their aggression on you when you can’t accommodate a return, through no fault of your own.

After being in a few of these situations, it became obvious to me that when someone is upset, getting upset in response and throwing negative emotions back at them is like squirting a bunch of lighter fluid on a fire! Instead of fighting fire with fire, the first step you can take is to stay cool, calm, and collected (even if you’re dying inside).

I can vouch for this tactic working in even the diciest of situations. I once had a mentally unstable person swing a large metal shoe horn at me when she didn’t get her way but because I didn’t add negative emotions into the mix, she eventually ran out of energy, gave up and put it down. After an interaction like that, everything else seems like gravy!

Here are 5 tips to help you manage negative feedback like a pro:

1. Being honest about expectations clears up a lot of misconceptions.

An upset client often boils down to a simple disconnect — they’ve misunderstood the process and feel lost but don’t know how to communicate that. One game-changer with my business has been clearly stating a general process in our media kit. Once they’ve signed on, I attach a PDF process sheet to their email for every step and this usually answers all their questions while letting them know what to expect. Giving your clients a clear framework of what happens when will put them at ease.

2. Lending a sympathetic ear goes a long way.

As a client, there’s nothing worse than feeling misunderstood. Even a simple miscommunication can come across totally wrong over email. If this happens, get on the phone or Skype as soon as possible and clear it up. Taking the initiative is important and it shows that you care enough to make things right. After a quick chat you’ll be able to pinpoint where things went wrong and put together a plan to move forward.

3. It’s not always about you and the work.

This is the hardest one to understand because it’s not rational. On the very rare occasion when a client has really blown up and I can’t pinpoint where the anger is coming from, I take a step back and remind myself that it may be a side-effect of something else that’s happening in their life. When this happens, I think back again to my shoe selling days — whenever a customer was really upset, after talking to them at length, it never really was about the shoes. If this happens to you, talk to someone you trust to get it all out before responding because throwing negative emotions back at a client will accomplish absolutely nothing.

4. If you notice the same issues with multiple clients, use a feedback sheet.

I learned this tip from Paul Jarvis. Remember, a lot of your clients are new to hiring a professional designer and it can be hard to know what kind of feedback you find helpful. How much should they give you? How many directions should they choose? They’re not mind readers and what you think is common sense is all new to them. With Project Prescription, we added a feedback guide that teaches clients how to give you the feedback you want. This is another simple way to put clients at ease.

5. You can’t be everything to everyone.

This is something I’m still learning on a daily basis. There will be clients who you connect with from the first call and become deeply intertwined. Projects and feedback naturally flow with very little effort. And then, there will be the occasional client, who despite your best intentions, is impossible to please. Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be and cutting ties is necessary.

If you find yourself at this crossroads, remember that it’s not about letting a client down but instead caring enough about them to know that you’re not the best fit for what they want. If you find yourself in this position, take the experience and funnel it into providing the best service possible for the clients you do click with.


It’s your turn: have you received negative client feedback and how did you handle it? Did the situation turn out as you expected?

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.

VVV_VROOM_MOCKUP_3

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.