Category Archives: Graphic Design

Get Your Small Business Questions Answered LIVE with Project Prescription!

2016_NUBBYTWIGLET_PP_1

Processes, processes, processes. Who needs them?

Creative small businesses, that’s who.

When I started freelancing a decade ago, I was full of creativity but came up short on knowing how to manage client expectations and deliverables. Everything looked good from the outside but on the inside, my business was a mess. The turning point was when I launched Branch. I took the time to build out process documents that took potential clients from interested to signed with very little effort and since then, my business has grown massively.

Nothing changed about the work I produced but everything changed about the processes I used. It worked so well that I partnered with Paul Jarvis to create Project Prescription.

When it comes to running design studios, we’d like to share what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, why — as well as answer any questions you’ve got TODAY at 1pm PST.

You can watch us LIVE and ask us questions right here.

See you soon!

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.
Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

Where Do You Work? Here’s Where My Creativity Happens.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s creative workspaces. When I get really into what they do, whether it’s design, photography, painting or another creative endeavor, the next thing I wonder about is where the magic happens. I love the behind-the-scenes shots and also, learning more about their processes.

In a world that feels increasingly digital and disconnected, seeing where someone works feels grounding. It reminds us that what they did didn’t just magically appear online — it was crafted by a fellow human through a process of trial and error.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

I’ve been in my current studio space for nearly a year and a half now and it still makes coming to work feel exciting. To this day, it’s not perfect and I’m okay with that. I shot these photos yesterday without any staging or rearranging to show you what it’s like in its current state.

BRANCH_STUDIO_7

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

The prep-time before I moved into this space was nearly non-existent so you can see that there’s no finishing trim along the bottom of the walls. The plywood floors show grime quickly. The mostly brick structure and old windows make for some very cold winters which means that Samantha (my design assistant) and I are usually sitting next to a space heater. But I love it. I love the feeling of turning a key every morning and opening the doors to a space I can call my own.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

You might remember this post from early last year, right after I moved in. The space looked pretty good but has shifted quite a bit since then. The desk got switched out to a large kitchen table with space for two iMacs. My flat files moved in to house print samples and office supplies. A ton of succulents were added. Small switches in furniture and objects has meant that everything feels more organized and purposeful now.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

While I adore this current studio, it’s number 5 as far as creative spaces go. One thing that can be deceiving with having a blog (and being online in general) is to just show where you are now — because that never tells the full story. I’m one of those people who LOVES the story behind the story. With this space being a personal blog and a way to connect with you, things will never be picture perfect. That’s real life. Are you ready to take a little trip down memory lane with me?

My Past Creative Spaces

I pulled out a hard drive last night that was so old it needed to plug into a wall on one end and a USB on the other! It’s the size of a stack of journals and makes a loud, whizzing sound. I started digging for photos of my previous creative spaces — and wow, were they loud and messy! I could only find photos of the last two but I’ll tell you about all of them.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

Space #1: The first was in my childhood room at my dad’s house — it’s where I started blogging on Live Journal and where my business ideas began! My dad helped me pick out bright red paint for the walls when I was a teenager, even though it made him cringe. Haha.

Space #2: My next space was in a house I shared with four guy roommates from 2005 to 2007. It was my first time living away from home so I had a lot of fun experimenting with decor. Thinking back now, it was a cluttered mess! This was my space all through design school.

Space #3: In 2007, I moved into a rental that had more room and privacy. It’s where my blog really grew and I built my freelance business while working my first full-time design job. There are some photos of it mixed into these collages.

Space #4: In 2009, my brother and I bought our house and it had enough room for me to set up a dedicated office space across the hall from my room. Over the course of two years, I went from a barren room to a well-designed space. This is the room where I launched Branch in 2013. Most of the photos in these collages were taken here. It’s since been redone and looks like this!

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

Space #5: After a year of running Branch from the spare room at home, I signed a lease for a studio in my neighborhood filled with other creatives and this is where I’m at currently. I love it but it’s good to remember that it wasn’t an overnight transition — in fact, it took nine years to get from my room at my dad’s house to here!

If you’re dreaming of having your own dedicated space, I want to remind you that it’s not out of reach. One of my favorite mottos is, “Do what you can with what you’ve got.” It’s definitely kept me going when things were less than ideal and makes me appreciate what I have now even more.


Your turn: I’d love to hear about your creative space! Do you work from home, in a co-working space or a favorite coffee shop? What do you love about it? What would your dream space be like?

Say Yes To Those Creative Challenges

Nubby Twiglet | Olivine Atelier Daily Love Cards

What happens when a project lands in your lap that you’re equal parts excited and terrified over?

The short answer: Say yes, dive in and stretch the boundaries that you’ve inadvertently set for yourself.

I talked about the Daily Love Cards project by Olivine Atelier quite often here as it progressed because it really challenged me, in the best way possible.

When you’re running a business, the last thing you want to do is to play it too safe. I’d already done that for years in corporate jobs and it crushed my creative soul, little by little. I longed for more challenges, more creative projects and more weirdness. When they now appear, I say YES.

Creativity should be free to morph and take us on paths less frequented. That’s exactly what this project did with 34 different designs, all loosely tied together with a few basic themes. A list of inspirational words, three months of scanning, photographing and experimenting…and here we are. It’s hard to believe that it’s finally done and out in the world.

Nubby Twiglet | Olivine Atelier Daily Love Cards

Here’s to pushing your personal style, trying new things and stepping into the unknown. Instead of boxing yourself into what you’ve always known, ask yourself what would happen if you just said yes to something today that scares you. The outcome is usually worth it.

Surround yourself with friends and clients that push you to explore, experiment and encourage you to try new styles. It’s what keeps life interesting.

Check out more of the process and project here.

Creative Chronicles: Five Places to Buy Fonts

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #12: Five Places to Buy Fonts

Let’s get down to one of the basics you probably use every single day as a designer: fonts.

To stand out from the crowd, good fonts matter big time. Yes, there are dozens of free font sites out there but they’re not always created equally. The kerning in free fonts may be off and some important characters are most likely missing from the glyphs.

These days, Branch often works on upwards of five unique branding projects at any given time so I buy a ton of fonts. After all, even if you have a defined style, you want each project to stand apart on its own as much as possible.

These are the five places I love buying fonts from, each with different strengths and varied selections:

1. You Work For Them

I’ve been shopping at YWFT for so long that I remember when they specialized in design books! Their font selection is solid and while they do have over 40,000 fonts, they are neatly organized with simple thumbnail previews so you can scroll through quickly. The basics are thoroughly covered but there are a lot of fun gems as well, like the retro section.

2. Hoefler & Co.

If you have a bigger font budget, buying a few complete families is a great investment and Hoefler & Co. has some of the strongest options around. They’ve been around for over 25 years and take great care in everything they produce. My personal favorites (that I use on a near-daily basis!) are Archer, Gotham, Knockout and Chronicle.

3. House Industries

If your style veers more towards midcentury modern and funky, House is your place. I love them so much that I have their beautiful screen printed posters on each side of my bed! Also, do yourself a favor and sign up for their free catalog. I use a lot of House fonts in projects but my all-time favorite is Eames Century Modern. I also love that this foundry uses its best-selling fonts on home goods, too. I’ve long dreamed of having the Neutraface address tiles on a future house.

4. The Designer’s Foundry

This site works with dozens of international designers to produce beautiful custom fonts. They are always on the cutting edge of trends but manage to keep their selection super tight with a big focus on affordability. I have a huge crush on Kitune, Marle and Selador. If you’re working with younger, edgier brands, start here for font research.

5. Creative Market

I’ll be the first to admit that Creative Market is more ideal for buying assets like textures, mockups and imagery but I do use them a lot for unique handwritten fonts because they have many talented letterers selling their goods on the site. Creative Market has some amazing font options I’ve never seen anywhere else but be careful to read the licensing fine print because it’s not as clear-cut for commercial use. Font-wise, I’m a big fan of Madina Script and Faith & Glory.

I hope these font site recommendations inspire you to invest in your personal library. And if you have recommendations of other places you swear by, please share them in the comments!


Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

Creative Chronicles: Streamline Processes, Teach Clients How To Treat You and Charge More with Project Prescription

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

When I started freelancing ten years ago:

1. I assumed that my creativity alone would be enough to stand on.

2. I thought that my great ideas and follow-through would be enough to earn a full-time living.

3. I assumed that by saying nothing, my clients would automatically know how to treat me.

And….then I learned the hard way that none of the above were true.

Does earning a living as a freelance designer feel like an uphill battle but you’re not sure how to transform your career into something more lucrative? I feel you — because I spent years in the same boat, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

The Process Problem

From the beginning of my career, I had a strong sense of style but no matter how creative my ideas were, at times I struggled to get work approved and even worse, to charge what it was worth.

Designers can be a sensitive bunch and when things didn’t go my way, I often took the rejection personally.

My issues had nothing to do with creativity or talent and everything to do with teaching my clients what to expect. My creative work wasn’t falling flat….but my processes were.

As you navigate the tricky world of running a freelance business, one thing becomes very clear: producing creative work is only half of the equation. The other half is less obvious but it’s just as important.

Processes are everything. Without them, you’re missing the opportunity to increase your output, get treated fairly and earn what you deserve.

Having a process wasn’t always clear to me and for good reason: nobody likes to openly discuss their internal processes.

And, can you blame them?

It’s their so-called “secret sauce” and if they give it away, they’ve essentially handed over what makes them unique. While design style is important, how you present it and convey your value to clients is what makes you a living.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

The Shift

What finally changed for me?

I worked at a lot of studios, attended plenty of workshops and retreats, asked a ton of questions and swapped ideas with fellow freelancers. I kept digging until I’d cobbled together a process. Then, I launched Branch and tested it out a few dozen times, making tweaks along the way.

Once I was happy with my process, I started thinking: if I struggled for so long with this, there has to be others who feel the same way.

And, let’s be honest here: processes can take a lot of time to develop. When you have projects to get done, the last thing you want to do is dump a bunch of time into something you’re not sure will even work.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

The Simple Solution

I had an idea to share ready-made process documents but knew it could be better so I reached out to Paul Jarvis. He’s worked with the likes of Marie Forleo, Danielle LaPorte and dozens of others over the last 17 years and, as you can guess, his process is SOLID.

With our partnership, Project Prescription was born: a set of 15 fully customizable documents so you can quickly add your branding, colors and fonts to a pre-set formula and get back what you love — the creative side of things.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

Interested?

Sign up for our mailing list for an exclusive download of two free documents plus a specially priced offer when Project Prescription launches.

Developing a process for your creative business doesn’t have to be intimidating and full of unknowns. Project Prescription launches February 7th and I genuinely hope it helps you level the playing field and grow your business.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with more specifics about the documents and how to put them to work for your creative business! -Shauna


Fine print: To customize Project Prescription documents, a basic knowledge of InDesign is recommended. Documents are built on the Adobe CC Suite. A trial version of InDesign can be downloaded here.

Questions? Email us at us@theprojectprescription.com.

Project Spotlight: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 6

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 6

Taking on a gigantic magazine project last summer, it definitely took awhile for me to feel comfortable and hit my stride. I’d worked on Rock n Roll Bride Magazine years before but it definitely wasn’t the same beast, being self-published and having less than half the content.

When the opportunity landed in my inbox, I knew it was the right decision for Branch to pick up design duties but I’ll be the first to admit that I was scared. This was going to be on the other side of the ocean on newsstands and in stores, next to the biggest magazine titles in the world and my studio had less than 2 months to redesign the entire thing from scratch, on top of the work we’d already pre-booked with clients.

I’ve never been so nervous about a re-launch in my life.

Thankfully, that issue nearly sold out in the first week, with thousands quickly making their way around the world.

Now that we’ve wrapped the third issue and it’s available for sale, I feel like I can breathe again. The design feels more cohesive, the content flows and each issue is more creative than the last thanks to Kat sourcing the most unique weddings and funding custom shoots.

Whether you’re planning your own alternative wedding or just looking for ideas to throw a kick-ass party, I hope you enjoy it. And if you want a few more peeks inside, head on over here.

Thanks for reading!