Link Love: 5.15.14



• What’s the difference between a font and a typeface?

7 guidelines for writing emails that people actually want to read.

• Iconic designer Massimo Vignelli has fallen ill but you can mail him a letter.

• Take a visual tour of some of California’s most beautiful art deco cinemas.

• Some blogs are saturated with a nonstop rotation of giveaways. What are the benefits and downsides?

• Erin Jane shares her story about how she became a freelance graphic designer.

• What’s the benefit of using a pseudonym in place of your real name online?

• An honest look into the topic of whether people are really brands in themselves.

• 101 things to love about New York, a list from NY Times Magazine circa 1976!

• Web designers, this is a must read: 6 ways to make your developer happy to open your files.

• Tips and tricks for your email newsletter.

Photo: Audrey Hepburn by Howell Conant.

Latest & Greatest #24: Kaleido Trays

Nubby Twiglet | Kaleido Trays

I take nearly every photo on this blog and while my white dining room floor makes a good backdrop for most of them, it does get boring. To add some visual interest to my photos, I picked up a set of Kaleido Trays a few months back. They were definitely an investment but since then, they’ve been the perfect prop, whether I’m snapping a product shot or using them alongside my design projects.

Nubby Twiglet | Kaleido Trays

The thing to note about the trays is the quality — these aren’t flimsy, molded plastic. They’re powder coated steel. Designed in 2012 by Clara von Zweigbergk for HAY (aren’t all of their products awesome?!), I now find myself using them nearly every day, whether it’s to hold a vase of flowers, brighten up the guest room or be a catch-all near my desk.

Nubby Twiglet | Kaleido Trays

Nubby Twiglet | Kaleido Trays.

The great thing about Kaleido Trays is that you can buy singles or the full set. It’s up to you.

Keleido Trays are available at Design Within Reach.
Check out more Latest & Greatest columns here.

Little Lessons #6: The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change. Embrace It.

Nubby Twiglet | Stay True To Your Path

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.” —Heraclitus

When we’re kids, we’re taught that we can be anything we want to be when we grow up and that the world is full of endless possibilities. We openly use that encouragement to explore the options. Kids can change their minds every single day about what they want to be “when they grow up” with absolutely no consequences.

But as adults? If we change our minds too often, we’re called hypocrites, flakes, flip-floppers and unfocused. It’s looked down upon to change your mind, especially with school and careers. People, especially your parents can be really hard on you. “You’ll ruin your life!” “How will you make any money?” “Why would you want to leave a comfortable path for this?!” It’s painful to hear.

If you’re having a hard time right now, it does get better.

I get so many emails from readers who feel stuck in school for a degree they are no longer passionate about, a career that isn’t a good fit or a job that is soul sucking. At The Blogcademy, many of our students are burnt out by their current blog topics but worried about changing it up. It doesn’t have to be that way forever. Changing up your life is okay. Give yourself permission.

I spent all my free time in school doodling on my worksheets. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had it all figured out: an artist.

When I was touring colleges back in 2000, I realized that I couldn’t take the ups and downs that being an artist would have in store for me — a degree in business seemed like the most sensible option. During my summers off from school, I spent my days in a corporate office. I sat next to ladies who, in their 50s and 60s, had spent the better parts of their lives in offices. None of them seemed like they were having much fun. All anyone around me did was gossip about one another by day and drink heavily and chain smoke by night. Sure, I could finish school, climb the corporate ladder and have a nice paycheck waiting for me every two weeks…but that just didn’t feel right. I wanted out but I’m not a quitter. Instead, I finished up my degree, left that office job for good and took a year off, selling shoes instead.

Once I’d regrouped, I went back to school for what I was actually meant to do: design. I still remember sitting in my college’s office, filling out paperwork explaining why I wanted to return for a “lesser degree” (I had a four year degree and my design program was two). I don’t even exactly remember what I wrote. I just knew that I had to find a way in.

When you’re feeling stuck and like you’re not on the path you want to be, there are always going to be people who will try to convince you to stay right where you are. But remember, it’s not their life, it’s yours. It’s never too late to make a change.

Photo: Made U Look.

The Week In Pictures: 5.9.14


Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Hello from San Francisco! This is my first time spending more than a few hours here and I LOVE it. I’ve been reunited with Kat and Gala and we’ve been living it up in the equivalent of a modern haunted mansion. The weather has been awesome and every restaurant we’ve tried so far has been spot-on.

Yesterday, I made a special trip to Réveile Coffee to see their magnificent tiling in person which resulted in a moment of urban camouflage. Haha.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Before I left for San Francisco, this was my go-to breakfast: Trader Joe’s multigrain waffles, blackberries and plain yogurt. Simple, quick and delicious!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

I’ve been feeling super inspired in these surroundings and jotting down new ideas in my notebook.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

My ideal building exterior: black and white, of course!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Great packaging!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures
I love this colorful gaggle of chairs at a café on Valencia Street.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

A Sunday afternoon still-life. Helvetica Moleskines are still one of my favorite treasures.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

La Palma had the best tacos I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Their secret? Homemade tortillas.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Today is our last day off before teaching begins so we’re off to see some sights with fellow local (and kickass photographer) Kristin Cofer. Have a great weekend, everyone! xo

Link Love: 5.8.14


Nubby Twiglet | San Francisco

Hello from San Francisco!

• Top designers share their 3 favorite typefaces at the moment.

• Want to be famous, successful and booked ’til forever? Alexandra Franzen tells you how.

• 271 years before Pantone, this artist created an 800 page book of swatches.

5 ways to nail your social media branding.

• This is amazing: an online gallery of 118 subways stations in Manhattan.

• Taking a closer look at images, what does it mean to be Pinterest perfect? How is this skewing our reality?

• As a designer, discovering your process is a huge part of your success.

• 4 ways to use Pinterest for your business.

• Learn all about prime lenses and focal lengths to take your digital photography to the next level.

• I always appreciate a good Courtney Love interview. Never a dull moment!

• Octopuses are smarter than you think.

Moulin Rouge for kids in 1950s Paris!

• 6 superpowers that actually exist!

Image: Airows.

Little Lessons #5: Launch And Learn

Nubby Twiglet | Launch And Learn

I’m a planner. While this is considered a positive trait in daily life, planning too much can be detrimental, especially when it comes to business.

Case in point: Since last year, I’ve been working out the details for a number of digital products for Branch and Blogcademy and in my mind, things needed to be perfect to launch. I felt that offering anything less than my best work was a bad idea. But I’ve since realized that it’s not an all or nothing mindset when launching products; there needs to be a middle ground.

While Star was visiting me a few weeks back, I was going through my list of digital product ideas with her. I was thinking of waiting so I could release some of them as a set. She shut the idea down immediately. In her world in San Francisco where she’s surrounded by start-ups and web developers, to make things happen, you have to be able to “pivot” fast. If you don’t move quickly enough, you’ll miss the boat on the next big thing. In my world, I call it “launch and learn.”

Star’s advice to me was clear and immediate: Instead of sitting on an idea, do the best you possibly can at the time, even if it’s not perfect. Launch. Learn from the launch and apply those improvements to the next round. The reason for this is because you can do never-ending market research, design the most beautiful product ever and come up with a brilliant plan to market it but that still doesn’t guarantee your offering will be successful.

It all made sense. I was sitting on great ideas because I wanted them to be perfect…and I was missing the boat.

Looking back, launching and learning is is exactly what we did with The Blogcademy. We had a content outline, we had a very simple WordPress website, we wrote the copy ourselves…and I had two days to design the branding. We had no idea if the business would be a success so we didn’t want to invest too much upfront. We launched, sold out our first-ever class in under a week…and then learned. A lot.

Our first class was full of bumps. I hopped an overnight flight to NY, we packed the goodie bags ourselves and showed up at our very tiny venue. The whole weekend was a little rough around the edges but we kept applying our learnings to each class following that. By the end of our first year, things ran really smoothly and our presentation had improved immensely. But if we’d sat on our idea, fine-tuning and perfecting the presentation, workbook, venue and our marketing copy, we would have lost our momentum, a year of income…and honestly, we wouldn’t have even been that much better off. Because the only way to really know what works and what doesn’t is to let it out into the world: launch and learn.

Stop sitting on that amazing idea. Get started, get it out into the world and if things don’t go as planned, that’s okay. That’s part of the learning process.

Tools Of The Trade #17: Death To The Stock Photo

Nubby Twiglet | Death To The Stock Photo

Why is it so difficult to find good quality stock photography at an affordable price?! So much of it is just downright cheesy. And, it can be very time consuming to dig up. That’s why I love Death To The Stock Photo so much.

Sign up and each month you will receive a link to download a bundle of free, high quality photos that you can use to illustrate blog posts, client projects, mockups and more. I’ve been a subscriber for a few months now and each pack is solid — no primary colored backdrops, creepy smiles or corporate handshakes in sight! You can get a good idea of the quality from the newest spring-themed pack above. Beautiful, right?

One of the most common questions we get from students at The Blogcademy is where they can find high quality images to illustrate their blog posts if they don’t have the means to take their own photos. Well, here’s your holy grail.

And, if you’re a designer mocking up projects and need some good general background images, they work great as well. I actually just used a few in the Chutzpah Creative post!

What are you waiting for? Sign up now and say goodbye to questionable stock photography forever.

All photos: Death To The Stock Photo
Check out even more Tools Of The Trade posts here.