Little Lessons #12: What A Long Lost Disney Character Taught Me About Comebacks

Nubby Twiglet | What A Long Lost Disney Character Taught Me About Comebacks

It all started on Main Street in Disney World.

As I was walking out of a store brimming with merchandise in the Magic Kingdom, something peculiar caught my eye. A classic Mickey hat had sprouted massive black rabbit ears. “It must be a special edition for Halloween,” I thought. Amused, I picked it up and saw a very Mickey-esque badge on the front emblazoned with Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. Still having not a clue what this oddity was, I carried it up to the cash register. “Is this a real character?,” I asked. The cashier didn’t miss a beat. “Yes, he was Walt’s original creation before Mickey.”

This was my eighth time visiting a Disney theme park and I’d never heard of this so-called lucky rabbit. Surely, I couldn’t be the only one left in the dark about his existence.

Gala and I bought matching Oswald hats and started googling the second we got back to our hotel room, obsession quickly setting in.

It turns out that Oswald was dreamed up by Walt Disney and a partner in the 1920s but Walt eventually separated from the project. New people joined in to create Oswald cartoons, carrying him into the 1940s before he faded into near obscurity.

Walt of course went on to create Mickey Mouse, who bears a striking resemblance to Oswald while the poor rabbit gathered dust until 2010, when Disney finally negotiated buying the rights for good.

The story has a familiar ring: Oswald came first and in my opinion was cuter and much more unique, but things didn’t go as planned and soon, Mickey hogged all the spotlight. Long the underdog, Oswald is finally getting the recognition he’s always deserved.

We all know that feeling too well: we work hard to be original only to feel slighted when someone seemingly less talented rolls up with a similar idea and hits the big time. The sting can be intense and jealousy filled, leaving even the strongest soul feeling slighted.

Being an underdog isn’t easy. The comparison game creeps in and on the hardest days, quitting can feel like the only option. If you’re feeling this way, I want to encourage you to keep on going. Stay focused and stay determined.

Whenever I feel comparison taking hold, I always remind myself that slow and steady wins the race. It’s better to take your time and build your vision in an ethical, meaningful way than to duke it out for a quick moment in the spotlight.

Oswald is my new Disney hero because he’s a great reminder that anyone can make a comeback.


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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 Week In Pictures: 9.25.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

After a few weeks away from home filled with a lot of fantasy and very little reality, I’m having a hard time readjusting. It’s always difficult to come down from the excitement and adventure but at the same time, I’m desperately craving a sense of routine.

Getting back into the swing of things hasn’t happened as quickly as I’d hoped. Late nights out at a dueling piano bar (the boardwalk at Disney World is where the real fun is!) and an epic goth party in New York were compounded by a cross-country flight full of sick people and man, I caught whatever they had. It was worth all the good times with friends old and new, though. There’s nothing funnier than waking up and turning on your camera only to discover oodles of dark, blurry photos of selfies with your #squad.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

New York aways has the coolest street art popping up. I always expect things to be so different when I visit but in reality, so much is still the same. The same bars, coffee shops and clubs I frequented nearly 15 years ago are still standing and I’m still meeting up with friends from my early 20s. It’s a strange feeling of familiarity, another lifetime I exist in for a week at a time here and there.

The most epic day of my New York trip was last Sunday. Kat, Gala and I taught our final live The Blogcademy workshop and with no time for a nap, headed straight out to Necrocomicon, a goth-themed event at The Delancey. It was perfect timing since mine and Gala’s birthdays had happened just a few days earlier so we invited all our friends to come along in their best vampire finery.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

I’d been begging Kat to join me for a goth night for YEARS and damn, she looked good. I hope she adopts this as her every day look!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

Those all nighters at the club DO catch up with you once you’re in your 30s and this is the cure.

2015_nubbytwiglet_WIP_sept25_6

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

I love walking around New York with good company and no plans. The day usually fills up quickly anyway with photo booths, flower shops, new restaurants and browsing boutiques.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: New York City

Traveling makes for a lot of great memories and I’ve been feeling tired of having them trapped inside my phone. I ordered a bunch of my favorite shots through the Artifact Uprising app (just upload and go!) and am so happy with the quality. This is the set I got.

In other news, I’ve been feeling like I’m in a weird transitional phase. Maybe it’s all the traveling and different parts of my life colliding at once but it’s definitely left me wanting to spend less time online and more time in real life.

Earlier this summer, all my luggage was lost in Italy and it never quite caught up with me in New York before I headed home. I was finally reunited with it this week and unpacking it was a total trip. All the random things I’d bought in Italy and Morocco came tumbling out, a bizarre mixture of treasures.

Once I’d gotten to the bottom of a suitcase packed so snugly it was a wonder anyone was able to even lift it, it was back to work on the new Branch site. With a new website comes an updated portfolio. I used to be great about staying on top of organizing and sharing finished work until running a studio became my full-time job. Now, it’s more important for me to stay on top of current client projects but then the weeks, months (and now a year!) has flown by with no updates. Portfolios are the same as everything else in your life — the longer you wait, the harder it is to dig yourself out. It’s been a good test, though — I’m working on a post of portfolio tips to help you get yours into shape, too. All the pain and suffering is worth it. 😉

In a nutshell, this week has been all about catching up. It feels good to hit the reset button. While the break from reality has been much needed, I’m excited to dig back into blogging here regularly next week.

Have an amazing weekend, friends. Sending much love your way!

Link Love: 9.24.15

Nubby Twiglet | Link Love

• Working on a project where you’ll need to hire multiple creatives? Sian has some advice on how to streamline the process.

It’s completely possible to make a $1,500.00 sandwich. After watching this video, you’ll appreciate the convenience of grocery stores so much more.

• Working on a magazine? These 5 cover design tips will get you on the right track.

• If you’re feeling like there’s nothing interesting or authentic about you, read this advice.

• 9 qualities of remarkably confident people.

• Patti Smith just gave the most inspiring interview about being strong, happy and alive.

• Personalizing your blog posts and writing about more than just your business is so important.

• If you’re playing the waiting game right now, Danielle LaPorte has some tips on how to turn it into a positive.

• What you eat can totally affect your productivity.

• 16 simple ways to love yourself again.

• Saying no without burning bridges can be HARD. Here’s how to do it right.

• You have full permission to break the rules.


Image: Feedfolio | donhkoland.
Check out even more Link Love columns here.

The Week In Pictures: 9.20.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

Hello from New York! It’s been an intense yet amazing weekend as we taught our last live Blogcademy class and now, it’s time to get ready for a vampire party. The adventures never end!

I spent the week on vacation at Disney World posing with mascots, sipping glowing drinks, watching massive firework shows at Epcot, visiting one too many gift shops, wearing a whole lot of black and having a magical adventure hopping between parks. In between work, it’s essential to take a break and live it up!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

I love this sign at the Disney World entrance. It sets the perfect mood.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

The best part about Disney parks this time of year is the ample Halloween decorations. If you want to come back after hours to see the Halloween parade, hang out with Disney villains and special fireworks show, the extra pass is so, so worth it.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

I’m always finding a way to sneak in some still life time. Check out that subtle Mickey!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

I feel like a proud mom here. There aren’t any Disney squirrel characters so I bonded with Chip and Dale instead. I told them about Chubs and they were so enthusiastic. Haha.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

Small World is such an awesome midcentury modern trip!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures: Disney World

I hope you had a great weekend! I’m enjoying the last bit of my time here in New York and will be back to a regular schedule after next week. Sending lots of love your way! xo

Link Love: 9.17.15

Nubby Twiglet | Alishia Farnan

• Ever wonder what goes into designing a book cover? It’s so much more work than you’d think and I love this behind the scenes look.

• 5 tips to get even more consistent.

• Want to get back into the groove of writing regularly? Take this challenge from Joanna Waterfall.

• I am completely obsessed with this floral wallpaper.

• Need a rad space for your next live event? Splacer is so brilliant.

• These are the tools designers are using most today.

• Need help getting your posts organized in WordPress? Read this.

• Check out these awesome IKEA hacks.

• 4 tips to beat creative block.

• I’m loving Minimalissimo, a blog obsessed with all things having to do with minimalism.

• The myth of quality time.


Image: Alisha Farnan.
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Branded #8: Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Nubby Twiglet | Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Last year, I noticed the branding of a beautiful new bakery popping up all over Pinterest. With a tiled white interior and large neon pink sign emblazoned with “I got baked in San Francisco,” I was immediately sold on the style of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

Nubby Twiglet | Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Over the weekend, I was in San Francisco teaching with Blogcademy and the bakery happened to be around the corner from our venue. While it looks larger in photos, in reality it is a shoebox-sized storefront packed with a lot of personality.

Nubby Twiglet | Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Nubby Twiglet | Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Founded by two bakers who wholesaled their pastries around the city for years, the Tenderloin-based bakery is selling out its contents every single day thanks to its mix of cool branding and unique offerings including the now-famous cruffin, which is a croissant baked in a muffin tin, then filled with pastry cream and rolled in sugar.

Nubby Twiglet | Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Nubby Twiglet | Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Like many small businesses, the biggest drive towards getting the word out to new audiences has been Instagram. The photos do all the talking, showing off their instantly recognizable gold boxes. The standout branding was designed by Aron Tzimas.

Nubby Twiglet | Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

While there are tons of bakeries out there, Mr. Holmes has acheived near-instant success thanks to its unique offerings (hello, cruffins!) and humorous yet simple branding. It’s a great reminder that success can be achieved by taking a pre-existing idea and adding a unique twist.


Photos: Shauna Haider, SF Eater and The Dieline.
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