Branch recently wrapped up a bundle of new projects with Luke Copping including a print promo set, branded rubber stamp and thank you cards. Luke was one of the first freelance clients I began working with six years ago and we are still experimenting and trying out new ideas all the time, collaborating on everything from magazines to newspapers to wedding invites! You can see the full outcome of Luke’s new projects here.
What’s your take on wearing all black to the beach?
I say the more, the merrier! Since I wear head-to-toe black on a near daily basis, it might as well cross over to my fun, games and vacation, too. Why all the black? It’s classic, it never goes out of style and truthfully, when you take long trips like I do, it’s nice to open your suitcase and not be faced with a pile of clashing colors and patterns that don’t work together (which I used to fall victim to more times than I’d like to admit).
Some of you long-time readers might be nodding at the familiarity of this neoprene dress — that’s because it’s the long-lost relative of good ol’ Zipper Hips, an old-school favorite that still lurks in my closet. The neoprene makes it beach-ready but the accentuated silhouette adds a bit of drama, which I know you fellow beach goths love!
Get the look: 1. neoprene dress, 2. zip-front maillot, 3. mesh midi cover up, 4. mesh rashguard (I own this and the fit is awesome), 5. straw boat hat, 6. cage bikini top, 7. lost weekend shades and knee-high sandal.
This photo sums up the way I feel every time I’m in LA. Hey, beach goths can be happy, too! 😉
Depending on how you look at it, one of the downsides of being a graphic designer is that it can be a very solitary existence. Like many creative fields, there’s a lot of time spent in front of a computer, on the phone and doing research — alone.
Looking back at the nearly 30 Blogcademy workshops we’ve taught around the world, the one thing that’s stuck with me most are the relationships. Getting out of my office and into the classroom has allowed me to meet women from all walks of life and I’m so glad to now call many of them friends. While forming relationships and learning online is great, nothing can replicate the energy that a face-to-face meeting brings and that’s why I love our live events so much.
When you’re teaching in a live setting, not every event runs smoothly but this one was a perfect example of the magic that can happen when all the variables line up. From the venue to the decor to the high energy, I kind of didn’t want it to end.
We taught at Biz Dojo and if you’re in Auckland and on the lookout for a co-working space, this place is awesome. It’s super stylish with the friendliest staff.
Without a doubt, this class tied with San Francisco as being our most colorful. This group of women had the most fabulous style, from candy-colored sneakers to beautifully embroidered caftans.
One of the most exciting parts of this class was having the opportunity to meet ladies I’d known online for years including Steff Metal. Though she’s legally blind, she’s written several books, officiates alternative weddings and runs a successful blog. I have one word to describe her: inspiring.
You know what makes me smile? Great decor. And Wink sure delivered. I mean, how can you go wrong with mini silver balloons spelling out B L O G and faux polaroids (including a snapshot of Chubs!) lining the walls?
Smiles! Palm Trees! Confetti!
Okay Auckland, you’d already won us over but you weren’t quite done yet! One of our lovely ladies in attendance, Te Kiira stood up at the end of class and sang us a song — we stood there, smiling from ear to ear as she belted it out. There’s a first for everything! New Zealand, I seriously love you. I’ve never felt so at home while being so far away from home.
Upcoming In-Person Classes
Since we aren’t doing as many in-person classes this year, make sure you don’t miss out! Next up is London in June at the beautiful Curtain Road Studios and it would be amazing to see you there. You can also grab tickets to San Francisco, New York City, Melbourne and Sydney.
Win a Copy of Blogcademy Online
That’s not all, folks! Right now, we’re running an Instagram contest for 5 lucky participants to win their very own copy of Blogcademy Online! To enter, just upload a photo of the place you blog / work from (could be your bed, office or favorite coffee shop) and tag it with #theblogcademy by this Wednesday, April 29th. Check out examples here to get inspired. Woohoo!
Did you have a good week? Mine wasn’t too shabby — my mom brought me cookies, I had a lot of laughs with my accountant (he always has the best stories) and there were some squirrel cuddles mixed in…so I can’t complain!
I’ve been in major spring cleaning mode at the office, shifting furniture around, figuring out the best configurations — moving in happened so quickly that I never took a time out to do it and I’ve definitely been getting inspiration from our new neighbors, Wide Eyes Paper Co. who just arrived from San Diego.
It’s always so exciting (and unexpected!) when a client sends you a pile of inspiration in the mail. I love the mix this client pulled — clean, edgy and modern. All things I can get behind. 😉
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trader Joe’s is the best place for flowers. Fresh and affordable!
This is very long overdue but I’ve been finally getting to work revamping the Branch media kit and website. A year and a half ago, we launched in 10 days flat and the polished, tight presentation I wanted was never quite there. I’m finally getting the vision out of my head and into the computer. But sometimes, after a day in front of the computer, it makes more sense to take over a wall and tape up your brand vision, piece by piece.
Dream car status: this Citroen I spotted over the weekend. Such a beauty!
My updated life motto: Work hard, play harder. Life is too short to be unhappy, to feel stuck in a place you don’t want to be and to feel your dreams aren’t possible. On that note, I love this quote:
“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. If somebody puts you down or criticizes you, just keep on believing in yourself and turn it into something positive.” —Leah LaBelle
Have a great weekend, friends!
• Feeling stuck on what to blog about next? Gala has 20 great ideas to get you going!
• On a super tight travel budget? Check out HovelStay, the cheap alternative to AirBnB. Peruse quirky options like my personal favorite, staying on an alpaca farm.
• Have you seen Barbie’s Instagram account? The attention to detail is amazing.
• Here’s what the earliest Apple homepage looked like.
• Amazon really does offer it all! Its latest addition? A goat grazing service!
• Sian has 5 great tips for creating your first business website.
• My most favorite bride of all time is Priscilla Presley. Love her look, too? Here’s how to get it!
• If you’re wondering what the best gold spray paint is, here’s your answer!
• Promise has some great advice on multiplying your productivity.
• Into The Gloss has rounded up 32 of the best natural beauty products out there.
• Demand higher standards.
Image: The Design Chaser.
“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” —John Lennon
I qualified in design 13 years ago and had been a full time designer, but the market changed locally and I found freelance tricky to get paid. I’m currently working as the I.T. guy in a civil engineering firm, which I enjoy, although I miss the boom of satisfaction from working on a great design, and seeing it born into print or digital media.
I feel stuck in a rut. Many folks I know who were designers into our 30’s have drifted away from the industry, mainly for financial reasons but I don’t want to be one of them. The freelance angle is something I keep my hand in so I don’t lose my skills, but I’m unsure of what the break would entail, or how to start.
You loved design so much that you majored in it and carved out a career. But then, life threw you some curve balls. Clever and quick, you rebounded, finding steady employment in another field. It’s comfortable and it pays — on paper, shouldn’t that be enough?
If you’re not creatively fulfilled, that void will gnaw away at you every single day. How do I know? Because I’ve been there…and the only solution was to get back in the game.
When the economy crashed in 2009, design and advertising were hit especially hard. Budgets were slashed and work became much less steady. To make ends meet until the industry picked back up, I took on extra hours at my previous shoe store job. I’d never closed that door completely and it’s a great lesson to never burn your bridges! To keep my skills sharp, I picked up as much freelance as possible (no job was too small) and reminded myself that the position I was in would soon pass. And, it did. Within a year, the industry began to rebound and I landed a placement at a local design studio that soon stretched onto a year and a half of steady employment.
If you’re feeling stuck in your current position and want to get back in the design field, here are 5 tips I’ve personally used to build my career:
1. Befriend your design peers.
Sounds simple enough, right? Never underestimate how far being a nice person who is genuinely interested in others will take you!
Branch gets dozens of new client inquiries a week and for the ones we can’t take on, I immediately pass on a list of design referrals for other freelancers and studios. This list is made up of people I’ve met in person or people I’ve known online for years. Having that personal connection makes me trust the people I’m recommending that much more. I met half of the people on that list at Designer VACA.
Even if you aren’t able to hit up every event and convention, make a list of 10 people you admire today and reach out with a simple introduction. Once your relationship has solidified, let the designer know that if they have any work overflow, you’re available.
2. Create self-initiated projects.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from designers who’ve taken a break is that they’re not sure how to land the types of clients they want because they don’t have any of that genre of work to share in order to get hired. It’s a loop that can seem endless but there is a fix.
What’s your dream brand to work with? Whether it’s Anthropologie or Apple, you can create a fictional project to showcase your design chops as long as you clearly call it out as such. Even better, dream up a business of your own and then design it into reality!
Self-initiated projects do hold weight. When my brother was trying to get into Nike, he created his very own shoe design and ended his portfolio with that piece. It showed that he was serious about working there and took the initiative. He got the job.
Need more insight on self-initiated projects? Check out this post.
3. Brush up on new skills.
If you’re feeling stuck and uninspired, the easiest way to remedy that is to sign up for some new courses. My top picks are on Skillshare because some of the most talented designers in the world are teaching you their tricks of the trade for a reasonable price. Learn from the best and then show off those skills in some self-initiated projects!
4. Put up an online portfolio.
The easiest way to get more work is to share the work you currently have. The golden rule with sharing your work is that you only want to showcase what you’re willing to do more of. I have piles of work that I did for sports brands and the NBA and NFL but you’ll never see it in my portfolio. Instead, you’ll find work from creative, innovative small businesses because that’s what I’m most passionate about.
5. Share, share, share.
Wrangle an invite to Dribbble and also pin projects from your design portfolio to Pinterest. As a side note, I just had a project that got repinned 50 times from my Pinterest board — think about how many times it then got pinned from those 50 boards and it’s digital marketing gold. Finally, don’t be afraid to share those behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram — often, they’ll get more engagement than a finished project because people love to feel like they’re part of the creative process. Stay consistent, be relentless.
Remember, the right clients are out there, they just have to know how to find you. Give them the “in” that they need — and if you do a great job, they’ll refer you to everyone else they know! To this day, I can draw out a spider diagram from five core clients and everyone else I’ve worked with since literally connects off them. Even with the internet at their fingertips, people still value personal recommendations the most.
I hope these five tips help you jump-start your design career once again. It’s never too late to pick back up where you left off.
Your turn: Do you have any tips to add to the mix? Have you been in this situation and what were your solutions to remedy it?
First off, if you’re new here, The Week In Pictures is a column featuring photos taken throughout my week. As a self-employed designer, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in client work and forget to take time out to experience the world around me. The blogs I enjoy reading most have a strong personal point of view and I want to do that once a week, essentially giving you a glimpse behind the curtain. Thanks for joining me…and you can check out the archives here!
Joey flew down to San Francisco this week so I spent a lot of time at home with my two fur-covered little ones, Rocky and Chubs. The above photo is the view from my couch — I’m waiting on a mirror to arrive and then I’ll give you the full tour. 😉
Standard desks never have enough space. I was always stacking everything, trying to keep my coffee, flowers and other odds and ends from flying off. After searching around and realizing that I’d need two desks or to build something custom, I found an IKEA kitchen table which is not only the perfect height but can easily seat 2 to 4 people. We’re setting up a work station facing mine next week and there should still be plenty of room to spread out.
On the weekends, I’m always walking through different neighborhoods, visiting new coffee shops, taking photos of houses I love. It’s a good way to keep even the most basic of routines feeling fresh.
Big, white walls in my office equal the perfect place to tape up current obsessions.
This week has been really up and down but there’s a lot I’m looking forward to including a trip to Capri over the summer (I’ve never been to Italy!) and also, some remodeling projects around the house. Joey and I are throwing a backyard party for our 5th anniversary in a few months and considering that we never had a gathering in the first place, I’m looking forward to getting my family and friends all in one place. We have a lot of work to do to get everything looking good before then!
In the meantime, I’m having some quiet time with Rocky cuddled up next to me and hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. xo