Creative Chronicles: If You Build It, They Will Come


There are easily thousands of articles scattered across the internet that dish out the advice that your portfolio should be specialized. The thought process is that if you focus in on promoting the projects you want more of, more of the same will flow in.

Specialization and zeroing in on what you’re passionate about is great and I never disagreed with that advice because it makes complete sense. The tricky part for some of us is when exactly we should start specializing. After all, if you focus in too narrowly before building your clientele and audience, it may be harder to make a living.


When I started freelancing 10 years ago, I cast my net really wide for a few reasons:

1. I was still building my client base and audience.
2. I was hungry for experience in a variety of areas. The best way to learn is on the job.
3. I needed the extra income since I was still in school / working retail.

Over time, I did start to specialize and drop projects from my portfolio that I didn’t want more of but really drilling down was hard because I still wasn’t sure who my audience really was.

When I started Branch, I’d just ended a stint working on a branding team at a large agency so I was still trying to find my design style away from heavy art direction. I admired the work they did and their clean, crisp style felt familiar so I used that as inspiration when I built out my own brand.


That was fine because in the first year of business, it’s best to not overthink things. Just go with what you know and start moving forward. Everyone says you should just launch and learn and I agree because you may think you know who your audience is — but it could be completely different than you expect.

Over time, your audience will subtly let you know what it wants. Certain projects will bring in tons of new inquiries while others fall flat. It’s hard to say what that mix is and the only true way to figure it out is through trial and error. Also, your aesthetic and interests will change and that style tends to be present in the work you produce. The more work you do, the more your style comes through.

Going into my third year of business, I finally feel like it’s time to fine-tune the look of my design studio and be more picky about the projects I choose to share. I’m now asking myself what I love and focusing in on that mix — creative businesses with a heavy focus on lifestyle and beauty brands. It’s good to get specific about what you want.


As a creative, what kinds of brands, services and products are you naturally drawn to? What brands share your aesthetics? Once you figure that out, your brand will naturally start to evolve. Once I’d decided what niches were my focus going forward, I felt comfortable softening up our overall look because I now had a customer in mind. The orange went from 100% opacity to 80%. Blacks and dark grays were replaced with creamy carrara marble. Hard geometric patterns were replaced with a halftone image of an orange tree I’d photographed over the summer.

The truth is, things are still a work in progress. Business has literally doubled over the last year and it’s been harder to get all our content switched out. If you’re struggling with the same thing, I feel ya. Treat your own brand as you would a client. Make changes in manageable phases.


After I started implementing changes in the brand and what we shared earlier this year, the impact was near-immediate. The kinds of brands that I’d coveted for a long time started reaching out. As this has been happening, it reminded me of some simple truths:

Your brand is up to you to define.

It’s your job to decide exactly what you stand for.

Ask yourself, “What do I want more of?”

Ask yourself, “What do I want less of?”

Once you know where you stand, you can make changes. As I’ve gotten more focused on what I want and have seen the positive shifts happening in my own business, it’s been a great reminder that anything is possible; you just have to be willing to step up and be clear about who you are and what you want.

Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

You know who’s killing it these days in the editorial design department? In Style.

When it comes to magazines, In Style is pretty mainstream and you can find it at most newsstands and grocery stores. And honestly? I never gave it a second thought. Overall, I think the magazine was aimed at a slightly older, more professional audience than me and I never cared much about mixing and matching outfits for the office or what the latest celebrity trends were.

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

The thing is, I’d seen the British version and it was off the hook. I grabbed it on a trip to London last year and ripped out nearly every page, completely obsessed with the design. It was edgy yet elegant and beautiful at the same time.

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

Well, last month my mom handed me a copy of InStyle, asking if I wanted it. A quick flip through made it immediately apparent this wasn’t the same old mainstream magazine. It was stunning — the color palettes, the big, customized serif type and the attention to detail put it on par with the foreign fashion magazines I’m constantly coveting. After doing some more reading, it was apparent that they’d just undergone a massive redesign over the last year from cover to cover and completely nailed it.

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

I could go on and an about how inspired I am but it’s so much better to SHOW you. One of the original columns on this blog was called The Typofiles where I’d feature cool editorial design and typography, much of it scanned in since this was years before Pinterest came around. I miss those days! This morning, I pulled out my scanner (if you’re curious, I use this one) and scanned page after page. This post was less than half the stack I’d pulled but I had to stop somewhere! Haha.

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

I wanted you to see the content for yourself — my favorite feature in this issue is all about unlikely color pairings for the season. As a graphic designer, I LOVE this stuff but don’t want to just read design blogs and magazines. It’s good to be more well-rounded and reach for publications outside of your niche.

I know everyone has a strong opinion on redesigns (love or hate, there’s never any middle ground!) but I personally love what this magazine has done. You can see more of the premier issue from last month here (sorry, I’ve already torn that one apart and pinned it to my inspiration board!)

As a diehard magazine fan, I am so excited to see print publications getting some major love — they’re definitely not dead and it’s fantastic to watch the evolution taking place to an edgier style.

Nubby Twiglet | The Typofiles: InStyle Magazine

Your turn: What magazines are you loving these days? I’m ready to subscribe to some more!

All scans and photos by me of In Style.
Check out even more Typofiles posts here.

The Week + Links: March 18, 2016

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links


It’s Friday, the sun is (finally) out and I’m excited for the little things — a haircut tomorrow (it’s been a year!), booking hotels for my Palm Springs trip and carving out some time to work on my portfolio.

This week flew buy and no matter how hard I tried to catch up on client work and blogging, the balance of work and life commitments kept falling flat. As John Lennon once famously sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” and you just have to roll with what comes your way.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

I have a pile of inspiration waiting in folders to share with you, snippets of half-written posts…but I also know my limits. I know when to give myself a break, proclaim that good enough is good enough, turn off the lights and head out to a happy our to unwind and relax. There’s a sense of relief and clarity in knowing that a new week and a fresh start are ahead.

I’m signing off to catch up on what I can and I hope you have a relaxing, fun filled weekend!

P.S. These are some things I’m loving at the moment: the colorful vintage light selection at Lounge Lizard, my marble tray, my new tattoo patterned dress, the newly redesigned InStyle Magazine, Aesop hand cream, watches by The Horse and a simple rose gold collar I wear every day.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links


• The big news of the week is that Instagram is switching its feed from chronological order to best posts first. I prefer the way it is now but a business is a business and evolution is necessary.

• Speaking of evolving, it’s a great thing and should be welcomed.

• Wow! This Airbnb rental comes complete with its own bookstore!

12 designer tricks to create an effortless room.

• A roundup of the the 5 most iconic female photographers of all time.

• The internet is working to design out toxic behavior in an effort to cut back on online abuse.

• Something I would definitely love to have at home: a cocktail computer!

• All of Donald Trump’s insults are now conveniently gathered in one place.

• Before you reach for another cup of coffee at work, grab one of these healthy snacks instead.

• Ha! 7 embarrassing branding blunders.

• I used to shop on Yoox all the time for discounted designer goods but had long forgotten about it until this week when I was on a search for black pointy wedge ankle boots (these are the ones I got!). Their selection is unbelievably good.

• An interesting look at the proof of evolution you can still find on your body!

• I’m in love with this 15 year old gator named Rambo who rides a motorcycle.

• 25 songs that tell us where music is going.

Latest & Greatest #35: Unique Planters and Vases

Latest & Greatest #35: Unique Planters and Vases

At this point, my office has basically turned into a mini jungle (imagine 2 large palms and about a dozen various succulents and cacti calling the place home). During the first year that I was growing my collection, I picked out planters that were simple, affordable and mostly white from IKEA.

While they’ve totally served the space well and match with everything, I’ve been itching for a bit more personality. I love the black and white minimalist vibe as much as the next designer but I’m craving texture. A little bit of shine. A dash of color. Unique shapes.

With Spring in the air, I’m looking for easy ways to change up my surroundings without breaking the bank and new planters can help with that. There are so many good ones out there right now and at the very least, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a new vase for your fresh cut flowers.

Latest & Greatest #35: Unique Planters and Vases

My picks: mod metal planter (also shown above in my photo!), brass watering can, luciana (boob) vase, cylinder vase, cactus vase (ordering this soon!), raya vase, case study planter, i scream vase and gem facets planters.

What about you? What’s on your Spring wish list? Are there any places you swear by for finding great vases and planters?