Cheers To 9 Years!

Nubby Twiglet | Cheers To 9 Years!

Nine years ago this month, I pushed my first blog post live in this space. NINE YEARS! How is that even possible?!

I remember that time well: I was 25 years old and had just started a graphic design program at my local community college a few semesters earlier. Blogging was still pretty new but I was hooked from the beginning — it was a way to instantaneously share ideas, stories and photos with a worldwide audience and I figured that I needed a place to share my design work (ahem, school projects) so why not?

I dove in headfirst, somehow managing to post almost daily between a full-time school schedule, work schedule and internship but it quickly paid off. Soon, readers were hiring me for design work. I had no idea that those early seedlings would allow me to grow my freelance business enough to launch Branch.

Most of the opportunities I now have can be traced directly back to blogging. Friendships, collaborations and business opportunities all came about through sharing in this space.

Since those early days, things have shifted dramatically. Blogging is no longer the only way to reach an audience — there are famous YouTubers, Instagram stars and social media personalities around every corner. Blogging doesn’t have the same juice it once did, just because it’s not the new, exciting kid on the block anymore.

I used to subscribe to hundreds of blogs and now, I read maybe 5. We have shorter attention spans. There are more ways to get information out there. I feel content overload all the time and I’m sure you do, too.

Over nearly a decade of blogging, a natural evolution happens, too. I’m no longer footloose and fancy-free. I own a home that is still being remodeled. I’m happily married to Joey. We have two wonderful pets, Rocky and Chubs. I have multiple businesses. And, I don’t know how it’s possible…but I’ll be 35 in less than a month!

With everything going on, I can’t blog as much as I used to. And truthfully, I also sometimes draw a blank on what to say. Because, after a few thousand posts, the ideas don’t flow as easily. Sometimes I’m so exhausted after a day of working on client projects, I feel like I have nothing left to give.

But, that’s not to say I don’t love it. The reason I still show up and share is because it’s a part of who I am. We all need hobbies and creative outlets to express ourselves and blogging is one of mine.

I love Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter but on their own, they’re not enough. Having a digital home of my own is good. Blogging still feels right.

Before this gets too long-winded, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for joining me, whether it’s your first time today or whether you’ve been here since the beginning. Thank you for taking the time to comment, share my posts and meet me for coffee over the years.

Even if I sometimes only have time to post once a week, having the chance to connect with you is always a highlight. After all, we’re in this creative journey together and more importantly, this thing called life.

Here’s to another year! -Shauna

Creative Chronicles: Being Different Is Good

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Being Different Is Good

I have a simple message for you today: being different is good. Read on to see how it can actually be your biggest asset.

“A” wrote:

I’m a web developer and graphic designer living in a small town and I’m having a hard time creating much buzz here.

I have some long term clients that usually come by referral from people I know, but as the black sheep of my family, I have been unable to get an “in” with local business or make many connections in my area. I just don’t connect with the scene.

After 8 years on this path, I’m wondering if it is worth it because I feel like I don’t have much of an audience for my work, though my actual clients (all remote) love me.

I love art, design and fashion. My personal style is more edgy/creative than what I show on my site because I have worked with mostly older, less style-brave clients until now. I want to change that but I’m not sure where to begin.


My Advice:

First off, I feel you. I think we can all remember a time in our lives when we didn’t fit in. I find it fascinating when I read interviews from famous people I admire because for the most part, they didn’t fit in, either. I know it can seem difficult in the moment but trust me, it builds character and empathy.

The sooner you own exactly who you are and play up your interests, the sooner your like-minded tribe can find you. “Just be yourself” sounds cliche but it’s the best gift you can give to yourself. I distinctly remember the stigma of being a goth in high school. The payoff was worth it, though because I was able to discover a whole new social circle that was just as weird as I was. Being yourself and knowing that there’s no pressure to impress anyone else in an effort to be cool is so freeing.

I know it can get lonely if you’re different but remember, there’s a whole world outside of your small town. If you can’t move due to various circumstances, make the best of it. I was born and raised in Portland and even though I love living here, I don’t really fit in. I’m not into anything remotely rustic, I hate hiking, don’t drink beer and all black is my uniform of choice. My design aesthetic also doesn’t fit the local mold and because of that, I have very few local clients.

Instead, I choose to focus on a worldwide audience. Most of my clients at Branch are based in New York, Los Angeles and London. It’s worked out well being “different” because I’ve gained an entirely new audience and group of clients I click with in the process.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Being Different Is Good

Rapid-fire advice to use being different to your advantage

1. Embrace your personal style fully. If knee-high black boots, eccentric jewelry and purple lipstick are your thing, rock it. If you already feel like you don’t fit in, you really have nothing to lose. I remember my neighbor’s bewildered looks at my goth get-ups and it still cracks me up. Have a good time being you — maybe your small town needs a shake-up!

2. Reach out to clients who embody your ideal design aesthetic. If you don’t have a lot of work examples to show them, you may have to work for discounted rates or trade in the beginning but just a handful of the right kinds of projects can transform your portfolio and in turn, your business. Years ago, I halved my rates for a lipstick brand but showing that one project in my portfolio has brought me in a half dozen more beauty-related projects.

3. Build a new portfolio site. Whether it’s a custom WordPress site or a Squarespace template doesn’t matter. The sooner you can show people who you truly are and what you excel at, the sooner your business can thrive. Don’t worry about what the locals think — this is your vision. People around the world are looking for talented designers daily — I just got off a call with a client in London this morning who embodies my ideal principles and aesthetics. I wouldn’t have met them if it wasn’t for the internet.

4. Share your work often. If you have limited time, I’d recommend three platforms to share your design work: Instagram, Dribbble and Pinterest. Each post and pin is an opportunity to make friends, meet clients and practice crafting your aesthetic and voice. You are full of personality and you got this.

5. Get out of the house. I know your town is small but there may be a good friend lurking around that you haven’t discovered yet. Everything is more fun when you have a partner in crime and someone to bounce creative ideas off of. You never know where you’ll meet someone! I met my friend Sarah at a Steampunk convention and all it took was complementing her outfit to strike up a conversation. Most people feel like they’re out of place, too — you just have to make the first move.


“Honestly, if you don’t fit in then you’re probably doing the right thing.” ― Lights Poxleitner

Stepping out from behind a toned-down image you’ve created can be scary…but it’s the only way to be truly happy. When you’re happy and comfortable in your own skin, people will be naturally drawn to that. Doors will begin to open. And pretty soon, you’ve managed to step into the life you always wanted: a life that allows you to live authentically, make a good living and surround yourself with friends who like you for exactly who you are.

Good luck!

Photos: Made U Look and Afsoon Zizia.

The Week + Links: 8.12.16

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE WEEK

It’s Fri-yay! Do you have any fun weekend plans?

I’m very much looking forward to hanging this wallpaper (I promise to shut up for awhile on the subject after that’s done – the obsession is real!) and finishing packing for Italy. I’m determined to have just have a carry-on this time since we’re going to be on so many flights and dragging suitcases across cobblestones and up teeny tiny stairs is NOT fun! Learned that lesson the hard way last year. 😉

This weekend, I also want to finish up my Miami Guide to share with you soon — so much good stuff in that one!

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that I made friends with the llamas and alpacas at the Clark County Fair. I can’t get enough of these creatures (you might remember my long-time my man in black, Nigel). Thankfully, Kat loves llamas as much as I do and we’re determined to have a llama sanctuary one day. YES!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

Enjoy the links below and I’ll see ya next week, friends!

THE LINKS

• Instead of feeling complete overwhelm, ask yourself what small changes you can make.

• Nesha put together a great post on what to consider if you’re thinking of switching from freelancing to selling information-based products.

• This juice place in Amsterdam is sooooo beautiful!

• Why are Olympic athletes often photographed biting their medals?

This 16 year old boy runs a million dollar sneaker resale business.

• What classic movies have you NOT seen?!

• 10 tricks to make yourself a Google Maps master!

When you love a piece of clothing, buy it repeatedly.

• Wowza! Bill Cunningham’s photo archive is worth $1 million dollars.

• It’s about time! The FTC is going to start cracking down on paid celebrity posts that aren’t; clearly marked as ads.

• A quick roundup of 10 fun things from the Rio Olympics to get you up to speed.

• Haha! This is what happens when you have a beard and look straight up.

Coming Soon: The Art Of V

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What’s that big dream you’ve been holding back on? I think we all have something we’re afraid to do or maybe we just aren’t sure if we can pull it off on our own.

I had something rumbling in the back of my mind but it took me awhile to pinpoint what it was.

Design and blogging have always been the core of what I do but after a decade of doing both, I knew there was something more I needed to add to the mix.

I’ve always loved design because it’s a way of being creative while also helping small businesses see the bigger potential in what they can do through a polished, cohesive brand and visuals. Design can be very isolating, though. Sitting behind a computer all day gets lonely at times and that’s where blogging has always come in — it allows me to connect with you, to share more personal stories and to be creative outside of work.

Still, there was something more pulling at me — maybe there was a way to combine the aspects of both sides of my career and help more people feel that electric, creative energy that can light up a room.

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The more I thought about it, a specific lady stood out as the perfect partner in crime. We’d met years before at an early Blogcademy workshop in LA. I spotted her in the crowd right away — she had dyed black, long hair like I did and a penchant for over-the-top fashion. She was polished but really funny at the same time.

Her name was Erika Lyremark and she had one of the best stories out there (and trust me, I love a good story — my favorite pastime is reading celebrity Wikipedia pages).

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We reconnected a few years later and the The Art Of V was quite literally born over a single Skype call.

What is the The Art Of V? It’s a marriage of voice and visuals.

Quite simply, it’s a course for women who want to own their voice (via Erika) and elevate their visual style (via me). By mastering and those two things, they can transform their creativity into profitability.

While the course won’t be available for a few more months, we wanted to give you a taste of what’s to come so there’s a freebie at the bottom of the page called Sneak Peek. Sign up, download and please let me know what you think — it’s packed with personal stories from both of us along with tips to get inspired and be more of who you are.

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“There’s only one thing in life, and that’s the continual renewal of inspiration.” —Diana Vreeland

The Brand New Bathroom: In Progress

Nubby Twiglet | The Brand New Bathroom: Martinique Wallpaper

I’ve missed you guys this week! I’ve been holed up in the studio finishing a bunch of branding projects and sending the next issue of Rock n Roll Bride off to the printers while also putting the finishing touches on our newly remodeled bathroom (wallpaper! brass everything!) before leaving for Italy.

Our house has been in complete shambles over the last month as our upstairs bathroom has slowly been getting gutted and revamped into a much brighter, more modern space. Finally, we’ve turned the corner with all the dirty, hard work being done (plumbing, drywall, painting) and all the fun design details are now coming into play.

I’ll be doing a big reveal with before and after shots once I’m back from traveling but in the meantime, I wanted to give you the inside scoop on what it’s going to look like! The focal point of the room is going to be the Martinique wallpaper that I’ve been obsessed with for years. I first spotted it at Indochine in New York back in 2002 and then again at the Beverly Hills Hotel last year. So good, right?!

I went back and forth for weeks on a wallpaper choice and first decided on this design but realized it was a non-repeating pattern that was cut into a custom mural-style piece. I figured if we messed up hanging it, the whole thing would be a total waste so back to the Martinique pattern it was. Since we were able to borrow a tile saw from a friend and Joey did all the remodeling and tiling himself, we had some wiggle room to splurge on something we both love (and that will remind us every day of Palm Springs!)

To accent the very bold banana leaf pattern, we’ve gone with all brass hardware on every detail from the sink faucet to the toilet lever to the p-trap. The rest of the details including the tile, grout and paint are white. The wallpaper does the talking (and rightfully so – this is a true classic!) so the rest of the bathroom is modern and understated.

Nubby Twiglet | The Brand New Bathroom: Martinique Wallpaper

Sources: Martinique wallpaper, brass mirror, brass toilet paper holder, brass towel ring, brass faucet, brass toilet handle, subway tile, brass p-trap and brass and marble knob.

This bathroom remodel has been a turning point for me. In the past, I felt the need to rush through every house project, brushing past the tiny details because I just wanted it to be done. Now that I’m a bit older getting more into house stuff, I’m enjoying researching options more. I didn’t know what a p-trap even was before this remodel but now I want everything to match. Even researching knobs for our medicine cabinet has been fun (for the record, Anthropologie has some amazing options).

I can’t wait to show you the outcome…along with the atrocious before photos! Because, my friends, whoever thought it was a good idea to glue linoleum directly to the walls of our poor little 1928 bathroom needs to get schooled. I’m so relieved that view has been replaced with floor-to-ceiling white subway tile. Ahhh, sweet relief.

The Week + Links: 8.5.16

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE WEEK

Yay, it’s Friday!

I’m excited because Joey has an art show tonight featuring his paintings and also, it’s Chubs’ birthday!

In case you don’t know who Chubs is, he’s a squirrel that fell down our chimney 2 years ago when he was a newborn. Near-death at the time, he’s now thriving and doing extremely well. If you’re curious to learn more about Chubs, here’s everything you need to know.

Besides that, the construction madness that’s been happening at home is nearly wrapped up. I’ll have a before and after post for you soon but the short story is that when my brother and I bought our house 7 years ago, the upstairs bathroom next to my bedroom was covered in yellow and brown floral linoleum on the floor AND walls. It was ugly…but not causing any issues so we focused on a bunch of other more urgent projects first.

Over the last month, Joey has been remodeling that bathroom which has meant no sink or toilet. You don’t realize how much you take for granted in your daily life until the basics are gone! Good news is that the tile is now done, the finishing touches are being put on the space as I speak and best of all, we have one blank wall that is getting covered in this wallpaper. YES!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

This week, I’ve been pretty out of sorts work-wise after spending 7 days in Vegas so I have a lot to catch up on and with that, I’m going to sign off. Have a great weekend!

Photos: 1. I love these Steve Madden heels I picked up in Vegas (and are very dusty from the desert). They’re super comfy for the height and I’ve been wearing them with skinny black cigarette pants, a few chokers and fitted t-shirts. 2. Happy Birthday, Chubs! 3. With a bunch of recording for courses and guest podcast spots in my near future, I picked up the Rode Podcaster microphone and it’s been worth every penny. Highly recommended!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE LINKS

• I can’t stop watching this GIPHY of Bill Clinton playing with all the balloons. Ha!

• Adjust your life accordingly.

• This week, I launched Project Prescription Photography alongside Paul Jarvis and Luke Copping to help take the guesswork out of developing a client process for photographers. As creatives, we can all benefit from processes that help us work smarter and more efficiently.

• To be successful, here’s what you need to do, plain and simple.

• I love hearing about a company that takes great care of its employees and Basecamp is one of them.

• How do you feel about peel and stick subway tile?

61 of the best web design books you should read.

• When it comes to taking photos for your brand, always rock your personal style.

• These buildings resemble the things they sell!

• It’s okay for your business vision to change over time.

• The art of negotiation can be tough! Here are 5 ways to make it easier.

• I like these easy to understand illustrations that cover proper restaurant etiquette.

This hat made me laugh out loud.

• The 22 best FREE cursive fonts.

• I absolutely love this mantra and think about it often when I’m making big financial decisions.

• 5 inspiring books to boost your creativity this Summer!

Creative Chronicles: When Your Job Is Uninspiring, How Do You Stay Motivated?

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: When Your Job Is Uninspiring, How Do You Stay Motivated?

An email from a long-time reader just landed in my inbox and I think it’s something we can all relate to. What happens when you feel like your creative spark has dried up and you’re just going through the paces, trying to do your job but nothing feels inspiring?

Her Question

I graduated high school in 2010 and during those years I felt so inspired by every project and was given 100% creative freedom. When I enrolled in college, I learned more structured things about design, how I couldn’t just paste pretty pictures wherever and that it had to have meaning.

Now I’m into my first real job with a real paycheck in marketing. I’ve been here about a year and a half and somehow I feel like all my ambition I once had is gone. I’ve become so used to doing everything how the client wants that most times I no longer feel like a designer but a middle man clicking and dragging things in InDesign.

How can I get that passion back for design I used to have in a job where everything is based on templates or dictated? What are some things I could do outside of work to help? I no longer create much of anything and don’t even draw anymore. How do I overcome the fear of failure when I try to create and it isn’t as good as when I was practicing/using my skills weekly?


My Answer

Let me start off first by saying that this isn’t a permanent feeling. It’s not the end of the world. With a little effort, it can get better.

Secondly, we’ve all been there. Remember, what you see online is only part of someone’s story. Most designers only show the hyper-creative, stylized work they want more of because that’s what makes sense to build their business.

The truth is, most designers have other gigs, some on the side a few hours a week and some full-time that pay the bills. These other gigs allow them the wiggle room to take on the fun, creative jobs that are often lacking the big, juicy budgets while giving them the opportunity to build out their portfolio and attract more of the right kinds of clients.

Quite a few years ago, when the economy was dismal, I took a long-term freelance gig that was mostly production work for sports brands. I loved the people I worked with but the work I produced wasn’t exactly what I was passionate about. Still, I stayed for over a year because that steady paycheck allowed me the freedom to take on freelance jobs I was excited about on the nights and weekends.

Thanks to that job, I was able to set aside extra money to travel and stay inspired. I was able to splurge on beautiful letterpress business cards for my freelance business. I was able to design the branding for a makeup company that had a smaller budget. I was able to pay all my bills on time. So, while the job wasn’t the perfect position I’d dreamed about, it covered my basic needs so I had the luxury to explore the creative side of things on my own time.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: When Your Job Is Uninspiring, How Do You Stay Motivated?

A job is only as uninspiring as you let it be

Yes, you have to listen to your boss and the clients you’re responsible for but you can find ways to still have fun.

At my past jobs, I would often do a version of the design I was told to do but also include a second version of what I thought it could be.

You might not always have the time to do this on quick turns but when you do, flex your creative muscles.

Between projects, I would scroll through Pinterest and look at design and style blogs to get a creative jolt.

There’s a world of inspiration out there and it is also a great reminder that your current position is temporary if you want it to be.

When I felt really uninspired, I would walk to the nearest coffee shop.

A few minutes away from what’s dragging you down can provide much needed clarity.

On really bad days when I felt like I needed to quit immediately, I called my agent, Dan and he gave me pep talks.

Find that one person who can help you keep things in check. Your situation isn’t that bad.

No Job Is Perfect

I’ve gotten hired at places I thought were perfect from the outside and they weren’t. Branch isn’t perfect, either. It’s always easier to think the grass is greener on the other side.

Think of every job you have as a stepping stone. Each place you end up teaches you something new. The jobs you struggle the most at will also teach you the most.

The times where I felt uninspired, exhausted or was driven to the point of tears felt completely unbearable in the moment but I learned a lot about myself, what I was good at and where I fell short. Those moments taught me what I wanted more of in my career and what I should steer away from all costs.

The only way to learn these things is through life experience. It’s not fun…but it makes you stronger and it makes you a better designer.

Your Job Is Not Your Life

Outside of your job, do whatever it takes to get inspired and bring that energy with you to work.

Make friends with other creatives who are driven and motivated. Invite them to classes, events and parties.

Commit to creating a self-initiated project that will keep your skills fresh.

Make time to visit bookstores, museums and coffee shops.

Always carry a camera, even if it’s your iPhone. Pay attention to what you’re drawn to.

Remind yourself that creative slumps are normal. Nobody is “on” all the time.

Being a designer isn’t easy and you’re going to have plenty more ups and downs. But, I think the ups far outweigh anything and you’ve got this under control. Good luck!