Throwbacks & Pressing Forward

I recently stumbled upon a mixed emotion-inducing goldmine in my family’s spare bedroom—virtually my entire art collection compiled since I was born. I casually curated a selection from age 15 to present, weeded out the über embarrassing, and included quick snapshots to share with you. As stated, these are somewhat embarrassing, but everyone starts somewhere, right? They inspire me to work harder. Be gentle please. I’m a delicate flower…

Persian Folk Art Birds | colored pencil | Age 15

Owl | marker stippleAge 17

Bluebirds | oil paint | Age 17

Cranes | oil paint | Age 17

Toucan (vintage Guinness poster Rip-off) | oil bar | Age 17
(plagiarism is o.k. when you’re 17?)

Field of Birds | colored pencil | Age 17
(placed 7th in drawing category at Culture Shapers, an area contest for high school aged artists)

[Insert the void from age 18-19 a.k.a. “quitting art and getting my biology degree”]

Cross Icons | marker; mounted on presentation board | Age 20
(from my first design class)

“Superior” | acrylic paint; mounted on presentation board | Age 20
(my first logo!)

Jaguar Vector Drawing | Adobe Illustrator | Age 20
(when I fell in love with Illustrator)

Skull Study | graphite | Age 21
(I will never stop loving to do grayscale value drawings)

Figure Study | charcoal on wood | Age 22

Animal Collective Mock Gig Poster | Adobe Illustrator | Age 22

Built to Spill Mock Gig Poster | Pencil Sketch and Adobe Illustrator | Age 22

To see pieces designed after 2008, go to my portfolio site.

As you can see, I had a thing for drawing birds when I was in high school. I still do and I think most artists do. It’s probably tied to the graphic and geometric nature of their anatomy. Also this.

I’m slightly more critical of the latter two images shown above as these are the most recent. But I’m not interested in reworking them. They are what they are. Looking back it’s interesting to see the transition from “fine art” to design (if it’s appropriate to call colored pencil and stippling “fine”). My school did not offer solely a drawing concentration which is what I was interested in originally for pursuing medical illustration. Multiple people directed me toward graphic design saying it was the next best thing and better paying as far as art jobs go. I will not lie. I did not know what graphic design was when I signed up for it. I sat through most of my art history class confused, which is probably why I sold the book soon after. Once I made it into the design program I didn’t understand why my professors got excited about fonts and letters. And paper. As time went on I understood. Well, not so much the paper part. It’s been a learning process.

So there is a humbling selection of my past drawings and designs. I like my work better now, that’s for sure. But I know I can improve—and I strive to. This weekend in Dallas was especially inspiring to me in that sense for numerous reasons. I believe our ability to advance and learn new things is limitless.

Black Sheep/Pig* Validation

I have so many topics I want to write about. They’re siting in my WordPress drafts waiting to be written! Topics like design ethics. Well, at least the ethics I have learned in my roughly six years of designing and twenty-sive years of being an artist. I have another topic but it’s too top-secret to talk about right now.

But first I have something to get something off my chest. It’s about a design in my portfolio. I don’t want every post to be about my portfolio. But alas, my portfolio has obviously been on my mind nonstop lately with the massive updating.

I have this one project that I’m always tempted to get insecure about. I’ve taken it off my portfolio site in a fit of passion—twice. The project is conceptual. It’s weird. It’s gross. Yeah, it’s gross. That’s the reaction I get 95% of the time from designers and non-designers alike. If only they could understand! See below, my black sheep project.

I began this project in school after reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I’ve redone it since. I wanted to design my take on the how the cover should look. The Jungle is a novel written in the early 1900s about the mistreatment of immigrants to the U.S. by the meat-packing industry. It’s also actually socialist muckraking agenda but don’t worry about that. This post is about validating my pig.

The pig represents an early 1900s American immigrant. He’s sinking inside a jungle of assorted meats and can’t get out. The meat represents the American industries’ ways of trapping victims into its vicious snare. Mass butchering isn’t really a pleasant thought. It’s supposed to be creepy and gross. Creepy and gross with a meaning. I wanted to make a statement about the disregard those industries had for human life. To disregard human life—that is something disgusting.

Here’s to hoping my meaty pig is as little less misunderstood and to me not being afraid to own it.


The project’s full description is on my portfolio site.

Sort of unrelated but here is a lemon illustration I created using a texture technique I read about in this tutorial on Grain Edit. I like it but it’s kind of computer-y, not gouache-y, and it doesn’t really look like the tutorial, haha. I think I can do a better job. This is for a gluten-free cookie box design. I’ll try again and post soon.

Tangy Buffalo!

This weekend I plan on styling and photographing personal and professional work for my portfolio site. I think photographs will be a visual upgrade to the existing digital images. I enjoy the clarity of the digital images but I think tangibility is more appealing. I will also be photographing my newest project, a hot sauce brand I created. The brand is called Texas Wildfire Hot Sauce. Pictured above is a close-up of the illustration for the buffalo flavor. Excuse me, I mean Tangy Buffalo. Why is he blue? Maybe his buffalo herd has disowned him. Or maybe he’s not grass-fed…

Anyway, look for updates on my portfolio site soon!

Think Before You Do!

Much like thinking before I say something embarrassing and/or offensive I have been pondering how important it is to sketch out designs before getting started. Of course, variation usually always happens with the end product; however, it’s good to give yourself a little direction. And there’s something to be said for a solid pen to paper sketch. As tempting it as it is, I can’t let myself draw everything on screen! I’ve noticed my handwriting (see below, yikes) declining since using the keyboard—I don’t want that to happen to my drawing skill! So here I present you with one of a few sketches of the hot sauce label I’m working on right now.




Trendy Observations & Lovely Inspirations

Trendy Observations

I’ve never had a blog before. I feel so culturally relevant. I had a Livejournal back in the day (the day being high school and early undergrad). Entries back then were emotion-laden personal lamentations, opinionated pointless rants, and detailed accounts of the food I ate that day. Trust me, I’m still capable of writing those kinds of entries but I feel that I may now have things to say that have a bit more widespread appeal. A bit. Maybe if you like graphic design you will relate?

So now that I have internet again I am realizing that there is so much good design out there right now. It’s overwhelming yet totally inspirational. Some of it is trendy. But there is a place for trends. Trends can help designs feel current. They can have a place in any “look”—even conservative design. It’s very doable and possible to stay true to a brand while mixing in fresh elements if one uses their head. Iconic and classic is necessary but sometimes a healthy blend of trendiness isn’t so bad. Little touches here and there can make a small but impacting difference.

Trying out trends can also help grow a designer’s talent. They add to one’s visual schema and ability to create successful pieces in multiple ways. However, mixing personal style with those trends can be a task. Weeding out the just plain bad trends takes intuition.  Throw in a client’s needs and tastes and it’s even more challenging. Trends are a funny thing. Learn to embrace them. Learn to harness them. Learn to reject them. At least note them! They’re interesting.

Lovely Inspirations

Here are some links to designers and agencies I found while clicking around on the internet that might make you say “Wow!” or at least sigh. I did both.


+Invisible Creature

+Andrea Kalfas

+Rifle Paper Co.

+Eleanor Grosch

+Andy Gilmore

+Scott Allen Hill

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