On the Art Trail

ARTrails of Southwest Washington is an organization full of amazingly talented artists.

For the third and fourth weekends of September of each year, they open up their studios for the public to get a behind-the-scenes look at how they work their magic. This year, my friend Yolanda and I traipsed around Lewis and Thurston counties to meet the artists, see their studios, and see their artwork up close and personal.

Word to the wise… do not attempt this is one day. While it is entirely possible to drive to each studio and gallery within the allotted time (10am to 5pm), you would miss the opportunity to visit with the artists. This was the best part for me. I enjoyed listening to their stories and learning about their creative processes. What wonderful and gifted people they are!

Although Yolanda and I took two days for this unique and inspiring experience, we were still unable to get to all the studios. My sincere apologies go out to those artists we didn’t get to meet! Next year I think we’ll do a three-day tour!

For more information about ARTrails, check out their website: You can learn more about the artists, see their work, find out how to become a member, and more!

Book Design

Live Life as an Opening Day!

One of my best friends, Edward Riley, recently published his second book, “Opening Day: A Big Idea in a Little Book.”

This heartwarming book is inspirational for everyone who owns a small business… heck, it’s inspirational for everyone! It tells the story of a successful store owner and why his customers keep returning. It’s all in the attitude – customer service goes a long way!

The ideas Edward put forward in this book help keep me focused on client satisfaction and appreciation.

His idea for the cover was a fun, challenging project. He wanted a wiggly balloon man, like you see at grand openings and sales. Easy, right? Not really. The images I found weren’t quite right. So when I finally found an image that could work, I had to tweak it.

Believe it or not, the original image had the balloon man in the foreground of a photo that included buildings, electric lines, trees, and other miscellaneous items you’d see in a city’s shopping area. The balloon man himself was red with big white words all over him. After I removed the background and words, I changed the color to turquoise and gave him more of a cartoony look to help the image pop off the cover.

I’m pleased with the final outcome, as is Edward, which is the important part 🙂

Read more about the amazing Edward here.


Marlaena Shannon: Award Winner

I’d like to give a shoutout to my friend and client, Marlaena Shannon! She is an author/illustrator of children’s books. Two of her books have won awards! In 2016, Black and White Cat, White and Black Dog won for cover design. This year, Bad Day for Baby Duck won for humor AND short fiction! Congrats, Marlaena!

As a side note, Bad Day for Baby Duck is not the typical children’s book… it’s really a story book for older children… it’s a bit disturbing.

Job Shadow Community Service

Job Shadow: Graphic Designer

One of the best ways to give back to the community is through a job shadow program. This great program matches up students with employers for a peek into their perspective career fields.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have mentored quite a few future graphic designers from local schools. A couple weeks ago, I met with Garrhet, a senior at Napavine High School. After graduation he plans to attend Centralia College for their graphic design program. He’s eager to learn all aspects of design, but his main interest is video game landscape creation.
Among other things, we discussed what I do for my clients, what tools are needed, what design programs I use, and what businesses I partner with in order to fulfill my clients’ needs. We even met with a client to discuss projects, so he got to see firsthand how a client meeting works.
Garrhet’s creativity and passion will take him fast and furiously into the ever-changing landscape of graphic design. I was fortunate to have been able to help lead him on his way down his chosen path!
Digital Nomad

#DigitalNomad: Florida: Chapter Two

Success! A digital nomad life is possible for me!

The beauty of the Florida beaches have not stopped me from keeping up with my deadlines. It helped that I could look out the window to the waves rolling up onto the sand… I could almost feel the water on my toes.

The Frida Kahlo Exhibit at The Dali
The Frida Kahlo Exhibit at The Dali

Of course, I’ve taken some time to enjoy my surroundings. Today I toured The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Along with the amazing work of Salvador Dali was the special exhibit of Frida Kahlo. I had recently seen the movie “Frida”, that told of her tumultuous life, including her marriage to renowned Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. Seeing her work, photos, and journals up close and personal brought even more depth to this strong, independent artist.

Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali

Dali’s work excites me. I love peering deep into his paintings to see his hidden messages. The audio tour explained a lot of his pieces in depth, which was very helpful! I find it interesting that he was named Salvador after his older brother who had passed away before Dali was born. According to the commentary, this gave him a bit of an identity crisis, wondering if he was the “real” Salvador or if his brother was.

I’m feeling a trip to Dali’s hometown of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain, coming on…

Let’s take this digital nomad thing global!



#Digital Nomad: Florida Digital Nomad

#DigitalNomad: Florida: Chapter One

Early in the morning, VERY early in the morning, I will be embarking on my first digital nomad expedition.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a digital nomad is someone who can work digitally from anywhere in the world, creating a mobile office wherever the wind carries her. The wind is carrying me to sunny, warm Florida!

So at 1 a.m. Valentine’s Day morning, my trusty MacBook Pro and I will be heading to PDX, flying to Phoenix for a brief layover, then soaring across the country to Tampa. This is where I will find my long-lost friends/clients. Together, our next stop will be the Amelia Island Book Festival for a few days of festivities, and then back to Tampa we go.

In amongst the merriment, I MUST find time to work on client projects. This is where self-discipline comes in handy for graphic designers, especially those of the nomadic variety. So this will be an experiment of sorts… Can I explore bright shiny new surroundings while staying focused on work?

Find out in next week’s blog from the sunny Florida beach!

Tools of the Trade

Oh the Snow…

Oh the snow… such beauty can cause such havoc.

The Power Outage of February 6, 2017, made me appreciate the importance of having one’s laptop battery in tiptop shape in order to keep up with impending deadlines!

I usually work on my iMac when in the office, and I take my MacBook Pro on excursions into the world to work at a local coffee shop or restaurant for a change of scene and inspiration… inspiration that is abundant in the Pacific Northwest.

But, because of the availability of electrical outlets, I don’t worry too much about my laptop battery that is currently on its last legs.

This is unfortunate.

For today, with deadlines looming, the power was out for hours… precious hours… And my poor MacBook can barely hold an hour’s charge.

Luckily, the electricity finally came flowing back in, the heat came (it was a chilly 59 degrees in here), and my iMac chimed happily as I pushed the power button.

Moral of the story: In order to help meet deadlines, make sure your devices’ batteries are charged up and raring in to go in case of a power outage.

(I will be ordering a replacement battery today!)

Color Color Everywhere Color

Color Overload!

Color is everywhere – it inundates our visual experiences everyday.

The world is enlivened with brightly colored posters, signs, newspaper and magazine ads, TV commercials, all vying for your attention. It seems the brighter the visual, the better the chance to be seen. Makes sense, right?

But what really stands out is difference. That’s what your eye is drawn to.

So in a world competing with more and more color, use a strategic lack of color to overpower the competition. For example, when buying an ad in a full-color publication, consider not using full color. More than likely, the ads surrounding yours will be busy and bright. The reader’s eye will look for a place of rest. Let that place of rest be your calm, cool, grayscale ad, framed by the color around it.

Your ad will be noticed and its message read.

In the image above, where does your eye settle? My eye lands on the black horizontal line, is drawn right to the quiet, dark statue, then jumps straight over to the wall of black and white photos.

Don’t think for one minute that black and white designs are boring. Click here for examples of effective use of this not-so-limited color palette.