Learning from design experts

Learning from design experts

I’ve recently begun reading “How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer” by Debbie Millman. First, I have to say that it’s been a while since I’ve encountered Debbie Millman. Years ago I listened to as many podcasts as I could from her website Design Matters. Somehow I forgot about her amazing radio shows and now I have a LOT of catching up to do!

As I’m working my way through her book about influential graphic designers of today, she has piqued my interest about each of the people she features in this book. I’ve had to stop midway through the chapters to look up images and designs mentioned in the interview. This got me thinking about my recently completed education in design school and the distinct lack of research into current design greats. We studied art history and studied individual aspects of design elements like typography or layout. But we never had the opportunity to dig deep into what makes a graphic designer outstanding in the industry. So I want to do some digging and see what I find.

For those that know me, you know that I’m a research fanatic. I love to get my teeth into a topic and find out everything I can about it and figure out how that new information applies to my life, my work and my goals.

Creativity for Graphic Designers

Creativity for Graphic Designers

I know I’m not the only graphic designer who has vowed to step away from the computer once in a while so I can have more time to play with my art supplies. There are dozens of books that challenge designers to stay fresh with creative inspiration.

Recently I was sorting through all my design books (whoa! I have a lot!) and discovered a pattern in my collection. There are lots of these creativity challenge books written specifically for graphic artists. And this picture represents just some of what I own – there are several on my Kindle and about 4 or 5 more in my library at the day job.

By day I am an in-house graphic designer for a local government agency. And all the rest of the minutes of my day I’m building my freelance graphic design business. So you can image that I spend a lot of time in front of a computer – too much time!  Just like many of my other designer friends and colleagues, I fear burn-out. So I’m on a quest to feed my creativity!

You can’t use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have. 
 Maya Angelou

I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and play with sketchbooks, paint, markers, journaling, sticks, rocks, dirt, and anything else I can get my hands on! I started reading Jim Krause’s D30: Thirday days of creative design exercises & career-enhancing ideas book and he listed some of the supplies I’ll need. He suggests googly eyes, pasta, crayons, lunch and a friend.

A friend!  What a great idea…. will you join me in this fun adventure of creativity? We’re going to have a blast!

Learning watercolor painting

Learning watercolor painting

I’ve long wanted to learn how to paint beautiful watercolor art. Thought about taking a class but decided to just jump right in and try it. I’m using a small Moleskin journal and I love the size. Here’s what I made today using a sharpie to draw the flowers then paint over them.  Then I just wrote some journaling over top of the dried pages. Fun!





Craving creativity  Curating creativity • Cultivating creativity

Creative inspiration • Creative instigation • Creative investigation

Investigate curating • Investigate inspiration • Investigate creativity

Lately I’ve been obsessed with creativity. Learning how to get more, figuring out what inspires me to be more creative, finding ways to hoard those sources of creative inspiration. I’m also curious about how I can inspire creativity in others.


What makes one person more creative than another, how do different people react to the same creative inspiration? The web is trending toward a culture of curation right now – rather than generating more and more content, people are curating the content that’s already there. Can simple curation help to inspire me and those whose lives I touch?


Can you cause one person to become more creative, simply by being more creative yourself? Can you instigate creativity? Cultivating it like you would a vegetable garden? Sowing seeds of inspiration so you can later reap the fruits of creativity.


Please join me in this quest for creativity. What inspires you? How do you stay fresh and feed your creativity so you don’t burn out? Tell me. I’d love to know your secret to staying creative.


Faux Silver Leaf on The Letter K

Faux Silver Leaf on The Letter K

Have you ever wanted to try silver leafing, but felt intimidated by the process and expense? Here’s an alternative. Using wallpaper paste and aluminum foil, this faux silver leaf project can be used on many different DIY projects. I decided to start small with a wooden letter. But you could use this technique on furniture, walls or just about anything you can imagine. I originally found this project on Pinterest from Red Hen Home — she covered bedside tables using the faux silver leaf awesomeness. And check out the silver leaf wall at The Ivy Cottage.

Start with a wooden letter you can get from any craft store. A roll of aluminum foil (the thinner and cheaper, the better), wallpaper paste, scissors, and a paint brush if you choose (I used my fingers).



Next cut a bunch of aluminum foil. I used about 18 inches from the roll and then cut it into thin strips – I wanted the sharp, straight edge on the pieces I attached – but you can tear the foil into random pieces or cut into larger pieces. Whatever you choose is fine. I learned the hard way to cut the pieces individually because if you try to cheat and fold the large piece in half or quarters, then cut several layers at a time – you end up with a botched mess and the pieces are attached to each other and you can’t easily tear them apart. So do it the hard way.


Now the fun part! Dip your fingers into the wallpaper paste and smear a thin layer onto the wooden letter, then start applying the foil onto the letter. Just repeat this process until everything is covered. If this is your first time, you might want to choose a less complex letter than the “K” (why do I always pick the most difficult option with the most curves and angles?).


When the letter is completely covered, let it dry. I elevated the letter using small bowls – use whatever is handy – so it doesn’t stick to your work surface overnight. Don’t worry about the spots you missed. We’ll cover that up the next day with some alcohol inks.

Once the wallpaper paste is complete dry the next day, now it’s time to make it pretty with some color. I chose to use three shades of brown for a coppery look.

Just drop a few drips of each color all over the letter and then blend it in with your cotton-clad dabber. I took the cotton off the dabber at the end and used it to get into all the angles and the edges (yes, my finger are now latte, caramel and ginger colored).


I love the effect!

Cut a piece of cardstock for the back to cover up the messy edges. I used my Xyron machine to make the cardstock into a sticker and just pressed it onto the back.


I plan to display this on the Ikea picture rails I have in my living room. (Just ignore those frames that still need photos, pretend there’s something beautiful there!) I chose the letter K for my niece Krista and figured that if I didn’t like how it turned out that I could just spray paint it and give it to her to put in her bedroom. But, unfortunately for Krista, I LOVE this project and I’m keeping it.

Capturing Nature

Capturing Nature

 A photograph taken in Frankenmuth, Michigan of a spent hydrangea. I’ve always loved the beauty of the rough and tumble in life – worn down barns, peeling paint, a rusty old Ford truck abandoned in the field. I also love beautiful flowers that are just passed their peek beauty, which is probably why I love autum so much. Such rich, deep colors of earth and nature. This photo represents all that I love about the rustic feel of nature.