Archive for ‘designer’

June 1, 2016

Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shone down.

That’s what it feels like when something huge happens and your life finally seems to be going your way. Like the universe is tipping it’s hat at you. “Congrats!” It silently says.

I’d like to present the largest and by far, the most challenging graphic design project I have ever worked on. I was tremendously fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work freelance on the design layout of the 125 Anniversary Edition, 68-page journal for University School, a well-established, all-boys private school in Cleveland, Ohio.

The theme of this journal is ‘Makers’, which highlights the innovative teaching style of the school. Being that it is quite hands-on, as well as academic, the articles also showcase the impressive achievements of former students whom have graduated and have gone on to accomplish tremendous things. Among them, James Parks CEO of Fit Bit, who is featured on the cover.

US has a tried and true format that is used for sections such as Class Notes, Valley to Heights, Athletic News and Obits, that the school has been using for years. With featured articles such as Teaching Makers, The Power of Makers, Maker Mentors, as well as the 10-page spread welcoming the new Headmaster, I had a little more creative freedom to add my own design elements, which I loved.

Many heartfelt thanks to those close to me who offered boatloads of support and encouragement, because it totally helped me feel confident enough to pull this off.I am extremely grateful for the experience. It pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of and has forever changed my perception of myself as a design professional.

Check out the link below to see the digital version.

University School Journal Spring 2016

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December 31, 2015

~*happy new year’s eve 2015*~

Joel in headlock with Cam on his shoulders.jpgJoel and Arden looking cozy on couch.jpgI don’t know about you, but for me, this was the fastest moving December in all of time. Like blink of an eye, it was gone! Thanksgiving ended, there was caroling with Arden’s Girl Scout troop (the cold rolled in just in time for that!), making holiday cookies & dough ornaments with Arden, festive Christmas cards, and the whirlwind of shopping. Suddenly, it was already Christmas Eve. Normally, I am super awful at getting the tree up. Most years, it has debuted ON Christmas Eve at like 3:00 a.m. (after we get back from Cleveland and wrapping presents) Seriously. This year, adamant that it show up a bit earlier (and to make amends for getting in trouble at school that day) with much muttering under her breath, Arden herself pulled out the boxes and drug up from the basement. All 3 pieces of our Christmas tree. It was heartwarming, sweet and I was super thankful since my tailbone still killed from falling on it (HARD) roller skating. Erin in front of old door in dining room.jpg

At the start of each new year, I swear I’m going to enjoy every.single.moment. Take it in as I experience it, instead of rushing from one thing to the next.  I’ve gotten better at making time for the important things, like fun and not just working. I suppose having a demanding toddler makes you do that. Sort of. (it also makes you feel crazy!) Winter rolls on for seemingly ever. Spring takes it sweet time arriving, but once it does, it’s glorious!  The school break in Summer goes way too fast, then boom, Fall is here and petal to the metal, one holiday after another and POOF! it’s over. That’s how my life feels.

This year, I tried to be more accepting, less critical. Embracing flaws and easing up on expectations of perfection, for myself and my family. I dare say, they like me a bit better because of it. I’m not quite as stressed and it teaches Arden that some things don’t need to be just so because migraines aren’t worth it. For now, I will strive to do better. To work hard, accomplish dreams and bring more happiness into our home. Wishing everyone the same for your 2016! Our house with Christmas lights.jpg

 

 

 

November 11, 2015

The Charm of Franklin

We’ve officially been in the new house 1 year. Well, at least had started painting it and had our first meal, sitting on the floor in the living room a year ago today. It was (and still is) a fixer-upper-in-progress. When turned over to us, it was a bit run down and A LOT dirty. We’ve put so much of ourselves in to it, to make it our own. Franklin (who I think of as a girl house, LOL.) still has a way to go, but that is usually the case with a 95 year old house. (It may be older, but the records show it was first sold in 1920. Before I go off on my litany of complaints about how the previous owners did things, let me tell you all about the awesomeness that is, The Craftsman.

I couldn’t find my ‘before’ pic that was worse, but here is the Google Earth pic.

Franklin before copy   Franklin house nov

Before we had officially closed (after the owners had moved out) I had started putting in my free-off-Craigslist stone and planting my end-of-the-season discounted plant stash and it paid off! The front flower beds look fantastic for being around such a short time. We have a garage, but I love parking out front. Walking up these 9 giant steps makes me feel fancy, like I’m about to enter a grand palace. Though I’m usually lugging a baby, with a bunch of stuff in tow, it makes it exciting to be home.

The original 9 foot wooden door was a bit marred up, but nothing several cans of metallic bronze spray paint couldn’t fix! Using this, made even the bits of wood putty and old brass kick plate look cohesive while keeping the natural wood grain.The lovely and spacious porch has only been partially painted so far, but has made a tremendous impact. The historic grey covered up the sloppy and mismatched toned tuck-pointing. The cool mint green makes the house’s accent pieces pop. The aqua blue porch ceiling is happy and relaxing when we sit out and enjoy hearing a neighbor’s band play on a porch swing that a friend was so cool to give us. My plans were that all the painting would have already been completed, but I step back and see all we accomplished thus far and try to be patient. Some day we’ll dig out the orange spray foam that the former owners used to fill in window sill cracks, (instead of replacing the wood ) and put on a slate roof to replace the current red nasty one, but the curb appeal has already been improved considerably.

Now onto the side yard.

Franklin house before side view copy  Franklin house Nov 2015 side view copy

Not as drastic a change as the front, but a much needed one. When Joel’s family came to visit his brothers and dad helped ripped out the chain link fence along the street and put up part of the wooden one. By the next week, Joel had built the back gate and we had the rest of the fence completed, then finished staining it in the Spring. It’s given us piece of mind to be able to let Arden out to play in the back yard (without wandering off!) and to have privacy when entertaining guests.

Lastly, there is the backyard, which was completely void of landscaping aside from a couple trees and some overgrown bushes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good completed backyard pic, but here’s some snippets. We brought in a trailer load of flagstone we removed from the Dresden flower beds before the sale. (Good thing, as the new owners got rid of the rest of it!) It went to define the outer portion of the firepit, as well as to line all the bushes. More loads of mulch, dirt and bags of stone were brought in to complete the fire pit, build new flower beds and a raised garden.

Franklin backyard before copy Side view of franklin backyard in the summer 2015 copy  Backyard photo from firepit copy While there is still so much we want to work on, like tearing down the raggedy, half-assed built raised deck to put in a pergola and eventually a roof top garden on the garage (some day!) We are extremely happy with our choice to purchase this home and live in this neighborhood. We have met so many pleasant people and become the best of friends with awesome neighbors Christine and Tim down the street, who share our passion for rehabbing houses. We also have a wonderful next-door neighbor, Karen, whose frequently visiting granddaughter, is a fun little girl for Arden to play with. It’s nice to be a couple blocks from 3 parks (The Franklin Park Conservatory, Wolfe Park and Jeffery Park & Nature Trails), and to live around so many beautifully built homes. This is the first time either of us have lived somewhere that we feel like we belong.

August 27, 2015

Arden’s Mom

Owl bag puppet copyYesterday began the 1st day of the new school year.

I was nervous.

And excited.

And it wasn’t even me starting school.

Last year, shortly after Arden started first grade. Picking her up after school one day, she told me that her Art teacher was going to a different school and that she was sad. Upon clarification from her teacher, the students weren’t required to have art all the semesters. The Art teacher would be back at their school mid-January. So in the meantime, the kids would have nothing. Arden looked at me so sad.  Honestly, the thought of school without it devastated me. I realize that sounds dramatic, but as a kid, that was my life. I LIVED for Art class. Each of my teachers were amazing and I loved them. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance and encouragement. At that moment, I knew I was going to have to do something.

I approached Arden’s teacher with the idea, which she was all for. Lo and behold, I would also be able to bring Cam. I’d like to mention that her teacher had the patience of a saint. With 3 kids of her own and being in her thirteenth year of teaching, she was so laidback, but firm, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier. I walked into the classroom the first day and Arden’s eyes just shown. She could barely contain her excitement. I, on the other hand, was hugely apprehensive. I’m used to just making things with one kid, not 20. I nervously waited for the students to finish their assignment before I launched into what we were going to do. The room was just buzzing!  So many wound up little people, wondering what was happening next. At some point, introductions were made, but the kids paid no mind and simply referred to me as “Arden’s Mom.” A title I’d never thought I’d be so proud of, but has come to completely thrill me to the being of my soul. Mama with feather art head dress copyNative american head dress with feathers and paint tree art copy art turkeys copy

And so, for the next 3 months I came in once a week to do projects with the kids in Arden’s class. I had tons of scrap cardstock that I was finally going to put to good use. Most of the other materials I had on hand and the kids already had glue, scissors and markers. While Arden was a whiz at cutting since she was 3, a lot of them still needed practice. I’d make up templates and have some things made ahead of time, while still leaving them to work on the skills they needed.

Some kids were more than happy to follow my basic instruction, but most often than not, their minds and creativity took over. Everytime, they’d swarm around me like baby ducks, asking for assistance or proudly showing off their work. One boy’s paper bag owl puppet, became a Minecraft-type owl complete with a sword for an arm. One kid, instead of making the porcupine out of toothpicks, asked to make Sonic the Hedgehog out of toothpicks. One girl, no matter what the project, always managed to turn it into something with a dragon. I wasn’t an Art teacher and we weren’t technically in Art class, so why not? We had that freedom.

Then there was Cam. In his carseat, he’d either nap or rock himself. He never cried. Maybe because, at all times, at least 1/3 of the class would be out of their seats to play with the baby. Doing silly stuff to get him to smile or try to feed him a bottle. As time went on and he grew, they delighted in seeing the new things he was able to do. The teacher would remind them to get back in their seats and finish. They would, only to be replaced by new kids eager to make the baby laugh.

My time there went swiftly. Once the actual Art teacher was back, I cried. When I would drop off Arden to her classroom in the morning, I’d still have kids asking when I would be back to teach them Art. I was able to come in a few more times after that, for holiday parties or for science experiments, just so we could have an excuse to make things together and play with a baby.

I think of all this as I drop off Arden yesterday and feel a bit sad. I hope I will have some opportunity to come in and work with this new class. To get to know the kids and see some of the returning ones from last year. Just then, I see Arden’s teacher from last year and ask for a hug, which of course, makes everything better. porcupine from art class mrs uncaphers copy

February 9, 2015

The Story of My Success.

quote-winston-churchill-success-consists-of-going-from-failure-to-759

I started out in life thinking if I could just turn 18, I would be an ADULT and things would be amazing! I wouldn’t have to follow rules, do chores and listen to parents. I knew better. If I could only get my own place. If I only had a car, I wouldn’t have to ride my bike everywhere, even in the winter. If college applications didn’t go off the parent’s income even though I lived on my own, I wouldn’t have to wait to start when most people were finishing. If I didn’t have to work AND go to school, it would be so much easier to graduate.

Life is supposed to go a certain way, right? The idyllic childhood, the partying, yet scholarly trip through college. Which of course enables you to land a perfect job, IMMEDIATELY, because that is what college is for. To ensure that you, me, people in general, succeed in life. All that money paid out, all that higher learning is supposed to give you an edge. A step up.

From there it gets even better. It’s TRUE! You just have to meet the ONE. The right person you will spend your entire life with. (But do it in your 20’s or it will be too late!)
Once you find THAT person, it will be magical! There will be singing and dancing (at least in my version) and everyone is happy and life is easy. If you really want to achieve ‘The American Dream’ , then you get married AND buy a house! To add a completely blissful cherry on top, have children. Then your life is truly complete. And apparently there are no more goals to reach until you die.

That was how the version in my head went. I’m not sure exactly where I came to have those exact standards or ideals, but it turned out it was all kinda bullshit. I lived my life in sort of earnest, trying to become something. Someone important. Once I made it to California, I would be an actress. Once I had my invitation business, I gave myself 5 years, then I was going to be featured on Oprah. I wanted public acknowledgement that I was good at what I did. If only I had more money for advertising. If only I could get more exposure. If I just had unlimited resources and time…

success-really-looks-like

I’ll say one thing for getting older, it’s like a fantastical discovery. There are no set rules, there is no “I’ve been through so much crap that I should be good and have it easy for the rest of my life’. Believe me, I wish that were true. If you are one of the few whose life has gone exactly according to plan, then kudos to you! For the rest of us, it’s about learning. Joel and I were just half-joking the other day, about how we felt like we were all filled up on Life’s massive learning experiences for awhile. Because you know, they are rather all-consuming and overall just plain exhausting.

For now though, success to me equals getting Arden to school on time, fed breakfast. Her lunch and backpack in hand along with finished homework. It’s helping her navigate all the drama of getting along and interacting with other kids. It’s getting Cam fed solids as he flops around in his Bumbo seat, then to sleep when he’s extremely irritable. It’s working on the orders I do have, while dreaming up new ideas. It’s getting the insurance to finally pay the claim that collectors have been calling on for almost a year. It’s jumping through all the hoops to file with the City for our flooded duplex. It’s getting another room in the new house repaired/organized/painted/cleaned/livable.

The secret of my success is never giving up. Forever and always, persistent, stubborn and determined. It’s appreciating what I do have and respecting how far I’ve come. It’s knowing that I’ll accomplish so much more, as long as I keep trying. It’s being thankful for the support I have from Joel, who’s always amazing. (and that there IS the singing and dancing that I’d always hoped for!) It’s excepting that while my life isn’t a made-up ideal, it is one heck of an adventure that I’m fortunate to be a part of.

July 31, 2014

MISSION: Dresser make-over for nursery

Just because we weren’t working on Hallie, didn’t mean we had idle hands. As a matter of fact, it might be a condition. I’m not sure we really know how to relax. However, this sort of motivation does help us get a lot accomplished. Originally, we planned on buying a different house. A larger house. One that had more room for activities. Because we were having trouble figuring out where we were going to put this baby. The problem was, we weren’t really finding what we were looking for AND we needed to at least get Dresden sold. The upstairs here at Walmar is by far the largest room in our 1100 sq.ft. house. It has served as my work studio for the past almost 11 years. Joel has a desk that doesn’t get utilized very often and the space also provides a play area (much to my detriment) for Arden’s toys. Mostly though, upstairs is my domain with rows of printers, massive shelves of cardstock and envelope boxes stacked to the ceiling.

I like to be organized, but when it comes to my studio somehow that eludes me. Over the years, I have acquired a lot of crap. Cardstock isn’t a recyclable material, so I hold on to the bigger scraps in hopes that one day I will find a use. That also goes for misprints, ribbon remnants and handmade paper left over from orders. It adds up and it takes up space. Space that unfortunately, I had to come to terms with clearing out a bit, otherwise this kid was going to end up living out of a basket in our room.

One of the more enjoyable tasks for getting ready for this baby was redoing a crazy-looking dresser. I have had this thing for over 5 years, sitting in the garage after a neighbor put it out by the curb. It was an eyesore, but rather unique. Even though it was missing drawers, it was well-built and I saw potential.

Cam's dresser before copy

The front is a little unusual, as it curves in. The remaining drawers fit well, but had the odd blocks of wood screwed on the front of them. I was left to assume these were used as the drawer pulls. Joel made the executive decision to keep them on and as you’ll see, it paid off.
So I started with the priming. Then I painted the interiors without drawers pale blue.

Cam's dresser primed copy

In a shocking twist, I refrained from (mostly) pushing my aqua/teal fetish onto this child. His whale bedding we chose does have a hint of it, but I decided to go with a dark grey with pale blue accents for this piece. The weird looking fronts soon appeared to be waves, though were still lacking something to really set them off. Enter these super cool anchor knobs from Anthropologie! anthro anchor knobs copy

At $8 a piece, it caused me to pause. However the more I searched, the more I liked them and really feel like they tie it all together! After much searching, we found great felted storage bins at Lowe’s that fit perfect.

Cam's room dresser after copy

Here it is, all put together. Granted the walls don’t coordinate very well, because it’s a cozy corner of my workspace, but it’s what we are working with for now. 🙂

May 2, 2014

Dresden : Week 9 It’s starting to come together!

As promised, I’m back to posting the final weeks of rehabbing the Dresden House. At the time, it didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Things weren’t going smoothly. The upstairs bathroom was attempting to be worked on, but the toilet kept leaking. INTO THE GREEN ROOM. WHICH WAS ALREADY FINISHED. It was sort-of disastrous. We had JUST REPAIRED the ceiling, now we had to cut a hole to allow the water to escape. It was less-than-fantastic. It’s at this time Joel began to call his skill set into question. It’s easy to feel like you are going to lose your shit when things keep going wrong. I honestly didn’t doubt him for a minute. It’s much easier for me to doubt myself then him. Joel is awesome, end of story, so I figured there had to be something else wrong. FINALLY, it was discovered that the toilet had a hairline fracture. So no matter how good everything else was put together, it was going to be an issue. Fortunately, we discovered it BEFORE the renters moved in, so that’s sort of an upside, right?

Anyway, crisis solved and onto the next project. Here we have the living room. Here’s some photos of this tragedy to jog your memory.

BEFORE:

Karman trashed Dresden, erehabbed livingroom 3 copy

Karman trashed Dresden, rehabbed livingroom2 copy

Karman trashed Dresden rehabbed  livingroom1 copy

Karman trashed Dresden slate entryway copy

Ever heard the term ‘elbow grease’? Yeah, a whole lot of that went into scrubbing this slate entry. I don’t have a good after pic, but you’ll be able to see it on the final walk-through video I took (that I’ll post in a couple weeks.)

AFTER:
For us, this room was one of the more stand-out transformations. The refinished hardwood really sets it off.

livingroom completed. dresden

livingroom front window dresden copy

Thanks for checking it out! I’ll have another room to view next week. 🙂

March 17, 2014

Dresden : Week 8 Bring on the green!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thought it would be great timing to post about our next room we completed, The Green Room.
Joel has been told before by people that he is very lucky. Lucky to know what he does, to be able to do what he does, to get the jobs he does. It’s a little bit irritating, because it’s not luck at all. It’s hard work. He may have a knack for learning the mechanicals inside a furnace or a car or heck, even my printer. He’s good at figuring out how things work. It takes practice and making mistakes and lots of labor. It doesn’t involve luck.

As a matter of fact, the opposite could be said. After Joel replaced the toilet in the upstairs bathroom (because the renters actually cracked the tank and broke the wax seal (that prevents sewer water from leaking when you flush) it was discovered that we need to do more to the green room than just replace 2 windows and paint. When the tenant got her water turned off from not paying her bill, the pipes froze and they busted inside the ceiling. We found this out after some tests flushes upstairs. With water leaking everywhere, we had to tear out part of the ceiling to find the problem. Word of Advice: it’s good to pay your utilities. Another fun tip, if the temps are going to hit freezing, leave your faucets on, just dripping a wee bit and it prevents the pipes from freezing up and bursting.

Celiing torn out in green room copy

If you look the pipes closely, the 2 greys ends are what is supposed to be connected together.

Pipes burst in ceiling copy

So not only what there this issue, but quite a bit of the wall had to be scraped and patched to remove all the peeling.

Green room patched up copy

Then comes the REALLY unenjoyable part. The sanding. The dust gets everywhere.

Me from sanding the green room copy

AFTER priming and painting, here’s the ceiling where the hole was. Not too shabby.

ceiling pic copy

Here’s the completed room with the floor refinished. So sharp! We super love the new, brighter green! Most definitely a color we will use again!

Green room color copy

March 11, 2014

MIRROR, MIRROR

Mini me Arden pretend driving copy

About a year and a half ago I began to notice a really annoying habit Arden had.
Every time she was frustrated, say putting on shoes when the tongue stuck inside or a jacket with the arm inside out, she would make this really exasperated, loud grunt. If no one responded, it would continue into foot stomping and her shouting that whatever she was having difficulty with was ‘stupid’.

‘Dude, it’s not that hard!’ I would say, as she would flail all about. “Come on, we have to go!” No, of course it didn’t seem difficult for me. I knew how to do all these things easily. As a smaller person though, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by problem solving, especially when you are slow and always being rushed.

I’m not proud to say that it took me several months of this behavior before I finally caught on. Working on a wedding invitation order under a deadline, I stood over my printer fuming. The cardstock would jam, the toner would leak, smearing across the page. Something inevitably always went wrong when I just desperately needed it to work smoothly. I let out a loud overly-exaggerated groan, slammed the printer tray back into position, shouting “Stupid thing!”

THEN IT HIT ME.

The super annoying tendencies that my pint-sized child displayed were because of me. A completely learned reaction from one of the people in her life she looks up to most. I’m giving life lessons on how to handle challenges and stress and I was totally letting her down. This made me reflect on how I could rectify the situation.

In my job, I try to bend over backwards to make others happy. Pleased clients refer others. It’s good for business and my livelihood sort of depends on it. But in my quest to do whatever it took, I sold myself and my work short. The pressure I felt, spilled into my family life. I would be up till all hours tweaking a sample, only for a client to completely change their mind the next day. It was exhausting. I realized adjustments had to be made within how I ran the business in order for me to not get so overwhelmed. I needed to get rid of tension in my neck and the weight of perfection that always loomed over me.

Slowly, progress is being made.
I know this because I don’t get the crippling migraines I used to. I do better at taking things in stride and not so personally. And Arden? Well now, she calmly asks for help with a task she gets stuck on, instead of throwing a fit. While it’s humbling to realize my faults and work toward bettering them, it’s more important for me to make my example a good one.

I saw this video a couple weeks ago that prompted me to want to write this post. WARNING: It is emotionally jarring, but it certainly gets it’s point across. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d4gmdl3zNQ

March 6, 2014

Dresden : Weeks 6 & 7

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads this knows that we had to stop working on Hallie a bit to take care of business at Dresden. (So I may as well take it out of the title!) We have been very fortunate to be able to be granted an extension of an additional 3 months to work on Hallie after Dresden is completed. (So collective HUGE sigh of relief there!) We’ve been busy at work at Dresden as we have a potential renter lined up for April 1st move in. (Let’s hope it doesn’t turn in to an April Fool’s joke!)

Without further ado, here’s what new with Dresden over the last couple weeks.

When the weather was nice (you know that one day!)
Joel worked on framing in the outside portion of the newly installed windows. You can see on this side of the house 4 out of the 5 are completed. It is a such an enormous improvement!

Outside side photo show mostly finished windows copy

Another large undertaking for Joel was running 150 ft. of new water pipes in the basement.

Joel working on pipes in basement copy

water tank line pipes copyWasher hot and cold hook up copy

While they look a bit messy with drips, it actually is helpful during inspection, so the inspector is able to verify that the correct adhesives were used in the process.

Here’s a project I worked on. This hallway was pretty disgusting!
BEFORE

Hallway before lightswitch

hallway before floor to kitchen copy

Hallway closet door copy

Hallway before by bathroom copy

AFTER
Lots of scrubbing, painting (even down the basement hall), a new light fixture and new door.
Prepare to be dazzled! (At least we are!)

Hallway lightswitch copy

Hallway bathroom view copy

Hallway closed basement door copy

Stairwell to basement copy

We have a bunch more projects that we have been working diligently on (and are super proud of!) Hopefully we can get them wrapped up to show you all next week!
Thanks for viewing. 🙂 erin