‘Randa Inspired Tech Freebies

download iPhone wallpaper here

download desktop wallpaper here

I’ve been listening to Miranda Lambert’s “Platinum” for a couple-ish weeks now. I’m a huge fan of her music – along with the Pistol Annies & Ashley Monroe – and it doesn’t hurt that ‘Randa & Blake live in my hometown. Miranda owns multiple businesses along the once decrepit Tishomingo main street, and is really active with local government and causes. It seems Miranda can’t resist the urge to jump into a place or space and shake things up, and that’s somethin’ I can dig about a woman.

Naturally, my curiosity peaks when she releases a new album….How much of her life in Tish inspired the music, if at all? Small towns have some interchangeable characteristics, and Tishomingo is no different than most. But I always like to think that our little town serves as a country creative’s muse.

If you’re a fan of pink or country music or blonde hair…This one is for you.

Happy Friday,



Workspace: Livestock Promo Banner

I’ve been slaving away on a design for a 3×5 promo banner for my in-laws small business. In short, they raise performance quarter horses from a pretty famous and desirable bloodline. The big stud (literally) you see above was the Big Pappa, and although he is no longer alive, it’s his genetics that still form the foundation of their breeding program today. I wanted to share with you the final product and a little bit about the process behind it.

The challenge: Create a promo banner to be displayed at an event, and future livestock events

The challenge within the challenge: Brand positioning. The website goes by one name, the Facebook page by another, there’s the literal Rafter W brand, and finally, customers who mostly identify with the Willinghams – the family name behind the product. The Willingham family wanted to shift identify away from their name and toward the actual Rafter W brand.

The solution: Because the clients wanted the banner useable for a long time to come, I suggested taking the plunge: not putting the Willingham name on the banner and boldly declaring that we are Rafter W. In the long run, this saves money and hopefully helps customers make the mental shift away from the sellers and focus instead on the product – the horses. Livestock can be literally living, breathing, walking advertisements: not a single animal leaves the program without a Rafter W brand on their hip. From the beginning of the customer’s search process to finally leading the horse in to their home stall, we wanted customers to recognize and remember “Rafter W.”

As a byline, we used “Foundation of Legends” – the name of the horse sale that established the Rafter W brand within the industry. This retains a little bit of the “old” brand image for previous and returning buyers.

The images: Only one truly useable, high-res image of the stud existed. It was Blue (the stud) as you see him above, but with people in the background and trees and grass and, basically, a bunch of distractions. I removed the background and simply eliminated the standard halter he was wearing around his face using the clone tool within Photoshop. Because his hooves were covered in grass in the original image, I faded them out in lieu of a hard crop or leaving the grass altogether.

I did not alter his form or color in any other way – I believe to do so would be unethical. I think removing a halter is one thing, and boosting the color or sharpening the image of the animal is quite another. Lots of agricultural insiders have opinions about this…What do you think? Tell me in the comments.

The background, a vintage paper texture, was found and purchases through this stock site.

The fonts: The taglines are in a font called Geronimo. Purchase it here.

Other components: Because the actual brand is important, I worked in a watermark of the Rafter W. I kept content information as to the point as possible. I created the illustrations on the corners, inspired by the leather tooling on western saddles.

Overall: I definitely think it accomplishes the goal, the pieces were used with intention and it fits within the frame and style of livestock advertising today.

The problem with being new in design is knowing when to keep going and when you put down the mouse and walk away. I could resize and rearrange the design pieces until the end of time. And then, of course, I decide enough is enough and package the design – only to remember how inferior I am to literally every designer to ever open Illustrator. But then I also remember that it takes years and thousands of hours to really get good at anything. And at the end of the day, as long as the clients are happy, it is a job well done.

Especially if the clients are your in-laws.



P.S. – I really love this interview on the work process of another illustrator.

Life, Lately: June 2014


I’m starting to feel like a real, traveling gypsy. Give me a tambourine and a pet goat and I will officially fit the bill.

I’ve been ping-ponging between College Station, Tishomingo and OKC for the last few weeks. Cory is traveling all over for safety trainings while I am taking the time to see friends and continuing to juggle freelance meetings, deadlines and design projects. I’m living out of a duffle bag and kind of all over the place but it’s fun and exciting and breath a fresh air. I get to live a little, write a little, design a little and learn a lot in the process.

The blog, thereby, has fallen to the wayside a little. And, man, I hate that. I want to spill my guts to you guys about all the “big life things” that are in the works for us right now, but I’ve learned over the years that really great things – like sunrises and sunsets and all the miracles – have to unfold quietly and in their own time. And  I only need to be still and watch the magic happen…not everything in this world is dependent on my actions or interventions. In fact, hardly anything is.

So, in the meantime, I’m taking stock of what I’m up and what’s on my mind.




Making: Oatmeal, topped with brown sugar, blueberries & raisins

Cooking: Does oatmeal count as cooking?

Drinking: Beer – the perfect beverage for summer activities

Reading: The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Wanting: Another sunny afternoon by the pool

Looking: Through design books. My favorite is the Letterhead & Logo Design series

Playing: Golf

Deciding: What book to read next

Wishing: I owned all the Warby sunnies

Enjoying: Honestly, just taking the time to create and learn new things and starting my summer masters courses

Waiting: For news…

Liking: Khloe Kardashian’s indian headdress at Kidchella

Wondering: How Iggy Azalea has such a tiny waist and bumpin’ booty. Some girls are just lucky, I guess

Loving: Seeing and unexpectedly running in to old friends

Pondering: Grabbing some watercolors and giving a shot at digitizing some illustrations

Considering: Starting Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. I’m behind, I know.

Watching: Netflix. Always Netflix.

Hoping: To get out of life limbo, the sooner the better

Marvelling: At how tolerable the summer temps have been. I remember much hotter days.

Needing: Caffeine. Always caffeine.

Smelling: Honeysuckle, my favorite summer scent

Wearing: Second-hand, ripped up jeans and a SOSU shirt circa ‘78

Following: This Instagram account. WANTING ALL THE THINGS.

Noticing: When people demonstrate patience

Knowing: Better things are coming

Thinking: About taglines, call to actions, etc. Designer-y things. Oh, and feature story intros, transitions. Writer-y things.

Feeling: Optimistic

Admiring: The people who never change – in that really great, deep-down-in-the-soul kinda way.

Sorting: Clothes into piles for packing up or giving away.

Buying: Typefaces and lipstick

Getting: What I need, and luckily, what I want most days

Bookmarking: New blogs and type foundry sites

Disliking: Impatient people…Take a deep breath, chill out and wait your turn, yo.

Opening: Thank you notes

Giggling: Over texts from Cory

On fire

Last week I had the great opportunity to speak to a class of Texas A&M students about branding and social media. We talked about the components needed to build a brand and what tools and techniques are best for sharing that brand with potential customers, clients and fans.

But, what the students really wanted to know was…

1) How do we help clients who hired us for our expertise but won’t give up any creative control; and

2) How do WE become experts? How do we build our own expertise in an area – like in design, social media, writing content or branding? 

I was super impressed by the students interest in these two things specifically because learning how to sell an idea to unlikely or hesitant buyers (uh, like convincing a bunch of baby boomers that your business should hop on the Twitter train) is the single most important skill to hone ever. Besides, ya know, feeding yourself or tying your own shoes. Because ultimately, no one gets anywhere without  doing a little selling, wheeling and dealing along the way. We have to sell ourselves, and our potential, to employers. We have to sell our talent to our bosses, convincing them that we deserve that next project/promotion/raise. We have to sell our spouse on the idea of doing the dishes/putting the seat down/going to see the latest, weepy chick-flick. Learning how to quickly and effectively win people over and getting them to do what you want sounds like manipulation, but it’s not: it’s recognizing your audience, validating their needs, and convincing them to hop along for the ride that is your big (or small) idea – the one that will lead them (and you) to the solution of the highest good. It’s leading a horse to water, convincing him to drink, and having him like it so much he comes back for more.

Secondly, I was impressed the students were as interested in the process as they were the end product. “What is your average day like? How do you know what looks good/works and what doesn’t? How did you learn to do all this?”

Simple. I completely threw myself into learning the things I wanted to know about this industry. I read TONS of blogs. I practiced design, replicating things I knew were a hit with hot shit designers across the country. I took classes – eCourses, workshops, graduate courses. I went to printers, sending proofs and projects back over and over until I got it right. I practiced photography, I studied photography. I wrote every day. I ordered design, branding and business books from Amazon and even (yes, for real) checked out books from the library. I spent nine months in a corporate crash course in what not to do, what does not work, and what does not look good. Then I threw myself into learning not only what to do, what does work, and what does look good, but also learning how to execute that start to finish.

I told them you have to become a 24/7 student of what you are passionate about. You have to be passionate about learning, and learning everything – the good, bad, the ugly and what makes them so.

And as you begin to throw yourself into that work, your flame will grow brighter and brighter until you’re standing in front of a room full of people begging you to tell them how you did it.

love & light,


P.S. – This is my Pinterest board for all things that inspire me in my workspace.