Archive | August, 2011

Living the Dream

16 Aug

I ran into some old friends from school this weekend, while I was out with my friends. One of the first questions out of our mouths were “What are you up to these days, where are you working?” Former design students ask their friends this question with a slightly worried look, because almost everyone graduated jobless, and our employment has ranged from retail to super sweet full time dream jobs. You don’t want to bum out your talented classmates by reminding them that because of this economy they get to beg for jobs they are  overqualified for.

Anyway, I told them I was freelancing, and living the dream, and they laughed because you don’t say a phrase like living the dream seriously. I thought about it more though, and I kind of am. I am having an amazing time doing this, and I’m actually starting to feel successful! Which is something I haven’t felt in a while. Also, all this working means that soon I will actually have some new projects to show you guys – I can’t wait!


Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about my obsession with office supplies. This has already been pretty well documented, but gosh, I don’t know, something about the fact that the back to school display is in full swing at target, and move in weekend was just here makes me in the mood to find some new stuff for my office. I still think it is the tragedy of my life that I don’t have to go back to school shopping any more. Something about those fresh notebooks and binders, all full of potential, and those post it notes just waiting for my notes and to-dos just left my heart aflutter.

Anyway, I discovered, aka my favorite new website, and things got a little out of hand. Online window shopping is my favorite kind of shopping.

Check out my pinterest board for some stylish, and useful things!

15 Aug

I don’t feel like writing today. It was kind of a sad weekend, and I haven’t been sleeping well – and when I do sleep, I have vivid, scary dreams which would be excellent horror movie plots. It’s amazing how in a couple of days you can go from feeling on top of your game to feeling creatively tapped.

Which is why I’m taking a micro-vacation, and giving myself a pass for a couple hours. I’m going to change up my routine, get out of my rut, and hopefully sleep well tonight. Tomorrow is a new day, am I right or am I cliched?



My Own Personal Video Challenge

13 Aug

Lately, I’ve been really inspired by video. (Like this, this, this, or this) I’ve always been interested in documenting my life, but there’s something about those short films that document a specific moment that really draw me in. My favorite part of my last family trip was when we busted out the family videos. It got me thinking about how I used to be great at documenting the everyday – I had a lot of stuff, but I never felt like it was taking away from my experience of whatever it was I was doing.

I also think it’s important to do creative things/have hobbies that aren’t directly connected to what I do. I love designing – but if it’s the weekend and I am not working, I need something to do! So my challenge is this: Not really a challenge. You shouldn’t have goals for your hobbies, duh. What I do want is to make more videos through the end of the year. Even if I never edit them or do anything with them, when I’m having a good time, I want to remember to pull out the camera for a few seconds. Even if I’m just sitting on the couch with David.

I hope you have a great weekend!


11 Aug


A young girl I used to babysit for passed away last night. There’s not much to say, but she had the sweetest smile, the brightest personality, and she is already missed.

In Another Life

10 Aug

I was at a job interview a while back, and one of the questions they asked me was: what would I be if I wasn’t a graphic designer. This kind of threw me. I really like being a designer, so I haven’t put any thought into other career paths. I still need to be successful at this one, as evidenced by the fact that I’m at a JOB INTERVIEW.

Anyway, I said something about being a chef, which is crap because even though I like to cook and I am pretty preoccupied with food, I would never want to do that forever. The question remained on my mind, even after the interview process was over. It’s strange to think about the other things you could do. Graphic design has defined my life for so long. However, I have finally reached a decision.

I would totally be an advice columnist. I can’t believe it wasn’t the first thing to come to my mind! I love reading advice columns! I always read Ann Landers in the paper growing up (right after I finished the comics), and even now I read a couple of online advice columns. I love hearing about people’s weird problems, and my bossy side would love telling them exactly what to do. Side note: Yesterday I was working in a coffee shop, and this couple came in and had a pretty loud, and long conversation about the state of their deteriorating relationship. I really wanted to pull up a chair and help them work through it, but I don’t think they would have appreciated my wisdom.

I always find myself wanting to give advice in my everyday life, which is a problem. Everyone knows unsolicited advice is the worst. But I think if I was an advice columnist, I’d get my fix, and my friends would thank me!

Design Talk With Alison

9 Aug

In the past, I have worked with clients who take the work I give them, and come back with very specific instructions on how they want me to adjust the designs. They will ask me to move something two points to the left, and change the green to gray, rotate the logo, and make the block of color transparent. This doesn’t offend me. I like it when people have a good idea of what they want, and honestly, it’s way easier for me when I don’t have to think about a project, and instead just do what the client wants.

But I think it’s a waste of their money to pay me to be their designer when they are going to have such a tight grip on every step of the process.

As a designer, it’s my job to think creatively. I have spent(and still spend) a lot of time studying what looks right, and what principles make it that way. I am constantly looking for inspiration, and I see the world in a different way from most people. When you hire me, you are paying for my perspective and expertise more than you are paying for my ability to use Illustrator. I can come up with things that you wouldn’t have thought to try, mostly because it’s my job to do so.

This isn’t to say I don’t like negative feedback. In fact, I love it when a client can tell me exactly what they don’t/do like about something I’m showing them. The more information you can give me, the closer I can get to making your vision happen. There is, however, a difference between telling me what you like, and don’t like, and telling me how to ‘fix’ it. I put a lot of thought into where things go, and 99% of the time, the clients who tell me how to change things end up not being happy with their fixes anyway.

A better way (for me, at least) is for the client to give me a list of things they don’t like, and elements they do like. That way, I can come up with solutions that have a better chance of being successful.

I love designing for people, and every client I’ve had has been great. But often there is a disconnect between the client and designer. A lot of people aren’t familiar with working with designers, and that can cause problems (clients from hell, anyone?) This is a topic that’s been on my mind as I transition from student into ‘professional’, and as I navigate the waters of wanting to please the client versus wanting to create meaningful, beautiful work that we can all be proud of.

Good lord it’s been a month already?

8 Aug


Oh goodness gracious. Allow me to begin this post with a little story.

I was slumbering not so peacefully the other night (seriously, in the past couple of weeks I’ve awoken to think I saw someone standing over my bed – a mean trick of the shadows – there have been a lot of thunderstorms, and I’ve been having exceptionally vivid dreams.. I think I need to drop my little extra cup of coffee in the afternoon habit right back on the ground) and I had a dream. I was at a Goodwill, but it was a different company from the Goodwill we all know and love. I was chatting with some executives, as I tend to do, and they told me to come in the next day for an interview, and I would be guaranteed a job. As I was preparing for my interview, I realized that I didn’t want to do any of it. I like the job I have now, and I didn’t think I wanted to give it up.

This sums up how freelance is going for me right now. I woke up, and the dream dissolved, but the basic sentiment remained the same. I really like it!



My Goals For Month 1

* Grow my Etsy shop exponentially. – Still working on this one! Definitely have made a lot of progress.

* Redesign my website. NOPE.

* Streamline the not-fun aspects of freelancing.
This is in progress as well. I have taken steps.

* Become a better blogger.
I wouldn’t say that being ‘better’ at blogging is a goal to be reached, but I have been way more consistent at blogging, so I’m counting it as a win.


+ What if I become a shut-in and don’t ever talk to anyone except for David/my family again? I am actually socially busier than ever! I don’t know what I’m doing, but I guess I am doing it well.

+ What if nobody is interested in hiring me?  I actually have more to do than I thought I would!

+ What if I never wear real clothes again? Yeah… about that. I need to go buy some nicer ‘lounge’ clothes, because the giant Planet Fitness t/no pants/hair in an unbrushed braid/no makeup is not a good look for me.

+ What if I can’t find any good music to listen to and the silence slowly drives me insane?  Pandora/Netflix have taken care of that for me.

+ What if I become a crazy person who talks to her dog like he’s a human? (Oh wait..) I need to accept that this is not so much a ‘fear’ and more of a ‘reality’.

+ What if I cut my finger off with an X-acto and slowly bleed to death because I can’t get to the phone in time? (maybe I should get a life-alert?) This is still a big issue for me. I have added, choking, and falling, breaking both my elbows and being unable to dial my phone to this list.



My biggest problem right now is organization. It is extraordinarily difficult to organize my days, and feel productive by the end of them. A typical day for me looks like this:

+ Wake up. Eat breakfast with David, send him off, etc.

+ Think about what I want to accomplish today.

+ Start working.

+ Email! From someone who needs something from me!

+ Feel torn between completing task, or completing client request.

+ Complete client request, return to task.

+ Phone call! More new stuff to do.

+Ping pong back and forth. Finally get back to task, for reals this time.

+ Yoga/David comes home/Previously scheduled appointment comes up. End day feeling semi productive but also frustrated that it takes days to complete anything.


This is hard, because I want to be accessible to the people who are willing to pay me money to do work for them, but I also want to, you know, get things done.


Also, my desk got real messy:


My Goals for Month 2:

+ Relaunch Etsy shop with new products and a new gameplan.

+ Actually redesign my website. I need to stop procrastinating and do it.

+ Finish some client work and get the whole invoicing/billing thing all smoothed out.

+ Talk to an accountant. (My, that sounds responsible)

+ Come up with a work flow that allows me to be accessible AND productive. I have already taken steps on this one. Many of the steps involve coming to terms with the fact that it’s okay not to read and respond to email instantly. People can wait 15 minutes.

+ Get office organized. This is not so much a ‘goal’ as it is a ‘nerd-out waiting to happen’. File folders, here I come! This is gonna take at LEAST 2 trips to Office Depot, boy oh boy!

+ Get out of the office more! I had these dreams of always working at coffee shops, being too cool for school with my feather extensions and pierced nose (I have neither of these things). I haven’t left the office to work hardly at all because I always plan to make more Etsy stuff, and that requires a lot of supplies. I think it’s hard to be creative and stay fresh being by yourself all the time, and not being out in the world, even if the world is a little coffee shop table. I also have big dreams of working poolside. The pool closes in a month, so I better jump on it. Honestly, I want to take advantage of the wonderful freedom of schedule that I have right now, and not spend my life in the same place at the same time every day.

Phew, this ended up being a long post. (over 900 words!) I certainly do love taking stock. In a nutshell, I love it, I’m getting better at it every day, I can’t wait to show you all the new stuff I’ve been doing!



My Freelance Life:

Read about day 1 here

Friday Fix

5 Aug

It’s the ‘things I want to buy for my shop’ edition.
(clockwise from top left) striped washi tape, dog on it paper, someone in your state loves you postcards, kraft airmail envelopes, hot pink washi tape, indigo stripe paper, distinguished panel paper, blue + red crosses washi tape, paper twine

Eat, Move, Learn

4 Aug

I’ve always said I wanted to travel, but the closer I get to being in a place where it could be a reality, the more bogged down I get in the details. Sure, traveling sounds fun, but I’d probably have to get on a plane to get there, I wouldn’t get to sleep in my own bed, it would be really expensive and I’d miss my dog. I would also probably die, either by air disaster or handsome foreign murderer. There are so many risks!

These videos serve as a good reminder that sometimes the risks might be worth it. There is just so much to see, learn, EAT, experience. How could it not be worth it?

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Dwight, you ignorant slut

3 Aug

So, I sat down to write a post, and then this guy came over to do a little light maintenance, and Caspian has a history of hating him for some weird reason, so now I am writing this with a slightly panicked 80 pound dog breathing on my elbow and pawing at me for comfort.

It is not very conducive to creativity, is what I’m saying.


So let’s talk about the office. I would say I spend most of my time in my apartment in my office right now. As I use it more and more, I am realizing that I still have a long way to go to maximize functionality. You see, I have a vision. And my vision is this:

Image Via Fffound and pinterest

A white, bright, clean, beautiful office. Unfortunately, right now my reality is more like this:

via wellreadhostess


I am working with a few problems here. The first is that I am operating on a budget of let’s use what I have already. The second is that I am sharing my office space, so I really have about 10 square feet that I’m working with. My third problem is that since I’m renting, I can’t paint the floors white, like I want to. The most important problem is that I need a lot of hidden-ish storage, since I have a ton of crap that I use, but don’t necessarily want to look at all the time. I would love to be able to make cards without having to put pieces of paper on the floor, or on a chair, or balanced on Caspian.

via Pinterest


via Pinterest


Something like that post office sorting shelf would be PERFECT. I have a lot of paper, you guys. I also have a feeling that shelf was bought at a flea market somewhere for a million dollars.

via Pinterest


The top half of this photo is just lovely. Look at all that storage!

You can check out the other photos I pinned on Pinterest here. Hopefully the office will come together sooner rather than later… I’m tired of working from the floor!