Follow the path you love.

I found this great article today, shared by AIGA Jacksonville (  What caught my eye is something that keeps coming up in design:  it's not about knowing the tools, but how you use them.  One of the most difficult things as an emerging/student designer to learn is that dreaded "learning curve" of "I want to do everything and right now!"...but find out you need more time practicing the tools.  As you know, I'm an advocate of the practice, practice, practice concept, and there's a reason for that...the more comfortable you become with the tools when you're a student, the easier the transition to doing what YOU want in design will be.

Andrew Clarke, author of the article, states:

Perhaps the most important lessons I learned at art school were not to take what we hear or see at face value and to question everything we’re told. Everyone should do that. I want you to always ask, “Can I do it better?” Remember that just because something’s been done doesn’t mean you can’t do it better. There’s really nothing we can’t improve, and we don’t have to improve it for everyone — improving it for ourselves is often more important.

It's not enough to merely regurgitate designs...we must look, see and observe what's going on around us.  Why do we like certain designs?  What are we interested in as a designer?  These are things only time and exploration will unfold.

How do we find ourselves  in art and design?  How do we find inspiration?  All of us will take our own path, for sure, but know that as long as you try your hardest, push yourself harder, you will succeed.


More links on inspiration/how to make it as a designer:

Work Hard and Be Nice to People

Be Humble, Be Honest and Don't Be Afraid to Fail

Advice for Students and Young Web Designers

In this article, experts on a panel give advice to young/emerging designers.  One of my favorite parts?

Well, I guess the most important thing is “practice, practice, practice.” To improve the quality of your work, you have to keep pushing yourself further and further.


Ira Glass on Creativity

I showed this in some of the classes as an example for kinetic typography...but the message itself is important to hear.

Photo by  rawpixel .com   from  Pexels

Photo by from Pexels


Mood Boarding

:: From the archive ::

Mood boards are a great way to gather ideas, research and inspirations. Our friends at Wiki state:


mood board is a type of collage consisting of images, text, and samples of objects in a composition. They may be physical or digital, and can be "extremely effective" presentation tools. Mood boards are used by graphic designers to enable a person to visually illustrate the style they are pursuing. However, they can also be used to visually explain a certain style of writing, or an imaginary setting for a storyline. In short, mood boards are not limited to visual subjects, but serve as a visual tool to quickly inform others of the overall "feel" (or "flow") of an idea.


In addition to our thumbnail sketches (and pinning/reblogging/sketching), a mood board is a great way to visually think about your project and your project's needs.  This technique may be used as part of your final project's research stage.  Mood boards are used in interior design, fashion design, web design, print design and so much more!

You can learn more about idea generating in my Skillshare class on this topic (get 2 months free, too, if you want!) 

Some links to learn more:


[ Photo by  Designecologist  from  Pexels  ]

[ Photo by Designecologist from Pexels ]

Inspiration [for when there is none]

:: From the archives ::

How do you stay inspired? What motivates you? What happens if you get a creative block?

These were questions that arose during the afternoon ART407 class on Wednesday.


So how do you get out of a creative block? How do you find your muse?  There are SO MANY ways to do this and luckily our society today has tons of info at our finger tips. As ever, it’s up to us to curate what works and doesn’t work for us.

Just a side note…when this happens to me, I LOVE to sit down with magazines and cut out that which (visually) I like. Or I sketch. Or visit an art gallery. Or do a 1/2 day trip to D.C. to just change my scenery. And run and take walks. I read voraciously…and about anything: biographies, sci/fi, fiction, nonfiction, biology…anything goes! Because who knows where it’ll crop up in my work 1 year, 4, 5, 10 years from now. I also LOVE art supplies (like…almost obsessively) so I will pick out a new marker (ok, or 5) to work with and experiment with. Or to find some cool paper that I haven’t seen or worked with before. And the BIGGEST thing I do…is I allow myself to FAIL. Ok, so that one didn’t turn out so well…that’s ok! Grab the next sheet of paper (or open up that new document in Illustrator/Photoshop/InDesign etc) and do another. And ANOTHER. Some will be rockin’…some may not be…it’s OK! Take the time to PLAY!!!  (check out Jessica Walsh’s stance on PLAY and about her design process).



Here are some links that help me with motivation/inspiration::

1. Frannerd!!


I showed this in class (informally) at the start of the term, but maybe now it would be a good time to review these 2 videos by Frannerd.

Her video on MOTIVIATION is HERE!

Her video on BEST ADVICE EVER is HERE!

Her video about HOW TO STAY ORGANIZED is HERE! (I get a lot of questions about this…so if you don’t have your “system” yet…check this one out.  She also gives TONS of resources from other vloggers.


2. Being Boss Podcast

Frannerd mentioned this in her vlog and I concur…it’s a GREAT spot for motivation/inspiration.  Link to BLOG/PODCAST HERE!

3. Debbie Millman Podcast

Can you tell I like podcasts? ( ** a lot! ** )

Design Matters. Millman hosts leaders and movers/shakers in the design world and interviews them. I mean..seriously! could these interviews not inspire?! They’re the creme de la creme of our design lives.  Link to PODCAST HERE!


4. Tips on finding Inspiration::

And there are GLOBS more articles on this subject…these are just a few to get you started. Read, read, read! Work through it! Find a new process! Get outside and take walk/run/swim/hike. Grab your camera and take photos of a trip to the downtown/Rocky Gap. Grab a notebook and list anything you want to list. Walk the mall. Set a timer. Visit a museum. Go to the library and look at (*gasp!*) analog (haha) design (ie: magazines and books). Buy a planner. Find your system.  Life has its ups and downs and we need to find our system of dealing with the creative block.


Be like Nike. Just do it!


~Prof. R.


Artistic Confidence

:: From the archives ::

“Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping,…Stop it and just DO!…”
Sol Lewitt

As artists, we are often our own worst critics, and when my one friend posted this on her facebook for us to see, she said, “Everyone should read this.”  And so I did.


This article encapsulated everything I try to say to people when they feel frustrated or burned out.  This is a perfect mantra to rev yourself out of any funk!


Read the correspondance between Sol Lewitt and Ava Hesse. Decide for yourself.


Read the article:

New Workshops Announced

As a part of the Michaels Beta Testers, I am pleased to offer two new art workshops! For this set, we will explore the fluid nature of alcohol ink. Session is August 9th or August 24th fro 4-6 p.m. Sign up today for either session.

Explore and experiment with the playful nature of Alcohol Ink! We will learn the basics of alcohol ink and yupo paper so you can create your own abstract masterpieces in a few basic steps. Be ready to come and have fun experimenting with your new materials!

Skill Level: All-level

Supplies Included: None

Recommended Age: Adult

Class Materials (Not Included):

You must bring these supplies in order to take part in the class.

> 1 ofTim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Blending Solution

> 1 of Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Inks, Nature Walk or Summit View (colors are your choice!)

> 1 of Tim Holtz® Alcohol Ink Yupo® Cardstock

Top 20 Design Books Beginning Designers Should Strive to Own!

I am resurrecting this from my archives and plan on doing an addendum soon!

As promised, here’s the list of the top 20 books that all beginning designers should look for when out and about in this world.  I’ve gathered what I consider to be a solid variety of topics, to give you insight on the technical side of the field as well as the historical side of our field.


~Prof. R.

(in no particular order, heads up!)

Design History:

Meggs’ History of Graphic Design
Philip B. Meggs

Meggs’ book is “the” go to for graphic design’s history. Pricey but it covers it all.

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days
Studio 3

(A condensed History)

Design Skills:

Creative Workshop:  80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills
David Sherwin

Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming
Ellen Lupton, editor

Graphic Design: The New Basics
Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips

Design Software:

The Adobe Classroom in a Book series (InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, Photoshop CC, etc)

I have used this series in the past as classroom books, as they are geared to new users. If new to a program/software, I’d recommend this series (you can work along with the book, which helps)

The InDesign One:

Photoshop Bible
Lisa DaNae Dayley

When I was a student, I learned from the (photoshop, etc.) Bible series. They cover almost everything:


Thinking With Type
Ellen Lupton

Typography (Basics Design)
Gavin Ambrose

Just a good series in general (they cover the gamut)..their design thinking and layout ones (book 08 and 02, respectively) are pretty awesome too!

A Typographic Workbook: A Primer to History, Techniques and Artistry
Kate Clair

This is my go-to textbook for typography as it covers the history of type from ancient to contemporary times and has awesome hands on projects for you to explore type with.


Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
Timothy Samara

Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type
Kimberly Elam


Layout Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Building Pages in Graphic Design
Kristin Cullen

Just Generally Good to Have:

Design Basics Index
Jim Krause

I love these…they are a set and I have this one, the type, color and layout ones as well (they used to be sold as sets).  They were great to have around my cubicle at work for design inspirations.

Go: A Kidd’s Guide ot Graphic Design
Chip Kidd

Burn your Portfolio: Stuff they don’t teach you in design school but should
Michael Janda

Business-y Books:

Creative, Inc:  The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business
Joy Deangdeelert Cho and Meg Mateo Ilasco

Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Graphic Artists Guild

Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers
Tad Crawford and Evan Doman Buck

The Designer’’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing (how to win clients and what to charge them)
Ilise Benun