Posted 06.06.2011

Posted 06.06.2011

Making the You and Your Girl Listening Guide

One of the projects that I worked on this winter / spring was for You and Your Girl. This is the third listening guide that I’ve done for this event (2009 and 2010). This has always been a fun project for me, where I can be really girly and have a lot of creative freedom.

My co-worker, Micah Lanier, actually, helped me out on the cover. (the rest is all me, though…I’m all about giving credit where credit is due.)


So, how did I land here? Well, I always start a project off with a moodboard. Whether the client actually sees it or not, I try to find elements that line up with the direction I want to go in. This allows me to (1) see what the current trends are and (2) it helps me start thinking in that mind set: page layouts, assets, etc. For this particular event, I always lean on Free People, Anthropologie, American Eagle, and Aerie.

The watercolor effect / style is one of favorites because it’s a quick and easy way to make something feel organic. So, how do I go about doing that? The key, here is to use the brush more like a stamp tool. If you’re going to “stamp” the brush more than once a given page, change the size and rotation. Your eye is incredibly good at picking out patterns and repetitiveness.

For this particular project, we bought a watercolor texture pack from Go Media. You can do a lot by adding masks, adjustment layers (mainly, Hue and Saturation) and blending modes (i.e. color and multiply).

There are tons of other places online where you can download Photoshop brushes (just be sure to check the licensing). NOTE: I didn’t use all of the following links, but included them to help get you started.

BittBox has my personal favorite:

For the illustration pieces, I went to the bookstore (old fashioned, I know) and bought a book of clip art. (Clip art, what?!)

Ladies Flower Garden
Redouté Flowers and Fruits CD-ROM and Book

I know these books look ridiculous. They’re definitely a reminder of the 90s. But, for something like this, they were actually perfect. I copied and pasted them into my Photoshop document, gave it a blend mode of multiply, and dialed back the opacity to give it a pencil feel.


Posted 04.14.2011

More of my Handiwork: Now Conference Listening Guides

For the last 4 months, I’ve been cranking out pieces like it’s going out of style. It’s been pretty impressive the amount of work we’ve been able to deliver (if I do say so myself).

One of the pieces that I’ve done recently is for the NOW Conference being held this weekend. Because the way the budget was structured, I was able to do some things that I normally don’t get to do…like letterpress the covers!

We used a local printer, Isle of Printing, to run the covers. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, we took a field trip to Bryce’s studio. I even got to run one set of the covers.

Amidst all this stuff, he had cases and cases of type. He had a couple of different machines. Including, this Original Heidelberg from 1942!


The insides look great too. We wanted it to resemble a moleskine notebook. The format of the conference lended itself perfectly to this concept. It’s 15 speakers in 2 days. Everyone gets 18 minutes on stage. Each speaker gets a spread in the listening guide, with plenty of extra notes pages in the back to use once the conference is over. I ended up turning it horizontal, though, to do something different.

—and because I’m always interested to see other designers’ process. I’ll share these, too. I almost always sketch out ideas and layouts before doing anything on the computer. It’s a habit I picked up in college. I can get a lot of ideas out of my head and onto paper a whole lot faster this way. I can also tell if an idea is going to work, without wasting my time, pushing pixels and forcing a design on the computer.

Shameless promotion

If you’re interested in attending the conference, it will be this weekend, April 15th and 16th at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, TN.

You can register online or check out their blog if you want more information, first.

The speaker line up is quality:

Jeremy Cowart

Definitely my favorite photographer. We’ve never met, but we have a lot of mutual friends. I first heard about Jeremy when I was in college. Since then, he has gone on to take most of the Christian Band photos, gone back and forth between here and LA doing all kinds of shoots, as well as done humanitarian projects for Haiti, Africa, and started Help Portrait. Its so refreshing to see other artists using their skills for good and not evil.

Jen Hatmaker

I’m really excited about meeting Jen.. I worked through one of her Bible Studies a couple of years ago. She is one of the few authors in life that can truly make me laugh out loud.

Jon Acuff

Jon is hilarious. He is the author of Stuff Christians Like. He started his blog, nine days later, he had 4,000 hits! That type of following is almost unheard of, at least, not within first two weeks! His book makes fun of the stupid stuff believers do, but always with a point. Side hugs? Power key change in worship songs?

Pete Wilson

Pete is a pastor of a church, here in Nashville. I’m currently in the middle of his book, Plan B. It’s all about what you do when life doesn’t go the way that you planned. I think every college graduate should read this book. There are plenty of things they don’t tell you when you graduate. Plenty of unmet expectations.

The ironic thing about this book: three weeks after the book was released, we experienced the Flood in Nashville. He and his church had the opportunity to live out this book’s message.

Matt Mooney

Matt has a fantastic story. His wife gave birth to a son that they were told would only live 5 minutes. However, he ended up living 99 days. Matt made a video that serves as a letter to his son, telling him all the accomplishments and things that he was a proud father over. His son lived for 99 days. At his funeral, they released 99 balloons: one balloon for every day that he lived. From that, Matt started a nonprofit, 99 Balloons. You’ll need a box of tissues when you watch this:

99 Balloons from Igniter Media on Vimeo.

There are plenty more speakers, but these are just some of the ones that I havne’t met and the most excited about. I’m shooting pictures at the event, so I should have more stuff to share next week.


Posted 10.05.2010

Brand New Day and Breaking the Curse

Blog friends, how I’ve missed you!

I’ve struggled to blog, but as Seth Godin would say, I’ve been busy shipping.

“What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship.”

One of the projects that we got proofs back on yesterday was the LifeWay Kids Conference Listening Guide. It’s a conference in Birmingham, next week, themed “Brand New Day.”

It’s funny…well, not that funny. Most of the people on my team have been struggling creatively, myself included. We’ve affectionately(?) called it “the curse.” I know every creative person experiences it. Those moments when designing comes easy and then the moments when it’s pulling teeth, beating your head against the wall, and considering a career move. The hard part? The past month has been filled with those moments. It’s not just me, it’s been our video producers and writers too.

I’m not sure that we’re all necessarily out the dark, but it has been a good learning experience. Once we all came to the place where we admitted we were struggling, we were able to sit down over a two hour lunch to discuss how we got there and how we can help each other get out.

All that’s to say, this project, Brand New Day, has been that project for me.

When I started out, I wanted to do something similar to Carsonified’s Chirp Conference. It’s a beautiful site with great attention to detail.

Chirp Website

With Brand New Day, we were trying to communicate a new look, sunshine, breakfast, Saturday morning cartoons…a brand new day.

Definitely, not wanting to copy Chirp or rip it off, I went with a green color scheme, which naturally lent itself to a farm. In my head, I was thinking Garfield and Friends. Anyone?

Garfield and Friends

This is what I came up with:

When I walked away from the cover, I knew something was still missing, but knew I’d come back to it. Well, I struggled even more with the interior pages.

Finally, I talked to Darrel, my creative director. The good part was, I wasn’t attached to this design. So, when I had the conversation with Darrel, I was willing to walk away from “Farmville.” He was fantastic and encouraged me to go to the grocery store and look at pictures of cereal boxes.

The hardest part with the shift was feeling like cereal boxes are gaudy…which they are…but embracing that. The new (and much improved) cover:

One thing I love about the kid’s team projects I’ve been able to work on is that I can interject some personality — like saying on the cover “Free schedule inside.” Well, of course you’re going to get a schedule! Or making a cut out watch with the head of the president of our company.

I also love hiding things. We have a list of exhibitors and sponsors. Boring. How can I make it interesting? I made a word search. Not only is that better visually, but it actually helps our sponsors and exhibitors. People will spend more time looking at their names trying to solve the puzzle than they would have before. (Plus, I hid “Haywood” into the puzzle. grin )