Monday, June 28, 2010

The Self-Portrait (A Tribute)

I've always had a profound love for photography, but it has intensified since my dad's death last June. He carried his camera with him everywhere, and had couldn't have found less opportune moments to capture his photos. You're eating? Great, let me snap one. Needless to say, there are hundreds of awful full-mouthed photos of me floating around. There are also hundreds of beautiful, touching moments that he discovered with that camera. I remember getting irritated with him once for having the camera out at what seemed like an inappropriate time. He fought back, stating that I would now forever treasure the little memories I would have otherwise forgotten.

When looking at our family pictures, I always notice the random self-portraits he took by holding his arm out and pressing the button blindly. This was his way of proving his existence to the camera. Dad was the photographer, and therefore was rarely featured in the pictures. I may not be able to see his face in most of the images, but those photos are taken from his vantage point. He pulled out the camera during the moments he felt held a certain importance. To me, that is so much more meaningful than having him on the other side of the camera.

This past weekend I was in Iowa to visit family and honor my dad, as tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of his death. I felt it necessary to to pull out his beloved camera for the occasion. No act makes me feel closer to him than when I'm holding his camera, framing out my composition. Above you will see my self-portrait, my blind attempt to show the face behind the images.

Here's to you, Dad. Thank you for pulling out the crayons with me when I was little and letting me color outside of the lines. Thank you for drawing goofy cartoons and teaching me that creativity has no limits. Most of all, thank you for allowing my brother and me to see the world in a way that is truly our own.

I cherish my unique vision of the world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Facebook Page: Verde Utopia Design Studio

The other day I created a Facebook page for my freelance design services. Will you help me spread the word? Only a small portion of my portfolio is currently online, so check back regularly for updates.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More? Oh, yes.

Photo above from: Turtle Soup Blog

I promised to share a list of sites that weren't included on my 10 Mind-Blowing Sites list. Below is my first installment. These particular blogs belong to three of my crazy-talented college classmates.

Listing fun new finds (3 at a time) will probably become a regular feature on my blog, so watch for my new discoveries.

In no particular order...(drumroll)

Chimes Blog
Graphic designer and craftster Calee Himes shares her innovative crafts, recipes and hilarious life adventures as well as her daily mugshot.

Turtle Soup Blog
Stephanie's profile describes her as a "Designer. Crafter. Paper lover. Expert in the domestic arts." Her blog tracks the culinary fun, sewing, party planning and designing that is a part of her daily life.

Design O' Blog
Niki Brown provides easy-to-follow print and web design tutorials and adds a (large) pinch of inspiration and humor on her site.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day Ten:'s Blog

Website:'s Blog

Where to go: CLICK HERE for home page, CLICK HERE for blog

Why I think it's mind-blowing:
I know what some of you are thinking. Let me defend myself. Yes, I realize that Etsy is a well-known daily shopping stop for many. Because of my long-time love affair with Etsy, I'm always shocked by the blank stares I get when I mention it. According to Etsy's site, their mission "is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: buy, sell, and live handmade." In other words, creative people from across the globe create stellar goodies for the fortunate buyers.

It is easy and free to become a seller, and Etsy only takes a small portion of your profits. As a buyer, this site is a gold mine of jewelry, photography, stationery, clothing, pottery, etc. There are also great options that help you shop locally, or according to color preference. Many sellers will create custom items at your request. If you see something you like, keep in mind that many items are unique and aren't created in bulk.

If you love Etsy but you don't follow the blog, you should. Not only does it
showcase great design, but it provides a "how-to" section, lists events, and encourages contest participation on their news page.

Click on the "Craftivism" portion of the blog and discover how you can use your passion to become an activist. Many Etsy sellers are doing their part to help
clean the gulf. Another featured article discusses the Combat Paper Project, which helps soldiers reclaim their stories and express their experiences through art.

Look for a post in the near future that lists my favorite Etsy sellers.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I'm sitting here contemplating what site #10 (the final one on my list) should be. There are so many amazing and inspiring ones to choose from, and I failed to make a master list before I started the countdown. I might have to sleep on this. Look for #10 tomorrow!

I'd like to do a follow-up post with honorable mention sites. If I have missed some amazing ones (which I obviously have since I can only feature 10) let me know and I'll add them to the extensive and possibly endless list.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day Nine: Hylton Warburton's Photostream on

Website: Hylton Warburton's Photostream on

Where to go: CLICK HERE

Why I think it's mind-blowing:
It was my lucky day when I came across Hylton's photostream on accident. According to his profile, he is a graphic designer, illustrator and art director from South Africa. His portfolio primarily consists of quirky, colorful and brave illustration work. There is a certain in-your-face surrealist/children's book/Tim Burton quality to his style that I find intriguing and fun.

If you don't frequent Flickr for inspiration, I strongly advise that you do. It is your gateway to designers around the world, and they are creative visionaries (and voices) just waiting to be heard.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day Eight: The Design Slice Blog

Website: The Design Slice Blog

Where to go: CLICK HERE

Why I think it's mind-blowing:
The Design Slice is a blog written by Jessi Scurte, a fellow graphic designer, Iowa State grad, interior design aficionado, gardener and creative observer. Jessi has fantastic tips for thrifty shoppers, provides helpful household suggestions and showcases current trends in fashion and design. Jessi and I have been friends for years now, and she has posted about our Twin Cities exploration and our recent trip to the Minneapolis Farmers Market on her site. Her blogging style is fun and laid-back yet inspirational and perceptive. I suggest you check this site out, but be warned that you might decide to forgo dinner to read her previous posts. I wouldn't want you to go hungry, after all. :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day Seven: Design Sponge (City Guides)

Website: Design Sponge (City Guides)

Where to go: CLICK HERE

Why I think it's mind-blowing: 
This site may be familiar to many of you designers out there, but I think it's essential for me to include it on the list. For those of you who are have no idea what this site is, you have been missing out.

Design Sponge offers a wide variety of resources, including trend listings, product guides, recipes, etc. While these features are intriguing, the city guides are the reason I'm including this site on my list. Scroll down and find your hometown or your vacation destination on the list. Click on it and WAHOO! In your hands you will find...(insert suspenseful music here) a fantastic design guide that lists restaurants, trendy hangouts, museums and thrift stores that will fill your summer with spectacular activities. Don't forget to view the comments at the bottom of the page. Many readers have further suggestions and insight to share.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'll Be Writing Again Tomorrow!

I guess I didn't provide any advance warning that I would be neglecting my blog. My mom and brother are currently visiting from Iowa, so I've been giving them my full attention. Look for a new post tomorrow and every day following until I reach #10 on my list of mind-blowing sites!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day Six: Spoonflower

Website: Spoonflower

Where to go: 

Why I think it's mind-blowing:
Do you enjoy sewing? Do you wish you could find a pillow with a very specific pattern or style? Are you creative, or do you know someone who is? is a service that prints your custom design on fabric. It uses eco-friendly printing methods and offers $5 swatches so you can preview the finished product before spending $18 – $32 per yard. For you creative people out there, the site offers tons of themed weekly design contests. A 10% commission is awarded to the winners, as well as $100 in store credit. If you are a design enthusiast rather than a designer, check out the treasure chest of beautiful designs offered on their online store.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day Five: PostSecret


Where to go:
CLICK HERE to view the secrets.
CLICK HERE to discover more about the project and to view upcoming events.

Why I think it's mind-blowing:
PostSecret is a revealing art project founded by Frank Warren. People were asked to anonymously mail in their deepest secrets on postcards. These secrets were then compiled into a book form.

 According to the wikipedia entry for PostSecret:
"Frank Warren claims that the postcards are inspirational to those who read them, have healing powers for those who write them, give hope to people who identify with a stranger's secret, and create an anonymous community of acceptance."

Over the years I have connected emotionally with many of these secrets. Reading the content of these postcards makes me realize how complex the world around me is. The visuals (created by the sender) add another dimension to the messages being shared. In a world increasingly consumed by social networking and technology, this is another way to communicate in a passive yet therapeutic way.

Several books have now been published, including The Secret Lives of Men and Women: A Postsecret Book and Confessions on Life, Death, and God. If you decide to flip through a PostSecret book, don't be surprised if you find a few postcards hidden in the pages. Rather than mail in their cards, some contributors prefer to share their secrets with the (lucky) local bookworms.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day Four: Daily Drop Cap





Daily Drop Cap (by Jessica Hische)

Where to go:

Why I think it's mind-blowing:
I'm beginning to think that designer Jessica Hische is the Martha Stewart of the design world. She creates a new initial cap every working day, and lucky for us, she posts these handcrafted masterpieces for bloggers across the world to use. Somewhere in her day she also finds time to blog, tweet, freelance, teach, run an online store and answer questions from her growing number of fans.

Jessica has a recognizable style, and her illustration and typography skills have gained her a great deal of attention in the design community. If you are craving inspiration on "one of those days," check out her portfolio, which she updates often to showcase her newest work.

Please note:
Jessica's drop caps have specific limitations, but printed copies can be purchased from her online store.