Customized Graduation Invitations

grad_invitesYour little one has reached a milestone in their life; they’re graduating. (I guess they’re not so little anymore). You’re a proud happy parent who wants to celebrate. That means a ceremony, party, food, family, friends, fun, music, and maybe even a disco ball. It also means that you need invitations. If your family is huge like mine, then you will need more than a few invites to cover everyone including friends. Several sites offer stellar options to showcase your graduate i.e. Tiny Prints (love their style choices), Shutterfly, or Zazzle. For my family though, we went a alternate less expensive route.

Both of my cousins are graduating from high school the same year, so as a gift to them I designed their invitations. I also took the pictures for them. We had our own little photo-shoot in a local park and raided the dollar store beforehand for quirky props. A large amount of invites were needed and the reason why it was cheaper was because I did everything myself and I used an online printing service, specifically Vistaprint. Instead of paying $1 or more per card, I was able to order my design in bulk paying around 22 cents per card. This price could vary depending on what specials Vistaprint has available. I also added envelope seals, using elements from my design.

Note: Vistaprint has their own section for graduation invitations. This is NOT what I’m referring to. I sized my invites according to their Rack Card specifications in Marketing Materials and uploaded my design. You could use their Post Card specs as well.

Do I recommend doing everything yourself?
If you are artistically inclined with a photographic eye, then I say go for it! Do you have to choose Vistaprint? No. Check out Printaholic’s Top Online Printing Services. However, I usually get great deals with Vistaprint (check for online coupons), excellent customer service, and quality results. We had so much fun together taking photographs for the invitations, that alone makes them extra special to me. If you do personally take the pictures, keep these basic tips in mind from PC Magazine and be a little adventurous. Don’t be afraid to attempt a weird position, prop, or pose. It could be a dud or photo gold, but you won’t know until you try.

Let’s face it though, not everyone enjoys taking pictures. Many parents will opt for a professional photographer. Consider hiring a Graphic Designer as well. He/she could provide you with an even more customized invitation. Depending on the amount you need and the designer’s fee, it could work out to cost around the same as using a site like Tiny Prints. If you decide to take pictures yourself and hire a designer, it is very important that you provide them with high resolution images. Make sure your camera is at it’s highest or second highest quality setting.

Whatever option you choose, Congrats to You and Your Grad!

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Take TED to Lunch

tedtalksEven though I worked from home I tried to maintain a schedule as if I was in an office, which included taking lunch breaks. During lunch I would usually start an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on my tablet. I eat very quickly, so in about 10 minutes I would be done. A typical SVU episode is approximately 40 minutes.  After I finished eating I would go back to work and let it play on next to me. I’ve seen almost every episode so I didn’t really need to pay attention to the screen, it was background noise. A couple weeks ago I decided to do something a bit more productive with my lunch break; I started seeing TED.

“ is a critically acclaimed, award-winning website featuring inspired talks from the world’s leading thinkers and doers.” TEDTalks can stimulate and challenge you mentally, maybe even change the way you think entirely. There is ALWAYS something to learn. Best of all, access to these talks is free. Visit their website, download talks from iTunes, or go to their YouTube page. There are also apps available, but I chose to watch them through Netflix. Bonus: TEDTalks are much shorter than a SVU episode. I’m sharing a few of my favorites so far with you.

If you only have time to watch one of my recommendations, this would be it. Psychologist Shawn Achor humorously reveals his theory on being happy. “We’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. That’s because we think we have to be successful then we’ll be happier, but the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order.”



As a society we are suffering from “Choice Overload” when really “Less is More.” Sheena Iyengar explains.



Okay don’t laugh. I thought Terry Moore might be speaking metaphorically when I initially clicked, but he actually teaches you how to tie a shoe. I had been doing it all wrong.


If you like what you’ve heard, I encourage you to take TED to lunch or dinner or brunch. Have TED meet all your friends (parents too).


Pinterest, Beato, and that Silly Beast

pinterest-logoSo my best friend held a bat to my head and said you better join Pinterest or else! Actually it was more along the lines of “Have you heard of Pinterest? It’s a great way to visually collect things you find around the web. Check mine out.” I did and joined shortly thereafter. I’ll be honest, somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I hoped that this wasn’t yet another social media site that ended up being more annoying than useful. However it came highly recommended by someone I trust, so it was worth a shot. Now, ten months later, Pinterest is an integral part of my life.

For those of you that don’t know, Pinterest is an online tool for visually collecting and organizing the things you love using boards. The “Pin It” button is installed in your browser and when you wander across something you like (recipes, clothing, or that fabulous 5 star hotel suite) you simply hit the button and save the image to one of your categorized boards. It’s so easy and many sites now have their own integrated “Pin It” button.

Now, Pinterest seems like a no-brainer. I learn better visually, especially by studying other artists’ work.  So many spectacular pieces flood my inbox and now when I want to refer back to a particular image I simply go to my Pinterest board, rather than sift through hundreds of emails. It’s also a great way to coordinate with clients. I appreciate any examples they can provide which helps me understand what they like and what they are looking for. When they can present you with an entire board things really start rolling. Don’t worry, boards can be marked private if you’re not ready to share with the world. That’s another aspect of Pinterest that I love, the ability to share what you’ve found and repin from others. It often leads me on a whole new journey of discovery like finding the two artists mentioned below.

On Monday Pinterest announced some enhancements like bigger images, an even cleaner design, and finding other things pinned from the same website. I think they’ll be around for a while so, it’s not too late to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. Join today or else! Just kidding, but now I’m going to ask you to check out my boards and follow if you like. Here’s a peak:

Now to the artists
André Beato is a London based artist with kick-butt typographic skills. He works in print and editorial with many published  pieces in his repertoire.
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Silly Beast Illustration is the work of Therese Larsson, a freelance illustrator based in Sweden. She specializes in character design and does storyboarding, sketching, and concept art. Her client list includes: Adidas, Google, McDonalds, Disney, Electrolux,  Toyota,  Digital Artist Magazine, Volkswagen, Coca Cola Zero, Cheetos, Sony Ericsson,  Siemens, Tropicana,  IKEA…

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The Power of Imagination

Never underestimate the dream of a kid and their ingenuity. I’m inspired by Caine Monroy, a young boy who took a simple idea and made it grand. Caine is fascinated by arcades, so much so that he created his own full scale functional arcade out of cardboard. It started with modifying a basketball hoop that he won at a pizza place and grew. His dad owns a hardware store and allowed him to takeover the entire storefront. You can win prizes, buy tickets, or purchase a fun pass (500 turns for $2 – what a deal!).

Caine’s Arcade now is a popular spot, but it wasn’t always that way. At first Caine didn’t get any customers and his friends didn’t even believe he was the boss of his own arcade. That all changed when filmmaker Nirvan Mullick went into the hardware store to buy a door handle. He was thoroughly impressed by Caine’s creativity and shocked to learn that he was his first customer. That inspired him to make a film about Caine which went viral. People flocked from all over the world to play in Caine’s Arcade. It also sparked the start of The Imagination Foundation, an initiative “to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in more kids like Caine.” Watch the video below.

Kudos to Caine’s dad for giving him the freedom to explore his imagination and hat’s off to Mullick for recognizing and encouraging Caine’s talent. If interested, here is the original film.

Even if Caine’s story didn’t go viral, his accomplishment is still noteworthy. How many people can say they literally built their own arcade?

2013 Free Wallpaper & the Best of 2012


Happy New Year Everyone! I’m excited for the year 2013 and I hope you are too. Thanks goes out to my new subscribers and to the ones that have stuck with me for the past 3 years. 2012 was a major year for me filled with highs and some powerful lows, but I’ve learned that it’s how you respond to those lows that makes a difference. I accomplished some of my goals from last year and some will be a continuous effort, like blogging more (at least once a week) and producing a monthly wallpaper. Here’s my design for the month of January celebrating the new year. I wanted something strong and dark, but at the same time pops. I also wanted something that both genders could appreciate. My wallpapers so far have leaned toward the feminine. The font I used was Old English Text MT and the outlines were constructed in Illustrator and brought into Photoshop.

2013 Free Wallpaper 1920 x 1080

2013 Free Wallpaper 1920 x 1080

Whether it’s due to color profiles, some system setup, or the fact that I’m working at different scales, the image in my psd file is slightly different from the final result. I’ve included a screenshot. I like the stronger red tones.


A new year triggers a review of the previous in a culmination of “Best of” lists. Here are a few “Best of 2012” from some blogs I follow:

From up North – Best of Digital Art & Typography

Line25 – Best Web Designs of 2012
bestof2012_line25 – The Best Smart Products of 2012

Architnect’s Top 12 for 2012

Blogspoon Graphics – Greatest Tutorial Hits of 2012

Digital Arts – Best Creative Tech for 2012

JUST Creative – Popular Posts of 2012

Wising Everyone a Bright
and Prosperous New Year!!!



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