Have You Thought About Entering A Design Competition?

Maybe you think you don’t have time. Maybe you think it’s a waste of time. “Why bother? Those design competitions are rigged!” To be honest, I believe some can be unfair. That’s why I suggest staying away from the ones that depend solely on the amount of social votes to win. “It’s a promotional gimmick.” To some extent, yes it is. Hosting a competition is a great way to promote a company or product, but the promotion can work both ways. This is also an opportunity for you to showcase your skills. Imagine the exposure (and bragging rights) you will receive if you win. Getting the grand prize probably won’t hurt either.

Even if you don’t win, there is always a chance you can get some new fans in the process, those other artists in the competition who admire your style. Become inspiration and be inspired. Find artists that intrigue you too and that you want to connect with. Some platforms allow you to create profiles and follow other artists. Start a design dialogue. Some artists are eager to discuss techniques and processes.

Use the competition as your creative outlet. Take a break from the usual rigor of work and make something fun, just for you. Even if your daily job is creative (lucky you), sometimes it’s nice to be your own client. Of course you have to adhere to the rules of the competition, but even those tend to be really liberal. You can even take this opportunity to experiment, try a new style or technique. Right now Threadless is hosting a competition Art Without Concept where anything goes; the only requirement is that you make something that looks nice.
threadless_artwithoutconceptWhatever you do, put your best effort forward. You can end up with amazing pieces to use in your portfolio, as personal artwork, or even retail. Check the terms and conditions of the competition. If you are unsure of the company hosting the contest, do a little research.

Bottom line, there are many benefits to entering design competitions. If you follow me on facebook, sometimes I post ones I find interesting. Right now I recommend the TEN Collection Contest by Fotolia, deadline February 10, 2014. Choose a theme and challenge their artists using at least three of the images Fotolia provides. There are prizes worth thousands up for grabs.
ten-contestHere’s my piece from a contest I entered last year, Veer’s Bad Stock Photo Monster Mash-up. It was a part of a Halloween promotion and their campaign to rid the world of bad stock photography. You had to use at least two of the bad stock provided to create something scary with a touch of humor. I used these three:
veer_badstock3 veer_badstock2 veer_badstock1

To create:



Happy 2014 with a Free Wallpaper

wallpaper_promo_christmas2014Happy New Year Everyone! May it shine bright and be filled with lots love, laughter, and learning. I’m going into my fifth year of blogging (I don’t count that one random post from August 08′) and it’s fun to look back on my posts. My design skills have definitely grown and I’ve come across some stellar artists. I’m looking forward to another year. It seems like it’s my tradition to post my goals for the next 365 days, so here it goes!

  • Be happy as much of the time as possible. Read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • Be grateful – find 3-5 things to be thankful for each morning
  • Get a shirt design printed on Threadless
  • Work 40 hours a week (freelance or full-time) and have fun doing it
  • Post once every two weeks (or more)
  • Pick up at least one new technique a week
  • Become a whiz at coding (html, css, js, wordpress etc.)
  • Finish Tomb Raider – Hardcore gamers don’t laugh, I don’t play that often and when I do it’s for about an hour and a half and I progress by 2%
  • Take more photos
  • Sketch more

and of course design stuff that kicks butt!

beadstutorialSpeaking of designs, here’s my wallpaper celebrating 2014. It was inspired by this Illustrator tutorial: Create a Mosaic BBC Inspired Text Art Effect. It’s said to take 1hr 45 mins. It took me longer because I had some issues and deviated a bit. Here are some tips. I messed up a few times by going to the Offset Path in the Object panel, instead of the Effects panel. Also I don’t know if this is because of the version of Illustrator that I’m using, but in Section 2 – Step 2 you may have to drag the Offset Path into the correct fill in the Appearance panel (see image in that section). I also didn’t use the provided build-a-font method. I chose the font Bauserif and filled in its shape. I also broke up the shadow effects into different sections based on my placement of the number and my light source. Again Happy New Year and Enjoy!

PrintA special thanks goes out to my cousin Cara, who always gives great feedback. My background was originally purple, which she was not too fond of (surprising since it’s her favorite color). I made some adjustments and voila!

Have A Merry Christmas & A Free Wallpaper

wallpaper_christmas2013_stripSeason’s greetings everyone! I hope you have a great Christmas and to celebrate I have created a Christmas wallpaper for your desktop’s pleasure. It’s actually an adaptation from my specialized Christmas cards going out to my clients.swirl It was inspired by an Illustrator Quick Tip: Create Decorative Swirls in Minutes Using the Width Tool. Never using the width tool before, I thought this would give me the chance to practice and create a pretty distinct Christmas tree. I opted against swirls though, adjusting curved lines of different line weights. I created one half of the tree then reflected it. Then I added a few more lines to break up the symmetry. I kept the lines on one layer, not really caring which line rested on top of each other. In the end this actually worked in my favor adding depth when I randomly changed the color of some of the lines.


Thank you to moo.com for my beautifully printed cards.


Printed Christmas Cards


Printed Christmas Cards – Personalized Message per Client

This month I’ve been plagued with shipping issues. Some items arrive early (which is great), but most have arrived late or I’m still waiting on them. Now I’m just going with the flow. Lesson learned: start in November. This is another item I’m waiting on, to pair with my Christmas cards.

Here is the actual wallpaper. Enjoy!

Also here’s another Christmas treat for you. The folks at fotolia have made all their Ten Collection PSDs available to download for free for the next 24 hours starting 10am (in your time zone) December 24, 2013. Check out their Facebook page to learn more.

Be Great.

wordsofwisdomWhat get’s you going in the morning? That’s the question this Threadless challenge asked. What words inspire you? What’s your personal motto? Originally, my answer was Be Positive. I try to look on the bright side, but that’s not always easy. I have an idea of where I want to be professionally and personally, but the path to get there isn’t always so clear, which can be frustrating. So sometimes I have to work a little harder at that happy face. 🙂 My original design idea was a beating heart with connecting blood vessels that spell B+ (Be positive).

So how did I end up with a snail?

As I’ve stated before, my mind works on overdrive. At any given point in time I have at least ten ideas/projects/techniques/concepts that I want to create floating around in my head. Not to mention inspiration is constantly flooding my inbox and life. One project I wanted to try was a Thanksgiving turkey illustration inspired by the artist Ben Yin-Pan Kwok aka BioWorkZ.


Thanksgiving came. I had other pressing projects to complete. Thanksgiving went. No turkey (in my sketch pad). Yet I still wanted to make an illustration. I also really wanted to submit an entry to Threadless. Another goal of mine is to be a great designer which requires me to keep pushing myself. I must keep learning. Doing. Improving. Do my best. Have fun. Be great. Then get better.

How do I illustrate “great”? Enter in another project idea of mine: drawing elaborate numbers, particularly the number 8, and combine that with an animal illustration. Great probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when describing a snail (more like slow, tiny, gross), but that’s what makes it the perfect choice.

“A great man is always willing to be little.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Great men are not born great, they grow great.” – Mario Puzo, The Godfather

“Your greatness is revealed not by the lights that shine upon you, but by the light that shines within you.” – Ray Davis

So here is my design “Be Great” for Threadless which is up for voting over the next four days. First I sketched a rough outline, filled in more detail, and then I went over the sketch in ink. The drawing was brought into Illustrator and converted into vectors via live trace. Finally shading and lettering were added. If you like my design please vote.


Coming Soon

Whoa! I know it’s been a while since my last post. A lot has happened: summer ended, fall started, the government shut down, I got a full-time job, and I resigned from said job. Sometimes things just don’t work out, but I sure learned a lot during the process. That’s why you keep calm and carry on. So I keep plugging away, working on my design skills.

One of my main focuses will be web design and I’ll be home schooling myself. I love to see progression. I remember my first website from high school, complete with flaming dragons and HTML4 (cheesy, I know). I was so proud that I completed that project; I look back later and realize how much better it could be. I constantly go through this process and then work to in fact make my work better. As a result, I’m redesigning my website again. I’m not sure what I want yet, but I’m studying HTML5 and CSS3. Then I’ll move onto Javascript and WordPress.

Currently, I have up a placement holder aka coming soon page. I found this sleek template on WeGraphics called Avenir – A Free Coming Soon HTML Template. It’s easy to customize, if you are familiar with HTML and CSS. You don’t really have to touch the Javascript unless you want to. There are some issues with the code. There are three “pages” to the site, but it’s really a fancy switch of the content using id’s. When the page first loads (which you can see in the demo) the links on the home page are not clickable, As a matter of fact, you can see shadows of other links from the other “pages.” Essentially the content from each page “rests on top of each other” and the opacity is switched on and off depending on which page is active.

It took me a while to figure out a workaround to this, since I haven’t gotten to Javascript yet, but I have used Actionscript before and the theory is similar. I move the content that isn’t visible off screen to the left, so that nothing interferes with the current content on screen making all links clickable. I’ve included my code fix below, but first here are screenshots of my coming soon page.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

CSS Fix – styles.css file
display: block;
left: 5px;
.hide{opacity: 0;

Javascript Fix – main.js file (also note that I have changed the duration of the animation to 0 because I didn’t like having the text ease in from the left. It was too busy for me)
if ( !jQuery('section.content.show, section#' + link).is(':animated') ) {
jQuery('.main-nav ul li a').removeClass('active'); //remove active
jQuery('section.content.show').addClass('show').animate({'opacity' : 0, 'left': -900}, {queue: false, duration: 0,
complete: function() {
jQuery('a[href="#'+link+'"]').addClass('active'); // add active
jQuery('section#' + link).addClass('show').animate({'opacity' : 1, 'left': 5}, {queue: false, duration: 0});

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