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Thursday
Apr172014

Showcasing Letterpress Art

The texture. The depth. Taking the letterforms I adore and transforming them into a treasured object.

Hello letterpress.

I fell in love as an undergraduate with a worn, creaky letterpress machine and the beauty it created. I made some extra projects that semester so I could be alone in the studio, setting my own type by hand and adding in each piece of leading.

I'm always on the hunt for wonderful works on letterpress. The works that are affordable - and very easy for me to talk myself into - are greeting cards. And, I know I'm biased, but I feel like letterpress cards are always a little snarkier or punny-ier than your average card, and that is right up my alley.

You'll find these greeting cards all over my home and office. I never put my letterpress behind glass because I want to be able to gawk at the embossing even while it hangs on the wall or sits on a desk.

I've been holding on to two designs with some wonderful blue ink to frame together. To showcase the cards, I grabbed my very old pack of Color-aid papers from art school to find a shade to use for mounting.

Erika from Foxtrot Press gave me this whimsical greeting that makes me smile every time I look at it. It's totally my personality to get really excited with someone before I even know what it is that we're celebrating! I'm easily convinced for the sake of a party.

This card I purhcased many years ago and fits my sense of humor (you know me and my lunchbox note punnies, right?). The layers of embossing won me over - the beautiful, delicate pattern with crisp, line image on top.

I let the cards breathe a bit by putting a small amount of sticky putty in the top open corner.

Do you have any letterpress art hanging around your spaces?

Wishing you all a beautiful Easter. We have some wonderful Church services ahead with family and friends as well as a child and adult Easter egg hunt in our backyard.

xoxo, MJ

 

Wednesday
Apr162014

5 ways to use social media to boost your creativity

It's just not true that we run out of ideas or we lose our creativity. The more we exercise our creative muscle, the more we are able to produce outstanding results. Nevertheless sometimes we hit walls or feel in a fog. And sometimes social media is accused of bringing us to this state of saturation or complete drought.

I use Facebook, Twitter, and the rest to spur my ideas, and you can, too. Here are five ways to use social media to boost your creativity.

1. If you're on social media, you're likely to have a favorite or at least a favorite for now. As a graphic designer and a visual fiend, I adore Instagram for inspiration. Find the feeds that will make you want to dive into the images and bask in the compositions. Use Instagram to observe all you can. Take note of the tones and shadows, the mood expressed in the images (and how this is achieved), the caption and/or story that accompanies the photography. How can these influence your work? Which posts feel "successful" to you and what elements can you bring to your own creations?

2. Facebook has changed quite a bit in its ten-year history, but it still has the power to put fresh perspectives right on your screen. How so? Start a conversation. For many of us, the majority of our connections still hang out on Facebook. This is a perfect opportunity to reach out and leave messages. Ask questions from your experts and gather collective feelings. Wondering how to find the best new apps? Ask your friends. Looking for fresh ideas on summer vacation? Solicit others thoughts.

3. I find Twitter to be the most charming of the social media that I use. From the silly hashtags that folks post to the easy back-and-forth of short communication to simple sharing of interesting links, Twitter can give you the quick feedback that you seek. I often use my feed to see what is on the minds of influencers and what are the quirkly, less popular, conversations going on that really bring something new to the table. Twitter can also be one of the easiest ways to break a train of thought (in the best way), and redirect you to another concept. It's also incredibly easy to spend endless time on this network so be sure to set your limits.

4. Google+ is an intriguing platform for inspiration. Much like Instagram, it favors the visual, and much like Twitter, you can utilize hashtags to find related information. I use Google+ to search out keywords and see what ideas and images come through. In my experience thus far, I've found a wide breadth of expressions on the same topic, and I've been inspired to think in ever-widening circles just as the platform's process itself implies. Add your post to Google+ and tag it, click on that tag, and read the myriad of other tidbits to broaden your perspective.

5. Pinterest is an amazing source of creativity for some, while others intentionally keep a distance from it when they are looking to imagine. I use Pinterest much like I did college art assignments. Let's say I want to do an Easter egg project - I first look through my board to see what's caught my eye, and in particular I look at pins that have been added to wrap up posts or projects that have a lot of repins.

And then my brainstorming process begins. I think through and write out all of the "obvious" connections to the most popular ideas, and get all of the imitation ideas out. That process of getting it all out allows me to unearth something fresh. In many ways, Pinterest is most helpful in giving me the fodder I need to run the other way, but in the right direction. I go back to my boards to look at other processes folks have used to see how I might incorporate something unexpected to this new effort.

How do you boost your creativity? Do you find social media helpful in this?

Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

xoxo, MJ

 

 

Tuesday
Apr152014

Dear New Mom of Two

Hey friends!

I'm sharing some advice, a practice I generally try to steer away from, over on Bunny & Dolly today. PJ is the new momma to Asa (and the proud momma of Levi, too)! Big congratulations to her and her gorgeous family.

I'm going against my general rule of thumb to offer my own 3 cents because the transition from mom of one to mom of two was a doozie for me. All the comforts of motherhood that I'd become accustomed to (AKA: focusing, relaxing during naps and bedtime, consistency) were tossed around during that first year, and I wish my wiser self would have come dancing in a bit more often.

So, if you know a mom preganant with her second or a new mom of two, send her over here. And if you've been through it and wanna laugh at/with me, I'm cool with that, too!

It's always such a privilege to spend time on someone else's blog so please click on over and get to know what Bunny & Dolly is all about!

xoxo, MJ

Friday
Apr112014

Before you go!

Happy Friday, friends! This week has been off all together so I'm running with it, and I have a few things I really want to show you before you go.

1. Joy always brings us the best of the best, and TED talks are no exception. I loved the idea of success and grit. I've been kicking it around this week...I'd love to hear what you think.

2. Before she shuffled off to Istanbul with her talented husband, Jen left these simply adorable Easter cards for all of us to download and share. So sweet!

3. The story of art and painting and motherhood beautifully captured in two minutes.

4. Love how Rachel is styling this new space.

5. These are the eggs to make.

6. And, seriously? From 1000 to 10000 in three months on Pinterest. Here's how Amy did it.

Happy weekend, lovelies. Let's make it a bright one. Beauty awaits us.

xoxo, MJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr102014

When you look in the mirror

I'm back, friends. Thanks for hanging with me during an unexpected break. This week is Spring Break for my kiddos, and we took a lovely jaunt to visit grandparents, but I also caught a mean case of strep throat. Good news: I've slept a ton, I'm on an antibiotic, and my husband is a rockstar so the kids are having a great break. Too much goodness awaits; there's just no time to be sick!

Spending time, extra time, with my children is always enlightening. Sometimes I learn just how far I can stretch, or not stretch, my patience. I often see parts of my husband or myself in their facial expressions or mannerisms. However, my most common experience is discovering something all together new and unexpected.

C, my 6-yo pictured above, is a hoot to be around. She's packed with energy, emotion, and unexpected wisdom. But before I gush any more mother bias to you, I want to pass along a hint of her magic from which we can all learn.

When you take C shopping, as she's looking for her favorite finds, she says things like, "that would look so good on me," "I bet I'd be gorgeous in that," and "I need to try that one on." She has a confidence about how she looks, how she acts, and who she is.

Once in the dressing room, she hastily changes into a new frock and exclaims, "Mommy, I look so good!" and continues to turn and smile at herself in the mirror.

Certainly I want my children to know that there is so much more to life than physical appearance. I recognize, however, we live in a society where image matters and self-image matters that much more.

Friends, I can't remember that last time (if ever) I looked in the mirror and thought, "I look gorgeous!" This is not a cry in self pity.

I am, by nature, a critic and a designer. I see things how they could be and often miss the beauty that they are. I know just how to tweak something to make it more pleasing, but what if its first state was itself the best of the best? Well, I might miss it.

Shopping, and spending life, with C's attitude in mind is not only refreshing; it's been a bit of a game changer for me. If I can somehow keep that precious spirit unharmed throughout tween, teen, and young woman angst, I will have succeeded as a parent. If I can somehow adopt that belief within myself, I will succeed as a human being.

So, let's give ourselves a little extra umph of awesome, and let's be sure to hand it out to those around us in extra large, heaping helpings.

xoxo, MJ