Build Your Own Ice Sculpture

AKA How to Get The Work You Want

One of the best things about going freelance is the freedom to do the work that you want to do. You have the ability to chose your work style, your clients, and no one is going to make you create Powerpoint presentations, unless that’s your thing. But how do you start? How can you finally get that dream job where a client pays you to build an ice sculpture of a pig that writes a haiku every time someone tweets about #jorts?

VERY IMPORTANT RULE: Only put work in your portfolio that you want to do

It may be tempting to put everything in your portfolio, but it is very important to curate your work. Only put work that you want to do in your portfolio. If you do not want to build websites, then do not put website examples in your portfolio, even if it was for a really big client. Putting work in your portfolio that you don’t want to do guarantees you will attract only clients with jobs you don’t want. I don’t know why that happens, but it does. Be warned.

If you are lacking examples of the type of work you want to do, then you will need to make them. You can create concept brands, a line of t-shirts, a restaurant design or a mural; make whatever it is that you want to get paid to do. These can all be personal projects that are self-initiated. It’s ok that the work was never made, or wasn’t for a client, what’s important is that it does show your ability, style and critical thinking. You’re going to have to build a few ice sculptures on your own before someone will trust you enough to pay you to do it.

Now that you have your website in order and you have your business cards, (you ordered them right?) you need to let others know you exist. The easiest way is to use social media to promote your new portfolio. You can also join creative online communities like WorkingNotWorking, Dribbble and Behance to broaden your audience. Add your website to creative design lists and/or groups and update your Linkedin. And for a touch of real-life interaction you can attend networking events or plan meetings to hand out those amazing business cards you totally ordered.

Even if you’ve let the world know that you’re available, it is pretty rare for work to come rolling in on its own. Showing the work to the world is good, but you really need to show your work to the right people. This can be as simple as writing a letter. Seriously. When I was first starting out I made a list of all the companies I wanted to work for, I found their addresses, and sent them letters. This was how I got some of my favorite clients and finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of designing skate decks.

Promo packs are a great way to get your work in front of the eyes you want. Plus it’s fun to put them together, and if you’re masochistic, the anxiety you will get while you are waiting for responses will be quite enjoyable. Through the years I have made a good amount of promo packs ranging from postcards, to very intricate (and expensive) packs filled with elaborate goodies. While the more robust packs were cool, I always got the best response from just sending a postcard or short letter. Simpler is usually better, the real trick is quantity. Send out a lot of postcards and you’re bound to get at least a few responses. Be patient, it can take a while for the client to respond; they may have gotten your card and then stashed it away for when the right project comes along.

As you build your client base you will find that work will have a way of snowballing. You reach out to a client, they give you work that you really want to do, you add that work to your portfolio, and then another client sees that work and wants you to do the same thing, and so on. If the momentum slows, send out some more letters and see what happens, the response may be even greater. And soon enough, you won’t have to send letters anymore because you are now famous, and finally people come to you. You’ll be making tweeting pig ice sculptures so much that you’ll get tired of it and want to go back to making websites. Ah, the dream life of a freelancer.

Note: I have pitched ice sculptures to clients many times with no success. So if there are any of you out there who want to make an ice sculpture, let’s do this.


Chalkboard Project Social Posts

Highlighting Civil Rights Activists, Authors, and Champions of Education

I've been working with the Chalkboard Project on a number of projects in the past couple of years. The Chalkboard Project's mission is to improve public education in Oregon for all students. In the past year I have been creating portraits and illustrations for their social media posts. These posts highlight important historical figures, civil rights activists, and students as well.

I typically don't do a lot of portraits, so this has been a wonderful project to work on. Not only is it a change of pace, it's a new challenge that allows me the opportunity to further hone my skills. Along the way I have also been learning about the different people I have drawn portraits for and the great work they have done for our country. Give them a follow on facebook if you want to see the future posts and learn as well. And give your support to the Chalkboard Project, they're doing really great things for the kids in Oregon.

Freelancer's Guide

An Introduction

The life of a freelancer can be quite rewarding and allows for different perks that you might not get in an office setting. Choosing to freelance can be a very hard decision to make and there are a lot of things to consider. You’ll gain freedom, but lose healthcare. You’ll be in-control of the work you do, but the work isn’t always steady. You’ll probably get paid more, but your taxes will be high and very confusing. Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but for some it is very rewarding in multiple ways.

Here is a short list of tips and considerations that I have compiled over my 5 year career as a freelancer. Hopefully they will help you make your new freelancing life a little easier and get you off on the right foot.

Before you even make your decision you need to lay your foundation and consider the following things.

  1. Be honest with yourself and consider the realities of being a freelancer. While being your own boss is nice, there are also a lot of harsh realities to consider. You’ll need to be self-motivated to find work, complete work, and follow through with your clients. You’ll need to be ok with working alone or with new people all the time. And you’ll need to be self-sufficient as you will no longer have a studio/agency team to back you up and take care of all the little things. Are you able to work at home and resist doing the dishes, find new clients, finish that work by the deadline, and chase after that client that never paid you, all in the same day? If so, you may be able to make freelancing work for you.
  2. Have a clear view of what you are good at and what it is that you want to do. Pick a discipline (advertising, digital, illustration, branding) and go forth in that direction. If clients are not able to determine what service you provide they will be less likely to hire you. Next, really consider your skill-level and be certain of the value and expertise you can bring to your clients. If you do not have a focus and a high-level of expertise, running a successful freelance business may be difficult.
  3. Line up your work while you currently have a job, and be sure to have a good amount in savings. This will allow you to get a running start when you make the switch. Having a client base established before you start freelancing will ensure you have work as soon as you transition. And having a bit of a nest egg will prevent you from making panicked decisions that can jeopardize your career.

If 1 through 3 all look good and you’ve decided that maybe the freelance life is right for you, then you should be prepared to tackle these next things pretty much immediately.

  1. You’ll need to figure out healthcare. When you leave your job you also leave your healthcare plan. You have to sign up for an independent healthcare plan. Know that you’ll likely be paying $200 or more a month just for yourself, depending on your plan and where you live.

  2. Your taxes will be much different now, so you’ll need to do your financial planning differently. I highly recommend getting an accountant to help you with your taxes and financial planning. It is very easy to get a big check from a client and then want to spend it all. They will be able to help you with write-offs, business structuring, quarterly taxes, and will definitely tell you not to spend that entire check because the government will want a lot of it back for taxes.

  3. Some freelancers work on-site for their clients and never really need an office space, but if you’re not that type of creative then having a dedicated space to work will be a must. The home office is an obvious choice, but for some people this can be lonely or very distracting. Co-working spaces can be a good alternative as you will get all the perks of working in an office, while still being your own boss. And if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper than a co-working space, there’s always the coffee shop. Whatever your preference, chose a work space that can keep you focused.

There are many more steps to take when building and maintaining a freelance business; everything from how to maximize your downtime, to getting bigger jobs as an independent creative, to deciding what type of business you want to have, and whether or not it’s ok to work in your pajamas every day. This is only the beginning.





Starbucks + Frappuccino

Summer = Frappuccino


Every summer Starbucks releases limited edition Frappuccino flavors. I worked with the team at Swift to create a series of posts to introduce this year's new flavors. Content ranged from video, interactive ads and static posts. Fruity summer fun.

Check out the full posts on Instagram on the @Starbucks and @Frappuccino and check out their Facebook pages as well.

Agency: Swift
Client: Starbucks
Group Creative Director: Cat Hyland
Creative Director: Tian Mulholland
Art Director: Bethany Ng
Copywriter: Eric Zimmerman
Photographer: Amaren Colosi
Senior Designer: Amy Untch
Designer: Sean Martinez

Outshine Social Posts

Blending Art Direction and Illustration

Check out the full post here: Outshine Snacks Watermelon Fruit Bars

For the past four months I have been contracting as an art director at Swift. During my time there I worked on a few different accounts ranging from Buitoni, Stouffers, Lean Pockets and Starbucks. The work was primarily centered around social media content and advertising, which was a bit of a change of pace from my normal work.

But even so I was able to often blend my illustration background with my art direction. For almost everything that I art directed I also created sketches of what the photography would look like. And in some pieces, like the Outshine posts, I was able to blend the two skills into the finished piece.

The process for creating this piece was to first use my art direction skills to create the concept for the content the client was requesting. Once approved I then used my illustration and design skills to create a detailed sketch of the concept to show to the client. From there I worked with a photographer, producer and food stylist to bring the photography to life. Once the photos were retouched and ready to go, I added the custom illustration elements in post.

The final piece was an endless vertical scroll of fruit, illustration and photography that ran on Facebook and Instagram in carousel format.

Agency: Swift
Client: Outshine
Creative Director: Otis Rubottom
Copywriter: Russ Meyer
Art Director: Bethany Ng
Illustrator: Bethany Ng
Photographer: Brian Lincoln
Food Stylist: Maki Katsumoto
Retoucher: Ryan Micheal

I love you iPad Pro

$1000 For a Piece of Glass and a Plastic Pencil

When the iPad Pro first came out I was very skeptical about how useful it would be. They pitched it as the ultimate creative tool, but we know things are never as good as they are promised to be. After all, my iPad Mini has been collecting dust somewhere around here (I use it so infrequently I am not even sure where it is).

At the beginning of the year I had a project where I needed to create a set of graphics that had a hand-drawn style. I typically do all of my work in Illustrator with the pen tool, which creates beautiful curves and lines, but lacks the organic feel of drawing by hand. So knowing that and the task at hand I bought the iPad Pro and Pencil hoping that it would be as good as everyone promised it would be.

To my surprise the iPad Pro was almost as good as they promised it would be, and is extremely helpful; so much so that it has changed my illustration and design process rather dramatically. In the last 6 months of using it I have been able to produce work faster and better than ever before. And as an added bonus I have also been drawing and sketching a lot more, which I rarely did before.

The Way I Use iPad Pro as an Illustrator and Designer

You have probably seen all the amazing things the iPad Pro can do; it can make websites and movies and will replace your laptop. While all those things are great, they are pretty much garbage to a designer with real design tools. It won't be replacing your laptop, but rather working in conjunction with your macbook pro or whatnot. Here are the two apps you need, all the others are junk right now, especially the Adobe ones.

Possibly one of the worst names for an app, but I will forgive them because their app is pretty great. I use Procreate for sketching. The brush customization is amazing, and when I draw it feels and looks like I am drawing in my sketchbook. The rigidity of the iPad Pro makes it possible to sketch on the couch, which is what I usually do while the TV plays in the background. Procreate also lets you export your drawings into Photoshop and will retain the layers you created in the app. Some people are really good at creating illustrations in Procreate, but I find the layers system really tedious and hard to use. My advice is just to use it as a sketching and tracing tool.

Remember when I just said that you should only use Procreate for sketching and tracing? Well that's because you have Astropad, which basically turns your iPad Pro into a Cintiq and you can use your real professional tools to get your work done. Astropad requires a monthly subscription, but it is well worth it. When you download the app onto your iPad and your computer, you will be able to mirror the screen on your computer to the iPad. That means you can have Photoshop or whatever program you use on your iPad and use the pencil as your stylus. Photoshop and Illustrator will recognize your Apple Pencil and will react to pressure and pencil angle as you like. I primarily use Astropad in conjunction with Illustrator with custom brushes, but it is also great for drawing and creating masks in Photoshop.

The iPad Pro Will Change Your Life (Probably)

There are many things that I recommend; the iRobot Roomba, the Traeger Grill, eating a California Burrito in San Diego, but the iPad Pro has to be the one I am most passionate about. I really do think it should be a required tool for every design student, design professional, illustrator, retoucher and art director. I think I've convinced at least three creative people to buy one thus far. With the iPad Pro I have been able to work faster, work different and develop a whole new style of illustration.

All creatives are different and have different styles. Maybe you don't like to draw in Illustrator or you never really do any retouching. At the very least it will get you drawing more, experimenting more and will challenge your creative brain to work in new ways. And if you still don't like it, I'm sorry. On the bright side you now have an incredibly large camera, flashlight and internet machine.

Check out some of the recent projects I worked on using the iPad Pro:
(There's other stuff too, but I just can't show you just yet.)
Chaco Bears Ears Graphic
KD X Pins

Coalition Brewing 6-Pack Carrier

Packaging, Branding, Illustration

I have been working with Coalition Brewing here in Portland for over 5 years now. I initially helped them with bottle label design and illustration for their initially three beers. Since then I have created over 14 different beer labels and have seen them grow dramatically. Traditionally Coalition has only released 21oz bottles, and finally they are releasing 6-packs of their most popular beer, Space Fruit.

This was my first experience designing a 6-pack carrier and I found it to be a fun challenge. Like all packaging, the carrier needed showcase the product and brand, while making it easy for the consumer to identify on the shelf. Special consideration to the design had to be considered since the carriers are displayed differently from store to store.

While shopping at the store the other day I came upon an end cap display of the new carriers and bottles. It is so rewarding to see your work out in the wild. The carriers look great and the printing is spot on. If you're in Portland, keep an eye out when you head to the store and pick up a 6-pack of Space Fruit to bring to your next BBQ.

Source: coalition brewing