graphic design

Sticker Mule : Dribbble Canada Playoff Challenge

Go give this one a 'like' on Dribbble by clicking  here .

Go give this one a 'like' on Dribbble by clicking here.

Just for fun (and a $20 credit to Sticker Mule), I designed a potential sticker for the Canada Challenge Playoff. Its concept is based on the welcoming nature of Canadians, retro motel signage, and a simple colour palette of hot reds and cool, icey blues.

If you're interested in participating, it's on until June 29th. Details can be found here.

Design at Play : The Concept

My grandma at her 100th birthday party

My grandma at her 100th birthday party

My grandma passed away a couple of months ago now. She was 104 and she always amazed me with her determination to live life to the fullest and have fun no matter what was happening or how old she was.  

She never wanted to think she was getting older or feel like she was losing her independence so she kept life happening for as long as she possibly could before old age got the better of her.

She passed peacefully and her send off was a celebration of all her accomplishments and life experiences and, boy, they were grand. To name a couple, she had her 8th child at 46, she took a voyage on a Mediterranean cruise at 95, and also volunteered at a hospice thrift shop in her 90’s until she was 100. Of course there’s more but that is just a little snapshot to show you that she never let the grass never grow under her feet.

I do believe her young-at-heart spirit and playful outlook, kept her going for so many years and is what kept her mind healthy. The evidence of this may not necessarily be set in stone as fact but the studies that have been conducted state that feeling younger may lead to better health habits which in turn, helps you live longer. Makes sense.

Study or not though, this is a philosophy I believe in personally and try to practice as much as possible in my life because it just feels good to explore new things, be silly, get curious, and to not to take life so seriously sometimes. I also believe that everyone needs that. Just because we're adults, doesn't mean we have to be grown up at all times, right? NO! (That's just me though :) )

This concept serves as the foundation and inspiration for my design work as well which I hope to transfer to everyone that buys a little something from me. Whether it’s a gift for someone or a gift for yourself, my goal is to make you feel silly, happy, or help you brush off the icky things in life. That's what my "Design at play" tagline is all about.

So tell me, what’s your secret to life? What inspires you? What keeps you going? 
I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

The Designer Becomes the Client

 "The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." Ernest Hemingway

As designers we're all trained to do our own design work, naturally, to showcase our skills. But we never actually get trained on what it may feel like to be the client hiring a designer. 

Police are put through rigorous training to prepare for being on the force. Training techniques may include being cuffed, taken down, pepper sprayed, possibly tasered, and/or more. This is to help them function and maintain discipline in threatening circumstances and also to understand how much force is required to apprehend a suspect without inflicting injury. 

As designers we're all trained to do our own design work, naturally, to showcase our skills. We design our own portfolios, business cards, and websites to show off what we can do for our clients. But we never actually get trained on what it may feel like to be the client hiring a designer. How do you build trust? How do you find a process that works for you AND your client? How do you ease any concerns clients may have throughout the process?

When you're throwing money at stuff you can see like clothes, shoes, know what you're getting. There's no secret, no questions. You either like it and buy it. Or you don't and move on. It's a much different mindset when you're throwing money at something you can't see and won't know you're happy with, until it's finished. 

These thoughts have been on my mind recently as I became a client of an artistic venture for the first time; Getting a coverup tattoo. 

When I was 18, I got a silly little tattoo of a butterfly on my chest which I didn't put much thought into. After getting it, I felt so rebellious and proud. But a few years passed and I started to resent it. Everyone asked me about it and I hated showing it off because it was ugly and it didn't represent anything. It was just there. I thought about lasering it off but I came to realize that I genuinely really enjoyed having a tattoo; Just not that one. So over the last year I put more thought into what I might want on my body forever. I looked at themes I was generally attracted to and then researched the kind of tattoo styles I liked. That guided me to the appropriate artists and shops that employed them which led me to Craig Moston at Gastown Tattoo.

Going in I definitely had a few beads of sweat. This was my first major piece over $100 that would have some kind of story behind it and was one I had put more thought into. Plus, it would be much bigger than my last. I wouldn't be able to cover it up so easily so I had to make sure I loved it.

I put a deposit down for something I couldn't imagine which is not something I'm used to. 

What made me most nervous was that I had no idea how it would all come together or what it was going to look like. I put a deposit down for something I couldn't imagine which is not something I'm used to. As a designer, when a project presents itself I have an idea of the direction I may take and loosely get an idea of how it might look. Whether or not it turns out that way is another story but I have a vision and can imagine some kind of outcome. I couldn't read my artists mind so I had to make a conscious effort to not only trust the fact I did my research but also to trust my artist and his skill. Because, really, I have no idea what kind of considerations go into covering up something that's already there. I have no idea how certain elements will play off the natural flow and shape of the body. So after I put my deposit down, I left it in his capable hands to conceptualize and stylize. 

Coverup tattoo by Craig Moston @ Gastown Tattoo Parlour

Coverup tattoo by Craig Moston @ Gastown Tattoo Parlour

The morning of my tattoo appointment was the first time I saw the concept and when I saw it, I smiled with delight. I really loved it. We made a few minor tweaks and then got setup to do the tattoo. But even at this stage my nerves weren't settled as it was still just an outline so I didn't actually know how it would end up after it was on my body. All the "what if's" swirled but I, again, fell back on trusting my artist, trusting in his skill, and also trusting myself in the fact that I chose wisely.

5 hours tattoo was complete. I was sore and tired but I loved how it turned out.

I now have a new found respect for clients hiring me for design work and have learned to trust my decisions/instincts more. 

If you're a designer:

I would encourage you to hire someone for a service you're not familiar with; Writing, coding, art, a tattoo. It will definitely open your eyes to what you client may go through when hiring you to do work for them. Of course there are many that are comfortable with the unknown but a lot of clients aren't when they're throwing thousands of dollars at you for something they may or may not like so if anything, be aware of that.

If you're a client:

Remember you're hiring them because you can't do the job yourself. They are skilled professionals so trust them to deliver. Trust in their skill, experience, and capabilities. If you don't know what that looks like, I would encourage you to research that. Look at their portfolio. Inquire and ask specific questions about portfolio details, their process, and pricing structure. Maybe ask to meet with them if that makes you more comfortable. Tell them what you need to feel comfortable and happy. And always be weary of designers that don't follow a code of ethics. Ex. work for free or cheap. You always get what you pay for.

The proof is in this puddin', I spent the time and the money on a tattoo artist with skill and in the end got a really great art piece on my body I will enjoy for the rest of my life.

What Volunteers are Made of : Stantec Community Day TShirt

Final design for Stantec's Community Day t-shirts

Final design for Stantec's Community Day t-shirts

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook

My first day at Stantec was a whirlwind of excitement. Projects were flying at me, deadlines were fast-approaching, and being creative at the drop of a hat, was necessary. Crazy as it was, after almost 6 years, I'm still here. 

During my time here, I have experienced a lot of change; In the company, in the processes, as well as myself. I have had the opportunity to get familiar with a single brand and understand it well enough to know when, and how, to push it, bend it, twist it. As time goes by and with each new success, the opportunity to take on more creative work has increased. 

Sketches of concepts

Sketches of concepts

My most recent project was to take part in creating t-shirt concepts for Stantec's annual Community Day. It was the third year and corporate headquarters wanted to involve some other designers to reiterate the idea of 'community' and take it outside of the central design team.

I created 3 concepts so the team selecting the final design, had a variety of directions to choose from. Below ended up being my 3 based on some sketches I had developed earlier in the day.

Digital concepts from L to R: Volunteer Label, Stantec-branded Icons that came together to create a 'community' or neighbourhood scene, Local Do Good'er.

Digital concepts from L to R: Volunteer Label, Stantec-branded Icons that came together to create a 'community' or neighbourhood scene, Local Do Good'er.

My objective for all 3 concepts was to create something fun enough that one might want to sport it after the event. Maybe even at another volunteer event they may attend. I never did like designing, creating, or buying something that didn't have some kind of longevity or 2nd life. It's such a waste so that was one of my main goals for this piece.


The Volunteer Label design ended up being 1 of 3 final selections that were voted on by Stantec employees & it won by 66%. 

After the design was selected, I got to work on adapting the design to posters, e-card invites, and signage for the big day. 

The general response to the design was extremely positive and enthusiastic. On the actual day, over 7,500+ volunteers sported these t-shirts across U.S. and Canada.

Did anyone see them out there?

Poster mockup

Poster mockup

TShirt mockup

TShirt mockup

Banner Mockup

Banner Mockup

Stantec volunteers at Burnaby Lake

Stantec volunteers at Burnaby Lake

To learn more about Stantec or their Community Day initiative, please visit

#Stantec #CommunityDay #Stantecinthecommunity

Ground Control to Major Dog : 1st Design Approved!

What's the point of doing it, working that hard, and not telling people about it? At least open your window and shout. - Barbara Walters

As a graphic designer, selling is an important part of your job. For freelancers, it's what you have to do to stay alive. For in-house designers, it's what you have to do to pitch an idea. You have to hustle, take risks, tell the world you're here, show people what you're made of. It can be a vulnerable place to be. The trick to getting passed it is to face it and put yourself out there regardless of any fears or doubts you may have. If you succeed, great! If you get rejected, take what you can from the experience and move on to the next! 

A few days ago, I finished a new illustration of a dog in space. He was inspired by something I saw on Reddit and couldn't resist the urge to draw & digitize him for a t-shirt. Browsing Threadless, I noticed a "Sh*t the Internet Says" category and decided to enter him - since that's where my original inspiration came from. I'm happy to say it was approved! While this isn't for the purposes of putting food on the table, it IS an attempt to "open my window and shout".

So please share, vote, or fund. I appreciate your support in whatever you choose to do.

Art, Clarified

While this ad campaign has been running for quite some time, I've personally never seen it before so I had to share.

What's beautiful about it is the absence of story. No words. Lots of gorgeous asymmetrical white space. And great visual balance on the page. It helps that they had a strong design concept. Anything more, anything less, and it would have lost all impact. It's an art in itself. Well done Y&R.

Y&R advertising campaign  for KelOptic, Paris, France

Y&R advertising campaign for KelOptic, Paris, France

Branding, minimalized

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

If you think you need to "say it all" and "show it all" in order to get a message across, this video will prove otherwise.

In less than two minutes, it explains what branding is, why it's important, and what we do as designers to help that process along. 

Simplicity is beautiful - and effective. Enjoy!

With over 6,400 books written on branding, the subject has gotten complex. Yet simplicity is where the power exists. This video was conceived, written and narrated by award-winning designer, branding specialist and Fast Company blogger David Brier to distill branding down to its basics answering that basic question "What is branding?"

History of Helvetica

Ever wonder where & when one of the most well-known typefaces originated? Here's a website that outlines it all; From it's birth to its current day use, here is the History of Helvetica.

If you haven't checked out the documentary, I highly recommend it.