To keep our creative juices flowing, we like to do personal projects outside of work. This allows us to explore new techniques, be a bit more creative, and get messy. Honing your skills and working those creative muscles is super important to do constantly throughout your career. This is a little sneak peak into our personal projects that keep us excited and sharp.
Alphabet with Frands
I’ve been working on custom letters for a collaborative alphabet with some buddies from my college design program. We wanted to come up with a fun project to all be able to work on together that would let each of us assert our own styles but come together as a cohesive piece. We decided to each take a portion of the alphabet, use the same color scheme, but have zero other guidelines. We had a few check-ins where we realized some of us we’re using different shades of the 2 colors, varying opacities, some we’re including white as an additional color, etc. We had to reign it in and refine the guidelines a bit more. This is still a work in progress but here are a couple of my letters so far:
Bachelor Party Shirt
Shirt design for a buddy of mines bachelor party. I was the best man so I wanted to do something a little extra. Decided to draw up (quite literally) a little badge design for shirts and koozies. These were printed and I gave out to everyone at the cabin. I wanted to get across that rustic, outdoorsy vibe. With much trial and error, I realized this was best done with a good old fashioned, sharpened pencil. I then vectorized and cleaned up in illustrator. This let me revert back to the basics while also discovering the beauty of Adobe Capture (download this right now!) – AC allows you to create an image trace of anything directly from your iphone. You can then adjust fidelity, smoothness, amounts of paths, etc. directly from your phone, then export the final result to your Adobe library in Illustrator. Good stuff.
I’m working with my cousin and his startup company caller Forecastr. It’s essentially an online tool helping founders manage their cash flows & raise money. It’s been quite a trip converting Microsoft Excel spreadsheet financial models into something usable and pretty. So far I have worked with his team to make a landing page and a few dashboard designs. Very UX/UI heavy. It’s been a unique side challenge that has helped me learn about various tools, specifically methods of dev collab outside of our internal workflow at VIA, while also exercising my UX muscles and keeping that side of the mind sharp. This is still a WIP, but going well.
I’ve been working on small things but honestly not too much recently since client work has really picked up! But I made a cookbook for my grandma for Christmas, revised a travel poster animation, and worked on some hand lettering in my down time.
My grandma (aka Mama) loves to cook and bake, and we would always cook together when I was little. For Christmas this past year, I made her a cookbook of some of my favorite of her recipes, and included memories I had with each dish. I also added in some old photos of us, hand lettering, and some food illustrations.
This was a great exercise in layout design and flexing those good ole’ paragraph style muscles (somewhere, Leslie Friesen is smiling). I uploaded the file to Blurb, which is an online service where you can print all kinds of custom books and magazines. The hard back book came back in plenty of time for Christmas, and I made my grandma cry when she was reading through it! It was so special to have been able to design something like that for her.
When I was a senior in college, I dove into animation with After Effects. I had no idea what I was doing, but I somehow ended up making some really bad animations of London. I recently went back and worked on my Tower Bridge project, which included revising the illustration, overall layout, and of course the animation. I made sure the shapes and colors were consistent, and pulled new layout inspiration from vintage travel posters. I made the boat more smoothly run under the bridge, and made sure the bridge raised up more naturally. I’m so much happier with this animation now.
I’ve always wanted to get better at hand lettering. Through some skillshares and tips from some of my design friends, I’ve been able to refine my skills. I made a hand lettered logo for one of my friends, and I made the hand lettering used in the cookbook above. I still have quite a ways to go, but it’s fun to be able to work on it anywhere!