Why You Should Document Your Creative Journey

These past few weeks on my blog, I have focused a lot more than usual on providing case studies of my latest work. The “What am I gonna write about” question has a much easier answer than a lot of people realize. Write about what you do and how you do it. Document your journey.

Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this a lot. The way he pumps out content on a consistent basis serves as a constant inspiration.

You’ll be surprised to see, once you start creating content, how much that will impact the people around you. Creating a wealth of content surrounding what you’re good at and passionate about will fulfill you, help others, and build your brand in an authentic way. A lot of people think you have to reach a certain level of skill or acclaim to start making content. You really just need to start. Lay the first brick of your great body of work.

For the longest time, I was too intimidated to start a weekly blog. I saw the quality of other people’s blogs and didn’t think I was good enough to write one. One day I just had to commit to starting. I want to encourage everyone I know to do the same. It’s not about releasing perfect content every time. Don’t be crippled by the pursuit of perfection. Focus on your passion and desire to deposit positive content into the world. The vast majority of people in the world are consumers only, not creators. Taking the first step immediately pushes you into a new, more ambitious space.

Document yourself learning and practicing your craft. I continue to be impressed with my friend Janessa Smith and her journey to become a great visionary. I invited her to contribute to my Medium publication, Touch of Gold. She’s providing all of us a window into her creative journey. Janessa is also building her portfolio by doing and capturing her progress.

The by-products of starting and maintaining include: becoming an authority, being seen as a resource, and inspiring others to take action and start themselves.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

Coach Carter (2005) variant of Marianne Williamson quote

Shine like only you can and bring others into your brilliant light.




Case Study: National Headquarters Celebrates 25 Years At This Stillwater Train Station

One of my favorite things about being Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer for Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma is the amount of different types of projects I’ve done and will do. There is never a shortage of programs, initiatives, publications, and promotional material that need my design expertise. Everything I design here is an opportunity to deposit something of importance into the history of these organizations and this National Headquarters office.

Speaking of the National Headquarters office, this year makes 25 years that HQ has been housed in Stillwater’s historic Santa Fe Depot. National Executive Director Steve Nelson approached me about designing a 25th anniversary button to give out to brothers and sisters during district convention season. Immediately, the idea of an illustration of the iconic front entrance of the station came to mind. The thing about illustrating the building was figuring out what are the most recognizable pieces of the building. When simplifying a large structure for a button, icon, or logo, you want to have enough to get the character without overdoing it.

I started with sketching the general shape of the building from the perspective of the parking lot. I love grid paper for moments like this. I was able to use the grid to help with the proportions. I’m not naturally gifted at freehand illustration but I can work a grid and utilize symmetry. However, even with the grid, my first pass was actually incorrect and I had to re-do it. Also, the first illustration was a little too simplistic for what was wanted.

Once the general idea and the essential elements were decided upon, I had to make decisions on how the headquarters building illustration would be translate to a button. For a circular button, of course it needed to be a circle badge type shape. I left off the wings that are on the actual building as they wouldn’t fit on the button and weren’t absolutely essential.

I thought it would be nice if the chimney pushed outside of the inner circle to the sky. The 25 text needed to be the focal point at the bottom with the banner showcasing the first year and the current year. Speaking of text, I tried a few different places for the description of the occasion and settled on the best option for a button. The outside circle behind the art holds everything together and covers the bleed area.

The buttons turned out great! It was quite the thrill seeing them released into the wild and people taking pictures with them at during Northeast District Convention. I’m glad a balance between detail and simplicity was ultimately reached.



4 Ways To Use Instagram’s Multiple Picture Post Feature

Instagram continues to evolve and provide new tools. The latest shift came in the form of allowing multiple full photos to be used in a single post. Your followers can now simply swipe the initial photo to see the rest in that post’s collection. With any new social media tool, this creates new possibilities on the platform. Once I updated my Instagram app and started playing around with the new feature, I wrote down a few ways multiple picture posts could be used.

Case Studies

In one single Instagram post, you can take your followers on a journey from inception to final product. If you are a logo designer, your followers can swipe their way through your logo design process. You can use photos, videos, or a combination of both. These mobile slideshows can give your audience an educational peek behind the veil of your process. This allows you to provide a more complex and contextually rich Instagram post.

Speaking of context…

Brand Presentationshotel reign app

You can now use a single Instagram post to showcase multiple parts of an overall visual brand identity project. For example, imagine the first part being the logo, the next being the brand marketing collateral (brochures, letterheads, banners, etc.), the next being the website and/or mobile app mockup, and the rest being various applications of the brand’s look and feel.

Album/Mixtape Art

A single Instagram post for a music artist may be a multi-part promotion for the latest album or mixtape. You can post your front album cover and your back album cover with the tracklist. You could include multiple previews/snippets of the project. If you’re making a multimedia release available, you can present each element offered and explain how each part contributes to the whole.

Blue & Gold Marching Machine NCA&TBlue & Gold Marching Machine A&T album back art

Short Stories

This Instagram update is giving you the ability to basically post in Instagram Stories format on a single post. Makers of video content can create short multi-part sketches, short (really short) films, and even use a single post to introduce multiple characters for a longer form project. Comic artists and illustrators can use a single post to tell a multi-part short story showcasing their skills in sequential art. The swiping motion acts as a page turn.

Instagram has become an even more powerful storytelling tool for many different types of brands and creatives. Figure out how to best use it for your benefit and the benefit of your audience.



Case Study: The Knockout Visual logo

Your talents, your gifts are to be used to pour into the lives of others for their benefit. Being able to benefit a good friend and support their creative journey is a special joy that I always cherish. The Knockout Visual is the brainchild of one of such friend, Janessa Smith. We worked together to find the perfect logo for her brand.

Janessa wanted a logo that could represent her brand and be a watermark for all her photography and video work. It needed to simple and versatile. During the information and conversation stage of my client onboarding, Janessa mentioned she liked minimalism and pointed to pieces on my Dribbble as examples of the creative direction she wanted me to go in. I love when clients give me direction prior to starting. Creative clarity is more important than creative freedom – don’tcha know?

I allowed myself to play with different concepts and presented the best ones to her as options. I made good use of the Adobe Illustrator art board. With a name like “The Knockout Visual”, you can go in a few different directions. You can focus on “The Knockout” and create something that uses the boxing/fighting motif. Knowing the company will be about photography and videography, you can illustrate camera references. You can also take the letters K and V themselves and create a monogram of sorts to be a symbol of the company.

Janessa ultimately went with this logo. It’s the K and the V combined with the V doubling as a human being icon. From another perspective, part of an eye can also be seen, with the dot acting as the pupil. In photography and videography you are capturing moments and, often in Janessa’s case, people. It’s personal and professional. The final logo works well as a stamp, watermark, and social media avatar.

Be sure to follow Janessa on her journey to photographer/videographer super stardom. If you are in need of her services (she’s currently based in Greensboro, North Carolina), check her out. She offers videography and photography to businesses and personal brands that want to showcase themselves and what they offer.

“Visual stimulation assists with building business.”

– Janessa Smith


Case Study: Black History Month

The contributions, achievements, and historical importance of black people can not be covered in just one month. However, Black History Month is designated as the period of time in which the country pays particularly close attention.

I wanted to contribute something of my own and provide a bit of a visual history lesson through my Instagram feed. This project is another example of taking something I am passionate about and applying my design skills to it. The application of those skills started as it usually starts – in my beautiful grid composition book. I sketched many different concepts for Black History Month.

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Case Study: The Obama-Biden Podcast Logo

The Great American Bromance of Barack Obama and Joe Biden deserves a podcast and I believe I have the logo it needs. The parade of memes and captured moments between these two has provided us with much entertainment and joy for 8 years. As their time in The White House came to an end, I had the idea to create the branding for the podcast that we need in our lives.

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Purpose: The Intersection of Talent & Passion

Purpose drives everything. It informs, inspires, and motivates. People spend their lives trying to find it and fulfilling it. No matter your field of study or career, finding your place is crucial to your success.

Each project is an opportunity to accomplish something. During my client on-boarding process, after reading through the answers to the client questionnaire, I ask follow up questions. These questions get to the heart of who they are and why they are starting this project. It’s not enough to want to start a business. You need to know why. The why determines the what and shapes the how. I’ve discussed the advantages of positioning yourself in a particular niche. You won’t be able to hit your target unless you have a properly defined purpose.

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My “Resurrection” of the Super Bowl Logo

I love logos. I love sports. The results from the intersection of these two passions usually makes me very happy. In particular, I loved the Super Bowl logos of the past that gave each year’s game a particular personality and mark. Starting with Super Bowl XLV (2011), the NFL decided to standardize the Super Bowl game logo so that only certain elements changed.

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Case Study: Boh’s Birthday Bash

The National Leadership of Kappa Kappa Psi National Band Fraternity wanted to encourage alumni brothers to become Life Members, while also celebrating the birthday of Bohumil Makovsky – the Guiding Spirit of the Fraternity.

Bohumil Makovsky was the Director of Bands and Head of the Department of Music at Oklahoma A&M College (now – Oklahoma State University) during the founding of Kappa Kappa Psi. He was born on September 23, 1878. So, on September 23, 2016, Kappa Kappa Psi had a one day only, 20% off sale on Life Memberships.

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