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Archive for office antics

princely projects . A Birthday Party

It’s been a while since I’ve posted some of the design projects I’ve been working on in the Pond, so I thought I would share one today along with something I learned about myself last week. I recently had the opportunity to do some graphics and printed items for Starkville, Mississippi’s 175th Birthday Party. It was a fun and festive project with an old fashioned flair. My client is a stellar event planner and really wanted to create a kid-friendly, nostalgic atmosphere. I created the theme graphics with a primary color palette and produced a postcard invitation that we also translated into an e-vite and other online media graphics. In addition, Jenn wanted to give a hand-made quality to the Party with some custom printables that would mimic our “look.” She asked me to create cupcake toppers, tabletop signs and pennant banners to be used in the decorations. The Party was last Friday and it was just as festive and nostalgic as Jenn envisioned. Plus, my kids gave a resounding thumbs-up to the cupcakes!

Oh yeah, and I also learned something about myself. Or at least remembered something about myself. For the party, I did some chalk lettering on a vintage chalkboard to be included in a wacky photo booth vignette. On Thursday, I rolled up my sleeves and started chalking — armed with a wet cloth, a dry cloth and some colored chalk my kids loaned me. The result wasn’t a spectacular feat — only about 600 inches of hand-drawn serifs and chalk dust. But, it reminded me of something. I spend so much of my creative life behind a screen or a lens, pushing and pulling anchor points in drawing software or highlighting and kerning text or zooming in or out of a digital camera lens. It was refreshing to actually get my hands dirty — to have my fingers not separated from my medium by a piece

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of glass or a rectangular focus box. It was a fun and much-needed change of pace to spend an hour creating lines and shapes without any digital help. I think I’ll try it again sometime.

2012 Calendar Obsession No. 3

I found this sweet printable calendar over at Cool Mom Picks, and I couldn’t resist making it my 3rd time-marking purchase of the year. It’s created by French-based Tiny Us and is available for a donation of any size to their Presence charity — a school for handicapped children. Given my love of all things paper-related, the paper dolls really struck my fancy. I love their unabashed girlie-ness and the encouragement for play each page provides. I can’t wait to print them!

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2012 Calendar Obsession No. 2

Well, I’ve just cracked open my next 2012 calendar purchase! I’m already using the first calendar option because Miss Little Things Studio was kind enough to include December 2011 in her offering. Yay! Now, I can’t wait until January to hang this option from Heather Lins studio. It’s a monthly celebration of typography printed in thin wood veneer. Half the fun for me is the packaging and the process of opening my little gift to me. Enjoy the journey with me!

A Peek at 2012

I love calendars. Specifically, I love monthly calendars that give me some form of inspiration. I just enjoy the process of flipping the page to see what new image or color or font or message is in store on the first of each month. So, I tend to gather several calendar versions around my office, displaying them where I can see and enjoy. Sometimes they are hanging calendars. Sometimes they are other variations I prop or clip at will. For me, it’s like a little collection of rotating art. Just as I’m becoming blind to the familiarity of each piece, it’s time to change.

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first calendar purchase for 2012, and I thought I’d share a peek. A peek is all I took, myself, because the packaging was so lovely. I couldn’t bear to untie it until January 1. So I hung it up under one of the 2011 versions to enjoy the anticipation This illustrated hanging calendar was created by Little Things Studio right here in my home state of Mississippi. I love her whimsical patterns and vibrant colors. Mine came wrapped in orange cord with a bonus bookmark!

Marking time is one of our great privileges in life. To imagine a life with no opportunity to remember the past or dream about the future would be one without inspiration. To attempt a life without numbering our days would be one risking too much regret. Today is a great day to sow the seeds for 2012–in life and work. Let’s get started!

On This Date in SPG History

I’m closing in on the one-year anniversary of Small Pond Graphics in the next month or so. I’ve been thinking back to a year ago, and I find myself so amazed at this crazy process of starting something new. The idea of starting my own design company had never really occurred to me. I was very happy in a job that allowed me a tremendous amount of creative freedom and the opportunity to work with a varied mix of clients, learn new things and work closely with the confidence of a good friend and mentor. It just didn’t occur to me. Then, in this crazy whirlwind of a month’s time, I found out my company was closing in thirty days and the concept of my own new venture plopped into the brainsphere (so to speak).

Literally over a weekend, trying to allow my heart to catch up while meeting a PR deadline for an announcement of our closure that could also include contact information for my new venture, I decided to go for it. Then, I decided on a company name — largely based on the whisperings of that little voice in my heart telling me where I really enjoyed focusing my attention. I suppose it worked to my advantage that I didn’t have the time over-think it, as I am SO apt to do! Is that how most small businesses start? With a swig of circumstance, a shot of serendipity and a splash of passion — all on a deadline?

On this date in 2010, I decided to name my company Small Pond Graphics.

I was looking back through some of my thoughts surrounding that decision and thought I might share a portion of my journaling through the process. As I read it again, it really reminded me of my own head a year ago. It’s made me think through the impact a year has had on that passion, those core ideas, and the areas where I wanted to focus. I’ve seen opportunities I never would have predicted… opportunities for collaboration, opportunities for creativity, opportunities for building something and helping others do the same. I can’t think of a better way to spend a year! Thanks for letting me share an unfiltered glimpse into the Haley mindset…

May 22, 2010
I’m thinking of Small Pond Design or Small Pond Graphics. I have a logo pictured in my mind with a frog. I love frogs. It’s something that’s been publicized that I like. So, I wanted one in the logo. I like the idea of embracing the small pond — the boutique concept, a place where individuality can be addressed, individual solutions. I was also thinking of the idea of small world. It has a focus on networking, the power of relationships, a relationship-based approach to service. And the small world kind of talks about the realities of digital technology — mainly how I’ll be doing business, I can work with near and far, etc. Locally, the small pond idea can speak to choosing local services. But, it can also work in the concept of addressing your needs in your specific pond – a niche with small businesses and business start-ups. Those are the types of clients I love. Entrepreneurs, innovators, helping people give their dream a successful face and way to communicate.

A Visitor to the Pond

And trust me; it really got things hopping!

collection . Lists

On a day like today when I’m away from my desk and entertaining my three kids for a school holiday, I make a lot of lists. I jot things down so I can keep the concerns of work at bay and focus on having some kid-fun. Yep, I’m a list-maker. I don’t mind admitting it. And, I’ll further admit that sometimes I get a little obsessive about it. Because of those little list-making obsessive tendencies, I find myself making and revising lists quite often as a way to get my brain organized. I write them. I type them. I add them to my calendar. I include them in my journal. Of course, January is prime real estate for a list-maker with all its planning and organizing and evaluating. To my thinking, sometimes the value and effectiveness of a list has everything to do with the cosmetics of it. I like cool tools. They make me much more likely to look at a list — and therefore follow it or check it off. I know the life hacking mavens may not agree, but whether it’s color coding, interesting paper, lovely illustrations or creative designs, my list needs to look good. [And for me that means looking good in spite of my ridiculous handwriting.] So, I went in search of some great-looking list options. Here’s a few to inspire your next set of to-dos!

SUITOR ~ The Pocket Checklist
A minimalist do-it-yourself option!

BOY GIRL PARTY ~ Bear To Do List
I love that this one gives you the option to check off even if you didn’t complete!

OBLATION ~ Memorandum Note Cards
I love the retro-feel of these. An opportunity to share the list-making wealth!

SKEL DESIGN ~ Moo To Do Pads
Who could resist a Moo To Do? Really?

OWL SAY DESIGNS ~ Repurposed Spiral Bound Notebook
This notebook is filled with random paper samples light enough to write over. Love it!

SLIGHTLY EMBELLISHED ~ Handmade Journal
Love the message. Love the eco-friendly mindset. Love the creativity in this shop!

In Context

Context is so important in what I do. As a designer, my task often swings between responding to context and creating context. Logos, brochures, websites and Facebook posts don’t stand alone. Like all marketing efforts, they exist within a context–some kind of framework. To be successful, good design work and good marketing practices must not only communicate, but even persuade within the context where they are used. What good is a poster if those seeing it can’t relate to it? What good is a logo if it works in the context of a billboard, but not in the context of a business card? Determining context is an integral part of an effective design process.

It’s not that different with people. As I’ve been explaining my move out into the Small Pond to friends, colleagues and clients, one of the first things they wonder about is context. Will you have an office? Can we still meet with you if we want to? Where are you going to work? I asked myself all those same questions when I began the leap into small business ownership. I’ve realized how important the “backdrop” of my work is to me–how much it colors the creative process.

I’m happy to share that I do indeed have an office. It’s a converted space at my home that will afford me just enough privacy and just enough access to the refrigerator to make my work days productive and worthwhile. A separate entrance will give clients a quick way to sample my Pond and a seating and meeting space will facilitate great idea-sharing. I posted last week that my wall color of choice was Sherwin Williams 6078 “Realist Beige.” Six thousand boxes, sundry office supplies, a few cans of spray paint and several kid masterpieces later, the office is hopping into shape.

It’s a work in progress, but I hope you’ll enjoy this first look! Stop by after July 1st to see it in action (and maybe wall art). Welcome to my Pond!

inspired by . Beige Walls

I love color. I really do. I culled through some of my “nature” photo files the other day–a lot of culling going on these days with switching offices. I was amazed again by the commonalities and subtle differences we see all around us every day. It’s quite inspiring, so I thought I’d inspire you with some of the floral color similarities I found in my collection.

The news around the Pond is that my new office is being painted today! Those of you who know me (and certainly those who’ve glanced at the website) know that I really am a color gal. I love bright colors. I enjoy vibrance. So, what color did I choose for my office walls?

“Realist Beige” — Sherwin Williams 6078

Yep. It’s beige. Or charitably, a warm grey. I know. I couldn’t believe it either. I’ve seen some spectacular examples of grey tones paired with other colors lately (which I’ll share soon), and I suppose it’s convinced me of how inspiring grey can really be. The good thing about the grey/beige walls is that they will serve as a wonderful grounding for the many moods of my creativity. They will easily play well with the multitude of books, scraps of paper and Sonic wacky pack toys that are likely to line my shelves. They will readily co-exist with whatever bright-minded office supplies and bins I choose. They will welcome almost any pattern that strikes my momentary fancy.

The fact is, I need that neutrality. I need something that frees me to pursue whichever path my creativity takes–kind of like a staging area for inspiration.

Inspiration. It seems like we’re constantly looking for it. It’s one reason why I decided to begin writing a blog as part of my launch of Small Pond Graphics. I’m kind of an information-junkie and certainly a web-junkie, so I love finding creative ideas from all the fields of design, the arts and culture that can impact my work or just give me a breath of fresh creative air.

Inspiration and I sometimes have a love-hate relationship, however. As a design professional, I’m required to call on my creativity and design sensibilities on a daily basis — usually in a way that meets specific goals and deadlines. For my entire adult life, I’ve needed to be creative every day. And, before that, my foray into architecture and art school certainly was no different. Whew! That can be quite a drain on the inspiration quotient. But, it’s a joy nonetheless. I’m betting that whatever endeavor my clients and readers are pursuing ALSO requires at least a modicum of creativity, usually a healthy dose. That’s just how life is in the small pond. Creativity and ingenuity are needed no matter what you’re doing.

You never know where you might find inspiration to fuel that ingenuity. Part of my goal with Plop! is to provide frequent updates on what is inspiring my pursuit of creativity and pushing me toward a more well-designed and well-lived life. And, I hope to call on some of my creative and industrious friends to share what inspires their creativity, too. Maybe it will offer you the added inspiration to create that well-designed life in your own pond!

So, what’s inspiring you today? Like beige, what’s that thing freeing your creativity that you never thought could? I’d love to hear about it! Maybe it will inspire the rest of us too!

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