Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Retro Effects

I finally got around to trying to create the various retro effects I've been seeing everywhere in the design world for a long time. The hardest part is selecting which typefaces to use and what kind of details you want to use that might echo a vintage feeling. The rest is adding gradients, noise, and some carefully placed drop shadows (both inner and outer). Check out my results!

My first attempt: A little feminine.

Second attempt: I didn't spend much time on this one. It's a little more "surfer," I guess.

Third attempt: Cranky "old man" browns and grays with gold embossing! There's a lot going on here, but I think it's my favorite. I even tried the little upturned edge (which could definitely be better, but for a first try, I think I did okay!).

I also made a retro-inspired desktop wallpaper for one of my biffles (yes, bffl phonetically) featuring her name, so if you'd like one, too, write a comment with your favorite colors and whether you have a widescreen (16:9) or standard (4:3) monitor!

Feel free to use any of these icons above, but please make sure to link back!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Getaway

Thanks to a tip-off from some friends a few months ago, the Hubs and I snatched up a LivingSocial deal and took a quick jaunt to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island this past weekend. It was our first vacation together since our honeymoon to Seabrook back in September, so it was really nice to get away.

We hopped on the 9:00am ferry to Anacortes and arrived in Friday Harbor just after 10:30am, leaving us plenty of time to explore the island before we were able to check in to our hotel.

Our first expedition was to the adorably tiny Roche Harbor; however, before we pulled in to the teeny town, we stumbled across this incredible sculpture park. It just popped up out of nowhere! We took at least an hour walking around the grounds and looking at every single piece. One of my favorite pieces was the one pictured below. We approached it from behind and assumed it was going to be a painting of the entire field with all of the sculptures... but no! It was much more clever than that: a simple mirror secured to an easel. We had to snap a picture.

At Roche Harbor, we walked throughout the marina pointing out all of the different boats' names and seeing where they all came from.

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring beaches, lighthouses, and walking wind-swept cliffs and fields along fox and rabbit trails.

Experiencing nature with loved ones may be the most swoonworthy thing of all.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Say it with me now...

I designed and framed this piece for two of my best friends (here and here) as their holiday present this past December; something optimistic for the new year, and something we're all probably guilty of not saying enough.

This next year is a definite time of YES for me. I've officially started out on my own and am doing my best to embrace everything the world has to offer. I'm trying to put myself out there as much as possible no matter how uncertain I feel.

What are you working on for 2012? Anything in particular you're trying to say YES about?


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Startup Weekend (also known as, I'm back!)

It has been nearly a year since my last blog post, I realize that; but I'm happy to say as of January 1, 2012, I have taken my design studio full-time and am therefore working 100% for myself! I have been wanting to get my blog back off the ground since Day One, but other "business stuff" keeps taking up my time! There's so much I need to brief you on since my last post, but first...!

My main reason for writing this comeback post is that I experienced something absolutely magical this past weekend. People are asking me to recap, so here goes:

Thanks to my good friends Donald DeSantis and Adam Stelle, I was lucky to attend Seattle Startup Weekend #10, hosted at The Hub in Pioneer Square. What's Startup Weekend, you ask? Well, it's a 54-hour event (from Friday evening to Sunday evening) that brings geeky, brilliant developers and businesspeople together to essentially create tech startups in one weekend (they're hosted all over the globe, so check out the Startup Weekend website for details on how to join one in your area!). This past weekend, the theme was "Rise of the Designer," and design was being emphasized more so than it usually is at Startup Weekend. This last detail was the main reason why I was there.

I had always heard about Startup Weekend, but had always psyched myself out of actually attending an event.

Oh, they probably don't really need designers...

Oh, I'm not a good enough designer... 
(see #1 from this post by Dwight Battle, a fellow Startup Weekend designer)

Oh, but I don't have time...

There was always something holding me back.

But since I was now working for myself, I figured it would: a) be a good networking experience; b) provide me with some kind of design experience so that even if I was absolutely I would learn from it; and c) get me out of my house where I now spend all my time plugged into my desktop.

I sucked it up and went.


The weekend kicked off at 5pm on Friday with pizza, beer, and chit-chat with the other attendees (100+ of us!). The various Startup Weekend workers and volunteers were all amazing and did a great job of getting everyone fired up. We were all asked to raise our hands to show if we were developers, business people, or designers. I half raised my hand for the first two, then shot my arm high in the air for the last option, along with about 30 other individuals (although a murmur went through the crowd when "us designers" raised our hands because it was apparently a significantly larger group than at past Startup Weekends).

Eventually, the pitches started. This meant whoever had a potential business plan could hop on the microphone and share their idea in 60 seconds or less. Some people came with pitches they had already been thinking about (or working extensively on) for months; others thought of an idea less than five minutes before jumping up in front of the crowd. (I thought about pitching, but figured I would simply listen this first time around and pitch at my next event.)

There were a lot pitches, and out of those I wrote down eight that interested me:

Seat with a View
An app which would help you find the seat with the best view on a plane depending on the plane's route.

A way to test your website on mobile devices to show clients how it will be displayed in different environments.

Similar to Foursquare; but instead of seeing where your friends are after they've already arrived to a location, you can shout out to your friends where you're currently located and whether you're hungry, thirsty, or bored. They can then easily see who's available in their immediate area and make plans.

Easy, inexpensive home-monitoring service as an alternative to the similar, outrageously-priced services currently available.

Example: You're at Starbucks buying coffee and you decide you want to buy a coffee for your friend for the next time they go to that same Starbucks. You purchase something for a friend and they receive an alert on their phone that you have given them a gift and it's waiting in a general area (visible on the app's map). The next time your friend is in that area, once they're close enough to the gift, they can see where it's located. When they get close enough to the location, they can "open" it and redeem their gift at the store.

Awesomely crazy guy who brought a Roomba vacuum and talked about turning it into some kind of robot. Hilarious/amazing pitch.

An app that electronically stores all of your various savings cards for grocery stores, etc. (after the pitches, the pitcher discovered that a really amazing version of this already existed, so he ended up bowing out of the running during the second shorter pitch round, even though it was voted as one of the favorites).

A web app essentially combining the Seattle-based OneBusAway with Google Maps so you wouldn't have to switch between the two when planning your transit route.

A GPS-based mobile game where you select your superhero or villain persona and play games (virtual Rock, Paper, Scissors, etc.) against others when you enter the same vicinity.

For the voting section, everyone was given three Post-It notes to add to their favorite options hanging as signs on the wall. I ended up voting on Superheroes, Surpr!ze, and WhichBus (although came close to voting for Seat with a View and ShowOff).

After voting, the top 16(?) pitches were selected, and the pitchers were sent to various areas of the room where we could then follow-up and ask them more specific questions about their ideas and ultimately decide which group to join.

I talked to the Superheroes guy, but Michael Tubridy, an amazing illustrator I knew, was already planning on working with him, as was another designer, so I speculated I wouldn't be as involved in the hands-on design process if there were multiple other designers already on the team. I walked over to the WhichBus guy (Gilad) who had formed a pretty solid-looking group, although after chatting with them for a bit discovered they didn't yet have a designer. WhichBus sounded like a great idea and a great group so I made my decision to hop on!

There were seven of us (Kim, Dave, Gilad, Dave, Daniel, Kevin, and myself) and we got down to business immediately. We went around the table, introduced ourselves and, after everyone stated their various skill sets, we realized we all complemented each other quite nicely: 4 devs, 2 businesspeople, and 1 designer. Kim asked if I was good at logo design. I said I thought I was okay (but really, in my head, panicking because I was feeling rather unsure of myself since the design side of things was all on me now).

We set up a table, grabbed some chairs, and claimed one of the large whiteboards leaning against the wall. We quickly made a list of all the potential features of our app. Nobody argued with anyone. No one told anyone else their ideas were stupid. Everyone was so positive and excited, and nobody brought anyone else down. Absolute group brainstorming perfection.

We looked at our list and, realizing there was no way to accomplish everything in one weekend, went through the list and voted on the things we thought were absolutely necessary for the demo, prioritizing items based on Roman "thumbs up/thumbs down" voting. A few minutes later we had our list. Again, seamless. Our team was awesome.

Daniel and I tried to get GitHub working on my archaic MacBook (which, because I rarely use it, is still only running Tiger - that's right, let's backtrack: Lion, Snow Leopard, Leopard... Tiger). Our attempts proved unsuccessful, but by that point it was getting late so we decided to pack it up and come in fresh Saturday morning at 9:30.


Daniel, Gilad, and I were the first ones in. Daniel set up a DropBox folder and synced it to GitHub so I could at least have access if I needed it. Gilad started working on the back-end. I started brainstorming our logo, which would dictate the whole look and feel of the app. And we all ate waffles.

Everyone eventually rolled in, and by around noon (maybe 1pm?) I had completed our logo. Kim whipped up some wireframes in PowerPoint, which I then used in designing our mobile screen mockups...

This was something I had never done before.

But I tried not to get hung up on my lack of experience and instead tackled it head on. It helped that my team liked the logo and that people from other groups liked it, too; but I guess my insecurity drew from the fact that I still have a difficult time calling myself a "designer." It's still relatively fresh in my vocabulary considering I only really discovered my true passion for design a few years ago.

But, again, I sucked it up and created mobile designs based off of an iPhone 4's screen dimensions and resolution (I'm still not sure if this was the best way to do it, but it worked).

By the end of the day, I had created four different screens, as well as a different version of our logo to use on Twitter and Facebook; Kim and Biz Dave tackled our LaunchRock page, our social media accounts, survey, and whipped up the framework of the PowerPoint deck for our demo; Gilad and Dev Dave had pulled the APIs for OneBusAway and Google Maps and had altered them so that we had working code; and Daniel and Kevin worked on making Gilad and Dave's progress work with the front-end design.

We had various check-in meetings throughout the weekend where we stated what we'd been working on, what we were about to work on next, and ideas for how best to tackle certain problems.

I really can't accurately describe how well our group worked together. We didn't realize how lucky we were until we heard about other groups fighting and even disbanding altogether. We had just assumed all the other groups were in the same groove. We were all on the same page the entire time. We trusted each other 100% and let each member do their own [targeted] thing (with the occasional check-in meeting), and were über-productive because of it.

We wrapped up for the evening around midnight. Still going strong after an exciting and productive day, I ended up going out to The New Orleans with Adam, John, Kyle, Kav, Eli, and some other Startup Weekenders (great people, I might add). I got home around 1:00am and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


I arrived at The Hub again right at 9:30am and started tweaking Kim and Biz Dave's PowerPoint deck to match our branding. This was the part I loved: not PowerPoint (of course), but seeing all of the different elements come together with the same look & feel. Cohesion. Consistency. My favorite.

Once everyone arrived, the rest of the day was spent finishing the deck, rehearsing for the demo, and finishing up as much back-end work as possible. We finished with a good hour to spare before the demos, and spent the time relaxing, chatting, and debriefing with each other (all the while in amazement that we were done so early, maybe even second-guessing ourselves a little).

When it was time for the demos, we helped with table take-down and chair set-up, and snagged seven seats together near the front. After all, we were a team (and a great one), and we wanted to make sure we were all together when Gilad and Kim presented everything we accomplished over the course of the weekend. I didn't notice it then, but I'm now under the impression not all the groups felt as chummy as we did.

Gilad and Kim did a great job with the presentation and demo. The judges weren't too harsh, with Scott Rutherford only really quizzing them on how we would market this to other cities where similar apps might already exist. Jenny Lam, designer and founder of Jackson Fish Market really liked our design. To be honest, I can't recall what Rebecca Lovell and Adam Phillip said, but the presentation went great and I was incredibly proud of our team.

After all of the groups presented, the judges left to deliberate on another floor. We hung around chatting, getting water, and cooling off at the back of the room where it wasn't 100°F.

The judges eventually returned, everyone got settled, and Jenny announced the results:

The first award announced was for the Honorable Mention and the Design Award. I'm so pleased to say WhichBus was selected for the honor, but I'll get back to that shortly.

The rest of the awards were announced as follows:

Best User Experience

Best Presentation
ChickenCheckin (formerly Koombaya)

Best Market Validation
StreetCode (formerly BumPay)

Best Business Model
Iron Blanket (formerly AlarmCo)

(See the full summary of each group in this story by John Cook of GeekWire.)

Even though we didn't win overall, I couldn't have been happier. I had an amazing time, met some astounding people, did things I had never done before, and, perhaps best of all, proved my insecurity as a designer completely wrong. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Thank you to everyone at Startup Weekend, to all the volunteers, to all the judges, to all the attendees, and, most of all, to my team. I'm so looking forward to planning the future of WhichBus with all of you!

And thanks to you, readers, for getting all the way to the bottom of this post. But what are you waiting for? Go sign up for WhichBus to be alerted when we officially launch! 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Can it be springtime, please?

Because if it were warm enough to go bare-legged, I would totally be wearing this:

It's been bitterly cold here in Seattle, and even snowed a little bit today (I know those of you in the midwest and on the east coast think us west coasters are such wimps).

Sure, the snow is pretty, I'll give you that, Mother Nature; but so are bright, colorful dresses perfect for early spring. I'm not sure how much more of this Vitamin D deficiency I can take!


a. Green/Orange Stripe Dress
b. Nio Bag
c. Lotta Flats

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wedding Prep Sneak Peek #1

Reception shoes?


I found them at a thrift store for $7.50. My reception dress (found via Etsy) will have a similar-colored sash (the designer calls it "turkey red!"), but I can't give away any more details about it!

My lovely bridesmaids are all currently dress shopping. I gave them a palette of oranges and corals, and an approximate knee-length guideline, then told them to pick out their own frocks. I wanted them to be able to wear their dresses again, and coral is such a flattering color on everybody that I think (I hope!) they'll actually find future occasions where they can wear them.

I'll be back in the near future with more updates!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy 2011!

To ring in the new year, a friend of mine decided to organize a small sit-down dinner which the Fiance and I hosted at our apartment. We've been lucky to have beautiful cloudless weather here in Seattle lately, however, it has resulted in some very icy and cold days. It is such weather that inspired my tablescape for NYE 2011.

I am a huge fan of tone-on-tone, especially white-on-white. I know many people think "Booo-ring," but I love clustering a lot of different white objects together, pairing various textures. I combined my love of whites and taupes with metallics: silvery-gold vintage metal trays as chargers (thrifted, naturally!), some glittery white branches for some dramatic height, and a couple of mosaic-ed candle holders that provided a little more sparkle than the typical votive holder.

This was taken right before dessert, so the napkins are
a bit askew, and the wine levels are lookin' a little low...

Combine these three pieces with a smattering of various white objets d'art collected from around the house and you have your tablescape! Surprisingly, the white branches didn't block anyone's line of sight too much. I'd say it was a successful evening that echoed our recent weather quite well.

New Year's resolutions?
1) Learn to say "no" instead of adding things to my plate that I simply don't have time to do (even though I want to do them so badly!).
2) Save, save, save for our wedding.
3) Keep my desk clean. :)

What about you? Any resolutions you'd like to share?


Thursday, December 2, 2010

DIY Florist | If it's not what you're looking for, make it your own

For my birthday, the Fiancé bought me a beautiful bouquet of dried flowers from Pike Place Market, made up of thistles and other more "rustic" plants that might come to mind when you imagine autumn/winter blooms.

It was beautiful and I loved its texture; however, being the critic/perfectionist I am, I had two issues with it...

1) It had a lot of purple in it, and I really don't want to come off as snotty, but purple just isn't a shade I'm typically drawn toward. Of course I wasn't going to complain about the bouquet (it's really the thought that counts), it was just something that stood out to me.

2) This thing was a monstrosity. I don't own any vases large enough to contain it! I had to put it in a glass ice bucket that could pass as a vase.

This evening, I was determined to change both of these "issues," convert my dining room into a florist shop, and create the bouquet I was envisioning.

This is what the bouquet looked like before I started. Large and overwhelming, no?

(please excuse the low quality of this iPhone photo...)

First, I disassembled the entire thing, covering my dining room table in dried flower piles (and getting them all over the floor where my cat decided they either made fabulously unique toys, or tasty, crunchy treats). I separated the flower piles by type so they would be easier to identify and untangle when I needed specific pieces:

For the most part, it was relatively easy; however, the suckers above (at right) were really pokey... painfully pokey, in fact. Then, piece by piece, I reassembled the blooms into a much smaller, more manageable bouquet (which will last me all winter!):

After a long day at work, reimagining this bouquet was exactly the "nightcap project" I needed: Away from my computer and hands-on (even if I was poked and prodded along the way). I highly encourage you to try redesigning some blooms of your own!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Font Queen | I could stare at typefaces for hours...

Each Tuesday, I receive an email titled, "You Got Served," from the Served sites of the Behance Network. It covers art, design, fashion, photography, typography, and more from leading creative professionals around the globe.

One of the typefaces featured this week is called Queen by Face from Monterrey, Mexico. Not only do I think the lettering is fabulous, but I particularly like the quote with which they chose to display the font:

Yep, short but sweet post; but remember, I'm pacing myself. I don't want to get too far ahead and all overwhelmed again. Stay tuned and things will get better.

Thanks for visiting me again, everyone. You're all lovely.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Anyone home?

Hi, there... if you're even there...

I thought I'd drop in for a little visit...

Guess what? I miss Swoonworthy.

A lot.

I miss styling,
and writing,
and the whole combination of it all that results in,

that's right,


I've been thinking about it for a couple of months now. I've just been so busy and overwhelmed with my job (which I luckily love!) for so long now and it's now all bubbling to the surface. I knew I wouldn't be able to continue blogging with everything else I have going on...

...but I can't deny it any longer. I miss it so much.

I also have lots of exciting news to share. Well, maybe not "lots," but two things, technically.

First, today is officially the end of my first quarter-century on this Earth, and the start of my second. That's right, my 25th birthday. You know when you're little and people ask you if you feel older and you say yes even though you really don't? Well, to be 100% honest, I sort of do this time around. I feel like I've been an "adult" for awhile now, but just the words TWENTY. FIVE. sound so much older. But in a good way.

Second, the Boyfriend and I got engaged back in February and are planning our wedding for late August 2011! I guess I should get used to calling him the Fiancé on here, huh? Anyhow, we're paying for the wedding ourselves, so we've gotten creative and have a ton of DIY projects coming up... which is one of the reasons I'm writing:

I'd love to come back to Swoonworthy—maybe not everyday like I used to—but at least to drop by every once in awhile and share some of my wedding planning projects and to simply document the entire process for myself. My heart is fluttering just thinking about it all (blogging+DIY+wedding)!

Alright, here I go again. Blabbing on and on and on...

For the time being, I'll leave you with one of my favorite engagement photos (what am I talking about, they're all my favorites!) of the Fiancé and I taken back in late July by the lovely Jen Huang of Jen Huang Photography (who just so happens to be a college friend of mine!). She gets to fly all over the country and take amazing photos. Lucky duck.