Judging a book by its cover

Word nerd.

Very few things bring as much joy to my heart as a cozy reading nook and a great book.

Confession: I can’t get on board with e-readers. Nothing compares to holding a paperback in your hands; something about seeing the progress you’ve made in the story as you turn each page just feels productive. It’s a journey.

So, when my project this week was to redesign an existing book cover, I had the hardest time settling on a book because I LOVE THEM ALL.

Original cover design.
My design created for educational purposes only.


To embrace more of a challenge, I went with Blink as my book of choice. The original design is a clean, minimalist design, granting me loads of creative freedom.

Blink is a book about “the power of thinking without thinking”, or how great decision makers are able to “thin slice” by filtering factors from a large bucket of information presented to us; all in the blink of an eye. Since this is heavily based on the subconscious human processes, I wanted to tie in elements from science, space and psychology to bring justice to the title and content.

Full honesty? It was a fun project, but it sure wasn’t an easy one. My file had approximately 37,589,432 layers to it. Roughly. Remember that the next time you ask your designer to do something for you “really quick”. 😉

Font choices: Champagne & Limousines (a favorite sans serif type) and Bentham (a gorgeous serif font). You can’t go wrong with either of these options.

Color palette: The color choices were inspired by the range of lighter blue hues in the background and the bolder, brighter greens and blues in space image.

Sourcing the background from a gorgeous multi-tone polygonal design, I added a green color overlay to mute the tones and tie in different elements.

Brushes:  I came across a really gorgeous set of sparkle brushes that were the perfect way to tie in the space image in the “eye” with the rest of the design. I brought opacity down and set the jitter just high enough to give me a light speckling of ‘stars’ across the design cover.

Eyes: Both eye images were sourced from The Noun Project- a great resource for icons and vectors.

All in all, I’m more than thrilled with the final design. Let me know what you think!

*I am in no way affiliated with the publishing house responsible for Blink, Malcolm Gladwell, or the brand. This project and the use of Blink is strictly for educational purposes.

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Clipping Masks & Aloha Vibes

Winter in VA calls for a little 82 degree Hawaiian weather inspo in my design work. Tasked with creating a postcard for either my home state or favorite state, it didn’t take much deliberation before choosing Hawaii as my state of choice. Hawaii is the perfect excuse for fabulous fonts, vivid tones and retro images.


Using clipping masks, I was able to create a patterned font, as seen above.

Below is another example of how you can take your font to the next level visually by crafting text, embedding an image, and applying a clipping mask. You may recognize this same technique from an earlier post, in which I created a gold foil font. If ya missed, it check it out here .

The original image used to create this clipping mask is credited to Cassidy Carson Photography.

Can you make out what book that is?

You’re never too old to start your morning with a little I Spy. Just sayin’.

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Integrated Marketing Communications

Integrated Marketing Communications, Brand Identity & Visual Identity across platforms

Integrated marketing communications is the consistency of a brand across all mediums (website, social media, email marketing, blog, etc.). IMC is hugely important to a brand’s permanence and recognition among consumers. Subconsciously, the consistency of a message and branding guidelines across all marketing platforms creates a stability in the consumer’s mind concerning the brand in question. When integrated marketing communications is properly managed, the message is clear and concise.

Visual identity and brand identity are important to integrated marketing communications because the goal of your IMC strategy is to reach consumers across all platforms in a consistent enough manner to create a perception in the consumer’s mind about what your brand represents and spark the conversation as to why they need your product. If your branding is consistent, a consumer will begin to recognize and remember your brand. If it’s inconsistent, it will be like they’re seeing a new brand for the first time every time they see your logo/marketing collateral; this makes it much more difficult to build brand loyalty.

Crafting strong IMC: Farmgirl Flowers- Ship Love

Farmgirl Flowers is a California based florist that provides beautifully curated, American grown flower bouquets at an attractive price point. I chose to use Farmgirl Flowers as the inspiration for my Integrated Marketing Communications project because of their mission, my personal positive experience receiving one of their beautiful bouquets, and the gorgeous typography, color choices, and imagery that embody the brand.

Natural elements within the brand inspired my image choice, typography and color selection. Farmgirl Flowers has a lush, organic feel to it and that needs to be translated across all platforms.

Using the eye dropper tool, I selected a pink hue from the bouquet to use for the hashtag and call to action. #SHIPLOVE is a hashtag currently used by FGF on their social media platforms and it perfectly coincides with a Valentine’s Day campaign. Replacing the ‘O’ in SHIPLOVE with a heart shape was a subtle yet strategic move to tie in the Valentine’s Day campaign.

I increased the vibrancy of the photo to pull deeper tones from the florals against the light wood plank background and left aligned the logo and hashtag. The typography choice is a clean font used on their website known as Oswald so as to maintain the organic elements of the brand.

Below are samples from Farmgirl’s Twitter, website, and Instagram profiles that represent their IMC.

Sourced from the Farmgirl Flowers Twitter account
Sourced from the Farmgirl Flowers website
Sourced from the Farmgirl Flowers Instagram account

*I am not affiliated with the Farmgirl Flowers brand in any way. This project is for graduate level education purposes only.

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Southern Weddings Feature

Southern Weddings- Cory & Rachel’s Seaside Wedding 

I’ve been waiting months to share some fun news with everyone and now that I have the final content in my hands, I can! Southern Weddings released their feature on our September Seaside wedding this morning and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me butterflies reminiscing on that magical weekend celebrating the start of marriage with my best friend while being surrounded by the ones we love.

When Southern Weddings asked to feature our wedding, I knew I wanted to use my voice to share the truth about what wedding planning is really like and that the joy lies in the imperfections and mishaps; starting with the sweet little fact that the one time I sprint home after date night and change into gray on gray sweatpants and fuzzy socks just happened to be the same night Cory proposed. I die.

No, that’s not a typo. Yes, I was wearing gray on gray when he proposed.

Moving on.

Getting proposed to while wearing sweatpants (really, I did not see that one coming), nearly taking out an end cap of bubbly because I couldn’t stop staring at my sparkly left hand, and the epic storm that rolled through our outdoor reception are just a few of the memories that make me laugh, give thanks for cleansing rain, and donate all shades of gray in my wardrobe to the nearest Goodwill.

To read the full story on our proposal, planning process, and wedding day details, check out our Southern Weddings feature right here 🙂   


Mrs. McCart









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Kauai Juice Co. Menu Project


Tasked with creating a menu for a hip restaurant, I immediately knew I wanted to create a menu for my favorite juice bar on earth: Kauai Juice Co. on the island of Kauai. You’ve never experienced color until you’ve seen one of their glass bottles filled with this magical elixir.

There’s a reason they named a menu item “Rainbow Unicorn Juice”.

Inspiration and Planning

Before putting anything on my canvas, I have to answer a few key questions about the intent of the message, the purpose of the design, and characteristics of the brand to get the creative process moving along.

To me, the existing brand portrays a message of raw, clean, fresh, organic, and nourishing; these are words I used to inspire the typography, color, and element choices in my design.  When I think of Kauai Juice Co. I think of natural elements (water, in particular); close to nature.

Font, Color, and Background Selection

To create a menu that reflected nourishment and organic elements, while still incorporating art and flow, I really wanted to bring in a watercolor background in a deep blue/teal tone. Movement was an important element to parallel through watercolor since Kauai is an island that helps you feel unplugged and at peace.

Creating the watercolor background: 

I selected a wide watercolor brush that would bring in a lot of movement, adjusted the opacity to bring in enough variance in color and depth that it reflected the ocean in order to spark a subconscious thought of hydrating elements.

Logo and body copy typography choices: 

The typography choices needed to reflect the raw piece of the brand; hence the simplistic, sans serif font choices: Champagne & Limousines, Caviar Dreams, and Lemon/Milk.

Side note: I imagine naming nail polishes and fonts are pretty rad jobs to have. What’s the official job title for such a role? Get paid to come up with sassy names? Who’s hiring?

I wanted the logo typography to carry it’s own weight in representing the brand without the overuse of graphics. That’s the beauty of a great font!

For the logo, I opted for increased tracking, clean font (Milk/Lemon) and a statement piece (aloe plant graphic). Again, the color choice for the logo tied into the clean, nourishing element of the brand.

For the body copy (menu categories and items), the font needed to be clean enough to read but have enough personality to reflect the flare that is a local, Hawaiian business.

Combine all those elements and wa-la! You have a menu fit for a Hawaiian inspired juice bar.

And now I’m off to convince my husband of a second honeymoon in Kauai. Wish me luck.


*I am not affiliated with the Kauai Juice Co. brand in any form or fashion. The brand is merely an inspiration for a graduate level project.












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Creating gold foil fonts


Who doesn’t love a gorgeous, gold foil? When asked to create a quick mock-up of a personal logo and tagline implementing principles of typography we reviewed in class this week, I knew I wanted to try my hand at creating a fun gold foil effect in a brush stroke. 

Here we go! 


The logo is my name and three descriptors about me; these are my go-to for bios because they’re short, fun, and representative of who I am. My husband is forever having to strike a balance between encouraging me to daydream and reaching up to pull me back down to a safe altitude, much like a balloon. I digress!

I love the brush calligraphy look so I decided to go with Beyond the Mountains as the primary font and Champagne & Limousines as the secondary font- I absolutely love the parallel between the font names. Sans serif is a problem for me… I love it! It’s clean and impactful. I often have to force myself to use Serif fonts. Whoops.

(Please note that these fonts are free downloads for personal use only. Commercial use requires licensing and permission issued by the artist themselves).

I love gold foil and wanted to try it out as my font color pattern so I created a new document, selected two different tones of gold for the foreground and background colors (a light gold tone and a dark gold tone) and selected Filter > Render > Clouds to blend the two gold tones. Next, to add noise, I selected Filter > Noise > Add Noise (adjust until you’re happy with the noise level- I chose 7% and Monochromatic option for the right grain for what I was trying to achieve).

To finish off the ‘foil’ look, the next step was Filter > Filter Gallery > Distort > Glass. I modified the settings until I was happy with the smoothness of the foil.

To create the text for my logo, I created a new layer with text, selecting the fonts I wanted, and began formatting the font and paragraph styles. Since the primary font is a brush calligraphy stroke, I kept the tracking at 0 but for the tagline, I adjust the tracking to 50+; I really liked how the font style could handle increased tracking. Font is centered for this particular project.

Then I switched the order of the layers so that the foil layer was on top of the text layer- this is KEY for the next step to work.

Now the fun part! To convert my text to the foil look, I selected Layer > Create Clipping Mask and wa-la! you have a text with a foil look.

Up next- rose gold foil! I’ll update with how those tones work out.


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“Just one box!”, they said.


It’s that time of year again, babes.

That’s right. Girl Scout Cookie Season. *Shudder. Covered in patches and flare, with cheesy smiles plastered across their faces, Brownies are keeping guard in front of every store we love and I swear they’ve figured out eCommerce and redirected marketing. We better watch our backs.

In honor of these little green gremlins, I’m re-posting my thoughts that I penned this same time last year.

Since we’re human and we’re destined for growth, my thoughts have evolved a little bit since last year’s post, but the heart of the sentiment is the same:

They’re ruining our lives. 

I can say this with 100% confidence because, update: I’m now a married gal who no longer has to fit in her wedding dress in five months, and y’all, this year I fell victim to THE THIN MINTS.

You know things are bad when you start referring to them as THE Thin Mints, much like my mother refers to Facebook as THE Facebook.

After my husband fell victim in the fall to the $40 popcorn sold by Boy Scouts, I told him, “We’re empowering women, growing their confidence and supporting entrepreneurship. I’m buying the cookies.


Check out last year’s post below and then sign up for the support group I’ve recently started; raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by Regina George… or a Girl Scout.

2016 Girl Scout Cookie Rant: 

Can we take a break from the blatant intolerance for the opinions of others (ahem, political circus 2016) and recognize who the real threat is here?


Thin Mints. Tagalongs. Do-si-freaking-dos.

They’re everywhere. And they’re exercising their superpowers to pin point critical moments of weakness during your day/week. They travel in packs & charm you with their cute title of “Brownie” and their fresh faces. They have their sweet little hand drawn signs & chaperones to keep up the facade of innocence.

They emerge when many of us are waning on our New Year’s resolutions or trying to exercise discipline during the season of Lent. Their patches are actually vulnerability scanners- “See the redhead at 2:00? This girl is getting married this year & wants to feel good in her wedding dress- she’s over eating kale & berries- we’ve got a Stage 5 Sucker on our hands, ladies. SIC ‘EM!”

“Just one box!”, they said. “They’re only available once a year”, they said. While the rest of the country is preoccupied with slinging insults at each other over perspective and political opinion, Girl Scouts are plotting the collapse of the human race (no, really).

Because who has ever dared to make eye contact with a Girl Scout and not walked away with a case of goods? One moment you’re running out for body wash & after you’ve spent $50 on said “body wash” at that store that shall remain nameless, you find yourself in a precarious situation where you’ve purchased copious amounts of Thin Mints (because they freeze oh-so-well) and are left wondering where to hide them before your significant other returns home.

They create the dependency and then withhold the goods from you until the next year when you have no choice but to come crawling back for more.

That’s one hell of a business plan.

But no more. From now on it’s sunglasses on, hood up, headphones in, and a full hustle until the coast is clear.


Knees to chest, people- no stopping & no making eye contact. No water breaks- just push through.

Stripping us of our cash & our dignity one sugary morsel at a time. Pssssh. Despicable.
Consider yourselves in the same category as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”… Aka “The Dark Lord”.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have boxes to unload.

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Image Corrections

Happy Giraffe: 

This week’s project involved taking the separate image files you see above  (giraffe, serengeti landscape, elephant, sunglasses) and editing them to create one happy, sunglass wearing giraffe (as seen in the final image below).

Beginning with the giraffe file, I used the Spot Healing Brush Tool to remove the stray hairs on the side of the giraffe’s face and removed one of his brown spots (can you tell which one?). To remove the white spots on his tongue, I used the Spot Healing Brush Tool and the Clone Stamp; after I was content with the removal of the white spots, I burned the tongue to bring a darker, more realistic tone back to the area.

Steps to remove the blue background from the giraffe file:

  • Select giraffe using Quick Selection Tool
  • Select > Inverse and Delete to remove the background

Once the blue background was removed, I placed > embedded the serengeti background image, imported the elephant and repeated the quick selection tool/ inverse process with the elephant and positioned him in the background.

I placed > embedded the sunglasses image, resized and rotated to properly fit them to the giraffe’s face.


  • Dodging to lighten the giraffe and make him appear as though he’s standing in the sunlight
  • Levels and brightness/contrast to make colors subtly pop
  • “Burning”and blurring the elephant to create depth of field
  • Adding text layer and special effects to make the typography pop

Happy FriYAY, y’all!


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Selections and Layers: Pizza

One of the most effective ways to learn about the importance of selections and layers in Photoshop is by working with files and objects that, are themselves, comprised of layers: pizza, birthday cake, burgers. You know, all the fun foods. This lesson has been great for my working knowledge of layers, but not so great for cravings.

I digress.

This week’s project involved taking ingredients you would find on a yummy pie, selecting the ingredients using the quick selection tool (my selection tool of choice for this project because, well, it’s fast, easy and accurate), and placing the ingredients on the pizza crust in their own layers to create a realistic image.

Getting started: 

Every great chef knows you first shop for and prepare your ingredients and workspace. So here we go! Below are the original files for this project, in addition to the butcher’s block I chose to use as my background for the final product.

With our pizza crust serving as our blank canvas, I first opened the image in Photoshop, used the Quick Selection Tool to select the crust and copy / pasted the crust into its own layer. After moving the pizza crust to its own transparent layer, I opted to import my background file of choice by selecting File / Place Embedded to open the butcher’s block and place it as the background for our pizza crust.

Sauce, Cheese & Toppings

To create the layer of sauce, I created a new layer and selected a deeper tone of red and a large brush with full opacity. Once I was satisfied with the color and coverage, I selected a lower opacity and a lighter red to bring in a little bit of movement.

To add cheese on top, I created a new layer and selected a brush with texture and two different shades; light yellow and a creamy white to bring dimension to the cheese layer.

Now for the toppings! I imported each topping one file at a time by selecting File / Place Embedded. Once the file was embedded, I used the Quick Selection Tool to select each ingredient and used the command Copy / Paste to place the ingredient to a new layer; select the placement and rotation of each ingredient to bring a realistic element to it. Repeat with each ingredient until you have the final product!


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Selections and Layers

Giving Moana her own flower crown:


File selection and beginning steps:

This week in Digital Imagery in Web Design, we reviewed selections and layers. I chose to pull a file with an array of single flowers and a free stock photo of Moana, the Hawaiian Disney princess, from the world wide web and give her a beautiful floral crown to round out the island feel. To give Moana a beautiful flower crown, I used the quick selection lasso tool to copy / paste each flower into a new layer. I then grouped the multiple flower layers to make the layers more manageable and embedded a file of Moana into her own layer. Using the quick selection tool on Moana, I removed her from her original layer and placed her into a new layer with a transparent background. Moving and resizing the flowers, I placed each one to create her flower crown.

Background Texture and Color Selection: 

The background was created using a custom brush. Creating the custom brush tool out of a floral print was fairly straightforward- I quick selected the flower I wanted to make into a brush, selected Edit > Set Brush Preset and wa- la… you have a custom brush! I created a new layer specifically for my brush (since it’s a destructive tool) and rearranged my layers so that my background was first, brush layer was the next tier, with Moana and the flower group at the top. I arranged my layers in this order because I wanted to use the floral brush to paint the background in a texture/color that symbolized the ocean without covering up Moana and destroying her layer. I used the eye dropper tool to select a blue tone from her necklace for my brush and added in white to add in a little texture.


*This character and stock photo were used strictly as inspiration for a graduate level project.

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