Busy as a Bee

Busy as a Bee

I posted a “Busy Bee” lettering graphic on Instagram awhile ago, and I had really wanted to write and publish this blog post at that time but I didn’t plan ahead quite enough. But here I am! The inspiration for this Design for Fun project began when I ordered the most adorable drinking glass from Anthropologie. I just loved the imperfect, artsy look of the glass and the tiny little bees are so cute!

Bee Drinking Glass
Lola Juice Glass

The glass also perfectly coincided with my current professional status. You see, I’ve been doing this thing every year for the last, oh, 10 years or so where I enthusiastically say “Yes” to bunch of projects that I really want to do. I plan them out, stagger the deadlines, and inevitably they all end up happening at the exact same time. And this year is no different! Except that it is different, because this year I’m in charge and I want each and every client served by Kassel Creative to get the absolute best service in a timely manner. When friends and family would ask how things were going my most honest response was, “Busy, but fine, busy!” I should also say that I genuinely enjoy each project and client I’m working alongside.

Bee Bee Graphics

Presenting: Busy, but fine, but busy. I created these digital illustrations with lettering created by yours truly.

I’m trying to be much more aware of how I talk about my schedule, workload, etc. Any tips for limiting your commmitments or setting aside time to consider new projects before signing on?

It’s OK to Design for Fun

It’s OK to Design for Fun

Happy Friday! This is not a lengthy deep or personal post but I’m try to put more effort into my website and blog. The truth is like genuinely like designing and writing so I’m using my season of change to implement new creative habits. Before April and May of this year I had not designed or photographed or written anything for the pure joy of designing in at least a year. A YEAR. OF NOT DOING THE THING I LOVE TO DO. I mean, the glorious part of a J-O-B in the creative field means using one’s “creativity” each day in the office for clients. But after months and years of strictly making stuff for other people, you get burnt out or uninspired or both. I felt like I was withholding the very thing I like to do, from myself, because I should only spend my time on paid work. Getting paid to do what you do is, well, important and probably (definitely) the ideal scenario. There’s value in design; it’s important for communicating things. There are many technical aspects that can be most efficiently understood and completed by a professional. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FUN.

2 Hours of FUN

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a perfectionist in almost every area of my life. But the books I enjoy reading, the art I enjoy looking at, and the people I enjoy spending time with are not perfect. And it’s OK. We’re all better for it. So I’m getting back to the basics by blocking off 2 hours of “Design for Fun” time to my calendar each week. I can make whatever I want for those two hours and the result can be simple, complex, dumb, ugly, or whatever else. The graphics below are the result of a couple hours of Design for Fun time a few weeks ago. I’m also experimenting with finalizing my own brand color palette so that’s how I ended up with those colors.

It's OK rosy graphic | Katie Kassel Graphic Designer

It's OK stoplight graphic | Katie Kassel Graphic Designer

It's OK blush graphic | Katie Kassel Graphic Designer

Things I am OK with this week:

  • I made progress on but am not done with my UX mobile app design.
  • I worked out almost every day this week.
  • There are emails from recruiters and miscellaneous other contacts I did not follow up with.
  • I have not done my business accounting for May yet.
  • I finished a 20 page document layout that was a day late but my client was flexible and excited about the result.
  • I ordered, like, 12 dresses and shoes for upcoming events and I didn’t really like how any of them fit or looked.

If you didn’t get everything on your list done this week, it’s OK. You’re OK. I’m OK. OK then! Thanks for reading.

Step-by-Step Hand Lettered Graphic

Step-by-Step Hand Lettered Graphic

Step-by-Step Hand Lettered Graphic

About the Project

During the day I am almost always styling WordPress Websites or creating branded graphics for social media for clients, but I like to design outside of the ole 9:00-5:00, too! I attend The Water’s Edge church in West Omaha and Pastor Craig and the staff are always open minded when it comes to small church campaigns that need a little flair. The Water’s Edge (WE) is in the final stages of a completing our first ever physical church facility; exciting times for past, present, and future members! This building (WE Build… get it? OK.) has been years in the making and there’s not a single milestone we will not celebrate. In the spring of 2017, I was tasked with graphics for the Groundbreaking Event. This was one of the those projects that just came to me. The only item I got really lucky on the was the yellow construction helmet.

If you’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, this project is a prime example of “big magic” for me. The general premise is that inspiration passes through individuals, and when a person embraces inspiration and takes action the magic just happens. This project took me around 8 hours to complete, including editing and creating custom social media graphics. I am the over-researcher of over-researchers so to think of and execute a project in an afternoon is, well, magic for me.

Here are the steps I took to create a hand lettered graphic.

WE Build Dirt Lettering Graphic

Step 1: Visualize the Finished Graphic

I knew the goal of this project was to create graphics to promote an event and I would have to find ways to use the same static images at different sizes and dimensions. What works well as a long skinny rectangle does not fit comfortably into a square. I start pretty much every project with a pencil and paper so I sketched out “WE Build” on a plain sheet of paper to figure out the angle and shapes I wanted. I also had to consider the sizes of potential props and how they might fit into the overall composition.

tools, dirt, and poster board supplies to create lettering project

Step 2: Gather Supplies

The only items I bought for this project were a large white foam board and a yellow foam construction hat from my Local Craft Store. (Ok, it was Hobby Lobby, not trying to be political here). As I mentioned above, that little construction helmet was my only struggle/lucky find. All other supplies were found in my own garage. These supplies-turned-photoshoot-props included dirt from a landscaping project, two small shovels, a tape measure, work gloves, a hammer, a level, and pliers. To set my extremely glamorous stage, I used an old white bed sheet, a ladder, and my good camera to take photos.

blank poster board before lettering project

Step 3: Control the Environment

I wanted to use real dirt and props, no stock photography, so I knew I needed to be able to control my set up. I decided to use my garage for a few reasons. First, using the garage would give me plenty of room to spread out and climb up and down a ladder. Second, it’s easy to clean or sweep up any messes. Third, I wanted natural light. Luckily our garage opens to the West so I got lots of natural light without the light being too harsh. I’m all about that golden hour evening light. Being surrounded by 3 walls kept the dirt and other supplies from being blown around by wind or strong breezes (Midwest living, am I right?).

I would also like to add that this type of project is perfect for freaking out your neighbors. Bonus points if they already think you’re weird!

close up of letters spelled and drawn with dirt

Step 4: Start Spelling Already

Did I mention I used dirt for the lettering? I started by drawing two parallel sloping lines so that all my letters would be about the same height. Then I used my precious, keyboard-typing, non-manual labor hands to grab handfuls of dirt and start roughly drawing each letter. It’s super fun and low stress to use a material with the consistency of sand for letterforms because you just sweep away any part you want to reshape or get rid of.

View from ladder looking down at props and lettering

Step 5: Place Your Props

The internet and my heart would like to refer to this next step as “styling” the props. I gathered my collection o’ tools and started lying them around the edges of the letters. And then I repeated these steps approximately 75 times: arrange props, crawl up ladder, hang off ladder, take photo, crawl down ladder, rearrange props.

Final hand lettered graphic to be used in social media efforts

Step 6: Clean Up Crew

Next was time to clean up the images in Photoshop. Oh, did you think I was talking about the garage? I did that, too, in fact it only took me 7 months to bring the poster board back up to my office! Being married to a designer is thrilling – you don’t know what kind of supplies you’ll find lying around or how long they’ll be there! I uploaded my favorite/best shots and got to work brightening up colors, tracing and masking props and letters so that I could put them on a clean white background and move all of the pieces around for the various sizes. This step also includes adding typography and hoping people like it. “Oh, you actually wrote that?!” You better believe it. And it was FUN.

Have you ever had projects that come to fruition so easily, you just blink and they happen? Do you also leave miscellaneous projects supplies lying around for longer than you should? If you do, we would make terrible roommates!

Blizzard Casual – Sneaker Trend

Blizzard Casual – Sneaker Trend

My favorite look from last winter was the dominance of super cool sneakers. I cannot tell you enough how happy it makes me when A) practical and comfortable things are fashionable and B) when said practical and comfortable fashion lasts for more than one season. It took me no time to hop on the cool tennies trend.

The Recipe

As my Pinterest boards show, I am a sucker for tomboy chic and all things casual and these are some of my favorite inspiration images for mastering, what I’m calling “Blizzard Casual.” By my definition, Blizzard Casual involves:

  • a warm coat
  • oversized scarf
  • sunglasses and/or cute beanie
  • sneakers

I live in Nebraska and grew up in the Midwest. I’m no stranger to the cold and snow of winter. From October to April, my footwear rotation consists of ankle boots, snow boots, tall boots, riding boots… are you catching my drift? And now, COOL TENNIS SHOES. There are some days when bearing your ankles is just not smart, for example 6 inches of snow, wind, and 20 degree temperatures (also known as last Tuesday). But I can totally justify the bundled-up-sneaker look on pretty much any other day.

My Roundup

Here is my roundup of my favorite Blizzard Casual looks from around the web.









Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

On My Shopping List

I have a bright blue pair of Brooks Heritage Vanguard sneakers and a black and white pair of New Balance 420’s but I’m looking to expand my collection of practical (therefore justifiable) tennies. The Brooks pair has held up really well despite a couple years of errand-running, winter wear, and a trip through Europe. The New Balance pair is super flat and lightweight, but slightly less cushioned than the Brooks pair and thus a smidge less comfortable. I’m considering a different pair of New Balance or going with Nike for a change. Got any favorite sneakers that look amazing and are comfortable, too? I’m always for suggestions!

Rejected Mood Board

Rejected Mood Board

It’s been awhile! I’ve had several irons in the fire, and I’m trying to work on some larger posts so, in the meantime, here’s a rejected mood board for a freelance/pro bono campaign I worked on. Obviously, the campaign and organization had very strong ties to water. While I wanted to keep the ocean blues and wave-like, brushed feeling of the painted text, I really wanted to incorporate textures within this fairly neutral color palette. I did not take the images or create the brushed logotype, they were found and used for inspiration. Hope you had a great weekend!

water-based campaign mood board

Lartin Wedding Mood Board

Lartin Wedding Mood Board

I just needed a small dose of “pretty” in my day today or a break from thinking or both so here we go. It may seem cheesy or unnecessary but I like to create a mood board when I’m brainstorming for new projects and coming up with concepts for how something will look and feel. (Also, I love Pinterest, which only fuels my mood board fire). I think putting some images together helps to get the ideas flowing and makes it easier to nail down details that are just floating around in my head. Mood boards also serve as a great reference when you’re 3/4 of the way through a project, feeling stuck or uninspired. You can look back and say “Oh yeah, that’s what I was shooting for!”

I created this board for wedding invitations I designed during the winter months. The colors alone made me excited… Sunshine?! Green things growing?! Sign me up. The bride and groom got married in Texas in March. The images in this post are curated and collected from around the web, not my own, and used for inspiration. I have linked to the sources I could find at the bottom of the post.

Details From the Bride

Emerald green, sunshine yellow, outdoors, Texas, spring, laid back

My Initial Concepts

Nature, natural, outdoors, flourish, green, flowers, garden party, white, sunset, bright, grain, texture, relaxed

Wedding Mood Board

Mood board for Wedding Invitation Inspiration

stripes / tent / striped awning / clothespins

You can see what became of these inspiration pieces when I share the final, completed wedding invitation set and the elements that made them unique to the

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