July 8, 2014

Hyphens and Dashes – Do YOU Use Them Properly?

Whether you're the writer or the designer, getting a document draft or design proof back that's covered in red squiggles and lines can be extremely frustrating. A lot of grammatical and stylistic tweaks come too late in the process, and the correct usage of hyphens and dashes is certainly be one of them. I put together this handy cheat sheet to help save some of that frustration!

Are there other little symbols and devices like this that trip you up in your design or writing process? Let's hear about them!


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January 28, 2014

DIY: free valentine printable - you're a star!


Cute valentines don't have to be a thing of our grade-school pasts! I find it's a great way to show a little bit of appreciation to coworkers and friends - not to mention an excuse to buy adorable candy. I started this tradition with my rock candy treat bags last year, and here's my new design just in time for Valentine's Day.

I wanted to incorporate a more permanent element to the gift as well (even after the last tasty star has vanished), so I added a astronomy related quote on the opposite side from Carl Sagan to hang up.

These are super easy and fun to make! You'll need:

  • 4.75" x 3.5" clear treat bags (easy to find at your local craft store)
  • Star-themed candy (I got mine from Candy Nation here)
    Be warned - these sweet-tart candies are delicious. You may need to account for some surplus for snacking while you craft! 
  • Cardstock or heavyweight printer paper
  • Color printer
  • Scissors or X-acto knife
  • Stapler

  1. Download the printable here! 
    (the colors may look different in your browser, but it will look the same as the design pictured once downloaded.)
  2. Print the pdf double-sided onto your card stock, and trim out each label square. Fold down the middle evenly.
  3. Fill your treat bag with a helping of candy, and fold the top of the bag over to ensure no stars will escape. 
  4. Place your label around the folded edge of your treat bag, and staple towards the bottom edge.
  5. BAM - You have a fun valentine to give the stellar people in your life!

Enjoy!  Brigette

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September 4, 2013

designer productivity - 5 tools for getting things done


I won't hesitate to admit it, I am a productivity junky. GTD (Getting Things Done) blogs, life hacks, time-management tips: I can't get enough of them in my quest to do as much as humanly possible with each and every day. 

A recurring theme in productivity advice is the idea of creating a "catch-all" for tasks and responsibilities - a central location that makes it easy to keep track of everything you need and hope to accomplish. It's important to keep in mind, your tools are only as good as your discipline in utilizing them; it's much less effective to use various methods or to keep track of some tasks mentally while externalizing others. 

For me, this tactic of transcribing every task - from replacing a lightbulb to accomplishing a life goal - has been instrumental in suppressing the scatterbrained artist in me and her penchant for perpetually forgetting to buy more coffee creamer. I've used various methods over the years that have served me well, from ball-point pen on found construction paper to iPhone apps bought at the price of a small pizza. Here are my top 5 favorite tools I've found in my search for the perfect way to get things done:

Workflowy is a simple, free, in-browser list that doesn't distract with any superfluous graphics, animations or bells and whistles. Hierarchy is an important factor in to-do lists, so the cascading lists and bullets make it easy to organize tasks into categories. You have the ability to sign in on any computer and access your list from anywhere, including a mobile browser. (And most importantly, you still have the satisfaction of crossing things off with a strikethrough when they're completed.)

4. 2 Do

image courtesy of 2DoApp.com

2 Do has no shortage of features – which in my opinion makes it worth the $9.99 it'll set you back in the app store (believe it or not). In contrast to Workflowy, 2 Do has everything and the kitchen sink - great textures and graphics, various tabs for different lists, the ability to set alarms, as well as setting recurring tasks. You can add notes, record audio, attach phone numbers to call, or even set it up to alert you when you're geographically close to a task. Imagine having a reminder alarm go off near the pharmacy if you have to pick up a prescription!

At one point I wanted to get back to basics, and found that setting up columned lists in a Google Doc for the bigger picture things (like plans for the year, or for a specific event/project) seemed to be more conducive to staying on top of all my tasks. While it's no longer my way of capturing day-to-day responsibilities, I still like to keep longer term lists this way - such as christmas gift ideas or New Years resolutions.

2. Trello

Trello is my current weapon of choice when it comes to my to-do lists. It's intended to be more of a collaborative project management system, but I've found it to be a useful productivity tool for one as well. You can create a number of different lists that are displayed on a single page or board, so all projects and errands are visible at the same time. You can also add comments, links, images and checklists that show the percentage completed as you check things off. It's free, and both an in-browser and an iPhone app, so it's easily accessible whenever inspiration strikes you.

Google Calendar is more central to my ability to function than I probably should admit. I use it to organize every part of my life - planning my workout schedule, organizing daily tasks and reminders, carving out time for working on design projects, keeping track of social events - if I'm spending time doing it, it's in my calendar. Google Calendar's simplicity makes it one of the best tools out there, and still has the important features of different color-coded calendars, creating recurring events (like grocery shopping every 2 weeks), and a checklist to add time sensitive tasks to specific days. If you're an iPhone user, I've found that Calendars + is the best app to use your calendar with - it's the most simple and visually close to Google's calendar that I've tested.

I am constantly looking for more ways to fit more productivity into my life - do you have any favorite apps, methods or websites? Share them in the comments!

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August 19, 2013

new site & shop | know your hotkeys posters

I'd been messing around with the idea of these Know Your Hotkeys posters for a long time - I'm excited to finally put them out into the world!

Keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys are a considerable timesaver in the design process, and there are plenty of lesser known ones to add to your arsenal. Inspired by World War II PSA posters, my goal was to make these informational and helpful - but also visually interesting enough to display in a workspace.  

They are available to preorder on my site now!

And of course, in the process of setting up an online shop for the posters, I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to give my website a refresh . . . and my blog template a matching overhaul. Check out my whole site here!

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