settling into my space

It’s been about 5 months since I stepped foot in Savannah, excited, scared, excited. Has it really only been 5 months? Where I am at now versus where I was at then feels pretty extreme.

I’ve met some really cool people here. That aspect of moving is what I look forward to the most. I think about the people I’ve met through my past moves and the majority of them have enhanced my life. I can’t imagine my life without some of the people I’ve met in Ohio, Alabama, Virginia and Hawaii. I now know Georgia will be no different.

Overall, the pace is really nice. Freelancing has kept me busy, but the lack of waterfalls to chase and clear water to swim in year round gives me more time to work on my personal artwork. I had such a hard time keeping myself inside in Hawaii as, I’m sure, you can imagine. But now, I’m taking pottery classes again and I’ve been playing more with watercolor. Most of my playing has turned into gifts for others, however, I do have plans to open a commerce page on this site by March 1.

Here are is some highlights of my recent design and illustration work:

This is one of my favorites. The idea to illustrated watercolor came when the design director of the publication sent the pages over with folios that looked like spilled wine. The style took off and I designed and illustrated all of the editorial content and really enjoyed the whole process.

The HCA medical advertorial was my first freelance project in Savannah. The client wanted a tech cover, but wanted the tagline to be on the front as well. After designing the tech cover, I decided to give another option - a “human” version. I treated the tagline like a headline and illustrated accordingly. They loved it. I was able to work in some illustrating while laying out some of the spreads as well.

Best Meeting Ever_Website.jpg

I made a board game! And you can play it. This is the cover illustration and the inside illustration and layout I did for a national piece for ACBJ. The concept came after reading it four times a “how to” kept popping into my head. So, I tried to make that as fun for the reader to digest as possible. It was fun to write the steps. It was pretty much like writing a giant double edit - throwback to my Virginian-Pilot days.


The wedding invite made me feel good about what I do. The excitement for the final design that made her have even more excitement for a wedding was such a good feeling.

I was so excited to support my friend in her campaign to become alderman. In the end she was just 14 votes shy of pulling ahead of the incumbent. I’m so proud of her for fighting for change and it was a pleasure to work on her “fresh perspective” campaign.

I’ll end with this gem I did most recently. I wouldn’t call it my best design work but it is my funniest. It is an accordion style card I found through Nations Photo Lab and it front and back. The story: The rescue swimmer shop wanted to do an “A Christmas Story” themed Christmas card that they send out to all of the swimmer shops around the country. The guys were going to play different characters and create different scenes, so naturally I wanted to make Donnie the Leg Lamp costume. After gathering materials from Ross, Hobby Lobby, Lowes and a naughty store - I made a master piece. Of course, after seeing how ridiculous my creation was, everyone wanted to be the Leg Lamp. So, everyone was.

Honolulu to Savannah

After four years in Hawaii we returned to the mainland in June. From June 13 to July 1 we did all of these fun things:

  • Camped in Kings Canyon
  • Camped in Yosemite
  • Climbed the cables to the top of Half Dome
  • Drove through the night to somewhere near Area 51 in Nevada
  • Stopped at the "Black Mailbox" where people who hunt aliens camp
  • Drove to Utah
  • Hiked Observation Point in Zion
  • Camped in and explored Arches National Park
  • Stayed with friends in Colorado
  • Stayed with friends in Chicago
  • Picked up a new car in Ohio
  • Stayed with my family for a week
  • Dyed my hair purple

For those who don't know, my husband is in the Coast Guard which is the reason for our move to and from Hawaii and now to Savannah. So what am I doing now? For work, I'm freelancing for a couple of the journals at ACBJ. I'm also doing ad work, campaign work and branding for different clients. I'm open to all design and illustration requests. And, of course, I'm keeping an eye out for a job opportunity that I cannot pass up. 

Otherwise, I'm exploring Savannah, road tripping and renovating our new home. If you are in Savannah and want to grab a coffee or a cocktail, reach out! I don't have many friends here yet*.

*working on it


book of lists

One of the biggest projects I took on in 2017 - or ever - was PBN's yearly Book of Lists. The theme was "A Trip around the Islands." I drew (literally) from my own experiences to create the cover. I had recently visited Moloka‘i, so I painted the light house at Kalaupapa where I learned about its history and experienced a sacredness that brought me to tears. I painted Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island where I stood in awe as I watched the lava meet the ocean. There’s also the Na Pali Coast on Kaua‘i, where I was humbled by the stunning 11-mile-hike to Kalalau, and the Road to Hana on Maui, which is still on my bucket list.

Filling the book are just over 100 individual watercolors that took 45 days to paint. Millions of brush strokes make up the illustrations that ranged from 45 minutes to four hours to paint. And more than once, I dipped my brush into my coffee mug thinking it was my water cup.


There are 12 chapter covers inside that all have a unique front with places highlighted from the chapter.


As the project was coming along, my wonderful coworkers came up with the idea of the coasters. I worked with the printer and Events Coordinator to create the four coasters above that we handed out at the event.

This was my last major project at PBN and the most laborious project I have ever taken on. It was definitely a labor of love and something I am very proud of. I also got way better and way more confident at watercolor. Hundreds of hours doing something over and over will do that to you.


a really happy January

Last year was actually a really good year for me.

  • I didn't go blind.
  • I began planning a wedding.
We found a spot that will hold 30 of our friends and family members for 5 days. I. Can't. Wait.

We found a spot that will hold 30 of our friends and family members for 5 days. I. Can't. Wait.


  • My sister visited! And agreed to be my maid of honor.
We chased waterfalls.

We chased waterfalls.


  • I became Creative Director at PBN.
  • Became one of 4 designers in the company on the National Content Team.
  • I made new friends that I can't imagine my life without. And reconnected with some I had lost.
  • I moved to a house with a mango tree.
The front yard is just as cool. Flowers to come. 

The front yard is just as cool. Flowers to come. 


  • I saw my family at Christmastime.
  • I found out that at some point I paid for a year of Amazon Prime. The happiest accident when you live in Hawaii.
  • I went snorkeling for the FIRST TIME. And managed not to drown.
  • I explored the Big Island and saw lava. 
This was my college senior final in 2010. I was obsessed with geology due to a course I had just taken. It still fascinates me. So, just imagine my excitement when my past and present collided in a fiery spectical. Literally. I was rattling of all of the facts I had gathered for this project on the walk to the lava. 

This was my college senior final in 2010. I was obsessed with geology due to a course I had just taken. It still fascinates me. So, just imagine my excitement when my past and present collided in a fiery spectical. Literally. I was rattling of all of the facts I had gathered for this project on the walk to the lava. 


  • I made a book sculpture.
I love when things light up and twinkle. This one was so much fun with so much color. Plus I bought my first ever backdrop. Maybe this year I'll build a studio :)

I love when things light up and twinkle. This one was so much fun with so much color. Plus I bought my first ever backdrop. Maybe this year I'll build a studio :)


  • I got a tent! Yay camping!
Na Pali hike, here we come!

Na Pali hike, here we come!


The list could keep going. Sure, there were rough patches in the year but the moments I look back on - for me personally - were pretty fantastic. 

This year has started off pretty fantastic, too. On Friday we had our company holiday party. It was so nice to be out of the office laughing and spending time with each other (off deadline). Once everyone got there I was so honored by what happened next. I was announced as Employee of the Year. PBN hasn't given out the award before and I don't have words for how honored I am to be the first.

I work with a very small team and every single person could have been chosen without question. The fact they chose me meant so much. I have so much trust and freedom there. They allowed me to hand paint this year's Book of Lists cover. Making an aloha print  - that wasn't tacky but not too trendy but still Hawaii - was SO HARD. But everyone was supportive and gave great input. That support really makes me love what I do.

Would you wear it?

Would you wear it?

For this year, I'm working on being more in the moment and not stressing about things beyond my control. That means giving social media a rest. Election season about wrecked me. I'm keeping my phone in my pocket more and having more conversations with those around me. I decided that rather than read about all of the ways I can make a difference, I'm actually going to do something. I've started taking the bus to work. Not only am I saving ($200 a month... and that is still with me purchasing a monthly bus pass), I'm also purchasing way less fuel and I have time to read books. And our new house has solar powered hot water - which I LOVE. I am watching much more closely where I put my dollar.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. 


where did October go?

October was one crazy, fast month. I wouldn't be convinced it happened if I didn't have so much to show for it. 

Quick list:

  • Almost went blind in one eye
  • Freelance really picked up
  • Book sculpture for Tampa
  • Illustration and layout for VA Magazine
  • Wedding planning
  • 7 issues of PBN sent to the press in 4 weeks

I'm not complaining about having so much on my plate. Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled with the outcome of pretty much everything - including the fact that I didn't go blind. Yay! I did learn the value of saying "no," though. I had to say "no" to some things, both work related and socially. Even though using the "I could go blind," explanation felt much like "the dog ate my homework." But guess what? It was OK. I have always struggled with saying "no." The truth is, sometimes there literally are not enough hours in the day and the all nighters I once pulled in college are no longer realistic. Taking care of your mental and physical health are more important.

the blind thing

Ok, I'm going to lecture for a minute, then I'll tell you why. 

Designers and anyone who looks at the computer for long periods of time: TAKE CARE OF YOUR EYES. Don't take them for granted.

In about 1 week all of this happened: My eyes got dry. My contact stuck to my eye. When I took out my contact it ripped my cornea (totally didn't feel it, but this is what the doc said caused it). For about 24 hours I thought I was going crazy because I swore there was an eyelash in my eye. I luckily notice a small white dot on my iris. The doctor told me to come in immediately. I was then directed to a specialist who said he would be on call for me over the weekend if anything got worse. I heavy medicated with drops and a temporary stem cell implant lens was put in my eye. 

Everything is better now. I wear glasses much much more. Although thanks to the stem cells the scar on my eye isn't as deep, so I can still wear contacts without bacteria growing under them again. I also learned from the doc to wash my eyelids with warm water and no-tears baby shampoo. This stuff is amazing. It is so gentle and takes off makeup better than any makeup removing wipes I've ever tried. 

Moral of that story is please take care of yourself. Things happen fast.

The addition of sand was both a fail and a success. We went big with it and had to dial it back. One of the really great pieces of advice I learned at the Pilot. 

The addition of sand was both a fail and a success. We went big with it and had to dial it back. One of the really great pieces of advice I learned at the Pilot. 

the book sculpture

The book sculpture for Tampa was one that didn't come super easily. I was getting over the eye thing and felt pretty creatively zapped. But with a few sketches and some good feedback from Tampa I pushed forward. I went with my first instinct. I wanted a tent with lights. To me that represented "festival," and the illustration was being used for their "Festival of Reading" cover. As the idea evolved I threw in a book signing and Florida-based animals reading books. I really couldn't be more happy with it. Giant thanks, once again, to Krystle Marcellus for being a truly terrific photographer and art direction buddy. And also not getting upset that I got sand all over her living room. 

PBN life

My daily job as creative director at PBN has been challenging lately but good. A job should always be challenging, right? I think that is what keeps us on our toes and makes us continually better. Whether it is better work, better time management or learning something completely new. I'm really honored to have recently been placed on ACBJ's national content team. I'll be teaming up with some amazingly talented designers from three other journals to create packages all 40+ journals can use. 

wedding planning

I don't know if other creatives feel this way, but I feel a lot of pressure to make it awesomely creative. I know, I know. That is not what it is about. I am very aware of that. But I do feel the pressure to be the DIY bride. The only thing that keeps me calm in this is knowing that no matter what my partner/ favorite person will be by my side.

If you made it through this post, thanks for reading.

As always, 






q&a with Arizona State

A few weeks ago I Skyped into an Arizona State classroom to talk about editorial illustration. So often it's just go go go, I don't really stop to think about what all goes into a page. It's really nice to be reminded of it all. I have tailored the answers around the citizenship page below. Here are a few of the questions and answers:

What is your process for coming up with a concept? I read the story FIRST. Sometimes I read it more than once. Then I start thinking of a headline. I jot down ket words like "citizenship, easier, clear path, open road ( helps expand these words, too)." Sometimes I google the words and look at the images to spark an idea on how to make the topic visual. Once I have the words I start with the illustration. Many times these are created together. I knew I could make "Doors could open on path to citizenship" visual. You've got doors, paths, flags. I start sketching the whole page. A visual without a good headline won't work. It won't make sense. The ultimate goal is to make the topic quick and easy to understand to the reader. 

Who do you work with throughout the creative process? My design director is there from the start to bounce ideas off of. Usually we both read the story then toss out headline ideas. Then come the visual ideas. About an hour and fifteen minutes into my shift we have a group meeting behind my chair that everyone is invited to. I talk about the stories on the page and we discuss if it works or not and give suggestions on the page.  This terrified me when I began here. Everyone is standing behind you and you are trying to remember the stories and if it doesn't work everyone knows. It's something you created. It's hard to let it go sometimes. The thing about it is these people become a second family. I wouldn't call these meetings fun, but they are laid back and can be. And it's super cool to think that everyone is working together to make the best possible page. Everyone cares that much about what they do. Nothing is personal. We are a team. It's a really great thing to be a part of.

How do you choose what method of execution is right for your concept? It depends on time. How much time do you have and what style can I use in that amount of time to give me the best execution? You can have an amazing illustration idea but if you can't get it done by deadline it turns into a horribly stressful idea. I went down to the wire with the page above. And it was one of my first concepts. I used textures to fill each shape. I was really happy with the way it turned out and the fact that everything from illustration idea to layout to headline was mine. I thought it was a really important story as well and I think I did it justice.

How do you define the success of the page? Does it tell the reader what they need to know? It is clear? Does everything on the page have a reason to be there? Does it have impact and is it visual? If the answers are all "yes," then it's a success. A personal success is when I try a style out of my comfort zone and nail it on deadline. The page above didn't have a new style but it felt like a personal accomplishment to mesh the headline and illustration together and for it to hold the entire top of the page.

Some advice on getting out into the workforce? I have always been job oriented over place oriented. My first job was in Alabama. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I would be working with one of the design greats. I made friends there that I will have for a lifetime. I found things like caving that were unique to the region. I found a love for microbrews. I could go on... but I'll spare you. The people and your openness to embrace the place make it. I miss Huntsville, Alabama a lot and wouldn't take back those experiences to live in any other place. So go explore!

I had a great time talking to the students. They asked some really great questions, too... but I can't remember them. I should have written this post right after. They did ask me to share some pages that didn't work. I have plenty. I sent them a few, but those will not be posted here. Sorry. I just can't. If you have any questions feel free to leave them below.

Thanks, Adrienne Hapanowicz for asking me to speak with the class! 

 - brb

Declaimer: The answers here are not verbatim of what I said to the class but the basic gist is the same.



and I'm back.

It's been a couple weeks since I launched my new site and it has been kind of non-stop. My roommate/the sports intern I was housing moved out as his internship came to an end. The day he moved out a best friend visited for a week, which was speckled by visits from my boyfriend and his dog. This is the first moment I have had completely to myself since then. I love company, but alone time is like hitting the refresh button. I can really focus on my to-do list which is never as long written out as it seems in my head – endless.

The time lets me get back to being creative. I am super excited to be creating another book sculpture. I'll be creating a scene from the trilogy-made-movie Divergent. It will be published in The Pilot on March 22nd. I am also super excited to be skyping in with Arizona State University to talk about editorial illustration on the 18th. 

Ok, I have to get ready for work. Stay tuned to see my book sculpture in progress and a Q & A from my Skype session with Arizona and other thoughts as they come. - brb