Henna-Inspired Painted Rocks, CONTINUED!

I am happy to announce that my art stones have taken off at my husband’s store. I am very proud of them and so ecstatic that my art is being appreciated. They are going home with customers all over the world and I couldn’t be happier to be sharing my talents with the wonderful people who come in and admire them.

These are several new ones that I put in the shop just today. While drawing on these rocks I feel calm and focused. I enjoy the attention to detail that is required for the intricate designs, and find myself thinking of new designs as I lay in bed at night. I think that may mean I have a problem! But really, is there anything better than being addicted to your craft?

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I also have two more rocks that need a final top coat to protect the design and they will be headed to the shop as well. I am very excited about these two new designs! I will post photos as soon as they’re finished.

2015 Midnight Sun Festival Logo Contest

Because I have immersed myself in art for the last few weeks I have realized that I have a lot of content that I could use for my blog. And as I was looking through my photos yesterday to add to my new WordPress app media I found my design entry from this year’s Midnight Sun Festival n Fairbanks, Alaska and thought it would be a good way to start.

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This entry, as they all usually are, was a labor of love. There was a lot of hand drawing involved, a lot of seeking opinions on colors and design parts, and with a dash of soul searching thrown in. I came up with a monochromatic design that I fell in love with. Although I am disappointed that it wasn’t chosen as the winner, for one thing I think the winning design was amazing. I love the retro look of it, & I adored the color scheme. The entries this year were all top notch. And second, I am still very proud of my design and I keep it in my phone as proof, for me and for when I show others, that I love what I do and that art is current and rewarding, no matter the accolades received.

Henna-Inspired Painted Rocks

I have discovered a new hobby, one that I have until this point have only been showing on my personal and business Facebook pages. I have had a fascination with painted rocks and a few years now, ever since I discovered them on Pinterest and created a board devoted entirely to this art form. I decided to try it myself and while the resulting rock was decent as you can see at left, I wasn’t happy with the actual painting. To me it was too sloppy, and it wasn’t up to the expectations that I had had in my mind for the project.

20141222_231655-1I  moved on to using my Prismacolor art pens, which I thought were working out great (note the rocks at right – I was ecstatic!) I knew they weren’t drying very fast but I had no idea using these pens on latex paint would mean it would take days, even WEEKS to dry. Don’t get me wrong, I adored using the 005 micron pen and the wonderfully detailed designs I was able to create, but waiting weeks for one rock to dry just wasn’t an option.

I went to our local JoAnn’s (with coupons in hand!!) and bought three different kinds of pens. After experimenting with an “Ultra Fine Point” Sharpie which dried immediately, I decided to try to find something similar. I ended up buying a 2-pack of Sharpie pens (the line was too thick), a Faber-Castell “Pitt Artist Pen” in Extra Superfine (it turned out gray on the latex paint, not black), and a LePen Permanent art pen with alcohol-based ink (ding ding ding – we have a winner!)

20141228_210508-1The LePen art pen dries almost immediately and the ink shows up black on the latex paint. If I linger in one spot too long the ink appears to liquify the white latex paint so I try not to do that.

This whole process of finding pens and paint that will blend well together and not mess each other up has made me really curious as to the what and why of these interactions. Running off on a tangent for just a moment: I bought a clear oil-based satin finish and it instantly smears the LePen ink. In-stant-ly. The force of the spray from the can smudges the ink. $8 down the drain unless I can find something else to use it on!

My only complaint about the LePen Permanent art pen is that I can’t achieve the ultra thin lines of the 005 micron art pen. Although I am happy with the designs I can create (note the rock above with said pen in the picture), I miss the fine detail of the micron.

If you are reading this and you know of a brand of micron pens that use alcohol based ink, please mention in in the comments! This ink seems to be what I need in order to color successfully on latex paint.

20141228_122318-1Since seeing me drawing on these rocks, my 7-year-old daughter has started to explore similar designs. I get my inspiration from the Henna tattoos I used to do on myself in high school and from examples I have been able to find on the internet. My daughter has been creating similar symmetrical patterns on paper, so there might be a blog post in the future featuring her own rocks!

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Today’s Mental Struggle = Tomorrow’s Mental Gain

Has this ever happened to you?

You get an idea, something that in some point in the near or far future you would like to see come to fruition. Whether it be by your hand or someone else’s, it is a goal that you can imagine in your mind and you can see it being a success.

Now, how do you get it there? How do you bring it from intangible thought bouncing around the pinball machine of your mind to full-blown creative vision fleshed out and flourishing?

Sometimes I feel like I have hit a snag in a project that runs parallel to my design business. This snag comes from the sheer magnitude of a task that I have set out for myself as a goal, and I find myself nearly rendered incompetent and motionless whenever I sit down to think about it. Seriously, I think, “Now’s the time to finally get down to business and… dust the whole apartment.” At night before I go to bed I feel like a task-oriented mega-businesswoman who can handle anything she happens to throw at herself. And in the morning I am a child who doesn’t know how to spell “the.”

So why is this task so monumental, so huge, humongous, gi-normous? It boils down to being a project of a hundred smaller tasks all linked together in such a way that to do one of them wrong could mean financial and legal ramifications my family is not ready to deal with. It involves research, trial and error, mountains of my time and energy, and the necessary neglect of dust bunnies. It involves computer time, both on and offline, sketchbook time, brainstorming time, brain-calm-seas time (that needs to be a word—get with the program, Webster)… And so much of me that I sometimes wonder if the person I am today will survive by the time when I will eventually be able to put my pen down and say, “It is done. Let no man put asunder what my blood, sweat and tears has created.”

Of course, all this drama could just be my mind putting weight in areas of this project that really mean no more than sitting with a library research book and a hot cup of tea after the kids go to bed. Or sitting at the computer with a hot cup of coffee while the little one naps and the older ones are away at school.

Or having a quiet date night with my husband while brainstorming on napkins and holding hands by candlelight.

Life is tough. So are minds. Minds being not “tough” as in “Boy, she’s a strong woman,” but more like, “Your mind is turning this project into a dissertation when it’s really only a high school level essay.” But isn’t that was life is all about? We choose our battles (and I think I have picked a doozy), and our battles are only as hard as we make them out to be? I certainly like the idea of sipping a cup of sweet tea with cream while reading a book on my squishy couch rather than piling my hair on top of my head, wearing vinyl gloves, and scrubbing the baseboards in my bathroom.

That’s not to say that changing my way of thinking instantly turns this task into a high school level essay, but it certainly puts things into perspective. One step at a time, right? I could always look at it this way—I had to brush my hair, put it on top of my head in a sloppy bun, pull on the gloves, fill the bucket with soap and hot water, make sure I had the right sponge… The big task separated out into much smaller tasks (that may all be connected but are each as equally important as the one before it) suddenly makes it more manageable. More acquirable. More, “Hey, I can do this.”

So this task? It involves trademarks, legal fees, income and profits, and yes – lots of my time. I might be successful, I might not, but I know by the time it’s over I will have learned an insane amount of stuff that will make the time I spent on the project invaluable.

And perhaps a few months down the road it will mean a new blog post featuring the fruits of my labors and a rundown of the steps I accomplished in order to complete it. After all, a task such as this one is a task worth teaching someone else how to do as well.

Downtown Fairbanks – Midnight Sun Festival Design

So I am finally getting around the writing this blog post that I promised a couple weeks ago. That’s what a flu-like illness will do to a person! After recovering from the horrible symptoms and waiting for my heart activity to come back to normal (yep, it was that bad), I was then free to… Catch up on school work! No blog posts for yet a while after recovering. I was behind in school work and now that I am caught up with that I feel it’s a good time to finally write about my experiences with designing the Midnight Sun Festival t-shirt and logo design.

Final Copy T-Shirt Colors

The instructions were to design a logo and then incorporate the logo into a t-shirt design, so that every entry consisted of two files. For some reason I decided to attempt to do the whole thing in Adobe Illustrator, which I have been trying to learn for the last couple of years in half-hearted attempts at designing various designs. This time I challenged myself to do the entire thing in Illustrator.

Now on a side note, I probably could have done this exact design in just a few hours using Adobe Photoshop, since I have been working with that program for 10+ years. But Illustrator has always struck me as an integral part of graphic design knowledge, thus my desire to use it and only it in designing the Midnight Sun Festival t-shirt and logo.

My very first problem was getting the swoop in the text “Midnight Sun.” I have to admit, I created the text in Photoshop but then traced over it with the pen tool in Illustrator. I just couldn’t figure out how to do that in Illustrator without sneaking in a little Photoshop into the process. This, however, gave me a great deal of practice with the pen tool, which I am able to use but am not proficient with.

And since I am a font-lover I settled on a condensed version of Big Caslon for this text. It fit my original idea for the text, which was to have accompanying accent lines just outside the lower and right hand surfaces of the text (which I ended up not using in favor of the thick drop-shadow type behind the main text).

I also used the pen tool to draw the “The” letters after sketching those out in my sketchbook. I decided to make “The” and “Midnight Sun” match so the next step was figuring out how to use swatches, what it really meant to lock a layer so I couldn’t alter it when I was manipulating other pieces of the design, and how to create outlines out of strokes so I could manipulate by hand the thicknesses on various parts of the strokes. This process probably took me two or three days alone, since at this point I was still very new to these new aspects of Illustrator (and because as a mother of three little ones it is darn near impossible to sit at the computer for hours at a time uninterrupted while working on a design!).

During this time I looked up so many different Illustrator tutorials I should have kept a list. Most of my new Illustrator knowledge came from these tutorials and not from me fiddling around with the controls. I think this was how I learned about locking the layers!

And the funny thing is, many of the things I learned were from the narrators of these video tutorials were actions they were doing from second-nature, such as locking layers, rather than them actually instructing me to do what the topic of the tutorial actually was.  If that makes sense…

I altered a font to come up with the “Festival” and used my three selected colors to color it the way I did. And the font I used for the “2014” and “Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska” was Cheboygan, a font I found on www.dafont.com. It took a while to figure out where to place the “2014” but I managed to squeeze it in. My husband suggested I make it really big underneath the “Festival, Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska” but I declined. It made the “2014” appear like the focus of the design rather than the rest of the text.

The final part of the design was the sun, which took an additional two days to make in Illustrator and to color just the way I wanted it. During this time I found the amazing rotate tool, which enabled me to make a circular grid to perfectly line up the sunbeams. I will be utilizing this trick in the future, for sure!

After all of this week-long drama, the logo took me a day to design out of elements from the t-shirt design. I really liked what I came up with for the logo but in hindsight I probably should have incorporated more hand-drawn elements, and maybe more elements of downtown Fairbanks.

MSF Design Logo Haley Holland

I now have a whole year to tweak this design and to come up with new ones. You will see me in next year’s contest! And look for my designs in any other local contests that might pop up. I know some designers may feel it is beneath them to enter local contests but I find these are excellent opportunities to flex my skills, learn new ones, and to earn a little name recognition in the local art community.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Share Your Business Facebook Posts On Your Personal Page

I occasionally create simple tutorials on computer issues that friends and family come to me with, since showing them how to do certain things helps them more than trying to explain it over the phone. I also like making these tutorials because often I end up learning something new. For instance, sometimes I am asked how to do something that I don’t know how to do. Doing the proper research and creating a tutorial helps me learn how to do it as well as helping others learn. It’s a win-win!

This first tutorial I will be explaining is the method I have found for sharing your Facebook business page posts on your personal Facebook page. This is actually an issue I ran into and while doing the research for how to accomplish it, a family member expressed interest. Hence the tutorial!

The first step is, while logged into your personal Facebook page, use the search bar at the top to search for your business Facebook page. In this image you can see I am logged in as Haley Holland and I am searching for my business page, Holland Design:

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Click on your business name:

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And find the post you would like to share. In this image I have found the post where I shared my blog post “My Journey Into Graphic Design”:

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When you click on “share” at the bottom of the Facebook page, this window pops up. See where it says “On a Page you manage”?

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Click on “On a Page you manage” and change it to “On your own timeline,” then click “Share link”:

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And TA-DA! “Haley Smith Holland via Holland Design.”

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I know this may not be the only method for how to do this so please, if you have your own method you would like to share go right ahead! You can tell us or add a link to it in the comments below. Thanks for reading!