Paper Art Gifts

Due to the number of art and graphic design classes I teach as a lecturer at Mississippi State University, I do not have a lot of time to produce paper art and freelance as I’d like to. When a gift-giving event comes up, I tend to take advantage of that time to practice my craft. I love doing to produce a natural look using plant inclusions– blending up flower petals, grass, and leaves in with the pulp. I also have been experimenting with ways to apply imagery to the paper. (Excuse my photography. I need to do better at documenting my gifted art.)

Laser-cut typography with black paper placed behind
Laser-cut typography with black paper placed behind
Spray-painted typography using self-produced stencils
Spray-painted typography using self-produced stencils, and Sharpie dots
Hand-painted typography
Hand-painted typography // Spanish for “You are Beautiful”
Hand-painted imagery

–Branch MGR Logo

It has been a long time since I have featured something on this blog that I created!

Last summer my high school classmate, Andrew Branch, reached out to me about designing a logo for his songwriting ventures. Andrew is a smart, friendly guy with many talents and interests. While we were in school together, he was known as the guy everyone liked to be around. He also wasn’t shy to bust a move, especially when he was dressed up as our Blue Devil mascot! After high school Andrew studied Portuguese and Systems Engineering at the United States Military Academy in West Point.

For nostalgia’s sake, here we are back in high school during homecoming week. (Look at those youngins’!)

Now he is based in Nashville and is crafting his songwriting skills that span an array of genres on the side. Give his awesome music a listen:

In Andrew’s own words, he describes his primary musical inspirations to be….

The Beatles (genres they crossed in a short time), Stromae (his ability to make tough topics dance-able), Prince (for being an uncontrollable force as a musician and not giving a hot ham what people thought of him) and Otis Redding (for being the king of Soul and an electrifying performer)…..those four are the strongest influence on me, artistically.

With a mix of pop, rock, and even country music influences, Andrew needed a logo that could speak to it all and be true to who he is as a brand. Andrew wanted the logo to say “-branch mgr” (branch manager) as his way to sign off any music he wrote and produced with the concept that he will do what he wants creatively as far as genre is concerned. “Branch” is also his last name.

First, I researched design associated with his musical inspirations, general songwriting symbolism, and music label groups while listening to his songs on Soundcloud. Then I emailed him a series of sketches.


An icon I kept returning back to was a heart. Andrew has a big heart and his music is infused with heart, as well. He was surprised by that choice, and in his email response said…

Strangely, I hadn’t considered hearts…at all. hahaha. But, you may have me pegged better than I do.

Andrew picked his favorite 4 ideas for me to focus on with an explanation of why he liked each one:

• 1, the treble cleft b should just be my personal emoji for all things in life. Haha
• The 27 represents, in my mind, a heart with walls, which is very symbolic to me as that’s how I approach songwriting.
• 23 is significant in that, my moniker is -branch mgr, representing my signature being on something means I’ve approved of it as quality
• 9, I just feel is reflective of life and a pulse…music is my pulse and as displayed there, it comes from the heart.

Then it was time to move on to digital black-and-white mockups.


This was the chosen grey scale logo:

Next was color. Andrew knew he wanted a blue scheme, but I threw in a couple other color variations for good measure.


This was the winner, shown with white and black backgrounds:


I also set the icon apart for social media purposes:



Andrew was a great client to work with! I wish him well with all his songwriting endeavors.

Be sure to also check out Andrew’s website and like his Facebook page!

Intro to Computing // Impossible Reality

Fall 2016: For my students’ first Photoshop project, I wanted them to think outside the box and create an “Impossible Reality”. They had to gather their original photography and make new photos as needed to compose their surreal image. The main artist of inspiration was Eric Johansson. He is an incredible Photoshop artist, but also kind enough to post photos and videos to demonstrate his entire process, which is great for beginners to see. Like Eric, they needed to produce an image that tricks the eye to appear realistic.

Below are some examples that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

by Bryce Sheasby
by Hannah Livingston
by Kaitlyn Upton
by Brittany Riland
by Gerald Wicks
by Olivia Ketchum
by Allie Hanson
by Ann Gray Flowers
by Canaan Griffin
by Ques Nevels

Intro to Computing Art // OMG American Gods

Fall 2016: For students to refine their skills using Adobe Illustrator’s Pen Tool, my students accepted the challenge of the OMG project, as in “Oh my gosh, this is so challenging and time consuming!” But the effort is well worth the outcome.

In the past the theme has been to recreate a movie scene.  This semester to mix things up, the theme was to recreate a god or goddess in modern society. Students researched Greek, Roman, and Aztec mythological figures to learn about their core characteristics, and brainstormed how to apply them in our current culture.

They photographed themselves, friends, or family as their models. Then they used that photo as a template to make a vector illustration in Adobe Illustrator.  Tiny solid shapes make up the entirety of the photo to make a realistic representation.  They spent about three weeks on the project. The process is like creating a digital painting! Below are some examples that were turned in. I also included the outline imagery of a couple illustrations to show the number of shapes that were created to make up the compositions. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results! These illustrations are sure to blow your mind!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

Huitzilopochtli by Moesha Wright
(Outline of shapes)
Apollo by Allie Hanson
(Outline of shapes)
Section1_Kaitlyn-Upton_Poseidon copy
Poseidon by Kaitlyn Upton
Aeolus by April Porter
aphrodite [Recovered].ailast
Aphrodite by Bethany Smith
Dionysus by Gerald Wicks
Karpo by Mary Emily Moore
Hephaestus by Parker Webb
Dionysus by Ryan Guillory
Hekate by Canaan Griffin
Hermes by Josie Goodman
Ninkasi by Meredith Morris
Demeter by Morgan Helton
Aphrodite by Taylor Knight

Intro to Computing Art // Creature Cartoon

Fall 2016: In Intro to Computing, students learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. In the past, their first project was creating an illustration based on an idiom in Illustrator. It was time to retire that project for awhile and try something new that challenged fresh ideas. This semester, I teach 3 sections of Intro to Computing for a total of about 40 students.

I am proud to admit that this new project was something I conceived on my own! For Creature Cartoon, each student pulled words out of separate bags– one for a physical trait, one for an action, and one for an emotion. Then they had to illustrate a unique creature that accompanied all those traits successfully in Illustrator.

After receiving their words, students brainstormed and submitted a series of thumbnails of their ideas, which were then narrowed down to their top three when I visited them in class one-on-one. Those three were turned into well-drawn comps that were drawn with Sharpies and Micron pens, and critiqued by their entire class. The best drawing was scanned into Illustrator, and vector shapes were placed on top. The focus of this Illustrator project was learning the Pen Tool and conducting organized layer management.

For even MORE fun, my students turned their illustrations into animated GIFs when we started the Photoshop segment. See how the GIFs turned out HERE.

Below are some illustrations that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

by Andrea Osby: joyful, shell, smell flower
by Ashley Rude: curious, climb, short legs
by Austin Smith: bashful, antlers, upside down
by Hannah Livingston: bored, talking on the phone, sharp teeth
by Kaitlyn Upton: angry, fly, whiskers
by April Porter: webbed feet, anxious, float
by Bethany Smith: surprised, fly, beak
by Brittany Riland: mad, long arms, swing
by Chris Gates: sing, short legs, giggle
by Gerald Wicks: excited, climbing, long tail
by Laura Leigh Hicks: squishy cheeks, afraid, smell flower
by Mary Emily Moore: big eyes, broken-hearted, eat
by Olivia Ketchum: happy, sharp teeth, read
by Ryan Guillory: horns, exercise, lazy
by Allie Hanson: long arms, calm, unicycle
by Ann Gray Flowers: mane, bored, smell flowers
by Josie Goodman: squishy cheeks, joyful, upside down
by Meredith Morris: tentacles, mellow, float
by Morgan Helton: beak, sleepy, read
by Ques Nevels: grumpy, webbed feet, skate
by Sarah Ferguson: sad, jumping, shell
by Taylor Knight: big ears, bashful, eat

UPDATE: See GIFs created later during the semester here.