Big Life Update!

This blog post is overdue! Since the end of May, I am no longer teaching as a lecturer at Mississippi State University. I now work as a Product Development & Design Manager at NBG Home– Nielson Bainbridge Group– in Southaven, MS (20 minutes from Memphis, TN). NBG Home represents a family of home decor companies, and is a global designer and manufacturer of home decor products. There are several branches around the world, spanning lighting, furniture, wall art, fabric, decor accessories, and frames. My branch in Southaven focuses primarily on lamps and furniture! This opportunity will broaden my horizons in art, business, and travel.

So far I have received projects to design lamps for Target, Home Goods, Lowe’s, HomeSense, Marmaxx, and Walmart. It is so much fun! I had an interest in product design throughout my graphic design schooling and absolutely loved 3D assignments, whether it was a sculpture or a creative packaging design project, but never thought I would one day be sending my lighting visions to China and be put into production to share with the world. It is so cool to take a stroll with coworkers through the local Target, Home Goods, and Hobby Lobby, and pointing out all the items on display for sale that my coworkers designed. It will probably be several months before my products will be on shelves, but I will totally be that girl taking selfies with my lamps and furniture in stores once they’re out, haha!

How does this job work? We research future trends in home decor and fashion, and our “customers” (aka store brands like Target) send us project sheets with generalized imagery and explanations of what they’re looking for in style and function. We also must work to meet their price points, as well. If the lamp is meant to sell for $12, it’s not going to look like it should cost $40 in style and materials! I do online research for inspiration, sketch, Photoshop together, and list fabric and finish swatch codes, Pantone colors, and dimensions. I construct my ideas in PowerPoint to present to the customer or send straight to China to receive quotes for production in different factories. I make my choice of factory in accordance to quotes and quality, they get to work, and I receive photo samples to approve of their progress.

I also get to help switch out the items in the large NBG showroom in our building prior to particular customers’ arrival for meetings in choosing products to sell in their stores. Our warehouse is FULL of home decor items, and is a dream to walk through to see sooooooo many lamps and shades in every color, shape, and material you can think of. It is also a perk that I got to choose which items I wanted to put in my office for decoration 🙂

Later this month I will fly to High Point, North Carolina with a few others to help set up for the big High Point Market.

I get to do some solid graphic design work now and then, too, such as the ad and email invitation for the High Point Market.

One day when I’m more settled living and working here, and have EVERYTHING unboxed (HA!) in my cute little house, I want to get back to making my hand-recycled paper and open an Etsy shop. I hope you will stay tuned for what’s to come!

First day at the new job!

–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 Art // OMG Movie Character

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 hard and time consuming!!!” But the effort is well worth the outcome. The objective: Recreate a movie scene with your own models and photography.  Then use the 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.

Fall 2015 // 2 sections

O Brother Where Art Thou by Katie Erickson

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 3.30.37 PM

The Hangover by Abbey Rigdon
22 Jumpstreet by Alleigh Moffett
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly by Amy Farrar
The Hobbit by Carly Melton
Mean Girls by Isabelle Cottrell
Breakfast Club by Joseph Garland
COPYSection01_Kenan-Simpkins_TheOtherWoman copy
The Other Woman by Kenan Simpkins
Vector Illustration [Recovered]
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Phoebe Fitzgerald
Love & Basketball by Tykia Joseph
Nightcrawler by Alex Cayson
Shutter Island by Becca Van Horn
Legally Blond by Calli Nelson
Cool Hand Luke by Haylee Upton
Mulan by Justice Williams
Prisoners by Matthew Rogers
Princess Mononoke by Nicolette Johnson
Fried Green Tomatoes by Samantha Sumrall
Sherlock Holmes by Victoria Martin

Spring 2016 // 1 section

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Cara Moore
Fight Club by Cecilia Lemus
Phantom of the Opera by Connor Booth
Anne of Green Gables by Katherine Huang
Scream 4 by Dion Colemon
Reservoir Dogs by Stephen Latham
OMG project
Harry Potter by Victoria Allgood

Fall 2015 MSU Faculty Art Show

Every other year, Mississippi State University’s talented art department faculty puts on their very own art show on campus. It’s a great opportunity to share with co-workers, students, and the rest of the public what we do and are interested in as artists outside of teaching in our classrooms. It was my first opportunity to participate last fall.

In graduate school around 2013, I made a piece called “Childhood Home #1” featuring imagery of the house I grew up in until I was 5 years old, though at the time abandoned in appearance with broken windows and weeds overtaking it. It is now just a memory, as it was torn down shortly after I completed the piece. All paper except the white background was hand-recycled by me. Then I printed the imagery using a lithographic process, and finally collaged the pieces together.

Childhood Home #1, completed in graduate school
It was chosen for the Louisiana Tech University art department exhibition in Jan. 2014

I used the upcoming faculty show as an opportunity to experiment remaking the composition using paper that was entirely hand-recycled by me, and printed the imagery using my Epson inkjet printer while trying to recreate the worn appearance.

Childhood Home #3, completed in Fall 2015
Standing with my remake piece at the MSU Faculty Art Exhibition

The latter version was a bit more colorful, but I was still pleased with the outcome. Learning the process of digital manipulation to inkjet printer output was valuable for personal projects I am planning to pursue in the future.

You can read MSU’s promotional article HERE and view photos from the faculty exhibition reception HERE.

Intermediate Computing for Design // Oh What a Character

This semester another new-to-me course I am teaching is Intermediate Computing for Design.  This class is for students who submitted their portfolios for the graphic design program review in November, and passed.  Most of these students were in my Intro to Computing class I posted about last semester.

Their first Intermediate project was called “Oh What a Character!” They needed to find an image online of a celebrity, change it to black and white, place it in Illustrator, and work on top of it like a template to create their own caricature of the person.  The requirement of the illustration?  It had to be completed using a maximum of 7 letters and 2 symbols from one typeface on their computer.  Yes, a typeface!  Only black letters and symbols were allowed, and they could rotate and resize them as needed.

Below are some designs 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.

Elvis Presley by Tori Holmes
Elvis Presley by Tori Holmes
Jim Carrey by Layne Smith
Jim Carrey by Layne Smith
Tyra Banks by Keats Haupt
Tyra Banks by Keats Haupt
Paul Giamatti by Ian Green
Paul Giamatti by Ian Green
John Lennon by Erin Frazier
John Lennon by Erin Frazier
Sarah Paulson by Brittany Roberts
Sarah Paulson by Brittany Roberts
Bob Dylan by Austin Thomas
Bob Dylan by Austin Thomas
Lucille Ball by Anna Zollicoffer
Lucille Ball by Anna Zollicoffer

Creative Quarterly Runner-Up

I am pleased to announce that Creative Quarterly magazine voted my Cloud Gazing paper installation Runner-Up in the Professional Fine Art category for their 38th publication.  (Might I add that this installation is still available for purchase?)


This is my second time to receive recognition from Creative Quarterly. Last spring I was awarded Runner-Up in the Student Illustration category for their 35th publication.


Graduation Day

I am now an official Master of Fine Arts graduate from Louisiana Tech University!  So much has happened since I moved to Ruston, LA three years ago and I have grown so much as an artist and person.  Fellow graduate MC Davis had the best way of describing how I feel about graduate school: “The third year [grad students] in the past warned us we would miss it… it’s super stressful in the moment of things but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Grad school is a very humbling and productive experience. It will fly by. It’s hard, it will make you want to quit and walk away, but the satisfaction of walking away with having completed it is………… there’s not a word for it.”

I had incredible support from the LaTech art/design faculty and friends I made there.  Though I am excited of new changes that are coming as I enter the career world, I will miss the community that I experienced there.  I encourage anyone interested in pursuing their MFA degree to give Louisiana Tech University a look.

All seven of us MFA graduates participated in the graduation ceremony on Saturday.  It was a wonderful moment of celebration in realizing that all of our hard work paid off.  It felt good standing out from the crowd in our big hoods (which are brown….why do MFA graduates get the ugliest color in combination with black?!) and funky sleeves.  We made photos together and said our goodbyes, because who knows when we’ll see each other again?  I will miss them dearly.


For my next adventure in life– I have been hired at my alma mater Mississippi State University to work as a lecturer, teaching basic design software courses in the art department.  I am so thrilled about this opportunity!  This summer I will be getting settled there, and establish my lesson plans.  I will mainly be interacting with students that are trying out for the graphic design program, so I will completely relate to how they are feeling!  I also hope to find a space to rent so that I can continue papermaking.  I have a dream of having this studio space for people to walk in and purchase items, and also have the chance to learn papermaking.  I would also love to start a business through Etsy.

Today I read an article about actor Jim Carey’s commencement address to some graduates.  He stated, “My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. When I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”  I could not agree more.  I am so glad I followed my heart!