A Little Birdie Told Me

Now that the weather is better (finally!), there's a little birdie who sings outside my window each morning. He chirps and twitters in the sweetest way and never fails to make me smile. I'm not sure it's always the same bird, or if he is in fact a he, I just know s/he sits in the same branch on top of the holly tree outside my office and sings away.

Such a simple expression of joy! Would that I could sing like a bird. Sadly, it's a skill which my family gene pool sorely lacks. But we did get the creative gene (my sister is a published author) and this year, as part of my 30th-year-in-business celebration, I'm singing a new tune with a new creative project that lets me sing my way – through design.

I'm part of an accountability group of independent creatives who meet monthly for mutual motivation and encouragement. We've each identified a "Dare to Dream" goal. Because I love digital illustration, my Dream project is all about creating a body of original illustrations that combine my love of hiking with my love of shape, form and color. When I find the time to work on it (client work comes first, of course, thank you clients!) I feel like I'm singing my own song.

So how about you, do you have a dream goal? Have you been thinking about some new project for your business? Has your business been singing the same old tired tune for too long and you're ready for a beautiful new look? Maybe it's time to sing your praises with a fabulous annual report? I'm sure you'll need some specialized design attention to make sure you hit the right note.

If you've got a song in your heart just waiting to be set free, let's talk! I've got some great ideas. You'll be whistling a happy tune in no time. 

And that's the end of the singing idioms.

Thanks for reading. Keep in touch.

December Days

So if you're a regular reader (are there any out there?) you will remember my reindeer from last year. Well they're back. I love my reindeer collection and last year started sketching them. They're pretty typically black and fanciful shapes. I'm a little picky about them, we don't want just any reindeer although I must admit I do have some funky ones. There's one that scares my daughter. He is a little, um, weird.

Anyway, here are some reindeer for your viewing pleasure.

Ahhhhh Summer

Kind of says it all, doesn't it? 

And along with the ahhhh of summer comes the smells of summer. So many wonderful memory-invoking smells.

Whilst walking through Grant Park the other day I got a whiff of chlorine from the swimming pool and instantly was taken back to childhood swimming days. Then I heard the joyful sound of kids splashing in the water. Ahhh, the sounds and smells of summer indeed. Especially sweet since the pool (a huge resource in the community and where our kids learned to swim) has been closed until last week for renovation. What a joy to have it open! Is there any better way to celebrate summer than with a swim? Yes it's a chlorinated pool with lots of little kids swimming in it ... potential for eeuuwww .... but it's still wonderful. And that smell of chlorine always takes me back.

Aha! A chance to showcase a logo I designed for a summer family reunion!

Aha! A chance to showcase a logo I designed for a summer family reunion!

Maybe the most memory-evoking smell of all is that of wood burning. Last night we were at a friend's house and they had a fire burning in their pit. MMMMM .... so evocative. Summer camp? Campfire stories? Smores!!! My hair still smells like wood burning, such a good summer smell.

How about evergreen needles crunched underfoot? Earlier last week we were hiking up in Badger Creek Wilderness on Mt Hood, in search of the elusive Boulder Lake which we once hiked to about 24 years ago and have been trying to find ever since. Anyway, the smell of the fir needles on that hot hot day was divine. And no, we didn't find that darn lake. 

What's your favorite summer smell? 

Let's add the sweet smell of success! Seeking success and in need of some marketing materials? Call me! 

 

 

The sign at Grant High School says it all 

The sign at Grant High School says it all 

 
And the smell of the Douglas fir forest on Mt Hood is heavenly (Teacup Lake, not the elusive Boulder Lake which remains elusive)

And the smell of the Douglas fir forest on Mt Hood is heavenly (Teacup Lake, not the elusive Boulder Lake which remains elusive)

Summertime Illustrations

Some of my long-term clients are public water agencies. I've done LOTS of illustrations of water smart measures. I thought I'd show a few for this blog.

I love sprinklers. I used to get a new one for every birthday when I was a little girl. This is an illustration I did for a water brochure for the City of Portland, some years back.

I love sprinklers. I used to get a new one for every birthday when I was a little girl. This is an illustration I did for a water brochure for the City of Portland, some years back.

Time for a refreshing drink on the patio maybe? Check out this illustration I did for the Clackamas River Water Providers' 2017 Children's Calendar. Yes, the calendar is all printed!

Time for a refreshing drink on the patio maybe? Check out this illustration I did for the Clackamas River Water Providers' 2017 Children's Calendar. Yes, the calendar is all printed!

Okay not really a water-saving illustration but it's in the same genre.....

Okay not really a water-saving illustration but it's in the same genre.....

This illustrates the type of water flow to look for when you buy an outdoor fountain. Get one that uses big drops rather than a fine mist; the mist will evaporate and waste water.

This illustrates the type of water flow to look for when you buy an outdoor fountain. Get one that uses big drops rather than a fine mist; the mist will evaporate and waste water.

This one shows that it's important to water early in the morning ... note newspaper still on the front porch!

This one shows that it's important to water early in the morning ... note newspaper still on the front porch!

The source of Portland's water . . . the famous Bull Run Reservoir, high in the foothills of Mt Hood. 

The source of Portland's water . . . the famous Bull Run Reservoir, high in the foothills of Mt Hood. 

Check it out! Very cool infographic about watering your backyard.

Check it out! Very cool infographic about watering your backyard.

Hiking the Gorge

We went to Grassy Knoll last weekend, in the Columbia River Gorge, of course, most of our hikes are there, so many to choose from! At the top there's a 360 view. You can see the river in the photo below on the right. The panorama kind of gives the sense of how high we are. And Mr. Simmons standing on the trail shows it's a little steep. Just steep enough.

We were convinced the trail was four miles each way but sadly when we got back and calculated it was only four miles round trip. Woops. 

So after that grueling hike we had to stop and get a burger. I was staring out the window of the Ale House and realized I had designed the sign hanging in the park across the street. It's the 100th Anniversary of the Historic Columbia River Highway and ODOT hired me to design banners and street light standards. 

Check out the banner I designed as part of the 100 year celebration of the historic Columbia River HIghway

Check out the banner I designed as part of the 100 year celebration of the historic Columbia River HIghway

Cultivating Good

Okay I'll admit it, this is a reprint of my newsletter but it's a good one so I have chosen to show it here. Enjoy!

Some years back my husband had several stents placed in his heart. Before they discharged him from the hospital, a therapist stopped by to talk with us about our lifestyle and how he dealt with any stress in his life. We had no good answer.

So her next question was, "What is your passion, what moves you, what makes you happy?" And, "How often do you make time in your life for what you love to do?" Your body is sending you a message, she said. Now is the time to listen to that message, and find those things that sustain you and feed your soul, and do them.

The top thing on his list was getting out of the city to hike and see wildflowers. It's one thing that we both love, (well, who doesn't love wildflowers, but not many people can name them like he can!). We now make it a point to get out often, into the wilds, and most often to the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. It just feels good.

I've never forgotten what a powerful gift that therapist gave us. Clearly she knew there was a connection between happy activities and a happy heart.

Knowing what makes you happy isn't hard to identify, but taking the time to embrace it, well, that's often another story. I hope you can find the time to do whatever it is that feeds your soul.

It'll cultivate good, for your body and your soul.

The arrowleaf balsamroot is in full bloom right now, this is the Tom McCall Preserve in the Columbia River Gorge. Mt. Adams in the background. Indian paintbrush, lupine and tons of other wildflowers are at their peak this time of year.

As a degree-carrying landscape architect, you just know I love cultivating a garden. And as an experienced graphic designer, I'm pretty good at tending to your print materials to make them shine. Let me know if your business materials need nurturing. 

In the Pink

Springtime in Portland is a riot of color and the display in the front of our house is a good representation of what the rest of the city is looking like right about now. Vibrant is a good word to describe it! Between the light pink petals of the flowering cherry (you can drive down streets that are literally blanketed in pink) and the brilliant fuchsia-colored azaleas it really is intense. When the kids were little we always had a day when I'd make a video of them throwing the petals up in the air. Then there was the wife of a guy I used to work with who thought the spring colors here were bilious! Really. 

oldpnkpetalsSML.jpg

So this Springtime will be a time for me to check up on my marketing materials to make sure they're in the pink. There's always something that can be improved upon and this season I'm going to work on (between assignments) assessing and analyzing the look and the content of my site. I keep reading you're only supposed to show four or five of your best pieces. I think I show more like four hundred. Okay, I exaggerate but I did count them up and I have over 100. Time for some spring cleaning. It's also a time to refocus on the message. Another buzzword I keep hearing is niche. I'm identifying several new niches (actually old niches but ones I enjoy working in and have done good work in so there you have it). So that'll be my focus.

Oh and of course Springtime for me is Dragon Boat season! For the past 16 years I've been on a team that practices for three months, leading up to the races the first of June. It's so much fun. Good exercise, good camaraderie, good wildlife viewing. Just getting out on the Willamette is also good. MENTAL HEALTH BREAK. Not to mention rejuvenation.

So there you have it. Spring has sprung! Get in the pink!

 

 

 

 

Hearing VOICES?

One of my favorite clients (yes I know I refer to all my clients as my favorites; it's like having a favorite child, it's impossible to choose) anyway, one of my favorite clients is Francine Read of VOICES Women's Lectures. I've been working with her for, oh, say four years now, providing design direction for her very popular women's lecture series. It's a fun gig, I pretty much have carte blanche as far as design goes, as long as I stay within her already established color scheme, and I get to promote some very interesting women. Francine has just announced her new lineup for the end of this year and into next Spring. It's another year of of four amazing women and four amazing stories. Check it out: Mariel Hemingway (you know who she is), journalist and bestselling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Maestra Marin Alsop, and memoirist and bestselling author Jeannette Walls (surely you've read The Glass Castle???). 

So each season we refresh the look and feel of the promotional materials. Francine usually has found inspiration somewhere and we collaborate to bring to life her new vision. The suite of materials I design start with an email signature she can use that has a head shot of each speaker. The next piece is a flyer that is handed out at a lecture from the preceding season. It lists dates and a brief bio about each speaker and also has a tear-off order form so folks can get their ticket requests in early: many attendees come back year after year and request the same seats. 

Then I design some sort of direct mail piece, either a folding postcard type thing or a single sheet postcard. This year it's a sumo postcard, which means oversized. The front is below:

Postcard cover

But the MOST interesting piece is the eMagazine. She first started using this advertising medium several years ago and it's proved to be very successful. It's such an excellent way to communicate to Francine's mailing list. I love this and wish more clients used this medium. It's designed through issuu and can be updated as often as we want. This is a huge benefit for advertisers because they can then update their ad each season. It's also a huge benefit for Francine because we can continually update the speakers. For example, I just created a new eMagazine removing the February speaker (Annie Griffiths, first woman photographer for National Geographic, she was wonderful!). You get how it works. 

If you're interested in hearing any of these fascinating women, click here and you can get directed to the VOICES website. And look for me there!

And if you're interested in your own extraordinary suite of promotional materials, click here and we can get started working together.

One more thing, here's a testimonial from Francine:

"I highly recommend Christine Rains Graphic Design. After many years with a different company we needed a fresh perspective on our seasonal marketing materials for VOICES Lectures. Christine listened to our needs, created a stunning brochure and supporting materials that really elevated our print materials. We also appreciate her prompt response, personable approach and good value. We are committed to working with Christine!"