Welcome to my portfolio of work. Below are examples of branding, photography, and other freelance work I have completed in recent years.

par.tay event styling!

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a small business logo (my favorite thing to design!) with Taylor, who is in the process of opening “Par-TAY” event styling! Taylor’s energy is contagious and I’m so pleased to say this logo captures her style and enthusiasm for creating parties that guests will not soon forget.

I have had the privilege of sneaking peeks at some showers Taylor has hosted this year for her recently-married sister, Lauren. Taylor’s taste is impeccable and I’m excited to see more from her! Check her out here and give her a call if you are in eastern Iowa area. Thanks Taylor – to say working you was a pleasure doesn’t begin to describe! :)


logo love: megan clausen photography

Introducing the new look of Megan Clausen Photography of West Des Moines, Iowa!

My friend, Megan, is an amazing and talented photographer (and all around artist and person!) who was looking to hone in on the essence of her brand and get it captured in a logo and some styling she could apply to other collateral materials. I have to say, this was a bit easier to do than with other clients, because I already knew her. When I think of Megan, I think of colors, beautiful doodly handwriting, optimism, extreme creativity, and a bright and sunny personality. Yes, the logo is about her business, but her business is built on HER and HER WORK, so it made sense that the branding reflect Miss Megan, herself.

Super creative, she gave me an idea of some color combinations to try and sent me the files to a couple of fonts she wanted to play with. She even doodled a few things in a notebook for me to look at. The evolution of a look is always fascinating to me – and the journey of the Megan Clausen Photography logo was no different! Let’s take a look at the process…

Sometimes you just need someone to give you some ideas to start from, and then you can figure out what you’re looking for. It’s hard to know what you like until you see something that you don’t…or you see something you DO like, but want to try it in a new way. Such was the case here. I sent Megan these initial jumping-off points, and asked her to think about a tagline – how she would describe her business, her photography style, her clientele.

The simple camera doodle and the shutter were both a “yes” and she sent me a couple of fonts she wanted to try. It was at this point that Megan shared that she might like to incorporate a play on a rainbow of colors – as in the photography industry (and others I would assume) displaying the color wheel is a signal to GLBT potential clients that you are available for business. It wasn’t essential to Megan, as she said she could find other ways to work that message in through her materials, but it was another idea/direction to think about as we moved forward.

Ooh we were starting to get close. (Or so we thought!) We narrowed down quite a bit from the above options, and tweaked the hues to her preferred shades of green, blue, etc. To play off the handwriting fonts, I tried adding a sketchier edging to the shutter pieces…

It was at this point, we thought we had it. There would be a couple “versions” (depending on if she needed a more square, or more rectangular application) but overall, we were there! Then, Megan shared the logo with a friend, who immediately said… “wow, that looks a lot like the Picasa logo…” Augh! This had never occurred to EITHER of us, but sure enough, we checked it against the Picasa logo (Google’s photo editing software company) and sure enough, it was AWFULLY similar. Just a little close for comfort, and we certainly didn’t want people to think we had tried to copy it!

On the flipside, I certainly didn’t feel like Picasa owned the idea of a shutter altogether – hello, it’s the essence of a camera! So I tried some variations….

Finally, we sat down together, and played with new color combinations for the shutter. Red and blue, red and white. orange and turquoise. After a while, no matter WHICH colors we used, it continued to look like a life preserver. We decided that it was the full color spectrum that made the shutter effect so cool, so we abandoned it altogether. And lonnnnng story short, we went in an entirely different direction, inspired by one of Megan’s many doodles, and here you have it folks! TA DA!!!

It officially passes my own little test of a good logo, (she can use just the little red element if need be, or use a version without her tagline and only the biz name), and after we both spent a lot of time picking at the final layout, we were both in love with the final product. I’m very happy from a design standpoint, and she’s happy because it’s HER – the true measure of success!

This won’t be the last you’ll hear me speak of Megan…I’m anxiously awaiting a photo session with her in August and will have amazing pictures to share!


what makes a “good” logo?

I recently came across the above logo example, and it was a perfect complement to a post I’ve been writing in my head for a while. Above is a logo designed by Malcolm Grear Designers, for their client, Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

For you design geeks out there, I’m certainly not telling you anything you don’t know. But if you’re even thinking about starting a business and, like most shoestring budget entrepreneurs, are thinking of designing yourself a logo, let me give you a couple of tips to build maximum strength and impact into your company’s visual signature. After all, you want to come up with something you love now and will love for many years to come as you build your brand, and you want it to work for you and reach your customers, even when you aren’t there.

There are many out there who can speak volumes more about this than I can, but to me, in my own experience, a logo should be two things:

#1. A logo should be CLEAN. (Note: This does NOT mean boring.)

A logo is just that – a logo. Not a whole brochure of everything about you and what you do. It doesn’t have to say and show everything that you might mention in your company’s elevator pitch. Use an image that relates to your industry, or a totally abstract one that is unique and all your own, but keep it simple, include the name, or the first letter of the company – whatever works for you. Even include a tagline that you can use in certain applications, and leave off on others. For example, a wordy tagline like, “Showing you how much we care” might look great under the logo on your letterhead, or better yet, on a billboard where space and scope is abundant. But try and wrap all that text AND the logo image around a skinny Bic pen, and it will be wayyyy too much (not to mention the type won’t be legible). So, if you do have a logo with more than one or two elements, make yourself a couple of versions so you have options for various applications.

#2. A logo should be VERSATILE.

Aside from having elements you can take or leave depending on where you’re using it, your logo should work no matter “how” you use it. Everyone (including me) originally wants to design a logo on a huge blank canvas and in full color. In most cases, this is how you’ll use your logo – in color and on a reasonably sized space.

But let’s say your company sponsors an event and the event wants to put your logo in a pamphlet as a thank you gesture…and the pamphlet is in black/white printing only…and your logo will be next to zillions of others, so it will only have about one square inch of space on the page. Get my drift?

A solid logo needs to be sizable and look just as sexy as a thumbnail as it does on the big four-foot sign in front of your store. Furthermore, that flashy color version needs to have enough contrast that the design still translates when printed in greyscale on a crappy black and white copier. We can’t always control how and where our brand identity is reproduced, so taking these steps with your logo is the best way to protect your brand.

So there’s my little two cent ditty on logo creation. And speaking of…I’ve been finalizing one myself this week. Will be back soon with a post to share the process and, of course, the final product!


The new look of Liz Ink & Paper.

Almost three years ago, I unexpectedly lost my day job.

Two weeks later, fueled by panic, faith, and an uber-supportive hubby, I launched Liz Ink & Paper.

Yes, there are a few more details to the whole story, but that’s the synopsis in a nutshell. I do believe some of the best creative ideas come in the wee hours before a deadline, and I am proud of what I came up with for a brand back in ’08, crunched for resources – time, energy, research. I originally focused on a niche of invitations, baby announcements, and holiday cards. While those projects are still near and dear to my heart, I am anxious to work a bit more with small business clients and find a balance in my brand that caters to both types of clientele.

A move from my old website seemed a fitting time to take a fresh look at Liz Ink & Paper and what I want it to be. The new design reflects more of my typographical design style. The color palette is much more neutral than the previous “cute” pink and brown, and the fonts are cleaner and bolder. The tagline remains the same, although I will most likely only use it when marketing to the personal clients.

I’m very excited about this fresh new look the role it will play going forward. Thanks as always to the Liz Ink clients for your support – here’s to an amazing fourth year in business!


coming in for a close-up.


When filling a recent order for some Hip Mama calling cards, I realized I don't have (and thus have not posted) any photos of the real deal, in printed tangible form. I have been very pleased with this printer I discovered last fall – the paper is a nice thick stock, the color reproduction is spot-on, and the UV gloss coat makes these extra durable! Plus, who doesn't love a little corner-rounded die cutting? Here are a few shots so you can see what these babies look like in real life – not just designs on a computer screen.

Bear with me as I'm still learning this brand new camera! Here you can see the glossy finish…


And here they are, packaged and ready to ship to their new home!



photographer logo

There's a new photographer in the Des Moines area! Here's a peek at the process of her logo creation, starting with some initial mockup ideas. Julie has a big thing for the number 8 (her lucky number) and is a lover of anything to do with daisies. You can see the references to both her number and her flower in the logo ideas below.

Just Julie

 So which direction did she choose to go in? With a couple slight modifications – the bottom right! (And my personal fave!) :) Check out Julie's work!