When you decide to be an artist.

Well. I promise I’m still alive, I’ve just been under a pile of projects and I have been exhausted in the best type of way. I’ve been in New Orleans doing interior design for an upscale boutique. It was so much fun being able to really get my hands dirty and do everything I love at once: paint, design, photograph and eat. And boy did I eat. I won’t even start on that subject, because I won’t be able to stop gushing about the things you can consume in Nola.

The woman that owns the store graciously allowed me to stay in her guest home- a small cottage hidden behind her beautiful victorian home. It was previously a carriage house back in 1822 with all of it’s original wood and flooring. I was over the moon about it with it’s simple white washed walls and worn in bones that held 200 years of history.

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Something I love about Nola is it’s sense of community. The stores open later in the morning and everyone walks to cafes with their close friends and dogs. Every morning, the sunlight would pour into the carriage house- waking me up without an alarm clock at 7am, and by 7:30, Dianna and I were walking to a local breakfast stop, with her french bulldog Poppy in tow, for coffee by the gallon and a pastry. People would come up and talk to me like I was a long lost friend- asking about my life and giving me advice about my upcoming trip to Europe. This was so refreshing (and a bit shocking, honestly) compared to the typical awkward smiles from strangers followed by them avoiding eye contact by scanning their instagram feed.  On the first day, I thought we might have just happened to stumble upon a few friendly people by chance, but as the days went on, it really was that the majority of people were asking “how are you” without wanting to hear an unauthentic “great!!” in return.

Dianna requested that I create a holiday display for the store that wasn’t your typical Christmas decorations. So I decided to make the entrance of the store into a wintery snow land that embraced the season while still bringing the focus to the furniture. I really wanted the customers to have an interactive element to get engaged into the display and leave with a positive emotional tie to the store. So I decided to make a “wishing tree” where costumers could write down something they wish for or want to do before they die and hang it on the tree.

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I painted a huge branch (quite a bit more messy and used far more paint that I expected) and suspended it from the ceiling so that the stories would hang over you as you shopped. Within a few days, the tree was full of beautiful wishes from one wishing that she would write a novel about her humorous dating relationships to someone wishing that they might live without abandon this year. As a lover of stories, I would check it over and over to see if there were new ornaments to read.

On one of the last days I was there, Clint was released a week early from his rig due to bad weather and was driven to New Orleans to fly out from the airport there. So he was able to come surprise me and see the store, grab some local food and stay in the carriage house with me for the night before flying out the next day. I thought it was so fun that we both happened to be there at the same time and were able to meet up.

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Other nights, Dianna showed me the dangerous addiction that is Nola food, go to an art gallery show and meet some new amazing faces. I couldn’t have asked for a better week.

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And honestly, I am still in complete awe that I have been given the opportunity to get paid to use my passion for design. I remember a few years ago being so reluctant to completely submerge myself in the creative world. I hoped business school would stomp it right out of me and I could have a career in something “normal” or made people “proud”. And honestly, I was pretty scared. Putting your art out to the world is so extremely vulnerable and exposes a part of your soul. What if people think it’s weird or I flop right on my face and into a big fat puddle of acrylic paint? What if people don’t get what I do? (Spoiler: they don’t.) As the years passed, I found the only things that made me feel truly alive were those design projects that I would do in the safe secrecy of my own home.

And then I dropped the bomb. “Oh hi parents. You know all those business classes I’ve been taking for the last couple of years? Soooo.. funny thing is… I think I want to be an artist. Oh. And move to Austin. Oh…and one more tiny detail..funny I almost forgot..I’m get married.” And of course, in my subtle and mature manner, this was sent in a text message. “GOIN TO B AN ARTIST! LUV U LOTZ!”

So then there were those years in between where I struggled to find out what being a designer even means and where I fit into that equation. And then those art classes that made me feel like a failure as [TRUE STORY] my teacher picked up my art work and threw it on the ground saying “if I wanted something cute, I would have gone to F*&#KING HALLMARK”. Well tell me how you really feel.

And then that time I was hired as an office assistant as, what I’m sure was, a pity hire because I was newly married with both Clint and I in college in a brand new city and didn’t have 2 dimes to rub together. And then she happened to see something I was designing on my computer and asked if I wanted to apply for the position of a graphic designer for the firm. Of course! The only minor problem was, I didn’t know a thing about graphic design. Like- I didn’t even own photoshop. I used the free version on the school computers. So, I faked it until I made it. I would go home and spend hours teaching myself design from youtube videos and books. I studied every designer I could find and tore out pages of magazines to try and reduplicate them myself. Then I would go to work and design. And then I would go home and work on it for hours without pay to make sure it was perfect. And I found out that I liked graphic design. A whole lot. And the clients kept coming back. And we got paid and got to use the heater! BOO YA. And so began design. Finally I had found my place. I wasn’t an artist I was a designer. And you can imagine my relief. I can’t hardly draw a stick figure and was in art classes with teachers who were surely quite fearful for my creative future. But DESIGN?! I could actually do this. And love it.

From that time on, I found my place in interior design and graphic design as my happy and alive place. And I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams by people who took a chance on me and allowed me to try and make their companies more beautiful. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with people ranging from small homegrown companies all the way to designing for Free People/Anthropologie. And most of those opportunities came from really putting myself out there in an uncomfortable way, hoping that I might have something to offer them.

And yes, I still have the people who think “I don’t have a job” *palm to forehead* or don’t understand what I do, but I am now doing exactly what I feel God wired me to do. And there are still those days I wish I didn’t have this unquenchable desire to completely redesign everything or have to resist the urge to reposition the furniture in someone’s home, but I am so completely happy and fulfilled by what I’m doing and all the projects I am taking on.

And through my crazy and sometimes awful (my resume being all the grey hairs on Clint’s head he’s sprouted during the last 3 years) journey, I have learned that you have to make the leap. You HAVE to. And people are going to think you’re weird and you’re going to feel insecure and want to leap back to the safe monotonous side of life, but it’s so worth it. Because the world has a way of embracing and changing for a person who is brave enough to grow up to be themselves. So leap! And then write me a letter and tell me all about it.
XO, K.

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lettering lessons

During the Circles conference, I was completely inspired by the many designers and their use of lettering. Particularly the transformation of drawn lettering into an online graphic- which I had absolutely no experience in doing.

For the past year, I have been following an artist by the name of Sean McCabe. I love his attention to detail and his transparency in how he creates his work. During the conference, I make friends with the guy who is sitting next to me. We chit chat about what the do and what we’re working on and he hands me his business card. “UHM- HELLO, YOU ARE SEAN MCCABE?!” I screamed in my head. And then politely gave him a collected “well, nice to meet you Sean” instead.

So, as the day goes on, he tells me about this “skill share” he has in which he teaches you how to create lettering vectors. I about ran home and started working on it right then.

*Side note: If you have never checked out Skill Share- you are missing out. While this is a well known thing in the designer world, until that day, I was blissfully unaware of this absolute GOLD MINE of talent that is shared from leading professionals in all different mediums on how they do their work. Needless to say- I’m now an aspiring professional of everything.

Here is my first go at lettering:

Before// drawn out on paper with a sharpie pen and snapped with my Iphone.

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I then put the image into Adobe Illustrator, where I created outlines. The rest was just a bit of tweaking with color changing and designing.

After//

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It made me realize how overcomplicated I believed that this process was and how simple and fun this art form can be, as long as you have the time to create it.

I’m excited to get more into lettering and maybe crank out some prints. We can all dream.

XOXO, K.

austin street art.

It’s no secret how much I miss Austin. I was spoiled rotten by living in a city that encompassed everything I love. A city where you didn’t even have to go looking for an amazing dive bar, live music, delicious hole in the wall, or a store busting at the seams with vintage vinyls and apparel. But distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I treasure each time I have an excuse to make it back to my stomping grounds.

Something that I love about Austin is it’s saturation of artistic expression. While some people find this to be overwhelming, I am so interested in the varied ways that human’s choose to leave their mark on the world. The amount of character and passion that is embraced by this city is so quirky and fun. It’s like walking into your grandfather’s study that is littered with knick knacks, but the intention behind every object makes you feel at home.

This trip, I decided to snap a few shots of graffiti with my friend Whitney from an area called “Castle Hill”- a sanctuary for spray paint artists that are free to billboard their art onto huge cement walls. It’s different every time you go, as each work of art is always evolving or covered up by a new one. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many heartfelt messages on the walls, not just Jnko Jeans font scribbled into different tag names.  austin-0671 austin-0673 austin-0681 austin-0701 austin-0705 austin-0710 austin-0717 austin-0719

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It was actually Whitney’s birthday, so the picture of her by the cake with “Happy Birthday” beside it was quite fitting. And the last one is of her little fluff of a son, Juju.

If you ever happen to find yourself in Austin, here are just a few places that I would stop by:

1. Hop Doddy. Oh how I miss that place. Truly the best burger you can imagine with plenty of cold hops to wash it down with.

2. Kayaking on Towne Lake. You can rent canoes or kayaks for 10 dollars an hour/30 for the day and spend the day paddling through downtown Austin with a friend or lover or bottle of wine. You can even paddle board. Or be super hip and take a paddle board yoga class.

3. Congress. This street is teaming with antique shops, costume shops, boutiques, rustic/quirky hotels, and great restaurants.

4. The Oasis. This HUGE three-floor restaurant looks out over lake Austin and is super beautiful at sunset. Great prices for a fun date night or night out with the girls.

5. Castle Hill. Because I just blogged about it. Duh.

And I just realized from my list that I like wine and food. Welcome to my life.

XOXO, K.

things that inspire.

There were so many times I wanted to sit myself down and write this post, but I have had so much buzzing in my head lately, I didn’t know how to lock down a single idea to talk about, but 18 days is far too long to have been off the blogging radar, and so here I am. I am also at a hotel sin motor vehicle and prematurely boasted to Clint about how much writing and blogging I could get caught up on, and I’ll be damned if he comes back from working all day and all I have to show for is a rerun of a Tom Hanks movie and a change of yoga pants. And I only said a change of yoga pants to act like I’m civilized. We all know I’m in the same yoga pants.

So, I have been jotting down ideas of what to write about, and I found that everything kind of horseshoes back to what has been inspiring me. So instead of spilling on about my recent life, I’m going to tell you a little about what has been keeping me up at night. And hopefully something will inspire you too.

1. INSTA CREATIVES.

Okay. I will shamelessly admit that I am borderline obsessed with the instagrams of a few very creative individuals… that I have never even met. Yes. It’s really weird, but I seek them out. I try to find these artsy little fireballs out in the virtual world and find great inspiration from their lifestyle and art that they share in little 3″x3″ squares. I find this form of virtual community, if utilized correctly, an instant library of ideas and advice. And unlike Pinterest’s unrealistic push for perfection, these ladies and gentlemen on Instagram are just posting about their day to day adventures from a camera phone, helping me understand that no one’s life is truly that much more fabulous than anyone else’s. It’s just actively finding beauty where you are. And no matter what your life looks like- there is inspiration all around you.

Here are the 10 most recent that I have been following:

@jennyhighsmith //graphic design and fashion

@taylorflower //rustic and simple, aspiring wedding designer

@chelseapetaja //paper goods and traveling

@bleubird //vintage inspiration and creative mother

@dalepartridge //CEO of Sevenly (next on my list of inspirations) and beautiful typography

@haleykjar //simple, authentic living and creative mommy

@stephsterjovski //beautiful prints and fashion inspiration

@thedoorsofnewyork //beautifully crafted entrances across NYC

@meaganhilde //gorgeous photos of simple life and traveling

@lucyspartalis //wedding photographer

2. SEVENLY.

I stumbled upon Sevenly.org while in my recent search or some well designed typography tees. Not only did this website fit the bill, the website’s cause was so inspiring to me.  I often brainstorm about how my creative skills could best.. in short… change the world. Because, while that might be a bold claim, I truly want to embrace this life and make as many huge changes as I can. Not just observe it passing me by. And sometimes I wonder how that’s possible as an artist. Sevenly showed me how something as simple as good design can make a huge impact in the lives of others all over the world. This website adopts a different cause every week, and the Sevenly team of artists create T-shirts, posters, and jewelry that represent the need. This merchandise raises money for the cause while also producing walking billboards for change. This idea has exploded, helping raise almost all the needed funds every single week. And you get a T-shirt that you actually feel really cool wearing. Witnessing someone use their talents to make a difference in the world is something worth living for. And I hope I can find a way to use mine.

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3. A SOUL COMING TO LIFE.

This is a phrase that my dear friend, Bri, wrote me in a letter from Switzerland lately. (You can find her lovely blog here.) She said, “Oh Kendall, my soul has come alive!” as she described her travels across Europe this summer, helping with Young Life. Her letter and picture of where she was staying meant so much to me that I hung it up by my desk to remember to pray for her journey as well as remind myself that the whole world is out there to conquer. She recently returned from her trip and called me today. We spent over an hour on the phone as I begged her to tell me everything. She was simply gushing over her experiences abroad. She spoke of the freedom she felt and the way she not only experienced a different culture, but got to meet a different part of her own self. I could almost touch her excitement over the phone. And it reminded me of how I felt with my trip to the Philippines and how aware and alive I felt. Bri went on to tell me what I believe to be true: You must do the things that make you feel alive. That these things usually come with huge risk and sacrifice, but they are available to everyone. It may not be traveling out of the country. It is attempting to conquer the thing that you believe to be impossible. And whether you succeed or fail isn’t what matters. It is that you are fighting death and fear and… sometimes even worse… mediocrity.

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In other news, I am starting a new blog segment called “Women Crush Wednesday” that highlights different women of different walks of life that inspire me. My first interview will be posted this.. you guessed it.. Wednesday. Stay tuned.

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XO, K.

four great things.

Here are a few things that made the month of January special, that I happened to catch with my camera.

art1*One: My best friend, Corie, came to visit me for a weekend. We never stopped laughing… or eating. Corie is one of those gems of a friend that is always down for a new experience- no matter what it entails. This quality we share never fails to get us in trouble and, consequently, provides the best stories. This particular weekend had us galavanting through Houston, singing at random Karaoke establishments, making friends with strangers, and making sure we ate everything the city had to offer.

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Two: Clint and I went to visit my family for my younger brother’s birthday. I can’t believe how old they are getting. And they both tower at least 6 inches over me.

I was also able to visit my grandmother, Mimi. We had lunch and talked about anything and everything. I always feel so blessed to have her cheerful encouragement in my life. She always tells me that I give her hope in the current state of the world, but in reality, she gives me hope in myself.

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Three: This last time Clint was home, we were able to experience lots of peaches. (Clint and I describe the good things in life as peaches and the bad as pits.)

1. After months and months of searching, we found a church that we both love. This is a hugely exciting thing to us, since we have been craving a Christian community- and between me going to church on my own when he was gone, and us not “clicking” with a church when he was here, it was a frustrating roller coaster.

2. I applied for my dream job. I honestly believed I had no chance at getting it, but after several rounds of interviews, I got a call offering me the position! I am still completely blown away and insanely excited. Starting tomorrow (ah!) I will be helping with the design of Free People stores. I will help plan events, pick what goes on manequins, style customers, and help design the inside of the store… the perfect collision of everything I love into one job description.

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Above: Me in my favorite little nook of the house. The coffee table is an old war trunk and we found that killer wingback chair at an estate sale when we first moved to Houston.

And below: Clint and I went to several different museums over the two weeks he was home. It was so funny to see my grown husband get all giddy for the dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Science- and then he completely geeked out over the natural gas exhibit like the engineer he is. I love him.

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Home: I went to Canton last weekend, and found this awesome iron canopy. I decided to attach it to an old window frame (that came from a barn in Austin), to keep from having to drill any huge holes in the wall. Then I went to World Market and got some sheer curtains that I could tie on. Then I put a chandelier inside, and voila!

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DSC_0153For the vase, I took a mason jar and sprayed mercury paint (you can find it at Hobby Lobby) inside so that it looks silver/a mirror finish.

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Four: I have a thing for instant cameras. My most recent addition to the collection is Fujifilm’s instax 210. This guy is a wide shot camera, producing pictures about 3 times as large as the popular 7s. Definitely too large to casually carry around, but the pictures are easier to see and the camera provides alot more control over your results than the 7s (lightening/darkening options, different zoom lengths, ect)

I am also excited about this year’s planner from Kate Spade. Each month is sectioned off by beautiful pictures and fun quotes.

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Off to my first day of my new job tomorrow. Wish me luck.

xoxo, k.

DIY polka dot journal.

I’m in love with journals. Blank pages get me excited. So, I stole this DIY from one of my favorite blogs, and wanted to share it with you guys. I think they would make wonderful gifts.

Photo Dot Journal

Photo Dot Journal StepsSupplies Needed: Journal (ours was provided by Miro), photos you don’t mind cutting up (magazine pages work great too), scissors and glue. 1. Use a small bottle cap to trace circles on your photos and cut them out. 2. Use glue to adhere photos all over the front of your journal. Be sure to leave some circles hanging off the edges. Allow to dry completely and repeat this step on the back cover. 3. Trim circles along the edge of the cover. 4. Use washi tape (ours was provided by Freckled Fawn) to create a cute spine for your journal. Enjoy your new book!

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xoxo, k.