1. July 21, 2014
    MONDAY MUSING | on perfectionism

    monday musing | Pinegate Road

    Because sometimes you have twenty minutes left in your lunch break and you decide to make yourself letter.

    In all seriousness, since I’ve been missing around here one of the biggest battles I’ve been trying to fight is the one on perfectionism. I’ve been making great strides, but also letting things slide. For now, I’m trying to realize that most of all, this is healthy.

    Wishing you all a very happy, and non-perfect, Monday.

  2. July 11, 2014
    PORTFOLIO | angela hauck fitness blog

    Angela Hauck Fitness Blog by Pinegate Road

    Guuuuys, Hi!

    I know I’ve been missing around these parts lately, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been up to creating outside of the blog. Last week one of my long-term web design clients launched her new fitness blog! I’ve been working on the Angela Hauck fitness blog since right before the new year to make this dream of Ange’s come true. It’s been a long journey, but I’m happy to say that everything is up and running, and Ange is seriously rocking it. I have been loving her posts as they pop up in my bloglovin — they just inspire me to keep going on my own journey and let me know that I’m not alone in most of my crazy ways. Behind that stellar physique, she really has the most amazing heart to boot. She’s on a big journey to help others on their weight-loss and health journeys, and to that, I give her a huge hug and high five.

    As I mentioned when the moodboard came out for this project, Ange has been helping me along my own personal health and fitness journey. It’s been amazing to have her by my side as I have gone through some serious ups and downs as far as nutrition and working out go. When I fall, she’s been there to pick me back up and put a smile on my face. When I’m doing well, she’s there with email cheers and instagram smilies. I’m still a work in progress, but I can’t wait to share more about my transformation later this year as I continue along this journey of living my version of a healthy lifestyle.

    Angela Hauck Fitness Blog Moodboard, by Pinegate Road

    This design was kept bright and cheery, and really showcases Ange’s personality and the keywords of empowering, transformative, and relatable that we decided upon at the beginning. It’s simple, but showcases the content in a way that draws you in to what Ange has to share. My favorite part was the sidebar sections. They each slop down towards the body content to symbolize the weight-loss journey. Small arrows and zig zag elements were also used to highlight call to actions, as well as relate to a transformation of sorts. There is not one straight route to finding your personal health and fitness path.

    I hope that you can head on over to the Angela Hauck fitness blog and be inspired by her stories. You can also join Team Ange by following along on facebook, and being a part of all the great things she the community around her is doing. There’s some pretty magical stuff going on. Cheers Ange to your new online start and to you continuing to transform the lives around you for the better!

  3. June 13, 2014
    father’s day obaby illustrations

    Father's Day Obaby illustrations by Pinegate Road

    You didn’t think we’d leave out the Fathers after Mother’s Day now did you?

    Just stopping in quickly to let you know that the newest Obaby pack is up and ready to adorn all those photos of your pop. Just in time to celebrate on Sunday.


  4. May 8, 2014
    obaby mother’s day illustrations

    Mother's Day Obaby Illustration Pack | by Pinegate Road

    As we head in to Mother’s Day weekend, I thought I’d share another little something that I’ve been up to!

    Our friends at Obaby had me help them with a little something to celebrate all the mothers in our lives. There is now a special pack of 22 mother’s day illustrations that have been added to the app, designed by yours truly and sponsored by Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets. Want to hear the real kicker? The regular Obaby app is now available for free, and Obaby+ is now just $9.99. If you’ve been waiting to get a hold of this special little app, now is certainly the time my friends. Happy Mother’s day!

    In the spirit of transparency, and opening up more about my process, I wanted to let you in to how I went about the development of these illustrations. Both for the first round of illustrations, and for this pack. I meant to share this info when the app was released, but with all the excitement that was bubbling up in my head it completely slipped my mind! Yeah, I’m giving myself a little wrist slap as I type here. Hah.

    Mother's Day Obaby Illustration Pack | sketches | by Pinegate Road

    When I was first contacted by Obaby, we did a test run to make sure that my illustrating and lettering style was something that they thought would work well for the app. I was pretty nervous about this. My style? Did I have a lettering style? Throughout my design studies and professional work, I truly feel like my work has kind of been all over the place as far as style goes. It’s always been my mission to let the concepts and the problems at hand direct the design direction. This is where personal style becomes an intuitive move rather than the main attraction. I wanted this project to be no different, so I started with particular guidelines that design decisions would have a foothold in, rather than my own style leading the way. Here is what I kept in mind while making design decisions:

    + The app was created for soon-to-be parents, and current parents. 

    + Users are in to social media, and love capturing and sharing memories.

    + Users are on top of the current technology.

    + Users are trend-oriented but timeless.

    To tap in to the trend-oriented but timeless design style, the lettering referenced calligraphy and calligraphy tools. I looked in to traditional baby design and used a lot of polka dots, checkers, simple shapes and swirls so that it still was baby-centric at it’s core. Keeping the imperfections visible and trying out more modern layouts of lettering helped bring these more traditional approaches into something that parents today would resonate with. After trying out what seemed one million tools, I landed on using the 05 micron pen exclusively. It was just bold enough when making single strokes, but detailed enough to build up on the illustrations. I also loved that at this weight, it automatically created a rounded tip at the end each stroke. This rounded off and soft quality was something that I was definitely looking for when dealing with baby-centric design!

    After doodling around for each phrase, the illustrations were narrowed down so that each phrase had a unique illustration associated with it, but still felt united as a pack. This is where using one tool consistently can really help solidify different designs that have to live together in the same space. Each one was imported in to photoshop where I had custom layers for curves and levels to change the scan to pure black and white images. From there, I used a black and white brush tool to refine the illustrations and make sure they were jusssst right. Then they were popped in to illustrator to be vectorized and off they went to the team at Obaby.

    Mother's Day Obaby Illustration Pack | illustrations | by Pinegate Road

    It was a pretty neat experience to create a custom process for this project. I love the details and the reasons behind the details of design, but making sure that the details were quiet was important. You want whoever is using these illustrations to have a general feeling that these are ‘exactly what they were looking for’ without them thinking too hard about the reasons why. To me, that’s the real beauty in design.

    I was so happy to work with the Obaby team again for this Mother’s Day illustration pack. Please go download and play around if you haven’t already — and let’s celebrate all those lovely ladies in our lives. They sure deserve some extra love this week, and always, duh.

  5. April 23, 2014
    REFLECTION | transparency and authenticity

    a designer's reflection on transparency & authenticity

    Well hey guys. It’s nice to be back here! I feel for the past couple months I’ve been writing down ideas and dreams and have been having this kind of whirlwind thing happening to my life that I haven’t been able to share here. Not for lack of wanting, but for lack of feeling entirely motivated when I did have some time to sit down and relax. You know me and Netflix. Netflix won over all that spare time. I can feel some things in my life starting to settle down, the weather has finally started to warm up, and I can just generally feel good change happening all around. This past winter had it’s fair share of hard times, so I’m going to indulge in all the happy newness that’s been going on.

    While I’ve been away from here for the most part, I’ve been thinking about this space more than ever before. I’ve sensed this change coming for quite some time, and I’m hoping that I can start to make a little sense of where I’m hoping these new changes will pop up in this space. The biggest change is that I want to earnestly embrace transparency and authenticity around my creative life. This concept is kind of the driving force behind where I want to head here, so I thought I’d take some time to explain what I think transparency and authenticity has to do with the creative process.

    A couple months ago I listened to the first Businessology podcast (thank you Angel for the recommendation!). At first listen I was all ‘yes, yes yes!’ inside my head and I couldn’t stop nodding at my computer screen. Thank goodness the cube walls are high at work! What was kind of a smaller part of this episode, but was something that struck me so hard, was Dan Mall‘s thoughts on transparency. He embraces it completely in his design process. By being open about all that is going on throughout the process publicly, he’s able to reflect, rethink, test, and get a much better result for his clients due to this openness. By being open, he is connecting with his audience at a much deeper level as well. We’re all curious people aren’t we? I know one of my favorite things to do is to either watch designers and artists work, or read/listen to how they go about doing what they do. I personally learn so much from how other creatives work — and not as much from just looking at their end result, be it beautiful. While I’ve always been open here about my creative process, I don’t think that I’ve been doing a good enough or thorough enough job at being completely transparent. How many times have I said: “hey guys, look at this moodboard for this client I’m not going to mention the name of—keep stopping by to find out more about the project!” Not in those words exactly, but what I’ve been sharing has usually been past-tense and beyond the point where any thoughtful changes could be made. I want to invite you in to my process at a deeper level. My goal for Pinegate Road from now on is to be better at opening up and being transparent about what I’m doing, and how I’m going about it. I want to be transparent about my journey so that we can inspire and influence eachother. To be completely transparent, there is an element of vulnerability that you have to be comfortable with. Being transparent can be messy, it opens your flaws and shows them to the world, and it puts your hopes and dreams alongside your fears for everyone to see. The post I shared about my faith was the absolute first time that I’ve ever had fear of rejection from this online space. I’d never opened up about any of that, and after I hit publish my heart was racing. I think this is where the good stuff lies. It lies in that area where things are a little scary, a little unknown, but where they’re worth pursuing and pushing forward with. I don’t have nearly anything figured out, and I’m thinking that with this vow to transparency, I might be on the right track to possibly getting closer. I’m hoping that by being transparent about my life and creative journey that this becomes a space where we can all connect and help each other out on our creative paths.

    Related to transparency, but not quite the same thing, is authenticity. How do you even start with that? It’s my belief that authenticity shows your true self, whether or not you’re being transparent about your process. There are some designers who may not believe in being open about their process, and that is totally ok! That’s being authentic to who they are — authenticity inherently comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s my hope that some of these new changes happening will start to reveal my more authentic self. I’m hoping to personally learn more about my authentic self. This move towards transparency and authenticity is something that I’ve been feeling for quite some time, and it feels so good to be able to put my hands to the keyboard and just type-vomit this all out. Type-vomit, that’s a thing, yeah? While I certainly like to put finished work out in to the world, it’s definitely part of my authentic self to be awkwardly open, and I want to start being a little more of that on here.

    Since starting my job, I’ve had this weird pressure to keep things a secret. Most of the design work I’m doing belongs to American Greetings, and honestly, I’m not sure what I’m allowed to share. I’m learning a ton at work, but for now I need to keep a lot of that private because it’s just not my place to open up about it. I’m hoping that as I move forward with freelance clients, they will be open to this idea of transparency just as much as I am and embrace it as a worthwhile part of the process. I can promise that I’ll be sharing snippets of work on my instagram, and that I’ll be posting the over-arching life lessons here.

    In the spirit of this post, I want to share something that I’m in the midst of right this very moment. Pinegate Road is getting a facelift. I’ve known that this space — that I coded in super weird ways from my very limited knowledge in CSS and HTML — was just not where I ideally wanted it to be as a professional designer. I’m working with Katelyn as a consultant and web developer and with Katie as an editor and copywriter to bring this space into it’s next phase of life. Pinegate Road has become something more than an outlet for testing color palettes and fashion trends. It’s become my entity as a creative individual. I want both the blog and the studio to live in one space and really let those who come to visit tell the story of what Pinegate Road is and how they might be able to join the creative journey. Right now, the ‘studio’ is my student portfolio that hasn’t been updated in well over a year — yikes! I’m sharing this with you now, but I’m barely in to creating a rough framework for the new site. Here’s where I’m hoping this transparency can help us all. Do you mind sharing any resources, or stories for building studio/blog sites? Are there any that you know of that you believe do an amazing job? I’m in the research phase, and I really want to do this right. I’ve never invested into my business before, so this is a scary and big step for me — but I’ve never been more ready! I’m hoping with the sharing, comes the learning for all those that care to scroll through whatever comments might be left. I’ve been collecting some web designs that I’m liking the look of over here, but in all, I’m pretty scattered. When it’s your personal project, don’t you have that ‘It must be all the things!’ mentality? Hah. I’m my own worst client, I swear.

    Cheers to transparency and being all of our own most authentic selves!


  6. March 17, 2014
    PORTFOLIO | hey man business cards

    Hey Man Business Cards | 2 |  Pinegate Road.jpg

    This was a pretty spread out process. My dad came to me last spring asking me to create business cards for their new neighbor.

    For those of you who don’t know, a couple of years ago my parents made a big dream of theirs come true. They moved out to a farm in a town of about fifty people in the middle of South Dakota. I give my parents huge kudos for living out their version of the good life, and they’ve set a great example for me to live out my own version. Thanks guys :)

    Annnyways. The business cards. Yes. When my dad gives me a project without a deadline, it almost always takes a year to complete. No joke! Hah. We finally made these a reality before Christmas, and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. Their neighbor Paul is a hay farmer, and he goes by “Hey Man.” You know the best part about this project? Type nerds, get ready—I was able to use the typeface haymaker for an actual hay farmer. Kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, yes? It made me giddy.

    Hey Man Business Cards | Pinegate Road

    For the cards, I experimented with a couple different type and image layouts on dribbble and went with some of your suggestions. This is the first time I was able to integrate dribbble comments in to my process, and that was a really neat experience! I’m definitely going to try and be more diligent about posting progress shots there. I had my dad go out to Paul’s farm and sneak some shots on his iPhone for the photo portion of this card. While I would have loved to shoot it myself, the natural beauty of the landscape there was hard to mess up (sorry dad!) so I was fine using an iPhone photo on such a small printed surface area. The back features a barbed wire detail, and a Hey Man monogram with space for notes. We used Stationery HQ for printing. They are amazing for both prices and quality — I use them for all my personal digital printing.

    So in all, this was a pretty new experience for me. I feel like the clients I usually work with end up being a lot like me. They are usually females, and usually have a similar aesthetic. With this project, I definitely had to stretch myself and make a card that a farmer would love to use while still staying true to the Pinegate Road design aesthetic. Have any of you run in to this growth opportunity? What kinds of things helped you stretch past what you would ‘normally’ do? I’d love to hear!

  7. January 16, 2014
    DIY | mossy monogram wall art

    mossy monogram wall art | PINEGATE ROAD

    Took a teensie break from binge-watching Scandal over winter vacation. Ever since finding these gold frames at an estate sale a couple months ago, I’ve been wondering about what to put in them. I’m not a huge collector of prints or art, as I have that DIY mentality and always think I can do something myself. Note to self: get over it and buy an art print already! Falling back on my habits, I tried creating a modern monogram out of natural material to pair with one of these new-old gold frames. I love the mix of natural, modern, and classic so this DIY fits right with the style I have going on in my apartment. Follow along if you’d like to make your own! Also, if you’re ever bored, hanging out in Cleveland, and it’s a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday: your welcome. I don’t think my fellow Clevelanders realize how good we have it in the estate sale realm!

    mossy monogram wall art | choose a monogram | PINEGATE ROAD

    Print out your favorite monogram, however large you’d like. This will be your base for the moss. I used Futura Bold for my “K” as I liked how clean and simple it would look paired with the natural fibers of the moss. I challenge you to explore what kind of letter fits your frame, your living space, and your personal style! As a side note, I believe I got this moss at Joann Fabric — it was left over from a project. Look in the area in any store where they have the fake flowers. This is usually sold in packets and people use it to cover up the floral foam when making arrangements. I…well, I use it to letter of course ;)

    mossy monogram wall art | place the moss | PINEGATE ROAD mossy monogram wall art | cover the monogram | PINEGATE ROAD mossy monogram wall art | cut around the monogram | PINEGATE ROAD mossy monogram wall art | finish cutting out the monogram | PINEGATE ROAD mossy monogram wall art | place mossy monogram in a frame and hang | PINEGATE ROAD

    I’m pretty pumped this wasn’t a catastrophe. Also, using frames that have space in-between the glass and the back is key. If you don’t have a place to get something like this, try searching for shadowboxes on amazon. A classic monogram or a script one would look great paired in a minimal white frame as another option.

    Happy crafting!

  8. January 8, 2014
    MOODBOARD | fitness guru

    moodboard | for a fitness client | PINEGATE ROAD

    Well here’s something bright and cheery to welcome you in to the new year! Working on this brand has been such a refreshing thing for me. Not only because of the vision my client has, but by how we’ve all been working together. While I rarely take on exchanges for design, I knew in my gut I had to take this opportunity and run with it — quite literally! My client will be working with me this next year to help me meet my health goals, and in return I’m helping her build out her online presence. She has a talented friend on board who is also going through her own personal health transformation, and it’s been pretty awesome combining our three visions so far. This project is for the mind, body, and soul and I couldn’t be happier about kicking it off at the start of this new year.

    core brand values | for a fitness client | PINEGATE ROAD

    This is the first time that I’ve shared keywords with you all. They are such an important part of how design decisions are made throughout the process. They are gleaned from the core of the client’s vision for the overall brand. This is where I’m so glad that I hunkered down and finished that communications minor in undergrad! hah. Having words and their associated meaning to transcend into design aspects is incredibly valuable. That’s what can transform a brand that’s not bad to a brand people genuinely want to connect with.

    Throughout all of our conversations, I noted themes and picked out words that kept popping up. After some final exploration, they were placed in three different categories and the strongest keyword was picked for each to stand as a core value for the project. Certain aspects about the project were introduced at the very beginning of our collaboration, but it’s in this process that the design decisions start to have something to lean on. If a design element is created, it better be for a reason that falls back to one of these core brand values, or it’s watering down the brand experience.

    For this moodboard, we have a mix of bright colors that play with the idea of empowerment. You can’t shy away from these hues. Using sans-serif typography as well as geometric shapes will keep things clean, simple, and relatable. Using these same shapes and lines to possibly create a larger design element would add to the feeling of connection. My client is trying to build community with her ventures, so showing this visually would be a fun addition! Elements will be used in a way that flow, change perspective, or have an essence of moving through eachother. This relates to the transformative nature of fitness, and how my client uses her talents to help others transform their lives.

    Oooh man am I excited about this one!

  9. December 16, 2013
    DIY | monogrammed gold sharpie mugs

    DIY monogrammed gold sharpie mugs | PINEGATE ROAD

    You’ve probably seen this pin floating around, right? It’s been in my head from the moment I saw it, and I knew it would come in handy come Christmas time. Thinking about what to get my co-workers for Christmas was daunting. You don’t want to over-spend and make them feel like you’re trying too hard, and you don’t want to give them something meaning-less just because. You want to do it right, and give them a little something to show them you care. In my case, I wanted to thank them for all the help they’ve been giving me as I started this new position, and the support they continue to give me as I learn my new job. Thankfully I work with a small team of five, and since our jobs involve picking out shiny adornments for stationery items we’ve all established gold and white as a favorite color combination. While I had thought about these for a little bit, these monogrammed gold sharpie mugs would make the perfect last-minute office gift to whip up this week if you’re stuck on what to do. Filled with matching Ferrero Rochers and tied up in cellophane with a golden ribbon, these are sure to spread some holiday cheer.

    DIY monogrammed gold sharpie mugs | the ingredients | PINEGATE ROAD DIY monogrammed gold sharpie mugs | draw on the monogram | PINEGATE ROAD DIY monogrammed gold sharpie mugs | prepping the mugs | PINEGATE ROAD

    Here, you’re going to want to thicken the letters where you would naturally make thicker strokes when doing calligraphy. Here’s a handy little guide to show you how if this is something you haven’t done before. I added polka dots as a simple accent around the top and bottom of the mugs, but the decoration is up to you! Pre-heat your oven to 425° and bake the mugs for 30 minutes. Turn off your oven, without opening the door, and let these sit in there until they are completely cool. After reading a couple posts about sharpie plates, this last step is key! And that’s a wrap:

    DIY monogrammed gold sharpie mugs | how to wrap it | PINEGATE ROAD

  10. December 9, 2013
    FROM THE DESK OF | jen serafini, designer & blogger

    From the Desk of Jen Serafini | PINEGATE ROAD

    I’ve been following along with Jen Serafini and her design for a little bit now, and I just knew she was the perfect next person to ask to be in this column. She shares about her process, her inspiration, and all about design over on her blog — she’s definitely a girl of my own heart in those regards. I hope that you enjoy this peek into Jen’s space and process as much as I did! Also, that wood-topped desk is incredibly dreamy and has me thinking about making my own version over here shortly. 

    Hi! I’m Jen Serafini, an art director and graphic designer living in the Windy city with my husband and little pup. I spent four years at Syracuse University where I earned my BFA in communications design. It really taught me to look at design as a holistic and strategic process that goes beyond just a pretty picture. When everything comes together and tells a cohesive story, that’s the good stuff. Currently, I work as a senior designer at Pinch Provisions and take on my own freelance clients as well. When I’m not designing, you can find me making pizza with my husband, decorating my apartment (over & over), eating sour candy, traveling, and endlessly searching for the perfect NYC bagel out here in the midwest.

    From the Desk of Jen Serafini | desk detials | PINEGATE ROAD

    What gets you jazzed?

    Exceptional typography, a great pair of shoes, editorial design, black and white patterns, bold colors, new york pizza & bagels, sour candy, a glass of red wine, the couch and my husband (and pup)

    Where do you go to find inspiration, and what are you inspired by?

    Lately I’ve been trying to step away from the computer and find inspiration in my surroundings. Chicago has such a talented creative community and I’m always blown away by the passion and pride that’s derived in this city. Whether it’s a photo shoot or a design conference, meeting other driven creative people and hearing their stories leaves me feeling so energized, inspired and excited to create.

    When I’m stuck at my desk, Designspiration and Design Work Life consistently has an amazing variety of work to browse through!

    From the Desk of Jen Serafini | a recent project |PINEGATE ROAD

    Tell me a little about this project and how it was inspired:

    This is a recent branding and blog design project I did for Girl Meets Brooklyn. I was really excited about this one since Cassie was so fun, energetic and enthusiastic about the creative process. It was a very collaborative and enjoyable experience from start to finish. The result is a fresh, bold design and a fun layout that breaks out of the standard blog template. I was really inspired by the architecture of the Brooklyn Bridge and used that as a jumping off point for the graphic patterns on either side of the site. I wanted the design to reflect a modern industrial look that compliments her content and personality. (blog developed by Dennise Saxton)

    From the Desk of Jen Serafini | on her desk | PINEGATE ROAD

    How has blogging effected your creative life, and vice versa?

    Having an online presence has opened the doors to so many new relationships and collaborations with creatives in my city and across the country. The blog has also provided me an outlet to share my process and creative exploration which is a great exercise for me as a designer; it helps me explore and grow outside of my normal client work.

    From the Desk of Jen Serafini | inspiration and process | PINEGATE ROAD

    If you could give one tip to the rest of us, what would that be?

    Take advantage of every opportunity you can and be passionate about the work you create. Sometimes the best projects are the ones with low budgets, or personal explorations after hours. Have an open mind and be willing to share your experiences, good or bad with others – there’s always a lesson that can be learned!

    Huge thanks to Jen for sharing with us today! Head on over to her blog for more inspiration and process — you won’t be disappointed!


















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