1. August 28, 2014
    6 tips for creatives working full time and freelancing

    6 tips for creatives working full time and freelancing

    While the juggle of freelance and other commitments has been something I’ve been trying to balance for a little over five years, this past year was the first time I took on the responsibility of full time employment. This has been a hard transition for me, as I’ve had the tendency to bite off way more than I can chew. Literally and figuratively — I’ve been to the doctors a couple times this year because food keeps getting stuck in my throat! Serious there, but kidding aside, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way that have been born out of some serious mistakes as well as taking notes on what was going well. If I can give you one over-arching tip, it’s to notice what’s going right, and to keep doing that.

    Anyways, here are my 6 tips for creatives working full time and freelancing on the side:

    1: Specialize

    Since moving to Ohio, I have worked on all sorts of projects on the side. I’ve taken on styling and photography, copywriting, consulting, branding, web design…the list goes on. What I’ve been learning over this past year is that I feel best when I am working on shorter-term projects. For now, I’m trying to focus on contract lettering projects. I can concept and letter over my lunch breaks, and then come home to edit and send off finals and be done with a project within a week. Getting work out the door on my off time, while still having a weekend full of fun feels incredible. I give this up a little when I take on bigger projects that require full-days of work that I can only do on the weekends. I’ll take them on here and there, but for now my heart is with these lettering projects because of the flexibility they afford my schedule and the passion I have towards doing them.

    2: Under promise, over-deliver, and over-estimate

    Over-promised, missed deadlines, apologies, and guilt. Been there, and I’m through. Keep lofty goals to yourself, and tell your clients about half of what you hope to accomplish. It’s not deceitful, it’s just honest. I’d much rather the client be happy with what they 1: assume they are getting and 2: a little something extra, than to be promised something huge and grand and end up with something less than. This is a huge one that I’m still working on. I get ahead of myself, and I let my passions speak louder than what my time allows. Also, over-estimate the time that it will take you to complete a task. Unless you’re up against a strict client-given deadline for a certain deliverable, double up the time you think you could get it done in. If you get it done early, your client is happy, and you’re happy! If you run in to snags, you have that buffer time to smooth them out.

    3: Learn to say no, to say yes

    My 2013 goal was to learn to say no. It’s treated me well. When you’re working a full time job, you usually have the liberty to take on only the projects that you’re super passionate about. Your regular work pays the bills, and the freelance is a little something extra. When you’re taking on these extra projects, they should be fun. This is one of the huge perks of doing both! You get great creative projects to do at work, and you get different projects to balance out those other creative needs on the side. Say no to anything that doesn’t immediately have you saying heck yes! When you say no to the so-so, it opens your schedule to say yes to the thrilling projects when they do come along. It’s so worth it.

    4: Connect with peers in and out of work

    Working for a creative company, I’m lucky to have so many other people who are in this very same position. A group of us have a monthly sushi lunch where we catch up with our lives, and usually end up talking through the struggles and benefits of doing this working full time and freelancing thing. Being a blogger also lead me to finding one of my creative soul sisters at work, which has lead to us collaborating and chatting about so many things we tackle in life as creatives. Outside of work, it’s been important to me to connect to others through instagram, by leaving comments on others’ blogs, and to be active in the online creative community. I definietely had my moments where it was all too much, but a blog post here, a ‘great job’ comment there, it all adds up! All of this leads to a network of people that are there for you in different but necessary ways. These connections help keep me inspired, and they help me gauge some of that ‘what’s going right’ business. It’s too much burden to be a solitary creative. Reach out, open up, and find out the possibilities of what some of these creative relationships can do for you all!

    5: Take smaller bites

    This is something that I’ve been learning since I went to Pursue in April. One of the speakers (eeep, I can’t remember who! Giving myself a wrist-slap) showed us how writing out to-do lists for our to-do lists in teeny tiny steps actually helps you get more accomplished. Herm!? Yeah. So what you do is that for each task you have that seems a little daunting or that you can’t quite make yourself manage, you write out every tiny step that is put in to that to-do item. Maybe it’s as simple as buying a new calligraphy pen — yeah, lettering girl at heart here. For example:

    1 – open safari

    2 – google ‘calligraphy pen’

    3 – browse for a calligraphy pen shop

    4 – compare prices at different shops

    5 – choose which one works for you

    6 – put it in your cart

    7 – get out your wallet

    8 – type in your card info

    9 – click purchase

    10 – celebrate!

    Kidding, kind of, on that celebration part, but honestly this does work. I’ve been breaking up to-do’s at work and it has been helping me manage things that seem a little daunting to me. By breaking up to-do’s for freelance, I’m able to get small aspects of work done on my lunch breaks that I would have otherwise spent worrying about how I was going to get the whole project done during the nights that week. Taking bite-sized pieces of work, and of food, is just the way to go for a more productive you.

    6: Give yourself grace

    This is the biggest one of all. I have extremely high expectations for myself, and it’s bitten me in the butt in the form of emotional sabotage waaaay too many times. Look at you, you’re basically working two jobs! That’s excellent! You did your dishes this week? CONGRATS. Learn to give yourself the opportunity to mess up, and learn in the process. Smile and solve when something does go wrong. The freaking out wont help the matter. I realize this is all simpler said than done, but it’s something I try and remember when I feel like I’m just going about life all wrong.


    And that’s that! For those of you who are working full time and freelancing, do you have anything else to add? This is certainly a work in progress, and I know we’re all just trying to figure it out one day at a time. Hope this helps full time workers, freelancers, and anyone just trying to manage their work load.

    PS: you’ve got this!


  2. 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!

  3. August 22, 2013
    TRAVERSER | 10

    traverser number ten

    TRAVERSER: french for — to pass, to cross, to traverse, to span.

    ONE—I spent a kind of stupid time looking up how to make baked alaska the other day. Ice cream + ovens + dessert? I’m in. This also makes me want to have a dinner party and wear a cute little apron over a cocktail dress. Anyone? anyone? no? ok.

    TWO—You guys, this concept! This design! What? I’m in.

    THREE—Ever since blog and web design became a thing that I work on occasionally, I’ve been on the hunt for unique user experiences in the web environment. The grid system on this site is slightly quirky and just right. And those pretty scarves they’re selling? That doesn’t hurt one bit.

  4. August 19, 2013
    REFLECTIONS | 4 | designing with the audience in mind

    designing with the audience in mind | PINEGATE ROAD

    This might be a “duh, Kelsey” kind of post, but I’m going to take a stab at it none the less. After seven years of calling myself a designer, It hasn’t been until this first job where I really and truly had to start thinking with the audience in mind. I was reading this article by Julie Zhuo about how to work with designers over my lunch break, hoping to glean some backwards information on how to work better as a designer working with others. While she is speaking generally, this quote was this lightning bolt to my brain about certain situations that I have been having a hard time pin-pointing at work: “designers may use their own experiences as a compass for what to focus on, when in fact they are not the target demographic.” Ta-da!

    How simple is that scenerio, and how often do you find yourself slipping into that as a designer? I know working alone on projects in grad school, and freelancing on the side I had to rely on my own expertise to create. When I was able to pick the project, often-times I situated the target audience around someone similar to myself so that I had a true understanding of what to base decisions off of. Clients often come to me for a certain aesthetic or have a target audience that is based around the audience I’ve had most of my practice dealing with. Even when working for a financial institution, the target audience was a post-grad young professional looking to take control of their finances early on—aka, still ‘me’. All of this time spent creating projects for audiences similar to myself has actually trained me to rely on my personal aesthetics as a benchmark for ‘good’ design.

    I don’t think this is a problem if you’re looking to build up your personal brand and you’re still meeting the needs of your client. It’s just a little different for me now. In the stationery world I’m designing for children, for mothers, for fathers, for people with a strict budget in mind, people who don’t value design as their main purchasing factor (gasp), and so many other possible contributing factors that are just new to me. In design critiques over the past couple weeks, I’ve been relying on my personal experiences and my own ideas about ‘good’ design to help guide my decisions and opinions. There had been something off, and I just couldn’t lay my finger on exactly how or why I should trust a design detail or aesthetic choice when I didn’t believe in it deep down. I know now that I wasn’t resonating with the audience. Directly stating this already has me in a better mind-set to move forward from. Here is where trusting in your team to make some of these over-arching decisions comes in, and where I resign myself to learning all over again. While I’ll still have my opinions and kooky ideas from time-to-time, I need to take a short while and learn to resonate with my new audience.

    Have you ever had an instance where you had to learn to design or work for a new set of standards? Change is hard sometimes :) As always I appreciate your advice and our discussions around these usually new-to-me topics. Cheers to life-long learning!

  5. August 2, 2013
    MOODBOARD | a natural and modern mix

    MOODBOARD | wedding photographer branding | PINEGATE ROAD

    Just before leaving Savannah, I was able to connect with a new client. She’s a wedding photographer who is looking to invest in her future and needed a cohesive look that would really pull what she stands for as a photographer together. Drawn to natural elements, with a classic and simple elegance, her style was right up my personal alley. Love when that happens! There’s a pop of gold in there for some glam, but as a whole the brand is meant to feel earthy, yet airy, put-together, and tangible at it’s core.  There is a dichotomy between organic and natural elements with sleek and airy modern lines in the moodboard, and this dichotomy has been at the core of the branding development.

    It’s always interesting to see how these come together. Some clients have their entire vision already set and need a designer to put it together and refine the details. Others have a killer aesthetic eye, but need a designer to create that designed vision. There are also a few who have goals and feelings but need the designer to help piece together all the bits and pieces to make the design work for their goals. It takes all kinds, and at this moodboard stage you can definitely get a sense of how the project is going to flow from there. In this instance, my client had already picked many of these pieces—killer eye, right? From there, I found patterns in her choices, added a few new elements, mapped out some color palettes, and helped identify the vision for the brand through keywords and phrases. These were used for decision-making guidelines as we worked through logo drafts. As I’ve been learning, it’s always nice to have a solid foundation of reasoning to why you’re making a design decision. It not only helps you grow into a better designer through critical thinking practices, it shows your clients and those you’re working with that you are making decisions based on design guidelines and in-depth thought rather than your personal sense of style or aesthetic. More to come on that thought though.

    Anyways, happy Friday friends! I hope you get to enjoy a fun summer weekend. Eating berries in the park and taking a long walk perhaps? Yes, that’s seriously my idea of an amazing afternoon spent. Maybe a book could join that party. This is my first weekend off in quite a while and I’m going to spend this time catching up with some freelance work and unpacking those dreaded last boxes. It’s gotten to a point where I haven’t needed anything inside of them for the past couple weeks, so they have ended up just sitting there, mocking my inability to handle out-of-work tasks. I’m coming for you boxes!

  6. June 4, 2013
    THESIS | kuratir

    Kuratir | Visual Thesis by Kelsey Cronkhite | PINEGATEROAD

    After taking this little break, today I finally felt the need to get back on here and share a little of what has been going on as far as the thesis went. As many of your know, blogging has been a huge influence on my creative life, and I wanted to start with this bud of inspiration and see where it would grow. After thinking through how it’s effected my life, and looking to others, and a lot of research in-between, the concept of the kuratir application was born. I created a video to show the basic premis for the application:

    Kuratir | watch the video | PINEGATEROAD

    For the design of the application and materials, I wanted to take the Pinegate Road green and use it as the main color for this application, as the spark for this was drawn from my personal blogging. From there, I wanted to use the circle in as many ways as possible. The logo is a manipulated version of Gotham Rounded. I loved that the circles could integrate themselves into the logotype. The logo works for both male and female audiences, as well as for designers and non-designers alike.

    Kuratir | app in action | PINEGATEROAD

    Much of the premis of kuratir is built upon the fact that our everyday experiences are what create the inspirations and new meaning in our lives—that’s what can inspire our creative endeavors. For the logo I played around with circles, manipulating them into free-form patterns to create a natural element out of complete geometry. It shows how these daily experiences can be singular at the beginning, but grow to create new meaning and great work as you go through the process. It also shows how the process can sometimes be the work of art itself—kind of how this blog is an ever-growing and changing venue for my process, but it an entity in and of itself all at the same time. I find so much beauty in the process, and I wanted the logo to show that essence.

    Kuratir | iPhone app | PINEGATEROAD

    While this is creates a nice foundation to grow upon—oh pun!—I would love to hear your thoughts. I have yet to delve into the user experience side of things too much, so your thoughts and opinions will really be what pushes this forward. Does this seem like something you would like to use as a creative? Is there something missing that you think you’d need? I’d love to hear it all! I’m hoping to work on this over the next year and hopefully have something to send off to kickstarter to make this really come to life. Helping people find their optimal creative potential is something I feel really strongly about, and while there are some strides made here, it’s really up to you to let me know where you think this needs to head.

    If it weren’t for you and this space you’ve helped support, this really wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks again to all those who participated in the survey a couple months ago, and to those who have been giving feedback along the way. It’s amazing to see how this all has grown and changed along the way.


  7. May 8, 2013


    It’s back! The second installment of Iterative Inspiration: a collaboration between myself and Rashi of Bucket of Squash. This week we chose this photo of a deconstructed salad to inspire our outcome, found via Oh Joy!, in this issue of Sweet Paul.

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | iterations | Pinegate Road

    What struck me first about this photo was both the transparency of the items in the photo as well as the spectacular light. I knew that I wanted to experiment with these two aspects for this project. Instead of working through with a mind map this time around, I did the first thing that came to my mind. I grabbed all the transparent items I could find around my apartment, held them up to a lit window and started snapping away in hopes of something striking. Annnnd, that totally happened.

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | turning point | Pinegate Road

    At first I thought I was going to grab sections from the different colored transparent areas and make some kind of abstract collage. As I got to my sixth or so item, something pretty neat happened. In the hand-soap bottle I was photographing, suddenly there was the view from my window, abstracted and colorful and turned upside down. I know we’ve all done this with our spoons, but it was really neat to see this new view from my apartment window.

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | iterations part two | Pinegate Road

    I started to look at what else I could photograph through this soap bottle. After a few rounds,  nothing seemed to match the quality of the photograph from out of my window. I realized that having the light from the window was necessary to get that crisp and beautiful upside-down reflection. So I went to the different doors and windows in my apartment and started to capture those different views. I ended up with three photographs that I thought captured the bright and beautiful essence of that first shot.

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | photo picks | Pinegate Road

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | making | Pinegate Road

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | final pieces | Pinegate Road

    A couple of months ago I won this giveaway on Design Improvised, and I still had a couple frames left over that I was waiting to fill. This project was the perfect chance for me to use the frames—and if I got bored of them, I could simply change out the photos with new ones easily due to the awesome design of these frames. I’m pretty obsessed with how I’ve been able to use these all over my apartment and not have that fear that I’m permanently committing to something I might not like on my walls in a couple weeks. So, I went ahead and cropped the photos to a composition I was happy with, printed them, cut them out, and filled the frames. Easy peasy.

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | art above desk | Pinegate Road

    With crazy high ceilings here, I’ve been so weird with how to decorate. Now that I’m graduating in less than a month it’s a little too late to really figure out what to do about this, but it hasn’t stopped me from hanging art and trying to make it as cozy as possible for the rest of my time here. These photos made the perfect addition to the space above my desk. Best of all, wherever I’m off to next, I’ll be able to take little pieces of my experience here with me. I’m not the most sentimental person, but when I do take the time to make note of particular experiences, I’m always glad I did. I love that these bring in some bright color to my space, and will remind me to keep thinking and experimenting in different ways to keep those creative juices flowing.

    ITERATIVE INSPIRATION | TWO | new wall art | Pinegate Road

    Head on over to Bucket of Squash to see how Rashi was inspired and to see her project.

  8. May 6, 2013
    FROM THE DESK OF | liz riden, fashion designer

    From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - Her Desk

    So I’m a little obsessed with this feature today—Pinegate Road has it’s first fashion designer feature! I’d like to welcome Liz Riden, fashion designer, blogger, and fellow Savannian. Liz and I first became acquainted when we were working for ban.do as a couple of their brand ambassadors this past fall. While we have yet to catch up in real life—weird—I love following her via instagram to take peeks into her fashion lifestyle and day-to-day inspirations. I feel like fashion is one of those things I like to dabble in, but Liz lives and breathes this stuff. It’s pretty inspiring! I hope you enjoy taking a look behind the scenes of fashion designer Liz Riden.

    LIZ: I’m currently a junior fashion design major at SCAD, and working on developing my first full collection. I’m keeping myself busy with my job at the school’s art museum, planning my wedding, and illustrating on the side! I blog about fashion and art on The Modern Mademoiselle, and work as a Fashion Associate for Re: Magazine.

    What gets you jazzed?

    I really thrive when I’m around other creative people! There is something so inspiring and refreshing about being able to have a dialogue about art and design, and then infusing that into my own work.

    From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - vingette 3

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

    When I’m truly stuck and can’t seem to get inspired, the first thing I do is turn off my computer and get out and do something. I find myself getting stuck in the rut of only getting inspiration online, and that isn’t always good. I love vintage hunting to look at design details and textiles, a good iced Americano, and digging through art and photography books.

    When it comes to fashion, I’m always inspired by the 1950’s and very feminine styles. Right now, I can’t get enough of florals, both in my apartment and in prints.

    From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - illustration copy

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

    I’m currently working on two different projects (three if you count planning a wedding…which I certainly do!). The first project is my new illustration Instagram, liz draws. My fiancé was the creative mastermind behind this idea, encouraging me to do sketches on my ipad that I could quickly share. As I’ve been sketching on my ipad, I’ve really been inspired by Irving Penn’s flower still life photography, and hope to develop my sketches into prints and notecards soon!

    From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - fashion illustration From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - a recent project

    My second project is the beginning stages of developing my own apparel line! For my first collection, I really want to focus on color and texture and make each piece a statement of it’s own. For this, I drew a heavy amount of inspiration from Frida Kahlo and her work, especially focusing on bold color and floral details.

    From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - her style copy

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

    I have found that it’s such a great outlet for me to share inspiration, thoughts on fashion/design, and have a voice. The best thing about blogging is that it’s like a creative journal for me to go back and see what I did, what inspired me, or how much I have grown since then. It also has been so essential and beneficial for networking within the fashion industry.

    From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - vingette 1 From the Desk of Liz Riden of The Modern Mademoiselle - vingette 2

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

    As a kid, my parents always told me “don’t be afraid of being awesome”, and that is something that has always stuck with me. No matter what field of study or career, it is so easy to get discouraged by what people may think, or what people are already successfully doing before you. This simple reminder has kept me motivated to make my own mark in the fashion industry, and keep striving to be my personal best.

    Big thanks to Liz Riden for sharing a look into her creative life today! Check out more on Liz at The Modern Mademoiselle.

    Happy Monday everyone. 

  9. April 25, 2013
    PORTFOLIO | money matters

    MONEY MATTERS | logo and blog design | design by Pinegate Road

    I guess it’s just launch season! Introducing the new blog design and logo for finance blog, Money Matters. Blogger Emily contacted me a while back to give a fresh new look to this finance blog run through Mid American Credit Union. They have Emily writing about her life as a recent graduate and twenty-something navigating the new waters of personal finance. With a fun and modern vibe, and a little vintage aesthetic thrown in there with the color palette, we created a design scheme that nods towards the physical elements you might use to manage your own personal finances. The logo actually draws elements from the dollar bill with the decorated border—this is why I love design research!

    MONEY MATTERS | design elements | design by Pinegate Road

    I hope you can head over to Money Matters, take a look, and leave Emily some love! She is a terrific girl, and she brings a really great light to this sector of our lives that many of us could probably use a bit of a freshening up with.

    On a side note, I am taking on new clients starting around June for blog designs, logo designs, look books, whatever! If you have a fun new design project and you think we might be a match, contact me and we can work together now to hit the ground running come June.

    Have an excellent Thursday everyone!

  10. April 12, 2013

    lately | Pinegate Road

    So where did this week go, huh? I’ve spent almost every day this week working deeper and deeper into my visual thesis, and reading a ton on interactive design, our brains (yeah!), and even some on creative processes. The written part is all figured out as to structure and topics and found quotes, but a couple pages still need to be written. I can’t believe how I went from a panic a couple weeks ago, to kind of smooth sailing. There will be some road bumps ahead, I’m sure, but for now it’s more about being able to truck along than anything. It’s always nice when you find those last couple things that seem to tie up all those loose ends. If you’re in to reading what I’m reading, check it out:

    Learning to See—A great post on how we learn as graphic designers.  There was a great part in this post about the difference between knowing typography and being an expert in typography that had me all ‘yes yes yes!’—then more of those moments happened. Just read it.

    Designing with the Mind in Mind—I’m only a bit through this one, but if you’re into web design or UX design, this is a great one. It shows you how our brain works, and how to design interactive elements based on how we think as humans. I’m way into it. Hah.

    How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer—A look into famous graphic designers and their creative processes. Two words: Stephan. Sagmeister.

    Other than thesis, I’ve spent a lot of time blowing my nose and sneezing and taking allergy medicine. I think half of my week is spent trying to figure out how to act like a normal human that isn’t terribly allergic to the outside right now. I really need to get my hands on some local honey, stat.

    I hope you have a lovely weekend everyone. I’m off to craft and read and to generally fill my brain with knowledge. Oh, and these happened again. Snacks galore.

    Background by Pheobe Wahl // Foreground by Megan Cignoli


















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