Enchantment of the Tangible Kind

This is how my day normally unfolds: I tiptoe lightly to my studio just as dawn is breaking, leaving behind the soft snores of my sleeping better half. Some days I go for a run but many days I reach guiltily for my phone, like a child stealing a cookie before dinner time, taking a peek into my inbox and social media feed even before breakfast. The moment my fingers tap the screen of my palm sized link to the world, it’s a downward spiral into a digital existence in which I can’t quite completely disconnect from for the rest of the day.

They say our life’s accomplishments is created in the mundane, everyday moment, in the things and situations we give most of our attention to and it is with this sobering thought that I feel a deep soul shudder.

Yes, I work from home, yes my inbox, my social media feed, my digital gadgets and software play a gargantuan role in what I do as a modern-day creative entrepreneur-it’s how I connect and market my work, how I manifest my imagination. But the real question is, how big of a role do I want it to be? [click to continue…]

My Brand Design Interview by Brand Master Lisa Haggis

Every now and then the universe sends a kindred spirit my way and the connection and mindmelding is so dazzling it’s like we’ve known each other forever! Lisa Haggis is a Brand Master/Strategist and she recently contacted me for an interview series for her blog to chat about my brand design philosophy.

A 30-minute interview became a three hour jam session on the fascinating storytelling world of branding and brand design. Here’s a little snippet from Lisa’s blog, be sure to hop over for a peek, it was very well-received! Lisa did a wonderful job of editing our chat into a final 30-minute form. While we certainly enjoyed nerding over branding, she was right to think you’d prefer a more digestible version of it!


Watch the interview:

Here’s what we cover:

The value of finding the right creative keywords for your brand, and how to do it.
The 2 keys to brand memorability. (3:00)
Finding your brand personality. (Amy has a great tip for brands that are not based upon the personality of the founder.) (4:24)
What you should know before investing in design. (6:14)
The secret to a great logo, and the #1 rule that should never be broken. (10:34)
What you can DIY, and some good rules of thumb. (16:55)
Choosing the best font for your brand. (20:18)
Beyond the business card: tangible gifts that build your brand. (23:12)

Lisa prepared some great Tweet-ready takeaways. Here they are:

“Tangibility is going to set brands apart in the next five years. You can make an impression in a big way.”

“Choosing a font? Think high-end magazine, not take-out menu.”

“Brand personality isn’t about adding more, it’s about being more you.”

Tell me, what was your most favorite tip from the interview? Which advice will you be implementing immediately? Leave me a comment below or ask me any additional questions you might still have!


If this interview sent a million lightbulbs flashing in the upper story and you’d like to talk about working with me, check out the Visual Story Experience, my unique brand-visioning + hand-crafted logo design experience. I look forward to imagineering with you!



The Heart Revolution


My dear imagineer, this story today has been scratching at me lately like a little puppy looking for attention. I can’t shake it off and I know I want to give it the love it’s asking for so here it is!

Today I’m sharing a very special post. I want to take you on a little time travel to 5 years from now and take a peek there. There’s something on the brink that’s already happening. In fact little strains of pink-colored threads have started weaving its way into our current space.

We are on the brink of a Heart Revolution : Intuitive decision makers, soul scanners, meaningful minimalists. That’s the future.

Brevity, clarity, simplicity. HEART. Folks have little patience for much else!

♥What does a Heart Revolution Look Like? An Imagination Exercise

  • Folks only work with/buy from people they are recommended to
  • Folks only work with/buy from people they emotionally resonate with
  • Folks only work with/buy from people they are fascinated and enchanted by
  • Folks only work with/buy from people who give them something that is meaningful to them
  • Folks only work with/buy from people who make them feel great throughout the process
  • Folks only work with/buy from people they can trust
  • Folks only work with/buy from people who they know can provide them something they cannot get anywhere else

In this world, our inboxes are distraction-free, by choice because letting an ounce in is painful. Folks unsubscribe from anything but the most important. (Have you ever been to a Discount Store?)

Because our attention is sacred and information is overwhelming, we edit, edit and edit, letting into our lives only what is most meaningful to us.

The last point in the imagination exercise above is really hard. It really is. While we would all love to come up with the next brilliant idea (myself included!), the thing is, we’ll most likely hit upon something that’s already been done before or get paralyzed by comparison-itis.

So how do you make yourself memorable and worthy of doing business with?

The Heart Revolution is the reason why sustainable, social entrepreneurship, crowd-funding and craft businesses are on the rise. Why creative businesses is on the rise. Yes we want something different, but we also want something meaningful, to us. And if you don’t resonate emotionally, you don’t get looked at.

And it’s not even about being remarkable, it’s about being you, because YOU are remarkable, just as you are. You just have to give yourself permission to shine.

Come join me at the Story Parlor for The Sticky Brand Workshop (free at the moment) and we’ll take you out, polish you and show you off to the world, beautiful, imperfect, glorious and wholeheartedly amazing.


The Meaning of Things


When it comes to giving someone something to mark a special occasion, saying thank you, or just because it’s expected, the phrase that often comes to mind is: “It’s the thought that counts”. But that phrase doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy and do-goody inside. To me it’s an excuse. An excuse to be frivolous and flippant about choosing something as significant as a gift that adds to someone’s intimate space. It’s a phrase that’s fraught with guilt-inducing feelings and subterfuge. Of lying about liking something and then secretly placing it in the yard sale pile. It’s an excuse for not trying to know someone well enough to understand if this something you’re giving them is something they’ll truly value.

Shocked? Let me backtrack a little.

On Hoarding.

I’m a hoarder. I’ve always been. My mom and dad are both hoarders so you can say, it’s in the family. We have boxes of memories, some we’ve not looked at in 10 years. I cherish the idea that I have kept a neon yellow button badge to remind me of some obscure amusement park visit from 20 years back, a memory that is not particularly significant or even memorable. I still have a big box full of files I kept of my bills from my first apartment on my own and clippings of dreamscapes I was creating fresh out of college. Are they relevant to my life right now? No. Do they need to occupy a physical space all of its own? No.

[click to continue…]

A Fun Little Tool for Making Quick, True-to-You Decisions

My dad likes to tell this story every time my mom and I run into a color-choosing dilemma when we shop together. A little over 10 years ago when I was an impressionable college student in Perth, Australia, my dad visited me and we went shopping for my very first Princess Phone. I had my own room in a house I was sharing with some friends and I needed one so my folks could call me directly. I was attracted to (no judging taste please!) a line of jelly phones in a gorgeous array of beautiful colors. So my dad and I stood there while I asked him, “Daddy, which color phone should I choose?”

To this date, my dad likes to recount that we spent AT LEAST ONE HOUR, quite possibly more, at the store, back and forth between phone colors choosing the perfect jelly color for my phone. What a tragic time and energy waster! If only there was a better and faster way to make decisions like these…(yes there is, read on!)

Today, believe it or not, I’m an artist and designer making such decisions everyday and often very quickly and intuitively. What changed? I discovered a special little decision-making tool. It’s an amazingly wonderful little contraption and it’s been instrumental in helping me make quick decisions in my life and business in a way that’s delightful, fun and true to me. And the best thing is, I’m going to share it with you so you can use it too!

heart-compassThe Heart Compass is my little imaginary decision-navigation tool with a gold needle that always points to ♥ (for Heart). It’s not a scale or a rule, there are no degrees of heartfulness. Much like a north compass, It’s ♥ or nothing. When the little gold needle points to ♥, it means my decision aligns to my story, my soul and my truth.

There is one little caveat though, using the Heart Compass requires trust, the kind of trust you’ll have for a regular north compass. You must trust that it will tell you the truth. [click to continue…]

The Concluding Story of a Little Metal Box

tingling-rejectMy darling imagineer, 2 weeks ago I asked this curious little question: Can I transform how a simple, ordinary metal tin is perceived by narrating different {visual} stories for it? The answer? Well, it blew my mind off like a celebration champagne bottle cork.

Not only was it the most fun I’ve had with a creative challenge yet, the kind of imagination I was seeing from my imagineers was nothing short of strawberry-shortcake-fantastic (read on, you’ll see what I mean). And the lessons learned? Oh quite a shining few, and I’ll be sharing all these as well.

Here’s a summary of the premise in case you missed it the first time around here. 5 days, 5 ordinary mint-tin doppelgangers, 5 {design} stories. And there were rules of course (to spice the challenge up), my hand-illustrations only, tension, diversity, unexpected delightfulness and most of all, gobs and gobs of fun.


Part of the way through, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to ask my imagineers what they thought was in each box just by how it appeared on the outside? This ended up being, for me, the highlight of this creative challenge. Never judge a book by its cover, or a box contents by its outside? Oh yes, much judging going on, which you’ll see ( I’ve included some of my favorites), and all wonderful. Important lesson learned: appearances matter.

Presenting….the 5 Storytelling Tins (click images for larger version)!


Tin Storytelling Day 1 (above second from the left)

This is the one that started it all, a quick concept piece to show a talented business owner I was talking to. I wanted it to be vintage-inspired, a little cheeky and fun.
Here’s my favorite imagineer guess, from Sally Ann. How amazing is her answer? I can see it in my mind’s eye so vividly. Sally Ann has an incredible way with words!:

“The mints inside are the color of kisses. They are the shade of pink when it is flushed with joy, the color of summer roses. Each little candy is in the shape of kissing lips, which almost resembles the heart which is a-flutter. The flavor is vanilla-mint, fresh but also sweet and familiar. A delicate pink tissue lines the simple box, its edges are sweetly scalloped like a valentine.”

Tin Storytelling Day 2 (above right)

The story, a sweet little box for something sea-inspired, perhaps a little gift shop in a small beachfront town.


Tin Storytelling Day 3 (above left)

The story? Something for a the forest wanderer, pebble-picker, nature lover. And Kimberely totally picked up on it:

“Beautiful shells with opalescent colors, sweet lil stones that are smooth to the touch…”

Tin Storytelling Day 4 (above middle)

 This was a fun one, I wanted to experiment with something edgier but still elegant, like a lady all dressed up in leather and chains but instead of being stereotypically brash, she’s sweet, and polite and all class. There were many good imagineering going on with this so it’s a tough pick. Chocolates seem to be on the mind, for some reason. Lesson learned: Perception works in mysterious ways, it just might surprise you.

“Individually wrapped dark chocolates with mint, coco nibs, almond pieces, and cayenne pepper.” -Patrick (is your mouth watering yet?)

“Beautiful jewellery I bought by myself for myself with a note to myself about why I deserve it.” –Lisa (I love love how empowering this is!)

Tin Storytelling Day 5 (right)

This is one of my favorites. For the exploring, wanderlusting heart. Tracy left a beautiful quote for this and I just had to share it:

“It seems to me there’s so much more to the world than the average eye is allowed to see. I believe, if you look hard, there are more wonders in this universe than you could ever have dreamt of.”–Richard Curtis, Vincent and the Doctor

Does this box contain a compass & a map maybe? For someone who travels the world looking for something precious?” -Tracy. (Yes! Also maybe a tiny little hand-crafted jewel of a magnifying glass, a miniature leather journal and a little gold pen, for recording all those wondrous sightings!)


Are you enchanted yet? I am, completely. The last and most important lesson learned: imagination can surprise us in so many delightful and important ways, always be creating experiences to tease it out. 

To wrap it all up, let’s examine the three important lessons learned:

Apply this in how you approach your brand and product storytelling (packaging design) and it will absolutely change how you perceive your product packaging!:

  • Oh yes, appearances matter. (Don’t let anyone tell you any different.)
  • Perception works in mysterious ways, it just might surprise you. (Reaction is always better than no reaction, horrors!)
  • Imagination can surprise us in so many delightful and important ways, always be creating experiences to tease it out. ( Use this to your advantage, story-tell in a way that transports your peeps to worlds you want them to be in, where your product or service wears the bejeweled crown)

This creative challenge has been one of the most playful, useful and deliciously satisfying exercises I’ve done so far and I’m having so much fun, and seeing so much imagination from you that there will be future ones, I promise! So keep an eye for it. I’ve got some big, orange-juicy ideas brewing inside the tree space!

Tell me, imagineer, did the storytelling tin guesses above coincide with yours? What other concept pieces would you like to see me take on in future creative challenges? Chocolate boxes? Welcome goodie bags? CD packaging? Leave a comment below and I just might pick your idea!


And of course, for the ultimate product storytelling (packaging design ) adventure, there’s this:





Story of a Little Metal Box

Do you remember that moment in front of the mirror just before you rouge your cheeks with a pinch of crimson gel, or press a soft chocolate-brown pencil to your eyes? You know, that few fleeting seconds where you wonder how a few dabs here and a stroke or two there can entirely transform the way the world perceives you? Isn’t it fascinating?

Recently, as I was preparing some concept pieces to express a particular feeling for a potential client I stumbled by happy accident upon a new challenge:

Can I change the way a simple, ordinary, inexpensive and easily found little metal box  is perceived, by narrating a different visual story for it every day for 5 days? [click to continue…]

Enter The Story Parlor


To all my curious kittens and imagineers, I recently embarked on a brand new charetteering project I created as a gift to you, the grand opening of The Story Parlor, a (virtual at the moment) tea +converstation room about your biggest {brand} storytelling blind spots and pains.

Pop over for a visit here to find out what this surprise project is and how to get invited to a parlor charette session! You can also check out the conversation that happened for the first one, which was a success, much to my delight!

So many folks stopped by to like the page and we had a few conversations going on at the same time which was a little madness for me to coordinate as posts were happening all over the place and not in the original thread! (Some organizing very much necessary for future sessions). The charette topic of the day was: [click to continue…]

Hoops, A Wishing Chair and The Storybook Tree


Something’s a-brewing here in the tree-studio…but I can’t say much more than it sails my balloons (I promise I will share more later)! However I can share this: the 30-Day Sketch Challenge (albeit a little drawn out) Round 2 ‘Imagine…’ is in full swing, more than halfway through. For the next 12 sketches, I will be imagining some magical spaces for my dream studio. Above is a trio to start with…

The Storybook Tree

Of course, the ultimate studio would be nestled in my tree of dreams.

The Twirling Room

A room full of hoops in candy colors and thrifted gilt mirrors, for those mini dance breaks in between creating.

[click to continue…]

Your Treasure Box of Self

My mom and I are craft buddies. As a talented craftsperson (see her hand-crafted creations above) she is my main source of inspiration in what I do as a paper artisan and brand designer.  Recently, while we were hanging out watching our favorite home decor design show, I asked her what she would have been if she wasn’t a schoolteacher for over 30 years.

My mom and 2 year old me.

Now my mom comes from a generation of women where there were not many choices of what you can do to make a living. So while she was a great schoolteacher for a long time, if she were given the choice today, my mom would have chosen arts and crafts. The academic institution where I grew up had no room for art or creativity. By the time I was in school, what little art classes there were had dwindled to a handful a week, occasionally pushed aside for ‘more important’ skills like math or language.

My mom is not the only one I know who keeps a little treasure box of self locked up for years. It’s a secret archive of all the facets of her crafty self she can’t be as a schoolteacher. Now in her retiring years it is finally unearthed and she enjoys making fabric flowers and couture evening bags and even attempted a gorgeous mod-A line dress lined in purple for me!

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