How to Design an American City Seal

Posted July 15, 2009 by mamaroo
Categories: Design


Most every time, it’s better to ask questions. What started off as a slight revision of a city seal, turned into a 16-version dance that, to my surprise, didn’t end horribly. There was definitely some frustration and preliminary lack of communication, which I can take partial blame for. I assumed they wanted Ben in the seal. They didn’t. I was told we couldn’t use the courthouse image at all and, well….today I got the news: after two months of racking my brain on what symbol/image to put in the middle of our little enclosure, the city had decided on the bottom graphic above.

So, in the end, the project turned out to be something that was very challenging, but very fulfilling. I feel like I birthed this baby…the old fashioned way.


GIVE Identity

Posted July 3, 2009 by mamaroo
Categories: Design

Version 1 of 3 Original Logo Designs (my favorite)

Version 1 of 3 Original Logo Designs (my favorite)

Version 2 of 3 Original Logo Designs (swaddled earth)

Version 2 of 3 Original Logo Designs (swaddled earth)

Version 3 of 3 Original Logo Designs (Chosen)

Version 3 of 3 Original Logo Designs (Chosen)

In response to Scomo’s comment to the Hug Me post, here are the three logo designs I did for the G.I.V.E. Initiative out of Austin, Texas. After researching hugs, I came up with the top two versions, but the client liked the leafy/earthy people in the third version.

It’s finally here!

Posted July 2, 2009 by mamaroo
Categories: Read


I picked this little guy up at the HOW Conference with a squeal of delight. After more than 15-years in the design community, my images and my words are collected within a front and back cover, for what they’re worth. I’m among some really great freelance designers, though, and that’s exceptionally cool.

If you haven’t seen me around already, just stop me next time you do. Chances are I’ll be carrying it around ready to show the next person who is willing to listen and look. (insert comment here about how I know how ridiculous I sound and that I fully realize I’m still in the honeymoon phase of this whole “being in a book” thing)

For any freelancers looking for great advice, you can get it here.

Another great freelance book can be found here also.

If I learned one thing at the HOW Conference in Austin…

Posted July 2, 2009 by mamaroo
Categories: Inspiration

…it’s this:

Lack of fear leads to creativity.

When I heard this, it made me realize just how fear-based my daily routine is. I wake up some, if not most, mornings fearing I’ll miss a deadline. I fear that I won’t find the solution for the design problem that’s next on my plate. I fear the client won’t like what I’ve done. I fear that one day, one of my designs will end up on one of those website/blogs that poke fun at how badly it’s designed. I fear of losing my design mojo. I fear looking silly among my peers. I fear there won’t be enough time for everything I want to do. And, regarding that last point, I tend to do none of it because I feel overwhelmed.

So, after a few days back and, unfortunately, deeply re-rooted into my old routine of not making enough time, I find that I’m growing tired of being afraid. Mostly because I think it breeds this necessity to always be stressed out and not let myself have enough fun. I mean, c’mon, most of the time I handle deadlines pretty well. And, let’s face it, there’s never just one design solution to every problem, there are several. And, chances are, unless I totally don’t listen to the client, I’ll get to at least one of them…eventually.

You know, I left Austin thinking, “I’m going to change. I’m going to finally do what that guy said his friend does where he doesn’t open his email until, like, 10am and uses all of that morning time to do creative stuff that he really WANTS to do. I’m going to be that girl. Sketch everyday. Be carefree. Etc. Etc.” But, you see, I’m not that girl. And, a few days away from it, I see how impractical some of those practices could be in my life.

I think the moral is this: be happy with what and how you do things. Especially if it works for you at least 80% of the time. Sometimes that’s the best we can hope for. I think I spend too much time wishing I could adapt this into my workflow and start designing in that style or lay out my office in this way, when the way I do things is, well, just fine.

But, I’d really like to be less afraid. I think that could be a good thing. I also think these tips that I brought home could help me with creativity, as well as with life in general:

  • Don’t get in a rut. Do something different every week. When you aren’t experiencing new stimuli, you stop growing.
  • Be honest, not brutally honest. (if I could put this one in all caps in the largest font possible, I would. Trust me on this one.)
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself. If someone is handing you a steaming pile of frustration, make it a challenge and see where it takes you.
  • Write down your thoughts. Everyday. More than once a day. Get your ideas out of your head and make sure you have a way to reference them. Not only does it get them out of your head, it gets them logged and available for you to revisit and see which ones are great and which ones aren’t so great.

Cushion for the Pushin’

Posted May 21, 2009 by mamaroo
Categories: Craft

That’s what I wanted to call my now defunct pincushion Etsy shop. But, I haven’t given up the dream. Here’s what I’ve been working on for the upcoming Mafia-themed show: jewel/ring-inspired finger pincushions:


my first garden.

Posted April 28, 2009 by mamaroo
Categories: Random. I know.


After tons of thought and talk about taking the homegrown plunge, I finally took direction from the current issue of ReadyMade. Our neighborhood isn’t known for it’s quality of soil, so the above-ground bed seemed like a perfect solution (it’s also Idgie-proof, hence the chicken wire surround).

It took a little over 2 hours (including one trip to Lowe’s to pick up more sod), a lot of sweat and a bit of elbow grease (the hardest part, by far, was the digging-up of the top layer of existing grass). Plan ahead! You’ll need at least 13 bags of sod to fill the entire frame.

I decided to go simple with the planting: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green onions and a variety of herbs. Some are seeds, which worry the novice gardener in me, but I figure I can replenish any duds with farmers’ market finds over the next month.

mafia show headbands.

Posted April 27, 2009 by mamaroo
Categories: Craft

Well, I’m two pieces down for our upcoming June mafia-themed show with the Indy Craft Mafia. I have a couple of finger pincushions left to design and make, as well as a possible fabric-collage-style wall hanging (which, Miss Elissa, I may use the one I’m starting on for you to use as my non-mafia-themed piece, if that’s cool).

I’m back on the felt horse again and am loving working on smaller scale items. I finish them quicker (sometimes in less than one Biggest Loser episode (side note: C’mon…does it really need to be two hours long?), and I’m finally feeling a sense of accomplishment with my crafting.

Here’s a look-see at my headband creations:

Swim with the Fishes I

Swim with the Fishes I

Swim with the Fishes II

Swim with the Fishes II

Blood Spatter Pattern

Blood Spatter Pattern