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Things I do

Surprise! Happy 70th birthday, dad!!

Surprise! Happy 70th birthday, dad!!

Planning a surprise party is not easy. Especially when you have a year for everyone who knows to screw it up. :p But with all of the secret convos, gathering of old photos, and getting our dad out of the house without suspicion, we managed to pull it off! I’ll avoid getting into all the boring-to-strangers details, but I wanted to share a few of the things we did to make it extra special.

I spent the past few months focusing a lot of my time on my dad’s surprise 70th birthday party. Last August I put together a website to get my extended family members excited about coming to Michigan to help surprise him, and it apparently worked since we had several show up! I had family and friends who he’s closest to send me video messages of memories, what they appreciate most about him, or just a simple happy birthday to be compiled into a video to be played at the party (which I was quite proud of considering it was one of my first videos). I designed t-shirts printed by Custom Ink (toddler shirts were made via iron-ons) which were rolled and tied with a personal tag as well as homemade banana bread & jams, all of which were provided in a Sharpie-designed paper gift bag with a bottle of Michigan wine to those who made the trip. We had old photos enlarged and printed by Costco (a much better deal than Staples or Kinkos) and decorated the crap out of our rental with bright and shiny things. I also created a mini book of messages from my dad’s former coworkers. He was crazy surprised and overwhelmed by all the details we put into it…aka yessss, Success!! 😉

Below are a few samplings (you’ll have to excuse my images, I neglected to photograph all the details).

website mac
The website provided visitors with information to get them excited about coming to MI and celebrating my dad’s 70th.
website ipad
I took advantage of Wix to create a responsive site. My goal was to make it as easy as possible for family to make the trip.
animated logo for video
I animated the t-shirt design for the end of the video to bring the event full circle.
t-shirt design
The design for adult tees; toddler shirts were similar, but created as iron-ons.
shirts rolled
Each t-shirt was rolled and tied with a custom label so our visitors had an easy time finding their name and size in their group bags.
gift bags
We wanted our guests to feel special for making the long trip, so we put together a gift bag with their t-shirts, a bottle of local wine, homemade banana bread and jam and some goofy bday glasses and noisemakers. We used craft paper bags and decorated each one differently with a sharpie.
banana bread
The bread was wrapped and tied with string and a plastic knife for easy snacking on the go.
jam
I made three different types of jam and topped each jar with a cute napkin (for snacking on the go and easy clean-up), tied with string and a tag which had the type of jam on the front and the recipe on the back.
Coworkers book
My dad was a physicist, so I wanted the book from his former coworkers to be science-themed and more than printed email messages.
tshirts on guests
T-shirts on some of our guests while at the beach for sunset.
How To Get Your Site Noticed

How To Get Your Site Noticed

When I started as a “professional” graphic & web designer in 2007, I perused galleries all over the place for inspiration, wondering what it took to make it onto these sites. I assumed these had to be well-known designers with an amazingly deep understanding of development, compliant coding, or were born with endless amounts of creative ideas. I’m not saying they aren’t those people, but it’s not all of them. I know this, because I’ve recently found myself surprisingly amongst them.

Yay for some lovin’ from OnePageLove.com!

Yay for some lovin’ from OnePageLove.com!

This morning I woke up, did my usual, wandered into the office to check my Google Analytics, and saw I already had 143 hits from around the world and it was only 10 am. I immediately thought my site got hacked.:p Once I delved into the traffic sources a bit more I realized a lot were referrals and from the site OnePageLove.com.

MySQL databases, php forms, & dynamic results, oh my!

MySQL databases, php forms, & dynamic results, oh my!

So when I first moved to Maryland I had several interviews going on in one week. One of the companies was looking for a web designer/developer so I thought I’d give it a try. For my interview they asked me to put together a page where someone can register/login, take a survey, and then produce live results once they hit submit. I suppose I should emphasize I’m more on the design than development side of things so this kind of frightened me (oh, and I had 1 day to put it together). After a few moments of wondering if I should cancel the interview I finally said to myself, why not take a stab at this, what’s the worst that could happen, you and they both realize it’s not the job for you and you’ve learned something new in the process.

Can’t-Miss Tutorials for Graphic Designers

Can’t-Miss Tutorials for Graphic Designers

I love when I can sit down and take the time to learn new tricks for my print designs, photography, or interactive stuff. Over the years I’ve created a bookmark haven of inspiring tutorials and now I want to share them with YOU! You may find some of the tips to be tedious or too extensive, but once you apply them to your designs, they can truly enrich your skills & take your work to the next level.

Yum! Here… have a bite of some CSS3 PIE!

Yum! Here… have a bite of some CSS3 PIE!

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a bit behind the average techy guru at picking up on new ideas and technology. I didn’t start REALLY getting into tweeting until this year, I just now hopped on board the “one-page jQuery scroll” train, & this summer was the first time I touched a WordPress theme. So some of you may say, CSS3 Pie, really? That’s been around for a while, where have you been?! Maybe it’s the midwesterner in me (we always have been a step behind), but either way, here I am now, excited to share a yummy surprise courtesy of Justin Hubbard on webdesign tuts+… Css3 PIE.

A long explanation on portfolio board preparation

A long explanation on portfolio board preparation

Oh man, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Last week my sister came to town from Michigan, one of the best weeks I’ve had since moving to Maryland. We got to enjoy a few days of nice ‘weathas’ (one gorgeous day out in Frederick… adorable downtown!). Luckily for me, each day she was here I received emails/calls from people interested in potentially hiring me (I think she should probably move in, cuz apparently she’s my lucky charm). So after bidding my sister adieu, I busted a move to get my portfolio boards put together for the three interviews I had this week. And now, because I know you’re all sooo interested, I’m going to share a bit about that awesome process and minor tips that could make a big difference.

Shazam! Another Behance Project!!

Shazam! Another Behance Project!!

As I was putting together my portfolio, I realized I have a lot of work I’ve done over the last three years, and well, even before that with school work. My problem was that I didn’t really have a place to share it, I didn’t want to overload my personal site with miscellaneous projects. That’s where the Behance Network comes in. What I love about this site is it’s free, easy to share work (with other social media networks too), and it’s another place to find future employees/employers. Just the other day I had the luxury of someone contacting ME to see if I was interested in a potential full-time job (warning: ridiculous onomatopoeia ahead)…SHAZZZAMMMM!!!

Balancing Act: Job Application/Interview Etiquette

Balancing Act: Job Application/Interview Etiquette

For the last two weeks I’ve been putting together my new résumé & several cover letters so I can start applying for jobs. I remember back when I first graduated from MSU I looked to my parents or online posts for help as far as what’s the proper etiquette for writing cover letters, résumés, & giving answers in interviews. Three years later I’m discovering etiquette for graphic design positions is totally different than that for fields outside of the “creative” industry.

Out with the old…

Out with the old…

… & in with the new! I finally finished my site redesign, annamonroe.me, after almost a year of knowing it was going to need to be done & months of sketching, research, mock-ups, etc.  There are definitely some parts I love & some that I’ll probably keep changing for the next few weeks until I can claim satisfaction.