New Paper Cut!

IMG_20130530_202330Okay, you’re gonna want to stay tuned until the end for this one, because I might be revealing some provocative information and LOTS of pictures!

So, I thought this week I’d walk you all through a paper cut from start to finish. Back when I first started taking Exacto to paper I showed one of my teachers and she said, “Before you know it, you’ll be designing your own.”  “Haha!” I scoffed, “Not bloody likely!” Then two months later I designed and cut my own. Go figure.

The first step is planning it all out. If you’re going for a kind of “window” effect, then you’re going to need to make sure your design touches the edges of your paper. It sounds obvious, but someone whose name sounds like Reth Rousil didn’t realize this the first time she did a paper cutting. I know! What a dumb ass! So I thought I’d mention it just in case.

Now what I do then is scan it into the computer. This way, you can keep that particular design for future use without damaging your original. Plus, because I am not always smart, I can block out the areas I’m going to cut avoiding any future disasters. tree-drawing

Here is the scanned drawing with the areas to cut out in grey. Apparently I upped the contrast a lot and there are some notes about another project bleeding through. So glad it’s not something like, “Oh dear God. Are her shoes prescribed for orthopedic reasons??” Not that I’d ever write something like that (I’d whisper it). Moving on, print out the now blocked out drawing, because it’s now our template.

Anyway, I didn’t get any pictures of the next part, so we’re just going to have to wing it. Get a self-healing cutting mat, a number eleven Exacto knife, some art tape (one roll will last you the rest of your life), the paper you want to cut, and the template. Tape down your paper, then tape your template over that. If you want, you can also tape down your mat so it doesn’t move. We’re ready to cut! Just go slowly. You can always go over an area again if your blade didn’t go all the way through.

Maybe get a kitty friend to help you!

Maybe get a kitty friend to help you!


And eventually, we’re done! In this case, I layered it over a piece of grey paper and a cut a circle out of cool textured paper for the moon. Between every layer I glued little squares of foam core board to give some dimension.

Eh, I guess I owe you guys some provocative information? Sometimes I say and do dumb things (that was not the provocative info, just fact). If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that I’ve had a little ongoing joke about what I actually look like. My favorite is a toss-up between the people in a llama costume on the beach and the mugshot of a random person of indeterminate gender.  I’ve also told you guys about my 70ish pound weight loss. Well, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and share my “before” picture and current shot.

This is a little tough for me (and by “a little” I mean “a lot”) because my “before” picture is super embarrassing and not just because of my work pager and Jesus sandals. I thought I looked so cute that day and was MORTIFIED when the miracle of digital photography showed me instantly how big I had let myself get. I lost about 60 pounds with Weight Watchers, but by the time I enrolled back in school I had gained most of it back. I was only about 13-14 pounds less then that picture. About a month ago I showed some of my friends who didn’t know me then and they were nice about it (my friends are awesome), so I thought I would bite the bullet and take it public. You can always tell when I’ve restarted watching Mad Men again, because I have to let out my inner Joan Halloway via pencil skirts. Oh and the second one is in the bathroom mirror (ignore the litterbox) and that’s why my tattoo jumps legs.


So that’s me. I’m not sure if I’ll have the courage to leave it up, but there it is. Have a great week!


Diary of a (Former) Intern


Their awesome logo designed by my awesome boss

If you’ve been with me for a little while then you probably remember The Great Summer Internship Search of 2013. It was full of frustration and…well, mostly frustration as my resumes went into some vast void where, as far as I know, they’re still sitting. But FINALLY something panned out. I was a little bit secretive just in case there were any lurking weirdos, but now the internship is over and any lurking weirdos will have to stalk me the old-fashioned way (I don’t know what that means either). I thought I’d give you guys the lowdown on my 3 months as an intern.

To start off, the job was at Loaves & Fishes, a food pantry serving Du Page County, Illinois. This is one of the wealthiest counties, not just in Illinois, but in the United States. It sounds a like a place that wouldn’t have a use for a food pantry, but 3.6% of the population live below the poverty line, that’s over 30,000 people. That’s not including the people who may be teetering on the edge or who are suddenly on hard times and need help temporarily. But Loaves & Fishes provides more then just food. They have English as a Second Language classes, resume writing assistance and many other empowerment programs to help people get back in the black (that’s the good one, right?).

I guess I was expecting the actual pantry to be something like the DMV, but with food. It’s nothing like that. It’s bright and full of smiling faces who actually want to help you. I’ve seriously never been anywhere where the people were so consistently helpful and nice and weren’t trying to sell or convert you to something. Really, every single person. At my last job, if you said, “Good morning!”, people would glare at you and say, “What the hell is her problem?” So you can see why an entire facility of nice people would be a bit shocking. To illustrate just how nice they all were, the day I tucked my dress into my panties, someone actually told me about it before I left the restroom and didn’t even gossip about it!

Anyway, the first graphic design related lesson I learned was- I knew nothing. I mean, I know design principles and have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, but working in a professional environment is so different from school. At school our teachers are pretty much like, “Do what you feel!!!”  At a job it’s more like, “Here’s the colors, here’s the graphics, here’s the fonts. Make something out of them.” Of course, that’s overly simplified, but you get the idea. I did get to create the artwork for their Halloween fundraising campaign and that came out super awesome. I’ll share it with you guys once it goes live on their site.

One of my ongoing projects was to ask the clients to write down the story about what brought them to Loaves & Fishes. I am not good with chitchat and I’m horrible at talking to people I don’t know, so this was not the easiest thing for me. But it needed to get done, so I did it. I met professors, librarians, carpenters, students, bankers, caregivers and people from all walks of life, all races, all ages and all religions and by the second person I spoke to, I was crying and hugging her. You absolutely cannot know someone’s circumstances just by looking at them. Sometimes I’d go out there to collect stories and only get one or two because one person would keep me there for 15 minutes. They just needed someone to talk to.  One thing I heard over and over again was, “I didn’t want to come here. I tried so hard to not need help.”

This is an amazing place from the top down. Everyone there embodies the saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” They care so much about every person who walks in the door and genuinely are making a difference in people’s lives. There were very little to any egos involved and such a spirit of cooperation. I would talk about people and my husband would ask, “What do they do?” I would say, “Um…I don’t really know what anyone other then my boss does.” I’m sure someone explained it to me once and I know they all had job descriptions and responsibilities,  but everyone was always helping everyone else that it was a little hard to follow who did what. It was so unlike any work situation I’ve ever been in before.

Initially I kind of felt like a failure because I didn’t get a big agency internship, but- like every step in this journey- this where I was supposed to be. Maybe someday I’ll actually learn to relax and trust the process. The most important things I learned weren’t really design related at all. On my last day they gave me some very nice gifts (including cream cheese frosting with some gluten free cake underneath it!) and there were big hugs and teary eyes. I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity to be part of their world for a little while.

Next week, I’ll be back with a new paper cutting post!