Charging Your Worth and How to Do It with Confidence

In Episode #11 of my podcast, Misses Ambitious, my co-host, Blaine, and I discussed how we struggled (heck, still struggle) with charging what we are worth in the beginning stages of our businesses.

Because, let's be real here, at the beginning, we are all "thirsty." Thirsty for clients or customers, thirsty for commissioned work we can show off on social media or in an online portfolio, thirsty for opportunity...and thirsty for money! Yes, I said it. We are pretty much all thirsty for money, because money is what pays those bills, and money is how you will be able to take your creative dream full-time. And this is totally me admitting that I was oh-so thirsty for money in the beginning. And I still am, because of those aforementioned bills.

It's no secret that we need to make an income to support ourselves and our dream. Now, let's ask the hard question: why is it so dang hard to charge what we're worth?! It should be EASY, right? We know how much money we 'need' to survive, and I think it's safe to say most of us have an idea of that dream number we'd like to make. So, charging a solid price for our products and services should be a piece of cake with those numbers in mind...why are we always undercharging ourselves?

Lack of confidence in our skills?
Lack of faith in ourselves to meet the customer or clients needs?
Lack of customers or clients with the proper budget to spend on your products or services?


All of these things play into that paralyzing fear we have of deciding on a number to charge that is A) fair to ourselves B) works for us financially and C) shows our true value to the customer or client. I don't have the magic answers for everyone, but I can share with you the magic answer for ME, in hopes that it will work for you too. 

In my specific business, there are three different things I need to charge for:
1. Products and/or services listed on my website (logo design, prints, etc)
-these are either pre-made products or pre-priced services
2. Online Courses
-I'm new to this world, but a course requires SO much more time and energy and nurturing than a product, and also comes with an entirely new set of challenges and obstacles, different value to the customer, etc.
3. Collaborations, sponsored blog or social media posts, or any other potential opportunity that is not listed on my website, and pops up randomly from time to time.
These are case-by-case basis, and should be priced according to the specific situation.

You may have experience with none or all three of those. But, no matter what your situation is, there is one thing that has worked for me in all three of these situations:

Asking myself: "what do I need to charge to ENJOY this process, and keep resentment at bay?"

I'll dissect that question, just in case you're like "heck no, I love what I do! I enjoy this, and I would never be resentful." 

What do I need to charge to ENJOY this process?
This is different than what I need to charge to live. This is not charging to pay the bills...this is charging to pay the bills and then some. It's charging to pay myself for this time spent creating, and to fully enjoy the creative process and feel fulfilled in creating for a living, because the income I'll receive from the commission (project, collaboration, etc) is really contributing to my livelihood. 

What do I need to charge to keep resentment at bay?
I don't know about you, but I've had some difficult clients. Sometimes it was partly my fault, and sometimes it wasn't (and that's when you have to refund, and say a very cordial goodbye), but this was all back in the beginning when I didn't have firm processes in place to make my life easier, and for the client to understand the ins and outs of working with me. So, when you have those difficult clients, OR those difficult projects (you know, the ones where you're all like 'why the heck did I do this to myself'), you'll rest assured knowing you are being paid a legitimate wage for the work, which keeps you from resenting the client and/or resenting yourself for taking the job. It's not a very fun, glamorous thing to talk about, but truly--if you've ever been in this situation, the whole 'seething with resentment' thing is just not fun. 

For creating courses, or pricing products, there are some other things to take into account before asking yourself the magic question. Only you know how much money you've put into your product or service as far as materials and hours of labor go. After that, you need to make a profit, and that's when 'the question' comes into play. Lately, I've been using this method most with collaborations or other random requests I get. If it's something I'm interested in pursuing, I'll ask myself 'the question' and, because I've been burned before and have learned my lesson (eek!), I know a ballpark number. 

Now, presenting that number with confidence is something entirely different. 

Even to this day, after being in business full-time for an entire year, I am worried and scared every single time I throw my number out there. But, as time goes on, it gets easier to remind myself of my worth. 

In the small business world, we have to remember that our clients and customers are coming to us because they want to work with us. Either they like our style, they identify with our story, they are attracted to our brand...no matter what it is, they're coming to us because something in them has been drawn to our work. If they don't already know what kind of investment it's going to be, it can be scary to present a number. But, before I explain some tips for presenting your number, please remember this: if it's too much for them, do not take it personally. Either they aren't your ideal client and it works out for the best, or they will come back to you when they can.

Tips for Presenting Your Number With Confidence:
1. Be professional!
Well duh! But I mean, if it compliments your product or service, create a branded pricing or investment guide that breaks down the cost of the product/service and explains the value in a clear, concise manner. Use example photos, use bullet points, use helpful graphics to show the client/customer what they're getting when they invest with you. If you've done this before, maybe include a review or a testimonial at the bottom of the guide to show your client/customer what others have said about working with you in the past.
2. Be open and inviting to questions, and use positive language
Y'all, don't apologize for your number. Don't ever say "I know it's a lot," or "Don't get sticker shock," or anything of that nature prior to presenting the number. If you're speaking in person, don't hesitate to say it, and don't look scared or nervous when you say it. In e-mail, always use open and positive language, and leave the door open for questions or clarifications on the process or the value of the product. 
3. Confidence builds over time
The more opportunities you have, the more products you sell, the more services or courses you provide, the easier it will be to price yourself fairly, and the easier it will be to let go of those opportunities that didn't come your way because of your number.
4. If they see your worth, they'll stick around.
I'm going to use myself as an example. There are so many business courses I want to take online, but I can't always afford them. However, that doesn't turn me off forever. Instead, it gives me something to work for, and I love following along with some of my favorite gurus on social media, and getting even more excited about the day when I can join their community. It doesn't hurt me or upset me that it's not in the cards right now...I see the value in their services enough, that I know they're worth the wait. And it doesn't help that THEY know they're worth the wait as well. 

I hope this blog post has given you some insight into what my processes are, and how I like to run my business! The numbers are important, but we have to think about ourselves--the human running the show--and what we deserve as individuals. Use your gut, run the numbers, and be confident in yourself. I promise, those three things combined will make a world of difference!

3 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started My Blog

For this week's business-oriented post, I want to dive into some behind-the-scenes about the blogging aspect of my business. Blogging is one of those things all of the 'experts' say entrepreneurs and business owners need to be doing, and I tend to agree!

But blogging is kind of hard! 

I began blogging back in 2013 when I had a lifestyle blog. That's how Kiley in Kentucky first began...a lifestyle blog...can you believe it? I started Kiley in Kentucky mostly because I like to write, take photos, and well...I had this sneaking suspicion there was something to this whole 'online business' thing I'd heard so much about on Pinterest, and blogging was going to be the first step. I thought decent writing and some good images are all you really need for a successful blog with thousands of viewers a day.

Wrong! 

And that's just one of the things I was wrong about when I began blogging in 2013. Four years later, I can say I've consistently blogged ever since, but my blog transitioned from lifestyle and travel to brush lettering and business (duh!), and I've learned so much along the way. I want to share with you the three major things I've realized in this time--things I WISH I had known back in 2013, because I know so many of you have the same sneaking suspicion I did that blogging could be just the thing you need to get your dream career off the ground. 

1. "Blog about it and they will come."

Like I just said...wow, was I ever wrong. I honestly believed I could write one blog post a week, and I would magically have all the readers and all the sponsors knocking down my door. Well, while this theory may make sense if you have bomb-diggity SEO (I didn't even know what SEO was back then...heck, I barely do now, let's be real), if you aren't marketing your blog, promoting your content, and getting engagement from your audience (if you're so lucky to have an audience), your beautiful blog posts and all the time you spent on them will be all for naught! 

The only way I ever garnered any readers was by linking my latest posts on my personal Facebook. When I wised up and got a Facebook page, I wasn't yet seasoned enough to realize how I should be utilizing Facebook---or any social media for that matter. So basically, I was marketing my lifestyle blog to a bunch of people I'd known since kindergarten who didn't really care about places to visit in my hometown because...they grew up there. Wrong market. Wrong niche. Wrong place. Wrong everything.

The key take-away here is: there is SO much more that goes into a successful blog besides a steady flow of content ideas and a regular posting schedule. A LOT more. If you're not seeing readers on your blog, maybe you should think about how you're putting your content out into the world? And if you're thinking of blogging, you should definitely begin the thought process of planning to market your content once you begin.

2. I need to be everything to everyone...I'll blog about a little of this, a little of that, and it'll make total sense! #bloggingiseasy

#IWASSOWRONG This is another blogging lesson that took me too long to learn. A lifestyle blog is pretty forgiving of this mistake, but I'm trying to make it in the small business world now, and niching down is everything. 

I'll admit that I'm still finding my niche. I know brush-lettering is a huge piece of that, but my desire to share more behind-the-scenes business information is slowly leaking into this blog, and I'm going with it---but with a niche in mind: the total beginner; who I was back in late mid 2015 when I decided to transition my blog into a tool for my business. 

The key take away is this: I'm sticking to two main categories! 
1. Brush-Lettering Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials
2. Behind-the-scenes info on my business as a brush-lettering artist

You won't find recipes, outfit ideas, decorating tips, or any of the like because that doesn't make sense for my blog. Maybe one day I will split up the two sides of information I want to give, but for now, this is what I'm doing! Take it or leave it!

3. Every blog post has to be the most unique idea ever, or no one will read it.

This is just funny to me now, because I have found the opposite to be true. In my four years of blogging, I have seen that pretty much NO ONE wants to read my off-the-wall, unique blog post in comparison to how interested they are in my personal perspective on a popular topic. This goes for lifestyle blogging AND the blogging I do now. 

These days, I've found success by loosely sticking with current trends I see in my 'field,' and giving my unique take on those trends, as opposed to coming up with completely unheard of topics to discuss. This brings me more engaged readers that are likely to return, and also makes my life a whole heck of a lot easier when I'm not scrambling to generate blog content each week. 

So, don't be intimidated by the idea of generating content for your blog. No matter the subject, you can look at what other bloggers are talking about, and evaluate if you have a new point of view to offer. There are also a lot of 'generic' ideas out there that make wonderful blog content, even if they have been done before, because...again, everyone has a unique POV! (I mean, read the title of this blog post!)

Feel better yet?

If you're thinking of starting a blog, please don't let that feeling of overwhelm keep you from starting. And if you've just started a blog, congratulate yourself for even trying! 

Which of these 3 things applies to you in your blog journey, no matter where you are? Tell me in the comments! I can't wait to hear from you!

 

My Must-Have Beginner Lettering Supplies

*this post contains affiliate links*

My Must Have Beginner Lettering Supplies

Fair Warning: This post won't contain a single lettering tool (aside from the pencil, of course). Chances are, if you are like me when I was first starting out, I had run out and purchased more than enough writing utensils to open my own store. But for all the brush pens, Microns, Neon Sharpies, Gelly Rolls, and expensive colored pencils I bought, I had neglected some of the most important lettering supplies. 

That's what I'm going to cover in this post: the supplies we somehow forget about in all the new excitement!

As you well know if you've attempted hand-lettering for even half an hour...there's a lot more that goes into it than having a brush pen and paper. There's style, composition, getting lines straight, knowing just when and where to add this or that flourish...the list goes on and on. 

Let's explore some items that might help you if you're a beginner and you want to do this thing right!

My number one...without a doubt:

1. A Good Pencil.

Pencils are my most important lettering supply--why they're listed first! In the beginning stages of your lettering, sketching out different compositions is a huge part of your practice, and it's a process that will probably take you multiple tries to get 'right' before you're ready to put ink to paper. I have been at this for almost two years, and I still need at least 3 sketches before I'm ready. So, you can see why a pencil is so important! The best part is: Any pencil will work for you! As long as you enjoy using it, that is all that matters.

My all-time favorite is the Tombow Mono Pencil in 4B (or higher) because the softness of the lead feels like butter to me on paper.  I highly recommend this one if you like to do lots of flourishes and fancy scripts...it just lets me fly across the page! 

However, don't feel like you have to spend money on high-end drawing pencils. I have as much fun with a good ol' mechanical pencil as anything else. Another thing to take into account is whether or not you'll be traveling with your lettering supplies. A mechanical pencil is so convenient for traveling, where a fancy pencil might not be, considering you would also have to carry a sharpener, a separate eraser, etc.
 

2. An Even Better Eraser.

So...you have your amazing, perfectly perfect, fits just right pencil, you've sketched your design, and you're ready to trace over it with a super gorgeous Periwinkle Dual Brush Pen....but wait...you can see those pencil lines through that gorgeous periwinkle? But you NEED your sketch to go by! What ever will you do? 

(I'm a little dramatic)

Don't worry---if you have a good eraser, you've got it covered. A good eraser can seem like a miracle. You won't have to erase your sketch prior to inking or use a light pad for tracing....you can save paper, save electricity, and save your sanity with a good eraser. Am I still being dramatic? Well, whatever!

Here's my all-time favorite eraser.

(not the one pictured above...I actually need to buy a new one of the one I linked)

3. Tracing Paper (this is an excellent brand)

I've been preaching the good news of tracing paper for as long as I've been lettering. Tracing paper is a game-changer. I highly, highly recommend using it for muscle memory exercises, which is a HUGE part of what I teach in my online lettering class. 

The brand pictured is actually from Wal-Mart, and extremely affordable and convenient (if you live in the rural midwest like me!).

4. A Ruler

You probably already have one of these, and that is AWESOME! When I began lettering, I realized how awful I was with symmetry and straight lines. That hasn't changed. I will never have an eye for symmetry or straight lines, which is why I keep a ruler close to my desk at all times. The best part is, this one is cute, and I don't mind having it displayed ;)

However, as my lettering has progressed, I purposefully make my composition all kinds of curvy and flowy because I don't like the pressure of doing things 'perfectly.' When I want to change things up, I grab my ruler and attempt any sort of traditional calligraphy. It is so nice for a change of pace!

5. Fancy Paper

I used to purchase a ton of sketch books for my lettering. But, as time went on, I saw how worn the tips of my brush pens were from the rough texture of the paper I was buying, and not to mention, how expensive really adorable sketch books are simply because creative people, like me, are willing to pay for something 'on brand' (#guilty).

But, cute sketchbooks aside, it is no secret that a super-smooth paper can do wonders for the lifespan of your delicate brush pens....but, what paper should you use when gifting someone a piece of your beautiful lettering? Or, let's raise the stakes a little higher: what paper should you use when SELLING a piece of your beautiful lettering. 

I use a super-smooth, heavy-weight card stock that comes in a huge ream of 150 sheets. The smooth texture of the paper will work wonderfully with your brush pens AND the hefty weight of the card stock makes it a really high-quality paper to gift or sell. This paper, in particular, is a very clean, bright white, which also photographs beautifully. 

But wait...the best part? IT'S $5. This is the brand I use, and I find it at Wal-Mart. It's truly a lettering miracle!

5. A Guillotine Cutter or Other Paper Trimmer

Because I post pretty much everything I letter on Instagram, I want to make sure I get the most out of each piece of paper I use! A lot of times, you'll find me cutting my 8.5x11 sheets in half to get double-duty out of them. Also, if I'm giving or selling a piece, I want to give/sell it in a standard framing size. Having a paper trimmer with a ruler and guidelines makes it super simple to cut my paper down to a standard 8x10 size or a 5x7. I highly recommend picking one up if you like creating pieces of all sizes, don't have an eye for symmetry and straight lines, and don't trust yourself with a pair of scissors! (Me.)

6. Bonus: A 'Fancy' Pencil Pouch

This is totally a bonus because, obvi, it's not a necessity! Especially the 'fancy' part. I'm lucky because my brother works at Fossil, and he knows just what to get me with his discounts! (Aka: a pencil pouch) I throw my most-used tools inside (the aforementioned eraser and pencils, a few Microns, and my favorite Fudenosuke Brush Pens), and throw it in a backpack or tote bag, along with notebook or a folder with some lettering paper inside before going on a trip, and I am always so grateful to myself for the ease and convenience of lettering on the go!

7. A Lettering Reference or Resource Tool

Pinterest is great and all, but there's something about physically turning the pages of a book that really inspires my creativity. My husband got me this book for Christmas last year, and I love it. I use it two or three times a week when I want to get a look at something unique. 

 Any kind of book filled with any type of art that draws you in (I also have a few adult coloring books that inspire me) is perfect for giving your inspiration the boost it needs! 

k, folks! That's all she wrote! (Of the good stuff anyway).

I hope you found an item in here you can't believe you've been lettering without! What are some of your favorite lettering supplies and must-haves for any skill level? Tell me in the comments below...there might be something I've been missing all my life!

 

3 WAYS TO START TREATING YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS: MAKE A SPLASH INTO YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

3 Ways to Start treating your business like a business: make a splash into your small business

Hey guys! Let's talk business. 
Since starting The Misses Ambitious Podcast, I've discovered just how valuable it is to share what I've learned from the various struggles I've experienced in starting a small business. Yes, I'm a lettering artist, but I spend most of my time wearing the 'business owner' hat, and trying my darndest to keep this ship running smoothly. However, you've got to hop on board the ship before you can ever leave the pier, and sometimes (most of the time) that's the hardest part!

In Episode #3: Making A Splash, my co-host, Blaine, and I discussed the first steps we took in getting our businesses from lovely, exciting thoughts in our head, to full-fledged-oh-this-is-real-status. In talking with our listeners and some friends of mine in a Facebook Group, I've noticed the hardest step in any hobbyist-turned-business-owner's journey is this: the step where you start taking yourself and your work seriously, and begin to treat it like a business. And something else we discovered? It all boils down to mindset!

Further discussion led us to share what we each had to do to overcome that initial struggle, and take the first step (or, make the splash) into our business, in order to put our best foot forward. For some, it's a financial investment or a sacrifice of time; sometime's it's as simple as ordering business cards. No matter what, if you're having trouble figuring out what your first move should be, or how you're going to finally muster the courage to dip your toe in the small biz pool, here are some (fairly) simple first steps you can take to get your head and heart in the right place, and cause that mindset shift that can put your business on an upward trajectory. 

Taking yourself seriously is the best, most important first step.

It might seem crazy to say this, because I bet you think you are taking yourself seriously. At least I thought I was. But, I didn't have a separate business bank account for the longest time. I knew I needed one, but for some reason, I just couldn't pull the trigger!
It wasn't until a chat with my CPA, when she urged me to run out that very afternoon and start a new account, that I knew there was no more putting it off. It had to be done!
Don't worry--you don't have to have an actual 'business' checking account. You can start a second personal account and only use it for business transactions. As long as you are separating your personal spending from your business spending, you're loving on yourself (and your business) by creating a mindset of healthy business practices, and keeping it VERY professional--especially when your first tax season comes a-knocking...and it will. It took me entirely way too long to make this move. If only I had done it sooner! If you want to get off on your best foot, I highly suggest opening an account for the sole purpose of keeping track of your business expenses. Also, when you begin getting paid, you'll have a clear look at how much you are bring in vs. spending per hour/day/week/month, and can more easily plan for how to increase your income or decrease your cost of business, if needed. 

Sometimes, all it takes is ordering business cards.

In Episode #3, Blaine talked about how ordering business cards affected how she thought of herself in her mind...there's that mindset shift again! The second she had to put her business name and offerings on a business card, she was officially, officially making that decision to be seen as the sole representative of her business, and to offer the services listed on her card. Once the cards arrived at her doorstep, and she was able to hold them in her hands, she felt such a sense of pride and excitement and motivation for her new endeavor. She couldn't wait to network and connect with others in her industry, hand those cards out, and get to work. Maybe a gesture like this one is what you need in order for your business to become more 'real' to you! Don't worry--business cards can be re-made if you change your offerings, but it's the act of ordering them (or any other business materials) that may put you in that headspace.

Maybe it's a time commitment or a financial sacrifice

Blaine and I both experienced financial sacrifices in order to get our businesses off the ground smoothly. Though neither of us went into debt, seeing a large chunk of savings go toward something we put all our hopes into was a scary, but defining moment for each of us. For Blaine, it was a training for a certification she needs to train her clients to the best of her abilities. For me, it was an educational course that cost more than the nicest thing I'd ever purchased for myself. If you're like either of us, the financial sacrifice (or commitment, however you choose to view it) is like an invisible accountability partner. I am happy to report that I made my money back within a short time (I believe it was about a month) of being in business, because my mindset was focused on getting a return on my investment, and working really hard to justify that humongous purchase. I'm not saying that you have to justify every single purchase you make, but for me, that is a key part of how I run my business debt-free, and how I stay financially stable (and safe) in a fairly unpredictable climate. 

On the other hand, a time commitment or a sacrifice of your time could be the thing that gets you wheels turning, and that fire lit under your booty! As a beginner in the small business world, coming off a 9-5 job I hated, I was more than happy to work 60+ hours a week on setting up shop. However, when I evaluated how much I wanted to earn per month, then figured out how much I would make per hour if I continued to work 60+ hours a week....oh, heck no! I quickly realized that the time I had already put into my business was incredibly value, and that sacrifice would be the cost of doing business. However, moving forward, I created a daily schedule for myself, very similar to a 9-5 (but filled with the thing I love doing: my business), and try my hardest each month to make an hourly wage that meets my monthly income goal. I don't meet it every month, but I respect myself and my business enough to realize how valuable my time (spent both on my business, and out of it; with friends and family) truly is. 

Or, if you're a shop owner...

Have you ordered your shipping supplies just yet? Mailers, tape, shipping labels, a printer, a shipping scale, and brand materials like thank you notes, stickers, and inserts? For a fellow letterer and Etsy seller, making these purchases (which could also be filed under the financial commitment category) and getting them organized in her creative space as her official 'shipping station,' really helped her to visualize doing business in an efficient and organized manner. As soon as her shipping station was ready, she felt ready to receive lots of orders and get them fulfilled like a boss. 

Maybe none of these suggestions will work for you, and that's okay! These are all examples of 'moves' you could make as a strategic first step to getting your business set up in a healthy, professional way from the beginning. The important thing is that you begin to take yourself and your business seriously as early on as you can. Have respect for your new endeavor, and treat it accordingly. If you plan to take your business full-time or to create a life-long career from it, starting off with a healthy mindset will take you far.

If you have any suggestions or 'splash moments' that have worked for you, drop them in the comments below, and of course, don't forget to subscribe to my podcast if you want to hear more about this topic!

Using Trello In My Business: My Thoughts So Far!

Using Trello in My Business

*this is not a sponsored post*

I have had a Trello account for years! I heard it was a great tool for online organization, and I wanted to get in on that noise! But, no matter how hard I tried, and no matter how many YouTube tutorials I watched, I just couldn't seem to figure it out. It was incredibly overwhelming to me, and therefore, my account was there for years, but inactive for all that time. 

Until!!! Until I got into creative, small business podcasts last year. When I launched my own business, I used listening to podcasts throughout my days as a way to get to know other business owners in my industry who have years of experience under their belt. As I listened to a wider variety of these podcasts, I heard a common theme: I use Trello for my business, and I absolutely love it. 

My intrigue for Trello was reignited, and I tried giving it another look, but once again----maybe it's just me, but DANG! It looks so complicated. 

You can only imagine my surprise, and the sigh of relief I breathed when I discovered an online course called Trello for Business by the gals over at Think Creative Collective. This course is an absolute must for anyone hoping to learn Trello in order to maximize productivity in their business (and life in general). I am so glad I invested that $29 in learning a tool that has helped me so much in my business already. 

But this blog post is not about the course. It is about my first impressions and initial thoughts on utilizing Trello for the past two months. I've been steadily using it each work day, Monday through Friday, and I feel like I'm acquainted enough with it that I can give you some valuable insight on why you might want to look into using Trello as well.

My Thoughts on Trello So Far!

1. It reminds me of Pinterest! Which is great for me, a visual person.

Once I learned the basic ins and outs of the system, it started to remind me more and more of Pinterest, a website/tool I absolutely love. But who doesn't love Pinterest?! The format of Trello involves arranging your to-do lists, ideas, and business processes and information in one spot on various boards, in a way that is easy for you to comprehend and use effectively. 

2. I don't have to make a new to-do list with the same ongoing tasks every day! Time-saver!

I was using a paper planner for my business before I implemented Trello. In a paper planner, every single morning I had to write down those same ongoing tasks that I do every single day, which is a time-suck because there are a lot of those tasks, and it also takes up a lot of space on the finite page size of a paper planner. 
A few generic Examples are:
Business Instagram Post
Podcast Instagram Post
Facebook Group Prompt
Inbox 0

Some people could do all of these ongoing, daily tasks from memory, but I cannot, and l will forget to do something if it is not written down somewhere. 

How Trello helps in this department is that you can create a layout of your week. This layout is not dated (unless you want it to be), and represents the current week, and only the current week. You create what is called a 'card' for each item on your to-do list, and place it under the day of the week you need it to be done. For daily tasks, you create the card for each task once, place it under the Monday tab, then drag and drop it into the next day's tab once you've completed it. Here is an example.

*This board was originally designed by Think Creative Collective, and as part of the course, I was able to copy and paste the template, and use it for my own weekly list.*

*This board was originally designed by Think Creative Collective, and as part of the course, I was able to copy and paste the template, and use it for my own weekly list.*

I am writing this post on a Tuesday, so you can see that my Tuesday list is the fullest! I have not yet completed the tasks still on that list. Once I complete the daily tasks, I will drag them over to the Wednesday list. For example, 'Facebook Group Post' is a daily task that I've already completed today, and has been dragged into the Wednesday list. Once I complete the tasks that are one-time tasks, I will delete the card. Any task listed above the 'ongoing' card on every day of the week is a task I ONLY do on that day of the week. For instance: Wednesday is always podcast recording day, so I leave that card there. Anything below the 'ongoing' card is a daily task or a one-time task that is time-sensitive.

3. The options for how you can use it are absolutely endless!

You are seeing only a small sample of one of the NINE boards I have on Trello. I know it sounds overwhelming, but each board has a purpose. An example of my favorite board is one called 'Business Blueprint' (once again, a template I got by taking the Trello For Business Course), and it holds ALL MY USERNAMES AND PASSWORDS. Like, all of them. For every account I have, business AND personal. I can't tell you how many times I have referenced this board in the past two months. Not only does this board hold my passwords, but it's also a spot where I can drop and organize any and all links I need to refer to in my business. Examples are: affiliate links, course links, links to resources or articles I look at often, etc. Once again, that's not all, it's just a small taste! 

4. You don't have to just use it for business.

When I say that my husband creates the world's most difficult passwords, I am not lying. And then, he forgets them because he doesn't want to write them down. Well. When I told him about storing our passwords in one spot...a safe spot...he was all about it. So, I created a personal board for our household, and shared it with him, so now we both have access to any and all passwords and usernames we need to access, as well as important links, grocery lists, and other things we want to keep track of. Trello is not just for business! It can be a great household, wedding planning, etc tool that you could really utilize to make the most of your time!

Even though I've been using Trello for going on two months, I am just scratching the surface of using it to its fullest potential. As I continue to dive deeper into it, and become a Trello master, I will update this blog post or do a follow-up with new tips or things I have learned. 

If you want to purchase Trello for Business, click here! Once again, this post is not sponsored. I truly believe in it that much!

National Scrapbooking Day: 2 Mother's Day Cards

Hey y'all! I'm back again this week with another National Scrapbooking Day post! Last week, I celebrated a birthday AND the Kentucky Derby with a versatile card. This week, I'm celebrating Mother's Day with two floral, feminine, and fun handmade cards. Don't quite understand how 'Congrats' fits in with Mother's Day? You'll just have to wait until the end!

Another HUGE thank you to Tombow USA for including me on their National Scrapbooking Day celebrations this year, and providing me with the tools I needed to create these two sweet cards. Don't forget to take a look at the card I made last week!

Let's Dive In!

Mothers Day Card Ideas

First, I cut down a sheet of 8.5x11 cardstock, and scored it, creating two 4.25x5.5in cards.

Mothers Day Card Ideas

Because I want a feminine, pretty design, I chose the floral paper to use as a cardfront on both my cards. The laser cut piece by Amy Tangerine is just rocking my world right now, so I had to include it in at least one!

I thought the laser cut paper looked gorgeous layered on top of the floral pattern. I found a good spot to cut the paper down, to include a little bit of the laser cut design, and save the rest for later. 

But before I can put that gorgeous laser cut paper to use, I had to trim down my floral paper to fit flush on top of my cards. I adhered the paper using the Tombow Mono Dots Adhesive, and I positioned the pattern to look "correct" (does that make sense?) for using one card as a side-folding card, and one as a top-folding. Variety is the spice of life!

Once the floral paper was adhered, I decided to use the laser cut paper with my side-folding card. I laid the card beneath the paper, and positioned it where I wanted the laser cut pattern to be. I was mainly concerned with getting the "love" and the bird/branch onto the card front. I used a pencil to roughly sketch where I should cut, knowing I would trim it down further once it was detached from the rest of the sheet. I used my scissors to carefully trim away the remaining pieces I didn't want to use, and was really happy with the section I ended up with!

I used the Tombow Mono Multi Liquid to secure the laser cut piece onto my card front. I began by placing a little glue on one portion of the card (the L in 'love') to serve as an anchor for getting the delicate die cut secured. Once that was in place, I gently applied glue to other key places in the die cut, and pressed them down, until the whole thing was secured. I used my sharper scissors to trim away any excess paper hanging over the edge of the card.

Consider this one done! I chose to leave the inside blank. I created this card with Mother's Day in mind, but it could serve so many purposes....thinking of you, birthday, just because, thank you...just to name a few!

Let's move on to the next card! For this one, I'll be using the top-folding card.

You know I had to add a little sparkle, so I used the Tombow Mono Multi Liquid to add foil embellishments. To see a more detailed tutorial on how to do this, take a look at this blog post!

A sweet little cat distracted me from taking photos of the next few steps, but luckily they are very simple! I wanted to add a sentiment to the front of this card, so I cut down a strip of blue pattern paper, and trimmed the end with my scissors to be a banner shape. I adhered the banner paper to the front of the card using the Tombow Mono Adhesive.

Next, I sketched out my sentiment, then traced it using my all-time favorite pen, the Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip! After tracing, I erased the excess pencil marks.

And on the inside....... ;-)

Here's a closer peek at how this card turned out.

All in all, I'm so happy with the final result, and I think my momma and mother-in-law will love them! What do you think? Are you hand-making your Mother's Day cards this year? 

Let me know in the comments below!
 

National Scrapbooking Day: Versatile Derby Day Birthday Card

Hey y'all! I am SO excited to be celebrating National Scrapbooking Day, which is coming up in a little over a week! In celebration, Tombow sent me a crazy-amazing package full of scrapbooking goodies...I about fell over when I opened the package. Now, even though I love every single item they sent over, I am simply not gifted with the scrapbooker gene, and I decided to go in a unique direction. Instead of a scrapbook page, I'm going to make a versatile Derby Day inspired birthday card. Stick around and read this tutorial if you want to see just what I mean by versatile ;-)

 

This birthday card is unlike any I have ever seen (or created) before. My sister in law, a Louisville-lover and fellow Kentuckian, celebrates her birthday incredibly close to Derby Day. In honor of her, and the famous Kentucky Derby beverage, the Mint Julep, I hand-made this birthday card that also doubles as a recipe card. This card can be displayed on a bar cart, on the refrigerator, or wherever you want to keep it for when you want to make yourself this bluegrass beverage. I had SO much fun creating this, and I already have some more ideas for a birthday card for my husband, who's favorite drink is a Moscow Mule.

The supplies I used:
2 sheets of patterned paper by Samantha Rose 
As many sheets as necessary of ultra smooth, heavyweight cardstock
1 Aquash Brush
Tombow Dual Brush Pens (colors listed below)
Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Tip
Tombow Mono Drawing Pencil (or any drawing pencil)
Eraser
Scissors (or other paper trimmer)
Tombow Foam Tabs
Tombow Mono Dots Adhesive
Washi Tape
Tombow Blending Palette
Gold Corner Stickers

I decided to begin with my sketch. I wasn't sure what I wanted the message on the front or inside of the card to be, so I jotted down a few things. I also roughly sketched the mint julep drink onto the paper, very lightly, so I can erase it later. Next, I'm going to use the Tombow Dual Brush Pens as watercolor.

I'm using my grays (N60 and N75) to watercolor the mint julep cup. If you want to see a much more detailed demonstration of how to use Tombow Dual Brush Pens as watercolors, take a look at this tutorial.

I chose to use an Aquash pen for this illustration, but you can just as easily use any watercolor or paint brush!

I decided, spur of the moment, to add a shadow to the cup, but I kind of wish I hadn't!!! I hope you're a better illustrator than I am ;-)

Above, I simply repeated the process with my greens.
245, 158, and 312

Next, I pulled out my trusty Fudenosuke Soft Tip to letter some of the sentiments I sketched.

Once I had lettered over my sketches, I erased the pencil marks away, and set this paper aside.

As my cardfront, I chose this grayish-purple wood pattern paper from this DCWV Samantha Rose paper pad. Every single piece of paper in here is absolutely incredible. I've already used it for a background to an Instagram post, and I can't wait to show you some other uses for it in a future blog post!

I folded an 8.5x11 sheet of cardstock in half (hot dog style! ha), and cut the piece of pattern paper down to fit flush on top. I used the Tombow Mono Dots Adhesive to adhere it to the front of the card.

Next, I cut out my mint julep illustration, and set it aside!

Next, I cut down a piece of cardstock to be this smaller strip, and I sketched out the recipe for the mint julep. I lettered over it with my Fudenosuke Soft Tip, and used the adhesive to attach it to the front!

After adhering the recipe, I used these fun gold triangle stickers to add a little something extra to the corners.

I wanted to elevate my illustration to barely stand above the rest of the card, and these large foam tabs were perfect!

I thought the front of the card needed just a little something extra, so I cut out another piece of pattern paper to be this banner shape, and wrapped the top of it around to the inside of the card. I adhered it with the same adhesive I used on the rest of the card, and it works like a charm! I finished the whole thing off by lettering the title of the drink on the banner.

And on the inside, I went with a completely different sentiment that I had intended, but I like it!! 

And that's IT! I am no expert cardmaker, that's for sure, but I got to fulfill a dream today by making this card. I watch so many card makers on YouTube, because the art of card making is just so lovely and fun to watch. I want to give a huge shoutout to Tombow for including me in National Scrapbooking Day so I can live out this little artsy-fartsy dream of mine! I have two other cards in the works, for future blog posts, so get ready!!! I can't wait to show you more in the next few weeks!

What did you think of this card? Have you ever had a Mint Julep? Where would you put this recipe card?

the best paper for lettering + Other Office Supplies I'm Loving Right Now!

This post contains affiliate links*

Hey y'all! I'm here today with a quick blog post about some new things I've been obsessed with in the past few weeks! I've recently had the urge to get out of my comfort zone and get some new items into my studio/office that will both be functional AND inspire me to do some new things!
 


First up: The Most Affordable Lettering Paper EVER!

This may look like any old paper, but I discovered this Georgia-Pacific Cardstock at Wal-Mart when I was in a pinch--completely out of the paper I was using at that moment. It's 110lb quality, which is amazing, and it comes in reams of 100 or 250 for an incredibly affordable price. I couldn't believe it! You can pick some up at your local Wal-Mart, or you can order it here.

It works wonderfully with my brush pens, and I've been using it like crazy with my lettered pieces for Instagram. Literally, if you take a look, every single piece I've done as of late has been on this cardstock. I cannot recommend it enough!

Next Up: The Mono Air 6 Correction Tape

This tape was designed to be written on! And it's much higher quality than any similar tape by other brands, because the maker, Tombow, specializes in designing with delicate brush nibs in mind. What else could you ask for? I don't do much planning in a physical planner anymore now that I'm a converted Trello User, BUT, I can find some other creative uses for this tape...

I made this quick little inspirational piece for my pegboard by applying strips of the correction tape on a scrap piece of scrapbook paper. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it adds something unique to my office, and hey, I like the message I chose, too!

Next up: Erasers I Could Almost Eat!

These UH-DORABLE erasers by Amy Tangerine (fellow lettering artist and design idol of mine) are a new favorite to have on my desk. But, I will say...I don't know if I'll be able to use them! You can pick some up for your desk right here.

Last: Washi Tape

Yeah, I know, I'm super late to the game. I just didn't understand the appeal of washi tape (it's just tape!) until recently. 

Now I want to use it for everything!! Most recently, I am using it to hang up all my random lettering pieces, but I also like to use it in photo props, as well as regular organizational tasks. I may or may not have put some washi tape on a tax document going to the IRS....oops!

That's all for this week, guys! If you want to keep up with blog posts and other news, I encourage you to sign up for my weekly newsletter!

Eraser Roundup: Best Erasers for Lettering

ERASER ROUNDUP: Best Erasers for Lettering - Kiley in Kentucky Blog

Hey y'all!

Today, I have a brief, but information-packed blog post about none other than ERASERS!

Why?

Because erasers are, in my opinion, just as important as brush pens, pencils, pens, brushes, and paper. Erasers are such an important part of the initial sketching process, and one other thing: not all erasers are created equal. There are different kinds of erasers made for different types of erasing. In this post, I'll show you my four favorite erasers, what I use them for, and why you might want to pick them up for yourself!

1. The Mono Sand Eraser

*Placed beside a pencil for scale

*Placed beside a pencil for scale

Ok, so this is my favorite eraser because it is the handiest little guy I've ever used. The sand eraser, as you can see in the photo above (on the pink background), is gritty in texture. That's because it's an eraser equivalent to a sand paper. You might not think you need this eraser, but I assure you, YOU REALLY DO. Because it lightly sands down the paper when you use it, it can get rid of marks made by other substances than just graphite. I use this most on my gold foil prints, for erasing stray bits of gold foil that appear on the paper where they aren't supposed to. It gets those bits off like MAGIC, and it can also remove smudges made by inky fingers, a stray pen mark, dirt, or any other little (reasonable) mark you've accidentally made on your paper.

2. The Mono Eraser (Plastic, Small)

This is your standard plastic eraser; except this one is a higher quality than one you'd find in Wal-Mart or the average craft aisle. These erasers are small, and perfect for carrying in my 'little bag of pens and pencils' that I take with me on road trips. It is a standard eraser, at a STEAL of a price, but it does the job way better than the regular pink erasers I used when I first began lettering.

3. The Mono Eraser (Plastic, Jumbo)

This eraser is a jumbo version of eraser #2! So, it's super high-quality, but it's large and in charge, and I use it on my large-scale lettering pieces. So, need I say more? I think we can all commiserate about how annoying it is to erase huge sketches with a teeny-tiny eraser.

4. The Mono Knock Eraser

Alright, alright, so I know I said the Sand eraser is my favorite, but THIS eraser could easily steal the title! You can use this eraser just like a pen, which is AMAZING! And look at this petite little eraser: 

This eraser is perfection for erasing delicate areas of a sketch or pencil drawing. Need I say more? We all need that?

MY NEW BRAND: ALL ABOUT IT, Y'ALL!

My New Brand: Kiley in Kentucky

After almost two years of the Kiley in Kentucky blog, a handful of logos, and a few poor attempts at branding, I finally decided to treat myself like I would treat an actual client. That means: an inspired branding board, professional brand photos, thoughtful consideration of all design elements, and longer than just a weekend to pull it all together.

In the past, I've been guilty of re-branding my business on a whim, in a matter of a few days (not a good idea!), and I'm left 'bored' with the final result after just a few months, when the 'newness' wears off and I discover how unlike ME my branding is. But, recently, my mindset has shifted, and I truly understand that it's now or never for my business. Risks are scary, but taking them is the only way I'm going to move forward and grow.

My first order of business in forward motion and growth: a refreshed brand that speaks to my personal tastes, my personality, and my actual day-to-day surroundings.

First came the logo.

Although both designs are my hand-lettering, the new logo feels a lot more fun and creative and 'me' than my previous one. The one thing I will miss about my previous logo is the brush pen graphic, which speaks to what I do right off the bat. However, the brush pen graphic was somewhat limiting, and I was frustrated by the fact that I had to use two separate versions of the logo (one with the pen, one without), because it wasn't clearly visible unless the logo was quite large. Though my new logo doesn't clue you in to my specific interests right away, it is more eye-catching, inviting, and easier to read. 

Next came the branding photos.

Y'all know by now, cause I've said it 600 times, but my mom is my photographer. I am SO lucky to have a professional photographer 'on retainer,' and one that I can be completely honest and nit-picky-beyond-belief with--cause you know, I'm a big-time people pleaser--and say 'yes I like that,' 'no I hate that,' 'can we re-do that whole session one more time?' 

I did something differently this time than ever before: I had my brand photos made before I settled on my brand colors, or designed my website. I don't know, maybe lots of people have done this before, but I wanted my brand to reflect ME, therefore I didn't put much planning into my photo session, and I simply let it happen. I wouldn't suggest this for everyone; maybe only if you are BFF's with your photog, LOL.

Let me further explain why this was such a perfect move for me.

I knew, no matter what, that my photos were going to be taken in my office--in my element, where I already have a pretty obvious color scheme going on--and the setting of the photos was going to have a huge bearing on the overall feel of my website, because I wanted to include photos everywhere. 

I wore a top that I love and feel comfortable in, and that complemented my surroundings, instead of going out on the hunt for the perfect top in a pre-decided color.

I didn't really plan poses or moments I wanted captured. I simply pulled out all the tools I use on a daily basis, and I used those products in my photos; nothing more, nothing less.

If you're sitting here thinking: Dang it, Kiley, I don't have a photographer, I don't have an office, but I need some brand photos, subscribe to my weekly newsletter below...Next week, I'm sharing how to DIY brand photos for C-H-E-A-P and with a smart phone camera!

Ok, back to it! Once I had my logo and brand photos, I was able to go in and pick out a color palette from my set of photos, and find the perfect palette that complemented my logo. From there, I put together a branding board that reflects all the elements of my website and my brand.
 
Here is my final branding board: 

So, this branding board is super simple in comparison to a lot of branding boards I've seen from other designers. But, my website is about as simple as it gets. And, also, that's just the beauty of being my own designer; I can always go back and add graphic elements, tweak my fonts, etc, as ideas come to me. For now, I'm super happy with the simplicity and the ease of my branding. The colors are so accessible to me in my every day life, as I'm surrounded by them in my office! The stripes and dots as graphic elements are easy-as-pie to whip up and put together in Illustrator, and my secondary logo will be easy-to-read and easy-to-add to any graphics and images I'll need it for. 

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with this brand 'refresh' and I can't wait to move forward with this new color palette, logo, and my wonderful new brand photos. 

If you are in Central Kentucky and would like a brand photographer, I highly recommend my mom, January June Photography. She is an incredible natural-light photographer, who is easy to work with (not just saying that), and, obviously, takes great photos! And of course, if you'd like to discuss having a logo made, any branding assistance, or further advice, shoot me an email. I'd love to chat with you!

Ok guys, I'll see you later this week with a new blog post! Check back Friday to see what I'm cooking up!

Until then, check out some of my most popular blog posts below!

Gold Foil Hack - Feat. Tombow Mono Liquid Glue

Hey y'all! So, today I have a fun project for you! As lots of you know, I have an Etsy Shop where I sell hand-foiled gold prints. S O   M A N Y blog readers have asked me to do a tutorial on perfect foiling (I'm thinking of doing an online class on it? Would you like that? Comment below!), but until that time, there is a way you can foil without spending like $300+ in equipment and supplies! Cause yeah, that's {my} reality of perfect foiling. 

What is this magical hack, you ask? 

GLUE.

But not just any glue! The glue I'm using in this tutorial is perfect for applying foil, but not all glues are equal. To my knowledge, you can't ask a cheap Elmer's Glue to do the same thing as you're asking this glue to do. However, I haven't used any other brands, so you'll have to experiment or research what other brands would work with this method.

What is this glue? I've really built it up, so it better deliver, amirite?

It's the Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue (I have mine in the XL Size)

Disclaimer: I'm not sponsored by Tombow USA, but I am a Brand Ambassador, which means I get cool Tombow products in the mail each month to blog about! 

Ok, now that you know about the glue, let's get into the tutorial...because, I actually made something!

Here are the products I used:

FROM L-R:

In this tutorial, I made two 5x7 decorative prints in two different 'styles.' To begin, I anchored down both my kraft paper and watercolor paper with some washi tape that will be easy to remove when I am ready. The reason for doing this is so my paper doesn't warp when I apply water and wet ink to it. 

I'm going to be working on the Kraft Paper print first. I decided to do a floral theme. I chose the colors Green (245), Red (845), and a Golden Yellow (026). I'm scribbling some ink from each of these pens onto my blending palette.

After that step is complete, I'm going to spray the palette with clean water, so I can begin using the ink as watercolor. I didn't get a great photo of it, so that step is not included here, but here is another tutorial where I used this technique.

Now, I'm gonna get to paintin'!

My painting style here was very loose. When painting the flowers, I did some in all red, and some in a mixture of the yellow and red. There is really no formula here, except to paint blobs that kind of resemble flowers. <<< yeah, I know! Easier said than done.

Once that has dried completely, grab your glue! I am using the 'precision' or the 'pen tip' end of this glue so I can draw fine lines of glue where I want my foil to appear. In the second tutorial, we'll explore the other side! 

Draw on your glue wherever your heart tells you to! Now, wait for it to dry. And by dry, I mean, until it's 'clear.'

As you can see here, the glue is slowly turning from white to clear. When all the glue is clear, it will become VERY tacky and that's when you know it's ready for the foil. 

You can also clearly see that I couldn't wait for all my glue to turn clear (which is a mistake). But, anyway, when you're ready, gently lay your foil on top of the glued areas, and press down with your finger, gently but firmly burnishing the foil onto the glue. Once burnished to your liking, gently peel the foil up. 

And this is what I got once I had applied foil to all the glued areas! Yay!

I displayed this little print on top of my shipping supply cabinet. What do you think?
I like it...but not as much as I like this next print!

I began by laying down my colors onto the blending palette. I used, from top to bottom, a Pink (815), an Orange (Number Not Available), and the yellow and red from the first tutorial. I took a large, flat paintbrush, and began brushing the color on in horizontal stripes, as seen below!

I left two spaces where I wanted my gold foil brush strokes to appear.

Next, I grabbed my glue! I'm using the 'broad tip' here because I want to apply quite a bit more glue than in the previous print.  

I applied my glue pretty liberally, then used an old paintbrush (you don't want to ruin a nice brush here!) to flatten out the glue. In hindsight, I should have applied quite a bit more...you'll see why in a bit!

After waiting for my glue to go from white and liquidus to clear and tacky, I applied my foil and burnished it with my fingers. Once I had done that, I pulled the foil up. Now, I wish I had applied more glue because I wanted a more solid appearance of foil. To remedy this, I added just a little bit more on top of the existing foil and tried again. 

This is the finished product! I wish I had gone back and added yet even MORE glue, but I do like the way this turned out!

I hung this print on my newly-painted peg board and I really love the little pop of color it adds! I haven't yet re-stocked my peg board, so it looks a little bare here. If you'd like to see a blog post about the peg boards I use in my studio, let me know! I'd love to show you some organizational tips...especially since peg boards are SUCH an affordable option!

Ok, y'all! That's it for today! Let me know what you thought about this tutorial in the comments below, and OH YEAH!! 

Negative Space Lettering Pt. 2 (Masking + Watercolor)

WOO-HOO we're back again with another Negative Space Lettering tutorial! This one isn't focused so much on lettering, but I think you'll like it just the same! If you missed my first Negative Space Post, you can catch it here. 

Today's blog post uses several techniques I've previously talked about on the blog...so, throughout the post, watch out for links to previous blog posts that will help answer any additional questions you may have about the techniques I'm using today! 

Let's jump in, shall we? 

Here's what I used: 
Mixed Media or Watercolor Paper
1 Sheet of Kraft Paper or scrap paper (optional)
Masking Fluid or Masking Pen
Paint palette or container for Masking Fluid
Blending Palette (I used this one, but a paper baggie or plastic surface works too)
A water sprayer or spritzer
1 Paint Brush You Don't Mind Ruining Forever :-/
1 Paint Brush You Actually Like Using :)
A pencil
A White Gel Pen (Optional)
Tombow Dual Brush Pens in your favorite color family
 

For this technique, I began by lightly sketching out a simple design. In this case, I chose a heart with a scripted 'Love' inside. Feel free to do whatever works best for you, but my intention was to cover every bit of pencil with masking fluid, so I don't have to worry about erasing later. (If that doesn't make sense to you yet, it will as we move through the tutorial!)

Next up is masking fluid! 

Ok, let's talk about this first. Despite having seen masking fluid being used countless times on Instagram or in YouTube art tutorials, I have only used it for the first time this week. There's a few things you should  know before you dive in:

1. Masking fluid ain't necessarily cheap.....at least, this kind isn't. This brand sells for $15 at Hobby Lobby. I'm sure I could have gotten it cheaper on Amazon, but I have no patience. There are also other forms and brands of masking fluid that I'm sure are much more affordable, but once again...I wasn't patient! I wanted it right then and there at the store.

2. It will ruin your brush, so choose one you don't love, and deem that brush your 'masking fluid brush forever and ever amen.'

3. It dries FAST, so go in with a plan and work quickly. 

With all that in mind, I went ahead and applied my masking fluid on top of my pencil sketch. 

While my masking fluid is drying on my paper, I picked the colors I wanted to use for the next step! Since I'll be doing some watercolor with these Tombow Dual Brush Pens, I chose colors in the same family, because we want them to blend well together!

For more tips about watercoloring with Tombows, you can check out these blog posts: 
Unique + Gorgeous Lettered Art

Tombow Techniques: DIY Summertime Watercolor Wall Art

Brush Lettering + Watercolor Floral Art

And UGH, my camera was out of focus for the next step, but take my word for it: I scribbled a bit of each color down onto my blending palette in no particular order or pattern. 

Next, as you can kind of see below (lol), I took a tiny water spritzer and sprayed the palette a couple of times until all the ink had mixed with some water. The Kraft paper below the palette is simply to protect my workspace, and not a necessity at all :)

Once my palette was wet with the water and ink combination, I took a round brush and began picking up the color from the palette, and laying it onto the blank areas of my design. 

This is the fun part about masking fluid! You can be as messy as you want to be, and it doesn't matter: your design will come out (mostly) clean everywhere you put your masking fluid!

Once you've applied all your color, you must wait until your paint or ink is completely dry before you attempt to peel off the masking fluid....I know, the temptation is so real! Trust me! I made the mistake of pulling the fluid up too early and the wet parts of the paper were completely ripped up along with the fluid. Not worth it. 

When my design was ready, I simply used my thumb to rub up a piece of the tacky fluid. From there, I peeled it off slowly, and my gorgeous negative space design was revealed! I finished by cleaning up the design with an eraser, getting rid of the remaining pencil marks that were hidden beneath the masking fluid. 

For my second design, I repeated the same beginning steps:
1. Lightly sketch
2. Cover in masking fluid
3. Wait to dry

For the next step, I wanted to use the leftover ink and water mixture on my palette, and I added to it a bit before spritzing it with water!

Before the next step, I double-checked to make sure my masking fluid had dried completely! When I was sure it had, I quickly flipped over my palette and pressed it down onto the paper. I did sort of a dabbing motion to spread the color around.

For a much more detailed explanation of this technique (except using a plastic baggie), check out this blog post:
The Hefty Hack How To

Oops! More blurry photos! Sorrrryyyyyy :(

When I felt like I couldn't get anymore color from my palette, I grabbed a clean paint brush and laid down the remaining bits of ink on the paper to fill in any blank spots around the masking. I did this until my little design eye was happy! 

Ok... once again, we must wait until our ink or paint has COMPLETELY DRIED!!! Ahhhh, the AGONY! 

But it'll be worth it FOR SURE.

Ok! So my finished design didn't quite come out as clean as I hoped it would...but that's where our handy-dandy gel pen comes in to save the day!

If you want to take the time to clean up your edges with a gel pen, go for it! However, I only needed to cover up a few spots where my masking fluid wasn't completely smooth and even. 

Ta-da! It's done! What do you think?

Ok y'all, that's it for this week's blog post! I had a lot of fun with this one, and as always, I hope you'll explore your own instincts and personal style if yy;'ou decide to give this tutorial a try! Tag me on Instagram and show me your designs if you do :) OR leave me a comment below and tell me which color family you would choose: greens, blues, reds, violets? I love seeing how each artist puts their own spin on things!

Negative Space Lettering feat. Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils Pt. 1

Hey guys! Today, I'm going to show you how to create really unique and fun "negative space" lettering! When I received my set of Tombow Mono Drawing Pencils (linked below in the supply list!), I was inspired to create something more "elaborate" than my normal lettering. And that is when I came up with this fun and easy technique! Once you learn this simple technique, you will want to make hand-drawn thank you notes, framed pieces of art, and personalized gifts for friends....I have no doubt that you will love this! 

Let's begin!

After cracking open my brand new set of pencils (that come with eraser and sharpener...two very important tools), I chose the lead 'weight' I wanted for this project that requires a little bit of drawing!

I chose the 5B weight because it's a softer and thicker lead. I figured the softer lead would be easiest to erase and the thicker pencil strokes would be best for this technique. 

But before I can put my pencil to work, I need to break out my dual brush pen. Any color will work for this next step, but I chose black because it's always closest at hand!

On the tracing paper, I used the thick nib of my brush pen to write a fancy, scripty 'B.' I chose the letter 'B' because it represents my last name. You can choose whatever letter(s) you want! I have also done this technique with the word 'YAY' that I turned into a gold foil print. You can check it out here.

My 'B' wasn't thick enough for my taste, so I 'double-lined' it, which is a fancy way of saying 'I went back over it with my brush pen to thicken the lines!' ha

Now, after your ink has dried to the touch (you don't want to smear black ink everywhere....as I have definitely done in the past), flip your tracing paper over.

Now use your pencil to trace the outline of your fancy letter or word. You can't see my pencil marks very well, but they are there! DON'T be shy with how hard you trace. You want your pencil lead to show up for this next step...

And this is the part where choosing a thick, soft lead really comes in handy...

Next, you want to grab your cardstock (or whatever paper you're using!), and flip your tracing sheet back over to the 'right side.' Position your letter or word over the center of the paper (or where you intend your final result to be.

With quite a bit of pressure, use the edge of your bone folder to transfer the lead on the back of the tracing paper onto your paper. If you don't have a bone folder, any plastic or metal object with a dull edge will work for this. Remember, apply quite a bit of pressure!

This is how your transfer should turn out! You can totally skip this step if you can free hand the outline of a fancy letter or word...I couldn't, and that's why this step was a lifesaver for me!

Next, I re-traced my outline with my pencil. Once again, this step can be skipped if your lead transfer comes out more clearly than mine did.

Now, let's start drawing!

I chose to add floral embellishments because that's what comes most naturally to me. However, you could add all kinds of elements with this technique: geometric, swirly, you name it!

Once my drawing was complete, I picked up my Fudenosuke Soft Nib to outline my floral embellishments. For this technique, you ONLY outline your embellishments. No part of the original 'B' outline should be touched or traced over!

I like using the brush pen for this technique, because I can get thin lines, but can slightly vary how thick the lines are, which adds a little character. For a more 'streamlined' look, you could use a Micron Pen. Now let's erase our lines!

Ok, so it looks pretty good, but my 'B' isn't popping enough for me...I'm going to go back in and add some more details around the edges of my B.

That's better! can you spot the differences? LOL

Alright, so that's IT! All together, this technique took me MAYBE 20 minutes. As soon as you decide on what your motif will be, you will fly right through this!!! Especially after your first couple of designs. 

Let me know what you think of this tutorial by leaving me a comment below! This technique is Pt. 1 of 3 awesome 'negative space' techniques I'll be demonstrating using my new Mono Drawing Pencils! I can't wait to show you what else you can do with these quality tools!

And P.S.: National Handwriting Day is coming this MONDAY, January 23rd! Show some love for your handwriting and rock it on Instagram, using the hashtag #handwrittenwithtombow for a chance to be featured on their Insta feed! You can post your pics starting now, until Monday night!

1 Brush Pen, 3 Lettering Styles: Medium-to-Advanced Brush Lettering Tutorial

*this post contains affiliate links*

Hey y'all! This week, I want to talk a little about digging myself out of a lettering rut. For at least a month now, I've been feeling very unsatisfied and bored with my lettering style! I haven't looked forward to sitting down to letter or create new pieces for my shop, because I am starting to feel like a one-trick pony. I always reach for the same pens, time and time again, and I always go through the same motions in creating my letters. 

Enough! It's time for a change, guys. If I can't update or expand upon my style, I can't really consider myself a lettering artist. Having range is extremely important to me, so range is what you're gonna get in this blog post!

At first, I thought I would get some new, different pens to change things up. But, after a little thought on this topic, I came to the conclusion that I don't want or need to buy new tools to explore different styles. I can create different styles with just ONE pen....the same pen I reach for almost every single day: the Fudenosuke Soft Nib. 

My big epiphany of the week was discovering three varied styles I can create pretty easily with the same pen, simply using a different range of motion for each. These three styles are SUPER simple, and probably very recognizable to you already. But, in case you aren't sure how to change up your lettering, I'll show you some of the tricks I've been using. Let's get started! 

1. Bouncy Script Lettering

For Bouncy Script Lettering, I like to imagine a bouncing ball, upside down!

The best way to think about it is: alternate between big and small letters! 
It's also helpful to draw the bouncing ball pattern beneath your letters as a guideline. This technique definitely requires some practice, as it's not our 'natural' inclination when lettering. I invite you to explore this technique and see how you can put your personal spin on it! 

The possibilities of variation with this technique are endless! Here is my real-life portrayal of the Bouncy Script Lettering Technique!

2. Fancy Script Lettering 

For this technique, I simply elongate the 'connector' of each letter to create a more 'traditionally calligraphic' feel. Here's what I mean in a little photo (because I know that wasn't a very helpful explanation LOL): 

The technique also leaves room for variation, depending on how drastically you elongate your connectors! This technique would be lovely for lettering invitations, adding a little fanciness to an envelope, or lettering a poem. 

3. Tall & Skinny Script Lettering

This third and final technique is the one that comes easiest to me! For this technique, I visualize this: 

Whenever I want to letter in this style, I will sometimes warm-up by making that pointy-squiggly line with my brush pen. Essentially, I want to imitate that kind of movement with my pen as I am lettering. However, if visualizing that kind of motion isn't quite working for you, think about smushing your letters up close together and then stretching them out! When you get the hang of it, this technique is so much fun! And, you can move really fast :) 

Alright! It's as simple as that! 

It's kind of crazy how different shapes and motions can inspire different lettering styles. What are some of your tricks for changing things up when you fall into a lettering rut? Tell me in the comments below!


*Do you want to see a more in-depth demonstration of these patterns, and even learn a new one? If so, you should check out my brand new lettering course, The Unexpected Lettering Class. One of the 5 exercises I teach in the class is devoted to the type of pattern play demonstrated in this tutorial!


2016 Shop Small Holiday Gift Guide

With Christmas just a little over three weeks away, we are in the final countdown! If you're like me, you wait until December to start shopping, because getting it together any earlier than that makes too much sense and would make life too easy. I have to make it hard on myself. 

And, if you're like me in more ways than one, you want to support as much local and small business as possible! I have always been aware that I should #shopsmall and #buylocal, but in my first year as an Etsy Seller....I've never been more convicted! When you support an Etsy Seller or an artist at a local boutique or store front in your town, you're helping an actual human being. That's not something you can say about hitting the aisles of Target or browsing Macy's....though I love both of those big box stores, I want to bring attention to some special Etsy Sellers and Artsy Friends I've met through my hand-lettering journey!

Here are a few of the artists I am making a point to support this Christmas! 

For your coloring-obsessed friend...or in my case, grandmother!

Stuff Southern Women Say: A Coloring Book of Southernisms and Southern Charm: Adult Coloring Book

(Ahem...it's only $9.99....you can order one for every Southern lady in your life!)

My Mamaw LOVES to color in adult coloring books, and I know she's not the only one! I have lots of friends who like to Netflix-and-Color (including yours truly, if I have the time), and even more Southern gal pals that would love this book if for nothing more than the sayings inside! 

You may remember that I gave another one of Angie's coloring books away in my 10K Giveaway... well, stay tuned, because I'll be giving a copy of this coloring book away in the new year...

Order your very own coloring book for yourself, or to give as a gift by clicking here!
 

For your state-proud, floral-loving friend...

A State Sign from Lovely Retro Renos

PLEASE NOTE: You MUST order by December 10th if you want to receive your pieces in time for the holidays...but you can get free shipping until then!

Of course, y'all know I love my Kentucky stuff. Kentucky everything all the time. But even I know Kentucky isn't the only state worth celebrating! In addition to the Bluegrass State, I've left pieces of my heart in New York, and now, Illlinois! I want to order signs for those places too and create the most beautiful gallery wall ever!

Photo from Lovely Retro Reno's Etsy Shop

Photo from Lovely Retro Reno's Etsy Shop

I mean, how precious is this Illinois sign? 

Stephanie, owner and maker behind this adorable shop, also creates drink coasters, unique picture frames, and some other wooden goodies! Definitely give her shop a look!

For the friend that likes to sip and/or celebrate in style!

The 'Cup of Cheer' 17 Oz. Stemless Wine Glass by Pretty in Ink Shop

You can ask Andrea, the owner and maker behind this adorable shop...the first time I laid eyes on this "Cup of Cheer" glass, I commented on the photo and said "I think I need this," and had ordered it less than a week later! I just couldn't pass this one up!

Photo from Pretty in Ink Shop

I threw a splash of my husband's Kentucky Bourbon into my cup of cheer, but I've been enjoying it for wine more than anything! However, if you or your friends and family don't enjoy alcohol...no worries! I'm confident ANY drink will be more cheerful in this cup!

Pretty in Ink Shop also have a ton of other adorable drink-ware options that I think you'll just love for the holiday season...here are a few of my favorites: 
This White Camper Mug...
And this 'Elf' inspired coffee or tea mug!

Andrea is the best, and has also shared a coupon code with me to pass on to my readers!
Get 15% off your purchase of $5 or more with code "OHWHATFUN"! Click here to view her shop!

I'll be giving away one of these cheerful glasses in my New Years giveaway as well...it's going to be a good one, guys!

For the friend or loved one missing someone special this Christmas...

This gorgeous sign by CaytiedidDesigns

This time of year can sting for those that have just lost a loved one or are spending their first Christmas without a special friend or relative. I know this pain from personal experience. While no gift could ever replace the empty place in your heart, a thoughtful sentiment like this one is a lovely reminder to celebrate in honor of those you miss so much! I absolutely adore this print by my insta-friend Caytie!

And for the friend with the catchphrase.....

A custom Gold Foil Print by yours truly...

Please note: I'm taking and filling orders until Friday, December 16th, to help increase likelihood all packages arrive in time for Christmas! Any orders placed on or after the 16th will be shipped Monday, the 19th, and I make no promises....read below for a coupon code!

Did you really think I could resist plugging myself? No. But, mostly because this is a brand new listing in my shop! Available in 5x7 or 8x10 sizing, I want to hand-letter your favorite quote, Bible Verse, song lyrics, or catchphrase and immortalize it in sparkly gold foil! But, you don't have to limit yourself to a custom print if it ain't your thang right now....This code is for my readers only: use 'KILEYCHRISTMAS' at checkout for free shipping on any item in my shop, now until December 16th!

I also have these brand new prints available, which are a collaboration with my mom, the talented photographer behind January June Photography! They're not your average print...I highly suggest grabbing one of these for your friend with the cute kitchen or the coziest living room!

Ok guys...that's it! I hope you've marked at least one item off your shopping list from this gift guide! Feel free to comment your favorite Etsy Shop or small online boutique and share the #shopsmall love! Heck, even tag your own Etsy Shop...I did it, and you can too!

Fifty Ways to Drawn An "I" - Brush Lettering Practice + A Free Worksheet

Ok guys, I hope you had an AWESOME Thanksgiving (if you celebrate!). I certainly did....and can you believe Christmas (if you celebrate) is officially just around the corner?

Good thing I have holiday excitement to distract me from the letter 'I.' This was a tough one, guys! I kind of suspected I would have a hard time with this letter, but who knew how boring 'I' really is? Well, now I guess we all do! ha.

I hope you enjoy this week's worksheet! I'll be back next week with the fabulous letter 'J!'

To print your 'I' Worksheet out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here
Print the 'D' Worksheet Here
Print the 'E' Worksheet Here
Print the 'F' Worksheet Here
Print the 'G' Worksheet Here
Print the 'H' Worksheet Here

I'm having an awesome Black Friday weekend sale over at my shop! Go check it out if you want some amazing free shipping, and add-ins for certain purchases!

Fifty Ways to Drawn An "H" - Brush Lettering Practice + A Free Worksheet

Hey y'all and Happy THANKSGIVING WEEK! This is one of my favorite times of the year. I'm taking a week off of 'business stuff' to spend time with my family anddddd to get some rest before the holiday madness in my shop (hopefully) begins. But, I didn't forget about y'all! I have the next installment of the 50 Ways Series ready to go for you! Enjoy!

Come back on Friday to see 50 Ways to Letter 'I'!

Note: The worksheet is no longer in PDF Form! A lot of y'all want to use your worksheets in Procreate for iPad lettering practice. Because of this, the worksheets are now JPEGs (photos), which are compatible with uploading into Procreate! They can be downloaded and printed the exact same way :) I promise! 

To print your 'H' Worksheet out, simply click here. Right click, save, print, then trace away!

Print the 'A' Worksheet Here
Print the 'B' Worksheet Here
Print the 'C' Worksheet Here
Print the 'D' Worksheet Here
Print the 'E' Worksheet Here
Print the 'F' Worksheet Here
Print the 'G' Worksheet Here

Sidenote! I'm going to have an awesome Black Friday Weekend sale over at my Etsy Shop! If you're looking for a few unique Christmas gifts, you may want to check it out!
HINT: There will be free shipping on all orders over $15 ... and one more surprise! Check my shop Instagram for details this week!