Discovering Your Design Style

Design Style Discovery / Little Bison Studio
Over the past year I’ve been working towards growing my skillset and learning what really motivates me as a designer. It’s interesting to look back at my portfolio from design school to see how my tastes have changed from almost five years ago. While now my aesthetics are honed-in, back then I had fun with mixing it up with each project I was given. When you talk to fellow creatives some keep a consistent look across the board while others choose have a little more variety in order to appeal to a wider range of clientele. This past year I have really discovered who I am as a designer + creative. The best way I describe my style to potential clients is “simplistic and modern with an earthy aesthetic”, or “organic modern”. Here I’ve come up with a few useful tips to help guide you into determining your own design style.

Determine what you like. You are drawn to things for a specific reason and turned off by others; but dig deeper to realize why that is. Perhaps it is the simple and clean san-serif fonts that really speak to you, or the bold, elaborate color schemes that get you inspired; whatever it may be, make note of it. I started by keeping a little list of what types of design elements motivated me the most (and those that didn’t) and by having a written list, I was able to discern and discover my true tastes.

Make it unique. What can you do to set yourself apart from the rest of the creative community? Take everything a step further. Having not only a signature look, but also the uniqueness to back it up will get you noticed.

Give it meaning. Have reasons for why you are designing things the way they are. Pay attention to colors, fonts, hierarchy, and overall layout. Don’t be so fast to follow the popular trends, they will come and go but your design will be sticking around for a while, so make it count.

Keep things balanced. It is important to keep within your own design aesthetics without sacrificing your client’s needs or wishes. People will hire you because of your portfolio and design style, but that does not mean to completely forget about your client’s requests. You want to maintain a healthy balance and keep an open line of communication.

Don’t settle. There are always new things you can do to learn, grow, and challenge yourself as a designer, so don’t settle for where you currently are. Surround yourself with people who can encourage and push you forward.

Room Study: 01

Room Study: Living Space / Little Bison Studio

Before the launch of Little Bison Studio, I took a little time to reflect on what my plans were for this blog and which series I wanted to keep around and… what we could do without. Some of your old favorites will surely be back in the weeks to come and a few new reoccurring posts will be added into the mix as well. My hope is to create a cohesive blogging + sharing platform that showcases everything we are passionate about – design, style, interiors, life, and inspiration.

Right in the midst of planning and preparation for Little Bison Studio, my husband and I packed up our apartment in Wisconsin and made the long twenty hour trek to Texas where my husband will be attending graduate school for the next few years. The whole moving process is kind of what sparked this new column. After finding our (nearly) perfect place, I finally had a blank canvas to adorn with all our accumulated goods. We wanted our new space to be bright and airy, something our old place lacked were windows and now we have many! This meant we were able to bring in more plants and greenery, which we both enjoy having a little piece of the outdoors inside with us. Playing around with the use of reclaimed wood, texture, and use of pattern helped put the finishing touches on our organic modern space.

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: 05

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS

With a full week of the new year behind us, I decided we would start 2016 off right with a little re-launch of one of my favorite mini series, Becoming a #GIRLBOSS. It wasn’t until the holiday season (and being stuck on plane for a few hours), that I began to write down a few more takeaways from Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS. One thing that really stood out to me is that we should view everything (in this case business) as a work in progress. Sophia mentions to never assume you’ve done your best the first time around. There’s always room for improvement and we should constantly be challenging ourselves and tweaking what isn’t working. Sometimes you just have to jump into the pool without testing the water first. Sure it can be scary and the final outcome can be uncertain, but sometimes the risk is well worth it in the end!

Moodboard: Organic Modern

Little Bison Studio / moodboard
Today we thought we share with you all the moodboard for Little Bison Studio and help shed some light on our design aesthetic, which can be simply put as organic modern. A combination of simple, clean modern design paired with natural and earthy elements. Think bright white, clean lines matched with reclaimed wood, cozy knits, and soft sheepskin rugs. For our brand color palette, we opted for a moody charcoal grey, mustard, a hint of refreshing mint and lots of white space! As more things start to unfold with our whole process, we promise to share more in the coming weeks and months to come, but for now, be sure to follow along on intsagram + twitter for quick little snippets!

The New Little Bison Studio

Little Bison Studio Little Bison Studio / ipad
Some of you may remember, a little over a year ago I shared that I would be stepping away from using my name and would be launching a new studio, brand, and website. In order to grow my business and expand beyond myself, I knew it was time for a complete change. After a long (and somewhat draining) process of trying to come up with a new name, it kind of just came to me, and the rest started to fall into place. For the longest time Little Bison Studio has been this small glimmer in the distance. Through this whole process, I knew I wanted to get everything just right. I spent a good portion of the spring and summer months mulling over the design for this site and going back and forth a lot. And, finally, in the fall we began development and well, here we are!

From the start, I wanted a hand-selected team of designers I could collaborate with. I just wasn’t sure when the time was going to be right. In order for a business to successfully grow and thrive, stretching yourself thin is never a good solution. So, as things with the new studio started to pick up, I decided to just go for it. If you’ve had a chance to take a look around, you’ll notice that there are a couple of new faces around here so I thought I would take a minute to give some introductions.

Cassie and I met a few years back while attending design school. We became fast friends and have become pretty inseparable. Not only do we have similar design tastes (amongst other things), she has an eye for detail, and a passion for building unique brands. Tom, who some of you may already know, has stuck by my side as my web developer ever since I first launched Holly Marie Designs. He and I also became friends in art school, during a late night drawing class, and soon after, had many of our core design courses together. He has a great creative eye and is a talented designer and skilled developer. I believe that both of their design asethics are a good match for Little Bison Studio and I am so happy to have them partner with me on this new creative journey!

Little Bison Studio / instagram quote
On the blog side of things, I spent a good amount of time trying to hone in what I envisioned for this creative space – deciding what should stay, what should go, and what series I want keep moving forward with. Of course I plan to continue sharing moodboards, in-progress work, and featured projects, because it is the foundation of this studio. Some of your old favorite will be back, but in a slightly more refined format. I also have a few upcoming projects and collaborations I am excited to share with you, but in the meantime, feel free to follow along on social media – instagram, twitter, and facebook!

Lastly, I want to hand out a few thank you’s – first off, a big thanks goes out to Tom Wilz for the development of this website + blog. Kirsty Gungor for shooting our Little Bison photoshoot over the summer as well as Mary Ellen Skye for her skilled styling and lifestyle photography.

Sienna Moon: Summer Collection

Sienna Moon / Summer Collection 2015 / holly marie designs Sienna Moon / Summer Collection 2015 / holly marie designs Sienna Moon / Summer Collection 2015 / holly marie designs Sienna Moon / Summer Collection 2015 / holly marie designs Sienna Moon / Summer Collection 2015 / holly marie designs Sienna Moon / Summer Collection 2015 / holly marie designs Sienna Moon / Summer Collection 2015 / holly marie designs

A few weeks ago I shared a sneak peek into what I’ve been working on the past few months and I am so excited to finally share that the day is here! First let’s back track to March, the freelancing waters had settled a bit and I was itching for a new project, so I started contacting a few up + coming businesses and Etsy shops wondering if they’d be interested in collaborating in some way. It was at that time, that I stumbled upon the Jamie’s lovely, boho-inspired shop. Sienna Moon. It caught my eye right off the bat because it was right up my alley and a client I could only dream of working with some day.

After a exchanging a few emails, Jamie and I began the process of designing tee’s and tanks for her upcoming summer collection. Little did I know how huge of a project this was turning out to be, but I enjoyed every minute of the ride. Seriously. I’ve learned so much in these past three months about developing + designing a clothing line and has really opened my eyes even more to the realm of fashion. It has truly been an amazing experience and has given me a good sample of what it’s like to own and run a clothing company.

Currently we are in the process of promoting the new collection with social media, line sheets, and lookbooks. I promise I will share more as everything starts to unfold, but until then, feel free to check out the new summer collection for yourself! This collection was a wonderful team effort and I want to give a shout out to the other designers who had a hand in creating various parts of the collection and to all of the incredible photographers across the U.S. who made the garments come to life so beautifully!

Sienna Moon Sneak Peek

Sienna Moon / Following Our Breath, Following Our Heart tee Sienna Moon / Raised on Rock 'N Roll & Dreams tee Sienna Moon / Under Her Spell tee

I was too excited to wait a few more days, so I thought I would share a little bit of where I’ve been and why things have been a little more quiet around here than usual. As you may already know, I have been working on a huge project that has been hush hush for the past few months and in just a few short days, all will be revealed!

I’ve been working with the LA-based clothing company, Sienna Moon; designing tee’s for their upcoming summer collection and assisting the shop’s owner various day-to-day happenings. The shop inspired by bohemian vibes and the calm, cool, and collected California style. Jamie Michelle, Sienna Moon’s owner, strives to keep all things eco-friendly + ethically made, which I am excited to say that almost all of the tee’s in the new collection will be organic or hemp!

I am sure Jamie will be sharing more over on Sienna Moon’s instagram over the weekend, in case you’d like to follow along! And this post wouldn’t be complete without giving props to the wonderfully talented photographer behind a few of these images. Jessie Alexise has shot for Sienna Moon five previous times and she envelops the brand oh so well! It’s honestly been a true dream to be a part of this whole experience and just so happens to fit my niche perfectly!

Freelance Insights: Jamie Starcevich

Freelance Insights: Jamie Starcevich

For today’s Freelance Insights we have my friend, Jamie, of Spruce Rd. She is wildly talented and her blog is chalk full of helpful tips + tricks for designers. A few months ago, after I made my way through blog (I read it all from start to finish, yes – really) I decided to send her a little tweet and the rest is history. I asked Jamie to share some of her insights on freelancing. Below she talks about the value of following your vision and waiting for the types of clients that will help mold your business into what you want it to be. The right types of clients can really help set the tone for your creative journey as a freelancer, which is advice that I am learning to take myself…

“I recently opened up my design studio, Spruce Rd., full-time just a couple short months ago. While I have truly enjoyed work (probably for the first time in my career!), it doesn’t come without its struggles. For anyone who is just starting their design studio, I would say the biggest lesson I have learned is to be patient.

Patient in the types of clients + projects you take on. I have had to say “no” to a few potential clients, as I knew they weren’t in line the vision behind my studio. This was not an easy decision… especially when I JUST started my business! I think it is important to have a clear vision + intention behind your business, so you can dictate the direction you go, rather than allow others to passively influence you. If you want to attract creative entrepreneurs, don’t design a logo for your dad’s friend who owns a landscaping business. You will most likely be frustrated throughout the project, as it is not the type of project you enjoy working on!

I definitely don’t have it all figured out, especially after just a couple of months, but patience has been the biggest lesson I have learned so far! It has paid off so far as I have started attracting my ideal clients + projects, which I am absolutely thrilled about!”

Freelance Insights: Ciera Holzenthal

Freelance Insights: Ciera Holzenthal

I first stumbled upon Ciera’s blog way back when I just started pinning on Pinterest and right away I was drawn in to her blog which showcased everything from design, business tips, fonts + freebies, and diy’s amongst other things. Right before I launched this column, I came up with a list of inspiring creatives I wanted to be apart and I knew Ciera was one of the ladies I wanted to feature! If you are new to my blog, Freelance Insights offers up advice, short stories, tips and tricks from fellow designers and bloggers. Today, Ciera Holtenthal of Ciera Design Studio talks about working from home and the value of making plans outside “the office”.

“I’m getting really honest with y’all today. When freelancing and working from home (especially when it’s cold out) it’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in work, social media, blogging, emails, laundry and dishes and before I know it, the day has passed, I haven’t exercised or even left the house, and sometimes I’m still in my pajamas. Does this happen to anyone else? I hope so, or this is really embarrassing! I have to actively make myself get out of the house sometimes. Here is what works for me: schedule in-person meetings, rather than phone calls, work from a coffee shop, schedule lunch dates, join a gym or class (if I’m paying for something, I feel more obligated to go), attend (or in my case host) meet ups and/or conferences. What do you do to get out of the house?”

Moodboard: Simple + Mod

Simple + Mod moodboard / holly marie designs

Recently I teamed up with a local church to create a cohesive brand for a new gap year school that they will be starting this summer. Transition One is a year pause between high school and college for students to focus on successful Christian living through leadership, responsibility, and service. For this project we opted for an overall simplistic + modern look with the use of a lot of white space paired with a teal, navy, and orangey-coral color palette. Along with print collateral, I designed the layout of the website – which I will share in a few short weeks!!