Holly Baumgartl
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Why should you invest in your branding?
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This is one of my most common questions. So let’s jump in, shall we?

My professor in design school once told me that a logo is like a vessel. It holds every decision you make in your business. Even the most successful companies have good branding. Apple, Google, Lush, and more.


What’s the difference between a logo and a full brand?

A logo is just a graphic element that can be applied to things with no context. Visually, a brand is an entire package of elements that gives a logo the support it needs with proper typography choices, color, and supporting elements such as patterns, icons or other graphics. Typically a designer also gives direction and a style-guide on how to use these all as well. Additionally, a brand provides a unique and impactful experience for the user.

Now, what exactly is good branding? In my opinion, it’s consistent, purposeful, driven, and user-friendly.

  • Consistency: It’s consistent in the sense that your users can go from your business card to your website and know that they’re still looking at the same company.

  • Purpose: Purposeful branding is important, why? Because it’s not just slapping some type together and adding some color. It’s much more than that. It’s how an S can be too round for a bolder brand or how the application of a color can change the look and feel of an entire brand.

  • Driven: This means it’s got some backbone, it’s going somewhere and can be applied onto many different things throughout the brand.

  • User-friendly: This comes down to your fonts, color choices, and overall presentation and application of your brand. I also think it depends on your target audience. It means it’s easy to read, navigate and understand.

What can a brand do for you? It will set you apart, create a look, feel and aesthetic for your company. One of the most important things is that it can be recognized easily on any application or platform which will help gain equity by your target audience. It will take you to the next level, but you’ve gotta be ready to go there too. There’s more to branding than just visual elements. This includes your brand voice, marketing language, and how you want to position yourself in your market. This will help you emphasize any product, service, or yourself to truly set you apart.

Holly BaumgartlComment
6 Must-Haves for Starting Out As a Freelance Designer
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Welcome! This is the first post into the freelancer blog post series. I’ve been doing freelance graphic design throughout my career in the last 5 years, but recently I’ve gone full-time with it. It’s not always easy starting out as a freelancer, so today I’m sharing some tips, tricks, and must-haves just for you. Let’s jump in!


One. Goals. Think about your goals with freelancing. Is this something you are using as a stepping stone to do full-time? Are you just doing it on the side or for fun? Or is it a way to see if you like the field as a whole? Determining your goals will help you along your journey of how to get clients and marketing yourself. Make small goals to achieve bigger ones.

Two. Dreams. Dream big. You need to believe in yourself because freelancing isn’t always the easiest journey. But with hard works, big dreams and ambition, you can do absolutely anything.

Let’s get to the more tangible stuff, shall we?

Three. Business Cards. This should be a given, but I have noticed that a few of people don’t have business cards anymore. I’d recommend them because it’s an easy way to give someone your information to contact you. I would also recommend leaving these on bulletins around your town (with permission of course) or even exchanging them at networking events. Always keep them handy, you never know when you will talk to someone who will end up being a potential connection or client.

Four. A website. A website with work you’ve done and work you want to do is a must. Even if you haven’t had specific clients with work that you’d like to do, do it anyways. Making a case study to showcase a new skill or type of work you want to do can really take your portfolio to the next level. Crafting a user friendly website for potential clients to navigate around is crucial.

Five. The ability to network. I know it can be scary to go out and meet or talk to new people, but I promise it’s worth it. A lot of my clients have come from word of mouth or people I know. I’m always networking anywhere I go. Even if it’s just striking up a conversation with someone at your local coffee shop or in line at the grocery store. You never know who you’re going to meet, so always be yourself.

Six. Social media presence. I feel like this is a given nowadays, but it’s so very important. Even comparable to a good business card or website. It’s so easy to create things to post to your feed or highlights that showcase your talents in other ways than in your portfolio. Presentation is everything, remember that. Find creative ways to show your work on social media but also remember to be authentic and genuine on your feed. Don’t post things just to gain likes or followers. Try to brainstorm things to post that will add value for your audience. It will take you a lot further than just posting things you don’t truly believe in or stand by.

There you have it, six must-haves to get you started in your freelance journey. Thank you so much for reading!

How to Stand Out as a Creative

Have you ever felt as if you’re in a pool of hundreds, even thousands of creators and you don’t feel like you stand out? I’m here to tell you that you will and give you some tips on how to.

Since I’ve been a creative, I’ve always compared myself to others. There were days that I scrolled on instagram or designspiration for hours wondering if I’d ever be as good as these kickass designers that I followed. I think it’s human to feel these things, and I’d be lying if I told you I don’t still feel them from time to time. But over that time, I’ve learned to talk myself out of these bad habits, mostly. Now, I do think it’s important to have people to look up to, hundreds of Pinterest boards and inspiration for miles. However, it’s very easy to get sucked into the deep dark hole of comparison, not feeling good enough and just overall developing an unhealthy mindset. I’m not saying that these things will never happen because it’s human to feel these things. I’m here to tell you that if you play your cards right, and embrace who you truly are and let that shine through, you will stand out way more than the person you’re forcing yourself to be.

My first and most important piece of advice is to be yourself. I know, that sounds cliche, but you are not a cliche. None of us are. I think that there is something that makes everyone unique, what’s yours?

I think to know yourself is to know your brand. To know your brand is to know your target audience. See what I mean? I’ve recently discovered in the past year that the more self-discovery I’ve done, the better my brand and business has been. The better my brand has been, the more I’ve been able to connect with my target audience and grow my business. Instead of trying to curate the prettiest feed or write tons of content, I decided to just try to be authentic as possible, but also consistent with my online presence (which is something I’m still working on, aren’t we all?).

My first day of my major design class in art school, my professor said something that sticks with me every day. “Your logo is a vessel, it holds every decision you make as a brand”. Take a deep breath and think about that for a moment. It’s so important. Your brand is a visual representation of you and I think that’s worth exploring. Dig deep and think about the things you love and how and why they make you who you are.

So during this journey of self discovery, I challenge you to ask yourself these questions and see where you end up:

  1. What makes you unique?

  2. What do you love about your favorite designers? 

  3. What do you love about yourself?

  4. Who is your target audience and what do you want to say to them?

  5. How could you apply all of these things to your brand? (think colors, patterns, icons, symbols, typography, phrases, etc)

At the end of the day, we’re all just out here trying to figure out how to connect with others and make beautiful and purposeful things. It’s pretty wonderful, isn’t it? Now go out there and be yourself. I promise it won’t fail you.

Holly BaumgartlComment
FREEBIE Designer To Do List Printable
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Are you a designer who loves writing daily to-do lists? You've come to the right place! I don't know about you guys... but I find myself scribbling these things down on 10 million sticky notes every day only to find that I can't see my desk at the end of the day. 

Have no fear, the designer edition daily planning printable is here just for you! Handcrafted and designed by yours truly

If you use the designer to do list printable post a pic and use #creatingholly! I'd love to see. If you like these, let me know and I'll make a weekly and monthly version. 

To get the free printable, click here

Design a life that you love and most importantly, enjoy!

Technology and How it's Shaped My Career
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Technology has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. Computers and the internet specifically have made a huge impact on my career and the time leading up to it. In this post, I'll be including some really old photoshop designs that I did back in the day along with some screen shots of old games from the early 2000's. Hang tight. Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we? 

From the second I could comprehend what it meant to be online and get my hands on a mouse and a keyboard, I was fascinated. As early as I can remember (late 90's and early 2000's), I was watching my mom use our computer that had windows XP on it. I recall the tone of dial up, and the "you've got mail" sound coming loudly from our computer speakers as she logged onto her AOL account. 

Screen Shot of Madeline's European Adventures

Screen Shot of Madeline's European Adventures

Screen Shot of Jump Start

Screen Shot of Jump Start

 

When I was about 4, I started playing computer games. Some were learning games like Jumpstart but there were others that I remember like Madeline's European Adventures that virtually took you all around the world with one single character. This peaked my curiosity, and I was drawn in from the beginning. Eventually, my parents even let me get my own aol account, and then the real fun began. I probably changed my email name 50 times, while also using every embarrassing word combination for an email that you could think of. However, I logged onto it to play even more games, chat with my friends on my AOL buddy list, and send emails to my relatives that were located out of town. I remember playing games on websites like Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I loved Avatar the Last Air Bender’s Fortress Fight game and Lizzie Mcguire's wardrobe game. Regardless, I was always in tune with the experience of these games, even as a young kid. It always amazed me how easy it was to connect with others on the internet, even through something as simple as a chat room. 

Screen Shot of Club Pengiun

Screen Shot of Club Pengiun

Screen Shot of Neopets

Screen Shot of Neopets

I remember when I got my first computer, it was basically a dinosaur. I was allowed to have it in my room, which was pretty much the best gift any pre teen could ask for, right? Most people can say that their mom or dad gave them their first bike or guitar. Well, my parents gave me my first computer. Little did I know at the time, this would open the door to a passion that I couldn't ignore. I spent countless nights chatting with my friends and surfing the web until the sun rose. I even hung out on platforms like Neopets and Club Penguin... Ah those were the days.

Eventually I had upgraded from a dinosaur desktop and was given my dad’s old laptop. That’s when I feel that my journey truly began. It felt more personalized and I could take it anywhere. Things were changing so quickly on the internet and I was eager to learn what more you could do. I remember that when I got my laptop, Windows Vista had just come out and it changed the game, as glitchy as it was. 

As time went on, my mom and I started an online forum for Grey’s Anatomy, and then eventually we created a few of them for shows we loved like Private Practice, Desperate Housewives and any new show that we loved, really. Yeah, those shows were the bomb, okay!

I even got my first photoshop program, Corel Paint Shop Pro XI. At that moment, my journey into design truly began. We spent countless days creating new skins and graphics for our forum and tried to gain traffic to interact with other fans... what a time. 

Early Photoshop design I did in 2007 (the beginning of learning Corel PS Pro XI).

Early Photoshop design I did in 2007 (the beginning of learning Corel PS Pro XI).

Eventually, Myspace had appeared on the internet and I begged my mom if I could have one, she said yes, but only if I added her as a friend (PS, my mom would totally be on my top 8 friends now, guys). I remember how amazing it felt to design your page, adding graphics, a song, headers and a layout theme to top it all off. For me, it was really the beginning of true customization on a social media platform and is different than anything I’ve ever come across today. If it weren’t for myspace, I don’t even know if I’d be typing this right now on a blog. It truly changed my life.

I began to notice Myspace layout websites popping up all over. At the time, a friend of mine from middle school had shown me how to make myspace layouts. Instantly, I found myself dabbling and playing in the code for layouts and eventually started making my own. 

One of the first website layouts I did in 2008 (lol).

One of the first website layouts I did in 2008 (lol).

I met so many wonderful people along the way, and became close friends with them. I used to stay up all night to work on my website while having the best conversations via AIM with my myspace friends from all over the world. I learned so much, and eventually was managing my own website while making revenue from the ads on the website. I had a decent following and even co owned a few sites with friends as well. After awhile, a friend of mine started teaching me Adobe photoshop CS2 & 3 and I got better at making what we called “signs” which was just model photos with cool backgrounds on them that had a title font outlined in cool strokes and such. It was such a fun time, and ultimately placed the stepping stones on the path that lead me to what I do now in my career as a graphic designer.

A Loveshade "sign". My first myspace layout site name.

A Loveshade "sign". My first myspace layout site name.

A Imagine "sign". One of my last myspace layout site names.

A Imagine "sign". One of my last myspace layout site names.

Sadly, Myspace went downhill as other platforms started to show up. So after a few years of taking a break in design, I went onto a vocational school for my last two years of high school and took Graphic Communications. That program led me to my first in-house design job. After I graduated high school, I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art to complete my BFA in Graphic Design. Now as a recent grad, I'm a freelance graphic designer living my daydreams.

Technology has played such an important and crucial role in my life. 

I was really lucky in the sense that I found my path very young, but to be honestly, I had no idea that it would lead me to where I am now with a career in graphic design. I think it's important to follow that intuition, especially when you're young. As rocky as this journey has been, I feel like I always kind of knew I was heading down this path, and my gut lead me here. I've never felt more like I am right where I'm supposed to be. Everyone starts somewhere, so as you're probably still laughing from my early designs from back in the day, try not to be ashamed of those starting points. They show growth and progress, and I think that is one of the most important things we can conquer as people. 

What is a starting point that you never thought would take you to where you are now? Leave a comment below. 

My Dog Skye + His Food Routine

Hey dog lovers! Have you ever been curious about what and how other pet owners feed their pets? I'm here to give some insight on my dog's food routine and why I choose to feed him this way. If you'd like to learn more about my dog, Skye and why I'm talking about nutrition, keep reading!


This is Skye, he's a Boston Terrier and he is currently almost 3 years old. Skye is bigger than most Boston Terriers. He averages from 35-40 lbs and is bigger boned. The typical Boston Terrier is about 20-25 lbs. 

When I got Skye, I got him from a breeder. He was 8 weeks old and I had not decided what to feed him yet. Although I have owned dogs all my life, this was the first dog that I was financially responsible for and was considered my dog. So before getting Skye, I wasn't quite educated on what foods were more nutritional for dogs and why.

The breeder had given me some food to go home with, and it was Fromm Puppy Gold. I had never heard of Fromm at the time. I had decided to continue with that food and learned more about it by visiting the closest retailer that sold it. Skye did great on this puppy food, so I continued to purchase it up until he was about 8-9 months old. At the time, I started to notice that he seemed bored of his food and wasn't eating as much as he should of been every day. Naturally, I kind of panicked and headed back to the pet store for some help. 

After discussing more about dog food with the pet store, I ended up putting him on the Fromm Four Star Rotational food. Rotational diets in a specific brand of food (like Fromm) make it so that pets can seamlessly rotate between flavors while switching up the proteins. The protein and fat levels being similar are what prevent the digestive from becoming upset. It also helps that this specific rotational diet has similar ingredients in each type in the line of rotational diet. This also allows pets to become less susceptible to a specific protein source allergy. The importance of a rotational diet is to keep your pet interested in their food. You can rotate daily, weekly, or monthly.

The Fromm Four Star flavors that I rotate in between feeding to Skye are:

-Pork and Applesauce (his favorite, or so it seems)

-Duck and Sweet Potato

-Chicken A La Veg

I haven't had Skye sample any of the fish foods from that line, but I think it's something I'm going to have him try very soon. So besides his basic everyday food, here are some other things I do to make feeding time more exciting.

I'd like to consider myself a health conscious person. I truly believe that while living a healthier lifestyle and being interested in those things, it's easier to be open to other/more healthy options for your pet. With that being said, I tend to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, Skye loves them too! I tend to give him small amounts of fruits and vegetables depending on what I'm picking up from the grocery store that week.

A few of Skye's favorites are:

-Carrots 

-Apples 

-Lettuce 

-Banana (They also make a wonderful treat! Mash up into a kong and you can even freeze them for a yummy summer pupsicle)

Fruits and vegetables provide an excellent source of water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more for your dog.

Along with fresh fruits and vegetables, Skye has a lot of favorite treat and edible chew options. I would love to do another blog post elaborating on this, so stay tuned!

A few of Skye's favorites are:

-Peanut butter in a Kong

-Himalayan Cheese Chews

-Grandma Lucy's Apple Treats

So along with Skye's daily food routine, he gets a lot of healthy treats and things to make feeding more exciting!


There are a ton of other ways to incorporate other foods and treats into your dog's everyday routine. By doing research and figuring out what is good for your pet, you can customize and switch it up! 

I wanted to just mention a quick disclaimer, I am in no way shape or form an EXPERT on dog nutrition. I'm just a dog lover who also happened spent 6 months working for a natural dog food retailer with professional nutritional training. My time spent working at a pet store was very eye opening and inspired my senior thesis design project and interest in pet nutrition. I'm just here to share my experiences with others to connect and open up the conversation. PS, this is also not sponsored in any way, I'm just really passionate about pet products.

Want to learn more about rotational foods? Click here.

My Senior Thesis Explanation

Hi guys! As some of you know, I've been working on my senior thesis at the Cleveland Institute of Art this year. I wanted to write a blog explaining what I'm doing, why, and how I was inspired. Let's jump in!


So, I had a couple of ideas to begin with for my senior thesis. It's pretty intense to pick a topic for a design project that I was going to be working on for an entire year. At that point, there was a lot of thought that went into the decision making process. I had jotted down my daily thoughts and wondered... What is something that I think and or talk about all the time? What is something that I care about a lot and could turn into a design solution? Most importantly, it was important at this stage to find a topic I loved so much that I wouldn't get sick of it after 6 months to a year. After careful consideration and lots of long talks with my mom and close friends... I decided to choose dog nutrition.

Now, here's some background information on that. 

Most people who know me, know that I love dogs and animals in general. About a year ago, I worked for a pet store for around 6 months. While I was there, I was introduced to the retail aspect of pet nutrition. I went through extensive nutrition training for both dogs and cats, and helped customers with their nutritional + product needs daily. I met some wonderful people along the way, petted a lot of dogs, learned a lot, and found a new way that I could help animals to make a difference in their lives. I always wanted to continue to do so, but I also knew that I wanted to be able to use my design abilities in some way as well.

Over the last decade, we’ve truly humanized our pets, we’re no longer satisfied to reward them in ‘pet terms’ with something like a tennis ball. Instead, we reward them in human terms, with expensive diamond-studded leashes or something, in a way that we think is rewarding.
— Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pets Products Association

I don't know about you guys, but I definitely humanize my pup. Most people would agree when I say that I'm an overly crazed dog mom, but my pup adds so much value to my life. Being with my pup, Skye (who you will be meeting in a future blog post very soon), are the best parts of my day. Ultimately, I want to make sure that I am giving him the best life imaginable, which includes being able to feed him a good nutritional food that will help him live a long healthy life.

When it came time for me to start working on my thesis, the inspiration was flowing and I had finally felt like I had made the right choice with my topic. I chose to come up with a problem statement and solution for dog nutrition and how pet owners shop for their pet’s food. My experiences while working for a pet store became important in my research. I started to think a lot about the issues that customers faced with their pet food. I have and am continuously doing extensive research on this subject because you can never have too much research, especially in a field that's always evolving. Since my time working for a pet store, I became fascinated with what people were feeding their pets and if there was any way I could help to make it more approachable. I started talking to people, friends, family, and even strangers about how nutrition has impacted their pet’s lives, or if it had at all. I even conducted a survey that had over 100+ responses asking owners about the food they feed their pets. The results came in and I was surprised to see how many people were overwhelmed by the subject. 

My thesis statement says that:

A surprising amount of dog owners are not aware of the importance of their pet’s nutrition. I believe that nutrition is overwhelming and not practical to most pet owners because it is very information heavy, and has proven over time that it requires further attention. My experience with pet nutrition leads me to believe that nutrition is an approachable issue that can be solved outside of a pet store.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering… why am I just focusing on dogs? Currently, with the time allowed for my thesis project, I think narrowing in on a specific animal or pet type is more realistic in terms of being able to produce the right amount of solid work. I would love to eventually expand this for other types of pet owners in the future and plan on continuing my research after graduation.


So let’s jump in to some research!

Pet owners on average spend a whole lot of money on food, this is just how much:

money spent on food_sniffer

Based on my survey results that were conducted in the fall of last year, most pet owners said one of the biggest issues with feeding a more nutritional food was the cost factor. What if I told you that feeding your pet a more nutritional pet food will actually decrease the amount of food your feeding – overall decreasing the amount of food you're buying and spending money on?

54% of dog owners purchase their dog’s food outside of a pet store
— Personal Survey Results (surveymonkey.com)

Let's break that down.

28% of pet owners purchase their food in the grocery store, 16% purchase at an online retailer and 9% at the veterinarian. Most of the time, it's possible that these foods may not have the best nutritional value, but can be argued the same for pet stores depending on which retailer you shop at. My point about purchasing food in a pet store is that there is usually a staff around that has some sort of training to help your pick what's best for your pet. But this isn't always the case, and having some type of resource in this instance could be helpful.

Dog food comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

So with that being said, how do we know what’s best for our dogs? That is what I’m here to help with. I'm currently working on a design solution to bring attention to the importance of dog nutrition and how pet owners shop for their pet food. 

I am creating and branding an app called Sniffer that will act as a mobile on-the-go guide to pet food, there will be options to add pet profiles so that you can customize and tailor it to your pup to make sure that what you are feeding is the best option. There will also be a search and scan feature. The search will be filtered by a custom pet profile. The scan feature will enable the user to scan a pet food barcode and receive information on that pet food instantly.

The completion of Sniffer will be in May. Until then, I will continue to keep my blog and social media updated with the latest and greatest of my progress on this project. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and stay tuned for more blog posts.

The Ultimate Designer Gift Guide

'Tis the season! I don't know about you guys... but I'm looking at my list and checking it twice to see if I've got gift ideas for everyone. I thought this would be a great way to give some inspiration on what to get your designer friends or family for the holidays.

Don't worry, I've got you covered! Keep scrolling for some great designer themed gift ideas! These gifts range in price so you can get something for everyone on your list.

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1. Letterpressed Cookie Cutters // Get it here

2. Cinema Light Box // Get it here

3. Adobe Creative Suite Pillows // Get it here

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4. Pantone Color of the Year Mug // Get it here

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5. Away Luggage // Get it here

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6. Bodium French Press // Get it here

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7. LED Word Clock // Get it here

8. Byrd & Belle Brick Computer Charger Holder // Get it here

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9. CMYK Playing Cards // Get it here

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10. CUBE - Portable Color Digitizer // Get it here

There you have it. Happy shopping!