Tudors in tha House

I am a history nerd. I am obsessed with royal bloodlines, especially that of Great Britain. The story of how the line evolved over centuries is better than any daytime soap plot I’ve seen. One of my current reads is The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. I love reading all the family trees in the appendix, but they can be quite cumbersome and hard to follow.


In this (Re)Design project, I revamped the Tudor family tree to read more clearly. Icons were used to display gender and kingship, and color was used to illustrate the actual royal bloodline. I also edited some of the content to what I thought was more relevant. Click to enlarge!




The title logo is a stylized version of the Tudor rose.





Here’s a detail of the tree…






(Re)Design: King Lear

For my next (Re)Design challenge, I set about redesigning the cover of one of my favorite plays, King Lear. There have been many cover designs over the years, but I wanted to create one that was more personal (and I wanted an excuse to play around with some custom type!).

Various Lear Covers. Image from

Old, but not so wise, Lear decides to divide his kingdom among his daughters and their husbands, leaving nothing for himself but his title. You probably wouldn’t have to of read it to know that it doesn’t end well.

Considering the theme of division within the story, I thought that cut paper would be an appropriate medium. The cover was inspired by the tempest in which Lear goes mad, which is ironically when he starts making the most sense. While I was working on it, I also realized the parallel that the imagery had with the Tower card from the Tarot deck, in which a bolt of lightning strikes a turret. It represents unexpected upheavals that go against what was commonly believed. In this case, Lear believed he could take an early retirement and have his children do the work of keeping his kingdom in order, and in the end he triggered a series of events that brought down his entire house.

I started by sketching thumbnails of the overall look. Then I taped down some Strathmore drawing paper to the cutting board, and taped a sheet of tracing paper on top of it. I sketched out how I wanted all the type to look. Then I used an xacto knife to cut away all the negative space. I rolled up pieces of drafting tape and stuck them all over the back of the cutout, then mounted it to a piece of bristol board.

DSC_0001I scanned this piece and masked out the color background. I also scanned some pencil sketches I created for the ground and a cloud.

processThe “William Shakespeare” text was created in Illustrator using Futura, then converted to outlines and placed in the Photoshop file. Finally, I added some texture, a vignette and a border. Here is the finished piece:



(Re)Design: The Bourne Trilogy

In an effort to get more examples in my portfolio of design work that I want to being doing, I am starting a personal project that I’m calling the (Re)Design Series. I’ll be taking my favorite brands, movie posters, book covers, CD packaging, and concert posters and reinterpreting them.

This past weekend, I worked on The Bourne Trilogy, my favorite action/spy films! I worked from actual scenes from each movie, and tried to capture the feeling of isolation and mystery that I love in the story line.





The new Queer Getting Married site is LIVE!

I am SO EXCITED to share the new and improved Queer Getting Married with you!!! Now you can place orders, save items for later, and personalize online! We hope that you’ll take a peek at the changes and share with your friends. Huge shout out to our developer Marc Bonne at Design Nebula, and our web designer Matthew Elsea at Clutch Studio.


5% of profits are donated to marriage equality educational programs.

Screen shot 2013-05-03 at 2.19.20 PM

Designland, Mikesville

Marriage Equality in Washington!!!

My company, Queer Getting Married, had the honor of being present at Seattle City Hall the first day of marriage equality in Washington. If you saw any pics from that day of people wearing ring pops, we were the people handing them out! Please watch, cry, clap, woot, and share with friends! ♥

Queer Getting Married specializes in gay wedding invites, save the dates, stationery, and any of your design needs. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Designland, Illustration Station, Inspiration Island, Mikesville

Christmas List

Season’s greetings to all of my Santas, Elves, and Hanukkah Harries! As you all start scurrying around to procure holiday gifts this year, I thought I would share a little list of my favorite makers of things with you. Why not spend your money on a truly unique gift from talented people instead of buying the newest mind-numbing device at your local capital crazed mega store?

leNebulous Jewels is run my good friend Ruthie. Her pieces are a beautiful combination of shapes and materials, perfect for someone with a modern fashion sensibility. All of her creations are hand assembled.


leNebuous Jewels

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Designland, Illustration Station, Mikesville

Moving on Up (and over a bit to the right)

Apologies for my cyber-absence! It has been a very busy few months!

I have been in New York this week. My editor, Laura, and I have been polishing up book 1!  We had a very productive meeting, and I had the pleasure of meeting more people on Team Holt. She and the good folks at Henry Holt surprised me with a platter of gourmet cupcakes from Butter Lane! I’ve never been to Butter Lane, but it sounds like a street I’d like to live on. I had the banana coconut. Ugh-mazing!!! They made me feel felt right at home. I’m very eager to finish the final book dummy and text and get started on final art!

I’ve also had some other business in New York City…like neighborhood shopping. Yes. It’s true. Dan and I are moving to New York next year!!! Hoooray!, said the New Yorkers; Booo!, said the Seattleites. I have lived in Seattle for nearly a decade now, and I love it dearly. I have had such a beautiful life in Seattle, and have been so blessed with all of the friends and work I’ve found there. I still plan on coming “home” to Seattle for long trips.

Why New York? Well, first of all, IT’S NEW YORK!!! Dan and I are ready for an adventure. We also want to be closer to home (I’m from the NYC suburbs and Dan is from Vermont). Now that my foot is well in the door of the publishing industry, I want to step in and be immersed in it! Meanwhile, Dan is interested in transferring to a CUNY to finish his bachelors degree. We’ve always talked about moving to New York, and we’re not getting any younger, so why not now? We’re planning on next Spring/Summer, to give us some time to save and search, while savoring a bit more time with Seattle friends. So, if you’re in New York and have any leads on a sweet deal on an apartment, do let me know.

Also, I have been very busy working on Queer Getting Married‘s new website. It’s not up yet, but it is going to be amazing! Customers will be able to see pricing, place orders, and personalize all online. Right now I am living in the land of database entry. It’s not my favorite past-time, but it is going to be well worth it! Marriage Equality (Referendum 74) is on the ballot in Washington state, and if/when it passes (because you will vote to approve it!), we are hoping to be busy bees.

That’s my update for now. I promise I won’t wait another month to keep you in the loop.



Cafe Promised Land: The Long Daily Search for a Self-Employed Workplace

My current nest at Top Pot Doughnuts

The perfect workplace may not exist, but I still need my basic needs met as a self-employed laptop nomad. I am taking a break from my regularly scheduled work day to bring you this (albeit snobby, frivolous, and indulgent) gripe about the struggles of an office-less freelancer.

Let me begin with the caveat that I LOVE being a freelancer. I love being able to work from home. I love making my own hours. I love not needing to prove that I’m a hard worker by sitting at a desk in a sea of cubicles for the entire day.


Sometimes I can’t work from home. There’s something about my living room during the day that does not inspire motivation. It seems mostly to be a day-time malady. At night I can work for hours on end at my desk. Maybe it’s the 8-year-old ballerina who lives above us. No, she’s always there running around, even at night. Maybe it’s the lighting. In any event, some days, it’s just not happening, and I want a little life around me as I try to pour a glass of insta-creative. Here is a list of common issues one faces when “working out.” I believe I checked off all of these during the course of my day:

1. …and they wandered the wilderness for forty years.  One would think that in a city that has more coffee houses than all other cities combined, it would be an easy task strolling into a caffeine shack and finding a table. No. It is not. Because apparently everyone else in Seattle is also a freelancer or student. Today I almost had the mind to walk up to people and poll them about what they do. Also, it seems everyone got up at 0:00AM to claim their Promised Land. It was probably easier finding a place to sit at Ellis Island.

2. Outlet Hell: Say you do find a table. Often times than not, the contractors who designed the coffee house you’re sitting in didn’t really think about the necessity of OUTLETS. My MacBook Pro actually lasts a few hours unplugged, but not an entire work day. Even if there are outlets, you might be sitting next to “that guy” who has his laptop, cell phone, iPod, and nostril hair trimmer all plugged into the power strip that’s meant to be shared by the entire back corner of the cafe. This leads me to my next grievance…

3. Cafe Real Estate Moguls: I am not referring to those developers who skimped on the outlets; I am talking about those individuals that sit at a table meant for six and begin building an empire of unusable seating. She sits in one chair, with her feet up on another, her purse and coat on a third, her open gym bag full of sweaty Lulu Lemon fabric flopped onto the forth. She’s got her laptop open, but she’s spent the last 15 minutes on her iPhone while a crinkled copy of US Weekly lies next to a two-hour-old cappuccino and a half-eaten 8 grain roll. Ooo! Another segue!

4. Lifestyles of the Loud and Obnoxious: OK, I know I’m not sitting in a library, but it’s also not Saturday night at the club. There’s no need to talk over the each other like there’s a live band. Then there are people on their cell phones shouting personal information into them. They are phones. If you speak normally, people will hear you on the other side. I’m not sure which scenario is worse really, having an entire conversation that I don’t want to hear about shoved in my ears, or just HALF of an entire conversation that I don’t want to hear about shoved in my ears. “OH MY GOD NO WAY!?…REALLY?…UHUH…OMG I WAS TOTALLY CONSTIPATED TOO!!!”

5. Your Mind Now Belongs to DJ Barista: I used to be a barista. It’s hard work. You’re on your feet all day, covered in smelly milk, dealing with stupid customers who treat you like you’re a vending machine. You deserve to be able to play your own music in the cafe. That being said, I believe there is a courteous volume to bear in mind. Maybe I don’t want to go head-banging at an 80s punk show, or take a meditative journey down the Ganges, or sigh while listening to a sad, sad, sad lady sing her lament for the dying trees. It’s not that I don’t respect other people’s music (because people’s musical preference is sacred), but that really affects my attention span. If I put on my headphones, I shouldn’t be able to hear the cafe music combine with mine.

6. Why-Fi. As in “WHY bother having internet available if it SUCKS!?!?” Some places have great instant connectivity, while others make you sign up through some bootleg 3rd party internet portal that is slower than the evolution of mankind. In the amount of time it takes some connections to load a page, I could have walked to Office Depot, stolen a new modem, and served 2 years in a state penitentiary that has BETTER SERVICE!

7. Mind Over Bladder. You’ve finally found your spot. The laptop is plugged in. The coffee (in my case tea) is to your liking. The noise level is tolerable. Your new foe? Your bladder. It’s screaming at you like an impatient newborn at feeding time. What the hell are you supposed to do now? Leave all your stuff on the table with a “FREE!” sign, or pack up your stuff and lose your coveted space? I usually politely ask the person next to me to keep an eye out on my stuff. Is this the smartest course of action? Meh. I guess I’m hoping that they will sympathise with me. We office-less freelancers have to look out for each other.

Sigh. That feels better. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go up to the counter, get a donut, and go back to work 😀


We Have Lift-off!!!

Hello dear readers! So sorry I’ve been away for a while. I have been a bit busy. Since last May, my friend Jenny and I have been working on a new business venture, and we just launched this past Friday!

Queer Getting Married is a wedding invite company geared towards the gay community! Our mission is to create new traditions in wedding design for queer couples and allies with damn good taste.

Yes, I know –>GASP!<– But wait, there’s more!

Since we believe that gay marriage (or what I just like to call “marriage”) is a civil right that belongs to all people, we are donating 5% of all profits to organizations campaigning for marriage equality.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

“Why should gay people shop at Queer Getting Married? What’s the difference between these and other invitations?” Aside from donating money from each order, Queer Getting Married wants our customers to feel secure that the invite company they are ordering from believes their union is as meaningful as anyone else’s and that their order will be treated with the utmost respect and care. Also, there is no such thing as “traditional gay marriage.” We’ve waited a very long time for this reality, so why should we be tied down by some cumbersome outdated designs? Your save the dates and wedding invitations are printed declarations of your love! We want to help you celebrate your marriage with ridiculously stylish designs that break the mold of traditional wedding stationery.

“So…do you only do invites for the gays, or can a straight couple ask you for your services?” As I said in our mission statement, we serve queers and allies. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an “ally” is someone who does not personally identify as queer, but supports queer people. If you’re reading this right now (and you’re not queer) you’re most likely an ally, otherwise we probably wouldn’t be friends. Don’t worry, if you’re a hetero, we won’t judge your lifestyle choices 😉

Very Versailles

“This is amazing, Mike! What can I do to help?” Awww, thank you so much for asking! You can help by posting on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, talking to your gay friends who are getting married, or your gay friends who aren’t getting married, or your straight friends who support marriage equality, or your barber, or your Brazilian waxer, or your nosey neighbor that won’t stop talking to you even though you’ve given them all possible social queues. The point is, share, share, share whenever you can. Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. We are really looking to the community to help us get this off the ground. Amazingly, within an hour of posting our new site on my Facebook page, a bunch of my friends already started re-sharing without me even saying anything. You all know who you are, and I’m truly touched. Thank you.

“How the hell did you think up this delicious brain nugget?” Good question. Last year, my friend (and now business partner!) Jenny was getting married to my other friend Nate. They are so ridiculously cute together that I throw up in my mouth a little bit every time I see them. For a wedding gift, I offered Jenny and Nate my design services to make their save-the-dates, invites, etc. When Jenny sent out her save-the-date, she had an amazing response. People liked it. A lot. Someone even scanned it in and posted it on Facebook. It was very flattering.

Wheel Love – designed for our first customers!!!

Soon after, Jenny and I were having dinner, and she said that I should really consider getting into making wedding invitations as a business. I had made several wedding packages before, and really enjoyed it, but I could see myself becoming very bitter making other people’s wedding invites when I’m not allowed to get married (which hopefully will become possible in Washington state this November once we get through REF 74). The next day I was working on their invites, and something clicked. I’ll just make invites for the gays! Now that would make me smile! I texted Jenny my idea, she said it was brilliant. We had always wanted to start a business together, and here it was! And there was much rejoicing. (yaaay)

Super Homo

Since then, it has been a long, windy road. I left my very stable job as Design Team Lead at Groundspeak at the end of October so that I would have more time to work on QGM (that’s cool-speak for Queer Getting Married–get with the lingo!). We’ve done a crap-ton of paper-work and searched high and low for the right printer (and it looks like we’re still looking for a long-term printing partner).

Working on all of the designs was so much fun. I loved experimenting with different typefaces and layouts, and pushing the limits of what a wedding invite can be. All of the samples on our site were printed on digital press, but we’ll be offering offset and letterpress! The site features our ready-made designs that people can purchase (I’ll be setting the type), and we also offer custom orders! The current site is temporary. We put up the temporary site just in time for the GLBT Expo in New York this past weekend.We have some super-duper web guys working on a more robust site, where you can actually place an order and personalize online. Matthew Elsea from Clutch Design is doing the web design, and Marc Bonne from Design Nebula is working on web development. They are such good guys and easy to work with.

Victor Victoriana

Jenny and I are both thrilled to finally be able to share our vision with you. Feedback is always welcome, so please do let us know what you love or dislike about the current site or products. Here’s to new beginnings!!!