App Design and Prototyping Process

For the past two weeks we have been working on App Design in XD. The project was design an app we’d like to use and create a prototype to showcase features and productivity.

Our first step was to come up with an idea and pitch it to our instructor. I chose my app based on the gaming community I am apart of which has come across a need for better communication when it comes to upcoming games and events. Inspired by an app we use for our child’s school and classroom communications, I decided there was a need for something like that is for groups outside of schools.

The second step required sketching it out. We needed at least 4 screens showing main elements like buttons, input fields, and text. We had to draw lines linking pages together for a rough idea of how the app would function. We were to also include a Splash page and an Error page.


While this wasn’t technically part of the assignment it was obviously necessary for the next step. We had to build a wireframe with the elements included (I guess they figure we’ve got this step down by now) in order to begin the prototyping process

This project got a bit out of hand for me. Every idea I had required a new screen. Essentially what I’ve come up with is a social application where community members can share info in an environment catered to them. While the potential for this app is not limited to gamers, that was what I started with because this is something I feel the community I am apart of could and would use,

Step four was the fun part. Actually connecting the pages and creating the functionality of the app brought it to life. And while it doesn’t actually work, it felt like it did.

The prototype phase looks like a mess. A complex web of lines connecting pages to pages, to overlays, to links. My respect for app designers has skyrocketed during this assignment!

And here it is, the demo of my app prototype. Like I said, I really enjoyed this assignment, and while I’m not sure how to code it (yet) it was really cool seeing it in action.

Furniture Catalog Project

This week in InDesign our assignment was to design a furniture catalog layout. This was the perfect chance for me to collaborate with my dad who makes beautiful, quality, solid wood furniture. 

He sent me several photos he had taken over the years, and I got to work on the catalog layout. 

Even though I was using these farmhouse themed pieces of furniture, I still wanted the catalog to have a modern contemporary look. I quickly realized that even though I wanted to showcase all of his pieces, fitting them all into the design was quickly starting to look very amateur so some needed to be cut from the design. 

My other problem was that when most of the photos were taken, “product photography” was clearly not the main priority. Thankfully he had taken most of them outside and in good lighting so I had pieces to work with. I chose my two feature photos that would have an entire page dedicated to them and worked on the placement of the others. 

My dad’s latest builds were Adirondack chairs so I had several images of those to work with, including the gray stained set with matching table and footrest that he’d made for my sister. They’re gorgeous so obviously that would be one of the featured pages.

The next two pages features different shelving units he’s built, and while I love the cube storage he built especially for me, it was the art deco corner hanging shelf that caught my attention as the next featured image. 

I did a lot of photoshopping for this project. Even though the images had decent light, the backgrounds weren’t always ideal. A little perspective warping, and some color adjusting to give life to the dormant winter grass really gave the images a more “catalog” look. 

The end result was a 5 page layout that both he and I were proud of.

Web Ads Assignment

This week we worked on product ads for social media and websites. Our job was to use or create a product and design a cohesive ad campaign for the different dimensions that would be used on the different sites.

Size requirements:
Instagram Story: 1080 x 1920
Instagram grid: 1080 x 1350
General website: 300 x 250
Website (leaderboard): 728 x 90
GIF (not animated): 250 x 250

My idea was to create a fictional brand so that there would be no conflict with copyrights with these in my portfolio. I named my company “Your Cosmetics” which is self explanatory. I decided that we would be advertising our annual Spring Sale offering 40% off all skincare products. 

Concept Development:
I had an idea of what I wanted my ads to look like so I chose a color palette and the typefaces that would work with my vision. I needed a typeface that complimented my logo, but I wanted a bold eye-catching font for the “Spring Sale” especially considering how small some of these ads were to be.

Concept Refinement:
I created the multiple artboards I needed and began by adding all the elements I knew I would need on each board. That included the  background color, company logo, and copy. I chose purple with a spotlight gradient coming in from the (stage) right. A rectangle banner would house the Spring Sale headline and the product would be featured underneath that. I also designed a call to action button that would be on the ad.

Next, I found a high resolution stock image of blank cosmetic bottles that would fit my theme perfectly. I masked those out in Photoshop, then I duplicated the image, reflected it, and lowered the opacity to create a reflection. It was a simple process and gave the ads a very professional finished look.

Also, because I’m always a little extra, I added the Instagram “swipe up” overlay that you frequently see amongst the stories, and the “shop now” box featured at the bottom of their grid ads. 


Overall I was very pleased with the outcome, and enjoyed creating them.


Back to School

I’ve always been an artist, I come from a family of talented artists, I always hung out with the artsy kids in school. Art was my favorite class as a kid. I didn’t want to do anything besides draw. It was an escape, a release, and an expression that I embraced.

One year I took a class in middle school for graphic art. My teacher was so cool and gave us free reign to try whatever we wanted. I learned the art of screen printing, engraving, and how to operate a print press to name a few things. To me it was magic. I was this new magician in training learning how to turn thoughts into products, and from then on I knew that was what I wanted to do as a career.

Years passed and I put art on the back burner. I dipped my feet into other industries that I thought might be easier to get into (and paid the bills), but nothing ever sparked the same passion. They were just jobs, but I wanted a career. Then I became a mom and that gave me purpose. My kids are my world and I felt lucky that I was fortunate enough to be able to be a stay home mom with the three of them. It allowed me to be there for all those important firsts, school performances, weekends, holidays, and sick days. And while I have no regrets about my choices, I admit I envied my friends whose careers were taking off. I felt like I was getting left behind. I started teaching myself Photoshop and found ways I could use those new skills to do something for myself. I joined an online gaming community and together we created a trusted brand for other moms just like us. During my time there we grew over 27,000 new members and I was having the time of my life. I had found my community and was working with a great team of like minded moms who were all excited to see us grow. We hosted family friendly gaming servers (because not every gamer is a 14 year old boy playing FPS), contests, giveaways, monthly events, weekly game nights, and merchandise. Thanks to those events, I developed my skills in logo design and became familiar with social media graphics and engagement. Eventually we decided we needed to expand beyond our admin team and recruited and oversaw over 40 different content creators for our site. It was truly an exciting time. Sadly, creative differences caused a divide between the owner and me and we parted ways. I won’t lie, that was hard for me.

After that I became involved with my daughters’ high school marching band. They were always in need of parent volunteers, and since my kids were older now I had tons of spare time. I found out they didn’t have an official website or real online presence so I spoke with the president of the board and volunteered my skills. Soon we had a website up and running and a social media presence to help draw attention to our events and fundraisers. I began the process of creating a cohesive brand for the band. I created the content for the website, created and released the monthly newsletter through mailchimp. I digitally recreated their logo, made registration forms available online, designed t-shirts for competitions, flyers for fundraisers, and awards for the end of the year banquet. I also helped with inventory, and spoke directly with vendors for ordering. I was having a great time and it kept me really busy. Then the inevitable happened…my kids graduated! It was time for a new set of parents to take over and for us “Senior” parents to retire, so that’s what I did. 

Once again I found myself struggling to find something to occupy my time and engage my mind. I decided to focus more on my crafting business. I taught myself how to make tumblers and use epoxy, I learned how to operate a Cricut machine and heat press to design and make custom t-shirts, I even dabbled in 3D printing. On occasion friends would ask if I could make a logo for them and I’d jump at the opportunity. I loved crafting, but my true passion was always in the design, and creating mockups for clients. Unfortunately I kept hitting a snag…I couldn’t make vectors, and I was running into that obstacle more and more. It was when someone told me they intended to use my logo design on their work vehicle that I started to panic! I warned them “this isn’t going to look good at that size” and I knew if I wanted to go any further in this field, I was going to have to learn Adobe Illustrator.

I tried to teach myself, but after my third or fourth loudly proclaimed expletive, my husband (who works from home) gently suggested that it might be a good idea for me to go back to school. He was right.

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Going back to school at my age is a bit unnerving. I knew I’d be in a class with some people fresh out of high school. Some of whom are younger than my own kids. I was afraid I’d stick out like a sore thumb and not be able to relate to anyone (not completely unlike high school though). Luckily that hasn’t been my experience. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely the oldest in the class, and there are definitely moments when they talk about something from their childhoods I can only recall because my kids watched it too, but as a huge fan of Gen Z I can honestly say I enjoy my classmates and the conversations we have. Besides our passion for graphic design I have found I share other interests with some of them as well. I still talk about my kids, but now they’re not the only thing I have to talk about, and that feels nice.

We’re only 9 weeks into the course, but it’s been great. I took to Illustrator really well and am hoping the other courses come just as easily. I find I love learning new skills, and when we’re actively doing that I work hard to challenge myself with new ideas. I’m actually having a lot of fun. That thrill I’ve been chasing since my middle school class is back! There isn’t an assignment that I dread or haven’t been happy with. Even when we had to design a logo for our personal business. Don’t get me wrong, I love logo design, but I already had a logo I was proud of and didn’t want to change it. Our teacher told us to consider it a “rebranding” and since I’m sure I will come across similar requests in my future professional career I decided “challenge accepted!” It turns out he was right! I actually prefer the new logo and colors I’ve chosen, and as the client I am completely thrilled with my work!
10 out of 10, would totally recommend!

To finish this off, I guess I wanted to reiterate that it’s true, it really is never too late to start over. Sure I’m older now than some of my peers starting out in the same field, and while a lot of my friends are well established in their careers while I’m just starting, I’m still only in my 40s, and don’t they say “life begins at 40”? I was a successful stay home mom when my kids were little, and now I still have time to be successful in the corporate world as well. I bring an element to the table others may not and everyone has a unique style they embrace. All I need now is to be matched with the right employer so that I can take all these skills and my years of experience and finally be paid for them! To produce something that not only makes the client happy, but proves that my time is valuable and appreciated by them (and being able to contribute to my family’s finances). I look forward to developing a new sense of independence while showing my kids that it’s never too late to start over, and most importantly, to never give up on your dreams.

The Future of Torimili Designs

When I started Torimili Designs in 2017 my main focus was crafting as a way to occupy myself as a stay home mom. I heard about the Cricut machine which seemed like the most amazing invention for a hobby crafter like me who wanted to make t-shirts for her son’s totally obscure interests. Soon I started making tumblers too. A few friends saw what I did and I started making things for them. Then it became a way for some friends and me to craft together and learn from each other which eventually led to us doing our first craft fair together. It felt like I was headed down the right path of what I planned to do with my life once my kids had grown up.

Then I had a couple epoxy reactions, and while I totally conceded to the fact that they were due to my own ignorance about not using the proper PPE, there were periods of time I would need to take a break in order to let my skin heal. This is when I started focusing more on the design side of things. I was already doing my own designs, but I was finding that I was enjoying the design part the most.

So what does that mean for the future of Torimili Designs? It means going forward I will be focusing more on graphic design. I’ve been sharpening my skills in photoshop and have become pretty efficient in Illustrator, a program I had hardly even opened until a couple months ago, and I’m not even done. There’s still so much more to learn and I can’t wait!

I’m really excited about this evolution of my business. These new skills I’ve acquired can only help Chris and I with future projects we have in mind, but I’m also thrilled about the idea of working in an office environment with peers doing something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. I admit for so long I was afraid I’d end up taking a job I wasn’t excited about just to feel that I had a purpose. I know that would have been the wrong decision for me, and while I’d have done that I have to say there’s truth in the old adage “if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” and I want that feeling!

Don’t get me wrong, I still have some creative passions I want to explore (like screen printing, 3D printing, and making my own silicone molds, but there’s also candle making, soap making, and sandblasting…I know, I’m totally random), but I’m excited to go back to getting into those as a hobby.

For those of you who have supported me and my business over the years. I won’t forget it. If there’s still something you need, you have my number.