Entries Tagged as 'create'

my favorite fonts.

Posted on: Monday, March 24, 2014

The number one question I get asked on a near-daily basis is “what font is that?” And I totally get it. I’m completely font obsessed myself. Here are some of my favorite typefaces that I use regularly:

Favorite Fonts | Ann-Marie Loves

Trend | Thirsty | Novecento | St. Ryde

All four of these typefaces were purchased through MyFonts, though there are plenty of amazing free fonts out there as well. Whenever I’m in the market for new font families to add to my repertoire, I look for typefaces that will work well with a variety of projects and media (i.e. everything from stamps to blog posts to design work for clients). It might just be the advice of my college professors echoing in my ear, but I find that paying for a font family that I love is always a worthwhile investment (plus, as a freelancer, it’s also a tax write-off!). Not only do I have killer typefaces to pull from at my discretion, but paid fonts also tend to be significantly less overused than free fonts. Win win.

P.S. One of my favorite tools for pinpointing the names of cool fonts that I stumble upon is the What The Font app for iPhone. While it’s not always 100% accurate, it’s helped me to discover so many awesome typefaces along the way!

my freelancing story.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Freelance Story | Ann-Marie Espinoza

I should start off by saying, I never intended to be a freelancer.

While it’s the lifestyle I’ve always dreamt about, it’s not something I imagined I would ever really have the guts to dive into headfirst. But life has a funny way of throwing you into situations you never expected and showing you that you are capable of so much more than you know.

A little about my background: I graduated from San Diego State in 2009 with a degree in Multimedia Design. At the time, I had no clear direction as to where I was going to go with my career. Using the economy as a blanket excuse for any and all problems is a tired justification, but if I can be real for a moment, graduating smack dab in the middle of the recession was terrible. TERRIBLE. I had zero job prospects when I was handed my diploma. Not a one. I moved back home with my parents and took on odd gigs here and there (medical billing, anyone?). I remember interviewing for temporary work at the mall that following November and going up against people who were far more qualified and far more educated than the job would ever require. And the result of those interviews? Futile. I couldn’t even get part-time, minimum wage, seasonal work! Needless to say, it wasn’t a high point in my 27 years.

But then in 2010, I applied for an In-House Scrapbooker / Product Designer position as American Crafts. I was absolutely positive that I would never get the job (I lived in Southern California, the position was based in Utah), but within three weeks, John and I were living in Orem, Utah. Life is weird, you guys.

Working at my (then) dream job was an amazing, invaluable, unforgettable experience that taught me so much about design, marketing, and finding things to do on a Sunday in the Mormon bible belt. But almost two years into the job, I was unexpectedly laid off. I was crushed. I was shocked. I was panicked. There was no way in hell that John and I were going to stay in Utah a single minute longer, but how in the world were we going to pay for all of our moving expenses and still have money left over once we got to California?

Out of desperation, I posted a few rubber stamp designs (that I had previously made for myself) in my online shop, not expecting anyone to buy them. Within an hour after posting, I had a handful of sales. I couldn’t believe it! People really wanted to buy my designs? This was incredible! And that’s where the ball got rolling. The sales continued to grow and grow and for the first time ever, I truly believed I could support myself without the steady financial backing of a company. I had cash flow and confidence. Things were looking up.

By the time I returned home to California (peace out, Utah), I begin working part time with Amy Tan, taking on various freelance design projects, and selling more and more stamp designs in my shop. I was lucky enough to receive some press from big names including Swiss Miss, Oh Hello Friend, Fab.com, Cup of Jo, Uncovet, and a handful of others, which helped launched my business even further than I ever imagined. Each day was a new adventure and I couldn’t believe I was actually getting to live life on my own terms!

Over the past two years, I’ve grown my business in different ways. I’ve expanded my shop to include new products. I’ve put my graphic design background to work on various freelance projects. I’ve tried my hand at producing e-courses. I’ve creatively collaborated with various individuals and companies. I’ve blogged professionally. I’ve delved deeper into photography and styling. And as always, I’ve continued to craft and make things with my hands. I’m nowhere near where I want to be professionally, but I have full faith that I will get there in due time.

Now, living in Pasadena with my husband and a baby on the way, I’m still freelancing and enjoying the adventure that it is. I will admit that life is getting more and more expensive all the time (private health insurance, car repairs, and baby expenses are a few of the big culprits) and there are many occasions when money can be tight. I’m fortunate that my husband works a steady 8-5 job as a graphic designer, so the consistency of his paycheck helps to balance out the unpredictability of my income greatly. But the truth is, we are a team. I feel just as responsible for our financial future as John does, so we both do our part to make sure we are creating a solid fiscal foundation month after month.

Even though everyday is a different experience and I often ask myself “WHAT AM I DOING?!,” it’s an amazingly gratifying life and I’m so happy to be along for the ride.

basicgrey layouts.

Posted on: Friday, March 14, 2014

BasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie Espinoza

While organizing and purging everything I possibly could from my office yesterday, I stumbled upon a handful of layouts from CHA Winter that I hadn’t shared yet! I love when free blog fodder drops into my lap. Literally ;)

BasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Spice Market is one of my most favorite new collections to come along in quite some time. The saturated colors, the eclectic blend of patterns, and a handful of new embellishments all make it so much fun to play with! For this layout, I used a mix of patterned papers, Snippets, die cuts from the coordinating waterfall pack, and a one of the awesome new metal shapes.

BasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie Espinoza
BasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For this layout, I used a combo of Capture patterned papers, element stickers, Scrabble chipboard letters, journaling + phrase cards from from the waterfall pack, and wood veneers that I painted with yellow craft paint. I love all the bright pops of colors in the latest Capture release! Totally up my alley.

BasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie Espinoza
BasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Getting married and going on a honeymoon right before the tradeshow season gave me LOTS of photo options to pull from! (Heck, I’m still pulling from them!) For this page, I used more of the Capture patterned papers, die cuts from the waterfall pack, and a strip of the awesome new printed washi tape.

BasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie EspinozaBasicGrey Layout | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For this last project, I used more of the Spice Market collection, including lots of label stickers from the waterfall pack and my new favorite printed chipboard alphas. Happy photos call for happy color palettes and that’s exactly what this line provided!

P.S. In my cleaning / organizing / purging whirlwind yesterday, I filled three large flat rate boxes of scrapbooking + craft supplies that need to find new homes. You can claim yours here! (Domestic shipping only – thanks for your understanding!)


Posted on: Monday, March 10, 2014

Knitting a Baby Blanket | Ann-Marie Loves

Knitting is one of those hobbies that I pick up, become obsessed with for a few weeks, and then promptly forget about for months at a time. So really, it’s no surprise that my skills are pretty rudimentary (knit stitch, anyone?). But despite my limited expertise, I absolutely adore this craft and have recently had a sudden desire to see a knitted project all the way to fruition.

Knitting a Baby Blanket | Ann-Marie Loves

I started working on a blanket (in decidedly feminine shades of pink, purple, and mustard) a few months back, but I didn’t want to label it as a “baby blanket,” for fear that it would jinx my dreams of having a girl. (I’ve never been more superstitious in my entire life than I have over these past five months!) But then when I found out the baby is indeed a girl, all bets were off. It was GO TIME. Now every free moment I get, I’m chipping away at this blanket, stitch by stitch, row by row. Incorporating different colors into my design has proven to be a fantastic motivator. Since I can literally see my progress based on the amount of times each color gets worked in, I’m super driven to keep it going until the very end. My (ahem, lofty) goal is to finish the whole thing by the end of the month, but honestly, if I can wrap it up by the time the baby gets here, I just might consider myself a real live “knitter” ;)

baby album | part two.

Posted on: Friday, March 7, 2014

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Happy Friday! Today I’m sharing another installment of my ongoing baby album. This spread was all about sharing our happy news with our parents. It was such a pivotal moment in this whole adventure, I thought it was worthy of two pages ;)

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For the lefthand page, I used one of the inserts that came with the album as my background and covered the page with a handful of my favorite papers from BG’s Spice Market and new Capture collections. And those awesome sans serif white letter stickers from Kelly Purkey? Easily my favorite stickers ever.

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

On the righthand page, I used a 3 x 3″ Capture page protector to house photos + papers embellished with KP’s Hello World Kit stamps and a little typewritten journaling.

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

This spread turned out to be one of my favorite layouts to date! I went heavy-handed on the pink and florals, because — spoiler alert — we’re totally having a girl. (But even if we were having a boy, there’d still be a generous pink coverage ;))

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

The lefthand page features a Highline paper cut into six different 3 x 3″ squares to act as the background for my photos. To break up the grid, I adhered my strip of baby bump photos directly atop the page protector and sprinkled in Spice Market die-cuts and few strips of yellow and aqua washi tapes.

Baby Album | Ann-Marie Espinoza

For the righthand page, I took a screenshot of my Little Ones board and placed it over a mix of Highline, Spice Market, and Capture papers. As with every big life event, my pinning habits tend get slightly out of control. What can I say? I need my fix!

P.S. Here’s part one of my baby album!

tutorial: adding fade to photos in photoshop.

Posted on: Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TUTORIAL: Adding Fade to Photos in Photoshop | Ann-Marie Loves

Although I was lucky enough to take a few awesome photography classes in college, the majority of the tricks and tools that I use on a daily basis for photo editing have come from personal experimentation. In fact, I’d say that statement applies to the bulk of my formal education vs. real life knowledge. I learned so much during my four years of college, but getting out into the real world and having to figure things out for myself has been the best classroom setting of all. So today, I’m sharing one of my go-to photo editing tricks: adding fade!

TUTORIAL: Adding Fade to Photos in Photoshop | Ann-Marie Loves

Adding fade to my photos is one of my favorite ways to create an ethereal vibe or to temper a color palette that doesn’t exactly jive with the look I’m going for. This effect is often seen on Instagram through the help of the Afterlight and VSCO Cam apps (shown above), but can also easily be achieved in Photoshop. Here’s how I do it:

TUTORIAL: Adding Fade to Photos in Photoshop | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Open a photo in Photoshop.

TUTORIAL: Adding Fade to Photos in Photoshop | Ann-Marie Loves

2. Edit it to your liking (I always adjust the levels, contrast, brightness, and curves).

TUTORIAL: Adding Fade to Photos in Photoshop | Ann-Marie Loves

3. Go to Image > Exposure > Offset and play with the dial to achieve your desired “fade” effect.

TUTORIAL: Adding Fade to Photos in Photoshop | Ann-Marie Loves

4. The over-saturated colors have been dulled a bit to create a more subtle, moody image. While I’m positive that I will never master Photoshop, it sure is fun to try!

What Photoshop tricks or techniques would you love to learn?

hero arts + basicgrey blog hop.

Posted on: Thursday, February 27, 2014

If you have arrived here via the BG / Hero Arts Blog Hop, welcome!

BasicGrey / Hero Arts Blog Hop | Ann-Marie Espinoza

It should come as no surprise that stamping is one of my favorite techniques for customizing my paper craft projects. For this card, I used a mix of BasicGrey’s Highline collection paired with Hero Arts’ Capture Number Background cling stamp to create a bold + colorful birthday greeting.

BasicGrey / Hero Arts Blog Hop | Ann-Marie Espinoza

Using the Number Background cling stamp and Bubble Gum Shadow Ink, I first stamped the numbers onto a sheet of “So Fresh” Highline paper and trimmed that out to use for layering. Without wiping off the ink from the first stamp impression, I stamped again onto the card background paper to create a subtle typographical pattern. This technique is also referred to as “ghost stamping” and is perfect for tempering a bold ink color or adding texture to any stamp-able surface.

BasicGrey / Hero Arts Blog Hop | Ann-Marie Espinoza

To embellish my card, I typed out “happy birthday” by running a sheet of the Capture Weekly Notepad through my typewriter. I then adhered it atop a Highline chipboard banner and added a Capture sticker and red + pink Candy Buttons for extra details.

Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to hop over to the BasicGrey blog and enter to win one of two amazing prize packs!

P.S. If you happen to find a link that doesn’t work, you can jump back to the Hero Arts Blog for a list of direct links to all the blogs in today’s hop.

die-cut wall art.

Posted on: Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Die-Cut Wall Art | Ann-Marie Loves

Tuesday might as well be called “Good Vibes Only Day” because it seems to be the only thing I talk about on the third day of the week. (But who’s keeping track? ;)) Last week, I decided on a whim that our dining room wall needed a little something extra to offset the antler scarf hanger and to greet guests as they walk in the door. So, unsurprisingly, I turned to my go-to tool and started die-cutting my favorite new phrase out of 8.5 x 11″ white cardstock.

Die-Cut Wall Art | Ann-Marie Loves

Once I had all the letters cut out, I adhered them to the wall using rolled pieces of scotch tape (super high tech!). I love when projects come together in no time (and at virtually no cost) at all! Plus, every time I walk in the house, I’m reminded to check my attitude at the door. Good vibes only here in the Espinoza abode.

P.S. You can download my desktop wallpaper with the same sentiment here!

workspace wednesday | career goals.

Posted on: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy Here E-Course | Ann-Marie Loves

At any given moment, I can rattle off several items from my laundry list of dreams (buy a new car, turn my blog into a viable source of revenue, save X amount of dollars each month, etc), but it wasn’t until recently that I really pushed myself over the edge and started turning goals into reality. This past December felt like a bit of a throwaway month for me (that brutal first trimester…), but it was also the perfect time for me to take a step back and reevaluate exactly what I wanted to achieve in 2014. I spent a lot of time writing in my journal, setting hard deadlines in my planner, and really envisioning the future I wanted to create for myself and my growing family. Although I have no idea what the future holds or how my plans will change once the baby arrives, I am pretty pumped about these four goals that I currently have in motion:

- One new e-course every month. I have so much fun brainstorming ideas for topics, coming up with a game plan, and bringing it all together, so I set a fairly lofty goal for myself. E-courses are great because even though they are a ton of work up front, it’s all passive income every time the class sells. The best part of all is there’s no ordering, packaging, or shipping involved; I simply send over the link and move on with my day! Plus, one of my pie-in-the-sky dreams is to eventually pen my own book, so I figure this is the perfect training ground until I reach that goal. (P.S. the photo above is a little teaser for my next e-course launching early next week!)

- Five blog posts per week. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for such a long time, but 2014 is the year I pushed myself to really make it happen. And you know what? It’s actually pretty easy! I have a huge list of blog topics that I want to cover, so I make a rough outline each month and fill in the blanks as I best see fit. The more I blog, the more content I come up with, and the more momentum I gain to keep it going day after day!

- Regularly promote my work on social media. Each morning as I settle in with my coffee and laptop, I link up my latest blog post to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (and occasionally Instagram, but only if it’s something I REALLY want to share). For so long, I resisted any sort of self-promotion because it felt a bit shameless, but after watching many inspiring people do it in an organic, conversational way, I decided to give it a shot. I’ve found that it’s been an excellent traffic driver (especially Pinterest!) and a great way for me to gauge which posts perform better than others.

- Clean the kitchen everyday. Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly career-related, but waking up to a squeaky clean sink is one of the best ways to start my day. Sadly, our apartment doesn’t have a dishwasher and washing dishes is the BANE of my existence (right next to unmade beds and towels hung haphazardly on the rack). Regardless, it’s a job that has to be done, so I put on a good podcast, crank it out, and then revel in the amazing sense of satisfaction I feel once the task is complete!

How are you achieving your goals this year? Do tell!

desktop wallpaper | good vibes only.

Posted on: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Desktop Wallpaper | Designed by Ann-Marie Espinoza

When I saw this quote floating around on Pinterest, it immediately resonated with me. I love how simple and yet profound these three words are. So in the spirit of positivity, I made a desktop wallpaper for you to download and enjoy.

Here’s hoping this image of Manhattan Beach at sunset will fill you with good vibes only.


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