29 Sep

Pepper Talk with Kelsey Marotta

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kelsey with us. Just a little background before we get started, Kelsey has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over a year. She is a Senior Graphic Designer and works her magic with any request her customers make.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Most people call me Kels. My brother, who is nine years older, nicknamed me Sally when I was little. He still calls me that. It’s also what I named my paddle board.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I’m an early riser, meaning anywhere between 4–5. I tend to get up and walk straight to the kitchen. I must eat. A couple of mornings a week I’ll grab a quick snack before taking my bike out or going to spin class, I am not a fan of riding in the rain. Otherwise, you’ll find me enjoying a protein shake and watching 5 AM reruns of TLC’s “What Not to Wear.”

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Eclectic. I love a little bit of everything, I think it’s ingrained in who I am. It follows me in all aspects of my life—sports, design, decorating the 700 sq. feet of space I call home. When I see a design that I like, I take it apart and think about what aspects I could incorporate into my own work. Color, texture, illustration style. I’m always willing to try something new.

 

4: How did you get started?
I was the Managing Editor of my high school newspaper. One of my responsibilities was to design the back-page. I loved layout but hated writing, so I came up with the idea that every month we would do a Q&A [laughs] with a teacher, staff member, etc. Funny enough, that became a standing section of the paper even after I graduated.

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Coming from a print background, I love books and design annuals. I have a few favorites I keep on my shelves at home. I’ll flip through the pages when looking for inspiration. My Dad sells paper and my grandfather ran printing presses so I’m also a sucker for sample books and promotional materials. I could spend all day talking about foil stamping, finishes, coatings—if each individual piece costs $9 to print, I’m in.

In college I had to briefly use Quark. It was the absolute worst. It was a very happy day when InDesign arrived.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Always research. Sketch. Gather as much inspiration as possible and paste it all on my artboard before beginning my design. When I hit a wall or feel like there’s a missing element, I keep researching. Attention to detail is so important and sometimes it’s one tiny element that makes the whole design click.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
I’m an Instagram and Pinterest junkie. I look at typography and illustration daily. I like to think the hours spent scrolling through all of those images is somehow transferring to my design style through osmosis.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Black coffee.
Sweet or Savory: Sweet…no need to go on, everyone knows about my love of ice cream.
Favorite Movie: Elizabethtown
Guilty Pleasure: All things Tiny Home-related.
Hobbies: Running/Biking/Swimming, Paddle boarding, Road trips
Best vacation: “Vacation” is a loose term for me. Most of my vacations are tied to races and/or involve cramming as many activities as possible into a short time span. Not sure I can pick a favorite but a few highlights from the last couple of years; sweet potato pancakes at Pancake Pantry in Nashville, TN, staying in an Airstream trailer in Charleston, SC, Wormslow Plantation in Savannah, GA and a half marathon in Yosemite National Park.
One of your quirks: Other than naming inanimate objects (the aforementioned paddleboard), I am guilty of working into almost any conversation that I am a marathon runner. It’s a bit of an obsession, I know.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Highway Gothic, the font developed specifically for road signage in the U.S. It represents exactly what design should be—something that is so well made and thought-out that it becomes a natural part of our everyday lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for meeting Kelsey. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

25 Aug

Pepper Talk with Kathryn Gruver

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kathryn with us…yep, another Kathryn! Just a little background before we get started, Kathryn has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over two years. She is an Art Director and works with customers to improve their user experience.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
I’ve had a lot of nicknames. The most recent is mamamamamama.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Kick the dog off the bed [pauses and laughs], again! Make sure no one else is awake, and read a devotional. Got to start the day off right!

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
I try to make the style of my work more reflective of my customer’s identity rather than my own. Other than that, I like to make beautiful, smart, and meaningful projects.

 

4: How did you get started?
In college I was a studio art major and did a lot of drawing and building. Once I graduated, I realized that I wanted to do graphic and web design, that’s what they called it “back in the day”. So, I went to night school to learn the tools of the trade, and behind me sat two designers that were taking the class for career development. Unbeknownst to me, they watched me work in class every night; and they eventually introduced themselves and offered me a job as a designer!

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Hands-down, my favorite tool is Illustrator; I think it’s because of my intense love of drawing. While I always like learning new tools and tricks, I feel most at home working in Illustrator. I know it inside-out and even have dreams about it. I also get a buzz from working in InDesign and PhotoShop. The worst tool – any printer; why don’t they just work?! Do your job, expensive machine!

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I usually get a little over-excited when I start a new project. After I calm myself down, I try to find out as much as I can about the project or problem-set, customer, stakeholder and users; and then start the brainstorming process.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Dribbble, abduzeedo and sometimes Pinterest.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Half-caff.
Sweet or Savory: SWEET!
Favorite Movie: Troy; you have love stories, there’s drama, you have war and strategy – what more could you want?!
Guilty Pleasure: Ironing [pauses and grins] okay, I can’t think of a good one. And I don’t iron.
Hobbies: Reading, baking, drawing, chasing and being tackled by small children, and Bible study.
Skill you’d like to master: In my dreams I would like to build furniture; in reality, I’d like to get my kids to eat vegetables.
Best vacation: Before we had children, my husband and I drove up the West coast from San Francisco to Seattle with no plans. It was beautiful and we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted.
One of your quirks: There are so many… I guess the most prevalent is that I hate wearing shoes, I would rather go barefoot.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
The Google machine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Kathryn. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

28 Jul

Pepper Talk with Rich Guy

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Rich with us. Rich is a Senior Designer at Eleven Peppers Studios who works mainly on in-house projects but is frequently called upon to work his magic with requests from the studio’s commercial clients.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
I usually just go by Rich but within the dance community, people know me as “Blu”.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check the time to see if I still have 10 more minutes before I have to get up. If not, I make some coffee.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Depends on the project, but most of the time I’d say I’m very simple but clever. I like to focus on ensuring that the content is conveyed as quick and provokingly as possible.

 

4: How did you get started?
Art and Design has always been my focus since I was a child. Throughout grade school, I’ve always taken at least one Art class to further refine my creative skills. I graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor’s in Design and started my career as an in-house designer at a non-profit business in DC. I then found interest within the realm of User Experience because of the challenge of applying creativity, psychology, and engineering to create something that integrates into people’s lives. I’m continuing to find new ways to utilize my creativity and grow in the field.

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
I love Sketch. It’s such an easy tool to mock-up lo-fi and hi-fi wireframes. Very lightweight and easy to pick up if you have an extensive background with Adobe products. There’s also a plug-in called “Craft” that you can download for free that helps you create mockups faster and also instantly create a brand guideline from your work space.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Sort of [pauses], it really depends on the scope of the project. A larger project with a longer deadline gives me time to really think thoroughly about the best direction and gives me more time to communicate with clients/stakeholders to ensure everything is going as planned. I like to create lo-fi mockups as much as I can before I move onto layering more details. When it comes to projects with shorter deadlines, however, I just let my intuition take over.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
My plethora of bookmarked links. If nothing else, Dribbble, awwwards.com, and Behance are my go-tos.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine!
Sweet or Savory: Sweet
Favorite Movie: Book of Life
Guilty Pleasure: Checking my phone every minute to see if I’m getting any new likes on my social media posts [laughs]
Hobbies:: Dance, Painting, Hanging out, Movies

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Fidget spinners [grins].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Rich. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

30 Jun

Pepper Talk with Kate Coates

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kate with us… nope, you’re not seeing double, we just have a lot of repeated names. Just a little background before we get started, Kate just celebrated her 2 year work-aversary with Eleven Peppers Studios. She is one of our esteemed Art Directors and spends a lot of her time working with customers to improve their user experience designs.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
My parent’s original intention was for me to go by Katie but I rebelled in 3rd grade and decided from thence forth I was going to be Katherine. That was a bit short lived though. It was the year of learning cursive… and so I ended the year as Kate. It’s kind-of funny that I started my journey as Kate out of pure 3rd grade laziness but it stuck. Really it worked out perfectly because I ended up with a sister-in-law that goes by Katherine.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit snooze! It’s a terrible habit that I developed during my marriage. I used to be able to get up and out the door in ten minutes flat, nutrigrain bar in hand, but once you discover that button, there’s no going back.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
I tend to lean towards a more flat, Bauhaus style. Just the Bauhaus’ notion of placing profound focus on the purpose or function of the design is something I relate to very strongly, especially within UX design. Really that is what UX is all about, not just making things pretty but making sure the site or tool is usable and efficient…not saying it shouldn’t look good too.

 

4: How did you get started?
My first official foray into design was in 12th grade when half of my school day was an internship in the design department of a company called United Communications Group (UCG). It’s there that I officially found that graphic design was the place for me and launched into my undergraduate design career. But really growing up in the house of an architect father and a crafty mother, it came as no surprise to friends and family that I ventured off in the arts direction…

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Hmm, I’m not sure I can think of a worst off the top of my head but favorite is pretty easy. A few years ago I would have said Photoshop hands-down but in the recent years Illustrator has become my best friend. It’s great for everything that I currently focus on at work, from wireframes and mockups to logos and branding. I live in a digital world. Vector all day, every day.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I tend to start with the question: “Who are the users and what are their goals?” It’s only through answering that question that I can make sure that the design that’s going to follow makes sense for the end user. If I miss answering that question, the design will just be a lofty guess that is half-baked at best. I’ve found desk-side interviews and lots of research is key for kicking off a successful, user-experience focused tool.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
From my peers. It’s great to be surrounded with other UX people to bounce ideas off of and sketch out new possibilities. On top of that using websites and mobile tools daily to see what other people are doing is a huge source of inspiration too.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine. No coffee, no tea, just the occasional Dr.Pepper [grins]
Sweet or Savory: Sweet (Really gotta kick my new brownie obsession…)
Favorite Movie: Honestly, I’ve become more of a T.V. person then a movie person…so I’m not really sure.
Guilty Pleasure: Did I mention brownies? [laughs]
Hobbies:: Refurbing my 1908 home (two rooms away from being done!!) and spending time with family.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Hands down, the Design Army’s campaign for the Washington Ballet’s show, Alice in Wonderland. The combination of photography and typography is absolutely breathtaking. I actually have several of the images at my desk for inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Kate. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

24 Mar

Pepper Talk with Ashley Philip

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, you just couldn’t get enough of the first one so we’ve added in a couple more questions and a rapid-fire round! This month we have Ashley with us. Just a little background before we get started, Ashley has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over a year now. She works with our commercial clients on all sorts of projects and also designs graphics for various in-house and social media channel campaigns.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Not really [pauses] most people automatically just shorten my name to “Ash” anyway.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check my phone to see if I missed any calls, texts, emails, Slack messages [grins].

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Timeless. I like making complicated things look completely effortless. I’m interested in anything that can last through the years and aren’t just “trends” at the moment.

 

4: How did you get started?
I went to school at UMBC for Visual Arts and volunteered with AIGA Baltimore overseeing all their social media graphics and various other marketing materials for each of their events.

 

5: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Ooh very hard to say because each software does a job. [pauses to think] My favorites would have to be Illustrator and Sketch. Illustrator mainly because that’s the software I remember most of the key commands for and plus, it’s precise and Sketch is like a mini-version of Illustrator although much more efficient. The worst for me, I would have to say Photoshop, sorry designers, but I’m not the biggest fan [laughing].

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I remember when I was in school, the second I received a project brief, the very first thoughts I had running through my head 99% of the time, would always be the best idea/end result. Anything that came after were duds. I kind of need to picture the end result of something first, this is when I delve into the ample amounts of research to see whether or not the idea will work or what I can do to make it even better.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Literally everything! From photography to fashion to architecture, I’m incredibly interested in what makes something resonate with people and am continuously trying to implement that in my own work.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: No, I never understood the caffeine craze.
Sweet or Savory: Uhm, both?
Favorite Movie: A Walk to Remember, because who doesn’t love
a sappy love story.
Guilty Pleasure: Reality TV of all kinds.
Hobbies:: Working out, spending time with friends and family.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Mhm hard to say. I can appreciate anything that is very well designed but it doesn’t make me wish I came up with it first. Instead, I’d like to pick the brains of these people to further understand how they got to their end result. When I see a great design, I’m so much more curious about the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Ashley. Like the additional questions? Make sure you let us know on social media. And remember, we’ll be introducing a different pepper each month so stay tuned!!!

24 Feb

New Series: Pepper Talk with David Meade

Welcome to Pepper Talk, a new series here on the Eleven Peppers blog. Each month we’ll be sitting down with one of our peppers to get all the goods. This week we have Dave with us, he has worked for Eleven Peppers Studios almost since the beginning! Dave has a background in video and currently does UX design for the private sector.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Well, obviously Dave [grins] but I’d say Davy, Joe Dave-o (typically shortened to Dave-o) and the Beer Dumpster or Dumpster. It just depends on my circle of friends.

 

2: How would you describe your design style?
I have no style, or, too many styles. I see other things that I really like and I try to find a way to make it my own. My design is like my personality, it has many looks. I’m like Fletch (dated reference). If there were a pattern, it would be clean and uncluttered. For instance, I don’t like modern art, so there goes designs with stuff scattered everywhere.

 

3: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Oddly enough, the tools I love are the tools I despise at times: Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects, which is my all-time favorite, probably because of my background in video. I have a love hate relationship with all of them.

 

4: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
It depends on the project, but I typically research the h*** out it first, too much some people say. Same goes in my personal life, it took me at least 6 months to pick out my truck.

 

5: What do you draw inspiration from?
Everyone and everything around me: architecture, personal styles, coworkers, etc. Seriously, the colors in those flowers [pointing to the flowers next to us], other people’s artwork, other pepper’s portfolios… I feel like I’m not creative at all [laughs] so I look around me.

 

6: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
There are a lot, mostly beer labels. I’ve wanted to come up with my own beer label/logo for years.

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AnchormanCostume

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Thanks for meeting Dave. Remember, we’ll be introducing a different pepper each month so stay tuned!!!