Valentine’s Day – Celebrate all love

Antonia Designs - Love

How do you celebrate love on Valentine’s Day? Since I enjoy cooking, I make a slap up dinner for my husband and me on Valentine’s Day itself. We like it to be simple and quiet – others enjoy the festivity of going out.

Valentine’s Day is about all love – it is a time to celebrate your whole community. We do this from childhood on. Who remembers cutting red hearts out of construction paper then carefully cutting out a matching doily heart? The two fit together, snugly glued. There might also have been glitter involved… Oh the pride when giving it to your parents on Valentine’s Day.

Red Heart

As we grow up, it’s just as important to honor the significant people in our lives, whomever they may be. We should reach out to our friends, to our family, to our spouse… or all of the above.

There are so many ways of sending a Valentine. Valentine’s Day really took off at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century with changes in technology and, in the UK, with the rise of a uniform postal service. The advances in technology today create new and fun ways of celebrating love. Why not let me help you whip up some Valentines – paper or electronic – to tell those important people in your life how much you love them. Lace and glitter welcome but not mandatory!

The Museum of London has a fantastic collection of vintage Valentine’s Cards – most of them seem to be lacy. Check them out for a smile.

Vintage Flowers

Victorian handcoloured embossed paper decorations used for decorating handfinished valentine’s cards applied to a sheet of paper.

Vintage Valentine

Multi-layered, handfinished valentine’s card formed from two sheets of lace paper attached, one above the other, by means of paper springs

Inspirational Quote Design


Isn’t it refreshing to look up and see an inspirational quote on a wall or sitting on your desk? It brings you back to yourself, to what’s important. For just a moment, you’re away from the headlong busyness of the day and are reminded of the bigger picture. Then you can return to the nuts and bolts of life feeling revived.

I’m doing a yoga teacher training program and was moved to create this design, seen resting against a Buddha head that also inspires me. I love being reminded of the importance of breathing and the mind – body connection. I find being truly present incredibly important and strive to be a close listener. When I look up and see that quote and with it the two yoga postures it’s a reminder of what is important to me and where I am headed. You can download this design from my Etsy store.

What inspires you – what quote captures this inspiration? I love typography and would love to work with you imagining a design to illustrate an inspirational quote. Let me help you create an inspirational design that will leave you feeling in tune and refreshed every time you look at it.

Color Choice and Showcasing Who You Are

Recently I’ve been working on a website refresh and enjoying the diversity of styles and atmosphere in my logo and branding work. When you showcase your company visually, the colors you choose set the tone. Colors make statements about Who You Are as a business. This is what I do – I listen to who you are and we capture that visually.

Rustic – Simle Joyful Yoga Logo

Simple Joyful Yoga Logo


This rust shade of red is – well – rustic. Simple Joyful Yoga studio is in Harper’s Ferry and is surrounded by the Appalachians. It’s rural and beautiful, which makes sense as much of traditional yoga is connected to nature. So a rustic approach was a natural. Combining the rust color with teal made for an inviting feel. It creates a warm atmosphere that beckons you in, everyone welcome.

Elegant and High End – The Stylish Look of Salon Gerard

Salon Gerard

The shimmering bronze and gold colors in Salon Gerard’s logo evoke unselfconscious elegance, a polish that is effortless. This hair salon is not for the blue rinse and set crowd or for a hip young thing with a sharp cut. When you venture into Salon Gerard, you may possibly come out oh so Parisien.

Bright and Cheery – Who You Get with Active, Fit, and Healthy

CREATE at Health Fair

Jeff Hughes wanted to use illustrations to show visually his process guiding his health coaching clients. When we met to discuss this, Jeff said he wanted the visuals to be bright and sunny and cheerful. Living life this way was fun – not a drag! So often living a ‘good’ life seems to people like penance. These colors capture Jeff: he is enthusiastic and upbeat, supportive and encouraging with boundless energy. These colors are the style you get when he coaches you.

It’s a great skill to be able to evoke someone’s heartbeat visually, and color plays an important role. I spend valuable time chatting with with clients and brainstorming so that their colors speak to who they are. Let’s experiment with color together.


The Spaces in Between – The Importance of White Space

Haven’t you looked at a graphic design and had it leave you feeling cramped? Or perhaps it makes you walk away off kilter, unbalanced. There are significant, yet small, elements of design that come together to create a successful overall effect. It’s often the spaces in between – the white space – that count.

I just had a lovely time strolling trough the National Gallery Sculpture Garden. It’s only a few minutes walk from home, so I go there quite a bit and enjoy wandering around and sitting people watching. This time I didn’t so much focus on the sculptures themselves as some of the spaces in between.

Patterns and repetition are pleasing. They create harmony and balance – grounding us and welcoming us in at the same time.

Sculpture Gallery Garden FenceSculpture Gallery Garden Fence Pillar

These white spaces can be used to draw the eye and carve out space, defining it. In fact, it can take a visual into the third dimension.


Interesting Building Structure Interesting Building Structure Detail

It’s really all about relationships. Take this sculpture by Tony Smith (that’s the National Archives in the background).

Structures and Sculpture in a Park

These are straightforward geometrical shapes that might very well just hang out there on their own not even talking to each other. They could even have been strangers. Yet there’s a cohesion. It’s how they are placed – the way the are facing, how they point when they come out of the ground. It’s also where they are placed in relation to each other. There’s an energy between these shapes. What do you feel when you look at them? Is there something you should feel? They’re called Wandering Rocks. What does that mean to you?

Just like in life, in graphic design we need to pay attention to the spaces in between. I can help you make sure we do that in your design.

Layout for grabbing your audience

Posters, presentations, brochures and books should not look dull.
Through the power of layout they should engage your audience.

There’s a particular skill to creating dynamic and engaging layout.
Lets work together to make sure that your layout is doing you justice.

Beginning our examples with a classic:

The ‘before’ on the left of this dull one page flier was professionally designed.

The ‘after’ has almost exactly the same information but hums with dynamism.

Before and after

How did Jeff and I crate such a dynamic flier from the static original?

  • We banished the large blocks of text – they are uninviting and don’t draw the eye. Important information gets lost as the eye bounces off the chunks of text.
    • break out the text, giving some parts of the text greater weight.
  • We ditched the strong horizontal lines going across the whole page – this is a red light to the eye and stops it dead, never to continue.
    •  draw the eye across the page, guiding it.
  • We switched up shapes – the original had almost all oblong shapes in every design element which resulted in a lack of variation.
    • create different text, color and white space shapes which are lively and engage the eye.

Creating a dynamic booklet

A booklet Jeff and I created for marketing using his text is engaging and really holds your attention. We did this with the same principles as we used in the poster.

And lots of visuals – we used  the illustrations I created for him and wove in some of his wonderful photos.

Book Cover

Interior of the Pamphlet

To create cohesion, we began and ended each section with the same visual, which also re-enforced the section. The visuals and the text should work in tandem and build on each other.

Section End 1

Section End 2

Section End 3

And finally, Jeff’s stall at a health fair, showing the wonderful designs we’ve created.

Jeff at Health Fair

Rooftop Yoga and an Inspirational Haiku


Yoga haiku

Recently I’ve been reveling in rooftop yoga. I’m an early riser, so I head up to the roof of our building first thing and do a short yoga practice before the day gets too hot and starts to wilt. There’s a keenness to the air, an expectation that bodes well for the day. Sometimes there a slight breeze, always there’s the changing geography of the sky. Occasionally a few drops of rain remind me that to get out of my comfort zone.  Birds zip about – some cheeky sparrows and a starling couple make frequent appearances. The starlings appear to have a pretty typical couple relationship – sometimes running about together, sometimes chasing each other. I find them endlessly entertaining.

All this combines to create a practice that is an expansive and heart-warming start to the day. It opens my mind as well as my body and my senses come alive. The other day I was inspired to write a Haiku, which I then made into an image to evoke the experience.

It’s so hard in our rushing world to carve out that little bit of time but so rewarding when you can. What is your equivalent of my 20 minutes of yoga in the morning to set up my day well? How do you relax and recharge? How do you tap into your own creativity? Maybe you hanker after a glass of wine in a relaxing bath, the soothing water and slow sipping taking away the worries of the day. Perhaps you enjoy cooking – the chopping and stirring and the aromas can be very soothing for some people, myself included. And then with cooking there’s the reward of a delicious dinner – or even a great failure that becomes family lore. We all still chuckle at the famous time friend’s mother, a wonderful cook, came in bearing a baked Alaska with much fanfare. We all eagerly cut into the meringue to find out she’d forgotten the ice-cream. A story never to be lived down!

What do you do to feel relaxed and comfortable in your own skin?


Layering colors for a Powerful Effect

Consider your color palette – you do this every day when you get dressed, you do it when your ponder how to decorate your home – and you do it for your graphic design. Often we don’t take into account the power of layering colors in graphic design – to do that, we have to get into a 3D mindset.

We hear a lot about a ‘pop’ of color. This is usually bright or contrasting color to create a focus to the design. But you don’t need bright colors to get your pop – depth is all about how colors ‘pop’ and layer and draw the eye.

White Flowers

Nature gives us a wonderful understanding of how to create layering and depth that gives us harmony and focal point. The more muted colors from this dogwood tree each give something to the whole picture. The green leaves give a deep and rich background, with the spines adding movement and moving our eye along. The shape of the petals reflect the shape of the leaves, while giving a pleasing and comforting roundness to our middle ground, above the slightly more streamlined leaf shape. The petals have a particular shade or white, a muted gray-white bone shade that harmonizes with the green of the leaves while standing out. Imagine if the petals were a brighter white – too stark! or a yellow white – too sallow! Shade of color is vital. The stamens and pistils at the center of the flower give fuzzy texture in a light browny beige. This is our pop in the foreground – the different texture and round shape anchor the whole effect.

As we create a graphic design, it helps to think of the color scheme as a landscape – we have our background, middle ground and foreground. Choosing our colors to layer and texture, to anchor and give focus, will create a riot of harmony. We can do this with any color scheme – monochrome, bright colors, a mix of bright and subdued colors – or muted colors as we did here. Let’s get our hands dirty and play around with different colors and shades, interpose them over each other, mess about with all sorts of shapes and watch as our own color palette takes shape.

Be Who You Are – Even If No One Else Agrees: The African Print Dress


How do you show who you are and what you stand for – whether it’s through your clothes, your wedding invitation, the visuals for your small business or your home’s decor? 18 year old Makalaya Zanders already has that down pat. The answer revolves around understanding your core values and what that says about you, then using it to say who you are visually – sometimes against the odds. Zanders was determined to show African style to its full, glorious advantage after being told an African print prom dress would be ‘tacky’.

Zanders has faced this attitude all her life, quotes from her about growing up point to a child being told not to be comfortable in her own skin. Her reaction was to figure out who was inside that skin and use her journey as an example for other young girls facing a similar situation.

Zanders is proud of her African heritage and teamed up with DeAndré Crenshaw Indelible DC to create a prom dress in blue Ankara material. It’s a romp of African print – regal and bold in its material and design. By underscoring the beauty and richness of African style and clothing it evokes exactly Zanders point.

The point being our narrowness of understanding. We all have areas of ignorance and we all have well worn paths of our own rituals. Proms – and weddings – are no exception. There are preconceptions about how a prom dress should look and that can be exactly the right style for some people. Zanders wanted to go outside of that traditional look and decided to create a prom dress from material in African print. The reaction was a knee jerk response – ‘tacky’ – presumably because an African print dress was outside their understanding and experience.

Not everyone wants to open eyes and be a trailblazer, as Zanders no-doubt will continue to do. But if we want to show who we are visually as effectively as Zanders, we need to understand who we are in the same way, we have to develop our own persona and personal style as Zanders did so successfully. Sometimes we need a partner to help – she had DeAndré Crenshaw working with her to transform her ideas – who she is – into a reality.

Do you have a graphic design project where you seek a partner to present who you are visually – perhaps a wedding invitation or images to evoke your business. Let us work together to showcase your style as effectively as Zanders showcased her own.


Beach Parties, Pool Parties and Long Lazy Parties – It’s Summertime!

beach parties

We finally have some sun and summer weather here in DC after the rainiest May on record. I can’t wait to get on my swimming togs and head for the sea and the pool. I grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and summer meant hanging out at the beach on LI Sound. Those were lovely lazy days of feet in the sand and sand getting into lunch, refreshing sea water that became a salt crust. There was the famous time friends and I were mucking about, throwing a ball, when a huge crab levitated right underfoot – it was suddenly there, literally under a friend’s feet. Luckily she leaped back, so she didn’t get pinched. You never know what’s going to happen at the beach.

Then there were the evenings cooking out on the beach and watching the sunset behind the sea. There’s nothing like a beach or pool party in the summer – and I’ve got just the invitation. It’s ready for you to use – download it at my Etsy Store and personalize it in the blank area. You can print it out, or send it as an e-card in the body of your e-mail. I can also change the image or personalize it for you.

Nothing says summer like getting your toes wet with your friends and family.

beach parties