New Home: Havana Designs

December 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hello! Please visit the NEW site + blog at

Thanks to all who’ve visited this blog!


Happy Birthday, Havana!

July 2, 2009 at 11:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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This Saturday is going to be my birthday! 🙂 Don’t know what the family has planned but I may have some sort of celebratory dinner next week.

Oh yeah …

Saturday’s the 4th of July too or something like that. 😉

Happy 4th!

How Improv Made Me A Better Designer

June 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Posted in process, projects, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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By kevindooley

Creative ruts are frustrating and suffocating. The sad thing is that we all go through it! For the past 4-5 weeks, I have been taking improv classes at The Basement in Atlanta. While I can’t say I’ve become the best improv actor or even a decent actor, the lessons I extract from each Thursday evening have become valuable and insightful in mt overall creativity. Improv stretches your thinking and forces you to become more intuitive. Since the classes, sketches and ideas have been erupting into my notebook.

So how do the principle of improv apply to you as an artist?

    1. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid– any idea will do.

    I don’t know too many creatives who aren’t perfectionists. While we are raising our standards for ourselves, we’re also running the risk of losing golden ideas by dismissing them too quickly. When I would sit down to do concept art, the only ideas that made the page were ideas I approved in my head. No one is going to look at your sketchbook. If something tumbles across your mind, sketch it down. Purge all ideas, even stupid ones, onto the page.

    During two-person scene exercises, one of the players would have to come up awith a scene on the spot to act out. Most of the time, the most mundane ideas would progress into hilarious skits.

    2. There is always something to add to a scene.

    Those mundane ideas would progress because the players would add different elements to the scene. Adding elements also solidifed the setting. We did an exercise where we would have to name as many different objects in a room as possible. For example, one of our settings was a guy’s bathroom. After naming out the obvious elements, the players started to name other things like “the broken soap dispenser,” “the amateur graffiti in the stalls,” “the gross, outdated pink urinal cake,” etc. (Okay, sorry for the visuals. LOL) After we named the basics, we were forced to stretch our creativity and imagination to find more to add to the setting.

    So if you were designing a logo for a automobile-related company, what kind of elements could you play with? After you sketch the obvious, what other related elements can you add to your notebook? License plate? Dice in the mirror? Seat belt? The grill? Create a pool of images to play with.

    Beware, however, that you do not compromise simplicity. In the two-person scenes, we were encouraged to add but not to add so much that the scene becomes convoluted, confusing, and unbelievable. For now, just purge out all your ideas but know to subtract and narrow down later.

    By Darren Hester

    3. Look at what you have and adapt to it.

    Okay, I modified the original lesson a little bit. The original reads, “Look at your body posture at the moment and adapt to it.” It is easier to improv a character based on your body as it is now than to come up with a character and then adapt your body accordingly. When you do the latter, you often get so caught up in trying to act and sound like that character that you neglect the relationships on stage. The scene never progresses anywhere.

    As designers, we may sometimes try a little too hard to make the most perfect, most zen, most powerful logo and we end up aggravated when it’s just not happening. Stop and look at the sketches you have now. Interrogate each concept: is this concept aligned with the purpose of the logo? Is it conveying what the client wants? Is it straightforward?

    Now, how can you improve it?

    4. Always pay attention to what people are saying and doing.

    The improv warm-up exercises were, oddly, some of the most insightful. Games like Zip Zap Zoey, King Monkey, and Patterns forced us to pay sharp attention to the flow amongst the group. It challenged us to memorize, multitask, and stay focused all at once. The point of these games? In improv, you will have to bounce actions and reactions from other players on stage. To be a coherent part of the scene, you must develop a good ear for certain phrases and concepts as they happen and extract/expand them.

    Ideas come from the least unexpected places. If you want ideas, don’t tune out your surroundings and try to visualize ideas in your head. Tune INTO the nearby conversations and activity. Someone may say or do something that sparks a new train of thought and lead you to a new idea.

    5. If you get lost or reach a dead end, return to your original intentions.

    When a player on stage would get stuck in a scene, it helps to simply return to that character’s original motivation (i.e. wanting that damn cookie, trying to cheer up a friend, trying to get rid of the nosy neighbor). When we add elements to a scene, we may find that the scene has become so complicated or has strayed so much that the player may not know where to take it.

    Similarly, we can become enamored with a couple of concepts and run with it until we reach a dead end. Return to your first sketches. Return to those notes you scribbled at Starbucks when you met your client. Return to your conversation with the client. Examine the original intentions of your client and yourself. Can you find a different path to reach those objectives?

I would have never imagined that improv classes would be so insightful to me. They gave me solutions to tackle creative blocks. Stretch your imagination, play with your sketches, and pay attention. Leave no idea out; bad ideas, after all, can lead you to good ideas.

The downside is that improv is not something you can practice alone. If you live in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend taking the improv classes at The Basement! They also have shows at 8 & 10 every Friday and Saturday. If Atlanta is a bit of a drive, Charisma Studios in Marietta will be offering an improv course too! If you don’t live in the area, please look up where improv classes are being offered in your city; it is WELL worth it!

10 Ways to Promote An Event

April 28, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Posted in social, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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My launch party finally happened last Wednesday on April 22nd! Thanks to everyone who attended! It meant so much to me. I think we were a record-breaker in turnout and anticipation for ImprovAstorm! Seeing so many people from different parts of my life blend together under one roof was so surreal to me.

I do admit that my launch party was also my way of creating awareness for ImprovAstorm. What is ImprovAstorm? ImprovAstorming is a Blank Stage-exclusive event in which they round up improv actors to churn out commercial, marketing, and campaign ideas for business owners.

It was so much fun. I couldn’t believe all the ideas they came up with! You can see a couple of them (and these weren’t even the best!) in the embedded video above!

The ImprovAstorm taught me so much about promoting events. I’ve tried to promote events before but with little success. This was indeed a learning experience.


10 Ways To Promote An Event

  1. Promote the event way ahead of time. Not always possible but promoting it a month and a half beforehand gave me time to find different ways to get the word out, remind people about the event, provide information, and prepare the event accordingly.
  2. Use social media. Facebook helped me reach my entire network easily and tell them about the event. It also helped me disperse information, keep track of attendants, send mass notifications, and create chatter about it.
  3. Use strategy in invitation. Brent gave me the idea to first invite the people closest to me whom I know would be coming, and then invite people whom may or may not come. Seeing that there are already people on the list is social proof. It also creates comfort to know who is coming. The list of attendees just snowballed!
  4. Bring it up in conversation. Often. Be sincerely excited, though! Keeping up my own excitement level became contagious. There were folks who were looking forward to the 22nd since February! Ramp up anticipation and you will build participation.
  5. Guests come first! Your guests are like your customers: they come first. Make an effort to ensure entertainment, food, and atmosphere. I paid special attention to my guests pre-event and post-event and did my best to facilitate a comfortable, chatty environment. I got good feedback so I hope I did a good job!
  6. Individually invite guests. I learned this from an officer from the KSU Kiwanis Club: people are more likely to respond to an individual email than a mass email. Take a minute to write out a couple of sentences or call a guest and tell them that you’re excited to have them be a part of your event. Again, be sincere! Insincerity is often transparent. Make your guests feel like kings and queens!
  7. Delegate host duties. I wish I had asked a couple more people to help me welcome guests instead of flying solo. I ended up conversation-hopping and it was overwhelming being the only one overlooking the crowd. Gather the social butterflies and ask them to help welcome guests, warm up wallflowers, and create conversations between people.
  8. Keep in mind flake rate. Because I had so many people wanting to come to the event, I had to cut down the list to 50 due to the room capacity. Even then, I still had a marginal flake rate. People will have to cancel at the last minute for various reasons. next time, I’ll go ahead and invite more people to fill in the flake rate. 🙂
  9. Take the opportunity to break out news and accomplishments! My new business name, Kokoro Graphix, and logo made their debut on April 22. Make announcements and celebrate while you have your supportive audience there with you. Letting your guests know first makes your event special.


  10. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare food. Fortunately, the food I chose was simple but it would have been far less stressful if I didn’t procrastinate!

The success of your event is a result of your effort! Have any other tips on promoting events? Share them in the comments!

Action Coach

March 23, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rick Crain is an Action Coach who asked me to design a graphic for his presentation on team building for executives. His presentation revolves around the idea that executive success is based on the four A’s:

  • Awareness: Becoming aware of counterproductive habits
  • Adjustment: Changing those habits
  • Alignment: Optimizing your team to move towards an ultimate goal
  • Automation: Developing a committed team that can perform by itself
  • Even in our small encounters, he teaches me so much about business. I was honored to work on a project for Rick. Here are some pictures from the process:











    Thrive America: The Graphic Journey

    February 10, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Posted in process, projects, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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    I’m thrilled to announce that one of my clients has released installments of his interview series, Thrive America. Brent was such a pleasure to work for and I learned so much from him just in the past two months. I wanted to exhibit the development of the Thrive America logo from the very first sketches to its debut on the Thrive America homepage.


    I drew these during the shooting of the Chris Heuser interview. Before then, I admit I had a difficult time coming up with ideas. To be immersed in the Thrive America process injected me with a geyser of ideas! I loved it.


    Brent and his team reached a consensus and shrunk the sketches down to three contestants, mixing and matching their favorite elements.



    One thing I learned while making this logo is that fonts are damn hard to match up! I made the mistake of committing to the font I had used in my sketches so I ended up frustrating myself in the end. I decided that this font was the closest I could find and that I would have to just revise my design around it.

    Still, There are something lacking in this copy. it mirrored the sketch decently but the elements seemed too detached …


    It was during this project that I also learned the value of a mentor. I met Michael Harper (Head Writer of Blank Stage but he has such an extensive resume that I don’t think any one title can contain him) and though our relationship has been short, he has given me incredible advice on freelancing. He suggested the fade in graph and I must say, it vastly improved the design.


    Big jump. The faded intersection of the rays and the graph created a novel resemblance of the US flag. Michael and I both felt that “America” was too light in the former revisions so here, I tried to add more weight. But…


    … we ultimately decided on this one. It’s simple and classic enough to capture “America” and a good contrast to the “Thrive” font.


    You can see the logo here on the Thrive America homepage. I strongly suggest both budding and seasoned entrepreneurs to check out these interviews and pick up a few tips on growing your business!

    3 Coloring Tutorials

    January 6, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

    For my aspiring artistic audience, I want to share a few coloring tutorials I’ve collected on DeviantArt. I’m a tutorial addict. I don’t get to use many of the tutorials I find but I felt it’d be a sin for me to keep these away from the public.

    +CRAYOLA WATERCOLORS TUTORIAL+ by =beautiful-shinigami on deviantART
    It’s not always about the tools you use (although sometimes, it is) but how you use them and beautiful-shinigami proves it. This may be a good tutorial for people who want to try out watercolor but don’t want to dish out the money on the tools just yet. If you want to shoot for that classic watercolor anime style, look here.

    Marker Tutorial Thinger… by ~Atomic-Clover on deviantART

    My weapon of choice has grown to be the Prismamarker, unwieldy to inexperienced hands but a powerful medium when harnessed. true, Atomic-Clover uses a couple of Copic markers here too but with careful color selection, I think you can harvest the same effect. The colors I usually use for white skin is eggshell for the base and then light peach to build value.

    How I Color With Photoshop
    by Twisted666 (Now MushroomTale )

    Twisted666’s tutorial was one of the first Photoshop coloring tutorials I’d come across and I reference it even now. Coloring via Photoshop, I feel, is still far from my strong point but this tutorial never fails to help me out. 🙂

    Interestingly, I use Photoshop tutorials to help me with my coloring in general. I’ll adopt some of the same points and techniques with markers. Looking at tutorials, then, can help develop your skills in less obvious ways if you try to keep an open mind and apply it elsewhere.

    Hope these tips help!

    Hello ’09!

    January 2, 2009 at 4:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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    Happy New Year! May 2009 be wonderful to you. 🙂

    Btw, I think it’s awesome that 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy! To commemorate, I post a reading by Carl Sagan:

    Statuses on Current Projects and More Doodles!

    December 12, 2008 at 1:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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    I am really pleased with my sudden explosion of projects. 🙂 It’ll give me something to do the next few weeks. My status on current projects at the moment:

    1. Poster design for Elite Body Fitness: Some preliminary sketches, gathered a few stock photos to play with, now deciding on color scheme
    2. Poster design for Blank Stage Productions: Waiting for images
    3. Flyer design for Diva Extensions: Started preliminary sketches
    4. Banner artwork for a health & beauty blog: N/A
    5. Otter’s commission: Sketch is 90% done, will start inking soon
    6. Silverkun’s commission: N/A
    7. Maddy’s commission: Sketch is done, needs to be inked
    8. India’s badge: N/A
    9. Mom’s book cover: Needs a bit revamping

    On to some more doodles from the sketchbook …


    LOL I like my Crazy Love Guy. Just silly doodles I did in class.


    Weird hairstyle sketches.


    Lacy is a Maxim model, perhaps? I drew a lot of influence from Chris Sanders here.


    Haven’t come up with a name for her yet but she’s a devil-may-care, crazy schizophrenic crook. I came up with her trying to create a character the complete opposite of myself.

    My blog and I were mentioned on my friend Rob’s blog! 🙂 His blog documents his journey and lessons learned as an entrepreneur; go check it out! You may get something from it. I definitely do.

    Doodles from the Weekend: Graffiti Experimentation

    December 9, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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    I study tip I wish I was aware of before the end of the semester:

    Making flashcards -before- you read the chapter.

    I don’t know why, but it’s a lot more helpful. Guess I have an attack plan for next semester.

    It’s been so nice to just stay in and draw and do crafts. I wanted to share some of my recent doodles from the weekend:



    I love the graffiti look. Whenever I get the chance to browse through graffiti galleries, I am just stunned. There is so much creativity in reinventing the shapes of letters and playing with colors and using bold, dynamic lines to convey statements or imagery. I’m in love with the style but I’ve never been able to dabble in it; the range of styles was just too overwhelming.

    I came across this incredibly simple lettering tutorial one day and just ran with it. I’ve been trying out new ways to write my name and initials ever since. 🙂


    I liked the little singer in the lower right so much that I drew her again:



    I drew a little chibi version of myself~! In the upper right corner is a little character I created some time ago, Heart-chan, and the rest are random little doodles.


    I usually draw a lot of anime but I’ve been trying out a new, more cartoony and caricature-esque style lately. It’s nice to step out of my usual zone and test out a new style. I like that I have a wider range of shapes to play with. I named this one “bikini contest.” I was experimenting with different body shapes.


    More doodles I did while watching Will & Grace. By the way, the little figure towards the lower left is the beginnings of a squid before I decided I didn’t want to draw the tentacles, nothing else. LOL Don’t ask me why I randomly drew a US Government logo …


    More chibi-me. 🙂 And there I am wielding my color medium of choice: the Prismamarker!

    That’s all I have for today. 🙂 I love all this free time, though. I’m going to have to make sure it’s being put to good use!

    By the way, I found a really useful web tool today: Remindr. So glad someone came up with this! ❤

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