Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Justin's red sneakers match the Y20 theme

Justin’s red sneakers match the Y20 theme

In my most recent post about gratitude, I briefly mentioned Justin Skeesuck and his presentation at the AIGA San Diego Y20 Design Conference. You need to read about this amazing man—and his amazing friend and family—especially if you are a creative person.
The AIGA San Diego Y20 Design Conference, or as we fondly call it The Y, is a 2-day conference for everyone in the creative industry: graphic designers, typographers, illustrators, installation artists, digital media folks, architects, etc. We focus on the WHY we design or create, inspiring others, sharing our passion and developing a tight-knit community of amazing people—not just in San Diego but all around the world!
This year’s conference stood out from the last 6 ones I attended — maybe it’s because of where I was at in my life at that time, or maybe it was the quality and kind of speakers we had—all the above, I think. The first day felt more personal and the second day was more professionally inspirational. Justin spoke on the first day in the morning after a hilarious, creative duo from Mexico: Jorge Gutierrez and his wife, Sandra Equihua. I was only able to scribble down a few notes while Justin spoke, but the feeling he left us all with was emotional and inspiring.
Justin is known as The Disabled Traveler who inspires and instructs People with Disabilities on how to successfully navigate and overcome the many challenges they face in their lives, and when traveling. If you didn’t know who Justin was {like me}, you would wonder why he was speaking at a conference with a room full of graphic designers and other creatives.
Well, Justin was once a graphic designer himself here in San Diego, and is well-loved by many locals. Now, he’s also a motivational speaker, trainer and accessibility consultant. When he was 16, a car accident triggered a dormant autoimmune/neuromuscular disease in his body that eventually took the use of his arms, hands and legs from him.
Being a creative person, your hands are your tools, it’s your lifeblood. I cannot imagine losing the use of my hands and not be able to be creative. What else would I do? I was born creative out of my mother’s womb. Even though Justin was always a positive, happy and driven person, he had to fight hard from going into the deep, dark hole of self-pity, fear, depression and despair as his condition worsened to the point of being 100% dependent on others to feed him, shower him, dress him and more.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Justin eventually came to realize that life was too short, and decided that he didn’t want to go to the deep dark hole. He has a family he loves, and wanted to experience life outside his wheelchair. He said that you can either go that dark place–stay there and dwell in negativity—or figure out how to make your situation work, using creativity in a different way, wherever, however you can. Turn it around. We {me included} tend to focus on our limitations instead of the possibilities. What if we opened ourselves up to explore those possibilities? Instead of living out of fear and anxiety, why not live out of curiosity?
Then…what Justin spoke about to us next was mind-blowing. Along with his lifelong friend Patrick, they trekked the Camino del Santiago trail of 500 miles across Northern Spain, with Patrick pushing Justin in his wheelchair. What?! Now that is living without limitations! The trek was filled with a host of challenges, but also amazing miracles, and new friendships developed from people around the world who were also walking the trail. Justin was the first man in a wheelchair to accomplish this incredible journey. You need to see the video and hear the whole story {HERE}.
Basically, it’s all about adapting… leading life with love… and even opening yourself up to let others help you because that’s what most people want to do. When you deny the opportunity for others to help you, you deny their joy in life—they want you to succeed. We all carry burdens, for others, for ourselves, even for the world sometimes… it can get heavy and weigh you down. But when you release the burden you are carrying, it opens up the flood gates to receive. To receive what is divinely yours.
In Justin’s words, a life is not defined by its limitations, but rather by what is accomplished in spite of those limitations….what you do in life, the life you are given.

An Attitude of Gratitude

GRATITUDE: We all know what that is: feeling appreciation or thankfulness for blessings or benefits we’ve received. But how often are we really grateful? I mean, grateful in the truest sense—from deep within our soul. Probably, not enough. And is it possible to be grateful even during difficult times, during the dark stormy periods in our life? Why, yes…but you have to dig deep.
shutterstock_176834642 walk sunset lowtide 560
I’ve been wanting to write about the subject of gratitude, especially after attending the AIGA San Diego Y20 Design Conference this past March. I was so inspired and moved by some of the speakers, especially Justin Skeesuck {more on him in another blog post}. However, right before the conference, I was delivered some devastating news of having to move from my lovely abode where I finally felt at home for the last 2 years {my landlord wanted to sell}. If you knew me, you would know of my constant unwanted moving, and understand how I can get emotionally tied to my home. The news turned my life upside down, and even added salt to some other ongoing wounds in my life at that time.
But I just didn’t have it in me to write. I couldn’t see past the crushing of my heart and wondering why?!? I thought THIS was the place I could stay for a long time, it’s perfect for all my needs and desires.
I try to practice gratitude every day in my morning journal writings. I find one or more things I am thankful for – from something as big as where I live, to something as small as a cup of bulletproof coffee. Some days it’s a struggle and I cannot even try, I admit. And since this bad news had happened, most days all I could do was whine and pray [beg] to God for a miracle. I did NOT want to move! Again. And the inventory was dry and expensive to boot.
This went on for four weeks until one morning when I forced my thoughts to change from the downward spiral to being grateful, humbly grateful…I thanked God, from down in my heart, for this journey—for whatever lesson I had to learn. I surrendered my life to His timing, His ways, remembering His promises. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, but it’s another thing to be grateful during the storm.
Two hours later, I get a call from the property management company saying that the landlord has decided NOT to sell {for various reasons}, and they extended my lease for another year!!! I couldn’t believe it. I fell down on my knees and thanked God.
The power of practicing deep-felt, humble and honest gratitude no matter what the current circumstances are. Some might think it’s coincidence, but I believe it was God’s hand — he is in the details, even property litigation.
You don’t have to be a Christian to practice gratitude—it’s not a spiritual thing, but it does make a difference in your life. Daily gratitude can improve your health: better sleep, more energy, less stress and lowered blood pressure—even extend your lifespan. It also makes us nicer, more social, more appreciative; it can even help us make more friends, deepen existing relationships, and improve marriages. *source*
All it takes is 5 minutes a day to rewire your brain, and only 3 weeks to develop it as a lifetime habit. By practicing being aware of the good things in our life, we train our brain to keep the negative thoughts away, becoming more positive and happier in our life—which takes less energy than being negative and miserable. Plus, being grateful just feels good—all sunshiney, warm and fuzzy.
And would you believe, during this time, I got an infographic project from Visual.ly {for Huffington Post/American Greetings} about the affects of gratitude on our body?! God has a funny sense of humor.
The Effects of Gratitude by dezinegirl creative studio for Visual.ly

The Effects of Gratitude by dezinegirl creative studio for Visual.ly


The Infographic Process


I designed my first infographic in the beginning of their peak in March of 2013 and discovered a passion and talent I didn’t even know I had until given the opportunity to create one…and it was the about beer! I was an early fan of infographics and started a pinterest board for them in 2011 to capture all my favorites. Little did I know…

Two years and 30 infographics later, I’ve become known as the infographic queen around town, and even nationally. I even caught the attention of the creative director at Visual.ly and they hired me as one of their designers in their marketplace later in 2013.  I think my early training years of information architecture—while designing Royal Caribbean’s 95-page International Fleet Catalog at my agency job—has a lot to do with why I excel at them…and they do come easily to me {not everything does!}

My brain is wired to take content and organize it so it’s easy to read and quickly find the information you are looking for. I also have a natural skill to interpret data, statistics, and bulleted information, and translate them into beautiful graphics. Yes, I am tooting my own horn here! 🙂 But I’m also laying the foundation for this infographic I recently designed for clients and potential infographic clients.

While I may have a couple of years of experience with infographics, most companies are just now getting to know about them, and realizing the value of their marketing power. But most have no idea of how to even begin, or what it’s like to work with an infographic design. So, this Infographic Process infographic was designed for just that need. There are slews of infographic designers out there, but you need to make sure you work with a professional one in order to get your desired results.

The key to a successful infographic is 1) Hire a professional, experienced infographic journalist to write the outline 2) Hire a professional, experienced infographic designer to design/layout the content 3) Promote and share it!


The Infographic Process by dezinegirl creative studio

The Infographic Process by dezinegirl creative studio



How to Work from Home with a Cat {Infographic}

So, last June I made the unexpected leap to adopting a kitten. Since I work from my home studio, it can get a bit lonesome with just myself to talk to, apart from social media sites or the occasional call from a client. I have grown up with cats as a teenager, during college and post-college, so they are my preferred pet. The desire to have a kitty started to consume me—searching adoption centers for just the right kitty—and waiting for the funds. One afternoon I got the nudge to go to Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe to see some cute kitties in person that I saw on their website.

After testing out a couple of kittens and older cats, I heard the cutest little meow in the corner of the room. I really wanted a white or creamy colored cat since I have light colored furniture, but there she was – a Tortie Calico [black, white and tan fur]  as cute as can be. She was the only one that was chill in my lap and let me pet her. I was warned that she needed a lot of attention and didn’t like other animals. I thought, well, I have lots of love to give and owned no other animals…it was just me and her. This kitty pulled at my heartstrings, and 2 hours later, she was home with me.



Fast forward 8 months later, Josie the Pussycat has changed my life. She will be 1 years old in 2 weeks. I have to say, this was the most challenging kitten I have ever had. While she was so gosh darn cute and fun, she was fiesty, bold, clingy, needy and oh so naughty. She was smart enough to learn her name, the word NO or GET DOWN, but stubborn enough to refuse my commands because she wanted what she wanted. She has ruined my office chair, patio chairs, carpet, window screens, broken a few sentimental gifts from friends, and leaves fur everywhere she goes. After 3 weeks I was so tempted to return her because she drove me CRAZY. It was a hate-love relationship, a constant fight to be the alpha female, and choosing my battles to fight for.

BUT! I kept her and hung in there as friends advised. I’ve also done plenty of research to understand her behavior so that I don’t blow my fuse. Over time, she has softened my heart, taught me patience and an unconditional great love like I have never known {I don’t have kids}. Plus she has mellowed out a great deal, sleeps more and has adjusted to my schedule of working and leaving the studio. That is the biggest key: setting a routine for us both while I work at home. Granted she determines when I wake up so she can be fed, but otherwise we’ve settled into a nice little life for ourselves. Cats depend on routines, when they get fed, when it’s time to play or sleep–this gives them a sense of comfort, confidence and security. I guess the stray kitties need this because they were taken away from their mother at such a young age [no matter how].



As an independent graphic designer, I work a lot—whether its for clients or for my business, I’m at the computer a majority of the day. Josie has become accustomed to this, but in order to keep us both happy, I set up times of the day to play with her, love on her, feed her—and it works {most days…she has her cranky days and so do I}. The only time she jumps up on my desk or gets into my office things is when I am not there in the studio space. My home is a small, open concept space, so it’s basically one large room with a balcony, bedroom and bathroom—I can see her from just about anywhere. But I make sure all my studio valuables are covered up or out of the way so there is no temptation for her to be naughty. She just likes to sniff everything {over and over and over}.

With that said, I thought an infographic with a guide to working at home with a cat would be of great need for others—all the things I have learned from my furry feline friend. ENJOY!

Make Your Difference

The Leadership SPA

Over the past several years I have designed my fair share of conference branding and materials for various clients {which I love to do}, but not too often do I get to attend them. However, last November I had the privilege to attend one that my client was hosting. This amazing conference is The Leadership SPA {Smart Power Academy}—a vision founded by Will Marré and hosted by his wonderful team. LEARN MORE >

I had a strong desire to go to the SPA because the workbook/journal I created for it was so chock-full of incredible wisdom and leadership guidance, plus contained interesting discovery exercises that I wanted to be involved with.

By attending this conference, I knew it would also help me understand the diagrams I created for it more than just a design interpretation of words. This lead me to realize that I should attend any conference I design materials for to get a greater understanding of my clients. Granted not all of them are local, so that would be a financial challenge.

The Leadership SPA  Workbook

The Leadership SPA Workbook

It’s not what you think… yes, we did have yoga classes and enjoyed yummy spa-like meals on the 32nd floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego with a sweeping views of the bay area, but it actually was 2-1/2 days of training women executives on how to become Smart Power women leaders—bringing career clarity, leadership confidence and a commitment to grow—making a difference while enjoying a work-life balance.
The thought-provoking, interactive program was designed to greatly improve women’s leadership effectiveness and opportunities for growth. It even went beyond that to define their T.R.U.E. Power {Talent, Rewards, Evolve, Uniqueness} to “SuperCharge their Career” and “Work Like a Genius”.  As Will stated, “TRUE” work strengthens your life force — it turns your natural ability and passion into value for others. People who create [new] value are always in demand {it’s our responsibility to create value}. Our passions are what makes us, our life, interesting! When you are clear on what you want or don’t want, your life will change. BAM!
Work like a Genius

Work like a Genius

I’m one of the fortunate ones to have known my career desires early in life; being born gifted with creative genes. Going through the workbook exercises affirmed my path as a designer, but also gave me insight in how to better manage my life/work balance. As a solopreneuer, you pretty much work every day – even for an hour or two – your business is always on your mind. The “Work Like a Genius” graphic breaks down the the day when certain activities are best for certain times. Of course, not everyone can follow this exactly, but it’s a good model to refer back to when life gets hectic.
The Leadership SPA was the pilot conference for others to come, and not just in San Diego! Stay tuned to the website, and sign up for Will’s amazing newsletters full of insight, wisdom and resources – designed just for us women! I am so blessed to have a client who wants to empower women, who truly understands and cares what it takes to be a working woman. Make Your Difference!

pinspiration #13

It’s been awhile since I’ve designed a pinspiration. I guess nothing has moved me enough to create anything, until I came across this quote, “Be the living expression of God’s kindness,” while doing a bible study reading. Unfortunately I don’t know who it’s from because I just wrote it out on a piece of paper quickly, and it has been sitting on my desk for weeks now. I came across a beautiful stock illustration and it struck me to be perfect for this quote. Basically, it means that we need to live our lives as Christ did – to be salt and light of the world – to be kind and loving towards everyone and anyone as Jesus was. It’s a reflection of who God is and we are children of God.

be the living expression of god's kindess – dezinegirl creative studio

be the living expression of god’s kindness – dezinegirl creative studio

Introducing Infograms with a Holiday Offer

Another Made-up Word for Webster’s Dictionary: Infogram

As a designer of infographics and Instagram graphics for clients, my idea of mixing the two together was the result of my friend’s stumbling of words during a discussion recently. We were talking about infographics and social media marketing including Instagram, and out of her mouth blurted: INFOGRAM. We laughed at first, but then a light bulb went off! Both are used separately as marketing tools online and on mobile devices, so why not combine them together for a quick way to promote on Instagram? {I owe her one if this takes off!}

The first thought I had was to offer bite-sized infographics because everyone knows I am the Infographic Queen 🙂 No one has done this that I know of. But the more I thought about it, I figured out even more ways to use Infograms {some of you may be already doing this, so just glaze over those parts}.

With an Infogram, you could promote an event with a Save-the-Date or a reminder for it, you could promote a sale or offer for your services or products, you could send out messages to your customers, and the best idea is that you could create snapshots of data from a larger infographic you already have posted on your website – linking the Infogram back to your site for more traffic.

Here are some examples I created from projects I designed for clients, just to show you how it could be done…these are not actual Infograms:






























There are a couple of ways to get your Infogram graphic from your desktop computer to Instagram. 1) You can mail it to your mobile device {smart phone or table} and upload through the Instagram app [see guide]. 2) Or the other method is to upload from your desktop computer via BlueStacks, an Android emulator that lets you run Android apps {like Instagram} on your computer. You can use BlueStacks on both Windows and Mac OS X [see further down the guide].

Holiday Offer for New Clients!

I hate to say this but the holidays are one of the best times to market your business, service or product, but in a subliminal way using a holiday theme. Even though we are bombarded with ads and offers, it’s widely accepted among consumers, and well, they are in a shopping mode anyway. So here I am…because I want to share my excitement of this new service, I am offering new clients a holiday special on Infograms. It’s for a limited time only, so you must hurry 🙂 If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!





dezinegirl brand has grown up

Yes, it’s true, dezinegirl has grown up! Well, sort of…I will always remain young at heart, but that doesn’t mean my own brand has to {I’ve kept the name at least}. As the years go by, my talent, skills and tastes get more refined, and it just seemed to me that it was time dezinegirl got a facelift to reflect this {and well, I love to play with design!}.

I have received many compliments from peers or clients on my previous brand and website, and some have asked me why would I change what already looks good?

Many brands never change their logo because it works for them, but they update their brand style to stay on-trend, remain current and keep up with their industry. And that is what had to be done for dezinegirl as well. As I grow, mature and change, so does my brand need to.

A refreshed brand can lead to new business or bring a new perspective to current clients that gets them thinking I want to work with dezinegirl!; and hopefully receive bigger projects to fuel my design passion…and buy more coffee!


dezinegirl creative studio brand new look

dezinegirl creative studio brand new look















Contact dezinegirl for your next project that needs a refresh!


Abundance. That is my key word of 2014. 


Like many solopreneurs, small studios and businesses, I’ve gone through difficult financial times, even hitting rock bottom a couple of times in the span of my freelance years. Have you ever wondered why this vicious cycle of feast or famine continues? Why we never learn our lesson? Until recently, I had no idea.

During my last dark period of hitting the deepest rock bottom ever, I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with a creative business coach, RaShelle Roberts. I cannot say enough good things about her and what she has done for me personally, and for my business. But that’s not what I am writing about here. You can call me and I will happily rave about RaShelle to you.

The first couple of months with RaShelle was internal work, digging deep by writing in a journal and reading recommended books. The word abundance kept showing up in my writings and readings. I was never taught how to handle money in abundance, but I definitely knew the lack of. I desperately wanted abundance in my life but never knew how to make it stick. It came, and then went as quickly as it came. I felt like I had no control over my life.

My cousin recommended one book that I read, The Emotion Behind Money. Talk about digging deep. I couldn’t go very far without breaking down. I had to read it a little at a time, there was so much to uncover about my past and why that affected my present.

Here’s what I learned: Your past is your present unless you change it. There are two factors that determine financial success: how you process your emotions and how you create harmony or balance in your life. Whatever is at the center of your world creates a powerful force behind every decision you make. We tend to let money dictate our lives and be at the center, whether you don’t have enough or you have more than enough. The author says to direct your attention away from money and focus on inner wealth instead.

What is inner wealth? It’s the part of you that contains your conscience, values, core beliefs, your spiritual DNA. It affects your work, family, personal and financial life–the trick is to balance these four areas of your life harmoniously. When you know who you are, what you want to be and put that into practical actions, you can live your dreams and the money will flow. Faith into action.

The events and dramas of your personal life can trickle into your financial life. This blew me away. I never put the two together. My thoughts ruled my emotions and my emotions ruled my behavior, which in turn created my past, which affected my present. Our parents are the biggest influence on our emotions as adults. The way mine handled money, argued over it, the consequences, the lack of embedded itself into my core. I may have recreated my family financial history.

Life is about choices, and the life you live is your choice. We do have a voice in our financial future. When you understand your very core, it gives you power. We need to set intentions to build wealth. Your energy flows where your energy goes. I never forget what RaShelle quoted to me several times, What your resist persists, what you focus on grows. So true! Money is an extension of our self value and love for ourselves. If we don’t value and love ourselves, it reflects out into the world.

Open yourself to abundance!

I have; and while I may not be making millions, I am thriving…I’m happier than I have been in a long time. I know who I really am, I know my vision for dezinegirl creative studio. I am putting my faith into action. And I have learned many lessons…for this I am forever grateful.

What the Font?

Most of my clients understand good typography design, which is nice for me. But, there is a small handful that do not, and I need to fill them in on correct typography usage. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect my clients to know proper kerning or leading [or known as vertical spacing these days], or even the difference between a font and typeface.

And then there are the emerging graphic designers that haven’t had enough experience with typography to understand the do’s and don’ts—I’ve seen it plenty of times at student portfolio reviews.

Small businesses or solopreneurs don’t have the luxury of time to learn how to pretty typography, if they can’t afford to outsource to professionals. However, they should at least know about the hierarchy in the presentation of fonts.

I’ve created this simple typography guide [with a touch of humor] just for them and the former in an infographic here below, and PowerPoint slides on SlideShare. I’m a true advocate for good design and good typography, and I have to admit that it does bug me when it’s done incorrectly, or in bad taste. I’m no design snob, I just have a sixth sense when it comes to refined design.



A quick and helpful guide for professional typography usage.

A quick and helpful guide for professional typography usage.