Year in Review — 2016: Thank You

There's so much to say in response to 2016.

This year, I left my full-time job and took that giant leap into the freelance life. This year, I voted in my first presidential election (and was devastated with the results). This year, I got engaged and married (twice!)

It was a year of extreme highs and lows, many new challenges, and incredible personal growth. 

There's so much I want to say, but in hopes of actually starting and finishing a blog post (for the first time in 6 months), I just want to say, Thank You.

Thank you to my friends, family, and clients — old and new — for giving me the courage to go all in, take risks, and make mistakes. Thank you for your patience, kindness, and generosity. The year of freelancing has truly made me realize the importance of community and the veracity of the phrase, "It takes a village." 

In true designer fashion, I wanted to revisit some of my favorite web design projects from 2016. 

From the launch of Vinley Market, an online wine shop built on Shopify, to the redesign and relaunch of Capitol Standard, to our personal wedding website, I designed more websites in 2016 than I ever have in my life and learned soooooooo much along the way.

I don't know what 2017 holds, but 2016 moved my life in the right direction. I feel it in my gut. Lots of unanswered questions and goals clear as mud, but I'm looking forward to designing websites, taking risks, playing with color, and forging new connections with more thought and more heart. Whatever 2017 brings, I know it's going to be far from boring. 

Cheers to the new year and new opportunities.


Just My Type: Abril Fatface - Google Fonts

It's been nearly a year since 100 Days of Fonts. And while I'm in no hurry to take on another 100-day commitment, I know I've only dipped my toe into the world of web type and want more.

In an age where we do all sorts of crazy with the web, I still see so many websites using "safe" fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, and wonder, "Why?"

Go with me here. It's as if you're throwing a party and while you could serve any flavors of ice cream to your guests, you always serve chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Now, there's nothing wrong with those flavors (God knows I love a good strawberry), people wouldn't complain, but wouldn't it be fun to mix it up once in a while? Maybe a watermelon gelato for your summer bbq, a pint of salted caramel for date night, a gallon of heath bar crunch for girl's night? 

The point is, there are so many great web fonts out there, including many free web fonts, each with its own flavor and possibility, yet so many of us seem to default to our own versions of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry fonts with every project. Why? Fear? Convenience? Ignorance? I myself am guilty of this as well (Proxima Nova & Adobe Caslon Pro for me). 

So here I go again. I'm challenging myself to continue to play and showcase free web type and font pairings with a little bit of personality, in hopes that we, including myself, are all inspired to be a bit more adventurous on the web.

This week's Just My Type features Abril Fatface  one of my favorite Google Fonts. 

Abril Fatface is a bold display typeface great for headlines and labels. It adds a punch to a block of copy and pairs well with more subtle serifs and sans serifs.

If Abril Fatface were a person, she'd be my best childhood friend. Comfortable, dependable, with a dash of sass and style. She's always going to be there for you and you know you can rely on her to make the ordinary a bit more special. 

Abril Fatface - Best Free Font to Use on Your Website

Abril Fatface

Foundry: TypeTogether
Characteristics: editorial, modern, bold, quirky, fun
Recommended for: headlines and large labels - the high contrast between the thick and thins of each letterform makes Abril Fatface difficult to read at smaller sizes.

Get Abril Fatface

Price: Free!
Hosted: Google Fonts
Download Font: Font Squirrel

Wedding Wednesday No. 6: The Engagement Photos

This is part of an ongoing Journal series about my thoughts and learnings around planning our wedding. Follow along on my personal instagram for all updates and check back every week for blog entries! 

"How terribly American!" my British co-worker responded when I told her I was thinking about an engagement shoot.

It's true. Engagement photos are about as American wedding as it gets. And they can be painful. You've all seen them, the cheesy photos of couples dressed up, posing with a "shabby chic" D.I.Y. sign announcing the date of their wedding...*cringe* If you are part of a couple I am describing, I apologize. I'm a hater.

Before I was engaged, I thought I could do without engagement photos. They were cliche, corny, but, of course, Bridezilla Do-Hee had other thoughts. The task remained to convince my dear fiance that engagement photos were a good idea.

Long story short: The final "negotiation" went something like this:

"Can we do an engagement photoshoot?"
"I'd rather not."
"But we really need photos of us for our wedding website." 
"Why do we need photos of ourselves on the website?"
*Acknowledging we don't need photos for the website, Do-Hee throws a tantrum*
"If you want to do a shoot, I can't stop you, but you can't expect to get my permission."

That's fair.

3 weeks and a google calendar invite later, we were shooting with dear friend and talented photographer/designer,  Christine.

In the days leading up to the shoot, I sent Christine some inspiration shots (I'm a master of private pinterest boards). I wanted scenes that felt intimate, relaxed, and natural — pictures our future children would look at down the road and remark on our youthful romance. 

Christine did a great job making us amateur models feel comfortable during our shoot around our neighborhood of Noe Valley. Check out a few of my favorites below! 

 I couldn't be more happy with the results.

Now, I'd really like to order some prints. Do any of you have recommendations for where I can get nice non-square prints printed online?


Photography: Christine Choe

Wedding Wednesday No. 4: The Venue

This is part of an ongoing Journal series about my thoughts and learnings around planning our wedding. Follow along on instagram for all updates and check back every week for blog entries! 

I mentioned before that I'm indecisive — I like to investigate all the options before making a decision. And I'm not kidding around. I'll paint a clear picture for you how painfully I make decisions and let you know I have a spreadsheet with 152 venue options in NYC. You read that right. 152. How I thought wedding planning would be a breeze is beyond me...

If it helps, I only emailed about 50 of those venues, and talked on the phone with about 10. 

A few things I was keeping mind when screening the venues: We want to keep the wedding and reception small and intimate with around 50-75 guests, so massive wedding halls were not part of the plan. I liked the idea of an outdoor wedding, but the last thing this anxious chick wanted to do was to worry about weather and temperature. Most importantly, given my unhealthy obsession with this city, I wanted the venue to feel very New York and ideally, very Brooklyn.

Cue "Empire State of Mind."

My search took me from cozy neighborhood restaurants like Chez Moi, to art galleries, to more "mainstream" venues like the Gramercy Park Hotel (their terrace is to die for!). What I learned is that many venues have food & drink spend minimum depending on season and day of week. For a Sunday in October, the food & drink minimums ranged from $8,000 to $35,000 for the venues on my list.

Word of advice to future wedding newbies like me: get married in the winter. You'll literally pay half price the price of a Summer/Fall wedding for many popular venues in the city.

After crossing off top contenders too expensive, too dingy, too small, too big — Josh and I landed on the DUMBO Loft in Brooklyn!

It doesn't get much more Brooklyn than this, does it? Those brick walls, the industrial, roll-up windows, the location. It's not the glitziest of spaces but I can totally see us along with our friends and family on our wedding day in this space. Just right. It didn't hurt that the price was very reasonable for New York standards. Shoutout to Josh's parents for vetting the space in person.

The venue is a raw space which does mean we'll need to bring in our own catering, decor, florist, etc. To be honest, I'm not sure whether I should be excited or nervous about the flexibility given that we're planning our wedding ourselves, but I guess we'll find out in the months to come. Many more decisions to make, but one thing's for sure...

See you Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

Your Bridezilla-in-the-Making,

For more frequent updates about our wedding planning, follow along on instagram!

Photography credit: Corey Torpie, The Dumbo Loft, Khaki Bedford, Henry + Mac