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I did it!

It’s my last day at Brokaw as an intern and the time seriously flew by! I jumped the gun a tad and wrote a “wrapping-up” post last week about how amazing my time here was (check it out), so this week I’m just going to recap one of my favorite experiences of the week.

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to head to BurkleHagen’s downtown studio for a food shoot! Their space is seriously so amazing—It’s the perfect dream apartment space with a great view of the city, and it’s decorated flawlessly:

FullSizeRender-5  FullSizeRender-7 FullSizeRender-6 FullSizeRender_2

Brokaw teamed up with BurkleHagen to do some food photography for a BBQ joint. I was a little amazed that It took all day (8:30-6:30) to get 5 shots in! It’s crazy how much fuss is made over the perfect angle of a piece of chicken, the right amount of glisten on a bbq sauce-drenched piece of brisket or a drip of cheese down the side of a ramekin of macaroni.

But that’s the kind of stuff that makes creatives so great. We have that eye for the perfect shot. We can spot the little details that a normal restaurant-goer can’t.

I loved being a part of the shoot because this environment wasn’t one that I have ever stepped foot in. I always dabbled in photography and wished that I had spent more time behind the camera while I was in school, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out that much because of opportunities like this that designers get to help out on. Gabes and Mike (an awesome designer and an amazing designer/digital guru combo) were the lead creatives on this shoot and it was so great to watch them intently staring at every detail. I learned a lot from them as well as from Andrew Burkle on the shoot.

My favorite part of the day was getting to leave my mark (in bbq sauce) in a social image:


Thanks a ton for having me, BurkleHagen!

To Brokaw,

Thank you, again, for giving me the incredible 10-week opportunity to immerse myself in everything you do. I’ve enjoyed every day of my time here, and I am so grateful that you took a chance on me. To everyone that mentored me (Steve, Mike, Holly) and especially to Tim and Gregg, thank you.

I’ll be back, Brokaw.


Today marks the end of week nine at Brokaw and I think it’s time to share a little update of all the projects (that I can remember) I’ve had my hands in for the last nine weeks:

  • Designs and animations of digital banner ads for 4 businesses
  • Learned Flash
  • Co-designing the annual AAF CLE Volleyball flyer with my other half here at Brokaw, the insanely-talented Dan
  • Redrawing some old logos for a video
  • Mocking up some awesome POS displays
  • Designs for posters and other launch materials for a well-know Cleveland brand
  • Brainstormed a lot of ideas for multiple clients needing help with names for new products and places
  • Designed a billboard
  • Began to teach myself a new coding language
  • Helped out with creating some fun visual riddles for a scavenger hunt
  • Put together a few decks for pitch meetings
  • Designed a website refresh for a new client
  • Helped develop the branding identity of a new business
  • Worked on designs for a huge annual report presentation
  • Came up with some visuals for a tv spot pitch


Basically, these last nine weeks have been a whirlwind of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, learning new things, and never having any down time at work and I am so grateful for that! Brokaw has exceeded my expectations of what an “intern” is supposed to be. I never thought that I would be doing actual client work my first day on the job. I never expected to be valued as a full member of a creative team. I never imagined to get so much knowledge and industry experience out of such a short time here while having an absolute blast.

But I did. And it rocked.

I took a leap of faith when I turned down a few full-time job offers to test out the waters at Brokaw with an internship. It was the best leap I’ve ever taken. I expected to sit in on some meetings, help out with some small designs, get coffee when needed, and learn a little about agency life, even though I didn’t really expect to like the commercial advertising world.

What I actually gained was a love for agency life. As I interviewed my coworkers, I’ve heard people who love the business and people who warned me to get out of it while I still can. But I can’t. Now that I’ve had a taste of what goes on from day-to-day in an agency, I won’t turn back. I love the constant flux of clients. I love being able to work on six different brands in one day. I love working in an atmosphere where I’m surrounded by some of the most creative, intelligent, and incredibly big-hearted people in Cleveland. These brilliant misfits have become the people I look up to most right now as a young creative.

So thank you, everyone, for teaching me, challenging me, and allowing me to grow so much in ten short weeks. I owe you one.

When the half way point of the internship came around three weeks ago, the other broterns and I joked that “it’s all downhill from here.” But now I realize that it’s not. It’s actually the opposite. It’s time to take everything I learned and use it to find my path into the agency world, wherever that may lead me. It’s going to be a constant climb. I’ll never stop learning, growing, changing, failing, and trudging forward.

I can leave this internship and know that I’ve spent the best ten weeks of my post-grad career at the greatest agency in the world (not just according to their moms) and with the best supervisors I could have ever asked for. You’re seriously the best, Steve and Mike!

So thanks, Brokaw. Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m so excited for next years’ broterns to take on this crazy, amazing place.

Til next week,


It’s no coincidence that a band called The Who wrote a song called “Who are you?” Or maybe it is. We don’t know. But we do know this: your brand identity system—logo design, style guide, brand architecture, etc.—must be ruthlessly carved out of purpose. There should be a reason behind every aspect of your identity. The color. The font. The mark. Otherwise, your audience will be as confused about your brand as we are about classic rock.

—Brokaw, Inc.

What can I say, they understand! One of my favorite things about Brokaw is that the creatives here really have a handle on how to establish a brand. Whether it’s a witty restaurant or a beautiful, historic cemetery, this insanely talented team cuts right through all the blah blah that may cloud a brand’s identity and they transform it into a well-crafted and clear personality that is bound to connect with their target market. They just get it.

As a designer, I have always loved the expert-level sudoku puzzle that is brand identity work. The research it takes to find out hidden bits of information and history, the sketching and transformation of marks, the hunt for the perfect typeface that not only tells a story but also truly speaks to a brand’s personality. It’s one of the reasons I became a designer: I love the challenge.

I’m now in the eighth week of my Broternship and I’ve gotten the amazing opportunity to be a part of the team that takes a client through the identity design process. We’ve researched other business competitors in the area, brainstormed potential names, established what the brand will feel like and provide their customers, and we’re now in the stage of establishing the “look” of the company. It’s so exciting to have my own sketches considered for an actual place that’s actually opening in Cleveland soon!

As I’m designing, I love to look for design inspiration from sites like Pinterest and Behance. Here are a few of my favorite branding suites that I’ve gathered to my collection:

Follow the Rabbit

RabbitsHole_01 RabbitsHole_02 RabbitsHole_03 RabbitsHole_04


Verde_01 Verde_02 Verde_03 Verde_04


HoneyWood_01 HoneyWood_02 HoneyWood_03 HoneyWood_04

My final words on branding:

Great branding isn’t just slapping your logo on a few pieces and calling it a day. Making a system work together well enough to tell the story of a brand is hard work, but if you get it right it’s magical.

Stay beautiful,


By this point, everyone probably knows that I love using social media sites. I’m always one to Instagram a photo from an event I attended, tweet about a cool design article, or announce a new job to my family and friends via Facebook. Social media has really changed the way the world communicates, and although some choose to use it for evil instead of for good, I think that the emergence of social media has had some extremely beneficial payoffs. This post will be the other side of Dan’s social media debate:

On a personal level, social media has given me a channel through which to explore things I could never have been exposed to if I was living decades earlier. With a quick search or click of a hashtag, I can find photos, thoughts and opinions of people who live anywhere in the world. People who aren’t “famous.” People who are like me, in every culture or state of wealth. I appreciate hearing the views and seeing the lavish lives of certain celebrities, but sometimes the most meaningful thoughts can come from a ten year old working to make the lives of childhood cancer patients more fun. Sometimes I can find incredible design inspiration from a 22-year-old just like me exploring the world during a semester abroad. Social media has given me a lens through which I can explore the world and meet incredible people, even though I may not have the means to physically explore it on my own.

On a social level, social media gives me the opportunity to engage and catch up with family and friends who I don’t always get to see very much. I’m not the kind of person to accept friend requests from people I don’t know or acquaintances I talked to once or twice in high school. Dan, I’m going to fight back a little here and say that I love to see bits and pieces of my loved ones’ lives—and they love to see mine as well! These small snippets of life they capture via Facebook or Instagram spark endless conversations and catching-up when we do get to see one another, not leave nothing new to talk about at reunions or the dinner table.

On a big-picture level, social media has proven a huge change agent in topics that shape America and the rest of the world. It sparks conversation, feeds debates, and helps to educate people on all sides of arguments the world faces. For example, Apple recently announced it’s new, Spotify-like streaming music service with a free three-month trial. Apple was not going to pay artists, writers or producers during these three months, which many of them cannot afford if they are just starting out in the music industry. In an open letter to Apple via the star’s tumblr site, Taylor Swift changed all of this. Taylor tweeted the link to her letter and not long after, Eddy Cue from Apple responded positively. The singer single-handedly helped thousands of artists and music industry professions alike by giving them back the opportunity to receive the pay they are entitled to just by sharing her opinion with the world. 

Social media is a powerful tool.

Tweet wisely, friends.


It’s almost Independence Day and I’m feeling very patriotic and proud to be a resident of the good ol’ USA these days. ‘MERICA!

Our country has an infinite wealth of history that was crammed into those ridiculously heavy textbooks about wars, rights and presidents that we trekked through our high school hallways lugging around. From my own high school days (Shoutout to Trinity) I can remember chucking all my textbooks in the bottom of my locker, allowing their pages to be folded and torn and spilling coffee and chocolate chip cookie crumbs all over them. Hey, I didn’t care if they fell apart, I barely looked at them anyways…but still somehow managed to appear on the honor roll every semester. What I didn’t know in high school was that I had it easy getting my books for free. In college, textbooks = financial downfall.

I’ve rented, purchased and re-sold countless philosophy and english books, but the ones I’ve held onto were always design-focused. Somewhere along the lines of charging my way through design school, I developed a love for books. Not on their content, but their form.

I believe that books hold a certain power that the internet and digital things can never posses. They’re permanent. They can’t be erased when the server they are hosted on fails. They can’t disappear when you forget to charge your iPad. They exist. They were painstakingly crafted. Their paper was carefully selected. Their words used to be (and sometimes still are) hand-set into a printing press from drawers upon drawers of metal type of all fonts and point sizes. It really is a beautiful process. You should try it if you haven’t already.

One of my favorite things about books is their bindings. You can tell a lot about a book by its binding: how old it is, how often it has been read, how carefully it was crafted, etc. What excites me most is finding a great old book with a hand-stitched binding. I can’t believe some of the binds that people can come up with! I mean c’mon, look how beautiful:

Japanese StabJapanese Stab_2

When I designed a catalogue for a rare book collector, I had the opportunity to visit his home library and casually flip through thousands of rare books and first-editions. One of my favorites was this first century Magna Carta. It was falling apart but I was so transfixed by the binding:

image2I was inspired to try some bindings of my own, so did a pretty cool twig-bind:


Final Words on Books:

Books are important. Don’t take them for granted. Sometimes you need to step away from the screen, find a tree to sit at the base of, and bury your nose in a few hundred pages.

Stay authentic.


This week, I finally stepped up and brought some color to my desk space by bringing in some of my favorite things, like giant gold ampersands, cat head mugs and bowls of skittles (stop by my desk if you’re in need of something sweet!). I’m feeling much more at home surrounded by some inspiration and color, which is good because I’ve been doing some print design work this week (don’t worry, the pile of job jackets on my desk for digital projects is still growing)! I’m really liking the fact that I get to switch my focus between print and digital design so often because it keeps me super involved in what’s going on in both worlds of design.

Anyways, I think I finally got the urge to decorate my desk because my brain (and my Pinterest board) these days is filled with paint color swatches and interior design ideas. Why you may ask? Because I get to paint my bedroom at home this weekend! As much as I love color, my current living situation of four different colored pastel walls (ugh. Thanks, childhood Emily) is in need of a major upgrade. After much deliberation (I’m extremely indecisive), I decided on a simple cool grey for my walls:

Nice, right?

I thought so. Since I’ve been out of my comfort zone so much at Brokaw (and loving it!) I also decided to take the plunge and try something a little daring:

I’m going to attempt to paint this pattern on one wall to add a little bit of something interesting to the space. Don’t worry I’m not even going to try and say I can freehand this thing. Nuh uh. No way. Instead, I got a pretty cool stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils. Check them out, they’ve got a lot of cool stuff!

I found the company via Pinterest, one of my absolute, all-time favorite sites to hit the internet. It’s my go-to for any time that I’m feeling like I need some inspiration, design ideas or even a good laugh! It’s not a new thing (with a debut in August 2010), but its a great thing. An oldie but a goodie. If you aren’t on Pinterest, I highly suggest you hop on the bandwagon. It’s a goldmine for inspiration! The dude who founded it abandoned his path to become a doctor and started this thing during the recession. It’s pretty remarkable how quickly the site grew to 78.2 million (that’s how many people use the site today)!

So, thanks, Pinterest. I love you. Seriously.

We’ll see if this whole painting thing pans out. Stay tuned next week to see the before and after images!

Happy Friday,


Today I read an article from about why it’s so important for brands to reinvent themselves in the age we live in today. A quote from the piece really stood out to me and made me think about who I am as both a person and a brand:

Agile brands have a few key characteristics: they are adaptable and seek out opportunity, they are clear about their principles and able to collaborate with their market, they are multi-platform and active rather than reactive, and, finally, they are outward looking and aware of global influences.

As a young graphic designer wading into the waters of the professional design world, I thought it was the perfect time to reflect on the things I’ve learned so far at Brokaw and decide how I want to use those things to shape who I am as a designer in the real world as well as in the next seven weeks here at Brokaw.

Adaptability: Give me your projects!

One of my favorite things about Brokaw is that on my very first day I was thrown into some pretty amazing projects. I came into this shindig as both a Jr. Art Direction and an Interactive Design intern, but I haven’t had a ton of interactive experience. I did however have an incredible interest in learning more about that side of design since I took a few web design classes in college and loved them! Steve and Mike apparently heard my interest in the stuff and I’m actually doing a lot of digital work! I taught myself Flash in two days, which is kind of crazy but insanely awesome to know. Moral of the story: I adapted. I’m 1,000% willing and ready to try anything new here, and I want to get my hands in every part of agency life as I can while I’m here because I am absolutely loving it so far!

Collaboration: Emails and brainstorms and spiral staircases, oh my!

Another huge aspect of agency life, collaboration, is such a giant part of why I love it here so much. The people at Brokaw make collaborating super fun and insightful because everyone here has the COOLEST ideas in their brains! They’re also always willing to offer advice and feedback on anything I may have questions about. I love working in a team-centered office, and at Brokaw, I have the best team to bounce ideas off of. Work doesn’t feel like work with these guys around!

Aware + Active: Cool sites and Brotern Breakdowns!

Along with the amazing people I get to work with comes amazing inspiration. My favorite thing is when I open my inbox to see emails from people who found amazing sites (like this one, thanks Mike!) and other crazy, weird or controversial articles and videos. I’m an internet + social media junkie (I admit it), and I love to see what everyone’s talking about, whether it’s design-related or not. One of the reasons I love design so much is because it allows me to tell the story of a product (or place or idea or whatever) through a visual outlet. I’m the kind of person who isn’t going to understand advanced calculus or how Milankovich cycles affected the Ice Age on Earth (I did a project on it) by reading textbooks or historical articles, but show it to me through a beautifully thought-out design, and I’ll be the next expert on the subject. Putting thoughts into a physical, visual thing to look at and interpret is my way of teaching others about the world through the language of design, and when I come across sites or records of other designers kicking butt on stuff like that, it’s a great reminder of why I love what I do so much. Design ROCKS. Shout out to Brokaw for being the most aware and active people in the game.

To sum it all up, I can feel myself being “reinvented.” I’m soaking up all of this inspiration around me every day and using it to be a better designer. I’m learning the ins and outs of agency life, and I think that Brokaw is the perfect place to break away from the “traditional model” of myself and become someone who’s flexible, adaptive, collaborative, aware, and forward-thinking.

Til next time,


We’re a little slow on the blog posting, but hey, that’s because we’re so busy diving into projects!

Fast Facts and Emily-isms:

  1. I graduated with my BFA in Visual Communication Design from the University of Dayton (Go Flyers!).
  2. I’m a social media junkie: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, the works.
  3. I’m a cat lover, so send any cute kitten pics my way.
  4. I know the words to every Taylor Swift song ever recorded. Some say it’s an unhealthy obsession. I think It’s fine. The 1989 Tour last week was the best night EVER (okay, I’m done).

Things I learned / accomplished / have been doing so far at Brokaw:

  1. The space is AMAZING.
  2. The people are even more amazing.
  3. Who knew people actually have desks that allow them to stand while working? So cool.
  4. I taught myself Flash in two days via videos.
  5. I thought the bicycle bell would get old after a while, but it’s pretty entertaining (I also really enjoy ringing it).
  6. Today I was introduced to the storage closet where creative lived during the remodel. And the basement where old Broterns get locked up. Woah. Not trying to end up there.
  7. I got to see a finished bus wrap.
  8. Breakfast Fridays rock.
  9. Constantino’s Market is a fantastic lunch spot.
  10. I’m absolutely loving the ad agency life, and I’m so excited to see what the next eight weeks have in store for me!

Until next week,