Design Ranch 2015

Little sketches of each project I completed (or almost completed) while at Design Ranch

Little sketches of each project I completed (or almost completed) while at Design Ranch

Camp Waldemar is typically an all-girls summer camp but for four days, every other year, the creative and rowdy attendees of Design Ranch call it home. Instead of lectures, this unconventional conference is comprised of intimate workshops taught by creative professionals. The whole point of the event is to step away from your computer and revive your creative spirit while making things by hand. And the best part: no wifi or cell reception. Only good food, drinks, nature, and new friends to inspire you.

Lumiere tintype photographs of Lin Zagoriski, Ryan Considine, and myself

Lumiere tintype photographs of Lin Zagoriski, Ryan Considine, and myself

The conference only allows 150 people to attend and this year tickets sold out in a single day! Thanks to Mutual Mobile, I nabbed a ticket along with my co-workers Lin Zagorski (good friend and talented illustrator) and Ryan Considine (my nerdy other half). Together we drove 2.5 hours west of Austin to experience Design Ranch. We bunked (and I mean summer-camp-bunk-bed-style) in a cabin with illustrator Kevin Rathge and his lovely photographer wife, Roxanne.

When we weren’t attending the amazing workshops we were walking around the beautiful Camp Waldemar sipping on espresso made by Flat Track Coffee or enjoying a local beer from the Austin Beerworks brewery. My favorite Design Ranch experience: being woken up by a bugle alerting everyone that breakfast was ready in the main hall. Design Ranch was design heaven!


Each workshop was an hour and half to three hours long. I participated in 6 over the course of three days:

  • I branded and painted bird houses with Helms Workshop
  • Carved my own gravestone from wood with Bryn Perrott
  • Painted and screen printed on a skate board deck with the two guys from Morning Breath
  • Shot and developed my own tintype photograph with Lumiere (if you live in Austin, you have to check these guys out!)
  • Drew type on reclaimed wood canvases with Bobby Dixon and Brian Phillips
  • Made my own fields notes with non other that Mr. Aaron Draplin himself!

I was completely overwhelmed with the good vibes emanating from every single attendee. It was so easy to walk up to anyone, including the amazing workshop leaders, introduce yourself and end a conversation with a new friend. Design Ranch reminded me that it’s important to play, even as an adult. It was a breath of fresh air to be immersed in such a strong, encouraging community. Thanks to the Austin chapter of AIGA for organizing this event. It’s a big undertaking and the thought that goes into it shows in the quality of the event. I’m already missing Design Ranch and day dreaming about 2017.


Favorite iPad Games Part 1

The holidays are a particularly great time for iPad games, whether it’s to pass the time on a flight or long car ride, or just to get away from the holiday commotion. The following are a few of my favorites. Stay tuned for part 2!

Sketch of World of Goo by Chloe Yingst |

World of Goo

World of Goo was originally made for the Wii but now is available to play on your iPad for $4.99. It is a physics based puzzle game in which you construct towers, bridges, and other structures using balls of goo. The story is told through sign posts encountered on each level left by a mysterious character known as the sign painter. The object of the game is to get a specific number of the goo balls into a pipe at the end of the level by creating the structures across challenging terrain. Got it? Good. There are many different types of goo balls, each have their own unique properties. My favorite is the Ugly Goo Ball, she has a lovely, hairy mole. 

Art is © 2D Boy

Sketch of Year Walk by Chloe Yingst |

Year Walk

There are two parts to the Year Walk experience: the $3.99 game, Year Walk, and the free Year Walk Companion for iPhone. Both are enjoyable as their own applications but together they expand the scope (and the magic) of the game. I recommend having the companion app on your iPhone next to you while you play the game on your iPad.

The game follows a vision quest set in the dark woods of 19th century Sweden. You are tasked to solve cryptic puzzles using all of your senses while encountering mythological Scandinavian creatures.

The companion app is a guide to the mythological creatures in the game including the seductive forest guardian, the Huldra, and the deathly Brook Horse who lures people onto his back and promptly leaps into the water to drown them.

The art is wonderful and haunting. I loved every second of playing this game! It definitely creeped me out but the art and the stories ensnared me.

Art is © Simogo

Sketch of Tiny Wings by Chloé Yingst |

Tiny Wings

In this simple and addictive game you are a little bird. All you do is dream of flying but you wings are too tiny! You slide down colorful hills and jump up to fly for short periods of time. You can only fly as long as the sun is up. This lovely little game is only .99¢ in the app store.

Art is © Andreas Illiger

Sketch of favorite iPad games by Chloé Yingst |

Roderick on the Line

I listen to podcasts constantly. They root me to my seat and keep me focused on drawing, painting or designing. They make long car rides fly by. They make working out seem less daunting. Sometimes I like to just slow down for a little while and simply sit, listen, and enjoy them.

Merlin Mann & John Roderick  Photo credits to   Chris Glass   &   Victoria VanBruinisse

Roderick on the Line is one of my favorite podcasts. It is a weekly (mostly) conversation between Merlin Mann (on the left) and John Roderick (on the right).

Merlin Mann is a writer, speaker, and podcaster. He co-hosts several podcasts including Back to Work (in which he speaks about productivity and work life), You Look Nice Today (an improv podcast), and of course, Roderick on the Line.

John Roderick is the lead singer and guitarist for The Lone Winters. He has collaborated with many other bands including Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, and Jonathan Coulton. He lived in Alaska as a kid and has some great stories about traveling in Europe as a young adult.

John and Merlin’s only goal is to help people. They discuss philosophy, politics, Hitler, their kids, music, etc. Their conversations are ridiculous, insightful, educational, often obscene, and definitely worth the listen.

The following are my 3 favorite episodes.

Ep. 25: Supertrain
John shares a story about how we woke up in his tent in a land fill. He also discusses what it was like to grow up in Alaska with a dad who worked with the Alaska Railroad.  The concept of Supertrain is born. 

Ep. 48: Wherever Trail Needs to Be Built
This episode starts off with a discussion about Billy Corgan, dead keyboard players, Herpes, and other music related things. My favorite part of this episode starts about 35 minutes in when John and Merlin discuss what it was like to go to military school. Then they get into a spectacular rant about how 7th and 8th graders are useless people who contribute nothing to society.

Ep. 69: Campfire Spaghetti Party
John shares a story about a campfire spaghetti party in the Czech Republic that involves ketchup, Metallica, and thousands of frogs. John and Merlin discuss what its like to be tracked by a bear, the shoe of Binky the polar bear, painting elephants, and a chimpanzee named Cheetah.

Merlin has his own list of favorite episodes to get you started as well. You can follow Merlin Mann on twitter as @hotdogsladies and John Roderick as @johnroderick.

Photo credits to Chris GlassVictoria VanBruiniss

James Christensen

I fell in love with James Christensen’s work when I was a kid. My Mom had this book of his paintings and I carefully examined each page, discovering every detail of every piece. I even memorized the page numbers that had my favorite paintings on them. I snuck the worn, dogeared book with me to college and have kept it since. I probably owe my Mom a copy!

James Christensen draws inspiration from myths and religions around the world. His visual vocabulary is full of floating fish, checkerboard floors, ships crowded with creatures, and puffy renaissance costumes. Every page of his books are crowded with stories, wisdom, and wit. He had a profound influence on me when I was younger. He can tell a great story with a single image and explain so much in just a few short sentences.

Pick up one of his books (this one or this one). Curl up with a quilt, some hot chocolate (or a nice glass of wine), and spend some time to take in every sketch, painting, and explanation. You’ll be anything but disappointed!

Paintings by James Christensen |