YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017

Did this year feel like it went by really fast to anyone else? I sat down to write this and literally could not remember anything that happened in the last 12 months because it’s a total blur. Going to try my best to dig deep and come up with my top 10 accomplishments/personal excitements though, so buckle up:

First: I wrote and self-published a children’s alphabet book, The Modern Alphabet! This was a bucket-list item for me and I still can’t believe that people are buying it (P.S. you can get a copy right here). I’m hoping to publish a second, more story based book in 2018, so keep an eye out!

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2. I completed one of my favorite projects to date, a series of illustrated posters inspired by live music venues in and around Los Angeles. They were originally created as table cards for a wedding, but you can now purchase them as prints right here.

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3. I entered a  contest to design the new flag for the city of Manchester, NH (my hometown) and sort of won? It’s a long story but the contest ended up being semi-sabotaged by the former mayor and ultimately there was no winner. However, of the hundreds of entries, three finalists were selected and I was one of them. And of the three finalists, my design got the most votes! I’m going to go ahead and count that as a win.

Finalist in the Competition

4. We made some major strides with Ruby’s (our dog’s) behavioral issues and I could not feel more proud about it. She was diagnosed with anxiety and we’ve worked really hard to help make her life as stress-free and incident-free as possible. You can read more about that here.

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5. I got to work with some really incredible people and businesses, old and new! I took a part-time job with Anne Robin Calligraphy, continued working for Hole Punch Design, designed fabric patterns for Remie Girl (which SOLD OUT!), helped Boondock Sports with their new branding materials, worked on another sweepstakes campaign for Joie de Vivre Hotels, contributed to a book that’s being released by The Crafted Life in May (you can pre-order it now right here!), and even made some custom luggage tags for Sandals Resorts.

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(Above: An invitation suite I helped create for Anne Robin Calligraphy. Photo and calligraphy by Anne Robin.)

Photo by Remie Girl

(Above: The Remie Pocket Dress in the Peony Print I designed. Photo by Remie Girl.)

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(Above: One of the campaign assets created for Joie de Vivre Hotels’ Sip of Summer sweepstakes.)

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(Above: An illustrated printable created for The Crafted Life. Photo by The Crafted Life.)

6. I completed a series called #30IllustratedAnimals on Instagram, and drew one pet/animal each day for 30 days. Because of the success and popularity of the series, I made custom pet portraits available  for sale in my Etsy shop.

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7. A wave of inspiration hit me mid-year, and I revived my card line with a bunch of new designs! I’m still working on finishing a few, and have about a billion ideas for more stashed in my phone so plan on this continuing into 2018.

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8. I completely sold out of my rose pins from last year, so I designed a new floral pin to add to the collection:

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9. One of my goals last year was to design more products and home decor items. To accomplish this, I opened my Society6 shop and have listed a ton of monogram pillows, clocks, and throw blankets. My favorite piece? This blanket  that I designed specifically for our new guest room:

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10. Speaking of our new guest room…WE MOVED! Selling one house while simultaneously buying, renovating, and decorating a new one was easily the biggest part of my 2017. We started looking at places in early August, moved at the end of October, and are only JUST NOW feeling mostly settled into the new place. We ended up with a house that is more than the double the size of our old one, and because of that I now have my very own home office! It should be fully functioning by the end of January-ish, and I’m hoping that having a dedicated workspace all to myself will make a big difference in productivity and creativity.

We did a “before” walkthrough on Instagram back in October and I think we’re juuuuuust about ready to show you the “after.” Follow me @roymeister to see the results! A couple peeks below (before on the left, after on the right):

My office:

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Master bedroom:

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Guest bedroom:

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We’re off to spend a week in Napa + San Francisco with my family, so I’m signing off until January. See you next year!

M

 

 

 

 

A BIRTHDAY ROAD TRIP

In 2007, the movie Into the Wild was released and became an instant favorite of mine. It was the first place I ever saw Salvation Mountain: a giant, colorful, sculpture-like work of folk art in the middle of the desert. I’ve been trying to see it in person ever since, but the timing hasn’t quite worked out. Until now!

We spent my birthday driving out to the mountain, taking in the totally surreal, slightly absurd beauty of it, and then making the trek home. Ruby came too! Despite the awful weather (100 + degrees), we had a very successful outing that resulted in the photos below and a sleepy puppy who snored on my lap the entire drive home.

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Selfie game, strong.

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Obviously there is a lot of religious imagery here, and I’m not a terribly religious person. What I like about Salvation Mountain is the message of love. For Leonard Knight (the man who spent years building the mountain out of adobe clay, straw, and lead free paint) the idea of spreading love and beauty is tied very closely to God, but for me it was more about experiencing the creative spirit of the place, rather than the religious spirit.

Huge thanks to other M for making the trek, putting up with me all weekend, and helping me FINALLY cross this trip off my bucket list!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUBY (YEAR 3)

It honestly feels like we’ve been living as a threesome forever, but the calendar says it’s only been 3 years so I guess we’ll go with that.

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Every year on Ruby’s birthday/adoption day, I take a moment to acknowledge how important animal rescue is to me. It literally changed my life and it changed Ruby’s too. This year especially, we kept hearing the same thing from friends and family:

“She’s a different dog.”

“She’s so calm and happy.”

“She looks really healthy and young.”

I cannot emphasize enough how good it feels to watch her blossom every day. To know that we took in a lost, fearful little dog and helped her make the face below on a daily basis. You can read more about Ruby’s adoption story here and here.

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This was our toughest, most confusing, and most rewarding year yet.

Ruby has always had a little trouble in social situations. She does ok with small dogs, but is usually reactive towards larger dogs and she has a hard time with new people, especially with new people who make direct eye contact. She hates the mailman, and she doesn’t tolerate guests in our house or on our property. She goes straight into defense mode – howls, barks, growls, lunges, you name it. But she has always been sweet, silly, and loving with the two of us. With one exception.

She is EXTREMELY reactive when she falls asleep. If we accidentally brush against the blanket she’s sleeping on, it scares her so much she goes from passed out to full aggressive rage in the blink of an eye. For a long time, we just avoided touching her or being near her if she was resting, but it was difficult because she is so affectionate with us, and we don’t want to deny her affection if she’s asking for it. She WANTS to come sleep next to you, she WANTS to snuggle up under the covers with you.

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This issue has been getting progressively more serious and more stressful over the last couple years. It eventually reached the point where, after coming up to snuggle in bed, she snapped at me while I was still half asleep, started yanking on a mouthful of my hair, and left several scratch marks on my neck and ears. I called my mom sobbing after that morning because I was so afraid that the only solution was going to be to put her down. But something inside me said that wasn’t the answer.

I want to be very clear: 95% of the time, Ruby is exactly like every other sweet, well behaved, playful dog. She loves to go for walks, learn new tricks, and is incredibly smart and expressive. Other people don’t get to see that side of her because she can’t be around them. If friends are at the house we put her in the bedroom to avoid conflict and keep her stress levels down, and she can’t handle being in crowded public spaces like restaurants or parties. It’s really upsetting for me to think about the animated little beagle that I know and love, and to realize that other people don’t know that side of her exists. I want to make sure I’m not portraying her as a monster. She is an absolute delight who has a couple issues to work on, and I love her more than anything in the world.

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We had worked with a trainer during our first year together and contacted her for some advice. She thought we might benefit from seeing an animal behaviorist, and passed along the contact info for the VCA in West Los Angeles.

An animal behaviorist is essentially a psychiatrist for pets. They study the behavior of animals and diagnose and treat behavior problems with modification training, lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination. I know, it sounds silly to take your dog to see a psychiatrist and I was feeling a little skeptical in the beginning, but I had also run out of other options.

For those of you who have never been to a behaviorist, let me break down our visit for you:

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At this point, all we felt was relief. We had been concerned about territorial aggression and other scenarios where we just didn’t know what the outcome would be. An anxiety diagnosis was the last thing we were expecting, but it made perfect sense once they explained why. From there, we were given a number of handouts outlining different behavior modification training techniques, and we spent a little time practicing them in the room with the doctors.

They also recommended that Ruby start taking fluoxetine, which is the equivalent of a Prozac type medication. People have lots of different opinions about medicating for mental health, but we decided to give it a try. The doctors explained to us that the medication was really a tool used to supplement the behavior training – it would help Ruby relax and keep her from going to a place of extreme anxiety while we showed her other, better ways to respond to situations that make her uncomfortable. They even said that some dogs start by taking the medication and are eventually weened off it because they don’t need it anymore.

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Before we went to see the behaviorist, I kept a log in my phone of every time we had an “incident” with Ruby. I detailed the time of day, what happened just before and after, and any other details I could think to add. We were averaging 1 to 2 incidents per month. Since leaving the VCA that day, we have had ZERO incidents. IT’S BEEN 9 MONTHS.

Maybe the most important thing we left the VCA with was a better understanding of our own dog. Now, when I see her exhibiting certain behaviors, I know she’s feeling anxious and I have the tools to help her relax. Whether that means asking her to go lie down, focus on me, or just removing her from the situation entirely. I think she can feel that understanding too, she knows we’re making an effort to keep her safe and happy and because of that, she feels more at ease. It’s a circle of good vibes, you guys.

There is a stigma about rescue dogs that I think keeps a lot of people from adopting them. The idea that they’re “damaged goods,” or “have issues.” My response to that is: I have one of those dogs that you’re afraid of. I let her into my home, made a sincere effort to understand her, and have done everything I possibly could to help her succeed. And guess what? She IS succeeding. With a little effort, she is living the same happy, healthy life that your dog is.

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If you have a pet who is exhibiting some of the behaviors I’ve described and want someone to talk to, please get in touch with me (click contact above)! I know how stressful it is and I’d be happy to chat, offer advice, or put you in touch with the trainers and behaviorists we saw. Just please don’t give up on your pet. In all likelihood, this is the moment when they need you the most.

So happy birthday to Ruby, the best part of my day, everyday.

PRINTABLE VACATION ART FOR LOVELY INDEED

Chelsea at Lovely Indeed asked me to help with a really fun project – drawing her dream cruise destination!

She picked Capri and the Amalfi coast, and this is what I came up with:

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Zz05MGE3MGYwMGIzMTdmMDE0MGYyZWNlOTk5MDg3NDUwNg==

(bottom photo by Lovely Indeed)

Where would you go on a dream cruise? See the full post and download this printable vacation art here!

THE MODERN ALPHABET

Authoring a children’s book has been a LONG harbored dream of mine, and I’m ecstatic to share that I can finally say it: I’m an author!

This is exactly the kind of alphabet book I would have been completely obsessed with as a child. I wanted to make something that was visually exciting and would appeal to kids, but that would also provide a bit of a challenge. The words inside are written in both print and script – making this a book that can grow with your child as they learn to read and write. Some of the words are simple (two, or three letters long) while others may be more difficult.

This book is for the future creators, designers, and artists of the world. If you want to infuse your child’s education with a little creative flair, this is the book for you. It would also make a great gift for friends who are expecting, or nieces and nephews if you don’t have kids of your own! No matter what though, it’s only for the coolest babies in the world. So gift accordingly.

Hopefully this is the first of many books to come! It is currently available for purchase through Blurb, Amazon, and BarnesAndNoble.com

MANCHESTER WAVES FLAG CONTEST

Manchester, NH, the city I grew up in (sort of…it’s a long story but my family home has a Manchester mailing address despite actually being located in another town), announced that it would be holding a contest to redesign the city’s flag a few months ago. Naturally, I submitted about 1,000 entries. How cool would it be to say you designed your hometown’s flag!?

Turns out that it paid off, because I received word this week that one (of my 10 billion entries) was selected as a finalist and will be voted on by the people of Manchester in their November election! DO YOU LIVE IN MANCHESTER? YOU BETTER VOTE FOR ME. Just kidding, the other designs are actually pretty great. But consider this: wouldn’t you like to say you know the person who designed the city flag? I thought so.

There are 3 finalists out of 288 total submissions. This one is my entry and you should watch for it on the November ballot:

Finalist in the Competition

It’s got the blue and yellow of the NH state flag and a crown for the city’s nickname (Queen City).

A second submission of mine got an honorable mention:

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That’s the actual city grid in the background, with another crown (for “Queen City”) that creates an “M” in the middle for Manchester (or Megan!). I probably prefer this one because it’s a little more fun, but I’ll take what I can get!

And, perhaps the most exciting part of all of this, I have now been featured in the local paper: The Union Leader. Read their full story on the contest and don’t forget to VOTE in November!

VENUES IN COLOR

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen some of the photos and videos from the wedding we attended on Friday. I LOVE all weddings, but I’ll admit I was extra excited for this one because I got to contribute in a really fun way.

Our friends Mary and Mike (the newlyweds!) asked me to create 17 custom illustrations to be used as table cards at the reception. They each feature a different music venue in the Los Angeles area where they’ve seen a show together (what a fun idea, right?). When we started working on them, the only direction they gave me was “think strong lines and fun colors! We’d love for you to be creative.”

This is one of my favorite projects to date – it all came together so effortlessly, and I genuinely enjoyed creating every single piece (thanks Mary and Mike!). Now I get to share it with you! I’ll be posting some more images on Instagram over the next couple weeks under the hashtag #VenuesInColor, follow along @roymeister if you’d like to see!

In addition to just showing you what we put together, I’ve also made every print in this series available as a poster in my brand new Society6 shop. You can see and purchase them all right here.

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And here are a few quick photos I snapped at the wedding!

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Which one is your favorite? Have you ever been to a show at any of these venues? Let me know!

And don’t forget to shop them all, here!

WORDS COLLECTION

My new Words Collection is finally here! I’ve been working on this collection for a few weeks, searching for phrases that were fun, different, and that I would want to carry around on the back of my phone. I’ve added a little flair to each phrase by using icon cut-outs so you get a peek of the phone beneath the case! (Wouldn’t that be especially fun if you got a glitter case!?)

The collection has cases for travelers, emoji fanatics, moms, dog lovers, cat lovers, girl bosses, waffle aficionados, and more! See for yourself below, and shop the entire collection right here! Hope you’re as pumped about it as I am!

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