Nela Dunato Art & Design Blog

Illustrated journal page by Nela Dunato

Integrating words and images (my creative journey)

Since I started using sketchbooks in 2006, I alternated between drawing and writing. I occasionally combine the two, but it’s still not completely integrated. It’s like I have a “drawing mode” and a “writing mode”—when I’m using one, the other one is turned off. I want to evolve this part of my practice, so I’m giving myself assignments to integrate words and images. Read more...

Setting goals after a disappointing year

Setting goals after a disappointing year

It’s the time of the year when business owners and bloggers flock to reminisce on their past year, highlight their biggest achievements, and plan for the year ahead. I feel that goal-setting can sometimes create pressure that only makes us feel inadequate, instead of inspired. Read more...

Client journey map workshop

Creative professionals: design your client process

Imagine there was one important thing that you could do that would result in better client satisfaction, higher productivity, attracting more ideal clients, more money, and less stress for you—would you do it? Who wouldn't, right? This magical-sounding method is designing your very own signature client process. In this article I’ll explain why I believe that any creative consultant would benefit from it, and how to get started if you don't have a process yet. Read more...

My logo and brand identity design process

My logo & brand identity design process explained

If you’re preparing for your new logo and brand identity design project, I’m sure you have many questions, especially if you’ve never worked with a designer before. In this article I explain what my brand identity design process looks like, so you can see all the work that goes into it. Read more...

How young designers benefit from volunteering

How young designers benefit from volunteering

I often get asked by young, inexperienced designers how to find their first client. My answer is always: find a cause or a non-profit that aligns with your values and your interests, and offer to volunteer. Unless clients are already seeking you out, you need to put in more hours to improve your skills and build a portfolio that shows what you're capable of. Read more...

Branding is a journey, not a one-off project

Branding is a journey, not a one-off project

A brand is never “perfect”—it’s on a trajectory towards perfection, but it will never reach that point. Of course, being closer to that perceived “perfection” is better than being far away from it, that’s why we even bother doing this work, fully aware that we’re in it for the long haul. Read more...

Creativity in digital isolation

Creativity in digital isolation

“Common sense” marketing advice for creators is to publish something every single day. I know many folks who show up daily or almost daily, and it works for them. It’s an excellent marketing technique if you can pull it off. I’m not doing it, and I don’t think it’s the right way for everyone. I want to talk about the positive side of not having to put on a show every day (or every week, or even every month) if you’re not the kind of person who can or wants to do that. Read more...

Do I need to register a trademark

Do I need to register a trademark with my logo and business name?

Selecting the perfect business name is a difficult process, and there’s nothing more demotivating than learning someone else has already registered your chosen name. Once you’ve found a name that is available and appropriate for your use, it’s a good idea to protect that name (and the logo graphic) so that your company is the only one that can use it. That’s what trademarks are for. Read more...

Creatives have a responsibility towards social justice

Creatives have a responsibility towards social justice + Colorful portrait drawing process

In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat, I’ll show you my process of drawing the ink and watercolor painting “I See Color”, while talking about a somewhat timely subject: how creatives can support social change, and why we should. Our talent and skills have power. We can use those powers to uphold the status quo, or we can use them to inspire and enact change. If you already aren’t convinced why we all need to take a more active role in our society, I hope this video will make you at least consider joining me and thousands of creatives across the world in this effort. Read more...

Stop comparing your art to others

Stop comparing your art to others + Winter fairy drawing process

There are positive and beneficial sides to comparing our work to that of other artists, and there are also plenty of drawbacks. In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat I’m drawing a magical winter fairy colored pencil portrait while talking about how to productively compare your art with others’ so you can learn from it, and how to change your mindset so you don’t fall into the black hole of hating your own work because it’s not “good enough”. Read more...

Sketchbook tour compilation - watercolor and mixed media

3 video sketchbook tour compilation: Watercolor & mixed media

In the past couple of weeks I've uploaded new recordings of my completed sketchbooks on YouTube, so I'm posting all 3 videos here for your viewing pleasure! The first two are small watercolor sketchbooks featuring seascapes, urban sketches, doodles, and mixed media experiments. The last one is a mixed media art journal featuring all kinds of experimental techniques and approaches to filling sketchbook pages. Read more...

How and why to sell accountability?

How & why to sell accountability?

Sometimes what people really need is not your expertise or your superior knowledge—all they need is someone to hold the time and space for them to show up. If you’re struggling with what to offer to your clients at this time, think about what “accountability” might look like for them. Read more...

Coping when art turns out bad   Mermaid watercolor painting process

Coping when art turns out bad + Mermaid watercolor painting process

Sometimes you put in a ton of effort into an artwork and in the end you realize that it just sucks. It doesn’t look anything like you’ve envisioned it, and you feel like you’ve just wasted a lot of time on something that wasn’t worth it. In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat you can watch me paint a mermaid that did not turn out the way I wanted, while I talk about 4 different ways you can deal with similar “art fails” of your own. Read more...

How to get over fear of technology and learn anything online

How to get over fear of technology & learn anything online

Mandatory shutdowns have removed the only income source from many small businesses. Everyone keeps saying the answer is “technology”, but what if you’re among the people who find technology extra challenging? Sadly I don't have a magic wand that can make technology easy overnight, but I hope that this article can help you start thinking about it differently and open up more possibilities for learning and growth. Read more...

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal sketchbook techniques

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal & sketchbook techniques

If you’re interested in mixed media art journals, you’ve likely seen it all. YouTube is full of step-by-step techniques if you want to give it a try. But over the years I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like about making art, and this has led me to develop my own methods which work with my style and personality. In this article, I share some techniques I use to bring more fun to my sketchbook/art journaling practice. Read more...

The Ramp and the Ladder - 2 methods for improving client experience

The Ramp and the Ladder – 2 methods for improving client experience

Our responsibility as business owners is to make purchasing easy for our dream clients. Of course we want our clients to be happy! On the other hand, you don’t want to make it too easy for people to hire you, because you want to make sure that only the right clients get through your sales process. Read how making things easier, or purposely more difficult on prospective clients—what I call the Ramp and the Ladder—can be used to improve your client process. Read more...

12 uncomfortable truths about doing creative work for a living

12 uncomfortable truths about doing creative work for a living

I started earning money with my creative skills when I was 19 years old, and have been running my own design consultancy since 2014. I admit that I got into this career with some unrealistic expectations, and I learned many lessons that no one warned me about. If you’re still early in your career or studying in a creative field, consider this post as a warning so you can decide whether this is something you’re willing to accept as a part of your life. Read more...