Palette Puzzle

I was just catching up on my RSS feed and reading Design Work Life‘s Design Ranch 2013 coverage (and wishing I was there, like everyone else not in attendance) and was so interested to hear about Anna Bond’s color story workshop. You can read the post for details and photos here, but the gist is this:

Anna works with a palette of only 24 colors. Twenty-four! Despite how cohesive the Rifle product line is, I never would have guessed her palette was so small. In her workshop, participants had to create a palette of only 16 colors, and then choosing from amongst those 16, create three palettes of three colors each, making sure each contained a balance of lights and darks, vibrancy and subtly, and warm and cool colors.

I love working in a limited color palette, but I always create my palettes on a project-by-project, illustration-by-illustration basis. There’s no official Nicole J. Wroblewski color story (though most artists’ have their favorites, consciously or not. I’m always drawn toward pink, for example, though I try to steer myself away from it), but now I’m tempted to make one. Or to try anyway. It sounds tricky, but fun. A color puzzle.


For more of Anna Bond’s creative industry smarts, check out this interview with The Everygirl.


Rock N’ Roll Bride

Almost exactly eight months ago Ben & I were married! Today our October wedding is featured on one of my favorite wedding blogs, Rock N’ Roll Bride. The site is such a great source for unique and fun wedding inspiration, so it’s definitely exciting to be amongst such stellar company. Click here to read the feature, which includes lots of photos by This is a Love (and with pinning buttons built right into the layout — how clever of you, RNRB!)

Thanks to Lizz Kuehl for submitting and Rock N’ Roll Bride for the feature. I’m just pleased as punch over here!

This is a Love: Illustration & Type

February really is shaping up to be the month of lurrrrrve. Prepare to feast your eye holes on even more pinks and hearts!

I may have mentioned it a few (or dozen or so) times, but Lizz Kuehl of This is a Love Photography shot our wedding (more on that soon!) and she did a damned good job of it, even if I do say so myself. Which I do. Often. Just for a change of pace, though, I’m going to go ahead and not talk about my wedding. Instead, I’m going to tell you that her wedding/engagement/baby/general merriment photography website,, just relaunched! And I had the pleasure of designing some really cute, fun illustration and type for the TIAL site and business cards. You can check out all of the details on the site, of course, but here’s the gist of things…

(Photo by Lizz Kuehl/TIAL)

You can see a few of my sketched ideas for this project on my tumblr sketchbook. Specifically here and here.

sometimes a wolf… just needs a hug

I am in LOVE with Kevin Slack‘s newest music video, Sometimes a Wolf by the band Banquets. While it’s true that I may have some bias (my lovely sister, the aforementioned bug-lover, plays the ghost here), it really is a heart-melting, grin-inducing story with the beautiful colors of fall and, y’know, a snappy tune as well. Weird and sweet, my favorite combination. And it proves good ideas and talent don’t need big budgets. Watch it!

Centerpieces by Alfred & Alma’s Insect Shoppe

Get ready, it’s time for PART II in the NICOLE BLOGS ABOUT HER WEDDING TOO SLOWLY series. Today I’m sharing one of my favorite wedding details: our centerpieces. Before I even knew what season or state I wanted to be married in, I knew one thing: there would be bugs on our tables. And my sister, Michelle Johnston, would be responsible for getting ’em there.

While working as a photographer and assistant in the entomology department of Soho’s destination natural history store, Evolution, Michelle (who also takes beautiful landscape and documentary photographs, founded the Uganda-based non-profit Focus on Change, helps find homes for rescue dogs, AND finds time to be a sweet lil’ baker) was falling oddly and deeply in love with creepy crawlies, namely beetles. In addition to bringing them home as pets, her entomological interest and artistic eye led her into creating insect displays, which she makes by commission and sells at Kanibal Home in Jersey City under the name of Alfred & Alma’s Insect Shoppe. Available in a variety of arrangments (frames, pails, terrariums, etc), her insect displays are perfect for home decor, weddings (clearly), and other special occasions too.

For our wedding, Michelle created 17 original pieces using glass domes of various sizes (everything from about 3″ for side tables, to 14″ for guests tables), which were perfect for 360-viewing on the round dinner tables. Not wanting to put any bug-haters off their meal, we mostly stuck to butterflies, with a few beetles (who could hate a rhino beetle? and scarabs are like little jewels) on select tables. The greater the variety of species and colors, the greater the interest was the way my husband Ben & I saw it, so we told Michelle not to limit herself to a specific color palate. Giving her that freedom really paid off. We loved the fall-inspired (our wedding was in October, after all) monochromatic and dried leaf dome she made just as much as the colorful mossy domes with purple flora. After the wedding, they made great gifts for our families and wedding party. And of course, Ben & I didn’t mind keeping our favorites for ourselves. Now they’re beautiful and interesting art pieces in our home as well as happy reminders of our wedding day.

I’m aching to see how our wedding photographer, Lizz Kuehl of This is a Love, captured all of our day-of decor and details, but for now, here are some images of our wedding domes sitting solo, as well as a few of Michelle’s commissioned works.

All photos by Michelle Johnston. An Alfred & Alma’s Insect Shoppe website is in the works. For now, follow the shop on Facebook and Twitter.

Year in Review

Dear Internet,

It’s been forever. Man, was I hoping I wouldn’t be starting any blog entries like that this year, but there you have it. These things happen. Saying sayonara to 2010 and reflecting on the good things it brought seems like a worthy topic for revitalizing this thing, though.

So 2010. 365 days of it, and most of it pretty good stuff. I got engaged to the dude I’ve been writing schmoopy, embarrassing diary entries about since the 8th grade. Now we live together in Chicago, as opposed to in separate states. And on a thankfully, blessedly quiet street in my favorite neighborhood. My niece Scarlett turned one, is beautiful, hilarious, and continues to be the collective joy of my entire family. My sister, Michelle Johnston, fulfilled her dream of traveling to Africa with Fount of Mercy, where she worked with various organizations, photographing, helping, and raising awareness. Her work and enthusiasm, her ability to appreciate life and just be happy inspires me. I nearly lost my cat, Emilio, to a bladder rupture, but now he’s healthier and happier than ever before. And cuddlier. Which involves a lot less urine on the sofa, thank god. I took a class, finally. At last, I’m silkscreening my silhouettes, and they find themselves in the format they were always intended for. I hate my job, but I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made there, and as always, the ability to read new releases with immediacy and free of cost! That is truly something to be grateful for, if you ask me.

Those are the big things I’m happy for this year. Here are some of the smaller pleasures that made my day-to-day better:

Favorite album: Hands down, Women and Country by Jakob Dylan. Listening to it is like reading a really great book. Truly a story of an album. And having Nico Case as your backup vocalist certainly doesn’t hurt. This is the album that never left the cd player (yes, we use one of those) and I have recommended it more times than I can count at this point.

Favorite single: Switchblade off the album I’m Having Fun Now by Jenny & Johnny. Crazy catchy. The whole album is like a wonderful summer day.

Favorite book (fiction): The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardigne. I can’t do this book justice, so allow me to quote Elizabeth Bird, wonder librarian, on this one:

“…at 576 pages I had just one thought upon finishing Frances Hardinge’s The Lost Conspiracy: It’s already ended? As I see it, 576 pages somehow manages, in spite of all the odds, to be too short. You couldn’t cut a scene, a character, or a word in this book for the 10 and up set without upsetting the flow. Filled with sentient volcanoes, gem-studded teeth, villains, heroes, revenge, love, and the world’s most frightening dentist, this is a book to rival The Princess Bride in scope, adventure, and excitement. It’s Hardinge’s magnum opus. One that I dearly hope both kids and adults enjoy in equal measure.

Favorite book (non-fiction): A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature, edited by Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano. This book manages to get me even more excited about what is already my favorite subject: children’s literature. I think it instantly made me a more thoughtful bookseller.

Favorite picture book: Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth. This is the follow-up to Zen Shorts I was waiting for. Zen Ghosts though, is not just gorgeous, and not just a great Halloween read, it’s a perfect fairytale and ghost story, to be read and reread throughout the whole year.

Orrrrr…. you can see everything I read (and re-read) in 2010 by looking at my good reads profile…

Favorite website:; again.

Favorite blog: 100 Layer Cake; Understand something about me – I was not the girl who poured through wedding magazines or new what her dream wedding dress would look like, and I still have no idea where we’re even having our reception… but I started looking at this site long before I was engaged. I DROOL looking at it. The photography, the fashion, the food, the general DIY mentality — the 100 layer cake blog is a home for all things gorgeous.

Favorite movie?: Did I have one of those this year? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One? I was very pleased with it’s constant intensity. Toy Story 3 was the most fun. Scott Pilgrim was the most inventive. True Grit was the wittiest. Black Swan was probably was the most memorable. But what spoke to me most strongly? …somewhat strangely, as I’m aware of all of it’s flaws (the oversimplification and naivety of it’s look at mental illness, for one), but It’s Kind of a Funny Story kind of killed me. I kinda loved it.

Favorites 2010 Discoveries (oooh ahhhh): These are the things that have been making people smile stupidly for years, but I didn’t get around to until sometime in the past twelve months:

-The Tiffany Aching Adventures by Terry Prachett. Whipped through all four.
-Screenprinting. So easy. So satisfying. Why didn’t I start sooner?
-Real Simple Magazine. The best thing I get in the mail each month.
-Leggings. Warmer than tights.
-Everything bagels. After living in NYC, Chicago is a bagel and deli wasteland. Bless Trader Joe’s and their everything bagels for helping me tolerate being alive before 10 am.
-Real headphones that don’t cost $15 and break every two months.
Flub-a-Dub Chubs‘ Mr. Big hotdog and fries

Keeping my fingers crossed that 2011 brings… sewing projects, prints, more homecooking, great books, a new work experience (ahem), and finalized wedding plans! Happy new year, guys.


Oh hey, children’s lit aficionados! Sup? So, I just wanted to let you know that you should be following trusted NYC librarian Elizabeth Bird on, and reading her School Library Journal bloggings, A Fuse #8 Production. Cuz she knows wassup. I just recently started following her on the “add friend” level and reading her blog after noticing that she was the top rated reviewer for just about every single children’s novel and picture book I ever (and I am not exaggerating here, she has not just read, but written in depth reviews for at least 90% of the things I look up) searched for or reviewed myself. That said, I was surprised and delighted to see one of my Pippi Longstocking illustrations included in round numero uno of her recent posts of the top 100 children’s books of all time. (Check Pippi out at #95!). ME aside, Elizabeth has compiled a fantastic and surprising list so far, at we’re only up to #81. Check it out here: Top 100 Children’s Novels