Kelly Cornell Feature image

Designer Profile: Kelly Cornell

What prompted you to start Cornell Collaborative?

I always knew I wanted to work for myself. As soon as I started my design career, I knew I wanted more control over who I took on as clients and the visual impact and statement that my projects made. I wanted to be sure I was working with people that wanted to do more than the basics of getting the job done on time and on budget.  I wanted them to also have a strong vision and be willing to take creative risks. I also started the company with the thought that it would continue to grow and live up to the name of collaborative.  This was specific to being in the Baltimore community, there are so many artists, makers, craftsmen and visionaries here that I knew I wanted partnership to be a part of the core of our mission.

black tile

You have been documenting your home renovations via @cornellhome on Instagram as well as showcasing your design projects on @cornellcollaborative. What tips to do you have for managing two related Instagram feeds?

I don’t even think I am doing either of them well right now! I think the important thing to remember is that you don’t HAVE to post all the time unless you are solely a content creator and solely have partnerships that make money through your online presence. It can get really stressful when you do start to compare yourself to people that are solely content creators.  That’s not me, I don’t have the bandwidth for it since I have my own company actively designing and another full-time job in the design world as well. It was actually easy for me to remember this when I told myself, “This isn’t how you make money. This is how you have fun.” That’s especially how I see @cornellhome. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at design life, renovating a home on your own, being in Baltimore and just general ridiculousness.  It’s not polished, it’s not meant to be. As for @cornellcollaborative, that’s a general repository for our latest inspiration and documenting current and past projects that I’ve worked on both with my business and with other firms during my time on the West Coast. I am a strong believer in having all original content. I personally found I gravitated towards those feeds myself. I also noticed how bored I got of feeds that were the same shots of different angles in someone’s living room or wherever over and over again. I follow accounts that are strong visually but also compelling in their messaging either by their musings on design or if they are insanely funny. I try to do what I would be interested in seeing. If I don’t have anything interesting to put out in the world, I don’t push myself to do it. Social media isn’t a make or break for my business so I don’t let it stress me out like it did before.

You have worked on a variety of projects from designing hotels to store interiors and intimate residential projects. What is your favorite type of design?

It absolutely depends on the client. If they have the right spirit, attitude and vision, even the smallest or most dull sounding project can be a creative dream. Then there are times when it’s a struggle without solid directive, always changing objectives, bad and abusive attitudes and the most amazing opportunity on paper becomes an absolute nightmare. I have done this long enough now that I know I like a variety of projects being on my plate because that means it will never get boring. I have been lucky to have always been in positions where I was able to work across several different kinds of sectors and also straddle commercial, hospitality and residential. I have loved and hated jobs in all of those sectors and it has always come down to who you were working with. People make all the difference since design doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

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What is your favorite place to go for creative inspiration?

One of the things I have done in the last couple of years is scheduling in time every week to do something or see something new and different. It has made all the difference in my creative work to have time dedicated for this. It can be as small as just stopping in a new store I have never been in to revisiting a museum for a new exhibition. I also make sure that I am actively making something whether that’s in my own studio painting or drawing or learning a new skill. Over the last three years, I have been taking tons of classes in cooking, metal working, woodworking and sewing. This keeps me from getting in ruts and pulls me completely out of my regular routine. It’s like going to the gym but for your creativity. I’m also a foodie and I actively seek out new restaurants all the time. It’s about engaging all of the senses in something new.

If anyone reading this is in the Baltimore area, some of my favorite places for creative inspiration are: Baltimore Museum of Art, walking around Mount Vernon, the Rawlings Conservatory, listening to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Station North Tool Library and Baltimore Chef Shop.

Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs who are struggling with balancing their day job along with their dream job?

Schedule and routine. You have to be almost militant about it. I find that my best work happens early in the day, and at the end of the day when I have spent 8-10 hours working for someone else, I barely have the bandwidth to feed myself let alone work on more projects. Because of that, I get up extremely early in the morning to work, and also do any self-care activities. I want to be sure my business gets the best part of me. It’s an investment in myself so I take it very seriously. Of course, I have to take client meetings in the evening and do follow up phone calls and emails during my lunch hour but the bulk of what I do is done in the early a.m.

What is the most important aspect to consider when redesigning a living room or bedroom?

Really consider how you live. There are things you see and may love that aren’t practical for how you live your life. Make it personal, collected and meaningful. I really hate walking in a room and seeing no reflection of the people that live there. I also think it’s dangerous when people will walk into one store and buy everything from that one source. There’s a sterility to that regardless of whether they have a contemporary, minimalist style or if they prefer the farmhouse traditional look. I’ve designed homes from one end of the spectrum to the other and it’s all about collecting and personality.


You have lived on both the east coast and the west coast. Have you noticed any major differences in terms of design trends and aesthetic?

Massive differences. Sometimes I am still trying to figure out what exactly makes it different. The very foundations of the East Coast vs. West Coast are what make these differences: availability of building materials, weather and climate, topography, seismic considerations, new money vs. old money, economic driving industries, etc.  Every single thing ends up forming aesthetics and influences our choices in design.

For example, I had not worked with brick at all in Southern California. It never came up as a finish material (most brick now isn’t actually doing anything structurally so I would hesitate to call it a true building material like it would have been a century ago). On the East Coast and especially in the mid-Atlantic, it’s everywhere. Its historic buildings, it’s how we clad new buildings, it’s requested over and over again by commercial clients for interior exposed brick walls. It’s actually one of my biggest design pet peeves—I am often being asked to do brick veneers on interiors where it would never naturally occur if you were using it as a building material. Always use your fake masonry where real masonry would be like an exterior or party wall. I have to be honest, I am pretty burnt out on brick and fake barnwood as finish materials but I am asked for them all the time. At the end of the day, I have to remember, this isn’t my space and making sure the client is thrilled with it is what is most important.

Follow Kelly on Instagram at @cornellhome and @cornellcollaborative.

holiday postcard 2018

Happy Holidays

Every December I send a handwritten postcard to my clients, friends and family. I started the tradition when I moved to Atlanta to stay connected. This year I needed a break from the computer, so I crafted a holiday postcard featuring handmade snowflakes.

red patterned paper snowflakeblue paper snowflake

Once I created a few flakes that I liked, I scanned and edited them in Photoshop. I experimented with various layouts and type treatments before settling on my final design.

Idea number 1

rejected design

In the end, I selected the typeface Cantoni Pro and edited the letterforms in Adobe Illustrator to create customized type. I added the textured type effect in Photoshop before sending my design to the printer.

my 2018 holiday card

I hope you have a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

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Artist Profile: Anna Martin, a digital print and calendar shop, is the brainchild of the photographer and branding pro, Anna Martin. Her site features fine art prints of her New York City influenced photography as well as lovingly handcrafted tiny desk calendars. You can find her work on Instagram at @banana9999 and her tiny calendars at @9999_co.

9999 Bananas Tiny Desk Calendar

How did your interest in photography begin?

Well at 41, I’m old enough to remember the joy and shared excitement of a fresh roll of prints from the Photo Hut or drug store fulfillment center. Nothing like waiting a few days hoping the thing I saw in a tiny window a week ago came out as good on paper as it did in my mind’s eye. That was when the magic happened!

Also, in high school my mom let me skip taking stupid physics in favor of a semester of public speaking and photography. I LOVED the dark room; playing with chemicals and exposure to get a desired visual effect and learning how scene lighting really drove the end result of a good photo.

But I honestly didn’t pay attention to photography as an art form until I opened my (mostly now broken) 365 photo blog Nobody Puts Banana In A Corner. The goal then was to post one photo a day for a year with a little text just to see if I could complete the task.  It was a lot of fun and forced me to take thousands of photos in order to find something cool or interesting so I didn’t disappoint or bore my readers (mostly my mom).

Who are your artistic influences?

This one is hard for me to answer because I’ve never considered myself an artist and thus never as having any particular influences. But, I have been studying and experiencing art for as long as I can remember. I took a standard art history in nerd camp at 12, have a minor in art history from undergrad, I lived a summer in Tuscany studying Italian art, and spent 10 years hanging and traveling with art exhibitions during my years as an art museum registrar. I’ve spent a lot of my waking moments breathing the art world — even if only by osmosis during a hangover in my younger days.

If I had to pick one fine artist that made the biggest impression I would have to choose Andy Goldsworthy. When I was the registrar at the Museum of Jewish Heritage we installed the Garden of Stones with these giant cranes in the middle of Manhattan.  I loved his idea of a work of art with mother nature and the passage of time creating the experience. His documentary Rivers and Tides was filmed a few years before that installation and has become my absolute favorite thing to watch when I want to feel zen. Most of his work is about the passage of time and noticing the small details in the simplest of settings. Even though he is considered a sculptor, since most of the pieces he makes are ephemeral, his photographs of them become the end work. His photos have these great overlapping textures and feeling of depth and color since they are depictions of 3D creations. Those broad ideas of time, depth and texture have sort of stayed with me and subtly influence the photos I take now.

Many of your photos feature beautiful closeups of items one would not normally look at such as rocks, woodgrain, and peeling paint. You find true beauty in the urban world. What is your secret to finding great shots?

When you are surrounded by so many people all the time, it can be overwhelming. Over 15 years living in New York I have sort of trained my brain to let the sheer humanity, noise and rush sort of flow over me like background noise.  I turn on a good playlist and let it all become a cinematic experience so I can stay calm in the madness. In this mindset, I notice small things I walk past each day like the changing light on the same building during the passage of seasons. For example, my Freedom Tower calendar is a study of the same view near my house with variations in sky, clouds and time of day rendering the variety for a complete calendar.

9999 Bananas Freedom Tower Calendar

My eye for other details happened as I noticed mural and graffiti art and kind of fell in love with these forgotten doorways and corners where stickers and wheat pastes and tags from all sorts of street artists collect. Since the city is always changing, these pockets get removed or the buildings get demolished so I started to photograph these nooks as a way to remember them. That’s when I started to notice how even small things change in these very subtle ways over time and the resulting paint peels are like an archeological onion. People chose all these different colors over time for the exact same wall and the natural elements of wind, water, and time revealed the layers while creating the depth and textures and colors I liked. The more I looked, the more they looked like abstract paintings. I still love stumbling across a good paint peel on my rambles and get a kick out of people thinking I’m nuts while bending over to take a photo of a nasty rusty pipe on the street!

9999 Bananas Paint Photograph

Each tiny desk calendar doubles as 12 postcards. After reading your blog post on Snail Mail, I was reminded of Frank Warren’s project Post Secrets, where people anonymously sent him their biggest secrets.  Have you ever received any good post secrets?

Sadly, I have not.  The address for my business is posted on my website and I invite people to send me any kind of snail mail they would like. I would adore seeing my own creations come back to me with message. It gives them an extra bit of life, and who doesn’t like REAL mail? On a random side note, when you cut the complete month card to postcard size, it fits nicely in a 5 x 5 inch frame, so send a bit of tiny art to someone you love or send Frank a secret!

What is your favorite part of running 9999 Bananas?

9999 Bananas started as way to learn how to make a website since I was feeling really technologically behind the kids at work! I was also curious if ecommerce worked for crafts without a third party like Etsy because I wanted to have total creative control over my own products and potential profits. In that sense, the thing I like best is this is all my own creation. I personally make (with the help of awesome creatives like Meg Link) and pay for all the things needed to run this little side business. I have yet to make any real profit and it’s a labor of love, a place to learn and stay current, but most of all a platform to share my photos and words for anyone that cares to follow along.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are thinking about launching their own products?

  1. Have a good long think about whether it makes sense to sell your product all on your own. There is a lot to be said for a third party like Etsy or Amazon. They have tech teams for IT support and marketing gurus. It’s a lot of work to manage a side business from scratch, especially if you have a full-time job sucking up your free time and/or creative juices.
  2. Whatever you are selling should be authentically YOU. It’s good to take advice but literally everyone you know will eventually ask why you are doing this, give you unsolicited opinions, and think they could do it better even though they have never even tried. So, take the good ideas and leave the rest. If you are selling a good quality interesting product, service, or artwork, people will buy it. Or they won’t… and the world will keep spinning. It’s really ok to “fail” and don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day.
  3. “It doesn’t have to be anything more than what it is.” Basically, don’t put unrealistic expectations on your own plate and then stress about them. My website is a personal creative portal with no rules. I write when the mood strikes or I have something I really want to say but not to get customers or create SEO. I share photos every day on Instagram because it makes me happy and a few of those make it into calendars that I sell for a few weeks each year to mostly friends and family. They always tell me how much they enjoy them and that’s honestly all that matters in the end.

9999 Bananas Calendar

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Artist Profile: Sumhr Giboney

If you live in Atlanta, you have seen the wooden ATL signs that are popping up at artist markets, retail stores like Crafted Westside, and along the Beltline. The signs are one of the many cool creations by Sumhr Giboney, owner and lead sign designer at Polly Ann Collection. Sumhr carefully hand cuts custom wooden signs for businesses, home decor, kids, and even dogs.

Sumhr ATL sign

Photo by: Jason Holland Photography

How did you get the idea to start creating custom signs?

 After renovating our new home almost two years ago, I wanted to make a custom sign for our living room area that said “Atlanta”. I used my saw (that at that time had only been used to cut letters for wood scrapbook designs) to cut the letters and the background. After friends and family came to visit, they’d ask where I got it and if I could make them one. The rest is history!

On Instagram, you show some serious saw power. How did you become interested in wood working?

When I first started my business several years ago, I would source wood letters and designs from any brick and mortar or online store that would sell them. I began to get frustrated with long travel times, stores being out of stock or expensive shipping costs. My husband threw out the suggestion to buy a saw and cut everything myself and initially I blew him off. About one month later, I caved. That was the first of many strategic decisions that changed the way I do business today.

Sumhr with Pippa Sign

Photo by: Jason Holland Photography

You are constantly creating new products like personalized wooden dog bones and wood cutouts. Where do you find the inspiration for your products?

My community is extremely diverse and I’m inspired by the things they are doing in Atlanta and beyond. Being an innovative business owner means you find and fill gaps where you see the need. I’ve been fortunate that a lot of my random ideas have caught on!

What is the most challenging aspect of your business?

I work full time and travel throughout my 5-state region 70% of the time. I may have a customer schedule a site visit at the last minute (how rude, ha!) and it will completely shift my production schedule for the week.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are thinking about launching their own products?

Be original. Find your niche and make your products stand out. Build a community by being supportive of others and they will support your efforts too!

Sumhr with Logo Sign

Photo by: Jason Holland Photography

You are an extremely busy lady, where will you be selling your signs next?

You can find my ATL signs at Crafted locations in Lenox Mall and West Side Provisions. Also, you can find me and my fab new booth design at the ATL Girl Gang Member’s Mart on Sunday, November 4th!

And if we can’t make it, what is the best way to order a custom sign?

You can shop all of my products in my Etsy shop 24/7! Visit to place your order!






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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Printing Business Cards

Clients and friends often ask me questions about commercial printers. It can be quite daunting to have something printed, especially if you are unfamiliar with the basic concepts and terms. If you are printing business cards or flyers for the first time, here are a few key ideas to better understand the process.

Meg Link Design Business Card Design


RGB and CMYK are color models. RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue and is an additive color model, which means if you add the colors together in equal parts they will create the color white. RGB is the color model of the web and is what you see on your laptop, digital camera, or computer monitor. The colors are bright because they are based on light.

CYMK is short for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or Black ) and refers to the 4 inks used in commercial printing to reproduce a full color image. CYMK is also called 4 color process or process color. Typically, CYMK colors look duller on a computer screen than RGB colors since CYMK is a subtractive model with a smaller range of colors. When you send a file to a commercial printer such as Moo, Vistaprint, or a local press, it should be CYMK.

Pantone Color Book

Spot Color:

Spot Colors are premixed inks such as the Pantone Matching System (PMS). Spot colors ensure greater color accuracy and are often used for logos in offset printing. These inks can be more vibrant than CYMK or process color. Each spot color requires its own printing plate on an offset printer.


Poster Design by Meg Link


Resolution refers to the number of pixels an image contains. A pixel is the building block of an image, much like the cell is the building block of the body. PPI, or pixels per inch, counts the number of pixels in a square inch of a computer screen. Typically, 300 ppi is the standard resolution for commercial printing. When you print a photograph with a resolution below 300ppi it may look grainy or pixelated.

Don’t Make Me Bleed:

When the printed area of a document extends beyond the point where the print will be trimmed, it is called a bleed. Basically, a bleed gives the printer wiggle room for trimming the document.

Meg Link Design Atlanta postcard

Offset vs. Digital Printing?

Both offset printing and digital printing have their own benefits. Offset printing can result in a higher quality print and more accurate colors since offset printing inks a sheet of paper using etched metal plates. These metal plates are specifically made for each job. Due to the initial print setup costs, offset printing is typically used for larger print runs of over a thousand prints. To learn more about offset printing, watch this short video.

Over the years digital printing has become increasingly economical. Digital printers do not use plates since they apply toner directly to paper using rollers called drums. There is not much of a setup process for digital prints, so it is a great choice for smaller print runs and prints that you need in a hurry.

If you have any questions about printing, reach out to me on Instagram at @meglinkdesign.

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Artist Profile: Lori Lejeune

Each month, I will interview a different artist who is making her mark in the creative community. In September, I interviewed my talented friend, Lori Lejeune.

Lori Lejeune is an Atlanta-based artist and designer whose multimedia installations juxtapose digital images with hand-painted elements. Her FLIGHT SERIES offers a modern interpretation of birds and other creatures with wings. She creates large custom art installations by arranging canvases into patterns — providing a unique, signature look. Her work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects Atlanta at URBANfronts and in solo exhibits at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta, the Decatur Arts Alliance and the Aviation Community Cultural Center.
Lori Lejeune bird

What inspired you to start making art?

First of all, thank you for inviting me to discuss my work! Drawing always came to me naturally and it’s something I’ve done ever since I was little. The first time I was paid for my art was in fourth grade when my artwork won $20 in a parish-wide contest. My formal art career began with traditional drawing and painting. Then a move to California and living in Silicon Valley inspired me to begin exploring digital media as a fine art medium.

It seemed that when photography was first introduced, people had trouble viewing it as a medium for fine art; but many artists, including Ansel Adams, proved it can be used creatively and expressively. I see the development of digital work as fine art media as being similarly not as well understood. Exploring digital art as new territory is inspiring to me.</>

Lori Lejeune Installation


How would you describe your creative process?

There’s a playful part to it. An image frequently comes to me first, where I visualize the artwork fully in my mind’s eye, and work toward creating it. The playful part comes in when accidents happen along the way as I’m working on a piece. They often lead to a different and better outcome than I envisioned!

Lori Lejeune Flight Series

I originated a “shape combining” or “constellation” style of wall-hanging installation artwork in Atlanta and I have been exhibiting my signature style for over 7 years. My experiments with creating round work mounted onto compact disks evolved and led to my first installation of this type, which was installed in 2012. I frequently place small, medium and large round pieces together to create elegant and interesting patterns. Sometimes I add square and rectangular pieces to the patterns. Viewers have commented that my round canvas installations remind them of a constellation. A pattern of canvases can suggest a sequence, an emotion or a larger context.

Lori Lejeune with her installation

Do you ever have a hard time switching between designing corporate email campaigns and your multimedia installations?

It works for me. Many artists teach as part of their practice. Early on I decided to follow the path chosen by artists like Rene Magritte and Andy Warhol, both of whom had design and illustration studios in addition to their art practice.

Lori Lejeune Installation

Do you having any advice to artists who are just getting started?

The only part you can control is showing up and doing your work, so your focus has to be on doing work that’s meaningful to you and putting it out there. “Learn to labor and to wait,” are words that stuck with me ever since reading them. Henry Longfellow wrote, “Let us then be up and doing, with a heart for any fate. Still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.”For artists just getting started in Atlanta, check out Kibbee Gallery. Ben Goldman and Preston Snyder at Kibbee Gallery are an important part of the Atlanta art scene and they provide a venue for local artists to gather and exhibit their work.

Lori Lejeune Installation

When is your next upcoming show?

>Little Things Mean a Lot at the Swan Coach House Gallery starting Thursday, November 15, 2018 – January 4, 2019 will feature some of my small works. The other artists included in this annual exhibit are great, the reception is always packed with people and the work can sell right off the walls so try to see it opening night!

Follow Lori on Instagram or Facebook.

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Type Right: 5 Tips for Picking the Perfect Typeface

Type Right Title Graphic

Friends often ask me how to select the “right” typeface. Choosing the appropriate typeface for a poster, logo, or publication can be a daunting task due to the sheer volume of options. Many times, locating the perfect typeface is a combination of function, aesthetics, and attention to detail. Here are a few helpful tips to aid in your decision.


  1. Legibility:
    There are tons of typefaces available but if it is tough to read, avoid it. Small type may look fantastic on screen but can be very difficult to read. Building off this, do not use a decorative typeface for large quantities of text. I recommend using a serif or sans serif typeface instead. Save the handwritten and decorative typeface for titles, logos, and other small lines of type.

Hard To Read Type

  1. Usability:
    What is the typeface being used for, a logo for a small boutique or for a brochure on pest control? Be mindful of the purpose of the design. A brochure about bed bugs will look very different from a chic store sign. Each project has different requirements. Logos are a great time to experiment with typefaces that you would not typically use to explain bedbug removal.


  1. Body Language:
    Does the typeface feel friendly, confident, sophisticated, timid, or unapproachable? Like people, typefaces give off different vibes. Look for a typeface that is consistent with your overall message or theme.

Examples of Type - Body Language

  1. Audience:
    Who is going to be reading the information? Are you appealing to teenagers or baby boomers? Bat lovers from the city or disco fanatics who reside in small towns? Be sure to define your audience before starting your design.


  1. Visual Appeal:
    How does the typeface look? Does it make you want to keep reading or run far, far away? Look for a versatile typeface that has a variety of weights such as thin, book, medium, and bold. This will give you many options while maintaining unity in your type design.

type examples - width

For more tips on graphic design and typography follow me on Instagram at @meglinkdesign.