19 Jun

Hello Summer Wallpapers

Summer is here and you know what that means – it’s time to get outside to soak up the sun, enjoy steamed crabs, take a dip in the pool or feel the sand between your toes.

But when you can’t be outside enjoying the beautiful weather – bring summer to life on your screen with these cheerful wallpapers designed for your computer, mobile device or Zoom meeting. Below you can find downloads sized for each application.

After clicking the button with the size you want, right click and select “Save Image As…” to save to your device.


11 Jun

Pepper Talk with Eric Cavell

Get to know Eric Cavell in this month’s Pepper Talk! 

Just a little background before we get started, Eric works on The Commercial Team as a Senior Designer. He’s been with Eleven Peppers for almost a year and in that time he’s brought his unique illustration flair to many of our client projects and social posts.


1. Do you have any nicknames?
None currently, but I’m open if anyone has any good ideas.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Feed our two cats Piper and Maple, followed by coffee.

3. How would you describe your design style?
I try and take an illustrative approach when possible. Also, functional design is important to me, so design that is useful and serves a purpose.  

4. How did you get started in this industry?
I had a few internships and part-time design jobs while working towards my degree, but got my first full-time design job at a public relations firm a few weeks after graduating.

5. What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Favorite- Pencil, paper and Adobe Illustrator. Those would be my desert island tools.

Worst- It would be easy to say a Microsoft program, but everything has its purpose.

6. What is your favorite thing about being a designer?
Getting to be creative every day and turning an idea in my head into a sketch on paper.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
I have a few favorite designers on Instagram and Dribbble. However, If I feel I’m going there too for inspiration, I try to take a step back and observe the world around me. If we are paying attention, there’s so much inspiration to draw just from everyday life.

 8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:

Yes, coffee is my go-to.

Sweet or Savory:

Sweet.

Favorite Movie:

The Empire Strikes Back.

Favorite place to travel:

New York City, I don’t think I could live there, but it’s an amazing place to visit.

Hobbies:

Drawing, biking, reading, listening to podcasts and music.

read more

01 Jun

Celebrating 5 Years: Kate Rodman

Where has the time gone? It feels like just yesterday that Kate Rodman joined our team. Now we are celebrating five wonderful years that she has spent working at Eleven Peppers.

Kate has endless creativity and brings a lot of energy and fun to every brainstorm session she attends. She is well respected by her clients for her ability to be patient when necessary, and work at a lightening-fast speed when a deadline is approaching. Kate is also an awesome team player who works to get the job done, even when the tasks are not glamorous. She is such an important part of our team!

To learn more about Kate, keep scrolling to read our special interview and infographic!


1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios?
I appreciate the flexibility the most. I don’t have to worry if I need to take time for a doctor’s appointment, or whatever life event pops up. I appreciate the freedom to come up with my own ideas and find unique ways to approach challenges. It’s super important for 11P to offer this flexibility since some of our projects often impose many restrictions.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
After much thought, I would have to say Paprika pepper, so that I can be papriKate.

3. What is your favorite 11p event?
I mean, we all know the answer to this question by now… Disney, of course! As far as more regularly occurring 11P events go, I like happy hours best because it gives me a chance to chat with everybody and catch up with peppers that I don’t see on a daily basis.

4. What is your favorite present ever received from 11p?
I have probably gotten the most use out of the Kate Spade bag given at my first 11p holiday party in 2015. It’s still in service. I’m not into fashion so I feel like someone else choosing a purse for me was probably a good idea…

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
There are many but I’ll put down the first one that popped into my head, because it’s funny. Singing karaoke at the Circles Conference last year… Yes, I live the stressful life of an introvert that enjoys karaoke. These two things should not, and do not go together. But when someone puts on your jam, you have no choice but to belt it out. (Thankfully, there isn’t a recording of this).

6. Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice:
Any pepper I’ve worked with on my current contract fits this bill. Theresa, Valencia, Lisa – anyone with a first name ending in “-a”… I can ask them anything that pops into my head, and they don’t judge me too harshly 😉 We’ve all gone through similar struggles with our work and they’re the ones that really “get it.” I greatly appreciate this support system.

7. Name a Pepper whose work ethic inspires you:
Kristen is unstoppable. She’s the most hardworking person I know (besides my dad). Amidst all the tough work of owning a business she still radiates positivity. When I first met her at AIGA’s Ink & Pixels (basically, portfolio review version of speed-dating) she stood out like a beacon against all the other reviewers. I was fresh out of college at that time, and could’ve ended up at a company that would have abused my “will design for food” desperation – instead, I landed somewhere that respected me as an individual.

7. My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Kate a little bit better…

1. If you could only watch one Harry Potter for the rest of your life, which would it be?
What?? That’s like only reading one chapter of a book over and over! I definitely skipped this question and thought about it. I’ll say The Goblet of Fire… I think the pre-Voldemort returning books are my favorite, and I do really like the tournament and the crazy ending. As long as I could supplement this ONE movie (sigh) with the audiobooks of the other six, I could make it work!

2. What is your favorite plant-based recipe?
My favorite recipes are the ones where I’ve taken a nostalgic dish I love and tweaked it to be veggie. I still eat all my favorite foods. One of my comfort foods is my great grandmom’s chicken soup recipe – it’s mega-Italian and includes crushed tomatoes and beets, in addition to the regular stuff. That, plus her marinara recipe (“red gravy” if you are legit), are the backbone of the Rodman family – our blood runs red with tomato sauce. I’ve tweaked both and still eat them regularly.

3. What is the best thing you’ve ever found while thrift shopping?
Oh man… My most recent find was the Harry Potter hardcover books, with the original covers. All seven books for $1 EACH. I had been hunting for those for years, and I never expected to find them, let alone that cheap, or a full set at once! My favorite clothing items have all come from goodwill, including a few White House Black Market dresses that fit perfectly. I have also found TWO 100% functional KitchenAid mixers with fixtures included (on different occasions). One I kept, the other I gifted to a friend. I didn’t need two mixers but I couldn’t leave it there!

4. What is your favorite game night game?
Y’all are killing me with these questions. I guess if I had to choose one I’d say Betrayal at House on the Hill because of its near-infinite playability – the board tiles change with every game, there’s a crazy amount of scenarios that could arise and I’ve yet to play the same game twice. It’s really fun when one of your friends becomes the “Traitor” and you all have to work against them. Sometimes it’s co-op, sometimes it’s every man for himself. Always a good time.

5. What is your favorite game ever?
Currently I’m working through Animal Crossing on the Switch and it’s bringing me back to all the other versions of that game I’ve played. I think that’s probably my favorite franchise, at least right now. If anyone wants to swap friend codes, hit me up.

6. Now that you have a yard, what yard projects have you been working on?
Our yard found itself in an interesting situation! You can tell someone deeply cared for it at one time – maybe an owner or two back in its history. The previous owner, however… did not, and let it become a hot mess. So I’m having fun digging up the garden beds and restoring them to what they once were. The caring owner did a great job choosing the plants that exist, now I get to just fill in the gaps. My parents live close by, and they are gardening/yard gurus. The plants in their yard are so happy that they’re making new plant babies – I’ve been adopting those and planting them in my yard. I have dogwood tree saplings that are descendants of my family’s dogwoods. Those guys have followed my family to many houses, and it’s cool they get to be on my property now!

7. What do you love about being raised and living in Mount Airy?
As a kid I don’t think I really got it. I wanted to move somewhere new, like everyone does. I moved away and then ended up coming back after I realized why everyone wants to live here. It’s accessible to Frederick, Baltimore, Westminster and DC, but it feels private. I can walk to basic stores from my house, or I can drive in any direction to get to big stores. As much as I love the Columbia area etc., we would never be able to afford anything we have in Mt Airy over there. Also, to quote my mom: “being closer to family during an apocalypse? Priceless!”

8. Have you taught your new dog Griffin any tricks?
He is so smart that we’ve admittedly been pretty lazy with training. He picked up the basics so quickly, that I think we got comfortable. We give him plenty of exercise to keep him occupied, but he’s more athletic than we are so we’re always looking for new ways to run him out of energy. I think a pair of rollerblades is in my future…

9. Name an illustrator whose style you envy.
There are so many, but lately I’ve been really enjoying Rebecca Mills’ illustrations… I love her cute animals in silly situations – maybe for no other reason besides the fact that we could all use a little levity. Beyond that, her skills are just amazing.

10. Tell us about a passion project you’ve done or been working on.
Well, for the past year or so I’ve been DIYing every little thing for our wedding, but then COVID-19 happened and we had to put it all aside. I took a creative breather, and then moved on. Since quarantine, I’ve been helping my mom with her own passion project. Several years ago, she created an earth-friendly potting mix company. I made her some quick labels at the time, but now her biz has grown to be the “real deal” and I wanted to make her some “real deal” packaging. The greenhouse-inspired labels feature hand-drawn illustrations of plants.

08 May

Mother’s Day Coupons

Something tells us the Mother’s in your life could us a break! Offer them a service that is guaranteed to put a smile on their face. Below you can download three coupons that address items that are most likely on THE LIST. Help her cross them off and gain back some more “me time”!

After clicking the download button, you can save the PDF to your device.


07 May

Pepper Talk with Lisa Van Wormer

This month’s Pepper Talk features none other than Lisa Van Wormer! 

Just a little background before we get started, Lisa is a Content Strategist who has been with Eleven Peppers for a little over one year! 


1. Do you have any nicknames?
Well, my mom always called me the “Boss of Applesauce” (no idea why, haha), but in high school, everyone called me Pippi because of my red hair and signature two braids when I ran track.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Wrestle for a little more blanket from by 75lb American Bulldog who takes up more space than I do. 

3. How would you describe your writing style?
I love persuasive writing. It has been amazing writing on a marketing team because I get to stretch my creative fingers, but even in the monotony of technical writing, I try to add a personal touch or interaction with the reader to keep things interesting.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
It wasn’t planned. I thought my easiest avenue of employment post-military was to remain a linguist but learning another language as an adult and the rigors of never quite being able to communicate in the nuance and level I wanted to really drove me towards a job in English. So, when I left the Army, I took my clearance and I’ll try anything attitude to a small Training & Documentation company and started technical writing for them.

5. What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
I have to say, I love Microsoft Word. I know it gets a lot of hate, but I can make it do exactly what I want and fix it when it has a hissy fit. For large-scale projects, I really like In-design as well. As far as worse goes, Apple… why are you even bothering with Numbers and Pages, they are THE WORST!

6. What is your favorite thing about being a content strategist?
I have a small creative team and my best days at work are when the three of us are whiteboarding ideas and talking designs, words, and overall strategy. And, because the customer loves our products and the immense care and effort, we put into them before presentation, we have unique opportunities to be as creative as we want with products, designs, content, and message. After almost 20 years working for the government, this is the first time I have found such creative freedom.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
I am a reader, I love to read words, even in terrible stories. A clever turn of phrase always grabs me and reels me in. I try to read as much as I can, from full length books, to short stories, or even blogs. Reading what others spend time and effort to craft, design, and put the “words on the page” inspires me to do the same. 

 8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:

Caffeine all day long!

Sweet or Savory:

Savory all the way.

Favorite Movie:

Tie – Footloose and Wizard of Oz.

Favorite place to travel:

Alaska.

Hobbies:

Reading, Netflix consumption, travel, and extroverting.

read more

27 Apr

Celebrating 5 Years: Kathryn Gruver

Help us congratulate Kathryn Gruver on a half decade spent as a pepper!

Over the past five years, Kathryn has displayed the ultimate level of dedication and design prowess as a leading contributor to a variety of UX and design projects.

When Kathryn is not working, you’ll probably find her outside enjoying time with her husband, sons and dog!

To learn more about Kathryn, keep scrolling to read our special interview and infographic!


1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios?
So many things. Mainly it’s the family friendly culture; and fantastic, hard-working people. I also feel like the leadership is humble, honest, and appreciative.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
Black pepper, is that lame? It’s versatile and packs a nice, clean bite.

3. What is a favorite 11p event?
 I like our holiday parties. My husband and I get a nice evening away, and we get to see everyone.

4. What is your favorite Christmas present ever received from 11p?
We usually get a trip or gift certificate for one – as parents, they have been wonderful!

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
Our trip to Disney of course!

6. Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you:
Customers that I encounter are always impressed by our company’s work ethic. It’s hard to pin point one person who works exceptionally hard, because I feel like that’s part of our “way.” I guess Kate Coates always goes above and beyond what is expected of her, and knocks it out of the park every time.

7. My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Kathryn a little bit better…

1. What’s your favorite book of all time?
The Bible, other than that I don’t have one.

2. What’s your favorite activity to do with your sons?
Anything outdoors. Recently, we’ve been doing scavenger hunts on our walks around the neighborhood, and some pretty wild obstacle courses in the yard.

3. What do you love to draw most?
My dog; he won’t sit still while I draw, but he still makes a handsome picture.

4. What is your favorite thing to grow in your garden?
Any flower [that the deer won’t eat].

5. What is your favorite thing to cook using what you grew in your garden?
I can’t grow them well, but my mother grows amazing summer tomatoes.

6. If you could pick any weekend getaway, where would it be?
Anywhere with my husband, preferably around some body of water.

7. We hear your dog is pretty special, any special tricks or stories to share?
He isn’t obedient, but he is special. One time I planted some dill, and when I returned from putting my tools away, he unplanted it.

8. What’s your anthem – the song that you can always listen to pump you up?
I listen to old Pearl Jam when I need to get in gear.

9. If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
Pay off the mortgage.

10. What’s your favorite holiday?
Easter. It’s the reason Christmas is special; but I also love spring, and gathering with family.

23 Apr

Pepper Talk with Brittany Jones

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month it’s Brittany Jones’ turn to tell us more about who she is!

Just a little background before we get started, Brittany is a Senior Designer who has been with Eleven Peppers for about two and a half years!  She currently leads a team of multimedia designers and works on designing a wide range of government training material, providing deliverables for numerous agency organizations.


1. Do you have any nicknames?
Most call me Britt!

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit the snooze button to try and squeeze in a few extra minutes! (repeat x10)

3. How would you describe your design style?
Clean and minimal. I love simplicity and creating design that is easy for users to understand and engage with. The idea of creatively using white space and contrast to create eye-catching elements makes me super happy.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
At a young age I loved to draw (horses…lots and LOTS of horses) and in high school I took every art and photography class that was offered. I also had a passion for web design. I studied design at Stevenson University and worked at a stationery store designing wedding invitations. After graduating, I worked as an in-house designer at Johns Hopkins University. After almost four years of designing at Hopkins, I really wanted to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art for my MFA in graphic design. I always admired Ellen Lupton and the amazing designer, writer and professor that she is. About a year or so after grad school I joined the Peppers!

5. What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Of course the Adobe Creative Suite is my favorite! I really enjoy Illustrator, InDesign and After Effects.

Without a doubt the worst is PowerPoint. Bleh.

6. What is your favorite thing about being a designer?
My favorite part about being a designer is being a creative problem solver. I love figuring out the best way to communicate important messages in visual form and how each design brings a fresh challenge. Also, I love that as a designer you never stop learning. There are always new trends, new tools, new technologies, new sources of inspiration, etc.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
I have to agree with many of my fellow Peppers that inspiration comes from a little bit of everything! Pinterest, Instagram, Behance, fine art, architecture, movies/television, music, travel, nature, magazines, funny memes…the list goes on! 

 8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:

Yes pleaseeeee!

Sweet or Savory:

I feel like this is a trick question. Can I choose both?

Favorite Movie:

ALL of the Harry Potter movies (and books)!

Favorite place to travel:

It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite place! One of my most memorable trips was when I traveled with a group to six different countries including Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Greece, and Czech Republic. Most recently, my husband and I traveled to Hawaii. That easily became a top favorite! I also always love traveling to California.

Hobbies:

Photography and painting. I also love traveling, hiking, running races, reading, horseback riding and cuddle time with my dog Taytor.
read more

20 Apr

Celebrating 5 Years: Krista Cochran

We’re ready to celebrate, it’s Krista Cochran’s 5th Pepperversary!

Krista is an extremely talented Senior UX Designer. Since becoming a Pepper, she has been unrivaled in her ability to capture client’s requests and is committed to producing a superior product. She’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet, and her positivity radiates in the office!

Krista is absolutely family first. Her two girls keep her and her husband extremely busy running around with lacrosse, soccer, dance etc.

To learn more about Krista, keep scrolling to read our special interview and infographic!



1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios
The people!!! 11 Peppers is full of hardworking, inspiring and entertaining people.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
Orange bell pepper. I’m more of a sweet than spicy person AND orange is my favorite color.

3. What is a favorite 11p event?
Disney!

4. What is your favorite Christmas present ever received from 11p?
A Louis Vuitton purse!

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
Casino night. It was such a fun night full of great conversation and laughter

6. Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice:
Ryan Kelly. He has always been there to listen and give honest advice.

7. Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you:
Our main boss lady Kristen Parks! Even though I admire her hard work and dedication to 11 Peppers at the heart of everything, I love that she is a true designer.

8: My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Krista a little bit better…

1. Where is the best place you have ever gone fishing? 
My Aunt Tooties pond.

2. What is the best thing about being a “dance mom”?
When my daughter and her team come off stage and know they pulled off a great performance. To see them so proud of themselves and of each other is a great thing to watch.

3. What is it like raising two teenagers?
It depends on the day, but most days, it’s busy and entertaining. It’s actually fun when your kids get older and catch on to your jokes.

4. What do you love about living in Southern MD?
The slower pace of life and beauty of the farms and the water.

5. Which Jurassic Park movie is your favorite?
The original. It’s how it all started!

6. What is your go-to when you are baking a dessert?
Brownies.

7. What’s the most exciting place you’ve traveled for the girl’s activities?
Loved seeing the west coach beaches and LA.

8. What custom project do you love the most in your new house?
Our deck. Ron and Eliza did most of the work but it is definitely rewarding to enjoy something that our family built together.

9. Name your ultimate margarita (flavor and tequila).
Anything with Patron or 1800 Silver.

10. What has being a breast cancer survivor taught you?
To be thankful, even for the small things.

15 Apr

“The Great Indoors” Coloring Book

EXPLORE “The Great Indoors” with your kiddos! Download our one-of-a-kind coloring book filled with fun ways to bring typical outdoor activities – INSIDE.

After clicking the download button, you can save the PDF to your device.


Coloring is a great stress reliever for both kids and adults! Check out more cool coloring options below:

03 Apr

Moving Away From the Screen : Can It Improve Our Designs?

With the age of technology, we are able to do so much more and reach so many more people in literally seconds. But does all of that time in front of a screen start to have a negative impact on our creativity and thoughtfulness? Can moving away from our screens change and improve our designs?

Can adapting to a screen-less approach have a positive impact on:  
  • Our Time
  • Collaboration
  • How We Listen
  • Perspectives
  • Creative Solutions
  • Engagement
People computers = the key to designing interfaces

Yes, most of us are designing for screens, but our users are not spending most of their day interacting with screens. They are interacting with real world objects and people, so shouldn’t we be doing the same while designing those interfaces?

Challenge your design process or your team to try new ways to problem solve and discover. We don’t need our fancy programs to design, we just need brain power and a problem. So let’s stop clicking and start thinking!

Getting away from the screen – what to do instead:

Research and Discovery 

Product AuditTake the time to discover everything about the current tool/new project from speaking with the stakeholders.

Kick-off MeetingsGet everyone in a room for a whole day – or more! This is a useful strategy for business, development, content, and design.

Competitive AnalysisGo to real locations of similar and non-related businesses and ask all the questions you would normally discover from website competitive analysis.

User Interviews/ResearchUse IDEO Methods (IDEO Method Cards are tools that we can use as designers to research our users, products, and potential projects). Talk to real people.

PersonasTeam scrapbooking for real people you’ve met in your research. Pull faces from magazines or other papers.

 

Determining Scope and Priority

Include all team members in the planning effort (yes Devs, you too)!

User Journeys/ScenariosGet everyone’s perspective to create User Journey Stories on a white board. Make it a team discussion!

Requirements DocumentMake more than a designer’s checklist…. Get everyone’s perspective on what will happen and when. Your requirements start to form your product’s culture. Who/What > Action > When.

Prioritization and TimelineDon’t start by using a fancy online system like Monday or Jira. Ask everyone for input on prioritizing tasks from the Requirement Documentation.


Structuring Your Project

Conceptual Models – Go to the same places your users go when interacting with like-products or in similar environments like the one you’re creating. Are there any common concepts the users may be used to, like a shopping cart? Can and should these be relayed to the screen?

Information Architecture – Get out the cards! Time for some classic IDEO card-sorting. There are so many amazing hands-on ways to discover a hierarchy that makes sense for your content.

Error Handling – Pick up the phone OR go offsite to better understand how businesses and people handle errors in the real world.

Structuring and Language – Time to make another stop! Head out to where your users would interact with the content of your product. Finding any familiar/unfamiliar language? What kind of process do user’s go through when coming to these locations?

User Flows – Break out the sticky notes! Create a tangible, yet visual way to organize all of your content, pages, and features. Get the team in on this one!


Drafts, Sketches, and Wireframes

Navigation Design/Wayfinding – Go to locations that typically have strong direction-based environments. Think of places like IKEA, a popular trail, malls, etc. Note the way yourself and users navigate through and around the location.

Brainstorming Session – The more brains, the merrier! Don’t slump back into your cubicle quite yet. Share all your findings and hear what your team has to say! You might be surprised by what you’ve missed along the way.

Thumbnail Sketches – Sharpen those pencils and get to drawing. Don’t be precise! You should spend 30 seconds to a minute on each sketch. Include the whole team on this one! You’re not the only one who can make boxes and arrows.

Wireframes – Sketch, Illustrator, and XD, OH NO! Grab your graph paper and pencil to cleaner lines and more accurate positioning. This is a time for some epic iteration. Share with your team, try and grab some real users. Just keep drawing!


Creating the Final Look

Use All 5 Senses – Use all of your senses! Everyone knows what Christmas smells like and everyone can picture the feeling of crunching down on a leaf in the fall. How can you take advantage of all of your user’s senses to create a well-rounded brand?

Mood Board – Go hunting for inspiration, no not on the internet. Find actual objects to represent your brand’s look and feel. Go into it with some key words and ask your team if you hit the mark.

Typography – Don’t just pair fonts… Take images of existing fonts from real life. Compare them to our mood board of senses! Do they fit in? What type of fonts match the best?

Style Guide and Mockups – Bring in the Developers and determine all of the elements you need based on your wireframes. Bring print outs of your wireframes and have coloring sessions with your brand colors to determine final look.


WRITTEN BY
Halie Wickiser

Halie Wickiser has worked as a Senior UX Designer at Eleven Peppers Studios for over a year. She has over five years of UX and UI design experience creating intuitive and user-centered applications.

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