24 Nov

Thanksgiving Behind-the-Scenes

The 11p commercial team is always up for a challenge. We feel very comfortable designing custom illustrations and icons, but we’re always thinking… “How can we take it a step farther?” How about three-dimensional illustrations with motion?

Admittedly, we were inspired by all the great designers out there already pushing the envelope. Designers like Gail Armstrong, Adé Hogue, and Julene Harrison.

We love the tactile quality of working with paper and the opportunity to bring designs off the computer and get physical! We also value the addition of motion to our work. Even the simplest animation can add a considerable amount of life and energy to an illustration. Check out this article by Hoodzpah Design for more on that.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we saw this as the perfect holiday to experiment with these concepts. Below is a behind-the-scenes view of the process we followed to create our Thanksgiving social media posts. Since this is our first project using these methods, there are lots of lessons-learned, but we hope you enjoy the playfulness and energy of the final product. It combines all of the items that bring happiness during a spicy Maryland Thanksgiving (some of us root for teams other than the Ravens and that’s OK 😉 ). Happy Thanksgiving!

Mood Board

We took inspiration from one of the most treasured Thanksgiving Day traditions – The Macy’s parade!

Initial Sketch

Final Vector Layout

Behind-the-Scenes During Shoot Day

We used a Cricut machine to cut most of the float shapes and then added fold lines to create extra depth.

Some Detail Shots

Final Static Image

Final Animations

Melissa London
Art Director at 11P, Toddler Influencer, Wine and Cheese Enthusiast, Maker of Crafty Things.

17 Nov

Pepper Talk with Ashley Mueller

Get to know Ashley Mueller in this month’s installment of Pepper Talk! 

Just a little background before we get started, Ashley works on UX projects for one of our government clients. She’s been with Eleven Peppers for 2 years!

1. Do you have any nicknames?
Ash! I know, very unexpected.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit snooze at least 3 times (yes, that is 27 minutes of snoozing and purely interrupted sleep)…then get caffeinated and do the NYT mini crossword!

3. What is your favorite part about working as a UX designer?
I thrive in a collaborative environment, so I really like that I can combine my first love of design, layout and composition, with working closely with users to understand their needs and developers/engineers to create solutions.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
I was lucky enough to discover that I wanted to become a graphic designer in high school after designing layouts for our yearbook. I majored in Graphic Design at the University of Cincinnati, School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), and as a part of that program we alternated quarters of curriculum and cooperative education over 5 years. I graduated having worked at some really amazing design firms around the country and a pretty good idea of which design industries I wanted to work in moving forward. I worked for an environments design firm before moving out to DC for a graphic design position in the IC…and the rest is history 🙂

5. What are your favorite apps for design?
My OG tools of the trade…InDesign and Illustrator. I love organizing a publication, print or digital, in InDesign. Character and Paragraph styles, yesss! Hoping to add XD to the list soon!

6. What do you draw inspiration from?
Travel and getting out and about! Design events around DC (pecha kucha, creative mornings, etc.). And, of course, all the talented creatives I’m surrounded by. I’ve been constantly impressed by the level of talent among my colleagues everywhere I’ve worked, and the Peppers are no exception! I also frequent all the standard design inspo sites we all know and love.

7. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:

Yes please!

Sweet or Savory:

Savory (and salty).

Favorite Movie:

The fact that one doesn’t immediately come to mind probably means I don’t have a favorite?

Favorite place to travel:

Currently in COVID times…anywhere outside of my DC apartment. Otherwise, everywhere! Out of the places I’ve visited in recent years, St. Tropez, France is probably at the top of the list, but hopefully the best is yet to be seen! 


Curating bookshelves, bopping around any city, making new cocktails has become a quarantine favorite, dinner parties turned dance parties, obsessively Facetiming my out-of-town nephews (they seem to appreciate this less than I do).

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28 Oct

Pepper Talk with Theresa Santelli

Get to know Theresa Santelli in this month’s installment of Pepper Talk! 

Just a little background before we get started, Theresa works on creative strategy and operations. She’s been with Eleven Peppers for 6.5 years!

1. Do you have any nicknames?
Tea, Aunt T, and Trees.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Make coffee.

3. What is your favorite part about working as the Director of Creative Services?
I believe in what we do as a creative company and it’s exciting to be a part of it. Every day is different.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
My high school had something called “Senior Project” where we went out on internships. I worked at a local cable station and caught the media bug which later turned into a multi-media design bug and was instrumental in figuring out what I wanted my concentrations to be in college. After college, a karate friend suggested I join Women in Film and Video which provides excellent networking and mentorship opportunities. And the rest, as they say, is history.

5. What are your favorite apps for organization or design?
I am a firm believer in using all the Adobe tools in your workflow for what each is best at and making them work with each other. However, I LOVE After Effects and Illustrator the most when it comes to design. I’m just so happy when I’m in those. I’m also an organization and productivity junky. My favorites right now are Monday and Reminders.

6. What do you draw inspiration from?
Interior design is a big one for me, nature, and fine art. As important as digital design is my brain needs a break from the screen sometimes. One of the designs I’m most proud of was very inspired by nature. And now that I don’t spend much time designing anymore, I find myself drawing inspiration from people. From my fellow peppers to our partners and clients. A conversation with someone or seeing how people approach things can be inspiring.

7. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:


Sweet or Savory:


Favorite Movie:

Return of the Jedi

Favorite place to travel:

I can’t possibly choose. I love to travel!


Hiking, travel, food (both tasting and cooking), exploring and trying new things.

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03 Sep

Pepper Talk with Ryan Kelly

Get to know Ryan Kelly in this month’s installment of Pepper Talk! 

Just a little background before we get started, Ryan works on UX projects for the government sector. He’s been with Eleven Peppers for 6 years!

1. Do you have any nicknames?
Oh yes I do…many…ha. However the one that I’m most proud of is Ron Flattery. Let’s just thank David Meade Jr for listening to 105.7 the fan. It’s something about Dave from Salisbury who calls in and suggests ridiculous Orioles’ trades like Ryan Flaherty for Mike Trout. Only, he pronounces his name “Ron Flattery”. And apparently I also look like Ryan Flaherty in addition to having the same name. And since I’m from Salisbury, this just goes full circle. Thanks Dave! …Both of you!

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Slowly roll over and squint to see a fuzzy red square that sort of resembles a digital clock only to have no idea what time it is. And then hit snooze.

3. What is your favorite part about working in UX?
User Experience has enabled me to touch so much more than just design. I’ve been able to dabble in development, systems engineering, user engagement, marketing and really solve problems on a daily basis. It seems that every project is new and exciting. It also gives me a sense of helping people and helping the mission.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
After a degree in graphic design, I began working for a technical publication company supporting the Navy and Marine Corp. I found so much appreciation in helping our warfighters that I decided to continue working in this sector as a career. Design lead to web development, multimedia, and distance learning, to soon open up opportunities for user experience.

5. What are your favorite apps for UX?
Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are my jam. But I need to get on this XD bandwagon. And why only apps? A good sketch book can solve a lot of the world’s problems!

6. What is your favorite part about being a UX designer?
Funny you say “UX designer”. I typically say “User EXPERIENCE” because there’s so much more to it than just design. That’s kinda what I love about it. Only a small percentage of the work is really design where you’re branding and creating a beautiful website. It’s also improving the user’s overall experience through an intuitive Interface, efficient data sources, instant feedback to errors and much more. Like how Apple described the iphone, it should be SO easy even a baby can do It.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
I’m inspired by the people we have at 11 Peppers. Just seeing what some of our colleagues are working on is enough to start the burst of creativity. Our brown bag sessions also get the mind working. I tend to be inspired by some of my hobbies as well like wood working, homebrewing, car modification and racing. I draw inspiration from the techniques and precision involved in all of those.

 8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:

Café con Leche everyday

Sweet or Savory:

I lay off the sugar.

Favorite Movie:

Usual Suspects

Favorite place to travel:

In general: Secluded beach or mountains

More specific: Hawaii (need to get back to Oahu)


Wood working, home brewing, car stuff, camping, socializing…

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10 Aug

Pepper Talk with Rebecca Popka

We’re diving in deep to get to know Rebecca Popka for this month’s Pepper Talk! 

Just a little background before we get started, Rebecca works as a Senior UX Designer supporting an application for the government. She’s been with Eleven Peppers for 6.5 years.

1. Do you have any nicknames?
Popka and Pop

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Ugh, where’s the snooze button…just 5 more minutes

3. How would you describe your design style?
Detailed oriented with a holistic approach

4. How did you get started in this industry?
I started at Virginia Commonwealth University pursuing video and animation but quickly adapted to graphic design, and later on UX Design, after graduating. Opportunities for video and animation were few and far between as well as competitive because the popularity of CGI had just taken off.

5. What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Favorite: Pen and paper, a camera, and the Adobe Suite
Worst: PowerPoint

6. What is your favorite thing about being a designer?
The creative freedom to express an idea

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
Imgur, games, Pinterest, YouTube…and a lot is also drawn out from my peers and family

 8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:


Sweet or Savory:

Sweet…I have a big sweet tooth

Favorite Movie:

Two Weeks Notice

Favorite place to travel:

Walt Disney World


Recently, rock painting with my son. Also, board games and MMOs, more specially World of Warcraft…”For the Horde!”

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14 Jul

Pepper Talk with Melanie Benton

We’re diving in deep to get to know Melanie Benton for this month’s Pepper Talk! 

Just a little background before we get started, Melanie works on The Commercial Team as a Senior Designer. She’s been with Eleven Peppers for a year and a half, and absolutely loves collaborating with her team, clients and other creatives in the industry!

1. Do you have any nicknames?
I typically go by Mel. For all the Spice Girls fans out there, I also go by Mel B.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Let the dogs out. Who? And then make a coffee. Just the smell of it brewing is enough to get some morning energy!

3. How would you describe your design style?
I’d say my natural design style is along the lines (pun intended) of clean lines and the use of typography. I love all of the little details of a typeface and exploring font-pairings!

4. How did you get started in this industry?
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved all things creative and expressive. There is something about crafting and creating something with your own hands that has always made me happy. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up, and crafts were our thing. It wasn’t until high school when I joined the Yearbook committee, that it clicked for me that I could take those interests to another level. This is when I was first introduced to layout design and fell in love.

5. What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Favorites – InDesign, Illustrator, Trello, blue light glasses.
Not my favorite – Excel (only because I don’t know enough about how to use it to its best ability).

6. What is your favorite thing about being a designer?
My favorite part about being a designer is the people that I get the opportunity to collaborate and work with. This includes clients and other creatives in the industry. Through my experiences I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with passionate entrepreneurs, Architects, Photographers, Interior Designers, Exhibit Designers, Marketing geniuses, Developers, and insanely talented Graphic Designers and Art Directors.

I love working closely with clients because of their energy and passion for what they do. The excitement and drive they bring to a project are contagious. Other creative team members like the ones mentioned above bring fresh perspectives and endless opportunities for learning and growth.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
I’ve found that inspiration can come in the smallest of forms at ANY time throughout the design process! Some of my best ideas came at a time when I least expected. I am also a strong believer in stepping away from the screen when feeling stuck— I take a walk outside with my dogs, go for a run, or turn to more tangible inspiration. I have a wooden crate in my office full of great design finds that I’ve collected over the years and throughout my travels. A recent example is a coffee cup sleeve from a local shop in Charleston that has stunning hand illustrated typography. Every so often I find myself sitting on the floor picking through the crate and it never disappoints.

 8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:

LOTS. Coffee in the morning and tea at night.

Sweet or Savory:


Favorite Movie:

Anything funny or produced by Judd Apatow.

Favorite place to travel:

Hawaii hands down.


I love being outdoors with my fiancé and our two dogs. We live near lots of lakes, parks, and the beach. We try to balance out our love of going to restaurants and breweries with being active. Recently, I’ve had more free time, so I’ve been able to DIY for our wedding, and I also enjoy freelancing when I’m able to. Right now, I’m working on a personal project and playing with watercolor! Any/all tips welcome!

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23 Jun

Celebrating 5 Years: Kate Coates

And just like that… Kate Coates has officially been a Pepper for 5 years!

Kate is a master of all trades – from renovating her 1908 home, to raising her little boy, teaching at UMBC and participating in dog competitions with her Silken Windhound, Izze – she can do it all! 

Kate is an extremely detail-oriented designer, keeps very cool under pressure and is known to her coworkers as the logo queen! She is very low key, humble, and easy going.

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

1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios?
The trust in knowing that 11P has your back.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
Hatch Chili Pepper because I’m such a huge fan on New Mexico. Plus I could eat Tex Mex every day, all day and never get tired of it.

3. What is your favorite 11p event?
I really enjoyed the glassblowing event where we made pumpkins and ornaments. I had never done anything like that before it was really neat to see how it is done.

4. What is your favorite present ever received from 11p?
While I’ve received so many nice things from 11P, it’s honestly one of the smaller things that stands out the most. The Fogo de Chao gift card that I won at the company White Elephant (sorry Rich) was used to drop the news to my parents and in-laws that we were expecting our first child. Great memories!

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
I always really enjoyed the company White Elephant game at the Christmas Parties. It was a fun little competitive game that got everyone laughing in no time.

6. Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice:
AC. Always a friendly and listening ear and a really good secret keeper when I found out I was pregnant while on our work trip to California.

7. Name a Pepper whose work ethic inspires you:
Kelsey. How she balances the crazy early mornings, intense exercise regiments, a full time job, and now teaching, I’ll never know!

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 Kate a little bit better…

1. What is your favorite TV series of all time?
The miniseries 11.22.63 starring James Franco on Hulu was a surprisingly awesome little show that I can’t recommend enough. It’s about a high school teacher that travels back in time to prevent John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

2. Which room is your favorite in your refurbished 1908 home?
Hands down, the kitchen. While it was (and remains) the biggest room in the house it was really gross when I first moved in. The vintage 1908 sash windows didn’t want to stay open themselves and were not positioned in a way where you could see the beautiful backyard. The white paint haphazardly painted on the cabinet exteriors had to yellow with age, matching the beige colored porcelain tile. The previous owner hadn’t even cared to extend the white paint to the interior of the cabinets, exposing the brown varnished wood and wallpapered shelves. As I said, it was really gross.

We did a ton of work and with the help of my architect father, redesigned the space. We demo’d everything down to the studs and built everything back new. We installed free custom cabinets that we got off of one of my dad’s residential jobs.  We blew a hole in the rear wall to add a full glass panel door to have a view of and easy access to the backyard and installed charcoal slate-looking tile throughout. Ultimately, the room has so much more light and life to it now. And now all things that are meant to be white are is just icing on the cake!

3. Do you have any favorite DIY projects?
Installing hardwood floor is actually pretty fun. I’d take that over installing tile floors any day of the week.

4. How many shows has your dog competed in?
My Silken Windhound, Izze, and I have participated in three shows at this point. It took us a while to get in a groove and by the third show she beat out several other dogs to walk away with Best in Breed and 2nd in the Sighthound class. We’re hoping to get two more competitive wins so she can be a UKC Champion. We’ll see when COVID decides to let us get back out there.

5. What’s one of your favorite assignments to give your students?
The class that I teach at UMBC is one big culminating project that students work the whole semester on. Each student picks their own project and then we go through the entire life cycle of a UX project from analysis through design. It’s really fun to see really bad websites transformed into thoughtful designs. Great portfolio pieces!

6. What was the most challenging part of getting your Masters in UX?
Group work in the real world isn’t bad but for some reason group work in school never goes as expected. Grad school was full of various group assignments that had varying levels of teammate participance. Groups were by far the most challenging part of grad school, thesis included.

7. What do you love about being a boy mom?
Being kept on my toes. Honestly, it’s both a blessing a curse. This boy doesn’t stop, like ever! But when I think of how many calories I’m burning without going to the gym it makes me feel a whole lot better. (Plus chasing Alden around is much better than the gym.)

8. What’s your favorite pastime activity with your family?
I’ve always loved visiting the Outer Banks in the summers with family. It’s always great to catch up during the week with people you don’t see enough.

9. Any hidden talents or hobbies?
I’d love to discover some when I find time!

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:


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.


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

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