ginny branch stellingwhat's in your toolbox

what’s in your toolbox: bri emery

by Ginny

Today I have the real thrill of introducing you to the blonde darling behind the blog Design Love Fest (where type and images totally make out). She’s also the art director for Rue Magazine, a leading online shelter and lifestyle magazine that I am absolutely addicted to! Bri is also the branding guru behind rockstar artists/designers/sites such as Max Wanger’s shop, Once Wed, Bash, Please, ban.do and many others! Since Bri is the epitome of a love bug (hello, her blog), I figured who better to kick off the month of February? Dust off your most festive party dress, grab a handful of confetti and put on your best red lipstick for Miss Bri Emery!

All photos above and below by the the talented Bonnie Tsang.

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox? What are the tools you can’t live without?

Bri Emery: It is me and my iMac against the world! And my trusty sidekick, Wacom tablet. There is also this really helpful online tool called Asana that I have been using lately for project management. It is a bit of a lifesaver.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ___________.”

Bri Emery: Jazzed! I absolutely love what I do, and every time I get a fun new project in my inbox, I just want to do jazz-hand dances at my desk. When you emailed me about this interview, jazz hands were definitely in order.

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Bri Emery: I really appreciate delicate typography and information design. Someone who can make a pie chart look like a work of art is a superstar in my book — take this for example! I also get inordinately excited over old matchbooks. Designing something powerful and eye-catching while being restricted to such a small space is one of those nerdy challenges that I love as a graphic designer.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Bri’s interview after the jump!

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book and do you make “to-do lists?”

Photo credit: Bonnie Tsang

Bri Emery: I’m an efficiency-aholic. I do want to thank my parents for giving me a reallllly good memory. But for those days on which I can’t remember everything, I have a chalkboard wall painted behind my desk. I also email myself notes that have subject lines like: “DONT YOU DARE FORGET THIS, BRI!”

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Bri Emery: I’ve always liked this question: invisibility cloak, for sure! There are so many killer pranks that could happen with one of those things. And if I was gonna sneak an option #2 in there, I would say the ability to Photoshop in my sleep.

6. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks? What tools do you use to keep your creativity flowing?

Bri Emery: The other day, I had a major block. Every idea I had was just awful. I did a few somersaults in the office, and it turns out I completely forgot how to do a somersault, and I made a huge fool out of myself. But I had a good laugh, and laughing usually leads to good ideas for me.

7. Design*Sponge: In addition to being the art director of Rue Magazine, a dazzling graphic designer, and a rock star blogger, to name a few, what would you like to conquer next?

Bri Emery: Paper products! I live for letterpress, and it has always been my dream to have my own line of cards and posters. Giving cards is something I hope never dies because it’s such a heartfelt gesture. I am a really sentimental gal, so it would be cool to be a part of the whole card world.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Photo credit: Bonnie Tsang

Bri Emery: I live in Silver Lake, and I’m surrounded by a constant flood of inspiration — from the geometric blue-tiled floors at Intelligentsia, to the brass lamps at Lawson Fenning, to the neighborhood junkyard (hardly junk!) filled with old door frames and windows. I also try my very best to make it to the Rosebowl or Long Beach flea markets every month; it’s crazy the ideas you can come up with after looking through piles of old magazines and scrounging through racks of vintage clothing. I also get really inspired by eating cheesy tater tots from Umami Burger.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Bri Emery: I’m in awe of the designers at House Industries. Given that the tagline of my blog is “Where type and images totally make out,” you can see that typography is close to my heart. Their wooden objects and letterpress prints give me full-body goosebumps!

10. Design*Sponge: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and what advice would you offer to young art directors/graphic designers/bloggers?

Bri Emery: Jen Gotch, one of the founders of ban.do, once told me: “Takes risks, ask for help, and celebrate with champagne.” How great is that? Also, I’d add the importance of trusting those gut feelings; I always say “guts know best.”

11. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Bri Emery: Don’t tell my boyfriend, but lately my heart burns for Jack White from The White Stripes. He epitomizes cool and effortless! His redhead hottie wife Karen Elson released a record that I really enjoy listening to while I work. And when I get sick of those, I just jam out to The Jackson 5.

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  • Thanks for sharing with us, Bri! I’m so inspired by the button “jazzed” photo and chalkboard wall! I’m excited to check out your blog for the first time too! :)

  • She’s so adorable. I am also a graphic designer, but not freelance, and I admire those that can keep themselves organized and out there enough to make a living on their own. I think I will keep that quote handy when I need a pick me up :)

  • She’s amazing. Great interview and RUE magazine is to die for. Also, I recommend following her on Twitter to introduce new ideas.

  • Are Mother’s allowed to brag on these articles, because if so, I’d just like to say how much I love this child o’ mine! I knew from the time she was 3 she’d be a star, and she is surely making me out to be right about that! LOVE all the photos, and some of her witty answers make the corners of my mouth curl up. Proud of you, Breezy!

    • Terri

      Yes indeed you are! Comments from people’s parents are my absolute favorite kind. Thanks for sharing- I can only imagine how creative Bri was when she was little :)


  • YAY BRI! she’s so stinkin cool and fun it’s unbelievable. and who doesn’t want to just live in her design and world?! amazing.

  • Bri is like a ray of sunshine – when I worked with her is was always inspiring me with fun and exciting ideas. She’s UBER talented and I have no doubt in my mind that she will do amazing things in her lifetime.

    Lovely feature Bri! xx

  • The vibrant colors and images go so well with Bri’s vibrant personality! I will definitely be taking some extra time to check out Bri’s blog because I’m feeling super inspired just from reading this and seeing all of Bonnie’s beautiful images of Bri’s studio!

    ps. anyone who spells out words with colorful vintage buttons is a YES in my book :)

  • What a great interview and I love the fact that Bri’s mom commented. It is very inspiring but the best part is the advice that she shared from the founder of Ban.do. I plan on documenting that!

  • Love this interview. Bri is inspiring to all of us out there. Especially love her quote from Jen Gotch. What a motto to live by… Thank you!

  • I love that Bri uses the word ‘jazzed’! I always catch myself using that word, and I think, is that super-nerdy? Not that I care, sometimes I just wonder…

  • Brilliant! The interview left me grinning and speechless. What an amazing force of inspiration Bri is!!
    I immediately sought out her blog..& am totally hooked. More addictive that a hot fudge sundae!!

  • oh i loved the blog, now i love the girl behind the blog too!! i email myself threatening reminders also! thanks for sharing :)

  • I LOVE everything that she has had done. After visiting her website, I see that I’ve seen her work in various online venues but had no idea she was the genius behind it. Glad I can now put a face with the fAnTaBUlOuSneSS!

    Question: Does Bri do the back-end part to her website designs? Or does she outsource it. I find that to be a problem for a freelance graphic designer. It seems like there would be more work out there if I could do the coding part in addition to web design.


  • What a great interview! I found out about Bri from Oh Joy! and her site is so creative.. she seems like an amazing individual. Perfect for the start of February, indeed! : )

  • Love this interview. And happy to know Bri and I totally have something in common – I’m the jazz hands master. We’re destined to be BFFs. Swear I’m not a stalker :)

  • It’s nice to meet you, Bri! I loved the somersault story. Sometimes you just have to turn the world upside down. I’ll have to try that e-mailing myself technique for important things. “Amma! Don’t forget this or else!” Love it already.

  • What a nice combination: beauiful+inteligent! And I’m wondering how she has time for all what she do…And next time I’ll send the emails to me also:) Thanks for share!

  • Bri, you are my type of girl. Jazz hands and somersaults all the way. Thanks for this – a charming way to start my day. :)

  • love Bri, and so enjoyed meeting her at Lavish in Atlanta! I will never forget her spirit and all the fun that was had! She is simply great, great, great!


  • Have to agree with Barb (@knack) 100%! I met Bri at Lavish as well and she is just as lively in real life as she appears in this post. She has such a wonderful energizing spirit! I’m so happy to see how well her freelancing career has gone since she took the big leap and I can’t wait to see the amazingness (yea, so not a word but you get the idea) she comes up with in the future. Congrats, Bri!!

  • Thanks so much for introducing me to Bri. I love her energy and her blog is amazing. A new addition to my must-read list.

  • This was soooo inspiring! Bri you are so wonderful and you’re interview was refreshing! I long for the confidence to take a risk and follow a career path doing my own thing. Great to see real stories of people doing it. Couldn’t help but notice your love for Jack White as well…my favorite artist. Keep doin’ your thing girl, love it!

  • Bri is so cool! She seems like such a positive, upbeat person! I really think I should’ve considered majoring in graphic design instead of interior design, it’s so much more flexible and there is so much more one can do with those skills! Cheers to Bri!! XO

  • As the commenter above me stated…Bri has an awesomely successful career and those of us just starting out in the graphic design world look up to her. This was such a fun and inspiring post, thanks!

  • all i can say is….

    swoooooonning!! Miss Bri, you are amazing and a half! Look at where your rocket has taken you! To the glitter gallery that is! Keep the loveliness churning.

    Thanks Gin for again taking us deeper!


  • Great interview. Bri is just as amazing as she looks. Great advice from a stylish, fun-loving woman. I wish her continued success; Bri will be a gal to watch and admire for years to come!

  • I like this woman’s work, and I like a lot of what you post on this site. But I have to say, i don’t understand why adult women in the blogosphere insist on talking like 13-year-olds in junior high. Making out!!! Cheesy tater tots!!! It’s been done, and done, and done, it all sounds the same, and it’s not cute or sophisticated or interesting. I’m sure you won’t publish this, but the juvenile language ruins your blog for me. I’d much rather hear a friendly but thoughtful conversation about design, pattern, color, and trends.

  • Wow, that’s kind of a total downer! Wait – did you say blogosphere?

    Don’t hate me cause I’m happy…:)

  • It’s so refreshing to hear a designer talk about “out of the norm” inspirations for work. It’s difficult to sit down every single day and crank out work- as designers we need to remind ourselves from time to time to not take ourselves so seriously. It’s these human moments that inspire really great design- and you can see it in Bri’s work. Totally trying the somersaults the next time I have a block. Love it!

  • i love Bri because of her playfulness and ability to make her work so much fun! You can’t help but smile when you see what she does with color and type.