what’s in your toolbox: bri emery


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.

  1. Cassie says:

    I totally love everything Bri said! She is truly an inspiring person, thanks for featuring her!

  2. 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!

  3. Gabrielle says:

    Letterpress anything + Bri Emery = the best idea ever. I so hope that happens soon!

  4. miss kelly says:

    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!

    BisousBisous

  5. Minoux says:

    Wow, I feel jazzed after reading this interview. Inspiring energy!

    I’m a huge fan of vintage matchbooks, too. It makes my day when I find them at estate sales. Have you seen this flickr set of international vintage matchbook covers? Swoony!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/maraid/sets/72157594234429063/

  6. bri’s passion for design is infectious. spread the sunshine!! and wonderfully captured by bonnie!

  7. Annette says:

    you know how much i love this little lady, great post ginny, love you too!

    xo your other boss lady….

  8. 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!

  9. catherine says:

    I….am in love.

  10. Nia says:

    Okay, I give up. Why am I the first person to give out the Rue Magazine url? There’s not even a link in the article!

    http://www.ruemag.com/

  11. victoria says:

    yay, bri!! awesome interview. you are my style hero!

  12. miss kelly says:

    oh bri, i love every bit of this!! so proud of you friend. xo

  13. GrownUp says:

    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.

  14. Vanessa joie says:

    I love bri and her fun sparkly personality!

  15. Lisa says:

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

    Don’t hate me cause I’m happy…:)

  16. joy says:

    bri ROCKS the house. period.

  17. Michaela says:

    I love Bri! She’s so spunky and creative. Wonderful interview. I also love somersaults (:

  18. 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!

  19. Jen says:

    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.

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