Client Work: Jamberry Nail Wraps

Hello friends! As some of you may know, I've had the great fortune to add Jamberry to my growing list of lovely clients. I've been having so much fun creating nail art for them over the last few months, and it's a continual joy to see other people wearing art that once lived in my sketchbooks! They recently released their fall catalog, and a number of my designs are now available for purchase! You can find links to each of them below:

Funky Fresh
Paper Planes
Pink Papaya
Pinwheel Perfection 
Tangerine Dream

I'm a Contributor on the Illustration Friday Blog!

Hey there, friends! I'm excited to announce that I've started contributing weekly posts over on the Illustration Friday blog. I've written about 4-5 posts so far, and the experience has been really enjoyable. I love writing about art and sharing the work of some of the most exciting illustrators out there! I'm covering illustrators who use surface pattern in their work, and showcasing the products their patterns appear on in the hopes that this will inspire other artists to imagine new applications for their own art. I hope you'll follow along, and if you feel so inclined, I'm always open to feedback.


Phew! It's been quite a while since I posted in this space. To be honest, this past spring I was feeling pretty burned out and creatively empty. In part it was because I lacked the focus necessary to move forward with the direction I wanted to take my business. One of the things I'm learning to embrace is the ebb and flow of creativity, and how to handle the times when it's not flowing. Luckily my recent travels to Portugal, Spain, Boston and New York CIty (more on that later this week) were just what I needed to refuel my creative energy and get the ball rolling again. It feels pretty great to be writing here in my new, refreshed space. It finally feels like home around here. The new design of my website symbolizes how solid I feel in the direction of my business and my voice, and I'm looking forward to developing this space into a place of creativity and dialogue about the world of art, freelance business, and life lessons along the way. So! Welcome to my new space - I hope you make yourself right at home.


Photo from my instagram feed.

A Few Paintings

Bold Florals No 2 | Bryna Shields
Bold Florals No 3 | Bryna Shields

I've been experimenting with some new materials and styles lately, trying to push beyond my default color palette (an ongoing battle). I thought I'd share the beginnings of a series of paintings I started earlier this winter. These are india ink and gouache on paper. Gouache and I are still developing a relationship with each other, but it's been fun! Really though, oil paint has been calling my name these days.

Freelance | Year One

My First Year of Freelance | High Fives for Everyone
My First Year of Freelance | High Fives for Everyone

A year ago yesterday, I walked out the doors of my day job for the last time and jumped into my dreams of a full time freelance life. I can hardly believe all that has transpired in that time: I've learned countless new skills, taught some classes, and even got to work with one of my dream clients. This past year has been all at once terrifying, exhausting, exciting and just all around crazy. It has also been the most exhilarating. There were a lot (a LOT) of times I wondered if I'm capable of handling it all, if I have what it takes, if I really want to do this for the rest of my life. Then I remember that beyond the haze of doubt and confusion, I have total ownership of my life. Every single triumph and every single failure, they are mine. More than anything, at the end of the day I feel accomplished and proud, and that's worth all those moments that test your spirit. The theme of the last 4 years of my life has been “pursuit” and now it’s starting to be “achieve”. I always kind of imagined I’d be stuck in the pursuit, so it all feels a little surreal that some of my dreams are coming to fruition. All the things I’ve done, all the things I perceived to be failures or setbacks helped me to get to this place right now, which is the place I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. It feels pretty awesome, and just makes me believe more than ever that you’re always where you’re supposed to be, even when it seems like you’re not - the key is to keep the eyes on the prize because eventually that big break will come through. It won’t come without a lot of questions and self doubt and frustration and, yes, failure.

I can hardly believe all that I've accomplished, professionally and personally. The hurdles of self-doubt and the floods of questions have only served to make me a better business owner, a more intentional and skilled artist. I am certainly still learning the ropes, I still have so many skills to improve and goals that are waiting to be accomplished. I am still learning the seasons of the business, and the seasons of my creativity, how to make them live in harmony. This journey has been all at once exciting, liberating and empowering. There were more scary moments than I was prepared to handle. And despite the many times I've asked myself "Can I really handle this? Am I totally insane for doing this?" I have never once regretted my decision to pursue life as a freelancer. I still have many moments of discomfort with the uncertainty about the future, but I cannot help but feel one thing: I am so ready to take on year two. Ultimately, this year has given me a strong sense of accomplishment, a deeper clarity on my goals for the future, a stronger focus on where I want to direct my business in the future, all of which I could never have predicted a year ago.

In the year to come, I hope to dedicate more time to teaching (something I discovered I really enjoy), to push my work and skills to higher levels, to travel more, to connect and collaborate with other creatives, to open a new online shop, to write and reflect more often, and to continue going after those dream clients/projects. Cheers to year two. Let's do this!

Happy Wednesday

Happy Wednesday Signup
Happy Wednesday Signup

Happy Wednesday y'all! Just thought I'd let you know about a new little illustration adventure I'm starting! Every Wednesday, I'll be sending out cheery drawings and you can have them sent straight to your inbox! If you're interested, you can sign up here. This week's illustration is Halloween themed! Stop by tomorrow for some festive digital wallpapers you can rock on your phone or desktop.

Featured in Design Milk

So this is a little late coming, but I still wanted to mention it on here (since this blog is becoming a record of my life as a freelancer). A few months ago I was honored to have a piece of mine featured on Design Milk, which is a kick ass blog featuring all kinds of delicious, well-designed (duh) goodies. This was my first time being featured on a major blog, and it was a huge learn for me as I continue to elevate my business. It has been a goal for a while now to send out more press releases about my work, in the hopes of opening the doors to new opportunities. And despite knowing how beneficial this is to a thriving business, I still felt crippled with fear. The thoughts that I should update my portfolio, or be better prepared to handle potential client questions (this, I think, will always feel intimidating), or my office should be more organized. Lots of excuses that arise from a deeper fear. I fretted over sending this piece to Design Milk for a few weeks before I actually did it. I sent a short and sweet email, hoped for the best but assumed that I wouldn't hear back. And you know what? I found out the very next day that it would be featured on the blog.

Now, I know that this kind of wonderful, immediate response is not always going to happen, and that I am not always going to have pieces featured, but it was a great reminder that you just have to start. The excuses and fear will always be there, but I am learning to push past those things, so that my business can continue to (hopefully) grow and thrive and so that I can grow too! I just wanted to share this with you because it felt great to push past the fear and I hope perhaps you can find it in you to do the same in achieving your own goals.

You can read the full blog post on Design Milk here.

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Moving in a New Direction

The older I get, the more willing I am to voice what I really want in my career, even the things that feel like far-off dreams (which by the way, most of them do). I've been obsessed with surface pattern for a while now, and finally feel brave enough to try my hand at it and even put it out there in the world. I have no idea what I want to do with these, but that's what I find most exciting about it. I think surface pattern is exciting for all the potential it holds - it can really end up anywhere: textiles, packaging, mugs, walls... I really admire people who see the potential in a simple abstract shape that, on its own may not be remarkable, but somehow transforms when fashioned into a pattern. Over the last few months, I've turned my focus to creating work that makes people feel cheerful and whimsical.

The next few months are exciting to think about because, after about four years of trying to be and do everything, I am ready to walk away from a lot of aspects of design that do not excite me in exchange for the ones that do. It can be a really easy hole to fall into, the urge to master a million different skills. The pressure is certainly there when you are job hunting. I guess at some point you realize what kind of lifestyle you want, and what kind of work will afford that to you, and what you are/are not willing to sacrifice, and you make decisions from there. That's what has been happening to me, anyway. So anyway, I am really looking forward to this more focused approach to my life and career, and cannot wait to see what it will look like down the line!

Hope these little experiments bring a little joy to your Thursday.