Not Safe For May

I started making websites when I was 11. I begged my parents to buy me Jasc Paint Shop Pro and started teaching myself HTML by visiting Lissa Explains It All any time I didn’t know how to do something (I still go there and it looks exactly the same as it did in 2001, by the way).

I remember my first website. was a whole lot of rainbow, glitter, and sparkling animated gifs. It wasn’t really about anything at all; I had a short biography, favorite links, profiles on my bffs, and drawings from my latest Powerpuff Girl online forum group. That’s kind of how it remained for the next couple of years. I learned basic practices by viewing page sources of countless websites and coding through trial and error. I bought Adobe Photoshop, taught myself CSS and PHP, but still my websites had no real content or through-line. I found I could reproduce structural/functional elements, but could never put together a cohesive design that would inspire a theme or genre of blogging.

I always secretly wish that I had majored in graphic or web design, but judging from the stressful deadlines I heard about from the GD students in my Beginning Art class, my collegiate-age laziness and procrastination were much more suited for a degree in the performing arts (most of my time was spent coding or Photoshopping, anyway). Regardless, graphic and web design have always been something I’ve loved doing. Even if I didn’t have a reason for doing it. I’m familar with the coding language, I just need to learn to convey my own inspiration through design.

Then came the time that I decided that the world needed to know what I was thinking. Mostly about frivolous things like nails and clothes but nonetheless, needed to know. So I started this blog; I’ve been teaching myself WordPress and scouring the internet for inspiration. I found a wonderful resource for online bloggers: August Empress. I actually found Jo Klima’s design website looking for a cute non-traditional chevron background image, which you are currently experiencing. If you’re familiar with Jo’s style, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that she’s awarding one scholarship to her design workshop, Your Darling Blog. Unfortunately for me, the cost of a workshop like this is a little more compared to the $8 bottle of nail polish I can’t put back on the shelf. Which is exactly why I’m writing this post now.

The workshop includes lessons and assignments to craft your brand as well as tutorials demonstrating different blog styles/techniques. There’s a private Flickr group where students can share their work and get feedback from one another; it would be like having 10s of my bffs telling me whether those jeans look good on me or not. Also included, one on one individual correspondence with Jo about your work. If I were to ever go back to school for design, I don’t think I could get close to the amount of resources/lessons/personal mentoring I’d receive in this workshop. There’s just something different about learning from an proven online professional, whose designs you can believe in.

I feel like this workshop would help me in so many ways. I’m still struggling for an online identity; I don’t really know who I am or what voice to convey online through this blog. If I want to reach a broader audience, I’d have to know a thing or two about branding. I’d really like to expand my design style knowledge and hone in on what inspires me as a blogger. From there, the content and resources would, without a doubt, start flowing.

I work in an office most of the week and having this outlet is something I’ve come to appreciate. Posting about outfits, shopping hauls, music interests, etc. is a way for me to feel like I’m not cooped up in that office all day. I’m serious about it this time. I want to maintain an online presence and connect with other bloggers about the random things we have in common. I want to establish myself, my blog, and my style. Hopefully Jo’s workshop is the ticket. I’d be eternally grateful if I were chosen to participate in the workshop.

Thank you for providing this awesome opportunity, Jo!

Images courtesy of August Empress/Your Darling Blog.


Mayette Villanueva is a California-based natural beauty & style blogger.