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About me

Let me introduce myself


A bit about me

Hi, I'm Sonja Ciotti - Branding Specialist and Graphic Designer. I've been in the biz for almost a decade now, wowing clients and having a little bit of fun. From book covers to web graphics, I create it all.

I also love to play/watch tennis, play the ukulele, go kayaking, and enjoy the great outdoors in general. Oh, and my favorite color is Hex Code CCFFF5 for all you fellow design nerds out there.

Profile

Sonja Ciotti

Some Deets

Sonja Ciotti

Here's some additional info which may, or may not, be interesting to you.

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Phone number: (919) 727-7781
Design Website (You're Here): www.sonjaciottidesign.com
Writing Website: www.sonjaciotti.com

RESUME

The Following is Accurate in its Entirety


Employment

  • June 2014-present

    Branding Specialist and Graphic Designer @ Greenroom Communications

    I design logos, graphics for web and print, and marketing materials internally and for the clients of Greenroom Communications. Also, I prepare and design company proposals, consult on overall client marketing needs, and create and evaluate success of campaigns.

  • June 2008-present

    Principal Designer @ SONJA CIOTTI Design

    I design logos, graphics for print and web, book covers, marketing collateral (business cards, brochures, postcards, etc.), and brand concept boards for individuals and small businesses.

  • February 2013-June 2014

    Marketing Materials Designer and Real Estate Systems Director @ Re/Max Preferred Associates, Raleigh NC

    I designed real estate print marketing campaigns for the Triangle MLS area. I also provided real estate marketing consultation and maintained listings on major real estate websites (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc). Finally, I assisted home buyers and sellers from the moment of contract all the way through closing by preparing essential paperwork, communicating with clients to answer contract questions, scheduling inspections, communicating with lenders and attorneys, and setting up and attending closing meetings.

Education

  • Class of 2014

    Southern New Hampshire University Master of Science in Marketing

    I graduated with a 4.0 GPA from the SNHU MS Marketing Program, was named Outstanding Student in my degree program for the graduating class of 2014, and was inducted a member of the international business honor society, Delta Mu Delta, Gamma Nu Chapter.

  • Class of 2012

    Dixie State University Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

    I won the Psychology Student of the Semester Award in Spring 2011 and was also nominated for the Psychology Student of the Year. I actively participated in psychology research projects and led my own independent research study on parasocial relationships in 2012. I graduated Magna Cum Laude.

  • Class of 2004

    Missouri State University Bachelor of Science in Geology, English Minor

    I graduated Magna Cum Laude from MSU where I won two departmental scholarships and was inducted into the national collegiate honor society, Phi Eta Sigma.

Skills & Things about me

Print Designer
Adobe Photoshop
Punctual
Adobe Illustrator
Web Designer
HTML Coding

Portfolio

My latest projects


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Daisy for Photos by Kayla Noelle

Click to visit PhotosByKaylaNoelle.com!
This past week I had the incredible pleasure of creating a logo for Photos by Kayla Noelle, who specializes in capturing life's milestones in the St. George, Utah, area.  Kayla's lighting and editing skills are phenomenal and I've truly been blown away by the beauty she showcases in her work, especially on the subject of maternity.

Kayla and I had been chatting the past few months about the possibility of me creating a logo for her photography business; finally last month the planets aligned and we got started.  One thing that I love about logo creation is that it is truly a collaborative effort between the designer and the client.  Before I set out to design anything, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I pass along to my clients my tried and true design questionnaire that helps them reach into their core selves to discover fundamental elements that I can incorporate into the logo design.  Sometimes filling out the questionnaire is hard work for my clients because they're unsure if the answers they come up with is what I'm actually looking for.  But it always is :) The ultimate goal is to create a logo that is timeless and just as representative of the clients' businesses a decade into the future as it is now; so, any information they give me to hone in on that timeless element is gold.

In the end, there were several main elements that stood out to me from Kayla's finished design worksheet that I immediately could envision implementing.  She loves sort of the 1940's aesthetic, she loves cheerful color palettes, and she loves gerbera daisies.  She said that she wanted a logo that was loosely connected with photography but that wasn't a cliche camera or aperture.  She also wanted me to see if I could work a lettermark of her initials into the design.  With this great direction in mind, I then came up with the first round of three different concepts:






Over the course of my experience in the biz, I have received the full gamut of responses to first round logos from "Start completely over" to "I love all of them."  I felt as I was creating this round, though - especially as soon as I had drawn that adorable gerbera daisy - that I'd captured something that just said Kayla all over it.  I sent it off and hoped she felt the same way :)  And I am happy to report, that she did.  In fact, she was the dream client all the way throughout - completely decisive, completely timely with her responses.  Just a real, honest joy!

Kayla prefered the font we called the "Vintage Postcard font," found below the viewfinder lettermark option above.  She liked both the loose flourish camera with the daisy lens icon and the daisy lettermark within the viewfinder.  She wanted to see what the flourish camera would look like less flourish-y by straightening out the sides of the brackets that made up the camera outline.  She also wanted to see what just the daisy lettermark looked like without the viewfinder corners. Kayla's logo needs differ from most other businesses I've designed for since whichever logo she chose, she would need a version that worked well as a watermark on her photography,   I presented some color options in Round 2 as well, and here were the results:



Something I do that I think other graphic designers may shy away from is to let my clients know that anything I design for them throughout our logo creation process is theirs to keep.  I had a hunch that Kayla may want to use both the daisy lettermark and the camera daisy lens icon, implementing one of them as a primary logo and the other as a secondary graphic used in collateral and such.  I think other designers may avoid offering to deliver multiple logo files because preparing each individual ready-to-go vector and other high resolution files of several images is time consuming.  However, what's most important is that the client feels ownership of the design process, in all that entails.  Kayla also loved the different color options and we decided it would be fun to have not just one official logo color scheme, but two!  So, I delivered to her the two different icons in all the different color choices, arranged in 4 different configurations for her web, collateral, and watermarking needs.





Kayla has incorporated the watermark version of her new logo on some of her adorable work over the past week - click the image below to head over to her Facebook page to see even more examples of her stunning work!  I am thrilled to have created something so representative of Kayla that she can use in her business.  I can't wait to see how her business takes off from here!




Friday, February 20, 2015

Today

My favorite poem by my favorite poet inspired the meme I created below.  I actually had the privilege of meeting Billy Collins at the National Book Festival in Washington DC in August of 2014.  You can read all about the serendipitous meeting and my awkward inability to remember the name of my favorite of Billy's poems when I actually got to speak with him over on my poetry page!






Monday, December 15, 2014

Creativity: A Brene Brown Inspired Pinterest Meme

I'm a pretty organized gal, but I love to make a good mess now and again.  Well, on the neat confines of a Photoshop canvas, anyway :) I adore the look of watercolor, ink blotches, tea stains, torn paper, you name it.  The messier, the better.  So, you can imagine my thrill and delight when I came across some really quality blotches brushes and got down and dirty making the background for a little Pinterest-worthy meme!

Something else you should know about me: I collect quotes.  Quotes about goals. Quotes about courage. Quotes about weirdness (those make me feel better about myself) :)

Lately, I've been talking with some brilliant creative types about the concept of competition in a creative field, such as graphic design and film making.  I've always found the act of cutthroat corporate politics in any workplace pretty lame, but there is an extra futility to the idea of competing specifically for creative jobs that I could never quite put my finger on.  Until I came across this quote in Brene Brown's book entitled The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Did I mention I love to collect quotes on creativity too?  

So, I decided to take Brene's incredible words and apply it to a creative project of my own. Pin this thang! It's my little reminder to you that no one else has your mind, your gifts, your skill-set, your CREATIVITY.  Success isn't finite; there is enough to be shared by everyone.


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Metamorphosis of the Mind Puzzle Media Logo


Metamorphosis refers to that process of changing from a cocoon to a beautiful butterfly, right? I don't know; I'm reaching and trying to dust off that folder labeled "5th grade science facts" for this one. I think metamorphosis is the right word. Yeah?

Anyway, the process from beginning to end in this super fun logo creation project was just that - a step-by-step peeling away of the layers to refine the logo into exactly what the company's founder had envisioned. I had the ideal client who had a strong sense from the beginning of where he wanted the logo to go; I LOVE when that happens :)

The client, Mind Puzzle Media, is a burgeoning multi-media company based out of Colorado Springs, CO. Visit the company's Facebook page to learn more! We'd been in talks for a couple of months to get a logo going for the company, so when the founder decided to pull the trigger, I sent over my 5-step visual branding exercise that I mentioned in my last post.  The results were decisive:

1) The logo needed to be a combination (image and text) logo
2) It should be colored blue and
3) It should feature the image of a brain composed of puzzle pieces

My mind immediately reeled with the possibilities of featuring a brain composed of puzzle pieces, starting with a very literal interpretation and ending very abstractly.  So, here's what I supplied in my first rough round of three concepts:

Literal brain divided into puzzle pieces.



In this one I played with the concept of the "puzzle" as being more like a roughly drawn ancient treasure map clue. Notice the "MPM" subtly worked in there.  Oh yeah.




And then for this one, I went a little more Art Deco in my interpretation of puzzle.  Like if John Wagner were to make a brain puzzle for a vintage 1920s poster, this would have been it.


So, my husband (Zak) and I took bets on which rough concept was going to be the winner - Zak said the ancient puzzle clue treasure map, but I felt in my heart of hearts that the founder's vision was very literal and he'd go with the first option.  Alas, I won that little contest - and literal was the winner.

Then the tweaking process began.  Not so many puzzle pieces - just maybe two or three - was the first request:

And then maybe if the puzzle pieces weren't cut off by the smooth outline of the brain, but rather if the pieces' edges made the outline and if the outlines of the pieces could be separated by spaces:


Yes!  We finally got there!  And now, to add back in the text below the image rather than on top of it, and we have ourselves a finished product:

After receiving the logo in the final delivery package, the founder of the company said he enjoyed opening up the file just to look at the final logo over and over.  That kind of talk makes a graphic designer's day, so let it be known :)



Monday, November 10, 2014

A Hand-Holding and NC State Football-themed Logo: A Family Affair

When a couple (who I adore) recently approached me with a request to make a family logo for them, I was over the moon.  Life's long and winding journey brought these two who were acquainted in childhood together again just a couple of years ago.  Their story is so inspiring, so naturally they deserved a beautiful visual emblem of their legacy and their common interests.

I take all of my clients through a 5-question visual branding exercise quiz - super easy, super fun.  I mean who of us is not addicted to Buzzfeed quizzes to determine everything from which Jane Austen character we would have been in a previous life to the color of our individual auras?  Yeah, I don't know how accurate the results of those quizzes are actually; I mean, a silver aura?  Is that even a thing? But the results of the visual branding quiz I administer to my clients are prettttttty accurate and the quiz seems to get at the heart of their core brand values, look, and feel quickly.  This goes for family brands as well!

So, two major recurring themes surfaced when these two sat down together to answer the branding questions:

1) NC State Football
2) Holding Hands

"Good luck making those two things come together in one logo," they said.  I LOVE a good challenge like that!

They also said they couldn't decide if a combination logo or an emblem logo is more of what they were going for.  Nevertheless, they gave me great direction to get going and here was the result:


NC State colors, football, hand holding - it's all there!  The combo logo choice is featured on top with the emblem on the bottom.  They both decided that the emblem logo is exactly what they were looking for.  Excellent choice, guys!

In addition to adding their new family emblem to their holiday cards (the moment I receive theirs this year, you'll be the first to have a look, btw), they asked for advice about home decor on which they could use the emblem. So I directed them to my favorite online printing service, Shutterfly which offers a myriad of customizeable home decor options.  No, I don't own stock in Shutterfly and they haven't even sent me anything free to put a plug in for them.  I just love them. (But Shutterfly, you can totally send me free stuff if you want) :)

I used Shutterfly's online visualization tool to plug in this family's new emblem to show them a couple of options.  First, one of their pillows happens to match NC State colors quite nicely:


Also, if they wanted something as simple as a little refrigerator decoration, this group of 3 customizeable magnets looks smashing with both the combo logo and the emblem logo featured.


In summary, the possibilities are endless for using a family logo in beautiful ways around the home.    What an amazing visual reminder to a family of their core identity and aesthetic appeal!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Free download! Mint Fox Wallpaper for your Apple Devices.You're welcome!

It's hot out there!  I'm writing from my 3rd floor office overlooking the tall pine and oak trees swaying as a storm is getting ready to blow through.  Nothing could be more beautiful than a North Carolina summer!  Except maybe a North Carolina spring, fall, winter.  Ok, I love North Carolina.

Anyway, without further ado, here is a little freebie creation of mine I thought you might enjoy!  I kind of have a thing for mint green and foxes. If you do too, these little buddies can be yours with just a tap.

Instructions: 
1. Tap and hold to save image to camera roll.
2. Go to Settings > Brightness & Wallpaper (or Wallpapers & Brightness for iOS 7) > Wallpaper (or Choose a New Wallpaper) > Camera Roll
3. Decide which screens you want the wallpaper to appear on, and...
4. Enjoy your little baby foxies.

For all generations of full size iPads

For all generations and types of iPad Minis

For all iPhone 5's
For all iPhone 4's and iPod Touch 4th Gen


Monday, July 11, 2011

What is beauty?

Back in May I read a book called The Beautiful: An Introduction to Psychological Aesthetics by Vernon Lee and his definition of beautiful fascinated me. Says he, "[Beauty is] not inasmuch existing in certain objects and processes, but rather as calling forth (and being called forth by) a particular group of mental activities and habits. What are the peculiarities of our thinking and feeling when in the presence of a thing to which we apply [the adjective of beautiful]?"

So I ask you to contemplate for a moment, what do you consider beautiful? And why? When is the last time you consciously sought after the experience of those peculiarities of thinking and feeling when in the presence of a beautiful thing?

This evening, Zak and I went for a bike ride on top of a cliff overlooking the entire city of St. George.  It was the golden hour, and rays were scattered in patches over the city and farmland as far as the eye could see.  To top it off, a glorious rainbow stretched over the entire eastern view, passing over a rock formation miles and miles away, appropriately named "Rainbow Ridge."  I thought about Lee's book in this moment, and how he described the thought processes of three theoretical spectators witnessing a beautiful scene.  The entrepreneurial spectator thought of the transportation and lodging that could be established here to make a profit. The scientific spectator imagined the processes that occurred through millions and millions of years of sedimentation and uplift to make this scene.  And the third spectator simply thought, "Oh the beautiful way that russet and lilac complement each other!  How I smile seeing those cerulean skies!"  In other words, the entrepreneur was living in the future, the scientist was living in the past, but the aesthetician was living in the present and recognizing that moment's gift to him.

It is only when we live in the present that we live fully.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Sheer Electrifying Magic of Contemporary Dance

As a member of the APA Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, I am always on the hunt for a work of art that moves me so powerfully, it gives me the chills.  This phenomenon really fascinates me!

Recently I went to see The Adjustment Bureau featuring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.  Emily's character is a professional dancer with the contemporary dance company Cedar Lake (which really exists; they're based out of New York City).  From the first moment we catch a glimpse of Emily Blunt rehearshing through a cracked door at the rehearsal studio from Matt Damon's character's perspective, Emily's graceful and edgy movements simply mezmerize.  By the way, Emily did her own dancing, which makes me love her as an actress even more.  But I digress.

So, this movie's showcase of contemporary dance led me to seek out other beautiful contemporary dance clips and I found one featured on the "So You Think You Can Dance" TV show that, as the host says, "Makes time stand still."  This clip includes the choreographer's background story of the dance which makes it even that more meaningful.  This is art at its finest.  And the fact that it's set to my favorite Coldplay song of all time definitely adds ;)  Without further ado...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnguqsMQmg4

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Most Perfect Winter Ball Designer Dress | Vogue Patterns

I would wear this dress to the Dixie State Psychology Club's Winter Ball on Saturday if the following were satisfied:
1. I had a working sewing machine. Emphasis on "working."
2. I had the skills to make roses like that.
3. I actually had the minutes and hours to make it between now and Saturday.

Nevertheless, I can dream.



V1162 | Misses' Dress | Designer | Vogue Patterns

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dreamery


Today while practicing my cello, I remembered a few notes of a song that I heard played on the piano about a decade ago.  As I picked out the notes on the cello, I mulled over the name - it's something German - starts with a T... hmmm: "Traumerei" by Schumann!  This is one movement from his broader work Children's Scenes.  I thought, "If only it were written for the cello."  Then I found it (thanks Youtube)!. 

It's soo much more than I remembered.  Simplicity, yet complicated introspection. Blinding light, yet a little dark.  High contrast, yet diffuse.  Without further ado...

Services

What I can do


Art Prints

I have created a series of adorable customizable, downloadable prints, perfect for hanging in nurseries or anywhere else for that matter. Check out my Etsy store, FoxDots for my selection!

Book Covers

I create eye-catching book covers that will help your written works stand out from the crowd on the shelves and in digital download stores. I can design according to any publisher's specifications: one less thing you have to worry about in the process of publishing.

Brand Concept Boards

To get a brand off on the right foot, it is necessary to create a collection of the colors, fonts, and textures that will encompass the brand's image. I can create a brand concept board that beautifully and accurately sums up your brand and will help to inform all web and collateral pieces moving forward.

Collateral

I love to design cohesive packages of marketing collateral: business cards, brochures, letterhead, and promotional materials (pens, pins, mugs, etc.)

Logos

Logo creation is one of the most fun things I do. From existing logo refreshes to from-scratch creations, you can depend on me to create a timeless, gorgeous logo that will serve as the centerpiece of your visual marketing endeavors.

Web Graphics

I create graphics featured in personal and business websites, social media cover photos, posts, and advertisements, advertising banners, email signatures, and non-print collateral (such as email newsletters, e-coupons, etc).

Contact

Drop me a line


Location

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Phone number

(919) 727-7781

My Writing Website

www.sonjaciotti.com