My creative influencers of 2017

Yes! I’m stoked to share this with you – I’ve been tweeting, liking and loving this bunch of staggering people a lot this year. Here’s my rundown of favourite influencers, mainly designers and writers, in digital. These experts aren’t newcomers to 2017, quite the opposite, many have put years into their craft and post real quality. They’re people I’ve been taking time to read and follow on my own creative journey this year. There are some good ‘uns. I hope you see some people that resonate with you and maybe a few you haven’t discovered before. They are all consistently generous with their contributions and want to empower other creative people. Inspiration is here in spades 😀


Jeff Sheldon: Ugmonk

Jeff has been building this gorgeous t-shirt brand for the last 10 years. He’s got dedication and commitment to his craft ingrained in his brand Ugmonk. I’ve bought a number of his products – mainly t-shirts, and am really pleased he’s expanded his women’s line this year. There’s one marked feature that draws me back to his work, before I look at his products, I’m drawn to his thought process. Mainly his writing and what influences him. Jeff stands head and shoulders above many ‘inter-preneurs’ – he’s not creating in a hurry. Or keen to be visible in content bursts spread thinly. Or, crucially, in a hurry to sell at anyone. He’s built a loyal audience, many design fans, who are drawn to quality over quantity. I massively respect him for this.

Ugmonk’s Women’s line

He sends out a monthly, ‘5 things I’m digging’ email that has sparked lots of new discoveries for me this year. Here’s a small snapshot of some of those discoveries:


Fancy goods:

One recommendation caught my eye recently. I wanted to buy a new study bible. Jeff is also a Christian and recommended this beautiful edition, illustrated by lettering artist Dana Tanamachi.

Jason Rodriguez: The Better Email

I really admire how generous Jason has been, contributing a lot to the email community. Jason has been in the industry for over a decade and currently works at Litmus. I noticed his work and serious expertise in the Email Design Podcast. He a big advocate of innovation, listening to his talks make you want to try a ton of new techniques and go for broke with experimental and interactive email design. Email design is ultimately niche and many digital designers find it a bit of a dark art. I feel he’s always been consistent, and spurs the community on from the front, to push for better and pay forward his helpful advice and techniques. He does this without any air of cynicism or arrogance. A true gent.

I recommend Jason’s brilliant course: The Better Email on Design. I’ve been designing and coding email campaigns for 7+ years and found Jason’s book to succinctly explain the complexities and hurdles – everything is easily understood. And deeper in, there are some nice discoveries I made on interactivity and workflows. I purchased the PDF guide, but if you’re interested in starting out in the email industry, the video course is a snip: $129 for an excellent education.

Tobias van Schneider

If you’re in digital design, you can’t really have missed this talented, bearded chap. A German in New York, he’s contributed an amazing amount of content and digital products. My favourite project has to be Semplice, I’m blown away by how much control and visual flexibility I’m offered. It’s seriously good! I will be going into a lot more detail in a product review, I just built The Email Girl with this framework. Tobias is established and has a large following, understandably it’s not just a solo-creation. Nevertheless, buying this theme (it’s great value for essentially being able to design in the browser) is a chance to support a small team’s ambitious idea.

Tobias’ reading list offers a grounded foundation in business thinking, how to and how not:

The ‘New To Meet You Show’ interviews some brilliant minds…the outliers

Sarah Parmenter

I’m a big fan of Sarah or more commonly recognised as @Sazzy socially. This lady is someone I’ve been inspired by many times over the years. She made some big ripples early on in her career, speaking and making beautiful, excellent web and app design. Sarah got handed the gifted bucket in spades, yet observing what’s she’s achieved just in the last few years shows she’s a true grafter. I’ve really enjoyed her writing, the element that stands out for me is her honesty and sincerity. Being true to herself and talking about topics that are challenging and aren’t always popular.

What’s captured my attention about Sarah is her wonderfully bold career jump into the world of salon hair styling. Yep, that’s right, founding a hair finishing salon that’s beautifully classic and stylish. Sounds like something dreamy from another era? In Sarah’s words, she wanted to take an American concept and turn it into something British and fun. Reading about her successful transition has been fascinating and powerfully displays courage and conviction. Design is a toolset, I believe, that can transport you into a completely new area.

Melissa Yeager

This branding designer caught my eye when I was researching people making their own digital products. Melissa has done a fantastic job of her Illustrator Essentials Course. It’s very comprehensive and is not only for new students getting to grips with the program but for seasoned designers looking to get up to date with the latest tools in their Creative Cloud subscription. I really like her honesty, grit and writing style… she makes branding look effortless, but this is a lady that communicates with genuine warmth and passion about a skillset she’s obviously refined over years and put many hours into. Thank you!


Nicky Laatz

I discovered Nicky when I bought her distinctive brush fonts in a Design Cuts bundle. Nicky was on my radar for a number of months. I’m a sucker for really nice typography, and I noticed her work was featured more and more regularly in bundle deals, and her fonts really synched with the big brush strokes trend. Her fonts are distinctively her own, which is no surprise as they’re hand drawn. I’d describe Nicky’s style as bold, bright and feminine.

What did turn out to be a surprise, is Nicky’s incredible achievement of making 7 figures in font and digital sales on Creative Market. I was researching selling my own digital products and kept noticing Nicky’s name, she’s pretty much synonymous with Creative Market. When I delved into the various options for where to sell, Creative Market consistently got very warm reviews – crucially from designers and makers. What stood out, was Nicky’s name, she was making products really frequently – I mean to a level of focus and commitment that I hadn’t seen on a marketplace before. Nicky’s passion for her products and her creative mindset really stand out. I love the fact she just works under her name, not branding herself as a bigger agency or creating a layer of mystique or anonymity. When her success story broke, it really was no shock she’d created that level of momentum. I frequently remind myself of Nicky’s story and commitment to her craft on days I don’t always feel like creating something new or writing. Pure inspiration 🙂

Marketing Guru

Pat Flynn

Pat inspires people in one of my favourite ways – by sharing other people’s success stories. This is a great podcast to listen to if you feel stuck in the valley of producing / writing / designing and not hitting visibility or tangible results (yet!) These episodes put simply, empower business mission. Pat has interviewed a range of internet movers and shakers, here’s him in conversation with Ugmonk’s Jeff Sheldon (as mentioned earlier).

And one of my favourites, a super down to earth and inspiring conversation with Lauren from Girly Knits. Her story is a simple step out from working full time as a children’s clothing designer to part time and selling downloadable knitting patterns. I love how specialist Lauren’s journey is, and goes to show passive income isn’t about going all out for mega bucks. Girly Knits is about connecting a passion with a community other people share and love.


Ray Edwards

A dear friend of mine, musician and producer Mark Pierce, recommended Ray to me. This chap seriously knows his copywriting onions. (NB if you’re a Brit don’t let some of Ray’s lingo turn you off ;-)) Ray has got quite a track record and is respected by many major players doing online businesses. I would say for anyone writing their own copy on their website, email or social posts, you need a copy of his book. It’s easy to digest and is packed with practical tips on how to move a great idea forwards into an offer people want to buy. Ray’s style is up-front transparent and the opposite of anything cryptic or remotely Machiavellian. He’s really here to help.

I’ve worked in advertising and marketing for just over 12 years, Ray is the first writer I’ve really seen join a lot of seemingly branched skills together. He doesn’t get snagged in SEO tips and tricks and his writing ethic completely makes sense – revealing the benefits and connecting with people’s needs. I really like ‘How to Write Copy that Sells,’ and have returned to it’s pages many times, to help me focus my own messages and web copy – especially when I’m launching or pitching to new clients. Ray’s P.A.S.T.O.R. framework distills so much wisdom and technique into a simple approach. And guess what? It actually works.

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