It’s been on my heart to write this post for awhile, but honestly, I’ve been super scared. I still am!

Scared of the internet people being mean to me.

I’m not used to writing about controversial topics.

To be honest, none of the controversial topics surrounding culture these days cut at me very deeply. I’ve always been the kind of person who can clearly see both sides of an argument, and although I might not agree, I can totally see where people are coming from. So I tend to stay quiet because I get both sides.

This though… this topic was one that I couldn’t shake. This keeps me up at night. That brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart hurt. I can’t stay quiet on anymore.

A voice kept telling me to write. Talk about it. Use your voice. And it’s taken me 4 weeks to finally press publish. Yup, wrote this 4 weeks ago.

Now, here I am.


That word alone carries so much weight.

And because of that, let me start with this.

ONE – I’m not here today writing about religion, sex, or issues concerning women and equality. I do have my own views and opinion on all of those topics, but that’s not what this post is about.

TWO – I care about and love the countless women all over the world who have had abortions. They are my friends, family members and colleges. I know many, and I’ve heard their stories. The last thing I want to do here is shame any of these women I love and care for. Ladies – if you’ve gone through an abortion- I just want you to know that I think you’re rad and I love you and we should be friends. This post is absolutely not about shaming or judging you.

To me, this is about one thing and one thing only – life, and what defines it.

So I’m going to stick to the facts. Here we go.

There are 4 differences between an unborn baby and a newborn baby.

You read that right, only 4.

1- Size

2- Stage of Development

3- Environment

4- Dependency


Let’s break this down a bit.

1- Size.

Babies inside the womb are smaller than ones outside.

We all know babies are smaller than grown-ups. So are two and three-year-olds. Are taller humans more human than smaller ones? Gosh I hope not. Being just over 5″ I’d like to think Kobe Bryant and I are both equally human.


2- Stage of Development.

A baby inside the womb is less developed than a baby outside the womb.

A newborn sees the world upside-down, because it’s eyes haven’t connected enough with it’s brain to tell it to turn it right-side up. It’s less developed at this point than it will be in just a week. Teenagers do not have as developed brains as 40 year olds. (As we have all experienced!). All of these stages of life are equally human, no matter what their stage of development. So why is it different when the baby is inside the womb?


3- Environment.

A baby inside the womb lives, well, inside the womb. A baby outside the womb lives outside.

People live in igloos. People live on islands. Some have no homes. Some travel for a living and some stay home. Some live in Hawaii and others Iceland. Some live in tents, some live in mansions. We all live in different environments, and wether or not we like where someone else is living does not mean that we have the power to call them less life-like or human. All of us, for a portion of our childhood live in our mother’s uterus. Don’t like that fact? That’s ok. But it doesn’t make them any less human.


4- Dependency.

Babies inside the womb have a different level of dependency than those outside.

We all have gone through various levels of dependency. When I turned 26 I had to officially stop depending on my parent’s health insurance. (yay grown up!). At 25 years old, I still had a bit of dependency on my parents.

Lord knows elementary school kids and toddlers, even teens all have varying levels of dependency on adults. A baby in a womb is no different. Without that mother feeding and taking care of that child, it will die. Same goes for a newborn, toddler, and young child. They need care. Without it they will die. But I think we can all agree that those young children are just as human as we are. It would be wrong to take their lives because they are dependent on their parents to live.


That’s it. 4 differences.


So here’s where this leaves me. Besides the 4 above, there are no other differences between an unborn child and a born one. So why is it ok for us to take the life of a human who is just as different from us as a 3 year old is? Why is that ok?

And again, this has nothing to do with anything but LIFE. When your mind starts creeping over to- “well, what about ——” I challenge you to stop yourself. Stop thinking about the problems surrounding abortion, and start thinking about the act itself. Is it right or wrong?

Yes – there are so many deep issues surrounding this topic.

There are flaws in the system. But abortion is NOT the solution.

So I ask, how can we be the solution to the problem so abortion doesn’t have to be?

We are creative minds who can change history, save nations and create spacecrafts that take photos of Pluto and far off galaxies. I KNOW we have the capability of coming up with a better solution.

The question is, do we want to?

Will we stand up for the voiceless? Will we help the ones who need it? Will we focus on what is right, or focus on on everything surrounding it?

Only time will tell. But for now, I can’t stay quiet.

21. August 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Randomness | Leave a comment

#WaterfallWorkshop Small Course Recap

Yay for successes!

Last month I taught my first guinea pig Photoshop small course at my little studio in Burbank. (See how teacher-y I look sitting on that stool?? Pro status 😉 )


I was pretty nervous going into it. I had taught Photoshop before, but never in this type of setting.

But hooray and hoorah because we did it!!

Here’s a success story for you. Meredith, founder of Wildflower Roots jewelry, learned to create graphics for her new website and launched it just last week! Go Mer- I’m such a proud teacher.

Look at what she made with her new skilzz…

Screenshot 2015-07-21 19.05.34


Screenshot 2015-07-21 18.54.35

We really had a blast. Meeting 1x a week on Tuesday nights was definitely a weekly highlight! Getting to unwind, sip wine and get creative was not only educational (oh so educational) but fun too!

Here are some quotes from the students:

“My favorite thing about the course was the small class environment, personal project work and assistance, and the creative, fun and supportive setting!!”

“Joanna was amazing! She explained Photoshop in a way that I could relate to. She’s easy to work with, and I never could have learned Photoshop in a way that it stuck with me without her direction.”

“Joanna Waterfall was an excellent teacher. I’m not too computer savy, but she was able to help me understand the program better than my college professor. With her leading me step by step, I was able to design multiple brochures that I needed to get done.”


So now I’m really doing this thing! I’ve got some great feedback from the guinea pig students and am ready to confidently teach teach teach more people how to navigate Photoshop land.

If you’re interested in a course, I have a new page up where you can sign up for classes right from my site (August courses are right around the corner!) and get more info on the courses offered.


Hope to see you at one of my upcoming courses! And if you’re remote, I am offering 2 private tutoring sessions per month that has the ability to be taught remotely, and would love to teach you from afar! More info here.

Have a good one friends! xoxo

22. July 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Randomness | Leave a comment

Our Little Getaway

I can’t walk into a gift shop without breaking something.

Anyone else feel me?

It’s like I need a straight jacket or something to stop me from touching the fragile glass items.

We just got back from a great vacation spent on the East Coast. We took a red eye flight from LAX into Boston. We spent the day touring the city, which has it’s consequences if you are running off of very little sleep.

I broke a coffee mug in a gift shop, managed to spill coffee all over myself, tripped on about 53 cobblestones, and had a whole lot of overall non-sense come out of my mouth. I’ve just learned now not to move too much unless I am well slept.

Touring that city did get me all sorts of inspired by the American Revolution. Thinking about what our founding fathers did now from an adult perspective made me realize how rad they were. Totally felt the American pride and got inspired to start a revolution. Want to start one with me?

Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.01.37Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.52.33

After a few days in Boston we headed to Lake Waukewan, which if you’re ever looking for a quiet, peaceful getaway, stay here for sure. It was literally the 4th of July weekend and I swear we saw 3 ski boats the entire Saturday. Pretty great.

Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.54.46

We wakeboarded, (my husband happens to be a very talented wakeboarder) fished, sat on the dock and read books, played games, swam in the lake, cooked yummy food, ate yummy food, watched fireworks from the dock, and roasted marshmallows over an open fire. It was so awesome you guys!

Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.56.13Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.56.35
Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.57.13Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.57.24Screenshot 2015-07-15 17.57.56Screenshot 2015-07-15 18.02.54

It finally feels like summer to me. If you’re not going away to disconnect this summer- at least give yourself a disconnected Saturday to read, draw, whatever feeds your soul. I swear, it’s better than Netflix and wine. And I’m the biggest lover of Netflix and wine. Sometimes things that feed your soul aren’t always the decision we want to make in the moment, but it’s so much better for us and our character in the long run! (I’m speaking to myself here).

PS- all these pics were taken by my awesomly creative 18-year-old cousin Connor.

Happy Summer everyone!!

One more pic of my stud hubs cause.. I mean..
Screenshot 2015-07-15 18.03.54

15. July 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Life | 1 comment

We All Suffer from the Same Thing

It’s rare to find someone who is truly genuine. We all have our masks. The things we do just to please others. It comes out in the way we speak, the way we dress, how much money we have, the people we surround ourself with. These are all things that we use to cover up.

I’m completely guilty of it- which is probably the reason I’m aware of it.

Recently I’ve been asking myself- what does it take to put the mask down and let people see who we really are? Flaws and all? What does being “genuine” really even mean? I know from experience that I put my masks on because I don’t think the person I am deep down is really good enough, cool enough, or worthy of love and true friendship. I know in my head I’m worthy of those things. But deep down in my soul? I’m just not there. So I put on my masks.

We all want to be loved. We crave attention, we want to be remembered, be noticed, and leave a mark.

We’ve all been hurt. We’ve been told in one way or another that we don’t matter. That we don’t measure up. That who we are is not enough.

The thing is- we’ve been told this thing by people or companies run by people who have been hurt just like us. Behind every rude comment, every “too cool for school” personality, every “subtweet” is a person who feels just like you. Pretty interesting…

I’ve been a fan of Shia LaBeouf since his days of playing Louis Stevens. Despite all the bad press he’s gotten, I’m more of a fan today than I’ve ever been. Watch his interview below with Ellen. What he says about people and why there’s so much cruelty behind the screen is good hard truth.

“I got into the entertainment industry because I had a void… I thought being an actor would somehow fill that void…
…People who are making the comments online really just want to make a mark, they want to have an effect. I think we suffer from the same thing, which is just a lack of attention and love.”

It’s so true isn’t it? We all deep down just want to be loved. Accepted for who we really are. We ALL crave this, and it comes out in interesting ways. Masks go up because we’ve been told we’re not worthy.

The masks we wear are different for everyone. For some, it’s humor. Some, it’s religion. Others, it’s their strong social media presence or sense of style. For others, it’s their fame. Others their weight (over or under).

So think about it – what do you hide behind? What do you do because you don’t think who you are deep within your soul is good enough?

We all need to be loved for who we are. Next time someone is vulnerable with you, shower them with love. The world needs more love. More kindness. More genuine people.

Don’t hide behind your walls. Be genuine. Be real. The world is cruel and hasn’t shown you the love you deserve. You think they won’t accept you if you say what you really think. If you lost all your money. If you gained a few pounds.

But the truth is, the right people will. And the ones who don’t, they’re just suffering from the same thing as you.

Let’s all do our part and show love instead of hate in large ways and small.

The world is craving it.

19. June 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Randomness | Leave a comment


Some of you know I’ve started teaching Photoshop this month to 4 creative ladies who signed up to take my guinea pig class. It’s been a blast so far! We sip wine, snack on chocolate covered almonds and being that it’s only 4 students, we’ve really been able to get to know each other and go deep on what skills everyone individually needs to learn. I’m learning a ton about how to teach, what people need, what stresses them out (Photoshop can be stressful!!) and what they need to improve on.


One thing that I’ve seen is that no matter how well they know how to use the program- developing an eye for design is just as important. So I’ve been incorporating design principals and basics into my teaching these ladies Photoshop. Because to me, they go hand in hand.


One main part of design that I see people struggle with is use of fonts.

A great design can be ruined with some wonky fonts. When you’re learning how to design on your own- the single most important thing (in my opinion) you need to develop an eye for is FONTS. They make or break design.

Fonts are like fashion. They represent a look, a feel, a style. They can show personality. What goes around comes around again, but like in fashion, there are some elements that stay timeless. I mean, look at the different feeling you get from these two contrasting fonts.


There needs to be the equivalent of “What Not To Wear” for fonts.

Great fonts can be expensive, but luckily for us we live in an age where people are willing to give away a lot of good material for free.

I’ve listed 10 of my favorite free fonts sites below for you to explore. Remember, when you’re learning how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, even Pixler or Paint- they type of fonts you use are KEY when you’re doing some DIY design.


The homework I had for my students this week was for them to get inspired and look through good design sites, as well as download at least 10 fonts from these sites. Building up that library of good fonts takes time, so start now!

wordmark.it is a really cool site where you can load up your fonts and test out what looks best before committing to it in Photoshop or Illustrator. A really fun tool!

Anyways, I hope this helps you if you’re looking to make any sort of materials on your own for your website, social media or blog. If you’re interested in signing up for my next round of Photoshop classes happening in July, email me: joanna@waterfall-creative.com.

Happy Friday y’all!!


12. June 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Randomness | Leave a comment

What Attracts Millennials to the Workplace?

A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to do some designing, consulting and strategizing with a startup apparel company. We worked all weekend from a renovated barn on a farm in Minnesota. (What is my life??!) One night we were sitting around the campfire, roasting mallows and we met some women who were staying in the farm house next to us. We got to talking about work and what I do with The Yellow Conference. After talking, I had a woman ask me how she could attract more millennials to her work place. It was a great question. Being a millennial myself, I found myself really thinking about what work gets me excited.

After thinking for a bit, I finally gave her my answer, “purpose, positive company culture and flexibility“.

2015-05-16 18.01.58


We millennials need to know WHY. We need to know that the hard work we are doing is working towards a greater purpose, in large ways and small. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something philanthropic like feeding children in a third world country… it could be something as simple as the Dropbox mission: “to simplify life for people around the world”. When millennials know that they are working towards accomplishing something bigger than themselves, they will work harder than anyone else. Because we value PURPOSE.


A Transparent Company Culture.

Millennials are all about transparency and culture. Think about it. Craft beer, farmers markets, organic / all-natural food. We want to feel the quality, we want to know the person who is making our food / selling our products. We have been jaded by the fake, processed generation before us and are craving something REAL. Something HONEST. We grew up eating Pop Tarts for breakfast and Lunchables for lunch… who knows what those things are made out of. Now, millennials are stepping out and changing things. I love walking into my favorite coffee shops and seeing them offer homemade pop tarts. An organic, hand crafted spin on the Pop Tarts we all grew up with.

My point with all of this is that millennials can smell a fake from a mile away. We just want honesty. And with that honesty comes company culture. When CEO’s can be open and honest with their employees and share important information, a culture is created. Employees bond. They feel connected. They know and believe in the people they are working for because they can relate to them as humans instead of far off beings who couldn’t care less. We want to be valued and we want you to be honest with us. We can take it, promise.



is huge for millennials. We want to focus on what matters: getting stuff done. If it takes 3 hours or 24 hours, we want to do what we can to make it happen, and then use our free time to invest in things outside of work.

Gone are the days of working a 9-5 just “because”. We’re the “work hard, play hard” generation. None of this sitting at a desk just because I have to be here stuff. We want to get shizz done and get on with our lives. Efficiency is what we crave, and with that comes flexibility.

We know that if we’re sitting at a desk in an office, we could probably be sitting at a desk in Hawaii doing the same exact thing. In fact, we might even get more done without the interruption of co-workers.

Trust us to get our stuff done. And give us the flexibility to work from home every once and awhile- or from a coffee shop. Or let us come in the office early in the day so we can leave earlier in the afternoon. Don’t try to control us- millennials aren’t about that stuff.


Now, of course all of this is coming from my personal experience, and I know not ALL millennials would agree with me on this. But I do know that gone are the old ways of doing business. The internet and technology have changed the game and we are into it.

If you’re looking to attract more millennials to your workplace, read the book Rework. I feel it gives a great overall presentation of the new way of doing business and what millennials are attracted to.

Millennials aren’t just the future, we’re the present. Don’t underestimate the power this generation has to make a true impact on the world. We’re already doing it.

03. June 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Randomness | Leave a comment



In today’s digital world- DESIGN IS EVERYTHING. I may be a bit bias, but I honestly believe if you don’t have solid visuals and sense of brand on your website, people are not going to take you seriously (at least not right away)..

The problem is- hiring a designer takes both time and money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally worth it (hello, this is what people pay me to do!) but let’s be real- as small biz owners, we don’t always have the time and we don’t always have the money.

SO many of my small biz owner friends have said to me out of frustration- “I JUST NEED TO LEARN HOW TO USE PHOTOSHOP or ILLUSTRATOR so I can do this stuff myself!”

Enter the voice in my head that tells me – “hey, Joanna, you’ve been using these programs for 9+ years, why don’t you sit down and help these people??!!


Yes mam and sir. If you’ve ever wanted to empower yourself and create your own visuals in Photoshop or Illustrator, keep reading!

Let’s be clear: I’m not starting another workshop. There are plenty of people in LA already doing those, and they’re great. But how many times have you gone to a workshop, learned a ton, then gone home to try it out, only to forget half of it? Or new issues come up that were never addressed?


I teach best in a small, intimate environment. In this kind of space I can really focus on individual needs and offer knowledge that I am confident will last.


I will be taking on 3-4 students at a time, we’ll meet weekly, 4x a month. This will give students the opportunity to go home and experiment with what they’ve learned in context (within their businesses / side project / blog), then come back to me the next week with questions.

I’m stoked to say that I’ll be taking on a “guinea pig” group of students for the month of June, at a discounted price. This will be a Photoshop session, where I’ll be focusing on teaching Adobe Photoshop program along with basic rules of design. (In the future I will be offering Illustrator classes as well!)

Sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings, 7pm-9:30pm. The dates for this round are: June 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd. Sessions will take place at my studio in Burbank, CA.

If you are interested in being a student in the June “guinea pig” class, shoot me an email: joanna@waterfall-creative.com.

I will be booking students on a first come first serve basis. (I’m only taking on 3-4 students, so email me fast!) This will also be the cheapest I’ll ever offer this for – as you are the first and will play a large role in helping me create the best curriculum I can for future sessions and students.

In my opinion- taking the slower summer months to learn something new is a great use of time.

I truly believe in the power of Photoshop knowledge with small business owners. It’s helped me save money and time in my own businesses, and I know it will in yours as well.

So again, if you’re interested, shoot me an email stat! joanna@waterfall-creative.com.

SO PUMPED to hear from you!! Thanks for always being awesome readers!!


Joanna Waterfall


25. May 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Randomness | Leave a comment


This was originally posted on The Yellow Conference blog. Being that this is a huge piece of my story, I felt I needed to repost it on here. For the original post, see here.

Well ladies, we worked our booties off. We cried, we shouted, we laughed, we smiled, we got angry and we got happy. All of these things happened throughout this past month of our Kickstarter. And you know what? It failed.


I (Joanna) really believed we could make this happen. I know we were trying to raise a lot of money, but I really believed deep down that we had the power to do this, if only we worked hard enough. When I first realized this maybe wasn’t going to happen, it was really hard. I had migraines, got sick, cried a lot and felt extremely embarrassed and vulnerable. I just couldn’t take the thought that this thing I had poured so much of myself into, this thing that I believed in so strongly could fail.

If you and I were sitting and chatting over a cup of coffee, I would look you in the eyes and tell you at this moment, today, I’m ok, and that would be an honest answer. I’m actually more than ok. I feel really good right now. Ready to regroup and excited to celebrate this failure.

I had a mentor of mine sit down with me the other day, and after I told her that I was feeling really embarrassed for everyone to see this thing fail, she said to me, “Oh honey. You can not waste your energy on that. This will one of many failures that will happen in your life. It’s all apart of being an entrepreneur.” BAM.

Failures do not define us. These things that don’t succeed do not create our identity. We are more than what we do, and we can move on from failures and learn! One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, Elizabethtown comes to mind when I write this.

In the scene below, the main character has just been fired from his job because he invented a shoe design that lost the company over a BILLION dollars. See below:

My favorite quote from this scene: “You want to be really great? Then have the courage to FAIL BIG and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling. That’s true greatness to me.” What a great reminder, and a great encouragement to us all!

The reason I want to talk about our Kickstarter failing is because I want YOU to see that yes, this failed, and look, it’s ok! You can fail to! Let’s talk about our failures and learn from them. Let’s be open about the fact that this stuff we are trying to do is not easy. And let’s encourage each other to continue to take risks, be brave and know that even if you do fail- things are going to be ok. It’s what you learn along the way that will really make you great.

How often do you see inspirational quotes on Pinterest talking about failure? I see them all the time. But how often do you see people actually talking about their personal or business failures? Those you rarely see. So I want to talk about this and be completely open about the things learned along the way.

This Kickstarter may have failed, but this project is not a failure. We have learned A TON and we are not done here. We are regrouping, re-strategizing, and figuring out what’s next. The Yellow Room is still happening, it’s just a matter of when, where and how. Stay tuned. We’re not finished yet.

We had brunch as a Yellow team last weekend and decided that we needed to celebrate this failure. So because of that we are going to have a #freetofail party this Friday night- and you’re invited! Nothing fancy, just a hangout, closure and celebration of the end of our Kickstarter campaign. We would love to have you join us.


Space is limited, so if you’d like to come, RSVP here and let us know you’re coming.

Thank you to every single person who backed our Kickstarter. And thank you to everyone who posted about it on social media, talked to friends or sent an encouraging email or text. Every single one of you is apart of what we’re doing.

We’re not done ladies. Stay tuned.


07. May 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Encouragement, Inspiration, Life | Leave a comment

Purpose, Direction, and Talking to My Past Self


It’s funny to think about how your past can effect your future. I talk to a lot of women who are unsatisfied with where they are at in life. They hate their job, feel purposeless and are lacking direction. I’ve definitely been there before.

I’m thankful to say that at this point in my life I don’t feel that. But, if I could travel time and go back to that girl who felt like she wasn’t making any progress, I would tell her that the skills she is learning, those connections she is making, and the people she is helping, those will have a significant impact on her future. I wouldn’t be in a place where I feel I have direction and purpose if it wasn’t for the things I learned in those times of questioning.

For example, I spent a lot of time and energy learning how to be a better designer and how to run a small one-lady business. Although I felt like I was going nowhere with it, the skills that I learned both through branding countless other businesses as well as working on my own gave me the experience I needed when it came to creating The Yellow Conference. I knew what it took to run a small business and I knew how to brand one! Boom. Two things I needed to help me create Yellow. If it weren’t for my previous experience doing those things- I would have had to start from square one! Although I didn’t have a clear direction on where I was going- I was still learning.


So, this is going out to all of you ladies (and gents) who aren’t sure if you’re in the right place. Remember- you don’t know what the future holds. You may feel like you lack purpose, but that is just a lie. Just because you don’t feel inspired everyday doesn’t mean that you aren’t working towards anything. Embrace where you are. Learn all you can. Make friends and keep them. Because when you do find what it is you want, these things will help you. You never know!


We don’t know what our futures hold. All we have is the present. So make the most of it. Do your best, even if you feel purposeless. Because you never know how the actions you take now will help you out later in life. Don’t be discouraged. Be thankful, live in the moment, and always do your best.

So, I have a little challenge for you, since I’ve been liking those lately. This week, write down three things you are thankful for and three skills you want to focus on developing while you’re in this phase of life. Because again, you never know how you will be able to use those in the future.

Photos by Elle Wildhagen taken at the Yellow Leadership Weekend.

01. May 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Encouragement | Leave a comment

New Work: Ashley Brooke Designs

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any graphic design work on here! But I recently finished up this huge web project and wanted to show it off! Full e commerce, responsive, and full width site. ABD hadn’t had a web redesign for almost 5 years! I thought it would be fun to do a little Weight Watchers “Before and After” style. See below:

This is what the site looked like before…

We took Ashley’s personality-filled products, fashionable wardrobe, positive brand and upbeat personality, mushed it all together and brought it into visual form! Her old site really just didn’t do justice to all that Ashley does and who she is as a brand. This website was meant to fix that. And I think we did!

Here’s the after! ( oooh!! ahhh!! )

Much more fun, upbeat, colorful and positive. Just like Ashley herself and her products.

Here’s a pic from Ashley’s blog of the site on the iPad…

We also did a completely custom responsive site which is fun and brings in a whole new dimension to the site on your phone.

You can check it out at ashleybrookedesigns.com and purchase one of their fun products for your girlfriends for Christmas!

Happy Wednesday

18. November 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Design, My Work | Leave a comment

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