Stubborn Brother Pizza Bar

After living in the Toledo area for almost ten years, I have designed about 20 different restaurant concepts around the country but this was my very first local Toledo-based restaurant! Not only did I design the logo, branding, pattern and icons, signage, artwork including murals, menu boards and the iconic TOLEDO marquee sign, but I also came up with the name Stubborn Brother itself. The playfulness and whimsy of both the name and its design elements made this project a blast to work on – not to mention the amazing pizza!

Stubborn Brother Pizza Bar | 3115 W Bancroft St, Toledo, OH 43606 | Facebook | Instagram





2019 Toledo ADDY Awards & District 5 ADDY Awards

2019 brought a lot of great wins at the Toledo ADDY awards! Bringing home a Silver ADDY for my work with the Clementina Detroit branding and shipping container/food truck, a Bronze ADDY for the 2018-2019 Toledo Opera season brochure, and both a Gold ADDY and Judge’s Choice awards for the 2018-2019 Toledo Opera season poster campaign.

The Toledo Opera season poster campaign then went on to the District 5 ADDY award competition competing against the ADDY clubs in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, Louisville, Lexington, and West Virginia and won a Silver ADDY award!

I am beyond thrilled and crazy lucky to be honored with these amazing awards! Thank you Toledo Ad Club and District 5 Ad Clubs and, of course, all of my amazing clients!

Also, after having a handful of requests, you can now purchase posters on my Etsy site at:

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Toledo Opera 2018-2019 Season

It’s crazy to believe but I’ve been the sole graphic designer for the Toledo Opera for 7 years now since redesigning their previous logo with my treble-clef inspired script T concept. Last year’s season was photography-driven with the moving Martin Luther King Jr. opera I Dream, so I was really excited to come up with some illustrations this year. With the whimsical The Magic Flute performance and the powerful Carmen, not to mention the American historic The Ballad of Baby Doe rounding out the year, I went playful yet elegant. The woman with the birdcage head may be my all-time favorite. While I struggled with capturing the perfect Carmen illustration at first, a random weekend viewing of the cartoon movie Ferdinand with my 4-year-old, gave me visions of a strong bull with a rose behind his ear that also became quite a fun montage. I love the final products of these posters and have full confidence that the season and performances will be (as usual and always) even better than the designs!
Season subscriptions now on sale!





















































































Campus View apartments

A great referral from a dear friend (thanks, Sarah!) brought this new client to me. Campus View Apartments needed a new logo, signage, business cards and general branding. They are located as close to the University of Toledo campus as possible, and with beautiful views of a tree-lined ravine outside most windows, I knew I wanted to play up the foliage that most people don’t get in apartments in the middle of the university area. Adding a box around the tree graphic was a perfect symbol for the window or “view”. Whether it was the fresh new branding or the great location and amenities, it sounds like their leases were filled in record time this year!













The Porch Lights logo

Its not very often I have free time to donate design work to friends and family. Logos especially are tough and especially time-consuming, detailed (but fun and exciting) projects. Every once in a while though, a logo request comes along that just designs itself in my brain without the usual sketch play necessary for most. Introducing my sister Jessica’s awesome rock band and their fun new logo! If you’re in the DC or Alexandria, Virginia area, check them out!










Whether its a logo mark, hand-lettered typography, map, or family portrait, I have done an obscene number of illustrations in my career. For the most part, my style has a cartoonish vibe to it, although I’ve polished it up a little for more formal projects. It has certainly come in handy when I’ve needed to add a quick or budget-friendly custom illustration to some of my designs!

Here’s a peek at some of the range of projects I’ve done by hand:

















Toledo Opera 2017-18 Season Brochure

Usually we work on and release the graphics for the upcoming Toledo Opera in Spring but this year we decided to launch the announcement at our February production so we wrapped up the look early. Driven by the beautiful image for I Dream, we went with a bold colorful photographic direction… a bit different than our typical illustration route. This season proves to be very exciting and will surely prove more sold-out performances! Buy your tickets early!

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Baby Goodness

It’s been a while since I’ve posted… I apologize. And it’s been even longer since I’ve put any new projects on my site. Not that I don’t have some fun stuff to share but I’ve been too busy with my clients to do a portfolio shoot and update my site. That… and I just took a week to escape to New York to visit my sister and her new twins! And, while I’m definitely not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, I have been lucky enough to work with a few amazing ones that have definitely taught me a thing or two. So I present a few snaps that I am quite proud of… how can you not just fall in love with these folks?

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Teacher Appreciation Day

Over 20 years ago, a teacher walked into my high school study hall and literally changed the path of my life. Mr. Bentley chose myself and a handful of other students to help out with his Graphic Arts Studio. He told me that I would merely be helping out with a few printing and layout projects for the school and, in the process, get an easy A … this honor student was sold.

But what I got was so much more than a boost in my GPA. I fell crazy in love with the graphic arts and the Adobe (and Quark!) software suites. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Mr. Gerald “Jerry” Bentley was the kindest, most supportive and fatherly teacher you could imagine. Once when I asked him to write a letter of recommendation for my application to design school, he didn’t simply write of my design skills or work ethic. He closed the letter with a phrase I will never forget: “Melissa is the kind of young woman I would want my daughter to grow up to be like.” As a typical invincible and completely unsentimental high school kid, that phrase rocked my world that a teacher could and did write that about me. Sure, I had taken his class for a solid three years in a row at that point so he probably knew me pretty well, but he saw me in a light that I hadn’t even thought to imagine myself in yet. That single phrase that he typed out made me strive to be a better person every day — for him, for his daughter, and, of course, for myself so that I was worthy of that statement. And now that I have my own daughter, the power of his words have only magnified and I’m even more motivated to make him proud of my life and career.

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So, thank you, Mr. Bentley, on Teacher Appreciation Day and every day for the rest of my life. I miss you, dearly.


Gerald A. Bentley
August 16, 1945  – December 16, 2013











2014 Toledo Addy Awards

I’m so thrilled today to announce that I entered my first Toledo Ad Club Addy Awards competition this year AND I WON! The Toledo Opera and I are so proud of the work we created together and humbled by our awards! Both a Gold Addy and a coveted Judge’s Choice Award. Now its on to the Districts but I will never forget this amazing moment where I finally feel like I’m a part of the Toledo design community! THANK YOU SO MUCH TOLEDO ADVERTISING CLUB!