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SERIES: Sects Sell — The Red Pill

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

Ad Inspo

This week I was sitting with my roommate Hannah, looking at mid-century ads for a different project she’s doing — there’s only one brand between us — and I got into 1950s medicine ads. They are nuts. Here’s a whole list of them from Thrillist. So I say to Hannah, “I’d really like to do a Sects Sell illustration about meds when I can figure out the right topic,” and then 10 minutes later realize that’s obviously The Red Pill.

This was the first ad that caught my attention. Not least because it’s called Guy’s Tonic. The font and language fit perfectly, so I cribbed that, but this ad was made in the 1950s in the style of ads in the 1800s. Cool, but not super indicative of a mid-century specific style.

I opted for a pretty traditional format and layout, in terms of mid-century ads: an isolated image surrounded by text. And just to be clear, I mean SURROUNDED:

To achieve this newsprint-y look, I used True Grit’s Beat Tone procreate brush set — you can see that and all the brushes I used to achieve retro looks in this collection. (Full disclosure, like last week, I’m a Creative Market partner, so I get a small portion of the proceeds if you purchase those brushes — at no extra cost to you.)

In terms of that sales copy, I looked entirely to the subject matter for that…

Cult Inspo

The Red Pill movement is a bunch of mad dudes on the internet, mostly, that are not dating or having sex as much as they like. They believe this is the fault of women being superficial and selecting men with great bodies that are mean to them — it’s definitely not because you’re the kind of dude that gets on the internet and bitches about women but refuses to examine the hypocrisy of that choice, or basically any other thing about yourself.

The name comes from the Matrix, where Neo takes The Red Pill to unlock the truth. This Red Pill tells you the truth about women. Real cool stuff, man. The Blue Pill has become a movement mostly for folks that once ascribed to that belief system and no longer do.

I thought it might be fun and sad to use this absurdly long ad copy to draw the parallel between mid-century advertising and TRP. They are both sexist to a level I find unbelievable. End of parallels.

I used the new procreate font feature for this section, so I could really focus on the illustration and lettering the title.

That’s it for this week! I’m going back and filling in blog posts for all of the Sects Sell pieces I missed, so keep an eye out for that!

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HOW-TO: Brainstorm the Perfect Custom Gift

Something I’ve really loved working on for the last few months is custom gifts. I’ve done a couple for other folks to give, but I’ve also made quite a few super different gifts that I got to give myself! When your options aren’t limited to stuff someone’s already manufactured, thinking up gifts is kind of fun. So I wanted to share my process with you. My questions and tips will help, whether you’re making something yourself, commissioning an artist, or just coming up with some new google terms to search.

The secret to giving a good gift is to ask yourself a few questions about your giftee — and then extrapolate. The first thing I think of is always relevant but boring, but a creative pivot will take you from a serviceable gift to a really thoughtful one.

I suggest that you take some loose notes as you think about the answers to these questions. You can definitely do this exercise in your head, or with a partner, but rereading the ideas in different orders is a big help. Just jot down one or two words that answer the questions — but jot down any other words that come up for you in this exercise that fit the person you’re thinking about.

the questions

the basics

  • How old is the person you’re shopping for? Not exact age, but life stage: think toddler, college kid, newlywed, retiree, angsty teen.
  • Where does the person live? Vague geography is fine here: New England? The Pacific Northwest? The Midwest? Southern France?
  • But also like where do they live? An apartment? A shared house? A suburban, single-family home? A condo? A castle? A tiny home?

their interests

  • What do you always end up talking about with your gift recipient?
  • What do they share on social media?
  • Picture the person in your head — what are they doing?
  • Picture ’em again — what are they wearing?
  • Do you have any inside jokes?
  • What’s the first thing you notice when you enter their house or car?
  • When they complain, what do they complain about?

their day-to-day

  • Do they spend time cooking?
  • Travelling?
  • Reading?
  • Eating?
  • Sleeping?
  • Movies?
  • Music?
  • TV?
  • Sports?
  • Working out?
  • Working?
  • Hanging out with their kid?

Okay, so let’s take your notes and extrapolate!

doin’ the math

Okay, so I’m going to pop out of list mode to talk about what that means. When I say extrapolate, I basically mean add some of that stuff up and solve the equation. If you add their geographic location to the kind of place they live to the thing they always complain about, what does that make you think of?

showing you MY answers

More often than not, all of those words you said or wrote down becoming kind of a word jumble and reading that back is where you find the idea. Let me share a couple of examples that I’ve given to people in my life.

my sister!

Baby Sis is a medical resident. That means she works a lot. Like a lot. She also moved in with her boyfriends medium recently. He works for the fire department so he also works a lot. In the months before Christmas, Sis was thinking a lot about how to decorate her house.

So let’s do that math — she wants some stuff to make her new space look like a home. She’s thinking about that a lot, but doesn’t have unlimited time to do so. That adds up to a second round home decor item. When you move into a new place, you think about the big items — furniture, how to fill the giant wall you look at every day — but you don’t always think about a door mat.

Okay, we solved for X and Y is what to put on the door mat. I’m working with the vast world of whatever I want, but you could easily do this part and then toss some search terms into Etsy. My sister and her boyfriend both live there and I want to make a door mat that fits for both of them. What do they have in common? Beer. Crabs. High-pressure jobs where they save people’s lives. We all live in Maryland, so beer and crabs have been done. But stressful hero jobs? There’s something there. So here’s what I ended up with:

Okay, so maybe you don’t have that much information about your giftee. How can you ask someone what they want and still give them a surprise gift?

my best friend’s baby!

One of my best friends from high school and his wife had a baby in August and I’ve been thinking about what to send this kid ever since. Facts I already had: he is a cute baby, his name is Jonah, and he lives in Chicago. He’s a baby so he sleeps a lot. I know when he was born. But I can’t answer most of the questions I asked above about him.

I asked his dad if they have a theme for his room and whether they were trying to fill wall space. He told me that they were going with the whale concept — very cute for a Jonah — and that they were good to go on the wall art.

So I had the general content concept, but what was I gonna put it on? An alternative to wall art that makes sense for a baby in Chicago, which has v cold weather. We’re going with a blanket, y’all! Again, you could hop on Etsy and search for whale blankets.

Instead, I did a mock-up. I tried a textured cartoon whale spouting birth date details like water:

So I like this. But I also looked at it and asked myself some follow-up questions: is this a blanket that will age well? Is this a blanket that could be displayed anywhere in the house? I submit it is not. So I thought about what the whale theme might look like outside the kids bedroom aisle, researched some whales, and landed on this:

So there you have it! Look at this happy customer:

Having trouble getting to a gift idea that’ll make your gift recipient happy as this kiddo in the dinosaur onesie? Email me at and I can help you create the perfect gift! You can also check out some other commission pieces in my portfolio.

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TOOL: Creative Market brushes

I’m a Creative Market Affiliate. I buy nearly all of my procreate brushes from them and they’re a central part of my process. I wanted to share a couple of my faves with you this week!

Full disclosure: my affiliation earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you, but I will never share a product here that I don’t genuinely love.

I use the Gouache brushes very, very often — they’re the central element of the Sects Sell series’ retro vibe and a really nice option for a fade effect. The neon brushes are really fun and easy to employ to really beautiful effect. The sparkle and glitter textures are the same way — a good quick addition to a mock-up. Finally, the paint brush set is a simple, workhorse set, that does exactly what it says it does. Check them out below!

Powered by Creative Market

What brushes did I miss out on? What kinds of effects do you need help making? What other kinds of tools would you like to see in this series? Let me know in the comments!

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SERISE: Sects Sell — : Zendik Farm

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

When I was 13, and newly allowed to go places with my, friends by myself, two places I went often were Georgetown and White Flint Mall. When I was reading through the cult list I made with my roommate, I thought Zendik Farm would be an easy one. I’ll just draw a stop bitching start a cult bumper sticker! But obviously I started working and Hannah started reading me blogs from ex-members, so I decided to take the bumper stickers that were aggressively sold/panhandled on the streets of Georgetown and combine them with another primary influence: Limited Too

Cult Inspo

Zendik Farm is way more complicated than I ever knew, tbh. We spent quite a lot of time with an FAQ written by ex-member Helen Zuman. I recommend her FAQ page if you want more details and I’ll buy her book at some point.

Basically, they’re a supposed commune that’s actually basically a dictatorship. They insult each other publicly, have sex meetings to decide who can fuck, and claim to be ecological advocates but drive hundreds of miles every day to sell shit to randos.

They’re p famous in DC for the omnipresent stop bitching and start a revolution bumper stickers and I died a little learning how much merch they sold. LOOK AT THIS:

Ad Inspo

This is less retro than my usual picks, but I couldn’t resist framing it after a Limited Too catalog. They have so much merch! Why not more effectively market it to the young women of 1999! We got that v specific font, bright borders, and impractical products.

To keep it appealing for 1999 tween BOYS, I have included the howling wolves. You know the ones:

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SERIES: Sects Sell – The Raelians

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

Ad Inspo

Like last week, the shading of this pieces is in done with a gouache procreate brush and mimics shading used by midcentury artists

Also like last week, I used the digital Gouache brushes from Retro Supply Co on Creative Market for all of the texture on this piece. (Full disclosure, like last week, I’m a new Creative Market partner, so I get a small portion of the proceeds if you purchase those brushes at no extra cost to you.)

Anyway I think it’s clear that my main inspiration was The Real World, a really …specific MTV program.

I was in my car, having just finished a podcast I will describe shortly in the Cult Inspo section of this blog post and the concept came to me, as if in a dream.

When people stop being nice…
and start being real drunk.

Cult Inspo

Guys! The Raelians! I did a version of this piece at the very beginning of this project — Lauren Hom recommend you have at least three done to launch a passion project — but I wasn’t in love with it. I hung onto it in case there was a week I couldn’t get it together to make one before Friday.

And THEN, I listened to the Oh No, Ross and Carrie! episodes about The Raelians and their annual conference and I was INSPIRED. The Raelians do so much weird shit! They have their hands in an unbelieveably long list of absurd projects including some you’ve probably heard of.

I’m gonna talk to them in relation to the shirts on the Rael World-ian’s in this piece.

  1. Far left: aliens. They believe in aliens. They love aliens. When they get baptize, their consciousnesses get transmitted to aliens in space. And I love the X-files.
  2. Second from the left: queers. The t-shirt is the symbol for bisexuality bc I’m bi — hollaaaa — and it’s a good fit for these folks because they’re pro LGBTQIA+ folks and poly folks and open marriages and basically whatever you’re tryna do in the sex and relationship department. At their conference they have colored bracelets to indicate what level of open they are to banging other attendees. This is exactly like the middle school fuck bracelets that the news was telling our parents were a thing! But real! And on consenting adults! What!
  3. Third from the left in the back row: that’s the symbol the Raelians use because their original symbol had a SWASTIKA in it!
  4. Center: The Elohim Embassy Annual Fundraiser. The Raelians are building an embassy for when the aliens roll in and the guy that’s in charge of planning, funding, and building it was selected because … he called Rael and asked if he could? Classic!
  5. Third from the right: a lady without a shirt on. The Raelians are at the forefront of the Free the Nipple movement, fam. Not only is a real website, it’s also a thing they really paint on their chests.
  6. Second from the right: Clonaid. The Raelians are very into cloning. They think it’s how humans are gonna become immortal. So they started a company called Clonaid. It’s registered in the Bahamas like all reputable science enterprises doing legit research primarily in Canada. A woman who – I’m sad to report – is named Brigitte claimed in the 90s that they cloned a baby named Eve. But Eve was born to a lady via C-section and nobody let anybody test any of the DNA.
  7. Far right: anti-war. The Raelians are big time peace protestors and that shirt is based on a real life shirt that said “NO WAR … ET WANTS PEACE TOO” with that punctuation.

Guys, this could not have been a more glorious journey and I am grateful you came on it alongside me.

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SERIES: Sects Sell — Full Circle Venice

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

Ad Inspo:

This week I played with the cut paper style prominent in quite a bit of mid-century abstract illustration.

I’m probably not blowing your mind with this medium — cut paper wasn’t super different then than it is now — but there are some elements I didn’t realize were from that era and inspired by cut paper.

This starburst is a common element of them, for example.

This painting by Dick Hersey is a really great example of more abstract geometric art. It was painted in the early 1950s and includes that iconic wave shape.

I didn’t pick a specific ad format bc I wanted to include a nod to the Andrew Keegan vehicle slash the thing I know him from besides this cult-y situation.


He’s not even on that movie cover.

Cult Inspo:

Guys, Full Circle Venice is … a lot. This was a fun one to do, though, because it’s not really a murderin’ and bangin’ cult. Andrew Keegan at some point showed back up in the public conscious in a beanie and some beads.

For reference, here is young Keeg, to the right.

Here he is, on the left, with a cult and a partner and a baby. I picked this photo bc his baby is hiding.

So, like, he’s a mess, but also there was a BIG bust at a fundraiser Full Circle hosted, and they got into a LOT of trouble… for selling kombucha that was exactly 1% ABV instead of slightly under 1% ABV, which requires a liquor license.

So, I obviously illustrated hi head shape and a kombucha joke, but the crown cut paper jewel — dat background — is based on “the convergence mural” on the side of the Full Circle building in Venice, CA.

This is that mural. I picked the space part bc duh, but interestingly, some of these shapes are p related to retro cut paper.

FYI, the brand is Kombucha Dog and every bottle has a pic of a dog you can adopt. Pls see below.

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SERIES: Sects Sell – Flat Earthers

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

Ad Inspo:

This was such a fun one to work on, y’all. The iconography is based on Atomic Age design. There was a huge boom between the 1940s and 1960s in architecture, ad design, and interior decoration in art that reflected the major concerns of the times. This period roughly aligns with the Cold War and centers atomic science, nuclear warfare, and the Space Race.

I was super excited to learn that, because it ties directly to a conspiracy theory attached to this belief system.

A super famous example of Atomic Age art is the Atomium in Brussels, which I saw last fall in person! Here is a gratuitious selection of cool pictures I took of it:

Anyway, an element of this era is The Jetsons! And actually I discovered that there is a TON of incredible texture in the 1960s version of the show!

Look at that! Building from that aesthetic, I went into some prevalent mediums from the era and I decided it was time to experiment with fake Gouache. I used the digital Gouache brushes from Retro Supply Co on Creative Market for all of the texture on this piece! (Full disclosure, I’m a new Creative Market partner, so I get a small portion of the proceeds if you purchase those brushes at no extra cost to you!

Cult Inspo

This is our first non-traditional cult, so I wanted to take the opp to talk a bit about how I’m choosing what goes into this series. The thing that interests me most about the fringes of society — whether that’s cults, or serial killers, or child prodigies, or people that sail around the world for five years — is that they’re extreme. This series is specifically about when that extremism becomes destructive.

I think there’s a lot to learn about society and the human psyche about the ways in which things go wrong.

So flat earthers are an extremely sect of society even though they’re not a formal body with a compound or a leader.


Direct from the homepage.

Flat Earthin’ is pretty much what it sounds like. I spent quite a bit of time on the Flat Earth Society website and oh my god. Rather than sharing a summary, I’d like to share my favorite parts of the site.

This is the first FAQ and it’s my absolute favorite.

Are you serious?


This section is the most indicative of the lunacy of this system of belief. So I’ll go ahead and annotate that for us.

Why would People Lie About The Shape Of The Earth?

The million dollar question.

There are three common explanations for this, but in the end without toppling the Planar Conspiracy there is no real way to know.

The Planar Conspiracy is the name of my new all-women punk band. I am the drummer. Watch this space for our new single dropping soon.

Okay, remember 11 seconds ago when we talked about the Cold War?

  • To Maintain Legitimacy: During the Cold War we faked the moon landing. Shortly after they realized the reason they could not reach the moon was due to the flatness of the Earth. They were stuck in a lie, and had to continue it or lose legitimacy of our governments. Even today we would still hold onto this lie due to role Science plays in our ruling government. 

Our government is so full of fucking religious bullshit and the current administration is decimating our natural resources bc ~*~*feelings*~*~, but okay, bud.

  • To hide the truth of the Bible.

Here’s that sweet, sweet cult bullshit. Elsewhere in the FAQs it says, “it would be impossible to deny the strong historical ties with Christianity by past Presidents of the Society.” which, obviously.

  • To Gain Power and Money: By siphoning off the space budgets and denying the world the resources of the Antarctic they gain a considerable amount of power and wealth.

This is fucking incredible. We are cutting the space exploration budget real hard – with the obvious exception of the space force star wars galaxy quest bullshit we got goin’ on rn – so what money even would that be? And what benefit could Antarctica have to us if it just drops tf off the planet into space? Space oil?

In fact, elsewhere in the FAQs it says:

As evidenced by the logo of the United Nations the Earth is a round disk of infinite dimensions. The geographic North Pole is located in the center of the disk, and the Antarctic lies around the outer edges. 

How can there be edges of a disc with infinite dimension?

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SERIES: Sects Sell – The Moonies

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

Ad Inspo:

My inspo for this morphed quite a bit over the process of this piece and was something totally different at the end. I started out with a very cliche “misused quotation mark” ad page, but ended at 1960s-ish album cover. Which isn’t technically an ad, but whatever. It’s week 3 of this brand new series. I do what I want.

The hallmarks I pulled from said album covers:

  • Heavy shading – this is a hallmark of the mid-century modern style
  • Ebullient font – I love these dweeby, gameshow sitcom letters so much
  • Clear misunderstanding of the human form –
The weird bodies are specifically inspired by a dude named Alexander Girard, who was mostly a textile man, but also illustrated a book called Color in the early 1970s. This style of human body is clearly reflect in the cover illustration, which is called Girls.
Because it’s got girls, I assume. Here is one dope spread from the same book:

The hallmarks I pulled from anachronistic sources:

  • The Goonies title font

Cult Inspo

Revisiting the Moonies after a bit away from them was honestly a bit of a letdown. People refer to them by this very interesting and mysterious name, but when the lights come on, it turns out that’s just a dudes name and this is regular, old-fashioned, misogynistic, patriarchal, paternalistic, Christians-based cult, just like America.

ANYWAY, the real name was Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, or HSA-UWC. Then they renamed it to Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, or FFWPU. Then I assume everyone in the world realized they didn’t know what tf an acronym is for and they were too busy doing weird versions of sacraments to learn. So we call them the Moonies now.

The group was founded in Korea and in 1971, Mr. Moon moved to the US and spoke at Madison Square Garden and on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Apparently he spoke to 300,000 people, which is more people than have every shown up to hear Trump speak. AYOOOO! SHE’S GETTING POLITICAL!

The church got real big in the early 70s and then in the mid-70s anti-cult folks started talking about the church and in 1982, Moon when to jail for tax fraud. Isn’t it always the way? Shortly after that, he told everyone to go home and be missionaries there instead of bothering him and, I assume, took a nap.

Purportedly (by them) the group is all about science, but they recently sent an author out into the world to publish a book questioning evolution, which was super fucking established when they were all “Science is dope” in the 70s.

The thing you probably know about them is that they were all about that sweet, sweet mass wedding-slash-blessing-ceremony. BUT! they also invented a new kind of funeral and then said they wouldn’t do it for poor people.

They had one a couple years ago and the photos are on Buzzfeed and they are IN.SANE.

Add classist and hypocritical to the list of adjectives from up top!

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SERIES: Sects Sell – The Rajneeshees

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

Ad Inspo:

This is inspired by the large letter postcards that were genuinely prevalent from the 1930s – 1950s and are now kind of ironically prevelant, usually in a way that mocks Florida. The general characteristics are large block letters, sometimes filled with secondary images, and the words “greetings from…”

Interesting fact I had not previously know: in this era, most postcards were made of linen, not paper, and it was common for those linen postcards to be textured. I’m guessing it felt a bit like thick money which, in related news, is my stripper name. COPYRIGHT.

This link will tell you to some examples from around the world.

Cult Inspo:

If you’ve never heard of the Rajneeshees, it is my strong recommendation that you watch Wild, Wild Country on Netflix ASAP. It’s very long, but it’s so. so. good.

Look how freaking creepy this documentary looks!

If you refuse to participate in your own education, the Rajneeshees are a cult that started in India, came to America medium illegally, bought a ranch in Oregon, and terrorized the adjacent town of Antelope by rigging their elections and sprinkling their salad bars with poison. As far as I can tell, their values are extreme capitalism, taking whatever you want, and yelling quite a bit while clothed and then, later, nude.

There’s also a lot of infighting and selling each other down the river slash out of the country and listening to these people explain themselves on Netflix has been a highlight of my time watching television with my roommate, Hannah.

The most infuriating thing is that the horrifying leader, the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, decided later in his life that he wanted to be called Osho. And they just fully switched over, nbd. And NOW a lot of white girls you know are probably posting inspirational quotes attributed to Osho! The man that was like, “absolutely, get AFTER that salad bar poisoning so we can be the king of antelope and continue our substandard construction!,” probably.

Look at what a creep this guy is!

Like. If that doesn’t make you want to change your mind and watch WWC, I don’t know what to do with you.

Anyway, this postcard is of their ranch, Rajneeshpuram and tbh it’s pretty spot on.

Look at what happens when you make your yoga followers build their own houses and stuff!

If you’ve seen the doc, I encourage you to try to find the syringe hidden in someone’s pocket. You can do it if you haven’t seen the documentary, but you won’t know why it’s shocking and/or hilarious.