Behold, my portfolio.
How to hire (and now pay!) MW

logos • brand identity • shirts • coins • stickers • ephemera • strait-laced branded stuff • packaging • puzzles • exhibits • martinis • internet things • anything fit to print

Melanie Warner Melanie Warner

Hello, friend. I am Hotiron Creative. I love to design logos, sling vectors, attend hacker cons, and think about information security. I love design that is clever, introspective, deceptively simple, full of character, durable, well-executed, and uniquely yours.

Since starting this company in 2002, my designs have won awards, I was on the cover of a trade magazine, and I’ve lectured on branding at NYU. My work is published, in print across the globe, and in your local store. I’ve designed digital products for Fortune 100 companies. I built a luxury audio brand for connected homes and watched it grow into a multi-million dollar company.

I’ve served a diversity of clients over the years. Today, I design for hackers. As one who identifies strongly with the hacker mindset, I fit right in with the information security community. The invisible work that #infosec researchers do is more important than ever, and I want to help these brilliant people get seen so they can make a difference.

Hiring graphic designers is most rewarding when they get your industry. My involvement in #infosec has brought me much closer to reaching that audience effectively. It also helps to be more experienced, more conscientious, more technical, and more resourceful than most designers you might consider. (BONUS: I’m also delightful!)

Let’s design a hotter brand.  |  START HERE

Some Clients

Autonomic Controls Blue Team Con
Bounce (P&G) BSides Las Vegas
Canon Cedar Fair
Cellular One Chiquita Foods
Circle City Con ClearOne
Def Con 201 Def Con SpeakerOps
Epson F+W Media
Family Tree magazine HackWest
HOW magazine Kodak
Mead Westvaco Memory Makers
no starch press NolaCon
NuVo Technologies Ogilvy
SAP Slack
South Florida ISSA Sticker the Planet
The Diana Initiative WPScan
Writer’s Digest You?

my career, in a nutshell


She’s brilliant and can do anything and do it beautifully.

—Serene Han
Senior Software Engineer, Google

“razor-sharp strategic thinking”

Melanie has an incredible grasp of brand strategy within--and beyond--design. Part brand designer, part marketing sherpa, she offers clients razor-sharp strategic thinking, guiding them to new, effective levels of integrated branding. Her special passion for technology helps tech clients hit the ground running without that grinding climb of the learning curve.

—Janice Hughes
Strategic Copywriter & Consultant
Hughes Writing & Consulting

“organized creative leader”

Melanie is an artful, organized, and detail-oriented creative leader. She is skillful in pursuing collaborative endeavors and always aims to achieve the best results for any challenge she faces while also listening to outside perspective as a means to arrive at the best solution. Her creative skill, experience, and expertise and sense provides a clear articulation of ideas which makes her a well-rounded, design-driven entrepreneur who is always hungry for the next big opportunity.

Jon Pacio, Brand Design Manager, Incase

“a great entrepreneur”

I have known Melanie since she moved to NYC in 2009. Up to that point in her career, she had moved herself and her personal business (as well as growing client base) from Idaho, to Salt Lake City, to Cincinnati, to New York. Over the years I have really marveled at my friend's great involvement in multiple professional organizations, as well as her dedication to her own personal development. She really always knows what's new, now; with an up to the minute knowledge encompassing graphic design, consumer products, interaction design, and marketing. She balances her industry consciousness with a true love for the arts, taking in all of the cultural experiences found in NYC. Melanie already is a great entrepreneur; she has developed the brand of herself and has successfully taken it across the entire United States to thrive in the metropolis that is so unforgiving to so many.

Carolyn Peters
Technical Designer and Patternmaker
Lucky Brand

“build something meaningful”

Melanie has great design approach and the drive to build something meaningful.

Tristan Bel
Founder, The Founder Institute


If I have to describe Melanie in one word, she is a perfectionist. Her attention to detail is hard to go unnoticed even if you are with her on non work related things. Her thoughts about Technology and entrepreneurship always echoed mine. We went to meetup groups, always chat about the next wave of technology and generally talk about how to constantly update/retool ourselves to keep pace with technology. She never sees an issue or a task as a single encapsulated entity but how it fits in the overall picture and that I think is very important quality that hardly gets noticed.

Rakesh Mandalapa
Web Developer, MTV Networks

“truly an out-of-the-box thinker”

Melanie is a very creative person. She's incredibly talented and very good at what she does. She's extremely passionate about design and everything design-related as well as a typography expert (a.k.a. typography geek). She's open minded and very intelligent. Has a great personality and is someone you want to know. I would recommend anyone who has the chance to meet her, to do so, as she has a whole lot to offer in terms of personality and creativity. She's truly an out-of-the-box thinker.

—Natalia Pérez Wahlberg
Graphic Designer, Ormiga Design

“meets technical challenges head-on”

Melanie is smart, very talented, and possesses a deep knowledge of human centered design and user experience. She is very comfortable meeting technical challenges head-on, is a resourceful collaborator, and is deeply curious about how things work. She has a tireless work ethic and is always committed to getting things done and having a real impact.

Doug Muise
Senior User Interface Design Specialist, SAP

“dedication unlike anyone”

Melanie is one of the very few people I've worked with that I would recommend to anyone. Her design sense, attention to detail and most importantly, her immense dedication is unlike anyone I've worked with.

Chris Heile
VP of Advertising, Hyperquake

“knowledge of branding”

Melanie has been a guest lecturer in my NYU course on "Positioning & Brand Development" several times, as well as an advisor on my brand consulting work. While her background is mainly in graphic design, she is unique for her comprehensive, yet practical knowledge of marketing and branding and her extraordinary creative talents. Compared to most designers who just focus on artful executions, Melanie starts with the brand concept and creates new themes and ideas that reflect the core brand personality and impression, so that ALL touchpoints and communication vehicles consistently reflect the brand message. The holistic impact is captivating and memorable. Melanie would be an ideal advisor to any company seeking a fresh creative approach to re-position a brand and/or market their product or services successfully.

Jay Grönlund
President, The Pathfinder Group, Inc.
Adjunct Professor, NYU-SCPS

“top-quality work”

Talented, knowledgeable, thoroughly professional. Melanie’s always delivered top-quality work for us, and I'd gladly hire her again.

Rob Simpson
VP, Creative Director, GJP Advertising

“immaculate craft”

Melanie's attention to detail and immaculate craft in production was really a lifesaver. She's definitely a pleasure to work with.

Christopher Ritter
Designer, Hyperquake

“a dream to work with”

Melanie has been a dream to work with on every project and position she has accepted from Creatives On Call. She provides our clients with great design options and provides the reps at Creatives On Call with peace of mind that the clients will be thoroughly satisfied. I would recommend her time and time again.

April Dimig Rainbolt
Owner and President, Creatives On Call

“expertise in branding”

I cannot recommend Melanie highly enough for her creativity and expertise in the area of brand design. She listens closely and offers more than one concept after thoroughly interviewing the client to assess the client’s vision of their business and its future. Hotiron Creative is a highly professional, yet thoroughly personable company to work with!

Lori Pierce
Owner, Lula's for Lunch... and More!

“superb production skills”

Melanie's production and prepress skills are superb. She has a strong attention to detail and the ability to meet even the most pressing deadlines. It is always a pleasure to work with her.

Ruth Preston
Prepress Manager, F+W Media

“an invaluable partner”

Melanie is responsible for the identity of my company - she worked in her beautifully intuitive way to create just what I needed for my logo, web design, and all of the elements of design for the interior and exterior of my first book. She has been an invaluable partner.

—Jenifer Madson
author and entrepreneur,

“professional, passionate”

I have known Melanie Warner for two years as a business associate and fellow member of AIGA Cincinnati. Melanie is a highly professional, ethical and passionate designer. She offers clients truly creative solutions to a variety of visual communication needs. Her design savvy distinguishes her work offering sophisticated graphic concepts to her clients. She is an active member of AIGA Cincinnati participating and supporting events and programs that promote the field of design and give back to the community at large.

Mark Thomas
Education Director, AIGA Cincinnati
Professor, Art Academy of Cincinnati
Co-author of
Exploring the Elements of Design with Poppy Evans

“the logo I am getting tattooed”

It's f@¢%ing sexy. I'll have you know, that is the logo. THAT logo is the one I am getting tattooed on me.

Brendin Ross
Musician and Audio Engineer, Frontal Boundary

“versatile + creative artist”

Melanie is one of the most versatile and creative artists I know. Her work is both beautiful and modern and she has a real knack for expressing complex ideas in a clean design.

Melanie is extremely easy to talk to and takes great notes, which makes working through the initial visionary stages very comfortable and efficient. Throughout the project she asks great clarifying questions and is very accommodating in the revision process.

It is always a joy to work with Melanie and I look forward to having the opportunity to bring her in on a project again. I feel very fortunate to be able to recommend her to clients who desire to work with an extremely competent business woman who is also an award-winning artist.

Marjorie Signer
Owner, The Austin, Berry, Sidders Company

“exactly what you need”

Melanie is extremely talented. What I value most about designers are those who can take a creative brief and breathe new life into an otherwise run-of-the-mill project. Her designs are sophisticated and she pays attention to every single detail. Moreover, she's extremely pleasant to work with and in this fast-paced, high-stress business. Melanie is exactly what you need!

Catherine Clay
Account Executive, GJP Advertising

“part of the client’s team”

Melanie works as part of the client’s team. When freelancing for Memory Makers Books, she was a creative problem-solver and an excellent communicator, working with us to figure out how we could get the jobs done together, either on tight budgets or tight deadlines or both. I feel confident entrusting her to projects because I know they will be done well and on time. Highly recommended.

Christine Doyle
Editorial Director, F+W Media

“overwhelming feedback”

Melanie is an expert in the graphic design field, so much so that we not only interviewed her for an article about design on Cincy Chic, we let her write the entire article from a subject matter expert standpoint because we value her expertise and credibility so much. The article got an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and is still one of most read/searched-for articles on our Web site. I recommend Melanie to anyone who wants to hire a leader and expert in the design industry.

Amy Storer-Scalia
Editor/Publisher, Cincy Chic

“emphasis on client needs”

Melanie is a super sharp and creative marketer who puts more emphasis on client needs and objectives versus just good design. Once she knows her clients, she then creates outstanding designs that represent them perfectly. I gladly recommend her.

Jennifer Panepinto
Owner, Market Write

“produces the job successfully”

I have known Melanie for quite awhile and recently had the opportunity to produce a printing project for her. She did an outstanding job making sure we had everything we needed to produce the job successfully, such as properly prepared computer files, mockups, and clear instructions. She is very conscientious, is quite knowledgeable, and pays very close attention to all the details. Melanie is definitely the person you should work with if you want to make sure your project is a success. I look forward to continue working with her in the future.

Gregg MacMillan
President, TechneGraphics

“style, chemistry, flexibility”

Melanie shows creativity, style, skill, chemistry, reliability, flexibility, and speed. She works hard at getting it right and attention to detail. Truly enjoyed working with her!

Sandra Vogel, President, VCC, Inc.

“amazing layouts that sell”

Melanie designed some amazing magazine layouts on really short notice for me when I worked at Writer's Digest. She also designed several entire special-interest publications for me, again, on really short notice. The SIPs had a very fresh, modern look and, as such, sold quite well.

Kara Uhl
Managing Editor,
Writer's Digest magazine

“fabulous logo design”

Melanie did a FABULOUS logo design and ad layout work. Very well done.

Jim Hyland
Owner, Hyland Studio Craftsmen in Glass

“keen eye for type + color”

I hired Melanie to perform an array of design tasks as part of a very fast-paced new magazine launch. She delivered what I needed--and then some--on time and always with an awareness of how the work was going to be incorporated into the whole. She has a keen eye for type and color, great attention to detail, and is dedicated to delivering superior work.

Jane Beard, Editor, F+W Media

“extremely pleased”

Melanie for the past two years has designed our invitation and reply card and we have been extremely pleased with the results. She works was able to secure a paper donation and helped keep the cost down on each invitation. In the non-profit worked that is huge. I would recommend Melanie to anyone wanting superior work.

Annemarie Barnett
Events Director, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

“unparalleled work ethic”

Melanie went above and beyond on a recent project we worked on. I asked her to do "X" and she completed "Y" and "Z" before I had even thought of them! She's extremely proficient at design and her work ethic is unparalleled.

—Peg Stookey
Founder, The Legacy Center

“heart for information security”

Melanie has a great eye for design and a heart for the information security community. She has the ability to tie several themes in her designs and logos to tell a story. She created the design for the BSidesJackson 2016 logo, incorporating music themes along with hacking themes that perfectly represented the conference. I highly recommend Melanie to anyone looking for creative and meaningful designs in the security industry.

Chris Sistrunk
Principal Consultant,
Mandiant®, A FireEye® Company

“detail, integrity, dedication”

Melanie took on a deep project [Bounce, P+G] with fine detail and artistic integrity, and helped us put a strong product redesign on shelf with a great new look, and we couldn't have done it without her dedication. Her attention to detail through both the creative and production process was phenomenal.

Dan Barczak
Senior Brand Designer, Hyperquake

“professional acumen”

As President of AIGA Cincinnati, I have had the opportunity to interact with Melanie Warner on multiple occasions; most recently Melanie offered her insight and professional acumen having been chosen as a select participant in this year's Roundtable Discussion. AIGA Cincinnati has utilized the annual roundtable discussions as an effective way to gather and focus feedback from members at the local level on issues that are addressed while later meeting collectively at the local and national level.

As the Principal of Hotiron Creative, LLC, Melanie has been proactive in supporting AIGA Cincinnati and the design community at-large through her continued participation and willingness to offer her input and opinion which is always solicitous and genuine. I have come to recognize Melanie as a significant professional in the Cincinnati marketplace; it is without reservation and at the highest endorsement that I recommend Melanie Warner.

Patrick Schreiber
President, AIGA Cincinnati

“on time + on budget”

Melanie is a highly creative individual who always comes up with excellent concepts and follows through with great attention to even the smallest details. She has always delivered on time and on budget.

Michelle Perry
Owner, Incite Visual Communications

“makes graphic sense of it all”

Melanie is able to take a general idea, and make graphic sense of it all. She is detail oriented, EASY to work with, creatively sound, and brings structure to almost every situation into which she is placed. I would heartily recommend Melanie as a design resource at pretty much every level.

Kenny Snowball
Design Director, Rocket Science + Design

“attention to detail”

Melanie is an excellent designer and has a tremendous attention for details. She produces an excellent product and is a strong advocate for her customers. We enjoy working with Melanie.

Dave Sperry
Owner, Speedpro Imaging

“production, photography”

Melanie is a hardworking professional who can efficienlty and effectively manage projects. She's very knowledgable about her craft and her attention to detail make her an asset for any design project. Her talents are many, from design, layout, digital production to photography, she approaches them all with the same artistic eye.

Jamie Markle
Publisher & Editorial Director, F+W Media

“knowledgeable, creative”

Melanie is a fantastic graphic artist. Besides her amazing graphic art skills, she is an amazing Mac operator. Our company was having some challenges with a few of our Macs and she went above and beyond and was able to figure out the problem, which was no small task. She is a very personable, detailed and knowlegeable creative person. I would hire her again without hesitation.

Bill Landrum
Production Manager, dunnhumby USA

“creative problem-solver”

Melanie is an outstanding designer, with great creative problem-solving abilities. She is very knowledgeable about technology and production as well, so her designs are not only beautiful but effectively produced. It is also a pleasure working with her. I would highly recommend Melanie as a design professional.

Clare Finney
Senior Designer, F+W Media

“innovative concepts”

Melanie did a great job of coming up with an innovative concept, working within my budget, and meeting the production schedule. Her work is getting compliments from my consulting peers.

Heather Haley
Writer/Editor, Haley Writing Solutions

“among the best designers”

Melanie is among the best graphic designers to work with. She not only does an excellent job with graphic design, I also relied on Melanie to be a project manager. I felt comfortable with Melanie being in charge of our largest client base, finding the right look/feel for the project, getting it done on time and in a professional manner. Great results, personable, expert in her field, excellent value, on time, high integrity and creative. Her attention to detail is remarkable and I highly recommend her.

Kristi Loeffelholz Edwards
Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting

“ads that get results”

I recommend Melanie to ALL my clients that need ads designed both for print and online properties. She is prompt, her ads create results and all my clients have expressed gratitude for recommending her.

Cristy Adamski
Advertising Manager, F+W Media

“meets deadlines + budget”

Melanie has completed multiple magazine projects for Writer's Digest. She's project-oriented, creative and consistently meets deadline and budgetary guidelines.

Maria Schneider
Writer's Digest magazine

“professionalism + creativity”

I have had the opportunity of working with Melanie as a co-worker at Hyperquake and as a contractor for Hotiron Creative. Her level of professionalism and creativity made working with her a pleasure. I look forward to future collaborations and would highly recommend her to others.

KC Dunstan, Web Developer, 525creative

“incredibly talented”

Melanie is an incredibly talented designer. She can take an industry she isn't very familiar with and can create an identity that meets her client’s every need.

Jo Moore, Owner, Jo's Sewing Studio

“listens + understands”

Melanie is a wonderful creative with the capacity to listen and understand what her clients want. Her work is on target and on message.

—Monika Roberts
Senior Account Manager, Creatives on Call

I’m reading

I endorse

I love

  • infosec
  • computers
  • stickers
  • arcade games
  • typography
  • vector art
  • whiteboards
  • magnets
  • spreadsheets
  • audiobooks
  • pineapple
  • coffee
  • cooking
  • mail
  • lists
  • birds
  • public radio
  • live music
  • New Orleans

Design projects include: logo design, identity, color and font choices, brand guidelines, logo packs, media kits, corporate stationery, sales and marketing materials, business forms, templates, packaging, product graphics, icons, diagrams, vector art, photography and art direction, exhibits, print and banner ads, publications, web and mobile interfaces, email newsletters, presentations, pitch decks, promotional items, and conceptual, integrated campaigns. Minor copywriting on a per-case basis, such as for ads or short posts. I neither code, nor produce content involving audio, video, or animation.

How to hire MW

TL;DR: → Answer these questions. ←

After I receive your responses, we’ll kick off with a phone call and get to the heart of what your brand needs. You have all the answers, and it’s my job to ask the right questions.

  • Who is your audience?
  • Which three words best describe your company?
  • What makes you stand apart from your competitors?
  • What feeling should people have when encountering your brand?
  • Where would your brand shop for clothing, if it were a person?
Please review the full questionnaire ahead of time. Then get in touch, and we’ll get you sorted.

How to pay MW

  1. PayPal
  2. Venmo
  3. Cash App
  4. Zelle, via email
  5. PO Box 5144, Jersey City, NJ 07305, USA
  6. or whatever method you prefer
    (sorry, NO cryptocurrency)

D e s i g n   a   h o t t e r   b r a n d .

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