How Sean O’Brien gets things done

Sean O’Brien

As a freelance design director and creative tradesman, Sean O’Brien combines the rigor of design thinking with a blue collar work ethic. Having spent 12 years working for agencies big and small on the West Coast, Sean now calls Minneapolis home.

We caught up with Sean to find out what inspires him, balancing life as a freelancer, and how he uses Dropmark to keep up with his clients remotely.

What inspires you?

I guess, not unlike most creative people, inspiration is found everywhere. I think we tend to be more observational and sensitive to our environment — our senses pick up on things that might be like wallpaper to others. As a designer typography, texture, and color are constant triggers — as a photographer light, gesture, and form are constant triggers. At a root level, my wife and I love to travel and eat, so there’s a constant desire to explore our local region, the country, and outside the country. We love a good road trip, and I do a fair amount of solo travel on my motorcycle every year. Motorcycles are a huge part of my life. The people and culture are constant sources of inspiration. I’m also a highly functional podcast addict and find a lot of inspiration from a variety of shows that touch on many different subjects.

Selection of work by Sean O’Brien Selection of work by Sean O’Brien

How has your move to Minneapolis influenced your creativity?

That’s a good question. Most importantly it has afforded me the opportunity to go freelance and have time and space to make personal work. Life in San Francisco was so aggressive — after the all consuming demands and pressures of the advertising industry you just want to go home, cook some food and go for a ride on the weekend. There wasn’t much space for personal work. It’s also great to be around humble hard working blue collar folks. Again it goes back to my motorcycle family, it’s a really active community of makers with less ego and live by a very strong “do more, talk less” modus operandi that’s really infectious.

As a freelancer, what does a typical day look like for you?

Ha! Well, it’s very unpredictable. If I’m booked on a real burner it can be 15+ hour days without showering, changing clothes, or leaving the house. Other days it’s a healthy balance of dividing up my day between a few jobs, walking the dogs in the woods, taking care of our chickens, spending an hour at the gym, and making dinner with my wife. It’s pretty cool to be able to live in a small city in the middle of the country and in one day work with folks here in Minneapolis, down in Chicago, out in San Francisco, New York, and Boston. Dropmark has become a huge part of my daily routine it’s so easy to share and collaborate in real time.

Selection of work by Sean O’Brien Selection of work by Sean O’Brien

Who do you use Dropmark with?

I use Dropmark everyday across multiple jobs. Some with teams and others direct to client. It’s the most sophisticated easy to use tool I’ve ever used, and it has made working remote a non-issue. Clients love the ability to participate via comments and contributing to the board. When working with agencies they love leaving it open in a browser window all day and watching the work come to life. It has streamlined my work flow by making communication simple, fast, and accessible.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to live in a small city in the middle of the country and in one day work with folks here in Minneapolis, down in Chicago, out in San Francisco, New York, and Boston.”

What does your workflow look like?

As a creative tradesman depending on the job I’m either working as a designer, art director, or photographer. Dropmark fits into my workflow from the very beginning starting with research, notes, moodboards etc; becoming the central hub for development of the work as it evolves from sketches to final product. In some instances it’s even the final delivery where clients can download the assets they need. It’s suitable for projects both long and large with big teams, to short jobs with one client.

For example with a team of two designers, a writer, two creative directors, a project manager, and two clients we all worked together for three months on a 150 page book from moodboards to final delivery all on Dropmark. We never missed a beat.

Lastly, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve Dropmarked recently?

I’ve been working on back to back pitches for an agency out east, and really stoked on the work we’re developing.

See more of Sean’s work at and follow @slwnstdy on Twitter.

Capture screenshots with Dropmark for Mac

Capture screenshots with Dropmark for Mac

A new version of Dropmark for Mac hit the App Store today. With it, we’re excited to bring a long awaited feature: screenshots!

Now you can capture inspiration from anywhere on your desktop, or snap in-progress work from your favorite apps like Photoshop or Sketch to share with your team for review.

Once installed, you can capture screenshots anywhere in OS X using the keyboard shortcut command+shift+5 (you can even define a custom shortcut). Drag to select an area to capture, or hit space bar to capture an entire window.

Choose any Dropmark collection to store your screenshots (personal or team), and choose to keep your items private or share with a public shortlink.

Tip: For the best of both worlds, choose a private collection and enable public items from within the app. Individual screenshots will be shareable on social media, but your full collection will be private.

Also in this update is a new preference panel for greater control over clipboard and notification settings, as well as integration with OS X Notification Center.

Download the app and start capturing today!

Improved thumbnails


Thumbnails in new Dropmark are bigger, better, retina-friendly, and customizable. In addition to this, we’ve introduced some other exciting improvements…

Face detection


Say goodbye to the awkward crop. Dropmark uses smart face detection algorithms to ensure your thumbnails look the best.

Website preview


Hover website thumbnails to see a scrolling preview of the entire page (available in square view mode).

GIF preview


Perhaps our team’s favorite feature, animated GIF images can now be previewed by hovering the thumbnail (hat tip to Typical Hope for that last GIF, perfection!).

GIF preview is available to Pro and Team users only. Not already Pro? Up your GIF game with a free 14 day trial.

Personalize your collections with cover images

Cover images

As visual people, we can admit to judging by the cover. A good image can say it all. To help with organization and better represent your content, Dropmark now allows you to set custom cover images on your collections.

Collection cover images are shown on your new dashboard, and are a great way to make Dropmark your own.

Changing cover images

By default Dropmark will use your collection’s first item as its cover image. From your dashboard, you can easily customize this by hovering over the existing image and tapping the photo icon. You’ll be able to choose a new cover image in JPG, PNG, or GIF format.

You can also change cover images from within a collection using the settings menu.

Go forth and be creative. For inspiration here’s one of our favorite uses of cover images, courtesy UK-based creative Adam Wood:


Explore your new dashboard


You use Dropmark to collect, organize, share, and collaborate. Whether that’s on your own, with a team, or with clients, now we’ve made it easier to keep up with it all.

Your new Dashboard

Your new dashboard gives you access to everything in one place.

Personal and team context

Tap the Dashboard and Team buttons in the sidebar to toggle between your personal and team dashboards. You’ll find everything you have access to on your personal dashboard, while your team dashboard filters only team-specific content. If you’re on multiple teams, tap the ··· icon next to your team name to change context and view what’s relevant.


Front and center are your collections. Highlight your most important collections and Dropmark will bring these to the forefront, giving you focus. You can always access your full list of collections using the All tab. In the sidebar you also have quick access to your 10 most recently viewed collections.

Tags and search

Also in the sidebar is the new global search and a list of your most frequently used tags across all collections. If you know what you’re looking for, use this to jump directly to it.

Activity feed

What is everyone working on? What was that link I saw the other day? What did the client say? Now you don’t have to ask. Keep up with all your personal and team activity on your new dashboard, located right underneath your collections. The activity feed aggregates new items, collections, invites, and comments from all your collections.

Tip: You can also access your Dropmark activity from the comfort of your desktop with the free Mac app Feeds or your favorite RSS reader.

Import your data from Pinterest, Delicious, and more


We often get asked by our users how to import data from other services. Today we’re happy to announce that’s now possible!

Using our new import tool, you can import bookmarks and items from a variety of online services and even your favorite web browser. Bring your data with you, and enjoy ad-free visual bookmarking and private collaboration with Dropmark.

To get started, head over to or click “Import data” from your account page. If you don’t already have an export of your data, you’ll find some handy links to locate it. With most services you’ll have the option to choose which folders to import (each one will be imported as a collection), and we’ll even retain your item tags, notes, and metadata where possible.

We currently support importing from the following services and web browsers:

  • Delicious
  • Pinterest
  • Pocket
  • Pinboard
  • Instapaper
  • Kippt
  • Dragdis
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer

Behind the scenes we use the ubiquitous Netscape Bookmark file format, so you should be able to import your data from any service that supports this standard (it will look like an HTML file). You can also export your Dropmark data in the same format, just click “Export data” from your account page.

Happy importing!

Saving to Dropmark with "Do"


Last week IFTTT, the “If This Then That” service, announced a suite of new mobile apps called Do. The two most exciting apps from their suite (for us) were Do Camera and Do Note. Using the Gmail action in a Do recipe you can quickly upload a photo, add a note, or save a link directly to a Dropmark collection with one tap.

Save to Dropmark using Email

So how do you do this? First, you need to be on a Pro or Team plan. If you’re on one of these plans then there’s a unique email address associated with each of your collections.

Head over to our support site to see how you can find these email addresses and for more info on email uploads.

Save notes and links to Dropmark with Do Note

Using Do Note you can quickly create a new text item and save it to your Dropmark collection with one tap. Dropmark is smart, so if you paste a single link or multiple links separated by a line break, we’ll save each link to your collection.

To set this up, create a new recipe and select Gmail as the action. In the “To address” field, enter the email upload address for the collection you want new items added to. Then in the “Body”, make sure to include the {{NoteText}} ingredient at the top. That’s really all you need! For fun, you could also use Markdown to format your note and include the {{LocationMapImageURL}} ingredient, which is a map snapshot of your location when you created the note. Here’s what our recipe’s “Body” looked like:


Quick note: don’t include an attachment on these emails, since Dropmark will identify your email as a file upload rather than a note or link. See below for file uploads.

Save photos to Dropmark with Do Camera

Using Do Camera you can quickly snap a photo from your phone and upload it to your Dropmark collection all in one tap. Additionally, you can do the same with existing photos already on your phone.

The recipe for saving photos to a Dropmark collection using Do Camera is almost identical to the recipe we created for Do Note. Again, you’ll want to use the Gmail action and set the “To address” to your collection’s email upload address. The biggest difference for this recipe though is the “Attachment URL”. This is the URL to the file that we’ll save to your collection. You’ll want to include the PublicPhotoURL in this field. Now just snap or pick a photo, press the email button, and your photo is on its way to your Dropmark collection.

Customize your collection

New view modes in Dropmark

Every Dropmark collection is unique. Whether you add videos, images, bookmarks, text, files, or any combination, we think your collection should be easy to navigate, feel organized, and look beautiful.

To help make your content shine, we’ve introduced some advanced view modes to better fit your needs: square, shelf, flow, and list. In addition, you can choose to hide labels (sometimes visuals can say it all), drag to re-order your items, or sort by date, title, and kind. These settings are visible at the top of your collection, and are available now for Pro and Team users.

Here’s a quick look at these 4 view modes:

1. Square

You might recognize Square, our default view mode. Ideal for the grid-obssessed, items are cropped to clean and tidy squares. See your content on an level playing field (regardless of type), and drag to re-order your collection with ease. For the visually inclined, toggle labels off and let the thumbnails stand out. See an example: Pattern Study.

2. Shelf

Shelf mode shows items in their natural aspect ratio. Great for photography where landscape/portrait orientation is important, editorial and design mockups, and for celebrating variation among your items. See an example: Design Books or Research Project.

3. Flow

Flow assembles your items together like a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes referred to as “masonry” layout, this view is a nice way to view mood boards or content streams where strict order is not neccesarily important. See an example: Typography Inspiration.

4. List

For power users or when thumbnails aren’t a priority, List mode gives you a quick and simple way to scan your items at a glance. Useful information is surfaced (including who, what, and when the item was created), making it a great fit for alphabetical and date sorting. Ideal for bookmarks, files, and list making. See an example: Best Pictures or Reading List.

Pro tip: Alternate between these view modes using keyboard shortcuts. Tap 1 through 4 and choose the option that suits your content best.

Not already Pro? Give these new options a spin with our free 14 day trial.

Welcome to the new Dropmark

Welcome to the new Dropmark

You know that feeling where you step out into the world with a fresh new hairdo, ready to take on anything? That’s us today.

After months of designing, iterating, and beta testing, we’re excited to officially welcome you to the brand new Dropmark.

We first launched in 2011 with a simple mission: organizing and sharing ideas should be easier. As a creative studio, we envisioned Dropmark as a simple way to collect and share ideas among our team and with our clients. Since then, Dropmark has become an essential daily tool for thousands of companies, artists, writers, educators, and makers. The new Dropmark builds on this foundation, stressing every detail to make the collaborative process frictionless. Simple, yet powerful, Dropmark gets out of your way so you can focus on your craft.

This is your new creative dashboard — where ideas gather, discussions flow, and inspiration sparks. It’s all your stuff in one simple, visual, private place.

Your new Dashboard

Here’s a quick overview of what’s new:

  1. Teams
    Bring your whole team together under one roof. Share collections with your group instantly, provide feedback, and get things done faster. Admins can set up members with user roles and consolidate billing, so everyone’s happy.

  2. Dashboard
    Redesigned from the ground up, this is your new home for everything Dropmark. Catch up with what everyone’s working on and talking about with your new activity feed.

  3. Search
    The new global search allows you to easily locate items, collections, and comments wherever they are. Search it all in one place.

  4. Tags
    Organize your items with tags to group content together by subject or categories, even across collections. Along with teams this has been one of our most requested features, and we think you’re going to love it.

  5. Highlighted collections
    Star the collections you’re working on to keep them front and center. They will appear first in your dashboard so you can focus on what’s important.

  6. Cover images
    Upload thumbnail images to easily distinguish and personalize collections on your dashboard. As visual people, we can admit to judging by the cover.

  7. New grids and list mode
    In addition to our familiar grid view, we’re excited to bring you 2 fresh new ways to visualize your collections: masonry flow and list view. Toggle with simple keyboard shortcuts, and choose the one that best represents your collection.

  8. Improved thumbnails
    To make use of those stylish new grids, we’ve enhanced thumbnails to be bigger, smarter, and better all around. Face detection puts an end to awkward cropping, and our favorite thing ever: animated GIF and scrolling websites previews on hover.

  9. Markdown
    Take notes and collect your thoughts in Dropmark with simple Markdown formatting. Ideas have never looked so **bold**.

  10. Alternate emails
    Link multiple email addresses to a single Dropmark account. Colleagues and friends no longer have to guess which email to invite you with.

That’s just a start. There’s much more under the hood, so stayed tuned to the blog over the next couple weeks for a deeper look into all the new features.

Special thank you to all our beta testers.

Visit your new Dashboard or sign up to get started.

We hope you like it! Follow @dropmark for more updates.

Beta test the new Dropmark


We’ve been hard at work on some really great updates to Dropmark, some of them we mentioned earlier this year. They’re almost ready for primetime, but before then we want to give a sneek peek of the updates to our Pro subscribers.

What’s new?

We’ll let you poke around yourself and discover all the new goodies, but some of the bigger updates include:

  • A fresh new design
  • A way more helpful dashboard
  • Global search
  • New collection style options
  • Tagging!

How do I become a beta tester?

Update (Feb. 9, 2015): We’ve launched! Just go to now and you’ll see all of the great new features.

If you’re a Pro subscriber, you can start using the Dropmark beta today. Just head over to This is a beta, so don’t be startled if you run into a bug (or two). We’ll also be adding even more features and tweaking things as the days go on.

Not a Pro subscriber but still want to beta test the new updates? Join the waitlist and we’ll let you know when we open more spots.

Find a bug?

Running into a bug or having troubles? Send us an email at or tweet at us: @dropmark.