Got ideas for a clever 3-Dimensional design? Want to create something that will cause your customers or clients to do a double take at your piece rather than just tossing it in the trash? Afraid these ideas are going to empty your pocket book? They don’t have to.
Thanks to the remarkable design software we have available today and the sheer limits of imagination there is very little you can’t accomplish with a simple postcard design. If you have a great idea, don’t write it off simply because it would cost too much money. Instead look for alternative design tricks to accomplish the same thing. Let’s look at my favorite 3 approaches for ‘faking’ an expensive die-cut or 3-D design:
For that 3-D design you want to create but don’t have the budget, all you need is some creativity to create a 3-D design that will be looked at and then looked at again.
An example of this was a recent client that approached me about designing a “invitation” for an upcoming event. She wanted something that would be noticed and reminiscent of a traditional invitation. The catch? She wanted it to be a mail-ready postcard.
No problem? As you can see, I created a layered effect to simulate the the actual postcard was peeking out of an envelope. The client loved it! And the campaign has been very well received.2. Add Texture.
This may seem like a no-brainer and it is indeed one of the oldest tricks in the book, but adding nice textures and grains to your design pieces will create the illusion of either a linen type of stock or perhaps something more earthy like these wood grained business cards for a woodworking shop I designed recently. There are no ends to the types of textures you can use, to jumpstart your creativity, here are some ideas to get you started:
Aged Paper3.Think Outside the Proverbial Box.
As we mentioned earlier, when your client approaches you with big ideas and a small budget help them think outside the box. Sometimes creating even “traditional” pieces with a twist can be huge attention grabbers. This happened with a project I worked on for some friends that were getting married. They wanted to be ‘different’ and sent out their invitations as postcards.
So we did. After a photo shoot in a rose garden we had everything we needed to make a striking invitation that kept them under budget. Rather than the traditional light flowery colors, we went with bright and bold blacks, reds and whites.
The guests loved them. And these ‘wedding’ postcards received a lot of attention with other clients.
The bottom line is, regardless of your budget, a simple printed piece with the right design techniques can be astounding. Don’t be afraid to try something new (or something old!) and explore your options. Remember that you do not have to be confined to the 4 straight sides of a postcard, business card or other flat piece, you can use these sides as a platform to boost your design to the next level.
Looking for some new inspiring ideas? Want to really get your client noticed?
As a creative professional, chances are the same talents and gifts that make us creative and artsy also leave us with a few more emotions and sensitivities.
This blessing can also be a curse. While it allows us to tap into our creativity. It also often leaves us emotionally and mentally connected to our work. As artists we know that strictly by nature, our jobs are in a purely subjective field.
Unfortunately, merely knowing this and being able to develop a thick skin while listening to a client or colleague rip our design to shreds is hard. How do we deal with this perceived rejection?
1. Step back. Take a step back from the situation and ask yourself, "if this wasn't my work, would I feel the same way about it?"
2. Evaluate the criticism. Criticism can be birthed out of many motivations. Fairly evaluate the critic. Is the criticism constructive or cruel? You'll be able to tell the difference. Constructive criticism is ideas/suggestions that will make your work stronger and should be followed.
3. Categorize the concern. Is the concern demographically related? If so this does not mean that your design was bad. Perhaps the target simply changed. Perhaps your design was just TOO cool!
Above all it's important for us to realize that regardless of the pieces that are tweaked, changed or rehashed, as a designer, we cannot allow those challenges to destroy our confidence. At the same time, we must balance, between confidence and arrogance.
It's vital that designers are constantly learning. We learn from our success and we learn from our failures.
Most importantly we have the unique position to be able to recycle our own creativity. Many times, I've created a piece that was rejected by one client, normally, they felt the design was "beyond" their target audience. I've took the same idea, customized it for another client that absolutely loved it. Not only did it save me time, but more importantly it restored a bit of my confidence.
Keep your feelings off your sleeve and go out and design from your heart. If the first client doesn't like your work. Keep growing and designing. You'll make it!
Today I'm going to step away from our normal line of articles and participate in Blog Action Day 2008. Today, October 15th, bloggers from around the world are uniting to share their hearts on a common subject: Poverty. Each blogger, will talk about this subject from the perspective of their field.
As designers, how does poverty effect us? Or do we have the opportunity to affect change ourselves? One of the hardest things for me is knowing how to price my work. Too many times, I've seen clients get taken to the cleaners by a designer or developer who convince them that they must spend thousands of dollars to get top quality work. Often this venture leaves the client broke with no real success to show for it.
I've got to admit that I'm really enjoying these daily design challenges. I hope my readers don't mind the addition of these small designs to the blog each day. Don't worry I'll still bring you solid content as I run across it and news and updates from the design world as it unfolds. Tonight's design is reflective of the "blizzard" conditions we are experiencing tonight. That being the case, this bookmark was created solely in Photoshop, using snow brushes from Brusheezy and then just simple shapes. I used blending modes and layer effects to add shadows and highlights to the pole, snow drifts and the location side. If you like this bookmark, you can download it here. Smashing Magazine issued a challenge to designers for the new year, and I'm on board! I tried to decide what type of design I'd want to do and could stretch my boundaries as a designer. So in answer to this Challenge, I will be designing and posting a new Bookmark design each day on this blog. The Designs will link to a downloadable PDF that you can feel free to download, print out and share as desired.
Rarely do I use this blog to air my own personal opinions. But today a truly disturbing email came through my inbox. While I will refrain from naming any names this particular company has now decided to jump on the stock logo bandwagon that was recently stirring the design community thanks to iStockPhoto's attempts to open a logo branch of their royalty free images and graphics.
Unfortunately, today's company took it a step farther telling me that "The best part is you can sell the same logo many times over, so a single design could earn you income for years to come!" I was already disgusted by their email but when I got to that point I knew they had NO concept of what a LOGO even was, to think that a designer would think it's OK to resell a logo to multiple companies by simply changing the name.
If you're a designer chances are you've dealt with a design vandal in your time. You nay not have realized it but you've probably experienced it. If not, you will.
Vandalism is defined as the willful destruction of someone else's property. We usually think of it in terms of buildings or property but can't the same term be coined for creative abs intellectual property? I think so. Insert "design vandal".
A design vandal is someone who takes your work and willfully and deliberately sets out to destroy it. Sounds extreme? It happens more then you might think.
Most often these "vandals" will be found on your team or in collaboration with you. Whether it's a designer that works for one of your clients or strictly a peer, anytime you are sending a colleague your designs you are potentially running the risk of being vandalized. Is there anything you can do about it? Not really. But we can make sure that we in turn do not turn into one of these vandals ourselves.
Let's expose some of the traits of a vandal and how to deal with them. Now don't misunderstand by 'deal' I don't mean donning ski masks and baseball bats, thought the temptation may be there. Let's look at how to not allow the the satisfaction of destroying your confidence.
1. A vandal will make meaningless changes to your work. Often these changes are simply an expression of power. They don’t necessarily add or subtract to your work and can normally be ignored.
2. A vandal will make negative changes to your work. From adding outlandish colors to gradients and different background choices their choices will negatively impact your design. This type of vandal is the most detrimental. Normally their attacks are more personal and based in jealousy.
3. A vandal will rearrange your elements. As designers we know that the placements we choose are crucial. The design vandal will thwart your overall look by changing things around. When confronted they will usually respond with “it didn’t feel right”.
Whether or not you are in an environment to confront these situations I think the real lesson here is being cognizant that design vandalism occurs and guarding yourself against becoming one of these vandals yourself.
So what do you do when faced with an opportunity to vandalize someone else’s work? Even if this directive is coming from a client or a supervisor you can handle the situation with integrity.
1. Communicate before the fact. Talk with the original designer if possible and allow them to make the desired changes. If they are unwilling or refuse, you are now free to shake that off and do what you must.
2. Communicate after the fact. If your facing a deadline and must make changes to someones work, be sure to show the courtesy of calling or emailing them with the changes you had to make and why. Above all put yourself in the other designers position.
3. Never change to change. Guard yourself against the temptation to make changes based on your own perspective or feelings. If changes are necessary then handle them gracefully as mentioned above. If not, then leave alone. It’s not your work and you have no right to adjust someone else’s.
As you travel down the path of design I hope you are able to deal with these situations with integrity. If you find yourself the victim of a design vandal separate the emotion and hurt from the real situation. Remember that those that destroy your work are jealous of your talent.
The most important part of the creative process? Is it proper training? Innate creativity? A pleasant attitude? Those are all important, but I've found that the single most important tip for keeping creative juices flowing is having enough discipline to take a break
Discipline? Yes, if you are a work-a-holic like me, you may feel guilty for sitting and doing nothing. Knowing that work is piling up around you and clients are waiting with baited breath to see what you are going to come up with. Often it takes shear willpower on my part to get up and walk away from a project. Sometimes something as simple as moving to another room for a few minutes will inspire creativity.
I had a similar situation occur last night. I had been working on a particular project for several hours. The longer I stared at the piece, the bigger the project seemed to get. I was nearing despair, trying to get water from a well that seemed to be dry. Finally, realizing that I needed to walk away from the work for a bit, I decided to go take a quick shower to relax a bit. While away, I purposed NOT to think about the dilemma I was facing. Instead I sang, made some notes for a party I'm planning and focused on my blessings. Suddenly with soap in hand, the answer I had been seeking flooded my mind.
I jumped out and hurriedly dressed so I could return to my computer and implement the idea. It worked! And was a perfect fit for the piece!
Now, that's not to say you need to shower every time you hit a creative wall. There are lots of things you can do. I'll share some of my favorites:
- Work out: walk, run, jog, anything to get your endorphins flowing.
- Hand wash your car: a physical activity will require a different part of your brain.
- Take time out to devote to a pet: play fetch with fido or spend a few qualities moments with your cat.
- Get out the crayons: for those of us that work our magic with computers everyday, creative drawing is a great release
- Make a fun snack: go to the kitchen and see what you can concoct from no more than 3 ingredients.
- Mow the grass: though it sounds like a chore, getting out in the sunlight will rejuvenate you.
- Call a friend: never have time to catch up? Call and old friend and chat for a few minutes.
- Work a crossword puzzle or suduko: Using a different side of your brain will prove very relaxing.
- Read a "real" book: Real vs. Online PDF. Grab a book and sit outside under a tree.
- Take a drive: if you want to connect this with work, drive down an interstate or in an area that has lots of billboards.
Remember that a "break" doesn't need to be several hours. Sometimes, all you need is 10 minutes to get refreshed. Taking a break occasionally and you will see a difference in the work you produce and your quality of life!
As creative professionals its easy to get stuck in a particular style or genre of art that we personally like or gravitate towards. We've all seen art and said, "That's a so-n-so". How do we determine the artist based on the piece? By their individual style.
This style, while a necessity in fine arts, can get in the way of the modern graphic artist. If you are working with clients, chances are they are wanting something truly unique for their business.
Recently one of my students asked, after looking at some of my sample Web sites, how we managed to have such a variety of styles . . . The question took me by surprise, but I quickly recovered and shot off a few answers.
As a designer, what can we do to continue to come up with uniquely creative ideas and stay out of the rut of same ol' design?
Let's look closely at what I told him:
1. Keep learning. We should constantly be looking at magazines, books and websites for new designs and creative inspiration. Sometimes seeing something new will inspire you greater than any amount of thinking and studying.
2. Learn the Software. The better you know the ins and outs of your design software, the more creative your work will become. Nothing hinders a good design faster than not knowing what is available to you.
3. Collaborate with your Peers. A lot of designers are afraid to bounce ideas off their peers, for fear of stolen ideas and competitive proposals. Find some creatives you can trust and bounce your ideas off of them. A mixture of perspectives and ideas will do wonders to boost your creativity.
4. Listen to your clients. Remember that art is subjective to a certain extent. So while I may think that my designs are incredible, the client may have had something totally different in mind. The more you listen, the more flexible your designs will become.
5. Try new things. Constantly come up with ways to create a look that has never been done before. Don't allow fear to keep you from stepping out there and coming up with "the next big thing". You can do it!
The list could go on and on. . . . tell me what you do to stay creative and keep your designs fluid!