As day 7 has came and went, I continued my recent "seasonal approach" by creating a warmer climate for Summer to brave these cold Oklahoma winds But from you guys, I desperately need some encouragement. I have a lot of "lurkers" on this blog. I know you're reading, but leave me a comment that you're watching the progress. I could use a few cheerleaders this week! This bookmark was completely hand drawn. I must say I LOVE my Wacom Bamboo tablet. I use it with pretty much everything. From Photoshop and Illustrator to simple Web browsing using Firefox. I'm addicted! For this particular bookmark I used primarily Photoshop to create a simple yet inviting country escape. Let's go fishing! You can download this book mark 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.
Determination. Perseverance. Stubbornness.
Call it what you will but without it you're not likely to see success. Is it a decision? An attitude? Or just a natural drive to dig your heels in? Whatever it is you will need it. Don't worry, if you aren't naturally bull-headed you can work to develop that. In your professional life, at least.
Why is this determination so important for a designer? While design may seem like a glorious profession to most, those of us that have done it for a while know the truth. Design may actually be one of the hardest professions around. Why?? Regardless of your success as a designer you will face rejection. In fact, the bigger you get and the more clients you have the more rejection you will be subject to professionally.
So the question here is when the water starts to boil will you jump out of the pot? Think about that for a moment. The more successful you become the harder things get. The more people you are wiring with. I've often geared that designing would be great if it wasn't for the clients. Sometimes you will feel that way. And that's ok. But what are you going to do about it?
There are some telltale signs from clients that will clue you in that rejection is coming. Statements like:
"Well, don't take this the wrong way . . . "
"Let me tell you what I envisioned. . . ."
"It just doesn't feel right to me"
The list could go on and on. Do you quit? Do you hang up? Not if you have theses qualities we've discussed.
Several months ago, I posed a question regarding the use of the ever-popular swirly effects that are seen "growing" into many modern designs (such as this blog!). Click here to read that article.
Well, the piece in question was entered into a design competition held by Graphic Design USA. . . and. . . . (drumroll please) . . . the results are in!
The catalog that I designed for iBelieveDoYou.com will be appearing in the December Design Annual showcasing the "best of the best" in 2008. GDUSA, whom I've mentioned on this blog before as an outstanding source for graphic designers and creative professionals recieved over 10,000 entries and chose less than 15% to appear in the annual.
As you might imagine, I'm very excited at the prospect of being included in this year's annual.
Recently while attending a series of sessions relating to design, technology and marketing, I was confronted with an interesting question.
Why do people wait until the last minute?
Where did this procrastination society spring up? It seems like we rush around to get things done, to meet deadlines. That's when it hit me.
When I'm approached with a new task, let's say a design competition that I want enter, the first thing I do is check the deadline date for entries. Do we put things off because we're just too busy to get to them or do we put them off because we no longer get an "early bird special" for being on time? Somehow being late has become the norm.
I love this from Seth Godin:
"Airlines and others penalize people for planning ahead by instituting non-refundable fares. We don't get treated like royalty for signing up early, and the penalties for waiting often seem fairly small."
As marketers do we offer enough incentive for someone to purchase our products NOW? Or can they walk away from our information and feel that they can catch it later?
We've all heard way to many TV Special commercials. Most likely you can quote the last words, "and if you call in the next 10 minutes we'll DOUBLE this offer." We roll our eyes or better yet, change the channel.
Let's strive to be different, when you hear about an opportunity, jump on it. When you get a notice in the mail that you're interested in, act!
Similiarly, let me throw in a little shameless self-promotion here, students who are reading this blog, don't wait until the day before the Student Identity Competition Deadline.
If we each strive to avoid putting things off another day, do you think our clients will do the same? As designer's does the poignancy of our work dwindle over time if not acted on immediately?
Every designer deals with the concepting process differently, some even refer to it differently, often calling it Comps, Sketches or Thumbnails. Regardless, how you refer to it, if you are a designer, you definitely do it.
Concepting is the beginning stage of any design. Most clients expect to see a couple of options or variations before choosing artwork for their piece. How you supply these concepts may differ.
Personally, when I concept I throw together a piece in Photoshop, preserving all layers in case I need to refer to them later. If Stock photos are involved, I'm very careful to leave any photo alterations (Hue, Saturation, etc.) In separate layers so they can easily be dealt with.
How Many? The number of concepts that you will provide for your client should be discussed and clearly defined at the beginning of the process. Then, as you're working if you get an "extra" idea, you have the opportunity to include that as well. The key to client relations is "under promise and over deliver!"
Let the client feel like their opinion is important (after all they are paying the bill). Make the specified number of revisions and finalize the "best" idea. They will love you for it!
It's true. The world as we know it is struggling financially. And while it may seem that everyone around you is tightening their belt and closing their doors, keep in mind that good design does NOT have to suffer just because you're client's budget might. What can you do to continue your standards of superior design on a tight budget? 1. Faux finishes. If you can't afford it, fake it. Finishes that is. I recently attended an excellent print show in Tulsa, put on by CP Solutions. There were several paper vendors there with many exciting papers and finishing options that had all us designers 'oohing' and 'aaahing'. But what if you're client cant' AFFORD a clear varnish or laminate finish? Try this-- adding a simple layer of partial opacity can make a dark design shine with extra sheen creating the illusion of a varnish or laminate. 2. Cut it out. Wanna create an awesome die cut effect without the cut? Try placing the design on a dark background (preferably black) when viewed at a distance in dark card holder the card will JUMP off the table and trick the viewer with the illusion of being die cut. 3. Simple arrangements. Nothing screams "CLASS" like something simple. Sleek. Elegant. On your next card project, convince the client to go with the "less is more" approach. The card will look sophisticated and expensive without the extra price. Got some special design tricks of your own? I'd love to hear them!
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 file that you can feel free to download, print out and share as desired.
Recently I was in a seminar setting where the speaker made the following statement, "you have to choose between a designer that is creative and one that makes their deadlines". I'll be honest, that statement made my blood boil.
For starters I see this condition, what I call, "artist entitlement" among creatives in every field. Basically, it's used primarily as an excuse to miss deadlines, have temper tantrums or otherwise behave unprofessionally. It saddens me that so many creatives behave this way that colleagues mention it in their seminars.
I for one, have never met a deadline I didn’t conquer or at least communicate with the client with unavoidable circumstances. Bottom line, I was professional. That’s not to say that situations don’t come up. I had the flu for a week a few years ago and was unable to work throwing me behind many deadlines. But the first thing I did when I got sick was contact my business partner and have him send emails to our clients explaining the situation and that I’d be back at it ASAP.
Those situations are not what I’m discussing here. I’m talking about the creatives that hide behind their art as a way to be the exception to the rules. Deadlines are always in place for a reason. As a creative we must determine a routine that works for us.
Yes, there are days when I “feel” more creative than others, but if I use my time wisely those days I can knock out multiple projects in each sitting. I do not feel for a moment that my attention to deadlines has even remotely hindered my creativity or ability to create solid designs.
I was recently asked how I seem to be able to produce 24/7 Here’s what works for me:
1. Mull it over. When I get a project, I let it set in my To Do list for a couple of days. During this time, while I’m working on other projects and taking care of business it’s marinating in my mind. Yes, there are often a LOT of projects up there, but ultimately what happens, is I will see something or hear something that will spark the creativity for that task. Rather than getting a project and sitting down to immediately belt out a design I need to think through it most times.
2. Have a process, but don’t be married to it. When I attack a certain TYPE of project I have a general process. Logos have one process, Typeset have something totally different. But occasionally I will break free from the way “I always do it” to create something differently. Maybe using a different program, finding new fonts, finding new brushes, whatever it takes to stir up the creativity and get me inspired and excited about the work. Sticking to a deadline doesn’t mean you have to become a design robot that never thinks anymore.
3. Work smarter not harder. This is one of my favorite cliches but it’s SO true for a designer. If we save our time, work efficiently and limit our time wasters you will be amazed how much you can accomplish. However, it’s important to know yourself. I work better with lots of human interaction. Whether I’m chatting with people in my office or virtually chatting with friends online, the human interaction inspires me as I work. I cannot work long isolated and alone. Sometimes, I need that, when I’m stressing out or otherwise upset, but the majority of the time, the more interaction the better for my creative process. Some people think that that should slow me down? And for some it would.
If you’re a creative, don’t allow yourself to use creativity like a crutch to get out of things. Don’t make excuses or feel ‘entitled’ to have a bad attitude, bad work ethic or bad disposition. Remember that we are providing a service. As such, we are required to make deadlines, make changes and make things happen. Do it professionally, courteously and quickly.
Recently, while a myriad of projects have been flying across my desk, some who deem their life's mission to criticize have been heard flippantly saying, "Design is easy, they just throw on a stock photo and some text."
After first hearing this blatant misspeak I was enraged. But then I laughed. Why? Because it's absurd. If a laymen REALLY thinks that's all there is to it, then more power to them, they should try it out sometime and see how they do. Chances are before long, they would start to realize that every piece they design would look exactly the same. I mean, with a "stock photo and text" how much variety can you have?
Recently I encountered one of these nay-sayers. Long story short, in the end, I was asked to design the piece as originally intended. Sometimes your client just may need a little "real-world' experience to see the reason why designers have to go to classes for years and stay immersed in the newest theory and changes of the industry to stay cutting-edge. It really IS more than just photos and fonts.
Had a similar situation? Remember, that their ignorance is not a reflection on your ability. It just means they don't value you yet. You may be able to stick it out, or you might want to move on, either way, you'll take your knowledge base with you. Keep designing and do your job. You'll be glad you did.
To SPEC or not to SPEC? That is a question many designers face. Honestly, it's a decision each designer must choose for themselves. Personally, I don't have a problem with SPEC work and I will share some of my own personal boundaries regarding my involvement with it. First, in case you are not yet familiar with the term--let's define SPEC work. We've all seen contests, competitions, and calls for submissions.
And basically that's what SPEC work is. Any design task that does not involve face to face or a direct client-designer relationship is generally considered SPEC work as you are working to predetermined SPECIFICATIONS that are outlined by the contest holder. There is a lot of division in the design world as to whether or not SPEC work should be taken seriously. The AIGA speaks out very strongly AGAINST designers taking SPEC work.
To me, SPEC work can actually be a VERY positive experience for the designer. Working from SPEC is very valuable as you are often stretched to move beyond conventional direction and reach inside yourself to find your creativity. Some say that offering design jobs as SPEC work is unfair to designers. I disagree.
Any designer chooses which competitions to enter. The choice is theirs. If they don't have the time, the expertise, or the knowledge to competently compete in a certain contest they are free to walk away or wait for one more suited to their needs. In my own case, I am quick. My speed as a designer is probably my greatest asset. That being the case when I hear of a competition that falls within my areas of expertise I can quickly create entries, but that's not to day I spend all my time on SPEC work. In fact just the opposite is true. Less than 1% of my time is spent on SPEC work and the rest is working with and developing relationships with my clients.
For me, it's nice to break out of the bounds of the 'usual' and into the realm of the new and exciting. Being competitive by nature I enjoy the 'chance' involved by doing my best and stacking up against the competition. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don't. But EVERY TIME I walk away with knowledge, experience and PRACTICE! That's what life and DESIGN is all about. You make your own choice whether or not it is valuable for you to design for spec occasionally. But as for me I will continue to carefully choose which contests to enter. Who knows we just may compete against each other someday soon.