Thursday, December 17, 2009

a custom(s) promotion

> I was on track to mail my holiday promotion until I took a finished piece to the post office to get postage for the rest of them. I was surprised that the postal worker informed me that I needed to fill out a customs slip for each package. (what??) I asked several questions, but she just apologetically handed me a stack of slips that needed to be filled out and attached to each package.
> I filled them out whenever I had down-time. In front of the TV, while I was on hold, while I waited for a large file to upload for a client, etc. Finally, I had them all filled out, attached and ready to go. Monday morning, I went to the post office with a box of 20 (wanted to make sure I filled them out right so they didn't come back!). After waiting 30 minutes in line, I was apologetically told that I didn't need to fill out a customs slip for these. And, to make sure to remove them completely so they wouldn't get delayed due to confusion.
> Wow! If ever I wanted to go postal...
> Luckily, I kept my cool, put on some good music, and started peeling labels off. So, if you received one and the back of the box was torn up, well, now you know the story.
> They're all out now, and I'm getting emails, calls, and FB posts thanking me. That's what makes the time I spend on promotions worth it (even when I "get" to spend more time than is necessary).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

self-imposed busy-ness

> I am buried! Yes, I'm talking snow with this latest storm, but it's more than that. The last several weeks have just been busy! My workload is about the same, but when you add the responsibilities of year-end business stuff, as well as the busy-ness of the holiday season with the time it takes to decide on, buy and wrap gifts, decorate the house, plus family and work events, and church responsibilities, well, it's a bit overwhelming!
> For as long as I can remember, I've designed and produced Christmas cards to send out to friends and family. When I started my own business, I added a promotional gift to my holiday to-do list. At first I only gave them to current clients as a "thank you". But I've gradually expanded the recipient list to include vendors, all my clients past and present, anyone who I've done a proposal for, and this year, I'm also including several subscribers of my email newsletter.
> As I read through my long list of new emails this morning, one of them caught my eye and gave me the reassurance that I'm NOT crazy to do this holiday promotion every year. I felt a feeling of satisfaction that someone else is telling me to "keep it up!" The article says to keep up the marketing momentum. That "the fact is that, no matter how busy you are, you always have to market your business".
> With the economy in the state it's in, I realize the need to market myself is more important than ever. Even though I'm overwhelmed and feel like I'm treading water (snow today), I just take one day at a time, accomplishing what I can. I know that getting my promotion out the door (this week!) will ease the load I've put on myself, and that marketing myself, not only when I'm slow, but on a regular basis is the way to keep myself working on a regular basis!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

your opinion counts!

> In a June entry, (, I mentioned my annual holiday promotion, and that I was thinking about ideas back then. Well, now it's time to start production! I had so much positive feedback about the CD calendars that I gave out last year that I asked several people about doing them another year—and I got a lot of definite "yes's".

> I also considered custom gift tags following the theme "The 12 Days of Christmas". I threw that idea around and just got more positive response...which wasn't getting me any closer to making a decision. So, I put it to a vote. I asked the recipients of my monthly email newsletter (muse) to vote by email or on my FaceBook page, and said that I'd do a drawing, giving promos to 3 voters. I got a pretty good response, and it was a landslide...the calendar won!

> So, I'll be setting aside a little time each day to work on getting the promotional 2010 calendar finished and ready to send out as holiday gifts to clients, vendors, friends of mGraphicDesign, and those 3 lucky FaceBook fans! Sometime next month, you'll get to see what it looks like here on my blog.

Monday, November 9, 2009

a good mood (board)

> Not long ago, I was doing research for a project, and ran across something that helped me with a different one. I was simply looking for baby-related things to get in that mindset for a web site I'm designing, when I ran across this blog on "Mood Boards", Flickr calls them "Inspiration Boards". The article ( explains how creating one will help translate your client's expectations into a visual tool that establishes an aesthetic feel for projects, showing everything from photographic style, typography, color palettes, patterns, to an overall look and feel. The client's approval at this stage ensures that you're heading in the right direction with subsequent projects, as you use this tool to focus your design process.
> This was a great help to me, as I'm also working on a project for a client who underwent a recent merger. The new company has agreed on a name and logo, but has not resolved brand issues nor decided on a single focus and direction. How do you create a project that satisfies a company's direction when they don't have one? They don't want to rebrand, so I faced a difficult task.
> After reading this blog, I was inspired. I created what I am calling a "Visual Message* Board", compiling important information about the client and what they know about their brand and company's focus (*you'll read a lot more about "visual messaging" in my new web site--coming soon!).
> I presented the document with my recommendations on a single-focus for the new company. I look forward to receiving their feedback, making any course corrections, and feel confident that at that point, I'll know exactly what my next step will be in achieving a successful design.

Monday, November 2, 2009

smile when you say that

> Years ago, before I got my degree, I had a summer job doing telemarketing. Not one of my favorite jobs, but one that taught me some valuable lessons (the first being that I didn't want to be a professional telemarketer...). In the small amount of training I was given, they pointed out that when you're on the phone, the person on the other end can "hear" if you're smiling. And it's true. To this day, I still subconsciously smile while I talk on the phone, and I can hear the difference in my voice, so I know others can too.
> I recently ran across an article about non-verbal communication, and the first tip was to smile while on the phone. I'm always pleased when I find out I'm doing something right. The article includes several other great tips:
> I still don't like getting calls from telemarketers, but since then, I have a little more empathy for them. I don't instantly hang up on them, I give them a few seconds to give their pitch, then smile when I tell them I'm going to hang up. Who knew a telemarketer might actually tell you something that was worth your time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

more than just numbers

> Last month, I had a restless night. One where I woke up and couldn't fall asleep again because a stream of thoughts and ideas kept rushing around. The next morning, I actually liked one of the ideas that had been plaguing me the night before, and I started working it out to see how it would look on paper, literally.
> From earlier blog entries, you might know that I have an obsession with, and a collection of wood block type. I bought a stamp pad, and stamped out all the number blocks that I own, then scanned and arranged them into a calendar page. I am really happy with how it looks. I think a whole calendar repeating the same graphic numbers over again might be too much, but I'm still toying with ideas on how to shake it up and make each page unique. In the meantime, here's January...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

small details

> Designers have a lot of pressure on them to have a unique business card, so I was pleased the other day after a meeting to get the response, "oh, that's cool!" when I gave out my card. The size isn't typical, and one side of it is almost solid green. It's simple, but intentionally-so. Everything about it reflects my company's brand.
> A business card is small, but can be powerful. When you give it out, you tell people, "I will be gone soon, but this will remind you of me later. This will make you want to contact me when you need my skills." It not only communicates information about your business and how to contact you, but should reflect your personality and image as well. If your card isn't making a statement that stands out and gives someone a positive recall about meeting you, it may not be communicating beyond the literal information on the card.
> There are a lot of ways to make your card unique. This web site has some great examples:
But it's important that the elements used reflect you or your business. A plastic see-through card is interesting and might get you some positive feedback about the unique quality of your card. But if you're a window cleaner, using a plastic see-through card makes a much stronger and applicable statement!
> The internet has made a lot of technologies and vendors available and accessible to anyone. They make it easy to "design" your own cards, and save a few bucks by not hiring a professional designer. However, the power of a creative mind, someone who can come up with a great solution, and the right printing technique that reflect your business accurately and creatively will make the difference between having a creative, but generic card, or a card with a creative, powerful message that accurately represents you and your company.

Monday, October 5, 2009

peek at m web

> Why is it so difficult for designers to design for themselves? I don't know the answer, but I admit I'm one of many who has this flaw. I've been working on a web redesign in my "spare" time for awhile now. I finally realized I needed to schedule time for myself and stop waiting for a "good time" to do it.
> And it's working. It's designed! I'm spending a little time each day working on the copy, and I'm nearly ready to send files to the programmers.
> I thought you might like to peek at the new landing page of mGraphicDesign. The beginning functionality is similar to my previous site, but that's where similarity ends. This is more than just a facelift.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

m is for mobile

>I have a few mobiles, and I love them. There are a lot that are too "busy", too many things, but some are simple, and perfect. Like these. Someday I will learn how to make one. And I will put a bunch of cool letters on it. M's, of course.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

too cool to be practical

> I got these cool magnets as a gift from someone who knows I love typography. I also love practical things. But sometimes a "thing" is so cool the way it is, that I can't use it as it's intended, because it wouldn't be AS cool. So rather than take them apart to use as magnets, I keep the whole thing together as a single magnetic typographic design.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

nostalgia...with backup music

> I admit I'm "old-school" when it comes to buying music. A couple days ago, I received a CD I had "pre-purchased" from Amazon. There are certain artists whose music I buy without even listening to it. I know I will love it. And 99% of the time, I do. I'm happy to buy the entire CD, and love to look at the designed elements of the packaging as I burn the music to my iTunes, sync it to my iPod, and put the CD away, not to be touched again. Yes, it's an "offline backup", but it's also a library of design nostalgia. I know I'm probably a dying breed. People download albums, songs, and never even touch a CD anymore.
> But is there no appreciation for the design anymore? The cool graphics screen printed on the CD itself? The liner notes? I, for one, feel like that's part of listening to the music for the first time—reading the lyrics, the acknowledgments—which have the musician's personality running throughout—isn't there something to it that people (besides me) enjoy?
> Technology—definitely a good thing. And good for music too. I don't dispute that. But I am worried for the day that the CD and its case full of design treasures will become obsolete. I hope there are enough people like me, who buy the actual CDs, not JUST for the music, but because there's a tactile part of buying the music that we enjoy, again and again, because we can.

Monday, August 31, 2009

social media - do you get it?

> I was pleased to read something that was forwarded to me from a twitter follower: "It wasn't that long ago that it was understood: every business needs a Web site. Today: every business needs a blog (got one!). Especially for ad agencies (and design studios). We are supposed to lead, not follow our clients. Social media is mainstream. Your agency's credibility is suspect if it talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. The growth of new media mandates agencies' participation."
> I can't agree more. What I hear a lot is "I don't get it". Taking the conversation a little further, I've found that people who "don't get it" are still thinking that a blog is only an online scrapbook/journal about the life of their children; that twitter is only used by teens who want a more immediate way to talk about nothing; that FaceBook is only for people who want to know everything about their friends' lives. Open your minds and think about the great (free!) resource that's available by utilizing social media for business.
> I'm still refining how I use each of my accounts, but that's what's great about online media. It's constantly-evolving, and in order to lead your clients, and to show that your company is forward thinking, make sure you evolve along with it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

trip down memory lane

> I spent the past several days with my family in a small town on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. We were surrounded by gorgeous scenery. It was fun to catch up and spend time with everyone.
> On the way, we took a detour, stopping in Rexburg where I attended Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). We drove by the apartments I lived in, and the Wendy's where I worked for a year. And for 2 marketing events, because of my red hair, they had me dress like "Wendy", waving to passing cars and handing out balloons.
> I loved my time at Ricks College. It's where I discovered design, and even stayed for a year after my graduation to take more design and art classes. It's also where I had my first paying design job. I was hired to design a logo for a mens' apartment complex, and had to enlarge and paint it on a sign that would be posted facing the street. Thankfully production techniques are better now!
> The apartments have a different name now, and I was disappointed to not get to see my sign. But over the years that have gone by, I'm not surprised either. I have a low res scan of the logo, and after so many years, (even for a beginning design job), I'm not embarrassed to share it here (you won't catch me in that Wendy's outfit though!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

dreaming about wood type patterns

> Patterns are really popular right now. Digital files, printed papers, and fabric are covered with flourishes, swirls, dots, florals, and layered textures. You can even buy digital files where the edges are designed to align, creating repeating patterns, so you can duplicate and make them as expansive as you'd like.
> In my eBay treasure hunts, I found a couple items that fascinate me. I've got a couple of fabric printing blocks that I "won" on eBay that are now decor in my office. Back in the early days of printing, when type was set by hand, patterns were also created using the same technique. Wood blocks were hand-carved—some in painstakingly fine detail, inked, and pressed onto fabric or paper again and again to create an all-over pattern. The blocks are notched out in just the right places so the printer could mark and repeat the pattern as often as necessary.
> During a fitful night last week when I wasn't able to sleep, my mind wandered instead of shutting down and letting me sleep. The up-side is that I came up with some ideas about how I could use my collection of type and wood block patterns, to create...well, stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


> Last week, I had a niece and nephew with me for the day. We had a lot of fun together.
> For lunch, we made "mummy dogs" (pigs in blankets, but instead of a large single piece of dough baked on the outside of the hot dog, we cut the dough into strips and wrapped them "mummy-style" around the hot dogs, baked them, then used drops of mustard for the eyes after they came out of the oven).
> We dipped big pretzel sticks into melted chocolate, decorated them, and ate way too many of our delicious masterpieces.
> The most fun though, was watching the kids play. Since they were really young, Maci and Ethan have loved playing with my Mr. PotatoHead toys. Ethan is more interested in my Legos now. Kids are the most creative people. They have open and uncluttered minds, and are able to build, draw, and create without a preconceived idea of what is expected. If I can somehow draw creativity from my own inner-child, I think my whole creative process will be more exciting, more unusual, and more unique.
> Spending time with "my kids", watching them play and invent creatures, and spaceships, and masterful creations was a great day for recharging my creativity (and the chocolate pretzels were a nice bonus).

Friday, July 31, 2009

somber beauty

> I am drawn to cemeteries. Not in a morbid way. Not hoping to get frightened after dark. I find them to be quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. I could spend all day wandering, reading, and taking photographs.
> Some of the grave markers have wonderful typography. Some have ornate carvings, sculptures or benches. I love to find design treasures as I'm wandering, and I have a photo album of them. Some of the patterns and carvings have actually inspired some of my work.
> I've traveled with my sis and her husband more than anyone, and luckily, they enjoy wandering around in cemeteries too. We really enjoy the very old historic ones—they seem to have the most interesting character.
> I was actually looking through typographic design samples for a project, and ran across the image of the headstone shown here. I decided I'd pull up a couple other great samples from my wanderings to share with you.
> There's a huge, older cemetery about 10 miles from here that I'm dying to spend a day in—just waiting for a nice fall day. If you can't find me, I just might be there.

Monday, July 20, 2009


> I have red hair. No, this is not a confession, just a fact for those who don't know me. When I was little, I knew my hair was red. So, if my hair was a color, why wasn't anyone else's? Adults got a kick out of my insistence that my sister was not blond, she had yellow hair. And I was even more insistent that my hair was not really "red", it was orange. It was certainly more orange than it was red. I knew my colors and I didn't understand that someone put a color-label on my shade of hair, and I wasn't allowed to change it, even if I was correct.
> My brother's family was in town over the weekend. He has red/orange hair and his wife is strawberry-blond. They have 4 kids...all with red/orange hair. I like that they're adding to the number of red-heads out there. As a kid, I always felt like I was the only one (I'm still quite sure that even in the large elementary school I went to in CA, I WAS the only one until my brother was old enough to go too).
> I've long-since given up trying to convince people to change the word for whatever color my hair is...but seeing those little heads of red/orange hair last night, well, there's a kinship besides just being their aunt, and I doubt any of you yellow or brown-headed people out there feel that way—I guess I'm just lucky.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

a happy face

> Isn't it refreshing to be around someone who's always happy and rarely complains? I think so. My younger sister is a great example of this, and a comment she made on Facebook earlier today inspired my blog/post.
> I've been a collector of quotes for years. I have notebooks and stacks of clippings that I enjoy perusing. In my monthly email newsletter, muse, I include a quotation, designed so recipients can print it for use as a bookmark, postcard, etc. I realized a long time ago that my collection is almost exclusively made up of positive and optimistic thoughts, and I thought it would be nice to share them. I'm not naturally as "pollyanna" as my sis, but I try. I guess I'm hoping that by collecting and sharing the thoughts, they might stick!
> Besides making us all more pleasant to be around, here are 3 business reasons to put on a happy face...
1-Stress Reduction: You feel stressed when you perceive events or situations as stressful. Change your perception. Instead of problems, see issues as challenges from which your company and you can ultimately benefit.
2-Fewer Sick Days: Stress can have a serious negative impact on your health and productivity.
3-Better Customer Relations: Customers prefer to deal with a positive person. Sales professionals who think positively have much better sales performance (these and other tips found at
> One final thought, pulled from my "happy book" of course: "Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

utah arts festival faves

> I love going to the Utah Arts Festival. It was this past weekend in Salt Lake. I get inspired by all the creativity, the talent, and the unique ideas. In past years, I'd collect the business cards of my favorite artists, but then forget what it was they did that impressed me enough to take a card...but this time, I got home, and the next day, I pulled out my little stack of cards, looked up the artists' blogs and web sites, and was able to learn more about them, and see more of their work. I even emailed a few artists to ask questions about specific pieces.
> I have friends who have a similar taste in art, so I pulled a couple of the images off to show them the work I really liked, and it occurred to me, I should share my favorites here too. I hope the artists whose work I'm including see this as a compliment, and a way to share with other people how much I was inspired by their work.
> For reference, web sites and blogs for the above artists:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

all a-twitter

> I had a grandma who was distrustful of escalators, and she was probably a hazard on the freeway because she would putter in the right lane, afraid of all those cars going "too fast". My husband's parents have learned how to email, but they're afraid of doing much on the computer, for fear of hitting the "wrong button" and losing everything, because they're not familiar enough with it to really utilize it. As people get older, it seems like if they don't stay pretty current with everything, it doesn't take long to get behind. 
> I saw a news story about some politicians who don't have a clue what twitter is, but are realizing how important it's become—that it's been a vehicle for telling the inside story of the riots in Iran, when other news sources aren't able to get word out. 
> I'm happy to say I've got a twitter account, and while I don't use it constantly like some people do, I update it at least once each business day, and it's my goal to utilize it more for my business.
> I read a lot and make an effort to learn about "new things", to keep from getting behind over time. I'm not that old yet, but recently I've wondered about that thing in the future... what will it be—the thing that's so incomprehensible to me that I'm afraid of it?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

coming back around

> I find it interesting, and kind of humorous that trends come back around and around again, convincing younger people that they've come up with something "new", a breakthrough, something unique and fresh! Kind of like the skinny jeans that are everywhere...(I'll date myself by confessing to stitching the leg seams tighter in all the pants I owned in the last couple years of high school and early college. Skinny jeans are not new, they're just called something different. Been there, done that).
> So, I was working on the design and layout for a magazine article recently, and I used a retro font for the title. The subject matter had a nostalgic feeling, so it felt appropriate to use a "dated" font and color scheme. I designed the article stylistically to look modern-retro (talk about an oxymoron...). I got fast approval to continue the design through the rest of the article, sent the artwork to my client, and moved on with my next project.
> Days later I was browsing web sites, and came across one with some great t-shirt graphics. Of course they were all trendy—the newest thing for teens and trend-followers, and what did I find, but that retro font that sat unused for years with the exception of that one retro article design. Shortly after, I received a font catalog with other "new" fonts (amazingly similar to those that I've had tucked away for fear that someone might see them and think I'd actually use them in a respectable design...) Well, it appears if I want to be "fresh" and "trendy", I guess it's time to dust them off and use them again, til the next recycled trend comes back to replace them. I wonder how long til the big hair days are back...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


> Even before I studied graphic design in college, I had an early love for my initial: the letter M. Maybe it was the pendant necklace I received as a birthday present from a grade school teacher. (Add the study of typography in college, a job in the font development group at WordPerfect in my early see where I'm going with this). 
> Several years ago, I started collecting M's. They used to be hard to find. I looked in antique stores, in little boutiques, online, and wherever I found them, I'd buy them, because I knew I might not find another one.
> Now, letters are everywhere! Pottery Barn carries one or two fonts each year. Craft stores have lots to choose from: painted, plain, chipboard, dimensional, weathered, script, modern, large, small, in a variety of fonts. I'm a little bugged that was once my own little obsession is now a "trend". I have a love/hate relationship with the "initial-everythings" that are all around right now. But even though it feels like cheating, I still have a hard time passing them up. I've got a wall in my studio that's devoted to the wonderful, symmetrical, perfect letter M, and it's full. It hasn't stopped me though. There are additional M's located throughout my studio. I've got an M keychain, M magnets, and some of my clients even call me M, as does my husband (although I kind of think he's teasing me when he does it...).
> So, with an overflow of "M's" surrounding me, one would think it's enough. And to a non-obsessed trend-follower, I supposed it would be. But, when my husband asked me for gift ideas for my upcoming birthday? I got on ebay and found 2 wonderful vintage letter M's. There are never enough M's.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

clocking creativity

> At the end of each year, I send out a promotional gift. I've been asked how I figure out what to send. I guess I keep my eyes open all the time for things that inspire me, or that might trigger a great concept later on. Then I start like I do on any project: I determine what the message is, who the audience is, and what results I expect from the finished design. Then I start working, following my process, til along the way ideas resurface and creativity comes in (from its magical hiding place) to influence what I'm working on.
> Why am I talking holiday promotion now? Well, it's on my mind. When ideas come, they come. I keep track of them in a notebook to remind myself later, and sometimes they start to work on themselves in my head. Some designers claim to work better under pressure, but I don't mind starting the process a little early. Writer Penelope Trunk states, "...get out of your head that you work well under pressure. You don't. No one does. Not when you are promoting yourself. And it is a myth that creativity happens best under pressure." (
> Don't misunderstand—I don't need a 6-month lead time on jobs. I'm a fast and efficient worker, and meeting deadlines is of utmost importance. But you can't force creativity. I take it whenever it comes—even if it starts working before I do.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

art and letters

> I love to poke around in antique stores. Don't ask me what I'm looking for. I don't know...until I find it. I've come home with lots of treasures that I didn't realize I was collecting, until I find the "next" one that I have to have. It's more fun that way! There is one thing I know I cannot pass up: wood block type. I LOVE typography, so it's really no surprise to someone who knows me well. I've found that even though I have more than I can display, if I find some of the large display letters, (which doesn't happen often), I HAVE to buy a couple pieces. 
> I was at an art show over the weekend, and I found a type drawer. I have two others, but each is unique. So while I didn't come home with any art, I did buy that type case and will use some of the type I've collected over the years and will create my own work of art using the wonderful aged and inked block letters that I adore.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

building bridges

> A common piece of advice after a spat with a college roommate, or a break-up with a boyfriend (it's me, it's not you!), is "don't burn your bridges". It's good for business too, and advice that I follow. I'm sure many people would find it strange that I'm still friends with my ex's, but I've never really been a bridge-burner. In fact, I'm just the opposite. I find every opportunity to build bridges. I've been fortunate to work with some really talented people, so when I have the chance to refer them, I do.
> Sometimes those relationships turn into something more permanent. A couple of years ago, I was hired to design a calendar and a historic tribute book for the First National Bank of Layton. The editor, project manager and I really enjoyed working together, and felt like we could target a niche market with our combined experience. So, we created a partnership, appropriately named "Tribute Book Partners", (branding: courtesy of mGraphicDesign), and we work on projects to gradually build this side business, while still maintaining our individual businesses. Being able to utilize and draw on each other's strengths, contacts and vendors expands our own individual abilities and competencies. Besides that, we really enjoy each other!
> Burn a bridge and you can only go back where you came from. Build one, and you never know where it can take you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

happy mothers day

> I went to high school in a small town and took all the art classes that were available. In my first semester of college, I enrolled in more. I wasn't sure what I wanted to "be" when I grew up, and while I loved art, this was back before computers made design and art something that people could do and make a living. I'm a cautious decision-maker, so I tested my choices. I decided to not take any art classes my second semester. My mom still laughs today when she recounts my explanation: I wanted to see if I would miss it.
> My mom always knew that I would do something creative. That somehow, I would find a way to bring art into whatever I ended up becoming. She knew, but had the wisdom to let me figure it out for myself. Thankfully, I did.
> Happy Mothers Day! Thanks for always seeing the vision of what I could become in my life.

(the above quote is from a book I designed for Gibbs-Smith Publisher, called "The Outhouse Reader", by Texas Bix Bender and Judge Roy English). 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

lurking in the shadows

> Anyone who's been on a trip with me knows I take pictures of "weird" things. I am known to stop and photograph the ground, to move all around something to get the perfect angle, and I've spent afternoons taking photos in cemeteries.
> Some of my favorite "weird" shots are shadows. Especially when they make a better image than what's casting them. I like to see something that's not-so-obvious, then create a way for others to see it too. I guess that's part of what I love about designing—shifting the focus to the "shadow" of what someone else is looking at.
> Some clients give me their own ideas when asking for creative solutions. I prepare what they've asked for, then I shift to the less-obvious, more appropriate solution: the shadow of what they asked for. As a result, my clients get what they wanted, portrayed in a way that communicates their message better, and we're both happy with the final product. You may not know what's lurking in the dark corners of a client's mind, but searching the shadows is a safe bet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

go ahead: judge a book by its cover

> I'm a huge fan of "makeovers"—doesn't matter what kind. I just love seeing the transformation—homes, people, yards—everything! So, I thought I'd share a couple of my own design makeovers.
> Someone once said, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Putting a well-designed cover on a poorly-written book is dishonest and provides a disservice, just as a badly-designed cover hurts the potential success of a book full of valuable and wonderful content.
> Here are two book covers that I redesigned for a client. Both books are valuable resources in their respective areas. Now, each has a cleaner and more updated look by my use of beautiful, appropriate photographic images, and typography that appeals to a more sophisticated audience. They each convey the message that says "this book looks good from the outside, let's take a look on the inside." But don't take it from me, judge for yourself.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

spending smarter money

> There are a lot of ways to cut business spending, but what about the services or products we need in order to keep business coming in? Well, there are ways to cut back there too. A couple years ago, a colleague lost a regular client because they hired an in-house designer. He was frustrated, not only because he lost some regular business for himself, but also because they claimed it was to save money. Did they consider the expense of paying a salary, on top of health benefits, vacation and sick leave, not to mention the equipment, software and supplies they'd need to provide? It was certainly more annually than they had paid him.
> Freelancers can be a great way to get top quality while paying only for what you need. In a web article, Joseph Cozens points out, "Freelance designers often work from an office at home. They don't have to pay for staff, or pay high rental fees for a commercial premises. Their overheads are far lower than [an ad agency or design company]. This means that they don't have to charge as much as the big name companies, and that means that you get a top quality job done for much less." 
> Before you hire a freelancer, check out their portfolio and ask for references, or get a referral. Big agencies have positive things to offer too, but if you're watching your spending right now, consider a freelancer as a smart spending alternative.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

bad economy=time to advertise

> It's tough to spend money when it's not coming in. I've been told that when companies tighten their belts, their creative and advertising budgets are the first thing to get cut, but the last thing that should be. I did a little research to back up that concept.
> In a web article, (, Bryan Gordon references studies showing amazing growth in companies that advertised during recessions: "American Business Press analyzed 143 companies during the '74-75 downturn in our economy and found that companies that advertised during the recession had the highest growth in sales and net income during the two study years and the two years following the recession. They also proved that companies that cut advertising had the lowest sales and net income increases during the same study periods. McGraw-Hill also found similar results when they studies companies' advertising during the '81-82 recession. They found that companies that cut advertising increased their sales only 19% following the recession while companies that continued to advertise during the recession experienced a 275% increase in their sales."
> Think about it: Consumers don't stop buying, they simply become more selective. Their focus is on "needs", not "wants". They look harder for "value" in their purchases. So, what value can you give your clients? Adapt your marketing/advertising message to show that you understand their needs, and can deliver on them. If your competition cuts back on their advertising, and you continue, it's a great opportunity to be the "need" your client are willing to pay for. Now is a great time to put yourself in front of them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

the inspiration to start

> I love art. some more, some less. In my personal collection, I have a few pieces by an amazingly talented artist, Holly Mae (now Olivia Mae) Pendergast. I am drawn to her work--especially her people. They're so alive, and have so much emotion. I typically am not drawn to landscapes, but when I saw hers, I felt the same pull that I do to her people. I love this one (it hangs in my bedroom). "Pines & Water". I love the colors, the abstract quality, but how it also looks exactly like reflections of pine trees in a lake. I love hiking, so maybe that's why this one was especially "real" to me.
> Holly sent me a link to her recently-finished blog, which I am so impressed with. It's simple, and displays her work beautifully. I felt inspired to put my own blog up, so I put it on my list of things to do. I get great satisfaction when I am able to cross things off that list, so I've been motivated to get started. Now the real challenge comes in keeping it new.