Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm Different

> Most people have gone through times when they've felt like they were "different" and didn't fit in. When I was a little kid, I was uncomfortably aware of every little thing that made me feel different from other kids. The most obvious difference was my hair. I was one of 2 (maybe 3) redheads in my entire school. People made comments about my hair, but I never heard any comments about other kids' hair, so I knew mine set me apart. I always felt like I was wearing a big beacon on my head (more on that story). 
> Thing is, in a successful business, being unique is a good thing. One of the important questions I ask my clients is, "What sets you apart? What makes you the better choice over your competition? What do you have to offer that they don't?" You want to be different—show off the figurative beacon on your head!
> I've decided to share my own company "beacons" here. To define my strengths, I like to compare myself against the common stereotypes about graphic designers:
  • Procrastination  I begin projects immediately, allowing the maximum time to develop then refine the best creative solution.
  • Sloppy/Disorganized  I thrive creatively when my work area is neat; and being organized is something on which I pride myself.
  • "What's a deadline?"  I don't miss deadlines. A project schedule ensures that the job is finished according to your needs. I'm an independent designer, so no one is making unrealistic promises on my behalf. I know what I can and can't do in a given amount of time. The agreement on a realistic timeline for the work is just as important to me as agreeing on the budget. 
  • "Hello, is anyone out there?"  When you contact me, I respond promptly. Unless it's a weekend or holiday, you will never wait more than a day to get a response from me, (and it's usually within the hour). 
  • It only has to look good  Quality is more than just great-looking design. Through communication, I make sure we both share the same vision so the finished product will be on target. If I've created something that I love, but you don't feel like it's right for your company, the job isn't finished. It's not successful if you don't like it. Of course if you request changes that will negatively impact what we're trying to achieve, I will give you my professional opinion, and will recommend other ways to accomplish what you want—in an appropriate, attractive way.
  • Difficult to work with  Things don't always go as planned, but I strive to make sure each project is a good experience. I see my clients as friends—it's easy to figure out how to resolve problems that arise when you're dealing with friends (I've been told by many clients how easy I am to work with. That's GREAT to hear).
  • Glad that's over, gimme the money  Obviously this is a business. I have valued experience, and put a lot of time and effort into my work, so I need a return on that investment; but repeat customers and word of mouth are very important to me. In my opinion, the end of a successful project happens when we both feel like we were treated fairly, with respect; when you walk away feeling like you got what you paid for, that you'd be happy to refer me, and work with me again; and I got paid for the work I provided, and look forward to hearing from you again when you have another project.
> Those "beacons" tell you how I work differently. Look at my portfolio and you'll see another really important beacon. There are lots of designers out there. We're all different, and that's a good thing. It makes it easier for the right client and the right designer to find each other.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


> I think I've been in love with leaves forever—I can't remember when I didn't love them. I've made my husband stop on various drives so I could stop and pick a leaf, I've pressed countless leaves in the pages of books for years, and most recently, I brought home more leaves than souvenirs on the trip we just returned from. In fact, one of my best friends from college calls me "Leaf" (I can't remember how that happened, but it would sound wrong now if I heard her call me anything else).
> I always tell myself (and my husband) that someday I will take these beautiful little pieces of nature and create something really amazing with them. Unfortunately, I've paralyzed myself with the thought that once I make something, if the end product isn't more beautiful than the leaf itself, I will have ruined it. 
> As I mentioned, we just got back from a wonderful, long trip to DC and the surrounding areas. We spent a day in Gettysburg (more to come on the best parts of our trip!), and the path to take us to our parked car was beautiful and wooded, and I found several leaves I NEEDED to have. My husband is a good sport, so he actually waited every time I squealed (okay, I didn't really squeal) and bent to pick each one.
> My greatest disappointment is that I didn't have anything to keep them flat that entire day in the car, then at the hotel, I placed them between the pages of the only thing I had: brochures from places we'd visited. I put them under the corner of my suitcase, but it wasn't as heavy as it needed to be. I did the best I could with what I had, and while they arrived home surprisingly well, they are not as perfect as they could have been.
> Luckily, nature itself is beautifully imperfect, so they are all still imperfectly beautiful to me.
(The gingko leaves—the little fan-shaped ones—are from a tree in front of the Capitol Building. The others all came from various paths in Gettysburg).