Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inspired vs Stealing

It is difficult to be creative every day, particularly on-demand, as a graphic designer’s job requires. We all look at other people’s work and the environment around us to inspire us, or even just to see what our peers are doing. It is one thing to be inspired by our peers work, and it is a completely different thing to steal. We have to sometimes walk a fine balance, but it is often best to avoid it completely.

SKETCH Imitation can happen by accident. In many cases, everything has been done before. The importance of sketching can help avoid imitation. Often imitation can occur when you use an initial approach and do looking beyond this. Our initial feeling on a project is often the simplest approach, which is why this can lead to imitation.

WATCH & AVOID Seeing what our peers in the field are doing can be a great way to avoid fads. Avoiding what you see others doing is not only a great way to avoid fads, and dating your design; but it is a great way to prevent theft. We respect our own work, so we should respect the work of others in our fields.

DO ONE, NOT ALL It would be difficult to look at work, love it, desire to make something just as inspiration, and to not be able to try to reproduce something in a similar affect. One way to let inspiration work through is to take ONE trick that you noticed in their work, learn it, and incorporate it into your design. You can be inspired by the mood of a person’s work, and try to create a similar feeling in your own design.

THINK, THEREFORE IT PROBABLY IS If you think it is stealing or you are concerned that it might be, it would be best to not do it at all. Graphic Designers have to trust their instinct in this line of work, and of course you must put it to use in the case of design infringement. If you are going to use images (ex. Google images) you should site where you got this inspiration from, and if you are going to use this work in final art you should contact the creator for permission to use their work.

In the creative field it can be murky waters trying to protect your designs, and to protect yourself from theft. It is best to respect others work, as you would want them to respect yours. Imitation can be the best kind of flattery, unless you are stealing art. If you have concerns about a work, or want to develop ways to protect your own work: use watermarks and speak to a lawyer who is knowledgeable on intellectual property.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Green Ideas continued...

Having a passion for Graphic Design and the Environment, I could not resist spending more time on this vital issue. Not only can these tips apply to Graphic Design Studios and Agencies, but most business could adapt at least one of these tips.
1) Direct Recycling. When I was scanning the internet for things that interest me I came across They recommended taking a cereal box (cereal removed, preferably eaten), and printing on the interior. Use it for announcements or even business cards. Take the middle man out of recycling and do it yourself! The cereal box exterior can make an interesting graphic statement on the back of your print. Chipboard for food boxes is thin enough to go through most printers. Make sure you limit yourself to dark inks, because lighter colors won’t show up. If you do want to use light or vibrate colors, you can screen print any color over chipboard. I did that with some sketchbooks I made for myself. Colorful monoprints on recycled chipboard, and leftover lined and graph papers for the interior makes great sketch books. I made them for my bridal shower and my cousins loved them. This makes quite the GREEN statement.
2) Multifunctional designs are not only a greener option, but the increase the time a customer spends with your mailer or product. This Increases the chances that they will purchase more with your company, because they are thinking more about you.
3) Smaller can be better?  Your client originally wanted a large postcard? Well help them save money and give yourself a challenge to work within a smaller space.  Anything you can do to reduce paper size. It does not always have to be smaller is better:  finding out what press sheet size your printer is using and then working within those restraints to reduce waste can be better than going small as possible.
4) Changing the lights. We have to have lights in our offices right? Switch to fluorescent or compact fluorescent to save electricity. If you want to save electricity and the dangerous mercury that can be found in CFLs, switch to LEDs. LEDS take very little energy to use, and do not contain any mercury. They are also very small, which means less materials had to go into making them. Prices and Light quality is always changing for both CFLs and LEDs. Make sure you use proper disposal of any type of light, because mercury can leak into the environment.  Do not throw conventional lights or CFLs into the trash!
5) Work from home. Many graphic designers are freelance, and work from home. If you are like me and don’t have that option, ask your boss about one day a week where you can telecommute. Not every boss will go for it, but if you can get one day where you are not driving your car to and from work the more you save the environment for your car exhaust and traffic congestion. It also takes you out of the mundane of everyday being in the same location to do your work. If you are going to work from home, you should have a home office area, where you can focus on the task-at-hand and not goof off.
There are many possibilities for going green. Green does not mean that our designs are recycled and old hat, but working within limits can actually make a better design. Making your design work with green is the start of a beautiful harmony of Graphic Design and sustainability. Green Note: if you are leaving a room for more than 7 seconds, turn off the light.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

It’s Earth Day, so like many others we are celebrating sustainable design. Particularly in graphic design there are simple things you can do to create greener designs.

1) Recycled paper has come a long way. Paper can come in a variety of green levels: recycled (in a variety of percentages), post-consumer recycled (also in a variety of percentages), and sustainably farmed paper. Now costs on all of these tend to be more, but the price has come down to match virgin bleached paper. Encouraging clients to go even as little as 10% recycled helps save some trees and the energy to harvest those trees. For general copy paper that we use around the office, buy recycled copy paper. Office Depot in their store brand has several options for recycled copy paper. Take advantage, and it is pretty much the same price as regular. If consumers can use their buying power to voice that we prefer recycled paper to regular, I think we will find that recycled becomes the new norm.

2) Cutting Waste is easy to do too; you just have to think before you act. When you print off a sheet of paper for layout purposes or to show a client a quick mock up, make sure you use the back for sketches. Or start a recycling bin. It won’t take too much effort, some people have recycling at home that they can volunteer to take it home with them or many grocery stores and stores like Walmart and Target have bins for recycling office paper, ink, and general small electronics. If you have something larger that you would like to recycle such as a TV or computer Best Buy now has a recycling program. Graphic designers naturally use a lot of paper. It is a part of our trade, because print is not dead yet. The more you can reuse or recycle, the better.

3) Soy Inks have good and bad qualities. Soy ink does not have the mix of metals and VOCs that cause headaches and dizziness for employees at printing copies, and these chemicals often leak into soil and ground water. Soy ink degrades faster, which is great for the recycling process. Heating point is greater than conventional ink so the colors will stay truer longer. Soy ink has some drawbacks. Soy Ink is not all soy, it is still partially petroleum. Most soy is not produced in the US and forests in foreign countries are being cut down to make way for Soy farms. They make soy ink for large presses (ask your printers) and there are soy ink options for your personal printers in your office.

4) Electronic Messaging. Encourage the reduction of a company’s direct mailers, for email or other ways of electronic direct marketing. There are companies that can provide lists for a target audience with emails and even ads on Facebook and Google. A drawback is that it is easier to ignore an email than a physical piece in your hand, but emails are cheaper to produce and you can send that email to many more people. Just because it is cheaper, does not mean you want to spam email. People will then see you as more of a nuisance than a company they want to do business with. If the client would still prefer print encourage them to view your projects digitally.

Check out more green ideas on my blog on Monday! Until then…think before you act. What can you do today to make your designs greener? Green Note: reduce water waste by shutting off the water while soaping up your hands.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TRENDS cont...

Another trend that keeps popping up is rounded corners. This can probably be attributed to modern computer programs that make this as simple and creating any other basic shape, such as a rectangle. Also with html working its way into the market. It is not accepted in all browsers, but once it does it will be much easier to have rounded corners on the web. We won't have to mess with as much cds to get the same, or better results.

Perhaps this trend has several initation points, as well as inspiration points. An increased use of social media is being used by corporations to help them connect with their clients. Maybe this appeal to be more personal and friendly has inspired designers to incorporate curves into their designs to make shapes seem softer, therefore, more friendly. With the ease of rounded, and its slight addition to detail. I think this is a trend that is not going anywhere soon.

Of course there are those who work against popular just because they fads. Such as the designers working with very clean and sharp, boxy designs, but that is a blog for another day.

Monday, April 18, 2011


As we all know fads come and go; and can be defining styles of a generation. I don't have a crystal ball, so I don’t what the world will look like ten years from now. A growing trend currently popping up everywhere is all uppercase. A few years back I remember everyone doing all lowercase, so perhaps this movement is just a rejection of what has come before. These all uppercase designs tend to use condensed typeface and slender letterforms.

Falling into a trend isn't an evil, but may came back later to haunt our memories when years from now we look back at our design annuals. Trends tend to seep in to our work whether we want to or not. Trends can become appealing to our minds and we begin to use it in our work. And it is okay to let an elegant urgency enter our work in ALL CAPS.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monster Mash

These were the monster creations I came up with on the last week. I should continue to work on my illustration skills.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Since I am very busy this week, and do not have the time to come up with well thought out blog posts, I am going to just doodle in my spare time. Yet, I will doodle with a purpose. My goal is to complete one monster illustration in the next week. In order to keep myself faithful to this pledge I will post what I have on my blog this time next week, done or not. Now, time to get sketching!

Monday, April 4, 2011

What Motivates You?

My purpose for this blog was for ME to find motivation and inspiration. A place to force me to find inspiration. A friend of mine posted this on facebook and I thought it was intriguing and well made. A true combination of interesting graphics and potent information made a enjoyable experience.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Enjoying the Peace & Quiet

I know my next week at work is going to be extremely busy, so it is very likely that I will not be posting during this week. So as I face a quiet week, I am sitting and enjoying one of my favorite things: watching a movie. My favorite director happens to be Tim Burton. Currently the movie is Alice in Wonderland. One of the many things I love about Tim Burton movies is the amount of detail and concern he takes with every frame. I can watch his movies over and over again and notice another detail each time. These details just keeping adding to the story. This time I noticed the birds that held the chandelier in the Queen's Palace. Her cruelty towards other creatures has just been tipped on the scale even more. This will probably also wrap up my emphasis on details (for now).

So relax and enjoy the week.