Monday, May 30, 2011

Social Networking

Maybe its because social media has been quickly changing over the last few years, but no one at my school told me how important social networking could be. It can be difficult to network in a distant city. I experienced that myself at the end of my college career. I knew I would be headed back to Wichita, but did no know anyone in my line of work except the design studio I had interned at the summer before. Perhaps if I had learned about tools like linked in and behance sooner I would have been able to utilize those sites to my advantage.

Social networking can be a great tool, but it cannot beat meeting people face to face. Using social media can help you get that foot in the door, as long as you are representing yourself in a positive manner. Potential employers are going to google you so you should make sure there us nothing that degrades your digital appearance. Also making sure you have a uniform look and style at all your online media will help to brand yourself. Using a blog can be a great way to show a lot of personality and knowledge in your line of work. It helps if all you'd social tools link back to one another to help create connections and can simplify the steps a potential employer has to take as well as help design their experience.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tasty Wedding Favors

Wedding season is upon us (3 recent weddings have already come and gone for me and 5 more to come this summer). So I have just been keeping my out on things that I am loving about this wedding season. Edible Favors! Favors can be a pain that your guests don’t want to have nick knack around their house, well edible favors can be a change for your guests to take with them some of the feeling of your wedding day, while not being a permanent fixture in their homes. 

Edible gifts don’t have to be the same old tulle wrapped package of after dinner mints or colored m&ms. These favors can extenuate your wedding day with color, patterns, or replications of your dress or wedding cake.  A very simple way of helping your favor to feel like the rest of your wedding is using stationary. Using stickers, tags, or labels is an easy way to make it fit in with the rest of your wedding. Use similar typography that you used for your wedding invitation, and same paper stock if you can.

I did this for my own wedding. My husband and I love hot cocoa so we made our own mix and poured it into miniature bottles, and then tied tags to them with the invitation paper and coloring, as well as using sparkling ribbons that matched the centerpieces. Favors can be a simple way to show your guests how much you appreciate their presence at the wedding. Favors can often be a nuisance to some guests, which is perhaps why I have not received a favor at any of the weddings I have been at so far.

With scrapbooking becoming increasingly popular there are many cutters and other tools to help you achieve a custom look with little effort, or at least less effort and smaller cost than using a printer to die-cut or using an exacto to cut each piece out. Cutting using the tools is less difficult as long as you use a paper that is not too thick. I used 200 lb paper, so the scrapbooking tool was not meant for something so thick, but for cardstock of 80-110 lb. Keep that in mind when you are choosing paper and tools for customization.

Photography from

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sweet Tart and Spring Rains

Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts. Jealous? Life is best when I am wearing my apron covered in flour making some baked good as the Kansas storms roll by outside. If you want the recipe just let me know, and I will be happy to share it with you.


And excuse the look of the blog right now, Blogger and I are fighting. I may just have to take the extra effort and code my blog.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Graduation Day

A year ago I was preparing to graduate from the University of Kansas filled with hope for the future. Imagining that soon enough I would land a new job in Wichita with a design studio and do amazing logos and do all the fun hipster graphic design things. I would get married and we would live in apartment, and then make enough money to get a house with a white picket fence and dog. Well it would be 6 months before I did get a job. During that time I became very disheartened that I could not land a job, because I was not good enough. No agencies or studios in Wichita seemed interested. I had taken some long trips, just to interview in Kansas City. I would make it to the last round, but failed to have the experience necessary. No one wants to give you the chance to gain experience. It is risky for a business to hire someone with little to no experience. I did finally get a job. At first it seemed like something different that what I wanted, but that is why they say don't judge a book by its cover.

I began working with car ads, but little by little I proved that I was up to the challenge of doing more. I have created a logo for a company and preparing to work on more collateral pieces. I have had opportunities to expand my illustration skills, do billboards, t-shirts, emails, and some flash work. I am really grateful for the opportunities that my company has given me. It has been to be appreciated for what I do, and I have proven to myself that I am capable of doing graphic design work that can be appreciated at the professional level. I enjoy my fellow employees, and I think that this company can go far. I am really excited about the opportunities that lay before me. So, I still have some of that hope that I had a year ago, but maybe with a bit more wisdom.

Much like high school, not being able to prepare me for college; nor was college able to prepare me for the professional workforce. It did give me the tools and a basic foundation, but my toes where barely even in the water. I guess it is a lot like freshman year with my Design 1 course. I dabbled in the programs and made simple layouts, but by senior year I could see my immature work and its failings. I can look back at my student portfolio and see things I wish I had done differently. I know that my skills have improved. I hope to continue to improve them, because you are really never done learning. Thanks for making me a better designer, and to better understand my craft.

I wished I had engaged in blogging when I had the chance. I am currently struggling to change my actions towards social media, blogging, podcasting, ect… I can’t help to think if I had taken this more seriously when it was REQUIRED for me to blog, listen to podcasts, and social network (for work). So if you are still in school, don’t take what the make you do for granted; you might regret it later. I would have been much better off if I had used the opportunities that the university had given me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's a Jungle Out There

Need to make an impact? These guerrilla marketers make it happen. I love the work done by CURB. They claim themselves to be the natural media company, and with many of their tactics there is little impact on the environment compared to traditional methods, but there is a massive impact on the audience’s relationship with this marketing technique. They inject these designs into a public space, forcing the everyday person to interact with your marketing idea. 

Marketing like this seems like the new way to grab the public’s attention, but if it is not well planned out marketing like this could be devastating to a company. (Think about the music boxes in the newspaper stands, people thought they were bombs and were calling bomb threats in all over the city, what a nightmare!) One big issue with marketing like this is to make sure you have all the legalities taken care of. It would be disappointing to spend so much money on marketing and implementation to get slapped with a huge fine. With these designs being “environmental,” we need to consider the impact on the environment. That is what I liked so much about the sea life marketing. CURB used seawater to temporarily create advertisement for an aquarium (also very fitting for the company they were marketing for). Seawater evaporates more slowly than water, but will eventually disappear so there is little impact on environment, no legal forms, and a big impact on the community (especially with the use of scuba men as the taggers)

Another design that made me laugh, because it made me look twice at the surroundings was Hewlett Packard use of paper “holes.” A way to promote HP papers and inks it shows a realistic hole so that the environment surrounding the hole looks fake. It is not only great marketing ploy because it makes you want to inspect more closely, but it forces the viewer to look at the surrounding environment as well. This makes me want to do some guerilla marketing of my own. I wonder when my opportunity will arise.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Emotional Wine

While looking at Lippincott Branding Agency I found this fun brand: wine that loves. I do not drink wine, but I enjoy the concept of this brand. It has simple wine pairings for each wine, and a fun graphic to guide you to the best pairing choices. The illustrations are simple, yet clearly define what your wine choice should be for your meal. Each illustration is limited to two colors (one of the being the bottle) and the red color is the brands identifying heart. The third color is the part of the branding color that helps define that type of wine, so whether you want to use the illustration or color you can quickly pick the right one. The organic shape of the thought bubble is a modern and whimsical approach, that fits the user-friendly feel of this brand. I have not visited this wine in a store, yet, but if I were ever in need of hosting a dinner party I would reach for this first. Wine pairings have always been a challenge (from what I understand from tv and friends), and this just simplifies the whole ordeal.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dealing with the Demons

Porn is a big industry in this country, heck this world. Forbes says the porn industry does $10 to $14 billion dollars each year. Now it can be scary to admit it but FOOD porn. I can’t help looking through glossy cookbooks and drooling over the decadent desserts, sassy soups, salivating sandwiches, audacious appetizers, and so on…

Food photography is a growing field, but it is be taken over by freelance and your everyday blogger. Some of my favorite blogs, that appeal to my secret fetish, are: , ,  ,  and a place that allows me to just stare at images (if I choose) or

Gourmet food is really the industry pushing the food porn industry. Gourmet has taken leaps in bounds with the development of the food network and the cooking channel. Taking this food for the wealthy to become plebian that anyone can and should take gourmet into his or her own homes. In response blogs have blossomed with abundant photographs of sizzling skillets and scrumptious desserts.

Food and designers have often gone hand-in-hand. Cookbooks need skilled organizers to separate the information in a pleasant and logical way, therefore designers make a clear choice. Food photography draws in designers because food can be a very designed thing: making sure you have a “colorful” salad, texture, or they way the sauce appears on a plate. Pretty much food can combine everything that we, as designers love. Plus, food just tastes good.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bigger is not always Better

While in school standard paragraph size was 8pt. Now I am lucky if I can get away with 10pt. Most of the time I am forced to use the default of 12pt. It has taken quite the adjustment for me to succumb to the largeness of real world type. I now try to hold onto 10 as much as I can, because 12 still looks like the elephant in the room.

There are real world applications that require large body type, when you are working with young children and elderly. Young children large letterforms because they are learning to read them and need to be able to see the variety of strokes and curves to decifer the words. Elderly people, have deteriorating eyesight, so they would require the large type as well too. So if either of these two groups are your audience, go ahead be as horsey as you want.

But I think for most audiences that smaller type is better, or at the very least, use type that is not standard when you open a program. This shows that very little thought went into the body copy, which is just as important as the rest of your design. It might have more importance, in that it conveys important information to your reader.

Size is not always the issue, but text variations. Making different categories of text different size, weight, style, or color enhances reading and comprehension of your audience. Our eyes naturally try to differentiate text, doing your part to make that easier for your audience helps insure readability, which enhances your chance to convey your message. Type is always a challenge, and I find that designers (myself included) have to continually improve themselves in this area. Type is the meat and potatoes of any design, and if you don't know how to use it your designs will suffer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Popping Design

Strolling through Target, in some painfully high-heals, a bag flashed in the corner of my eye and turn. Target never seems to fail for some new design that I stop and stair at; usually this is something from the Target brand. This time it was something called Pop Chips. Interesting brand and an interesting design, sometimes those things are intermingled, but not every time.

Pop Chips are in this dark yet bright (like a neon light) bag with clean, fun typography. Making this the perfect snack for a light night snack. On the plus side they are actually better for you than the typical potato chip. All natural chips, that aren’t fried nor are they baked. They have their brand’s credo right on their website, you don’t need to question what this brand is about:

“we, the snackers of the world, raising our right hands out of the chip bag, do solemnly swear to engage in more recreational eating; to throw more popcorn in the air to catch in our mouths; to double-dip into the onion dip as necessary; and to spoil our dinners on a regular basis.”

It is easy to see their attitude and their audience. They are trying to appeal to a new audience of young aware adults. I would say they target is probably 18-35. These people are aware of the bad junk inside of other snack products, and want to choose something healthier for themselves, but have not resigned themselves to lack luster diet products.

Their logo incorporates its brand (as it should), and is clean and holds nothing back. The variety of type size as well as the two “dots” emphasize that this brand is fun (and popping!) All of their type is lowercase, emphasizing the “friendly personality” of this brand. A little texture gives the bag designs some depth. Color-coding makes it easy to pick your favorite flavor every time!

All information and photos were used from the pop chips website.
Check them out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Can Anyone Be a Designer?

With the advancement in software and a rebirth in craft movement it seems that everyone wants, and can be a designer. But can they? Lots of designers have the humble start of no schooling and go onto become very successful designer. Some are just crafters looking to make something trendy. Most people ARE capable of being designers. A primary function of a designer is to organize information, but also combining function and aesthetics. Designers need an aptitude for problem solving. Designers can be very talented not going to school, because you are judged by your portfolio not your school and grade.

School has the advantages of teachers being more knowledgeable in the field than you, and they can impart knowledge and skills that would take you much longer to figure out on your own. Fellow students are great assets to your education. Learning along with others creates a common bond, easy networking, and you would be amazed the magnitude of what you can learn from your peers. In our projects we each learned tricks to the different tools, and we able to help each other out. Being a student gives you the foundation to begin learning on your own. School also will provide you the history of graphic design, and knowing the history can help you understand the conventions in design today and better understand your tools.
With motivation you don’t require the aid that teachers and your fellow students can provide, but if you find you need that form of encouragement and supports there are plenty of blogs around that you that can give you the help of your peers in a non-intimidating way. It can be hard to keep the motivation up to learn on your own. I know that I continually endeavor to learn on my own new tips and tricks, but I always become lazy. I have considered taking short classes for support of teachers and the forced commitment of attending class.
Scheduling time, set apart from the rest of your day, can help ensure you take time to learn a new skill. Keeping a clean and distraction free workspace also helps ensure success. My TV and Netflix often distract me from achieving my goal. Put up design inspiration. Engage in alternative activities. Diversity can be a great asset to a designer. Graphic Design is not solely for computers, in decades past they did not have computers to accelerate the design process, so get practice drawing, painting, and if you can I strongly suggest screenprint and letterpress. Letterpress gives you a new appreciation for the simplified way we are able to layout type on a computer, as well as be having more detailed attention toward kerning and leading.
Even after school a designer is not done learning, so it is important to continue growth in your craft with: books, tutorials, lectures, and perhaps more classes! Design, software, and society are continually changing, so always look for an opportunity to learn. It is never too late to begin learning. --Wow how many more clich├ęs can I fit here!? Many people can be successful without school, now she focuses more on her photography and blogging. Check out Heather Armstrong on or her interview with Debbie Millman