Friday, September 30, 2011

Home Trends: Typography

Trends are trends for a reason: they com ean dgo, but I found one trend that I want to hold onto:

I love type, so I want to be surrounded by it in my home. I found some great decor inspiration, most of it outside of my price range. For some of these I think I could go to the old standby of DIY. I hope to come up with a project soon and send it your way. until then, please enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BIG Grownup Experiences

I have some big grownup experiences coming up in this next month. I am going to try to keep this blog going even as the personal to do list grows exponentially. Maybe I will be able to share photos of the exciting new things ahead. Until then:

I have been working another card/print. Chevron pattern is huge right now. I see a lot of crisp zigzags filling the blogosphere. Using linoleum blocks enabled me to get a little grungy and organic. Of course each one is hand printed by me! this time I used turquoise ink.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Staying Creative

It is probably one of the most talked about subject within the creative community. How do you continually come up with ideas day in and day out? It is a real challenge, especially when your lively-hood depends on it. There are many things that can help boost creativity.

Many creatives keep a full desk with knickknacks with nostalgia or interesting design qualities, and others want no distractions from keeping them from the task at hand. They treat their desks with minimalism.

Others have mood/visual boards. Literally boards with images, words, or colors to express a mood, goal, or style. This can be a great way to bring a multitude of elements together to share in a similar time or feeling.

Exercise. Newsweek had this to say:
"Almost every dimension of cognition improves from 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, and creativity is no exception. The type of exercise doesn't matter, and the boost lasts for at least two hours afterward. However, there's a catch: this is the case only for the physically fit. For those who rarely exercise, the fatigue from aerobic activity counteracts the short-term benefits."

Lists can be a helpful way to stay focused and organized, but lists can become overwhelming and put a damper on your creativity when it becomes too long. Keep it concise. 

Sketching or working in a different medium helps you to use different brain connections. Your work can also take a different texture than it would otherwise. Even if you are a writer: using a pen/pencil and paper creates different results than when you are exclusively using a computer. 

Take a break. I am bad at following this advice. when i am working on a project I try to sit and just pull through it, and maybe taking 15 minutes away from my work to take a walk or even sit at a new location can give a well earned break and stimulation ----> making me more productive!

Working harder and more diligently can work for short spurts, but it leads to burnout. Do you have anything you look at, do, listen, or read to help you stay creative?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Bane of Avatar

Remember when Avatar came to theaters in 2009? Besides being a more fantastic form of FernGully , the most disappointing feature of this movie was the use of Papyrus. This movie is estimated to cost $280 million, and I was surprised that they would use a common, crude, and un-liked typeface for a movie of this epic a proportion. With all this money spent, it would have been small change to develop their own typeface or spend a couple hundred dollars and buy one with more unique, and less offensive styling.

  • Skylark : This typeface has similar attributes to Papyrus: distressed look, extended ascenders and descenders.
  • Baker Signet Roman: This one is not distressed but has similar ink quality to it, with the thick and thins of the lines that make up each letter. The ends are also come to a point like Papyrus
  • Solano Gothic: This one is not like Papyrus at all, but because of its condensed letterforms and the unusual short descenders and ascenders with curved edges.
  • Eurostile: Similar to Solano this also has the feeling of being sci-fi without the illegibility. TI also has short ascenders and descenders.
There is an entire site dedicated to all of your papyrus sightings. It's everywhere. Where have you seen it today? Apparently James Cameron did a slightly customized typeface with a few alterations. Either way, why emulate a bad typeface so closely?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Type Love: L

I haven't posted about a type love recently, but I recently noticed the script that appeared on my wedding invitation. The "L" of the script is a beautiful and elegant script typeface that is not overly fussy. It is perfect for a wedding ( I have spotted it on a couple wedding invitations since my own wedding.) and scripts are not very useful outside of formal invitations. Invitations give us the opportunity to splurge and be a little "spiffy". 

Kuenstler Script was developed in 1902 by D. Stempel AG (a German Type foundry). This typeface also has a pretty sweet A and E.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kitchen Adventure #3

It has been a scorcher this year. Most of our garden never had a change. One seed that grew plentifully: basil. What to do with 3 pots of basil? Pesto. I have never made pesto before, so this was a fun and simple recipe for me:

2 1/3 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
3 gloves of garlic
3/4 cup parmesan

Combine the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until mixed. Salt and pepper to taste. Put on top of pasta, potatoes, crackers...ANYTHING!

It was delicious! I was able to use Sartori cheese, which I mentioned in a blog post awhile ago. It was affordable, tasty, and well designed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Slow it Down

Work can get busy and chaotic, and it is easy to get swept up into the motion of it all. When I have the motivation I just want to get it done. I get tunnel vision and start work with increasing speed. At some point the speed doesn't matter, because the work suffers. It is better to take a break, go on a walk, or at least take a deep breath. Relax, and refocus. Going at a slower pace, maybe everything won't get done on time, but it will be done right. From experience getting it done right is what matters more. 

When I had my internship my boss had something posted on the wall behind me:

Good, Fast, and Cheap
(pick two)

 If you want good design for cheap, it won't be fast
If you want good and fast design it won't be cheap
If you want fast and cheap design, it won't be good.

You can only have two. You can not get all three. This reminds me about what I have to do about now. I am trying to have quality design for the low price. I need to take the time to make my designs the best they can be (without over analyzing). When I go at super speed, the details can sweep right by me. Even when you are striving for quality design at high speed, the quality is not as good as it would be for Quality design and taking it slow. Good designs don't always come at the drop of a pin. Design takes thought and planning. I have to work through all the bad parts, before I get to the best option. Even if the best option was the first option, working on more ideas lets me know that I had it right the first time.

Take the time to do your work right, and you won't have the regrets that come with a hasty approach.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Want to be Liked?

Facebook is another useful tool for promoting your product and interacting with customers. I unfortunately cannot provide support toward which to use twitter or facebook. I tend to appreciate facebook more for business because it allows the customer to have many options to interact. Sharing pictures and videos, as well as comments and galleries. There are many facebook fan pages that fail, because of how these pages are utilized.

Some fail from lack of use. If you have made the jump to be social, those tools should be used often, at least once a week.

Some become just another advertisement slammed in your face. It is nice to be updated if there is sale going on for your company, but it should not be your only type of post. I think this is extremely common with business that work for other businesses.Particularly for media companies, I think it is a strong temptation to tell all about your clients specialties. For once it is not about them, but about your company. Make it so. A constant sales pitch is not something someone wants to read about. Facebook page is supposed to help you connect with your audience, but sales pitch after sales pitch becomes another forceful feeding of advertising. We are inundated with enough of that in day to day living.

Some focus on only one feature of facebook. I know that when I "like" someone I want to see a variety of content.

If you have a blog. Facebook can be a great way to connect your fans to some unique and in-depth content. Facebook tends to be quick snippets of  updates and events going on, and letting people know about a new blog post is a great way to let them know you have something more substantial to offer. This also can increase traffic to your blog. Not everyone will choose to follow a blog (especially when we follow so many), and posting your blog updates to facebook lets your audience pick and choose what they want to read.

Facebook is an excellent way to let people know about events you are having. It doesn't always have to be through "events" in facebook. Share through photos. Tell us what the employees are up to at the office. Having an office party? Share some fun photos from the event. Dogs come to work day? Share the photos of the pups and their owner.

Keep your voice. Facebook is part of social media. Be professional, but with personality. Let your facebook page be the "voice" of your brand. Most of all be authentic. Patronizing people will only push them away, and potentially loose clients and customers. (Yes, we can tell if you are being fake.)

My favorite brands that embody all of these tips:

Anyone what to share on how to have a successful facebook page or a favorite company?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FREE Mustache Rides

Thanks to hipsters we have a plethora of mustache designs and merchandise available. I wanted to share some of my favorite:
  • Fake Mustaches: from my favorite store the Paper Source. Don't have a mustache? Now you can just stick one on. These are fun to mess around with our friends will funny staches to match your mood.
  • this site is dedicated entirely to various mugs that use different mustaches to decorate these simple mugs.
  • Sweet 'Stache: a book showing you different staches distinguish the face.
  • Candy Molds that resemble the well-liked bushy mustache style.

From Cheri's Bakery
     Have you you seen any ridiculous mustache memorabilia? Please share your favorite. Perhaps I should buy some of this gear for myself to show future generations what we had to give.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Unfamiliar Territory

    Graphic Design often dances together with marketing, but it is a different beast altogether. Like, design it is a skill-set that never ceases to change. Requiring one to endeavor continuously to adapt to media, market, and most importantly people! I have often thought of continuing my education at school to learn more about marketing, since it is so closely related to the work that I do. Marketing is still a part of every person who wants employment. We become our own product to market. I have never taken any class in marketing, and only have suggestions based on what I have experienced.

    Being an introverted person it works against my nature to market, but every person has it within themselves skills that make them unique and there is not point hiding them. To make these skills easier to find on the webs there are few courses you can take to ensure more people are finding you, you business, or your product.

    • META TAGS: You have probably heard it before about the importance of meta code: the "invisible" part of code that helps search engines pick up your important keywords and descriptions. This code goes in the <head> tag.
    •  TELL GOOGLE: This will add your site to a Google crawl list. It can help google to find you more often.
    • LINKS: You are socially active across the web, so make all your sites connect back to one another.
    •  UNIQUE TITLES: When you name each of your webpages make sure to name each page distinctively to help search edges find you.
    • SITE MAP: Most hosting companies can provide this for you. This lets search engines filter through your pages more quickly.
      None of these are guaranteed top spots or success, but a way to enhance your online promotions. I also recommend that you post a favicon (the little photo next to your domain in the browser. This looks more professional, and shows that you think of all the details. If you have any pointers to please share with a comment below.

      Saturday, September 10, 2011

      Comic Sans: Misused and Misunderstood

      Comic Sans is one of those typefaces that has made its way into the Type Hall of Infamy. Its overuse and inappropriate use has given this typeface its sour reputation. Questions come up such as: when is appropriate to use? Does any anyone know the answer? Like most things this is entirely subjective. some people would tell you never to use Comic Sans ever. I would say it has that Comic Sans has its place and time: comic books and children stories. Although there are other options that are more unique and possibly more appropriate.

      Big name typography, used to not be so ubiquitous, such as: Papyrus, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Arial, and more. As a typeface becomes more and more common, using that typeface looks like you just picked the easiest and cheapest type to create a design. Your typography should always be chosen with a purpose. Comic Sans was not developed with the purpose to soften a blow or to use humor in corporate, plumbing, newsletters, and (other such inappropriate places).

      Comic Sans was developed by Microsoft in 1994, but this typeface has experienced hate for over ten years (1999).I don't think comic sans deserves all the hate that it gets, who deserves the hate is all the jerks designing posters with Comic Sans. Comic Sans is perfectly acceptable if you using this for comic books and children events.  Avoid using this on office notes (it just makes people mad), on bathroom notices (it will just make people puke), and avoid using it for any designs for profit.

      Enjoy this video, but I think I keep flopping on how I feel about this typeface. I don't hate it, but I would never use it either. (Not that I haven't used it before...dark days)

      Thursday, September 8, 2011

      Book Design is Changing

      Borders is disappearing, leaving Barnes and Nobles along with a few local shops the only book shops available. None are near where I live, and I bet this is common for other people, as well. Even if Borders had made it through, the way we buy books is changing: Amazon sells more kindle books than paper ones. The way we shop for these books has changed too.

      "Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower, or a-a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and-and-and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a - it, uh, it has no-no texture, no-no context. It's-it's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then-then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um, smelly."

      We could go to a store and touch the book and flip through the illustrations and decide if a book was truly for us. I am huge on texture, and I like being able to feel a book in my hand, before I buy it. This is impossible when I order a book online. This becomes more important when I pick out a book that has several cover options: such as my Alice in Wonderland book. There were at least 7 options for this title, but I chose the one with the hardback binding, letterpressed cover, and gilded pages. If I could not feel and see this book in person, who knows what I would have purchased. Probably whatever was cheapest would have been in my shopping cart.

      Not only are shoppers effected by this change of shopping but: designers, illustrators, printing companies, ink companies, paper mills, and I am sure there is more behind the scene action that has changed in the creation of a book. As operating systems become more sophisticated digital can include color, illustrations, and unique typography. A digital book will lack the texture, feel, and smell of a book. Until digital books can incorporate my loves (plus the feel of paper) I don't I will make this digital jump.

      Tuesday, September 6, 2011

      Learning from Mistakes

      I often hear we learn from mistakes. Mistakes are not failures, unless we fail to learn from them. Errors become these bright red lights that at the time overwhelm me with disappointment. when I finally move on from it, I can make the further effort to make sure that NEVER happens again. To help you learn from my own mistakes here are some typical mistakes for designers (but not limited too).

      • SPELL CHECK: spelling errors are probably the most common mistake. And I have seen fellow designers loose clients through lack of diligence. Sometimes I too forget to hit that little spell check button. In fact if I could convince Adobe to make it a little icon on the tool bar, instead of being hidden in the file navigation, it would be a very welcome change.
      •  MIND YOUR FOLDS: a recent mistake of mine to ignore the printers folds. Made a huge problem. It has to be reprinted and refolded. It has caused a project that was already running behind (due to the client's complications), but now the project is another week behind schedule. It has taken me a few days to stomach this problem, but I need to move on and make a vow to dictate clearly my vision to the printer. Hopefully this mistake will never occur again through vigilance.
      •  USING RGB (for print): Printers can only print in CMYK and particular ink (such as Pantone).  Believe me it can make a huge mess to clean up after someone who uses RGB for CMYK. RGB is for screens only. If you are doing digital work that is perfect, but for print use CMYK.
      • MISUSE OF PROGRAMS: the Adobe Suite can be fairly interchangeable, but each program has its own specialty. You can create print documents in Photoshop, but I would not recommend. Doing so will create more work for yourself, and for your printer (professional not your desktop).

      Sunday, September 4, 2011

      Blackout Poetry

      Sifting through the many blogs I follow I found this intriguing idea: newspaper blackout poetry. Something creative, but fairly different from what I do day-in and day-out. Maybe it will even help me to be a better copywriter. It is a challenge and a struggle for me to come up with copy on command, that is why a copywriter is its own profession. It wouldn't have to be a newspaper. It could even be one of my own ads, where I was forced to add too much copy. HA!

      Do you have any blackout poetry you would like to share? (Since I haven't written a poem since high school, I am a little shy. Maybe your confidence will inspire me to be brave.)

      Saturday, September 3, 2011

      Cake Pops

      A couple weeks ago I finally jumped on the cake pop bandwagon. My husband dislikes most sweets, particularly my favorite cake/cupcakes. I keep trying to make the cake pieces smaller and smaller. I began with a typical round 8/9 inch, but I would be lucky if a single slice got eaten. I then moved to cupcakes (my favorite). They would be eaten, just not quickly enough. I try to make small batches, but even when I half a recipe it was always have more than we can enjoy. Cake pops were the perfect solution.

      Tablespoon bits of cake covered in white chocolate. I can still decorate them in crazy ways, and they come in any flavor I desire. My first pops weren't quite so lovely, but I have great goals with these examples to aspire to:

      Too bad sprinkles are so expensive, but now I have some recipes to make my own sprinkles.

      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      My Book List: Design

      I am always looking for good for suggestions for books, particularly for design. I wanted to provide some suggestions for good books for designers or aspiring designers to read:

      • The Mac is NOT a Typewriter by Robin Williams | This is a great book about using proper typographer on your computer (not just for mac users, but of course all the short-cut macros are for mac only.
      • Zag and/or Brand Gap both by Marty Neumeier | These books focus on the marketing side of graphic design. Marketing is not just about selling stuff, but an idea.
      • Stylepedia by Steven Heller and Louise Hill | A excellent collection of design throughout history and globally. A great way to be inspired.

      If you have any great suggestions. I am always looking for a new design book to soak up!