Many people take advantage of the new year, and really stop to consider areas in their lives where changes can be made. January always seems full of opportunities to wipe slates clean. Just like the snow that falls during this time of year, covering all imperfections with a blanket of white, the thought of empty canvases and new beginnings offer a refreshing peace.

This blog has been through a number of re-inventions. What started as a technology and design blog in 2010, and transitioned to a faith-based blog before landing at its current state, Jenn On A Mission has been a labor of love and an outlet for my ‘jack of all trades’ personality. [There is just so much to see, do, learn, and explore in this life, y’all!] However, I have come to realize that the blog now is a bit like my home office — there is more “stuff’ in the space than the space is meant to hold. It creates Organized Chaos, which is not really organized or user-friendly. I may be able to walk into my office and, after shifting around several stacks of papers, locate the one thing I was looking for but my readers shouldn’t have to sift through numerous topics and blog posts just to find a local restaurant recommendation.

That said, my goal this weekend is to overhaul the website again.

(photo borrowed from Red Rock Collision Repair website)

I have been doing research and have really put in a lot of time planning the new setup. The look will still be the same, for now… but I will be narrowing my menu topics and focusing on three specifically: Design, Health, and my home state of North Carolina. I still plan to blog on similar topics, from DIY projects to day trips, but my goal is to provide content that is easier to follow and find. If I’m going to work towards living a Minimalistic life, my blog should be uncomplicated too. It only makes sense. I’m excited about these changes and hope that you will be too. You should see the new menu options beginning January 15. New blog posts will be published every Thursday. The sponsored post that I’m writing for January 19 will actually be both health and NC focused, so stay tuned!

I am still unsure if I will continue the Motivation Monday posts. I would really like to put more emphasis on my design content, and plan to open my online store on the blog very soon. That is, as long as I don’t crash the site again. [My nerves still haven’t fully recovered from that fiasco yet.] Please bear with me as I work to finalize decisions and transitions.

As always, thank you for stopping by. {Please remember to subscribe!} Feel free to leave a comment below; I love hearing from y’all. What kind of overhaulin’ do you have planned for 2017?

Meet Mission Art & Design

After a long hiatus, I’m finally designing again! I have opened an Etsy store, and invite you all to check it out. I will be offering instant downloads as well as customizable designs. My primary focus right now is graphics, but I will also be offering hand lettering services. I do plan to also offer photography and other artwork at some point in 2017.

I want to also create a store on this page, but that will take some time to build. Until I launch my store on this site, please head over to Etsy to shop.

Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 5.53.30 PM

A little about Mission Art & Design:
I have always had a passion for art. I remember telling my grandmother when I was about three years old that I wanted to grow up to be an artist. It was all that I knew, and all that I ever wanted. I lived and breathed art – from drawing and painting to set design in theater arts, I was always expressing myself creatively. I knew that I wanted to attend a college ranked highly in their art program, and was ecstatic to be accepted into the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in Design. By the time I graduated, I had exhibited my work in an international museum… in a gallery directly below one filled with Picasso, De Kooning, and Matisse. With endless opportunities for employment, I decided to pursue a career in graphic design and photography. I spent 10 years developing my skills in printing, marketing, and publishing. After a decade in corporate design, I became a bit burned out. I needed to remove myself completely. I selected a new career in Healthcare, and spent the next decade de-sensitizing myself from the cookie-cutter branding of my previous career. Today, I have found my passion for art again; the passion that I had when I created and exhibited art without the direction of CEOs and Account Managers. And I have decided to sell some of that artwork through my online shop. I named it Mission Art & Design because I’m on a mission to express myself creatively again. I’m not sure where this will take me but the beauty is in the journey, not in the destination! I hope you enjoy the adventure.

Graphic Design: Helpful Hints

I’m a perfectionist. I understand that everyone makes mistakes. Believe me, I will likely have my fair share in this blog alone!! However, I find that I over-analyze most things in the graphic design world. I guess this stems from my many years in the business, working my way from a Typesetter in a print shop to an Art Director in a publishing company. Every employer instilled an attention-to-detail in me that apparently is here to stay.

I usually have to glimpse through a publication, like a weekly sale advertisement, on multiple occasions. The first time I view it, I have a tendency to size-up the actual layout. I observe typography, margins, and bursts. I make mental notes of what works, and what doesn’t. It is only the second or third time I flip through the ad that I actually pay attention to the products and their pricing.

I will also analyze invitations, flyers, and mailers… nearly any print material I encounter. I love to see how designers use color, be it effectively or not. I appreciate a good company branding, but enjoy an out-of-the-box design too. I will even analyze paper and printing techniques, and will keep some on hand to use for conceptualizing later. I’m not sure if these assessments are a healthy habit or a curse.

One consistency I find in graphic design… primarily from designers who have limited experience, or more so, those who call themselves designers simply because they have a computer with Microsoft Office… is a lack of detail. Do they analyze items that they have readily available; like magazines, brochures, or posters? Is there a desire to learn copy-writing tricks-of-the-trade for accurate grammar? What kind of emotions are you putting behind your typography or color pallet?  I would like to share three quick Helpful Hints that will benefit any designer, no matter their skill set.

1. If you know this is going to be printed professionally, call ahead to request printing specifications. Based on the piece you are designing, the printer may have several printing options. To save time and money, for both you and the printer, it is best to set up files correctly from the beginning. Take into consideration: margins, bleeds, colors, and format. Microsoft Word is NOT a layout program. Although it is feasible to create something out of it, the file usually causes most printers a lot of heartache. You want to deliver a file that the printer will not have to manipulate before printing. This will cut down on your printing costs, and shorten turn-around time.

2. Proofread your work. There is often a preoccupation with producing a creative design. Too much attention to the appearance of a piece could hinder you from missing an obvious mistake to the basic information. (Case in point: one of my first professional design jobs, I left the L out of the word public. No one at the printer reviewed my work, as it was presented to them as “print ready” and I had relied on spell check to proof my basic info. Pubic is a word, but the folks at the city’s utilities department were not very impressed that it appeared in their brochure.)

When dealing with clients, do NOT expect them to proofread basic information either. Often they feel if they have hired you to design the piece, you’re responsible for editing it as well. Pay particular attention if you are simply re-design a previous piece, or they have requested a consistency in their material for branding purposes. If it looks familiar to everyone involved, no client will read it carefully.

Lastly, if you are dealing with a large group (I have found this to be true with larger non-profit organizations) there tends to be too many people are involved in reviewing the information. Everyone thinks someone else is paying attention and catching mistakes, and therefore, no one person feels totally responsible to carefully review the invitation, specifically looking for mistakes and omissions.

If you feel uncomfortable with copy-writing or editing, there are some excellent resources online. However, if you prefer to work face-to-face with someone, contact your local advertising agencies. You can hire someone on a project-by-project basis, and often you will find that many of the copywriters and editors freelance in their spare time.

3. High Resolution vs. Low Resolution images. Obviously the higher resolution your image is, the larger the file will be. No one likes working with giant files placed into large layouts. It will slow your computer (especially if you’re on a shared network) and your productivity down. However, resolution is crucial to viewing quality. Don’t fall victim to the 72-rule. I still hear the advice, “Computer screens show images at 72 dpi, so scan all of your images for the screen at 72 dpi.” Although dpi is more flexible on screen, it is crucial to have the highest dpi possible in printing. Typically, printers encourage designers to use 300 dpi, an industry standard.

I plan to post more Helpful Hints blogs monthly, not only for graphic design but also for photography. Please leave me a comment to let me know if the tips I post are resourceful, or if you would like me to cover a specific topic.

Happy Designing!