Life Update: September 27, 2016

Hi friends!

As you know, from time-to-time, I will post a quick blog about what I’ve been doing and/or projects that I’m planning. Usually when there is a short break in my posting schedule, that means I’m up to something.

And I’m definitely up to something!

I have wanted to get my online store ready for a while now. It has been a dream of mine for over a year, but I never took the time to sit down and make it happen. I thought the mood may eventually pass. Instead, my desire to create an online store has grown! I think it is finally time to make this happen.

I’m still writing blog posts. I have several on the horizon — some in the works with some great sponsors and some that are ready for publishing. But I am also taking some time to create art as well. I am building my inventory of hand-lettered cards and signs, typography/prints, and digital designs. I plan to launch my online store very soon (so please subscribe to my blog so that you’ll receive an email as soon as it’s open!) and sell at a few local craft fairs, too. Being an artist means so much to me, and I am looking forward to sharing my work with you soon.

In addition to my artwork, it’s running season again! (I’m an outdoor runner, and train very little during the hot and humid NC summers.) I begin mentoring on Monday with a new group of trainees who will be completing their first 5K in December. I will personally have my first 5K of the season at the end of October.

All that said, you can expect lots of blog topics heading your way. I will have some great fall recipes for you, running tips as we transition to cooler weather, blogs featuring NC Triad businesses, fall and winter fashions, and some holiday DIY projects. I’m on a mission to make this fall the healthiest and most creative yet. I hope you’ll join me!


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!