Monday, October 27, 2014

Color Me Good: My Guide to Color in a Neutral World

I love color. It makes me happy and it can also make you happy. Whether it is at home or work, I surround myself with color. Most people I come across are either afraid of color or play it safe. Color is such a matter of taste that homeowners trying to sell a home are often told to keep their wall colors neutral to attract the most people. And although that may be true when trying to sell a home, in design what matters is how you can use color to communicate a message to your target audience. Today, I'm sharing my personal tips on how I use color for a client and for life. 

Research, research, research
I can't say it enough, every design for me starts with a little bit of research. My research can include talking to the client or visiting websites to get an idea of the target audience. Get to know your audience, older people won't be able to see dark on light. The youngsters are drawn to primary and saturated colors. Invite people to view your work. I do this especially if I think they're my target audience.  It's best to ask more than one person, that way you can receive more than one opinion since color is so subjective. Here's a useful infographic which tells you about the psychology behind color to help you make informed decisions.

When in doubt use neutrals
I don't advocate the total use of neutrals. I don't only think is boring but I also think is just a "cop-out." I know there are times when you're just in a rut and in a rush and in those times, I recommend using a combination of neutrals with a non-neutral.

Build a color library
We know there are certain color combinations which are safe like using complementary colors like green and red or analogous colors. But there's another way to find color combinations that work, you can visit for some inspiration or get your color combinations directly from your environment. When you see a color combination that works, take a picture and save your colors in a library of your own. Use photoshop to your advantage; if there's a color you must use, combine it with others by laying it over others using filters. Using these tips will save you time when you have a rush project.

Live the colors
Don't be afraid. I personally do this. I live the colors. I am constantly trying color combinations with what I wear and at home. This is safer than using it on a project and finding out that it just doesn't work for your client. (Though this can happen no matter what you do, like I said it's so subjective)

So the last thing I have to say is to forget everything I said, forget about color psychology, color theory...forget everything and follow your intuition. The less constraints the more creative you can be. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I've Learned from My Son About Creativity

As parents we rule the world for a brief period in our children's lives. I'm guessing it will be about ten years for me. In his brief one year of existence, my son has managed to teach me more about life at a fast pace than I have learned in 30 something years.. These might not be lessons you haven't seen before, however, they're impressive when you see them work in a kid. I know we're not all blessed with children so I'm sharing this as a reminder to self and for those who don't have daily experiences with children.

Lesson #1: Embrace the Happy Accident

One day I watched my son slip and slide as he walked over flash cards he'd spread all over the living room floor. He didn't quite fall. I'm guessing he liked the slide experience as he continued to make it happen again, again, and again--until he fell. His experience taught me not to dwell too long on mistakes and to embrace accidents. While I don't always do this, his experience is a reminder that we can learn from everything.

Lesson#2: Less Is More

This cliche phrase applies to my son's "relationship" with his toys. Through watching him, I learned that the less a toy can do, the more it encourages creativity. Through using an object without a specific form of usage, my son is able to be creative to be entertained. For him, a box is a step stool, a car, a shoe, skates, and a drum; while an electronic drum is just an electronic drum. His idea of a toy taught me that tools can influence our level of creativity. Although  a computer can help us accomplish our job, it can also be a huge impediment when it comes to creativity. Because computers can do so much, they have the potential of becoming a crutch.

Lesson#3: Don't Stare, Just Gawk

You've seen them. Babies and toddlers stare at YOU. Okay sometimes, they just GAWK. I'll admit it's embarrassing for me when my son stares because I live in New York but I know it's part of his learning experience. I'm sometimes surprised when he does something I haven't seen before and I certainly haven't taught him. Children learn by watching everyone and so should we as adults. Forget, about norms and just stare and see the intricate details. Watching someone perform their job gives us insight and may help us get in their shoes even for just a few minutes.

I have loads more to learn and I'm looking forward to many more years of lessons.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Now what?

One one of our many summer adventures, one of my experiments was this photo. I loved the reflection on the water.

So I took a long vacation from the blog, actually just the summer. It was a good time to spend with my husband and baby, I mean toddler. I know you are wondering what I did during the summer so I'm going to tell you.

It was a time of celebration this summer as my son, the source of most of my inspiration, turned one. Every Friday was time spent with the little one learning to be a better mother. I'm always in awe of women who seem to have it all together instead of looking clumsy like me. I wanted to be like them, and I think this summer, I got a little closer to those women, as parenthood got a little easier. I embraced the moments I was able to spend with my boy and made the best of the summer. We went to the park, readings, museums, the library, and spent some quality time at home. I partnered on art projects with my sidekick and had many a laughs chasing him around the house.

But now it's time to keep playing in this playground instead of in the world outdoors with just my little one. I've begun to take on more freelance projects for fun and because I could use a few bucks. I will take the opportunity to learn and explore and take on projects, I wouldn't normally work on. I will share some of those projects with you. I'm also as always going to events and will share my experiences with you and how they influence my work. I will also continue to hone my DIY skills and for now will withhold the why. I can't wait for this fall adventure to begin.

see ya.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Illustrated Journey

With my son's birthday coming up soon, I decided to stop wondering for a minute to show you some work. My Chocolindo inspired a lot of the work I do including my recent obsession with drawing and illustration. I believe that drawing is key to creativity and activating that memory muscle in the brain. At the How Design Conference I attended recently, I tested my memory theory and I happen to have proved myself correct. I remembered twice as much information with my drawings. In celebration of my son's birthday I compiled a small lil video with how I reenergized and renewed my drawing skills.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

6 Questions with Emerging UX Design Star Eny Hathaway

I wondered if I could learn more about user experience design so I engaged my cousin Eny Hathaway on my quest.

Late last year, I decided I wanted to learn more about user experience design so I contacted my cousin, Eny Hathaway, lead UX designer for Kronos. My little one was too young for me to travel back then but I recently had the opportunity to see her during my week at the How Design Conference. One day after a long day of conferencing, I met with her, we chatted and she told me everything I wanted to know about experience design. Here's a Q&A that answered many of my questions. 

What's your background in design?
I graduated from UMass Lowell with a BFA, Graphic Design in 2004 and after graduating created logos, branding libraries, data sheets, booth displays and anything that would support a marketing department. In 2005 or so, I started working on designing the visual language for GUIs, after I moved to designing Interactions for products. 

How did you get started as a UX designer?

After graduating, I landed an internship in a software company founded by MIT graduates. There I found a couple of mentors that advised me to move from print to digital design, since technology was changing and it was changing fast. They invited me to join them in helping them design the GUI/UI of the products they were developing. I have been collaborating with software developers since.

Why do you think UX design is so important? 

The success of a product has with the product's ease of use. In the past, products were defined by their features, however, today ease-of-use and emotional connection makes a product successful.

What do you like about your job?

The team players, the complex design challenges and the satisfaction I get when a product is launched. Let me tell you a bit more… the team players are product managers, software architects, visual designer, quality assurance, usability researchers, and other interaction designers. We come together with different skills and backgrounds; everyone has a unique way to solve a given problem and different concerns. In the end, we all have to agree to the given solution. Complex design challenges keep my mind occupied and allow me to dream. When I'm given a design problem the solution most often does not exist. I have to dig deep and come up with something, an idea, that might solve that problem. You present this idea--a dream--in the hopes that others will imagine it. I have the best feeling when a product is launched or a feature is added to product and then I say,…”Wow, this was once a sketch, a simple idea that came to life.” 

What challenges have you encountered? 

One of the early challenges in my career was learning how to utilize feedback and constructive criticism. I often internalized the comments and was hard on myself. Now, as a designer with 10+ years of experience, I comprehend that I’m not designing for myself, I’m designing for other people. Today, my biggest challenge is getting a diverse team to agree upon a proposed design solution.

What keeps you motivated/inspired? 

The tech marketplace keeps me motivated, my unique background inspires me and my son keeps me laughing. I love adding value to products through design. Well-designed products make a profit, and it's important to be aware of the impact you will make as a designer in any project. There is tremendous potential to be financially rewarded as a designer. My roots inspire me, I always look at my past experiences and history to help me solve design problems. My son brings me so much joy; his sense of humor is great his happiness makes me smile.

I've found in life that the best place and people to learn from are those who are closest to us. Our mothers, fathers, and siblings have an indelible impact on what we learn and how we do so. I'm so thankful to have family such as mine and in particular this time for my cousin Eny. In an hour or two, she taught me so much. I do want to keep learning so she'll play a part in a future post and I will learn as we play.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Top 5 Lessons Learned at the HOW Design Conference

Fred Harrison, one of the conference speakers, gave the audience bags to explode. We're all record holders at One of the main messages of Sam Harrison's talk was to pay attention to surroundings.
wondered if it was possible to actually learn something from everyone I encountered at the HOW Design 2014 Conference so I decided to take notes and see.

I love learning and although many people are turned off by conferences, I enjoy them. Going to the HOW Design Conference was a dream come true, not because I hadn't attended before, but because Stefan Sagmeister, designer rock star, was going to be there. I realized a dream and also learned quite a few lessons from everyone, but the five talks below made lasting impressions on me that will remain for a long time.

1. A Designed Life with Donovan/Green - This husband/wife team taught me that one can have better results working with the right clients.Their company grew and had a lot of success because they valued diversity of thought and hired those that were better than they were at their craft. But the most important lesson learned was to focus on what you want and to do what feels right.

2. Stanley Hainsworth's Stories of Success. Our most successful ideas can come after work hours. Infusing your passions into your work can yield great results. Everything you  do or have done,can inform your ideas and point you in the right direction.

3. Justin Ahrens Puts His Money Where His Heart Is. Mr. Ahrens is very passionate about helping the world through good. He devotes his time to charity and believes that passion brings out the best version of you. Ahrens thinks that we become what we repeatedly do so we must be aware of our habits. I was encouraged to listen to Drew Houston's commencement speech and it was the best advice. I'm paying it forward and have included it below:

4. Zing Zone with Sam Harrison - Our creativity ZONE can be achieved by following a five step process. The steps include Explore, Experiment, Exhale, Examine, Express.

5. Bob Gil on Ideation - This 83-year old reminded us that we're influenced by culture, but we should ignore it because trends are not ideas. Having a point of view brings out your best and most unique work.

I encourage everyone to go to this particular conference because you'll be surrounded by so many creatives that who knows... maybe you'll be the next Drew Houston!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thirst Is Nothing, Image Is Everything

When I was in high school, one of the popular kids was selected to be in a Sprite commercial. I remember watching that commercial many times and until this day I remember the line "Thirst Is Nothing, Image is Everything." At the time, I didn't quite get the point  but now it has meaning. In the commercial, my classmate drank Sprite because he saw former NBA player, Grant Hill, drink and inferred that he could also be as good as Grant Hill by drinking Sprite. And that is the essence of image. It is the way someone/brand presents themselves and the impression it makes on us. 
So I wondered if it's at all possible to change our image even when people already have impressions of us. When it comes to design is image important? How do we use image to inform our decisions?

My Brand Is Really Your Brand

A Psychology Today web article states that our perceptions are "actually built largely on unconscious inferences that are made employing factors such as a person’s body language, voice, clothing, appearance, and social category." And these perceptions are the reason why I love and hate the existence of a personal brand image. The idea that success maybe linked to perception seems unjust to me. Although that is the case, being the maker of your own destiny can give you the driver's seat, it can give you power. A brand/personal image can also be created by a team of smart publicist/public relations department to change perception. But if you are a person, not a corporate brand, how can you be truly authentic when every decision you make at work needs to be carefully thought through and out. It's scary to think that personal or professional image--shaped by perception--can get us to go places or that it can harm us. Just ask Lindsey Lohan! 

It seems to me that there's more room to err with personal brands than with corporate brands. Not everyone is trained to be a brand and this means that their actions can hurt their lives and their careers. I think the quiet can get lost in translation, the young one's comfortable posture won't get them a raise, and wearing her lucky jeans might mean that she won't be invited to that very special event. 

Yes, all signs point to becoming aware of yourself and working on your entire image whether that is your body language, how people view you and what you wear.

Designing an Image

It's easier to work on a corporate image than your personal brand. With corporate brand, you're on the outside looking in and have much more data to build on and explore. And Design is just one piece of creating an image, a lot of it goes into PR territory.

As a designer it is important to define the brand whose image you are creating. Based on your knowledge of the organization, you can choose colors, type , paper and create a visual identity. Not a logo, but the identity. This visuals that will automatically relate to the brand and transmit who the company is faster than you can describe it. It's important to know the history of the brand, to take a look at materials and decide what worked and what didn't. Every decision you make is important. Once you've created the visual identity, everything is is simple. You can create marketing materials or advertising that tells the story of your brand through photographs and the visuals you created.

Change Is Good 

A a designer, I've learned to embrace changes. Image can be changed . Awareness is key when it comes to a personal brand. There are probably certain things we cannot change about ourselves but learn to embrace them or work them to our advantage. I for example use clothing with jewel color tones, not only because I like them but because they're known to look more expensive than other colors. 

When it comes to corporate brand, it takes a gradual approach when it comes to the visual identity. You ant to keep what works, and slowly transition other elements. If the perception of the product you're working on is that is cheap, you can create packaging can be so beautifully constructed that it can trick your audience into thinking otherwise. 

I no longer wonder, I know that I remember my classmate's commercial because I wanted to be cool.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Styling My Voice

Here's me. Yes, me. It's what I wore to a recent event at work. And there goes my tiny head which is an obvious lie. I have a humongous head in all sense of the word. Lie again!
Over the weekend, I was taking a shower and suddenly wondered whether STYLE really matters and if I have one at all. Working as an inhouse designer is difficult. It presents challenges that only some designers have working at design studios or advertising agencies. The inhouse challenge is greater because we rarely create from nothing. Mostly, we create from something already existing "a brand." At work, my focus is not thinking about my own graphic design style but rather about what has been done in the past and contributing to keep the brand fresh. I wondered if adhering to a particular style inhibits creativity and do I have a style of my own? I not only think about my professional life but in my personal life, do I have style of all sorts?

#1. Fashionably Me

A few years ago, my sister gave me a book, The Lucky Shopping Manual, hoping that it would help me in terms of selecting appropriate work attire. I glanced at the book, shopped a few items, and now the book is back on my bookshelf and hasn't seen the light of day since the early 2000s. The truth is I had to find my fashion style on my own. It takes years to find oneself and one's style. Actually, I can tell you that when I realized I had a fashion style was when I started to use Pinterest and noticed that I tend to gravitate toward graphic prints, bright colors, loose fitting bohemian looks. I'm not always on point, but yes I know what to wear.

#2. Coloring the Lines

Recently, I have been drawing more. As you know, I'm completely obsessed with my son so one of my initial thoughts was to create an invitation for his birthday party months away. I wanted to take a class to be better at illustration but a friend suggested going to a meet up and drawing live. I had been out of practice. I had not drawn like that since college and never nudes so I was nervous.  I was rusty. At first, I could not see the way that artists see beyond the obvious. I could not draw like artists draw, I was concentrating on the details rather than the whole. I was not able to capture a whole person. By the end of that evening, I was back in my element and proved to myself that it is possible to learn or rather relearn a lost skill. I needed to now find my voice, my style. Starting to draw again took me back to the beginning, I have no drawing style.

I haven't developed a drawing style but I'm working on it. So far, I am drawn to dark lines and real-life subjects. I've noticed that my perspective is off but I like it as part of my style. Through my search for style, I came across this page and some others with varying ways you can find your style. One important lesson I learned from the one linked here is that it can't be forced.

#3. Design

I leave the most important answer for last. Do I have a design style? I have no clue. Most of the graphic design work I produce is not for myself. I will actually have to test this. The only point of reference I have to examine my style is my personal logo. The reality is that more personal works are necessary for me to discover my personal graphic design style. I'll probably be able to answer this question in a future post but for now I don't have an answer.

This is only the beginning to answer the questions on matters of taste. I think having a style does not inhibit creativity, what can hinder is tying yourself a style and not growing. I think it is important to develop a style (cliche alert) because that's what is going to set you apart from the crowd. However, recently I saw this post by Austin Kleon, one of my current fave people, about Bob Ross and Bill his mentor which gave me a little more insight. Both teacher and student had the same method of drawing, however, Bob was far more successful than Bill, his mentor, which lead me to believe that what matters more than style is the whole the brand.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Win this Fabulous Poster!

I wondered if I could stray from the usual and do something a little different this week so I am!!! Well, I am still working on my hand lettering and produced the fabulous poster you see here. I'm holding a contest on Twitter for a winner of the poster. This contest is only open to U.S. contestants and only until May 23, 2014 . You can hashtag #IwinWonder for a chance to win.

Background on the Phrase: I created this poster using those words because of my son and his impact on my life. The 9-month old little boy that makes me look at things differently. This is yet another post dedicated to the one and only Chocolindo.  It still needs to be cleaned up but will be perfect when you receive it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 Designer Tips for Photography with Purpose

Yeap this is my selfie. And if you came from my social media pages
 you would know this is me in disguise, I'll explain this choice later....keep reading.

I wonder if every graphic designer has the same process for choosing photographs so I decided to share my personal process.

With the birth of Instagram and the affordability of SLR cameras some people might think they know photography. And everyone has an opinion on what makes a good photograph. Although I've been properly schooled, I'm not an expert in photography. I am not a photographer. I am sharing my experience in choosing the right photographs for you.

Search online and you'd see that most blogs discuss the subject of photography focus on the technical aspect of a great photo. And although I think it's important, I don't think that should be sole focus when choosing a photo. In my opinion, choosing the right photo is both a combination of your needs as a designer in terms of layout, technical adequacy, and tatatatam....brand personality.

It's about choice making whatever your choice on purpose or with purpose. I don't agree that every photograph has to be technically correct to fit your needs, with that said here are my tips:

1. Determine the personality 

You have to dive deep into your company's/organization to study the mission/goals and find what makes you special. What is it that your organization is trying to project to an outside audience. Your company should already have this so ask a few people.

2. Guide Photographer

In order to get the right photograph you must be able to articulate your needs. Be very specific in what you're looking for. I created a document which I will share at a later time that can be use as a template for you.

Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself based on what you find about the brand personality:
Do you want close ups?Groups?
Smiles? Dark setting ? Lighter photographs?.

Be brave. Ask for something atypical! Make sure that whatever you choose conveys the emotion you want to portray for your brand.

I know some of you may not have the budget for photography so go with stock photography. You can change this at a later time. Be sure to go to the smaller stock photo companies because there might be less likelihood of your photo showing up in someone else's brochure.

3. Sort and Organize

Once you have the photos from the photographer, you'll see that you have more than you need or that you need other photos. It's important to sort and organize what you have to determine whether your photographs tell the story you want to portray. Look at them together. Make sure you choose based on personality first then technical adequacy (meaning contrast, composition, etc) Do you have have everything you need? Vertical shots, horizontals, wider angles at a variety of locations, with different groups, if not, it's time to reshoot.

4. Test Your Theory 

Now that you have everything you need and it's well organized you can test your brand photographs. Yes, I said it. Use photographs for meetings, social media, and other forms where you won't lose capital. Test out the photos in combination with messaging. Do people respond to your brand? Do you think they tell the story you want to portray?

Currently, I'm working on my personal brand and for that reason I'm using the photograph at the beginning of this post. My brand is opinionated but easygoing, colorful, creative, has a conscience. Basically it's me, but does it really come true in my photograph....well you tell me.

5. Roll out 

Let the fear go and roll out your product using your photography. The job is not done. You have to keep shooting to make sure you capture changes in your brand.

Agree or disagree with this post. Write to me in the comment section below!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Optimize Images for the Web Using Photoshop

I wondered if everyone literally wrecks their brain every time they have to create a Flash animation and it can only be 40k. Is it just me? 

The lucky in my eyes are those of us who have to create ads with flashy content/video served at third parties. I have spent hours finding the best way to get Flash files to look their best at the lowest resolution possible. I will show you how to optimize images but I must note that there are also best practices to follow in order to have the best possible ad at the lowest possible resolution and in this post I will advice on both. I know I know Flash is going out of style but these practices can be used for your website, blog, and it's just good information to know.

Here's the deal in step by step:    

#1 Planning 

Take a few minutes to sketch/thumbnail your idea for the ad. Keep in mind that the simplest message might be the easiest to deliver and may give you the greatest number of clicks. Also, make sure that you think about the placement of text over the image. Most online advertisements specs are for small-size ad, which means that you cannot have very complicated/colorful images if you're going to have text over them. Believe me I know from experience.

#2 Resize your images - 

Using thecrop tool resize the images you're using to your desired size.

#3 Go to File > Save for Web

#4 Last Step is to adjust file size using the Save for the Web option

Here's how to make it small: 

You will need to experiment with these to decide which one makes your picture look the best. In general photos look better as JPGs though they may not produce the smallest file size all of the time. I do use them for photos  and change the compression to smaller. Also you have the option of blurring the picture which makes it look better because of interpolation of the image.

GIF/PNG Generally these two options are better for text. The text look clearer than using a JPG for text heavy images. You're able to set the number of colors. The lower the number of color the lower the size of the image. Watch out for some images don't look better with less color. I prefer PNG to GIF because of their size but some e-mail systems do not support them. 

QUALITY: The best option ever invented from Photoshop it tells you exactly what to do. Bicubic smoother or bicubic sharper are the two options to pay attention to. Smoother for photos and sharper for pictures is what I generally use.

And that's it you have the photo you want. The best advice I could give anyone is to experiment with the options available. There's a lot I didn't show because these are my best practices. If you have a tip you'd like to share, please fill the comment section below. See ya next time!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Creativity: Skinning the Cat

NOTE: No Cats were actually harmed in this sketch.

I wondered if I could get out of a rut when my idea-sparking methods don't work so I researched creativity a bit.

Almost everyone knows that there's multiple ways to skin a cat, therefore, many creative ways to produce any given product or service. By definition creativity is the use of the imagination or original ideas in the production of an artistic work. But is there such a thing as original ideas? how does one achieve creativity and is it at all possible to be creative when you're not a "creative"? Before I delve, let's throw away the notion that creativity is an spontaneous act. Creativity requires work. Creating truly original and innovative work may require a day, a month or even years.

Rituals of the Creative

In my search, I started to read the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, and so far I've noticed that most artists in the book have a method. As the name of the book suggests, artists have routines that help them be creative.There are some individuals whose creativity is sparked by their quiet environments, while others require chaotic organization, and there's even those who need liquor to get those creative juices flowing. I think that individuals that have a method are able to tap into their creative mind as quickly as their job requires.

Creativity for Everyone! 

Is there a method to the madness? Can everyone learn to approach creative problems and come up with creative solutions. Recently, I attended the Design Bootcamp at the The Design Gym which answered my questions. The design thinking process may be the key to unlocking everyone's creative side to create innovative products and services. The design thinking process is not a secret, it is a method employed by many. I searched to see if anyone else employs the method and found this tutorial video on While, I knew some of the steps because I employ some of them, it was enlightening to see the full process.

How original is creative? 

Truly original work may not exist. Creativity is giving your own spin to any subject without copying. Austin Kleon writer of the book Steal Like An Artist, explains it best in the video below. As a creative, using inspiration is part of the process. And although you may think something is original, you may find that parts of it may be, though not everything.

My Own Creative Ritual and Process

By now you must be curious about me and my creativity process. Well, as for me, I'm an introverted collector. I collect inspiration. If you look at my Pinterest page, you will see that I have an affection for very particular things. As I mentioned on a previous post, I'm enamored with handdrawn typography and have collected many type specimen. I also own a bulletin board at home and clip inspiration from magazines I own. I go on Internet sprees. I go in search of particular subjects and find other things that inspire me on the way. I collect bookmarks.

I visit museums. I'm inspired by old works as well as new works by contemporary artists.

I go to flea markets. I'm inspired by the things people create from vintage objects.

At home, I surround myself with objects that inspire me. You wouldn't know it but everything in my home is something I handpicked not for its utility and its beauty.

I wonder. I ponder. I often just sit and think about things like this post for example.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

R-e-s-p-e-c-t for Designers

I was wondering about our profession so I decided I would write about it.
I think the graphic design profession doesn't get the respect it deserves and it's all our collective fault. As a seasoned design professional*, I've had the opportunity to view dozens of portfolios from graphic design students with innovative ideas and potential to become accomplished designers; however, when these students step unto the real world their voice is lost and their ideas get lost in translation. When we we do not assert our voice, bad design is created not only by young professionals in the field, but by all of us from junior to senior level. Not always showing/giving our best work and adding bad design to the world undermines the value of our profession. I say it's time take back our profession and show the world the importance of design.

Is Our Voice Gone?

Our voice has been transposed to others inside the organizations where we work especially where there are non-design professionals making "business" decisions. The "make the logo bigger" phenomenon has now become the norm in some places. EVERYTHING BOLD is what everyone wants. Everything is important! Everything must shout. Let's use all of the colors in the rainbow. And with all of these demands our craft suffers, our professional positions become back-office jobs simply because we just give up and make that logo as big as the page. We become doers instead of thinkers.

Design Is Valuable

We need to take our jobs more seriously because our job is important. Designers are problem solvers. We make the world. Everything you see around you is designed. If you don't believe me, take a look at Apple and the reason why they're successful. Also, watch this video to see Sarabeth talk about the effect of Louise Fili's work on her business.

Take a Stand

It's not easy to take a stand especially when our jobs are at the very bottom of the totem pole. Don't get me wrong, I'm not proposing becoming a contrarian simply because you can. Not every design faux pas can be addressed and it's not always the best idea to address everything. My husband, one of my greatest inspirations, always tells me "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." I don't want to fall, so it's one of the things I keep in mind when I'm thinking of giving up.

I haven't always expressed my point of view. It is something I still have challenges with and am still learning. I do believe that taking a stand is easier when one is well-informed and able to articulate the reasons for a decision. For me, doing your research and learning as much as I can about my profession has enabled me to provide the best service for clients. I recommend surrounding yourself with design professionals especially if you're not in an advertising or design agency. They will be your sound board when all of the bad design messages get to your subconscious. Lastly, say NO to making things pretty, that is not what we do. In a recent interview for the Design Observer blog I heard the best explanation of our job by Dana Arnett, "Design  provides context for understanding."

If these suggestions fail, just take a power poser, (see video below). No Wonder I like Wonder Woman!

*I'm defining a design professional as an individual who has worked in the design field for many years or graduated with a degree in graphic design.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Learning Hand Lettering

I wondered if I could be great at hand lettering so I tried it. As a designer, I often have to learn new software programs and keep up with new technologies. Learning to adapt quickly is a necessary requirement of my profession. I often attend workshops, talks, and take courses on design in order to keep learning.

Recently, I've grown obsessed with handdrawn type and illustration. My interest started long ago when my favorite designer of all time, Stefan Sagmeister, created the poster with the chicken without a head. I didn't start developing my own handdrawn type until 2005 when I took at class at SVA just to get re-inspired. My professor at SVA stressed the need to find your own voice by incorporating some sort of handmade aspect to whatever you desired to do; doing so adds something that cannot be duplicated. In the age of machines, everything looks the same except things we create with our own hands. Yes, it is quite imperfect but it also what makes you unique.

Here's my journey in pictures on hand lettering.

Although this attempt was very raw, I didn't know it at the time. Sometimes, it takes to keep trying to know.

Around 2011, I created a website and basically wrote the text with my own handwriting. As you can tell, I wasn't really trying to be perfect or even close.

Above is more recent example of hand lettering you can see that my letters are choppy and too close together. It looks amateur.

I'm currently attending a class on hand lettering on Skillshare and learned some tips to improve my hand lettering skills. Here's a draft of a project I'm working on at the moment. As you can tell I'm much improved. I hope I can do a lot better in the coming year. I can still see some things than can be improved in the project below. But this is the life of graphic designer. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Source of Inspiration

He is my everything. He is the reason I start and finish anything. He is the reason I wake up with a smile on my face. He saved me. When he was born, he brought a deeper purpose to my life. Every day is a challenge but every day I learn more from him than I ever knew I could.

I see the world for the first time with him. He looks at everything with fresh eyes. He inspires  to be curious and inspect the world around. I've never had a more creative period in my entire life.