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I love design.

& it’s a damn good thing too. Designing is what keeps me happy (along with my cat and horses obviously)… Since redesigning my website and ordering new business cards, I’ve thought a lot about what parts of graphic design I love most. I have my favorite things to design and then, I also have my favorite things that aren’t graphic design, but still take a designer’s mind to create.
(or at least, it sure helps!)

My favorite things…

#1 Logos: My absolute favorite. Why?? Well, I enjoy consulting with my client and hearing about what they love about their business or what their goals are for their up & coming business. It is such a thrill to design a simple little image that encompasses so much detail that most people won’t consciously recognize, but will sub-consciously react to. Logos are the face of a business, a party, a wedding, etc. A logo can combine letters, words, imagery – all the things or just a couple. The type of business, the goals of a business, the intended audience, the location.. it all goes into the logo, which creates a brand (which I also love see come together!) A logo is not a brand though. A brand is all the things – the logo is just the face that people think of when they experience all the things.

#2 Packaging: Oh my yes. What if all packaging was the exact same? I mean, like – same colors, same textures, same fonts, same same same… It would put the world in such anxiety. Packaging is part of the brand for a business, a party, or even a wedding. It tells a part of the story, plus all the pertinent information for the consumer to know.

#3 Wedding Invites: I say it’s not all about the gold foil and pretty fonts, but if that’s part of what makes you, you, then it sure makes a statement on an invitation. When I’m designing invitations, especially wedding invites – I want to make sure the attendees know part of the story or can at least get a feel of the party just through the invitation.

Other things that take a designer’s mind…

#1 Photography

#2 Floral

#3 House Design

#4 Event Planning

10 Things that Make or Break a Design

5 Things that Make a Design | 5 Things that Break it

1. Makes it: A well thought out color palette
2. Breaks it: Too many different fonts
3. Makes it: Hierarchy of every element
4. Breaks it: Pixelated Pictures
5. Makes it: Research on the Target Audience
6. Breaks it: Inconsistency
7. Makes it: It makes you think
8. Breaks it: Airs (Errors)
9. Makes it: Intentional Humor or Wit
10. Breaks it: When it doesn’t make you feel anything


What Makes a Design

When I look at a design, whether that be a logo, a brochure or a business card that someone hands me, I can tell you what works for the design and what might not. As a designer, it’s also key to know when a design is a good design and how to appreciate it. During my time as a graphic designer through school and employment, I’ve gained an opinion of what “makes a design.”

In my eyes, I feel that a design should work from a color palette that is meaningful and will enhance the text or imagery used. The five most effective color palettes are monochromatic, complementary, analogous, triad and neutral.

Picking fonts can be super fun and it’s extremely important to the voice of the design. Try using a single font in a design or mixing 2 to 3 fonts to create different attitudes and relationships within the design. If you choose to use more than one font, I would highly recommend using a quality mix of font types. A few font types include sans serif, serif, and script.

Hierarchy makes an entire design. The definition of visual hierarchy is as follows: “Visual hierarchy is an important concept in the field of graphic design, a field that specializes in visual organization. Designers attempt to control visual hierarchy to guide the eye to information in a specific order for a specific purpose.” Thank you, Wikipedia.

Pixelation occurs in photographs when you’ve decided to use an image that has too few pixels to make up the image, resulting in seeing the squares of color making up the picture. This definitely breaks a design.

Before plunging into the bright creative juices set before you, be sure to know your audience. You will save time, money and energy if you research your target audience before you start designing anything! When I’m first asked to design something, I don’t just start designing. First, I ask questions and asking about the clients’ audience is a huge step forward.

If all my branding collateral looked different, it would be chaos. You always want your things to look like a family. Obviously in a family, each individual does things a little differently or look a little different, but if you put them together or you saw them around town, you would know they belonged together. Same goes for branding a business. Allow things to look like a family and let your audience get to know your brand.

I crave designs that make me think a little. Like the FedEx logo and the “hidden” arrow – I hope you know about it! If you didn’t get it, you’ll still get what it says, but if you really looked at it or noticed the arrow, it was like a little achievement for your brain. People love to feel smart, so give them a challenge (something more than 50% of society can get).

Please spellcheck. If there are numerous errors in your design, people will notice and people will not be happy. There’s this really cool app that I use (because no one is perfect!), it’s called Grammarly.

If you can make a design purposely humor someone, good job! Be witty with your creativeness, it usually goes a long way. (This is also an extension of making people think with design).

If your design didn’t make someone feel something, then your design was not effective.

“Good design is about effective communication, not decoration at the expense of legibility.”  ~ Vitaly Friedman

Lazy Sunday with a Designer and Her Book

I wish I could tell you it was all coffee and cat cuddles, but the reality is, it’s really good coffee, cat cuddles, and an exciting novel to read. Reading opens your mind to an abundance of different thoughts and allows our brain to exercise in an exciting way. My favorite thing to do in the morning when I don’t have to get up instantly is read in bed, with my coffee in one hand – book in the other and Luna, my cat, laying next to me as precious as she can be. Reading a book has so many perks, it’s sad there aren’t more people that like doing it. Just look at these statistics…

  • 25% of adults will not read a single book this year
  • 33% of high school graduates never read another book for their entire life
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book after college
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year

Designers usually stick their nose into articles, social media, and magazines, which I’m glad to see you’re reading, but those short reads won’t do what a decent book will do for you. Below, take a look at how reading a book for half an hour out of your day, will benefit you.


Reading takes your brain to the gym.

Everyone is so hyped on going to the gym, exercising body muscles and getting really good looking. I’m honestly so happy that people care about their physical fitness, but it’s much more beneficial if you workout your mind, as well as your body.

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” ~ Neil Gaiman

So take your mind to the gym of a novel and see where it goes for just 30 minutes out of the day. It will make you think, fantasize, and use your imagination, because you have to comprehend ideas and reasoning, and like any exercise, the more you train the better you will get. Dream on, book worms!


Reading allows you to better concentrate.

Okay, so I’m mildly ADD and it is so hard to concentrate on one given task for too long. I’m constantly making to-do lists because I’m worried I’ll forget very important things throughout my day or week. I know that many of us can attest to “If it isn’t on my calendar, it probably won’t happen.” I get it, because that’s me. If you’re super busy and you’re anything like me, then squeezing in time to read will help you throughout the day.

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” ~ Groucho Marx

I dare you to do this.


Reading reduces stress and helps you sleep better.

Sign me up. What do I have to do?! Instead of listening to music or turning on the television to fall asleep, just open a book and start reading. Creatives and everyone + their mom, get off your smartphone and open a real book! One, the light from our smartphone isn’t good for us and two, reading before bed is a better sleep aid than 99% of the things we actually do “to try and fall asleep”.

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And according to Ralph’s beliefs, you’ll wake up feeling free! Woah, what an amazing adventure.


Most importantly, reading makes us more creative.

This is what I really wanted to talk about, because as I lay in bed next to my cat, taking sips of my creamer with coffee, and letting my mind wonder, I can pause and really appreciate that when we’re reading a book, we are getting the opportunity to read what was once in another person’s head. Every author is publishing their mind for your benefit.

From experience, I know that when I regularly read, I’m more stable and can function through my day better. It opens my mind to ideas that were stuck and I’m able to think with a clean slate. Reading, to me, feels like a necessary “refresh” button. I’ll read for an hour and feel like I’ve left Earth for the time being because your imagination will remove you from reality for those moments.

“These findings suggest that reading fictional literature could lead to better procedures of processing information generally, including those of creativity.” ~ Creative Research Journal

Right now, I’m reading the book, The Glass Castle. Let me tell you, it’s such a good book!! Pretty intense, but really good. Tell me what you’re reading or what your lazy Sundays are like!

 

And for more “Why you should read” quotes, check out this list: http://ebookfriendly.com/best-quotes-books-reading/

3 Reasons to Hire a Graphic Designer

There are hundreds of opportunities when to hire a graphic designer, but why would you need to? I think it’s crucial to know when and why to find a graphic designer, because finding a professional in the specific profession can and will save you (the client) so much time and money in the long run. Read the three reasons that I’ve explained below (I promise there could be a much longer list.)

Reason 1: Innovation

Graphic designers are born with a creative mind and innovative ideas are practically the only ideas we are born with. Usually, a client will have a pretty great idea that they want to express to their audience and it’s our job to take that idea to the next level. Though, clients don’t always have a defined idea as to what they want, (which is another role that we play) we are there to guide the client and discuss multiple avenues, singling out which direction best fits the project.

Whenever someone tells me about their project that they’ve been thinking of starting, I instantly get excited with creative ideas. It could be an idea about a new dog park and within seconds, I have about 10 logo ideas in my brain. For other people in different professions, I feel confident in saying that, instant logo creations may not happen for them and that’s perfectly okay.


Reason 2: Efficiency

You have your idea and you think you can make it happen while doing everything else on your long to-do list… Let’s be honest, sometimes you have to know when to step back and give specific tasks to other people, which allows more time for you to do what you excel at. I can promise that I’m not going to try and start a dog park business because that’s not my career choice. However, I will gladly design a dog park logo and design the promotional print material to ensure that the dog park business is promoted successfully. It’s all about what you know you don’t know (and understanding that if you give the design stuff to a designer, they’re probably going to do it in half the time (or much less) than it would’ve taken you to do (respectfully assuming that you’re not the graphic designer) and it’ll *hopefully* look a ton better…because that’s the, well, designer’s job).

Bottom line is, using a completely different example, a designer is going to be more efficient at designing a logo than an Engineer is going to be. They’re two totally different occupations, so it would make sense if the engineer didn’t know what it takes to make a communicative logo and if the designer couldn’t engineer a bridge. Makes sense, right?


Reason 3: Intelligence

Intelligence communicates reasoning in this topic parallel to that of efficiency. Know when something is okay not to know everything about, and that is the best gift I can hope for anyone to receive at some point in life. I know a lot about graphic design and communications, I know a good bit about the psychology of design, and I ride horses so I know a few things there too, but I know that I will never know everything in either of the things that I feel I know the most about in life. (Reread that sentence a few times, I promise it makes sense…)

To have intelligence is to know you will always lack intelligence.

Point being, graphic design isn’t what you’ve spent most of your life learning about and doing, so there’s no need to try and be an expert at it when you can hire someone who already knows quite a bit about it. Though when working with your designer, don’t be afraid to point something out that you see you like or dislike, because it’s good for us to hear how our designs are communicating to you.

If you have a suggestion, tell us! I love hearing what my clients have thought of in their minds, because that’s just allowing me to get a better grasp on what they’re really thinking. From my years of experience, designing intelligently is like being a psychologist (and it is SO MUCH FUN!)


Let me know if you have questions or want a fuller explanation of anything I’ve said. I gladly welcome your thoughts!