January 22, 2015

5 Graphic Design Resolutions You Can Make This Year

With the first month of 2015 already mostly behind us, you may have already filled your resolution list with more than enough ambitions for the coming year. But if you don’t have any design related goals, consider crossing out “eat more kale” and add one or two resolutions that nourish your creative self instead. Here are a few ideas:

1. Step up your technical skills.

We all know how elusive getting into that perfect creative flow can be, so don’t let technical skills or messy organization get in your way. Here are some small things that can have a big impact on your efficiency:
  • Be diligent about creating character and paragraph styles for long documents

  • Know and use keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys (shameless self-promotion: my hotkey reference posters can help with this one!)
  • Try some new productivity or organization tools

  • Develop a good file organization system (something I have to work on, any suggestions?)

2. Read a design book.

Reading more is perpetually on my resolution list. No matter what the subject, I feel much more focused and aware in other areas of my life when I make reading a habit. Resolve to absorb some new information about designers and their process, new work that you won’t find circulating on the internet, or some practical information like freelance finances and logistics. Here are some design books that I’ve found interesting and helpful:

3. Learn something new, design-related or not.

There are 100 ways to do the same thing when it comes to graphic design, and it’s extremely interesting to learn different designers’ processes. I’ve had a Skillshare membership for half a year now, and it’s certainly worth the cost. There is a huge variety of design and illustration related classes on there, as well as critical / creative thinking, marketing and other related fields. Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve taken so far:

4. Refresh your personal brand or business cards.

It can be difficult to prioritize designing for yourself when you have so many other things on your to-do list (like eating or not eating kale.) But if you’ve been meaning to freshen up your personal branding or business cards, it may help to make it a resolution for yourself this year. Whether you’re actively looking for a job or not, it’s great to have business cards or a website that you’re proud to share whenever you meet a potential client, collaborator or even just a friend. 

5. Start a rewarding personal project or endeavor.

No matter how much else you may have going on, it’s important to make time for projects that you truly feel personally and emotionally invested in. When your heart is in your work, it’s easier to put in extra time and energy, push your creative limits, and create work that truly connects and resonates with people. Also, you should be having at least a little bit of fun! I’ve found that techniques or styles I experiment with in personal projects end up being useful in my professional work as well. As Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”


What other design related goals do you have for this year?
Let’s hear about them in the comments! 

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November 18, 2014

Dom Streater - Logo Design Process


I have the honor of knowing many talented women from my college years at Moore College of Art & Design, and one creative friend in particular has been rocking it lately - Dom Streater is a Fashion Designer, the winner of the 12th season of Project Runway, and a generally awesome person. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when she asked me to work on her brand as a fashion designer.


To get things started, I worked with Dom to put together a creative brief. This involves a series of questions I use to distill exactly what a client wants to communicate with their logo and identity. Creating a design brief is a great way to ensure you and your client are on the same page, even if you’re working with someone creative or who you know well. Through this discussion, Dom and I came to the conclusion that a hand-drawn logo would be a good approach, and would evoke her special blend of traits in her work: retro but modern, feminine but bold.


Once we had the blueprint figured out, I started with some image research. Though you may agree conceptually, you and your client may have very different ideas about how those concepts translate visually. A mood board is great step to bring to life what’s you’ve discussed - before you invest time and energy into a particular design direction. This is the inspiration board that I created for Dom’s logo, incorporating some images of her work with some of the patterns and typography styles that I had in mind:


Once we decided to move ahead with this hand-drawn typography approach, I hit my sketchbook and roughed out as many potential designs as I could. I typically work in a small moleskine notebook first, then bring potential options onto larger paper and refine with tracing paper and markers. 


I chose three designs that I felt were the strongest, and shared them with Dom.
We decided to combine some of the different elements that we liked in each into one logotype. I did a few more versions in pencil and marker, and then brought it into the computer to vectorize in Adobe Illustrator. This is the final logo:


Here it is in action on the business cards I designed, and a trade show sign:

Hand-drawn typography can be a satisfying iterative process - from roughing out the initial concept, to finessing the subtleties of curves in Illustrator. I particularly love using it for identity projects when it’s appropriate, I think it’s a great way to communicate the personality of the individuals behind the brand. And of course, working with talented and creative people like Dom makes it all the more fun!

Do you have a different route in your creative process?
Let me know in the comments!

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July 8, 2014

Hyphens and Dashes – Do YOU Use Them Properly?

Whether you're the writer or the designer, getting a document draft or design proof back that's covered in red squiggles and lines can be extremely frustrating. A lot of grammatical and stylistic tweaks come too late in the process, and the correct usage of hyphens and dashes is certainly be one of them. I put together this handy cheat sheet to help save some of that frustration!

Are there other little symbols and devices like this that trip you up in your design or writing process? Let's hear about them!


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January 28, 2014

DIY: free valentine printable - you're a star!


Cute valentines don't have to be a thing of our grade-school pasts! I find it's a great way to show a little bit of appreciation to coworkers and friends - not to mention an excuse to buy adorable candy. I started this tradition with my rock candy treat bags last year, and here's my new design just in time for Valentine's Day.

I wanted to incorporate a more permanent element to the gift as well (even after the last tasty star has vanished), so I added a astronomy related quote on the opposite side from Carl Sagan to hang up.

These are super easy and fun to make! You'll need:

  • 4.75" x 3.5" clear treat bags (easy to find at your local craft store)
  • Star-themed candy (I got mine from Candy Nation here)
    Be warned - these sweet-tart candies are delicious. You may need to account for some surplus for snacking while you craft! 
  • Cardstock or heavyweight printer paper
  • Color printer
  • Scissors or X-acto knife
  • Stapler

  1. Download the printable here! 
    (the colors may look different in your browser, but it will look the same as the design pictured once downloaded.)
  2. Print the pdf double-sided onto your card stock, and trim out each label square. Fold down the middle evenly.
  3. Fill your treat bag with a helping of candy, and fold the top of the bag over to ensure no stars will escape. 
  4. Place your label around the folded edge of your treat bag, and staple towards the bottom edge.
  5. BAM - You have a fun valentine to give the stellar people in your life!

Enjoy!  Brigette

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