January 20, 2016

6 Graphic Design Resolutions To Make This Year


Happy New Year! It seems like it wasn’t too long ago that we were making design resolutions for 2015, but here we are again at the beginning of the calendar.

According to the Guardian, over half of people quit their New Years resolutions before the end of the first month - so perhaps we'll have the most luck if we add a few to our list now?

I've found over my years of goal setting that the most helpful approach is to make more general resolutions that can be translated into a few actionable steps. Here are a few design related ideas to add to your list:

1. Experiment with a new medium or skill.

A great way to kickstart your creativity and get yourself out of your comfort zone is to try out a new medium or tool that you’ve never worked with before. Use the new year as an excuse to buy a set of brush markers, resolve to sketch more, or take a Skillshare class on an expertise you're not familiar with. Here are a couple I've had my eye on:

2. Read (even more) books.

This was part of my resolutions last year, but there is no end to the motivating books out there about design and creativity in general. Here are some of my new favorites:
  • The Creative Habit  by Twyla Tharp 
    Many great creativity quotes have come from Twyla Tharp, and this book is full of inspiring concepts and anecdotes that translate to any creative field. 
  • In Progress by Jessica Hische 
    Jess Hische's work has been all over the internet and the design community for a while now, but this book is a great mix of her career journey, practical design program tips and ample inspiration.
  • Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas by Danielle Krysa
    If you're looking for a more hands-on book with art/design prompts, this is a great one to check out. Might be a good way to help you accomplish resolution #1! 
  • Creative, Inc. by Joy Cho
    The design & product mastermind behind Oh Joy! has a number of useful books out, but this is a really good practical guide to being successful in a creative business. 

3. Connect with other designers & creatives.

Interacting with other creative people is one of the most effective ways to stay inspired and motivated.
  • Join your local AIGA chapter and check out events, be part of committees and connect with other designers in your area. Many places also have their own design groups and associations, blogger groups (like the awesome PHLBloggers!), forums, or facebook groups. 
  • Do you already have a good base of design-minded friends? Try collaborating on a personal project or setting up periodic design get togethers to keep each other on track for your goals.
  • You can also reach out to designers you admire on twitter or through email, most people are happy to hear from you! 

4. Set specific goals for yourself.

Depending on your personality, it may help to get super specific about your goals.
  • Financial Goals: I set a specific dollar amount of freelance money that I’d like to shoot for each year, and keep it in my Google spreadsheet that I use to track my freelance income. 
  • Design Challenge Goals: You could also create a design challenge for yourself, like resolving to create a simple infographic per day, or do one hand drawn type design per week.
  • To-do List Goals: We all have those personal projects or ideas that have been lingering on our to-do list for an eternity. Pick just one that you think is accomplishable and commit to finishing it this year.

5. Do more of what you love.

If you're doing work that you're not enjoying, it will be less fun getting a certain amount of dollar signs in your spreadsheet or crossing things off your to-do list. I'm sure you've heard it before but it's true - making work you enjoy attracts more projects you'll love.

If you're full-time freelance it's tough to say no to work, but if you have some flexibility - say no to a job that you'll know won't actually be worth the hours of your life you're spending, or make time for a personal project that you'll really enjoy. Even if it's something small, it might have a big impact on your motivation, inspiration, or creative process.

6. Put less pressure on yourself.

If there’s one lesson I need to remind myself of repeatedly - it’s that stressing myself out never leads to good design. Having unrealistic expectations and putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to produce "perfect" work will only leave you staring at a blank screen, reluctant to plot the first anchor point or lay out the first line of type.

Ira Glass's amazing quote about the creative process has always been a good reminder - most of the time your taste for good work will be beyond your current ability, and the only way to bridge that gap is to keep making work and not stressing about it being perfect.


Want a few more resolutions to consider?
Check out my 5 Design resolutions from 2015. 

What creative resolutions are you making this year? Let me know in the comments!

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October 14, 2015

Win an Instant Gallery Wall of Prints - Birthday Giveaway


It’s my birthday - and in honor of my 27th year on this beautiful earth - I’ve partnered up with Ciera from Ciera Design and Sara from Cake Over Steak to bring you this awesome giveaway!

I always like celebrating birthdays - it’s a great excuse to make time for yourself, get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while, and reflect on all of the great things that happened in the past year (as well as great things that lie ahead!)

The winner of the giveaway will win 6 prints of their choice, enough for a stylish gallery wall. You will have your choice of two prints from my etsy shop, two from Ciera’s etsy shop, and two from Sara’s etsy shop. The chosen prints will be printed on high quality archival paper and shipped directly to you! A great way to get some new art for your space, or get ahead on holiday gifts.

Here are some examples of what you have to choose from for your gallery wall:

Brigette I Design

Ciera Design

Cake Over Steak

To enter, fill out the giveaway form below before October 25th - winners will be randomly selected and notified via email. Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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August 19, 2015

4 Ways to Sell your Designs Online

It’s important to have a passion for your design work, but one cannot live on beautiful typography or satisfying b├ęzier curves alone.

One of the great advantages of the graphic design life is the flexibility it affords - you can mix and match full-time, part-time and freelance work to bring in money. But there are a few other ways you can generate income from your designs as well:

1. Etsy - for physical & digital items

List items through a personal shop front. Customers can instantly download purchased digital goods, Etsy can generate shipping labels for physical goods.

$.20 per listing, each time you publish or renew

I have technically had my etsy shop since 2010, but didn’t start using it seriously until about two years ago. I’ve sold custom design items, prints and stationery, and digital printable files - though it can be a great avenue for things like wordpress themes, custom invitations, and digital resources/textures as well.

People search directly on Etsy looking for products, but choosing effective keywords and promoting your shop elsewhere to get exposure is crucial - given the staggering number of shops and products. There are great resources out there to help you get started and learn the ins and outs, including this Skillshare class I found to be really helpful.

2. Society 6 - for prints, clothing & home goods

Upload digital files for Society6 to produce/sell as prints and home goods.

Free, small profit margin

I just opened a Society 6 shop recently, and I was surprised how easy it was to set up. This is a great option for passive income, because Society 6 does all of the work for you with production, orders, and shipping.

Of course, less work means less profit. You control the price mark up for prints, but other items like pillows, mugs, clocks and clothing have set profit margins ranging between 2 and 4 dollars for most items. That may seem like a small amount, but over time it may be worth the investment of a few hours to set up your shop.

3. Creative Market - for fonts, textures, & resources

List digital items for instant download, set your own prices.

Free, 30% of each sale goes to Creative Market

Creative Market is a great option to sell things you may be developing for yourself anyway - like photoshop brushes, custom fonts and stock photography. I have yet to experiment with it, so I asked Jenn Coyle of Hello Brio to share some tips for success:

"Do your research to see how popular shops write titles, descriptions, and prepare preview images. Purchase a competitor's product to investigate how they package it. Once you're getting sales and messages, always make sure to handle customer service and respond to comments as soon as you can. You can get a nice flow of passive income going if you follow these tips: make stuff you love, do your research, upload regularly, and engage with your customers."

4. On your website - for everything!

Sign up for a third party e-commerce site and add it to an existing website.

Free - Varied depending on features

Adding a shop to your existing website is a great avenue if you already get a decent amount of traffic to your site, and won’t need to spend energy promoting a separate shop front. There are a myriad of e-commerce plugins and services out there, and some web platforms have built-in options like Squarespace and Wordpress plugins. For other websites, here are a few suggestions:

shopify.com - $14/month starter plan, pre-built themes, ability to sell in person
opencart.com - Free, lots of features, templated but not 100% customizable
ecwid.com - Free for up to 10 products, easy html addition to your site

All of these ventures will not yield success overnight - there are hundreds of thousands of sellers who use these methods, and it can take time and effort to build up visibility. But it certainly doesn't hurt to give it a shot, you never know what will take off!

Do you sell your design work in other places that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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July 31, 2015

Design Double Clicks | July


There is no limit to the design and business information out there, and I try to draw as much inspiration to bring to my own work as I can. I thought reflecting monthly would be a great way to make the most of that process - so here are some things I keep clicking back to for inspiration, and a few upcoming projects I have percolating:



Maria Popova on Being Interesting, Creating More Time in the Day, and How to Start A Successful Blog.
I have been admiring the captivating wisdom of Maria Popova and her Brain Pickings blog for a while (I highly recommend to add it your list!), but I recently heard her interview on The Tim Ferriss Show this  month. Her thoughts on writing for yourself, how to become the person you want to be, and the creative process are valuable for any designer, blogger or human being.  

Designer Kelli Anderson's recent work
Kelli Anderson's design processes never cease to inspire me - from this flip book project she posted about recently to "This Book is a Planetarium", a popup book due out this fall. Her ability to think outside the normal parameters of design inspires me to strive to do the same. 


I’m happy to get back to work on some personal projects now that I'm settled from moving at the beginning of the month - that means more type sketching, brush markering and anchor point plotting. I have a few new print designs that will hopefully be ready for action in August!
I also just started a Society 6 shop, which was a really straight forward process. I’m still filling in more of my work and figuring out what new designs I might come up with for the different products. 


8 Steps to Set Up Your File for Print.
A really useful guide from Ciera Design on a sometimes overlooked but important part of the design process.

Share your work without the “ick” factor.
Elembee covered some great tips on self promotion - something I still struggle with.

When should I start branding my business?
A great breakdown from Spruce Rd. on when to think about branding.

What have you been inspired about this month? What have you been working on? Let me know in the comments!

(images courtesy of timferriss.com, kellianderson.com and society6.com)

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May 12, 2015

The Favorite Keyboard Shortcuts of 7 Successful Creatives


Keyboard shortcuts can change your life... or at least save you a few precious seconds of it on your next project. Shortcuts help you work more seamlessly and efficiently, whether you're designing a rad album cover in Illustrator or balancing a sensible budget in Excel.

A keyboard shortcut is a combination of keys that, when pressed simultaneously, perform some task that ordinarily requires use of a mouse or other input device*. Regardless of your background, you're most likely familiar with the basics: Undo, Copy, Paste, and Control-Alt-Delete. But you may not know that there are hundreds of fancy shortcuts out there that can save you valuable time and energy.

I've found that every artist, designer, and creative has their own unique tricks of the trade and go-to shortcuts. In the interest of uncovering some of these priceless productivity gems, I've asked designers, artists and creatives to share their favorite keyboard shortcuts with us! (Keep in mind, most shortcuts are interchangeable for Mac and PC, just swap ⌘ and Ctrl.)

Kathleen Shannon | Braid Creative

creative branding & blogging goddess
⌘Z - forever and always. I also love shift+⌘+ [ and ] for moving objects above and below each other in InDesign.

Ciera Holzenthal | Ciera Design

graphic designer & meet up maven
I love being able to quickly navigate around the screen, so my favorite keyboard shortcuts are for zooming in and out, ⌘+/- and ⌘0 for “Fit page in window” for when I need a quick view of the full design.

Robert Cornelius | Robert Cornelius Photography

photographer & photoshop powerhouse
In Photoshop: I use ⌘J alllll the time to duplicate my layers. I’m constantly trying something crazy and if I just duplicate my layer before I try it, then I can always delete that layer if I don’t like it, or maybe turn down the opacity a bit. Also ⌘E to merge a layer down to the one below it.

Jamie Starcevich | Spruce Rd. Design

graphic designer & branding buff
Spacebar is the easiest way to navigate to different areas of your artboard! Before using this, I used the navigator tool... which I am not sure they even still have that! I never use it anymore, clearly. I use the guides in illustrator like nobody's business! ⌘; toggles the guides on and off. “V” is probably my most used shortcut! This toggles to the selection tool, and basically just off of whatever previous tool you had selected (shape, transform, etc.)

Sara Cornelius | Cake Over Steak

illustrator & fantastic food blogger
For Photoshop, I love being able to use the brackets [ and ] to change brush size, and you can swap between your foreground and background colors (if you're using a brush tool or whatever) with "x" - knowing shortcuts like these for the Adobe programs is a game-changer in your workflow and speed.

Sarah Moore | Smoorelovin

interactive designer & playlist perfectionist
option + ← or →  = single letter kerning is definitely my favorite, such a HUGE time saver. It allows me to put as much care into letter setting as possible with a little more control.

Chrystina Cappello | Christina Noel

greeting card crafter & bringer-together of bloggers
I don't usually have a mouse attached to my laptop, so I spend most of the day using keyboard shortcuts. Some of my favorites are Ctrl-E to center in Microsoft Word, Ctrl-> and Ctrl-< to make fonts bigger and smaller in Microsoft Word, Ctrl-T to open a new tab in Chrome, Alt-tab to switch between programs, and Ctrl-Z to undo.

BONUS - Me! | brigette i design

graphic designer & hotkey hoarder
For the Mac operating system - if you hit ⌘-spacebar it brings up a “spotlight” search bar in the right hand corner. Start typing and you can open any application or file from there instead of manually going through folders.

Thank you to all of the amazing creatives who shared their keyboard shortcut expertise with us - now go forth and use their gifts of knowledge!

Do you have any must-know shortcuts, or just a favorite? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for a visual reminder to use your hotkeys, check out my "Know Your Hotkeys" series of printables and prints in my etsy shop.

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