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Do What You Gotta Do To Do It Better.. or just.. Do It Better

11 Mar

Growing up you are taught there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.  School is supposed to teach you the right way.  So all through your education you are taught strict guidelines that you are required to follow and lessons that are ingrained into your brain.  Until you grow up, go to college, get a job, and realize that depending on what you decide to do with your life, a good deal of this information probably won’t help you.  I am a graphic designer.  The majority of what I use in my career I learned in college and everything I learned before then just got me to college.

Education is extremely important, but the world is changing and this needs to be taken into consideration.  I’m not saying there should be ‘texting 101′ classes, but the majority of us will find good use for a class that teaches you to simplify your writing using clear thoughts, or the dangers and benefits of creating an online presence.  The truth is a lot of what you would learn in these classes would go against what you may have learned in middle school.  Does that make it wrong?  Absolutely not, just different.  Would you have continued reading my Blog if my post began…

Growin up u are taught theres a right way n a wrong way 2 do things.

How about if I started with…

As students go through elementary school, middle school, and then high school, teachers educate the students that there is a correct way and an incorrect way to do things in life.

My guess is you probably wouldn’t have continued past either of these sentences.  There is a way to sound educated while still using a supposedly ‘informal’ and simpler style of writing that obviously has not been used in the above examples.  This is what is important in today’s society.  Blogs give everyone the ability to make their writing public.  Twitter and Facebook status’s force the writer to keep it short.   And the online world in general has created a whole new means for writing.

When creating your online presence, whether it is simply to search for jobs, network, or establish yourself and your business, you are going to need to write, and your writing will be what defines you.  You will need to have a simple, consistent online voice, something that I have recently come to understand much better.  As a freelance designer, I need to write proposals, estimates, invoices, descriptions, and consistently update my online presence through my blog, social networking sites, and my portfolio site.  All in addition to the cover letters and resumes that all professionals have to write at some point.  When I first began presenting myself online through my writing I struggled to see it as something people would want to read, so I often hid behind the graphics and the writing of others.  I would struggle writing my cover letters and resume feeling like I was inappropriately bragging by acknowledging my accomplishments.  I now understand the best ways to present myself to an online audience and which platforms will be the most useful to accomplish this.  I have become comfortable and confident with my online voice and proudly stand beside my writing rather than hiding behind the graphics that use to accompany it.

 
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Honing My Presence

07 Mar

I have hopefully already convinced you that you should hire a freelance designer to fulfill all of the design needs of your business rather than trying to create them yourself.  Now it is my job to provide you with the designer to do it.  Me!

So this week I took to the web and did my best to promote myself as a freelance designer in any new way I could come up with.  I first went through and added any related tags I could think of to previous blog posts in order to online presence more searchable.  I already have a LinkedIn profile so I created profiles on Elance and Creative Folks making myself more available  online for freelance design positions.  The sites are still taking some getting used to,  I found Elance a more cleanly designed and user friendly site, but both had their perks.  Creative Folks was similar to Facebook and gave you a bit more freedom on what you could include in your profile and search for in terms of jobs.  Elance only allowed you to add up to five skills, which you could then either self rate or test through a pre-made quiz.  At first I thought the quiz option was a helpful, unique idea, but I consider myself extremely experienced in After Effects and I only got a 70 on the 20 minute, timed, 40 question quiz.  This was actually still above average for the test; I think because half of the questions were worded oddly or about tools that you rarely use, but regardless I thought it was a neat feature.  The only thing that I was disappointed with about both of these sites was the difficulty for motion graphic artists, like myself, to upload reels or video files of our work.  It seemed like most of what was offered was all still image uploads.  There is still a lot of building and uploading that I need to do on these sites, and others to improve my online presence, but I think this week has definitely made a big leap in the right direction.

 
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Where Was the World Before..

07 Mar

Where was the world before google?  Today if you forget the words to a song, wonder why we change the clocks back, or try to figure out what other movies the actor you are watching was in, all you have to do is ‘google it’!  Yes, these are all random things I’ve googled in the past few days.

As a designer google is particularly helpful.  Often times you know what you want to make your design look like in your mind, but don’t know quite how to make that happen.  There are too many filters and effects, especially with plug-ins, you are bound to forget a few that may have helped.  There are also usually multiple ways to create the same look and by knowing them all you can choose the best, and fastest, way.  Easiest way to do this?  Google of course!  Simply google what you are trying to accomplish and there is almost always multiple blogs, YouTube videos, or tutorials that can help you do it.

There are also sites like Creative Cow and Lynda.com that are dedicated to creating tutorials that can take you from a newbie to a professional in the program of your choice.  Lynda.com, is very interactive.  Depending on your membership you can download files to follow along with the tutorials, quickly search by different categories, and easily see what tutorials you have completed.  If they do not have tutorials on the program you are searching for they are open to suggestions and may create a whole new section of tutorials based on your suggestion!

 
 

Write Away

07 Mar

I took my own advice and decided to sign up for each of the sites I mentioned in my ‘Designer Facebook‘ post in order to follow through with my proposal about the need for companies to hire designers.  Now that I am getting settled into my full-time job, I am hoping to get back into freelance designing again with my free time.  Having previously freelanced solely through networking, I had not been introduced to an important part of the freelance world: writing a proposal.

Luckily I am taking a writing course right now because the second step listed under ‘how it works’ on Elance is ‘Submit a Proposal’.  If you were not lucky enough to have just finished the ‘writing proposals’ section of a class when realizing you may actually have to write proposals, there are a few online resources that can help you out.  Including a $24/month app that will practically write the proposal for you!  Now that I have experience and a better knowledge of proposals, I feel more confident to begin my online job search than if I had signed up for these sites a month ago.

 
 

YouTime Is A Changing

01 Mar

What makes puzzles the enduring form of entertainment that they still are today?  It is the ability of the user to take part in the creation of the image.  Although the user did not sit down in front of a camera or an easel and capture the picture themselves, they somehow feel connected or involved because it is through their correct placement, or incorrect placement, of the pieces that the image is seen.  This is the same concept that digital designers today are trying to capture with the newly popular interactive experience of web.  YouTube videos can go viral in a matter of seconds and get more views than the most popular movies.

The strong existence of narratives on the web does not point to the end of books.  Reading a favorite piece of fiction still allows the reader the control to create the characters and the world they are reading about all on their own in his or her imagination. This is why many people are often disappointed when they go see a book made into a movie, because at that point they no longer have control of the world and the characters that they had once created themselves.  This has been the same with videos distributed through the web, until now.  YouTube is now giving designers and editors the ability to create “choose your own adventure” style videos.  It is definitely going to revolutionize the web videos you will be seeing, and this is only the beginning.  This small adjustment allows the user to have some control in the direction that the story goes next and makes the user feel more involved with more visual impact than if he or she had just been reading it in a book.

Here is a quick sneak peek to give you an idea. Keep a lookout for the work in progress!

 
 

Designer Facebooks

28 Feb

It isn’t just what you know, and it isn’t just who you know. It’s actually who you know, who knows you, and what you do for a living.-Bob Burg

When you think of social networking Facebook is one of the first sites to come to mind.  It is great personal source for keeping in touch with acquaintances, and promotional source for companies and groups.  LinkedIn is also a trusted site that many use, but does not have a lot of design related content.  As a freelance designer looking to promote yourself and your work these may not be the best options for you.  Sites like CreativeFolks, Behance Network,  and Elance may be better suited for your needs.  These are creative professional specific social networking sites directly connecting those looking for work and the clients.

With these sites you create profiles that act as portfolios to easily display your work to potential clients.  A variety of design jobs are listed in multiple formats. These sites give you options like applying directly to posted positions using your portfolio, submitting proposals directly to clients, or offering bids on posed projects.  From there the client can decide who they wish to hire for the job.  These sites also offer competitions that can earn you money, publicity, and recognition in the design world.  Bottom line, in this tough economy jobs are all about networking. To use social networking to its fullest potential you need to use the sites that will best suite your needs, and these are the sites  I suggest.

 
 

Dealing It Out Through Facebook

28 Feb

If we get to 30K fans by New Year’s Eve – we are posting a free admission coupon valid all week 1/8 thru 1/13!-Chunky’s Cinema Pub

Facebook pages for companies are the newest trend, but many companies still have not figured out how to use these pages to their full potential.  Chunky’s is a company that has done it right.  If you want to get action on your Facebook page you need to keep people coming to it; new people and old friends.  To do this you need to give them a reason to keep coming back.  Chunky’s consistently updates their status’s and has used their Facebook page to launch a number of deals and promotions to those who are active on their Facebook page, and those who bring in new members.  They recently started a “Deal of the Month” program where they partner with other local companies to offer a monthly deal to the first (certain number) of customers.  The first deal they offered was a $72.50 value for only $40 available to the first 250 customers and sold out within the first day of being posted.  That sounds like a successful campaign to me!

Once I convince Quinnipiac to include the ICM program in their trips to Nicaragua my target audience will primarily be the students. Chunky’s has demonstrated that Facebook can be great for marketing and promotion.  With students as my target audience, whom Facebook was initially created for, it can be even more beneficial for promotional purposes.  I am still not completely sold on Twitter, but once I use Facebook to build up a support group for the program, I can use Twitter to update everyone on the progress.  This will be particularly beneficial to track my capstone project when I travel to Nicaragua with Quinnipiac to introduce what the students in the ICM program can do to help the people of Nicaragua.

 
 

Proposal for Hiring a Graphic Designer

22 Feb

Nothing turns a consumer away faster than poor design.  Why risk losing a customer before they even have a chance to like your product?  By investing in a professional designer you have someone to help find a concept that will successfully promote your company and create a design that will stand out to consumers in a positive way.

Mister Fix It

Ask anyone.  Sitting through a commercial that you can tell didn’t hire a designer is torture.  It’s like a movie with bad acting, no matter how good the script may be no one wants to go see it.  Furniture and local car companies tend to be the biggest offenders in the commercial department.  If the customer cannot stand to look at your store on a TV screen why would they go see it in person?

Websites have made it even more important to hire a designer because online the consumer is in control.  Say they are looking for a dog training center in their area.  They Google dog training and four different websites pop up.  If there are broken links or errors in the site, the customer has trouble finding something, or if they just do not like the way your site looks, they are gone and on to the next company’s site with the click of a button.

The Solution

Websites allow you to keep track of the number of visitors you have to your site so progress based on a re-design can be tracked online as well as through an increase in sales.  If you want to re-design your website, or put out a new commercial, do it.  It will be worth it.  Just because you are hiring a designer does not mean you need to make a whole new place in your staff.  This is just what freelance designers are for.  A freelance designer is hired simply to complete a project, no matter how simple or complex your project ends up being.

I have been a freelance designer for eight years.  I have professional experience in motion graphics, typography, video editing, animation, print, and web design.  I have a Bachelors degree in Interactive Digital Design and have continued my education with a Masters in Interactive Communications.  I know design.  Whatever your design need may be I guarantee that I can take your project from concept to creation with an outcome that will make a difference in your company.

 
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Shaping Up To Be A Pretty Cool Design

21 Feb

“Good design, at least part of the time, includes the criterion of being direct in relation to the problem at hand – not obscure, trendy, or stylish. A new language, visual or verbal, must be couched in a language that is already understood.” -  Ivan Chermayeff

http://www.visualadvice.com/files/gimgs/8_milkpackaging.jpgAs a designer, it is sometimes difficult to face the fact that there is a distinct difference between what looks good and what is a good design, particularly when it comes to product design.  I found a site with 30 Bizarre and Creative Packaging Design Examples showing product designs with interesting and sometimes simple concepts that create an extremely unique look.  When you look into the description of  each of the designs there is a lot of thought put into the concept behind the design itself. The concept behind the design might not stand out on its own but will definitely get the consumer’s attention.  For example, the milk carton design to the left was designed to be the same dimension as a 2L milk carton while representing the products content as simple as possible through the word and image.  Another product design on the site was a dispenser for “Dino Gum” shaped like a dinosaur’s jaw echoing the thought that dinosaurs must have had strong teeth to go along with their strong bites.

The extremely creative designs that were displayed on this site were interesting to look at, and even more interesting to learn the inspiration behind the design.  Especially for new products, it is important to create a package design that will catch the consumers eye.  However, the designer must remember that once they have convinced the consumer to purchase the product through the look, the design needs to be easy to use so the consumer comes back to buy it again.

 
 

Fastball Down the Middle- Time to Hit One Out of the Country

21 Feb
“Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. For remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.” -Albert Schweitzer

 

The Pitch: Quinnipiac students have already used their education in health, business, drama, education, and film to improve the quality of life for the people of Nicaragua.  Students from the ICM program would introduce a combination of technology and the arts, making a difference in a way that no other program could.

DSC_0780_JPGSummary: Everyone comes back from this trip humbled by seeing the world in a whole new light.  They leave behind skills, knowledge, and hope to a community who openly offers what little they have to students like they were their own family.  I am corroborating with students and teachers who have made this trip, as well as Erin Peck, director of programs for the Albert Schweitzer Institute, in order to find the best way to help the people of Nicaragua using the skills I have mastered through the Interactive Digital Design program and now through the Interactive Communications Masters program.  The Albert Schweitzer Institute is always looking for ways to get other programs involved in these trips.  My projects successes will open the door so the ICM program can join the number of other Quinnipiac programs already making annual trips with students.

Three years ago I designed a website for Quinnipiac’s “Alternative Spring Break Trip”.  I wanted to go with the school all four years in my Undergrad, but never had the chance.  Since then, I have made it my mission to travel to Nicaragua in my Masters and help the people in whatever way I can.  It amazes me that there is so much beauty and love in a country that is so poverty stricken.  Maybe even more than in our own country.  My team and I have brainstormed numerous project ideas from helping the local businesses become more tech savvy, to inspiring the children with art and design.  I am taking my time to research, discuss, and analyze all the options in order to come up with the project idea that will be most beneficial to the people.  This is a project that I am very passionate about and I intend to find a way within this program to make a difference in the lives of these people.

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