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Archive for March, 2011

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!