Branding

I work at a shop that does signage and branding as well as graphic design. That influence has led me to think that there’s a better way to embrace my name as a brand. You’ll notice that there’s a new profile picture and banner across my social media and web presence.

Let me know what you think. I’m open to feedback. My idea was to have it be bold and still have color as an accent. So I narrowed it down to black and two shades of green. If I ever need it in black and white I will likely have a single white stripe where the dark green is and the lighter shade will be black. That maintains the stripe effect while simplifying for one-color applications if needed. The M would be recognizeable on its own, which is a big plus!

Take it easy and remember to smile!

Credit Where Due

I had an epiphany today. I was working on a job at work and started doing corrections to make the result polished when I noticed that some of the details were rather ugly ok a logo. The designer had clearly used Image Trace in Illustrator. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but I did a better job in less than 10 minutes. I think that extra 5-8 minutes I spent on it are the difference between good and great. 10 minutes is the equivalent of $0.16 under my own pay scale. The business is not losing money by taking the time to do the job right. Even if no one would have noticed the curves and bobbles of the Image Trace, you don’t want to give the the opportunity to either.

I guess all of the above depends on the complexity of the work to be done. Maybe I’d use Image Trace for a photo or complex logo and only fix the bare minimum if it was going to take, say, an hour, or $10, of my time. I have had to use Image Trace for a photo simply because the original wasn’t big enough for me to use. Usually, however, I make it look like it’s a bit pixelated anyway so it looks like a raster, what most people expect from a digital photo. 

I try to avoid Image Trace on the whole unless I’m looking to clean up or stylize something. For example, I have a drawing in pen or pencil. I want the lines to be black and crisp and the whites to be transparent. Image Trace is perfect for that! You can set it so that you only have black and white and then play with the threshold and minimum area size in order to clean up some lines or make sure some fainter ones are traced properly. It’s a good idea to expand an Image Trace before editing it. Expanding the result allows for editing individual points. I’ve also used the Path > Simplify option to further clean up needlessly complex results. It’s an art in itself. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

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deejay.photo


This design showcases the entertainment and event planning part of Ronnie’s business. The brief mentioned that the client wanted to see a design with foil in it, so I made my cards using the 877C Pantone swatch. Of course, the client could choose to have his cards foil stamped, which is more expensive. Either way, I included a mockup of the card so the client could see where the foil/metallic ink would go. The black area is what will be silver in the final design. The client also wanted the card to be two-sided so I put his contact information on the back. Since the logo was already a camera, I thought I’d stay away from photography related iconography. 

I chose to make this card tall instead of wide to emphasize the spotlight on the camera logo, which will be silver. It also affords the logo some much needed space. The client provided a logo, but I thought the lettering, especially the small lettering under the deejay.photo, would be too small when it came to print. I did a test print on my home printer and it bled fiercely. I know that professional printers would have much better detail in their prints, but why run the risk? I beefed up the typography while maintaining the weight proportions of the original.

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Good Clients

It’s no secret that the world of design is full of bad, naughty, impatient, mean…

2 days later

…awful, terrible clients. The nit-pickers want perfection, but refuse to negotiate payment when the project goes over budget due to time wasted on endless revisions. Vague-ists expect mind reading levels of understanding from a brief only 10 words long that says they want a logo.  Worst of all are the clients who give you detailed instructions on what they want, decide to completely change their mind half way through the design process, and finally at the end refuse to pay you anything because you were not able to finish the project in time.

We all know people like those described above as friends and family in addition to total strangers who want to pay for work they can’t do themselves, but don’t want to pay for work they can’t do themselves. Did I just confuse you, dear reader? Sorry. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it that’s its bad. šŸ˜‰

But I want to talk about the good clients I’ve encountered in the last week. Two of them to be precise.

The first is, of course, the client who hired me for my first design job. Justin went above and beyond by telling me there was a problem with his payment and he had already fixed it. That job should clear with Upwork sometime this week and enter the mandatory 1 week security hold. It’s ok, just par for the course here in designer-land. I can’t withdraw the money until I have $100 in my Upwork account. That’s fine with me too if it avoids fees or ther pitfalls on Upwork’s side and keeps the service free to people like me (not counting the service fees since I set my own rate and the system charges the client the fee, not the designer.)

Good client number two is a repeat contest holder over on Freelancer.com. He held a contest back at the end of May which I won. It was only $25 after fees, but that was enough to set me up with a year’s paid intro membership on the site. I needed it! A week and a half ago the same client requested my entry on another, similar, contest. I read over the brief and decided it was something I could do for him so I submitted an entry. Yesterday, I received a message from him stating he decided not to use any of the submissions, but since he had solicited my entry he was awarding me with the prize. I gave him the files anyway since from my point of view it’s required to get paid and because if he’s paying then the work is his anyway. Maybe he will change his mind or use the illustration for something else. This was beyond my expectations! If you foster a good relationship with a client sometimes they will give you a break. The winnings will be $40 after fees. Again, not that much, but work is work and pay is pay. Repeat clients count for a lot and show that you do quality work at any price.

Two doves perch on the antlers of a deer skull

The winning design that starting it all


Take it easy and remember to smile!

persisto logo
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Persistance

Today – July 5, 2017 – I worked on a logo for a learn-to-code opportunity for kids. I had planned on working on this contest over the weekend, but just got around to it today with Independance Day disrupting my habits. In my email inbox sat a message from 99designs.com that one of the contests I watched had posted an announcement. The client, from a company called Persisto, stated that he/she thought their brief wasn’t as clear as they expected it should be, so they clarified, mentioning the use of graduation hats as a design elements. That made me think of a graduation hat in perspective, as in many illustrations. He/she also stated they didn’t want a letterform logo and we designers should focus on the tech aspect of their business. So…I had a graduation hat and the idea of technology and coding. The diamond shape of the hat matched HTML tags! While HTML isn’t exclusively what the business hopes to teach kids, itĀ is considered a fundamental coding language for web and a precursor language to Javascript, one of the main programming languages for all web- and app-based programs.

Like the name Persisto, persistance and perserverance represent the core values of learning and success. IĀ persistĀ in submitting proposals and contests entries. How else can I learn? I know the fundamentals of design. Lynda.com provided me with a Logo Design class that was a great refresher for Illustrator in general. All that’s left is to continue designing. Practice makes perfect.

Take it easy, and remember to smile!

South Nashville Mosquito Control Logo
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First Logo Job!

This logo is copyright to Justin Mason.

I was hired to make this a week and a half ago. Work started on Monday and I delivered the final files last night.

I learned something new: Acrobat Pro can edit text, but only if it’s on a flat line. It couldn’t edit the curved text in my design! I ended up downloading a program called Inkscape and making an SVG that could be edited with free software. I think under other circumstances a PDF or JPG can be edited in whatever software you like. However, the letting in this logo was hard to select if you don’t have Photoshop of GIMP chops. I felt it was a good use of my unpaid time to figure out how to send clients works that are editable by anyone. I don’t believe in trapping my client into coming back to me for simple color changes. I probably wouldn’t charge them for that anyway and just call it part of good service!

I came in way under budget and time for this job. Maybe that sounds stupid. I’d rather it take a little longer for happy clients. I want them to have the best I can do! This logo was done in 5.5 out of 10 hours. The client was laid back and really liked my initial sketch.

SQUISHED

SQUISHED sketch idea submitted with my proposal.

I think this sketch closed the deal. Ever since I have tried to give simple sketches. I think clients appreciate seeing how I think and having a visual reference rather than only words. Sometimes ideas are best conveyed with images. Now that I have a real job under my belt I feel beter sending out a lot of proposals. Most of them go unread I’m sure. It only takes one or 2 a week to start the ball rolling though!