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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Jul 26, 2010

Worst Typeface - That’s easy. The second worst - that’s tough…

By On 15:03
Comic sans is number one!  That’s the truth according to every graphic designer I know.  I’m on that bandwagon, too. While we’re all in agreement, we can’t come to consensus on number two.

Recently a young designer that I respect and admire totally blasted Bleeding Cowboys on a popular social media site. She said it’s the “absolute worst.” Bleeding Cowboys is a distinctive typeface with limits to it usefulness, and it has been greatly over-utilized of late–to my knowledge--by young designers with limited access to, or knowledge of typefaces.  But is it really the worst??

Last Friday, I enjoyed an incredible night of music and performance at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I say that in spite of the bitter slap in the face I received when I looked at their summer program—laid out with headers and subheads in Cracked. Ouch!

Some say Times New Roman is Terrible! Horrible! Awful! But I haven’t heard a sufficiently good reason except that it was the default typeface for Microsoft Office (and everybody knows that as professional designers and Apple adherents, we must loathe anything non-Apple).

People, everything African, Indian, and Middle-Eastern can not be represented by Papyrus. This is another typeface that non-(or unskilled)designers use as a go to when unable to rely on sound typography skills to create an effective use of space, hierarchy, movement, purpose.  

Bradley Hand and Dakota Hand. I personally believe that these two live in the same zip code as Comic Sans.

Finally, this name wouldn’t have come to mind except that I got a request to create a logo from this font. What self-respecting professional membership organization wants to be represented by Monotype Corsiva? You heard me! It's ridiculous, yet this offensive, improperly used, over-used abomination is what they chose to represent their decades old, professionally respected organization. I choose Monotype Corsiva too... as my number two worst font of all!

Jul 22, 2010

Internet Job Searches - The Keyword is the Key

By On 06:56
The prospect of looking for work is a scary one, but it’s a fact of life for many of us; either you’re dealing with a lay off, or you’re looking to cash in your education, or you simply long for a better work life.

The pickings are slim out there and with companies tightening their belts, creative departments are taking a huge hit.  Small to medium-sized firms now choose to make due with the few folks they have. 

So, how do you ensure that you’re not missing out on jobs when searching online???

Choose Relevant Keywords
You’re a graphic designer. You want a graphic design job. Think about where you want to work: the government, retail, hospitals or medical centers, fashion, colleges, etc.  Be precise and narrow down your industry. Then make a list of things associated with your industry. Let’s take hospitals as an example.

Associated terms: hospital, medical, non profit (all hospitals fit in this category), health care,  allied health, etc.
You are a ‘Graphic Designer”. So, that will, of course be a search term.  Maybe not. Many companies still use the term graphic artist, so think about simply using the word “graphic” or "graphics"
Associated terms: design, **UI or UX (Web design terms), multimedia, graphic art, in-house design, communications, marketing (yep!),  pre-press, creative, etc

Start out with one or two keywords. Then, as you continue with your search session, switch out your keywords and see what different options pop up.

Look at your results.  Are there terms in the posted jobs that are relevant to you? Add them to your list, and use them in the next keyword search.

Be Search Engine Savvy
There are tons of job search websites that can be helpful in your pursuits.  I’m partial to a site called SimplyHired.com (SH).  SH pulls jobs from dozens of different websites. In a recent search I found positions originating on dozens of different websites including job sites, company sites, and headhunter and consultant sites.

For me SH was the perfect one stop shop—it’s where I found my current job—but it’s not necessarily for everyone. Here’s a nice long list of search sites that have yielded good results for graphic designers I know in this region:

Happy hunting!

**User Interface, User Experience

Jul 19, 2010

Rant: Apple, iPhone, iMac, MacBook

By On 13:16

Apple has gotten its last dollar from me.  I’ve always been true to Apple. The desktop that I purchased last month was to be my fourth Apple computer and the first desktop I’ve EVER bought.  Unfortunately, the machine turned up with a crack in the screen.  After getting jerked around by the nads for weeks by the geniuses in their call center, I’ve had enough.

You see, in my attempt to re-order my exciting new machine, I was:
  • hung up upon 
  • transferred from department to department
  • deceived about a return mailing label that was never sent
  • and generally treated poorly by a company that has several thousands of my hard-earned dollars!!
The rude,  stupid,  customer care staff in the call center placed me on hold for no less than 30 of the 35-45 minutes I spent on each call with them, and I got an ulcer from internalizing my hatred and ire–lest I be hung up upon again. 
I just had my last contact with Apple, three minutes ago. I checked on the status of my refund and was kindly reassured that it was processed and cleared through my bank by Joan—likely the only competent customer care rep in their entire call center.  

I have one final phone call to make to ensure that I’m rid of Apple for good.  I’m calling AT&T and bidding their asses “adeiu”, too.

My heart aches for those struggling with the newest iPhone. Good luck getting any help on the phone.

Jul 3, 2010

Designer Freebies!

By On 07:48
I love love love free stuff. And , working for a nonprofit, I'm used to resorting to ad hoc methods and making do with not getting everything on my wish list to make my job easier.  When I do web searches for freebies and vector elements I always check for 'Creative Commons' before I download anything --there's never a need to risk a lawsuit for misusing  intellectual property.

Here's a list of my favorite sites that provide designer resources:

Jul 1, 2010

The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Belltown Pull Apart

By On 11:22

I was in downtown Seattle last week where I met the owner and proprietor of Belltown Pull Apart, a used bike shop on 4th Ave.
Eric started out working on Pedal cabs, the once ubiquitous three wheeled transports that worked the waterfront. His alleyfront shop specialized in fixing and fabricating the rides. Today he has the front and back of the building. In open hours, 5 or 6 bikes line up for sale along the sidewalk and the shop dogs amble fatly in and out of the open doorway.
Inside, sexy refurbished bikes hang from the walls and form neat rows for easy access on the floor. The guys who hang out in the store also work there, and there’s a refreshing feeling of realness. Eric and his cronies love bikes, and belong to the growing ranks of the self-employed.
When I went in last Saturday to pick up the cheetah print handlebar grips I ordered, Chicheron, the rotund Chihuahua was helping himself to somebody’s half sesame bagel smothered in cream cheese. The last I saw him he was being chased into the back of the shop with half a bagel gripped in his jaws. That morning I got a chance to talk to Eric about why he took the entrepreneurial plunge. His answer was simple, “I can’t work for other people… I’m a terrible employee.”
I feel you dude! Most of the folks I know who are ready to take the plunge are Eric. I've heard it before. Here’s the checklist:
  • Passion for the organization’s mission wanes.
  • The persistent feeling of being underappreciated weighs on you.
  • The commute—no matter how short—gets longer every day.
  • The work is unfulfilling.
  • At least 20 % of your work week is spent planning your escape route (i.e. looking for jobs, updating your resume, reading up on how to ship anthrax thru the mail, etc.)
  • Stress builds from Sunday night to Monday morning, and continues until Friday at 1pm .

My hat’s off to you Eric.  If I were a Seattle native, I’d make Belltown Pull Apart my second home.