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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Jul 27, 2011

My Handmade Wish-List

By On 09:07
I might be a shop-aholic, so it's taking all my resolve not to buy everything on this list right now.  Thanks Etsy!

For my hair: Chamomile Lavender Shampoo Bar

For my face: Vanilla Mint Lip Balm
For my hands: Sweet P Shea Hand and Body Balm
For my neck: Multi-color snake scarf
For my feet: LaLa Shoes!
For my mod street cred: This gorgeous bag
For the kid in me: This harlequin jester

Jul 22, 2011

Entrepreneruial Spirit: Ali Dryer

By On 08:15
Okay, I ran into Ali  a couple weeks ago after a huge craft fair in Baltimore.  I love seeing her, and I love her story.  The long and short of it is that she was treated like sh*t at a restaurant job and she did some soul-searching before saying bye-bye to the stress and ill-treatment.  Then she started makin' bags.

I'll have to edit this post later; with a few of her national magazine features!

Interview Question: Describe your Experience...

By On 07:41
For a recent grad or someone early in their career as a designer, you may need to rely on your internship, in-class, and freelance experience. Don’t think that work you’ve taken your time to complete doesn’t count; it counts!

First be very familiar with text and terms used in the posted job description. In a DC job description posted today one requirement for the position is “Familiarity with information architecture principles desired; basic understanding of HTML and CSS also desired.”

This means, can you put a site together logically; with important and relevant links in the main and secondary navigations. Also, do you know the basics of building a Web page? The answer to both questions is “Yes!”

So how do you convey to an interviewer that you have this experience? Here goes...

When talking about your internships: Realistically, your experience should cover 90% of the position requirements from the original posting. You could begin like this, “I recently completed an internship with Company Ecks where my primary tasks were to maintain the website and update social media." You follow up with a short description of the actual work, especially coding specific aspects of the job.

When talking about experience through coursework: Even if your experience is limited, begin with an affirmative statement. You want to be sure that you present a well-rounded and skilled designer. “I’ve had several courses in HTML/CSS and have built a few different sites from scratch: from planning and building out the site architecture and wireframes, to creating web graphics, and optimizing photography, and creating text content. With my personal website I took the opportunity to experiment with jQuery and lightbox design in order to increase my coding skills.” You want to be sure that you present a well-rounded and skilled designer.

Finally, when talking about your freelance work: Having a diverse body of work is ideal. Give the employer a brief list of your client projects and highlight items that are relevant to the type of work you’re applying for. I interviewed for an internship my first semester in grad school, the position was for a graphic designer to create posters and signage at a museum—nothing I’d really done before. I told the interviewer about my experience creating identity packages for my (only) 3 freelance clients and then followed up with a synopsis of my relevant college coursework. Apparently my ability to work with hierarchy, typography, and visual balance was enough to get me the position.

Link to more Interview Questions for Graphic Designers.

Jul 20, 2011

Interview Question: What are your Strengths?

By On 11:23
But there are so many to choose from! Tough…pick 3. The fact is that the interviewer may only ask for one or 2, but you want to have that third one in the chamber, just in case.

Select three traits or attributes that are most beneficial for the position/type of work and give examples.
This is not the time to list your technical skills. They already have that information on your resume.

Instead use this time to talk about you and your work ethos; employers want to know if you:

  • have great time management skills (in our field, it’s almost as important as the actual designs you produce)
  • thrive in a collaborative environment / or function better with more autonomy
  • are flexible and can change gears quickly when necessary
  • communicate effectively with others (in print, Web, face-to-face)
  • keep your skills up-to-date (through coursework, seminars, webinars, etc)

My personal favorite—and possibly the thing (besides my portfolio) to which I owe my current position –is, “There is always more than one solution to a problem. When faced with a design challenge, I study the problem then come up with a couple equally effective yet visually dissimilar solutions.” The follow up this statement is a short and poignant anecdote about an invitation design that the client wanted. Sorry, I have no pithy subhead for this one.

The important thing to remember here is to be clear on what you want to communicate and keep it brief.
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Photo Credit: bbaltimore via Compfight cc

Interview Question: What are your Weaknesses?

By On 10:48
What are your weaknesses?

The best advice I’ve gotten regarding this questions is “be honest, and provide strategies to address the weakness”. I’ll need to use myself as an example here. I suck at proofreading copy in my work. I can do it, but –for some reason—I don’t.

I once sent a biz card to the printer with a half a phone number!! Unfortunately the client gave me a file with the different names, titles and contact information for the business cards and omitted the last 4 digits of one of the numbers. I looked past it; after obsessing about the myriad changes the client had already sent and FTPd the file with that glaring omission. Luckily my printer—a woman with a great eye for detail—caught it and emailed me before beginning the proof. My point is that I just didn’t look.

In interviews I answer the weakness question truthfully, “I need an editor.” That’s exactly how I phrase it. Then I of course follow up with a sentence or two on the importance of copy editors, and round it all out by stating that, “in recent projects I’ve become more aware of this challenge, so I build in time in my project schedule to allow for edits to copy or text revisions.”

The takeaway: be honest and follow up with an achievable solution.
Link to more Interview Questions for Graphic Designers.

Jul 14, 2011

This Week: Letterpress-ish Poster

By On 14:16
They wanted a foldy brochure, and I gave' em a foldy brochure. They didn't like it. I decided to make it into a poster/single-sheet design; something that will translate easily into a motion infographic--when completed.

Here it is:

Quoth the Raven: Compfight

By On 13:55
This is just a quick note to let you know that if you’re still using Google to search Creative Commons on the Web, there’s a better way. COMPFIGHT.COM

Here is photo search engine that allows you to view images with “any license”, “Creative Commons”, and “Commercial” licenses. Use freely, however—if you find images with CCSA licenses—please give proper credit.

Jul 11, 2011

DIY Paper Dolls

By On 13:57
Like you don't have enough to do, right?

I got a lovely surprise in the mail this week. A friend took some of my more memorable looks and created a paper doll of me as my birthday card.  Some folks are just so  industrious!! As this is an awesome (economical) idea for a present, I decided to copy it--the easy way!!

Vecteezy has some awesome guy and girl AI vector packs; they include hair, facial expressions, hand gestures, and clothes. This is convenient since I have six other friends having birthdays this month--of varying  gender, age, and ethnicity.

I just started working on one of the femme birthday cards, will update with pics when all are done!!!!

Vector Doodles--Just in Time!

By On 13:35
Are you designing a piece and don't have the time to idly run your ballpoint across some note paper for the right graphics?  Someone else has done it for you!

Spoon Graphics - Shape and Plant Doodles
Social Media Icon Doodles
X-mas Doodles

ARS Grafik - Hand drawn Vector Doodles 
HTC Sense - Vector Doodles

Vector Pack Duo - Mr. T Doodle +!!

These actually came in handy on one of last week's design projects. I hope you find them useful too.

Jul 8, 2011

What's up with This Social Network?

By On 06:48
Really, Facebook??!!

I don't want to give you my mobile number in case my "account is compromised". I have a sneaking suspicion that you'll sell it to advertisers.

Maybe I'm cynical, but I can't believe that your desire to collect increasing amounts of demographic and geographic information about me is just innocent curiosity on your part. I'm just sayin'.

And what the hell is this all about??

Jul 7, 2011

Letterpress Typefaces

By On 06:45
 As any lover of type, I revere the look, feel, and technical aspects of letterpress typography. On a recent project, I scoured the internet for a handful of fonts that fit neatly into my design.

I ended up with several excellent options (see below) before getting reacquainted with the work of typographer, Billy Argel. He’s the awesome designer who created Panhead.

The Letterpress typeface, Body Hunter  has all of the characteristics I needed for the display type part of my project: the artifacts associated with movable type: the uneven inked appearance, and bold slab serifs and glyphs.

The font is free for personal use—so give it a try.

 The other great hand-inked, distressed fonts I found are also available on Dafont. They actually work well together.