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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

May 23, 2012

This Week: 40th Birthday Party

By On 11:05
Remember this fun letterpress-style design from 2011? It's been re-purposed as the concept for an 40th birthday party invitation.  My sketch book has 3 pages of refinements of the latest design, but this page is the most coherent >> >>

To flesh out this concept, I went back to the 70's in my mind.  This was the era of the three-martini lunch, black and white teevee, a rotary phone in every parlor, Herb Lubalin and Avant Garde, flared jeans, the Jimmy Castor Bunch. I resisted the inclination to gravitate toward some of the more dated type faces; instead choosing classic serifs and deco-style sans. I skirted the cliches.

The brown texture in sample1 is a creative common found at www.bittbox.com. I always go back to this set of freebies when I need a background that begs to be touched. In this example the opacity is set at 100%--this will likely change as the design progresses.
I found the vector shapes at www.thenounproject.com and recreated them in Illustrator...each sample is slightly different:

May 16, 2012

This Week: Annual Report

By On 07:18

There has been a lot of chatter in the non-profit world about whether to print an annual report or present stakeholders with something simpler. A local woman’s health organization recently told me of their desire to dispense with the big beautiful photo book that features their global outreach work opposite their pristine medical labs. To date they haven’t made the switch.
In my own organization, we have simplified our annual report to an 8-page tabloid format that’s big, glossy, easily scanned, and outsourced to a Columbia design firm. In-house we produce a supplemental report that focuses on financials. It also presents our action agenda for focusing on education and neighborhoods in Baltimore. So far, it's a great project featuring tons of photos and simple, elegant type treatments. 

Here’s a quick preview:   

May 15, 2012

Job Search Advice for New Grads

By On 10:34

In my limited experience as a prospective employer, I saw firsthand the odds that face graphic designers in the job market. A few years ago, my company advertised a vacancy for a graphic designer, and I was tasked with reviewing resumes/portfolios and presenting the top 5 applications to my team for interviews.

Within a week of posting the opening on www.idealist.org I had over 200 responses to the job. Of that 200, 75% had--at least--the basic knowledge required in the advertisement, and 50% of that group had the preferred requirements. Of those 75 people, nearly half had poor, insufficient (1-2 pieces), or no design samples for me to review.
I can’t stress enough that designers should provide potential employers with a way to view samples when applying for a job, not after! Attach PDFs or JPGs, link to an online portfolio; something is better than nothing. 
By the end of my review process, I whittled down the field of eligible applicants from 30 people to 10. Poorly designed resumes, even from qualified applicants, were also placed int the no-call pile.

These 10 designers presented exceptional resumes and diverse design samples. This group also included individuals who knew about the field and expressed a genuine interest in working with the organization. My final tally was 5 designers of varying ages and levels of experience. In the end, our team chose the right person for the job.  Think about it, five people got an interview from an applicant a pool of over 200.

The moral of this story—besides my trip down memory lane—is that you’re not the only one applying. Use your resume, cover letter, and samples to set yourself apart from the other applicants. Do your research, and show interest in the company, their products, and the general field. That’s the only way to keep your resume out of the recycle bin.

May 9, 2012

The Graphic Design Resume

By On 06:47

Mastery over basic design principles means that you’re able to create the right design solution for your target audience.

While this is a highly stylized resume, the designer presents a well balanced page that offers clear hierarchy and an uncomplicated grid. It may not be a stretch to say that this introduction to the designer might be highly effective across different industries.

When working to design your resume, keep these things in mind:

  • your audience
  • readability
  • mode of delivery - hard copy, electronic, or electronic to print
  • visual balance - look at the different types of symmetry
  • hierarchy and order of importance
  • your personal design style

Addressing these considerations will help you to create a document with the right typographic solutions for your audience, and appropriate levels of abstraction--if working with graphics. This will definitely get help keep your resume in the hands of the hiring managers and help to get you the interview.

It also can't hurt to get a second opinion from someone who works within the industry before when finalizing your design.

May 1, 2012

Don't Make Cover Letter Mistakes

By On 15:46
Make sure your resume gets noticed, and avoid cover letter mistakes:
  1. Attach a generic letter – NO! While a template cover letter can be a time-saver, you should customize each one to each employer. You want your letter to be noticed and  show how you fit the requirements. Also, accidentally inserting wrong titles or employer names is an excellent way to get your application deleted.
  2. Use a template – NO! Your identity packet is your main marketing piece for potential employers. Don't flub this step by simply scratching out a Word .doc Template.  
  3. It's not all about you – While it's important to show off all of your awesome experience, the cover letter should equally be about you and the employer. Through your cover letter, show your interest and knowledge of the company, as well as how your skills and education make you perfect for the job. Highlight a memorable campaign or media strategy implemented by the company. It makes a HUGE difference.
  4. Don't forget your link – Resumes and cover letters can easily become separated. Be sure that every page of your identity pack has your Name (and /or typographic logo), contact details, and a link to your website or portfolio.  Omitting this detail could be the difference between getting a call or getting deleted.
  5. Proof it – Many job seekers don't properly proofread their cover letter or do it too quickly and miss typos. Personally, I make the same mistakes constantly in writing letters. A great solution is to have a second set of eyes review your letter before you attach and hit send
  6. Follow those directions – If you're asked to address a certain question in your cover letter or send  a particular format, make sure you follow these directions. The request is likely a way to avoid software compatibility issues, but it's just as likely that this is a way to test how well candidates can follow directions. If you can't follow their instructions, it's an easy way to eliminate you from consideration.
  7. Don't forget the letter – A cover letter shows how you fit the requirements for the role. If there are any holes in your resume, the letter will help the employer connect the dots. It also showcases your knowledge of the company or field, and gives a tiny glimpse into your personality.
Use a cover letter to your advantage! It's worth it to take the time creating a great cover letter if it helps you land the job!

Design Your Identity

By On 06:12
Even if you're not a freelancer, don't discount the importance identity package. In a job market that  is crowded with competition, take every advantage to make an impression! An intriguing, arresting, interesting, or poignant design WILL get  your resume/portfolio/application a second look. Your identity pack sets you apart form others and speaks without words.

It should be carefully designed and well thought out. What do you want to say to the audience? Do you want to highlight your creativity, technical skill, out-of-the-box design style, commitment to particular causes or movement?

Here are some successful resumes and identity designs:

 consider hand tooled options, letterpress printing, bold colors or pattern
think about your audience and how your work will be received

By On 05:48
One of the most valuable lessons taught to undergrad design students at University of Baltimore comes in the form of a class called Print Design. This elective class takes students through every step of the design process; from conceptualization, revision, and completion. However, the main focus of the class is getting it printed.

Instructor Bert Smith uses the resource text Getting It Printed to teach the ins and outs of the printing process. Students learn terminology, binding styles, measuring lines of type, the difference between: various paper weights, emboss, deboss, letterpress and sheet fed printing, different paper finishes, and die cutting, plus everything in between. This is book is a valuable resource and a definite keeper post-graduation.

Getting It Printed takes a comprehensive look at how to work with printers on everything from estimates, pricing and negotiating to trade customs and quality guidelines. It has been a primary resource for the production industry for over 17 years, offering practical, jargon-free information about how to stay on schedule, control costs, and get quality results. Now in its 4th edition, this invaluable reference continues to offer tried and true printing advice and has been updated to include all the latest digital technologies and reflect changes in the printing industry.