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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Dec 28, 2014

Teaching Update: Spring 2015

By On 08:05
I’m back in the classroom in January, teaching Digital Imaging at my alma mater. I look forward to a new group of students with different skills and ability levels. Most of all I look forward to applying the flipped class model to working with Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (my A-number-one-most-favoritest-golly-gee-I-do-love-it, design software)!

Last spring I got a chance to try it out when teaching InDesign and web design, and students were really receptive to that teaching style, even if they were a bit surprised by it. This season, I’ve already compiled a series of video resources—thanks to Youtube and Camtasia—and have put together our class blog with pre-scheduled articles. One thing that I’m adding to the mix is the class discussion forum—instead of using a Wordpress blog for peer feedback. It struck me that the pressure of writing in a public forum might be a little intimidating to some students. Hence the forum that’s in our LMS. I’m so jazzed.

Oh, right, what’s a flipped classroom, you ask? This:

Dec 12, 2014

Creative Commons Photo Round Up.....

By On 07:21
Note: Not all images shared from these sites are necessarily free-to-use. Be sure to review the license details before using any image that isn’t yours in your collage:
  • Flickr: Must check search options boxes for “Find Content to Modify, Adapt, and Build Upon”
  • Wikimedia Commons: Thousands of worldwide images licensed under Creative Commons.
  • stock.xchng: More than 350,000 free photo images, searchable.
  • dreamstime: Free section of a very large photo images archive. Excellent quality images.
  • morgueFile: More than 200,000 free photo images, searchable in several ways, including by color and topic.
  • WorldImages: About 75,000 international images, well-organized by content areas and searchable.
  • U.S. Government Images: Photos produced by U.S. Government employees are copyright-free. This site has a selection of links to different government agencies’ collections.
Stock Images can be expensive, those of us in the non-profit sector, education, and rapidly-shrinking in house design departments are well aware.  Here are some sites that can give you the free images that you need to really make your designs pop!
Public Domain images and materials are ‘publicly available’ and not covered by intellectual property or copyrights. Today, graphic a design and digital media is abundant, so there is a high demand for images for use in print, web, and multimedia.
Here are are four public domain sites to pin and save. Enjoy:
http://publicdomainpictures.net
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://photos-public-domain.com
http://www.sxc.hu

This week: Branding Instructional Innovation

By On 06:32
It’s been busy around here! We had our final TechTalk PD session of the semester and I’m working on our 2-year strategic communications plan. That sentence is my inelegant segue…


Part of our strategic communications is a push to rebrand. I've been working on concise and informative mission and vision statements that define and support the branding. These statements are headed to the team for feedback and tweaking—if any.

Accompanying the text is a series of logo designs that I propose will represent our team of instructional technology experts. Click on the image to take a closer look:




Dec 1, 2014

This Week: Syllabus Solutions

By On 08:37
Course Design is graphic design, and graphic design is not strictly art. There are rules and guidelines that allow the novice or seasoned designer to create an effective page; course web page or commercial web page.

These principles of design include balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, and unity.

It means that the layout of the finished page has a harmonious mix of words and images that provides an easily deciphered page. If you want a primer on the principles of design take intro to graphic design or show up to day one of any class that I teach.

One of our English faculty emailed me with this problem ‘help, my students are having trouble understanding my syllabus.’ After reviewing the syllabus and course I saw the problem. Since this client wants a hand in the revamp of the course materials, I opted to roughly layout a few options (web and print)now and then meet with her after finals to refine.

Below are before an after. Think about how balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, and unity work together to make one option more effective than the other:

Notice in the update that the 2-column layout is maintained. However, weighty elements are at the top of the
opening page, and all images are now uniform. Although hard to distinguish, subheads have a regular format
and are rendered in all-caps, bold. Lastly, the grading criteria is placed in a callout box to draw the reader...
 

Nov 25, 2014

This Week: Editing Video(s)

By On 08:12
In the past half-year or so I’ve lamented the fact that I have little time to do in-depth video production. That drought is over.

With growth on the horizon for my department and an organizational push toward getting the most from the technology tools that we now employ, I’ve been called upon to interview some folks. I got the assignment and the deadline last week—these need to be done really soon. Luckily I grabbed my favorite campus personality about a year ago and recorded a 30-minute interview and B roll of him strolling across campus and teaching his online course.


This week is dedicated to editing down 2+ hours of interviews, and an hour of atmosphere/B-roll into three, under-five-minute snapshots of how our faculty use technology in the and out of the class. The upshot of this double-quick assignment is that I get to hear the individual stories of how these folk approach the tools. What I’ve learned—and this is important for us in IT departments to hear—is that they are open to using these tools and pushing the limits of the technology to best fit their needs. They’re experimental and they’re open.

My goal is to have my final cuts done by Friday.

Then sometime on Monday, next week, my committee reviews them for content and offers any edits or input. And I spend that afternoon editing--if necessary. Then the final cuts will be hosted on our website by next Tuesday…

*Whew*


Nov 10, 2014

Productivity: There’s an App for That

By On 04:42
Actually, there isn’t.

Image Source : Owl ToDo List by ByGirlParty,
www.etsy.com/listing/61988820/owl-to-do-list-notepad-yellow-by
Building my weekly to-to list has never been a chore. As I’m the first person in the office, I take 30 minutes on Monday of each week to compile, audit, and edit my list before moving on to the next 60 minutes of social media management, then the next 60 minutes of research, then a snack, then an afternoon of graphic design, or trainings, or trouble shooting various software, etc. before my bike ride home.

This Monday morning list often proves to be the most important component to my productivity.

All of my past communications directors figured out that trick, and planned weekly team meetings early in the week, first thing in the morning. We’d meet briefly, add or subtract from our lists, and transition smoothly into the work week. This team activity also meant that we all got 30 minutes of weekly face time regardless of the workload. It was an excellent way to stay on track.

Now that I’m in IT, the tables have turned. In lieu of that important team building time we’re experimenting with building online to-do list boards (think Pinterest), and sharing these virtually with other team members. In essence, my Instructional Designer can login to this site, and view my tasks and schedule. She can add to or subtract from my list, and make notes on my boards. This App virtually * eliminates the need for us to ever meet again.

An online board that tracks lists, progress, and responsible parties on a project is a cool idea. It has the potential to streamline the way that both me and my team work, view progress, and remain accountable.

That said, losing the face time element of brief weekly meetings means losing these moments:

  • “I almost forgot to tell you,” or “thanks for reminding me of…”
  • Team members A&B attended a conference, and this is what they want to share with the team…
  • I’ve run into that problem with X before, this is how it’s resolved…
  • Did you know….

Today was my first day of using this app board to build my list. I took me more time than usual, as I’m transcribing from my paper notes into this tool, Trello. While not 100% optimistic of it’s efficacy, I’m interested to see what potential long term benefits this app offers…

...to be continued


* That was sarcasm


Nov 1, 2014

The Next Best App...

By On 04:39
After the  launch of the campus mobile apps, I was approached by a potential client asking for a new mobile app that shares mindfulness and relaxation exercises. WHAT!!

It's definitely a project that I want to build. My goal in this design is to get it done quickly. I hate to say it, but I  really want to see the finished product  and have it downloaded on my device and in my hot little hands.

There are a few snags or challenges that I must overcome with this project, however:

  • the existing color palette is not wholly harmonious,
  • the client's limited time and expertise in creating media for this project 
  • the general lack of supplemental media (photos, logos, audio, video)
  • did I mention the color palette?
So far in the timeline, I  have made the general outline and creative brief--it's been approved but the client, and there are about 2 dozen preliminary sketches in my notebook (on my desk, in my laptop bag, holding my page in a graphic novel I'm currently reading…everywhere).


Scans and screen captures are coming shortly--because I'll need help and lots of critical eyes on this one.

Oct 31, 2014

Guest Blogging is Great

By On 10:26
Speaking of some DIY professional development…

...Last week, I was asked to guest blog for No Impact Week, sharing my green (ish) lifestyle, my insights and general findings with the campus community. Frankly, I used this as a chance to present a slightly different writing style and to take a lot of pictures; I’m sharing the photos as creative commons in Flickr.

No Impact week really made me focus on the way that my lifestyle impacts my community and the larger world. I actually made some promises to myself, to be a stronger advocate for my planet.  A great experience:


Challenge Day 2: Trash...To be honest, in order to prep for today’s challenge, I did two things over the weekend: I cleaned my office (to collect a typical bagful of my work-related garbage), and went through the half full garbage bag in my kitchen at home.

Here’s what I learned. In addition to errant food scraps and miscellaneous non-recyclables, there was an extreme amount of used paper towels, tea bags, and plastic zipper bags…the shame of it all.


Oct 20, 2014

This Week: TechTalk Returns

By On 04:38
Although I  had a GOOD time working on the mobile app this summer, I was sad to see the end of TechTalk last April.  Well, my spirits are now lifted. Last week, I created the new fall version of the series logo (it looks familiar) and then wrote the website spiel, and got to work on the collaterals. This season it's all about ideas (and a pumpkin pie palette):



Plus, we've moved from a lunch session to webinar format--that's completely online. Wednesday is the first session. We'll see how that works out.

Sep 29, 2014

K E R N I N G . . .

By On 16:48
Kerning birthday candles is way harder than kerning lead type and even more challenging than doing it on the computer!

Shared vía social media by friend and letterpress graphic designer Kristina H.

Sep 15, 2014

Why’d I Get a Mentor?

By On 05:28
Image Source; AwakenYourInnerCowgirl.com
I left my last job because of a strong desire to grow my technological expertise. That, and I was in the early stages of my career 5-year plan. An opening revealed itself and I stepped outside of my non-profit comfort zone, into higher education. After over a year in higher ed, postings leading toward my goal began to appear. I was tempted by a few of them; going as far as to apply for three prestigious and promising postings. Although confident in my ability to succeed in yet another new setting, I was worried that the move might be too soon—and have detrimental repercussions when I finally apply for my dream job.

Asking the advice of my husband and friends was pointless. All were of the opinion that I’m skilled and talented and supremely qualified for anything coming across my radar. They answered the question of ‘should I be doing this?’ with a resounding ‘you can do it!’ Not what I was looking for.

Taking the advice of a speaker at the annual meeting of WIHME (Women in Maryland Higher Education, professional organization), I opted to seek a mentor. Choosing a professional in my field who I respected—who was judicious and thoughtful—was my goal. Through the years I’ve come across several people who helped build my professional confidence, reinforce my goals of community service, and grow my understanding of the field and my positive role within it. However, one stood out above the rest. My former communications director at my previous job was the ideal candidate.

After a day of deliberation, my old boss agreed to become my new mentor. She asked me questions about why I’d choose to leave my current post—after so short a time. She gave me homework to do between our meetings, and she gave me insights on what hiring managers think and expect. Friends and family can’t do that.

A direct result of my mentor’s probing questions and insightful input was that I put my job search on hold. A direct result of that action is that  I’ve gained some valuable new experience and expertise, and expanded my role within my current department. Often friends and family are complimentary but wholly not helpful.

The objective voice and advanced expertise of my mentor provided me with a compass to keep my 5*-year plan on course.

Sep 4, 2014

Graphic Design Interviews are Different

By On 07:00
Yesterday a colleague engaged me by lamenting her current job search—she’s now on to the third interview. (sarcasm)That’s great. People in human services have three—maybe four interviews. You know what graphic designers have? Homework.

When I mentioned homework to her she paused, nodded and said “oh, yeah. You probably had to do things with PowerPoint, right? I decided not to take the bait. Besides she wanted to talk about her current precarious position in the deep, uncharted waters of the job search of a new grad school grad.

Let me tell you, graphic design interview homework can be intense. Although it was a few years back I remember this one vividly. I designed a marketing strategy to engage a young, civically engaged audience, who wanted to live greener. In addition to the communications plan, I also built social media sites (FB, Twit) a blog, a fully functioning website and a print events calendar that could fold down into a recycled billfold wallet.

And you want to talk to me about a grueling three interviews. Puh’lease.




-Simone

Aug 27, 2014

Where are They Now?

By On 04:01
Lately I've been pondering the range of skills that I've cultivated after X years out of graduate school. Well, actually thinking about my skills as compared to those who graduated from the same program--at the same time. Back in school, I could see my future laid out plainly: a few years developing my craft in nonprofit organizations as the graphic designer, then maybe another volunteer or pro bono role at a professional organization, but eventually landing as director of design strategy / communications / marketing for a large national nonprofit--like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (kind of finishing up where I started).

After school ended and I delved into work in the nonprofit sector my interests grew and my focus changed. Eventually I followed a different thread into higher ed. It's been interesting and challenging. Challenging because of the tools, and interesting because of the messages. Marshall McLuhan famously stated that 'the medium is the message,' and boy was he right. Across so may industries, the messages are universal.

This past weekend I'm talking to a girlfriend who's in year two of conducting a passive job search; sometimes she looks and decides not to apply, sometimes I look for her--and she decides not to apply. It dawned on me that we both graduated in the same major, around the same time, and we're both in higher ed. However, that's were the similarities stop.

This good friend of mine is an excellent technical writer, designs almost exclusively for print, takes most of her own photographs (for publications), and she has much more person-to-person contact at work. Conversely, I work mostly in web and digital media (although I'd give an eye-tooth for more print projects), my writing is almost always editorial, and some days I'm half-crazed because I over eight solid hours of computer screens.

It's not bad just different. We'll never be in competition for the same job.

My recent ponderings got me thinking about what other fellow grads are doing with their advanced degree in Publications Design (with concentrations in graphic design, writing, or digital media). I grabbed the first ten names in the private UB Pub Design group on LinkedIn (to which I belong), extracted their names, gender, and current position in order to build the graphs below. Here's the skinny, as illustrated by PowerPoint:

60% Female, 40% Male - 40% Directors (Communications, Marketing, Art, Design, and Production),
Yes, I'm represented in this group as well--as one of the instructional designers (close enough).

Aug 25, 2014

This Week: DPS App, Finished (mostly)

By On 12:01
Hey guys,

We've recently completed the design/layout of our new Tech Field Guide. The ID files are huge, but when it's packaged as an appo nthe iTunes store it will be much smaller. Last week I spent hours manually resizing images--because batch processing ended up causing a serious pixillation problem. Without much ado, here's a sneak peek of some the layouts that make me proud.






One little thing, DPS doesn't make apps, it makes magazines--digital mags that have tons of interactive functionality, but magazines nonetheless

Aug 4, 2014

Blog Headers

By On 09:39










Aug 1, 2014

Worst Interview Ever IV

By On 13:40
Appearance matters in an interview. Having an unexpected accident seconds before the first meeting can prove disastrous. The thing to remember is that you can regain control of the situation by reacting appropriately and resisting the urge to over-apologize. This happened to a blogger at HERCJobs:

"Experts say that employers judge candidates within the first minute. Appearance represents the attention to detail and pride that you will take in your work.

For me, this made getting splashed by a taxi on the way to an interview one summer day all the more unfortunate. I was one step from the curb, when a cab rounded a corner behind me. I went from stylishly ready to big drippy mess in no time flat and had no time to dry off. Mascara running, feet swishing, I walked in.

I would have preferred to be memorable for my sharp answers and knowledge of the field, but I think it will be for the stain I left on the chair. I prepared answers for questions about strengths and weaknesses but not for this. Should I have ignored the wetness? Maybe they wouldn’t notice. Judging by the puddles, squishing sounds and drippy hair, that was unlikely. It was a lost cause and I knew it.

They asked if I wanted a drink of water and I replied that I didn’t need one. I wasn’t smiling. Truth be told, the rest is a blur, but I was mortified and apologized profusely. I wanted to tell them how nice I looked just a few minutes before, but I didn’t…I didn’t get the job—no surprise there.If given another chance, I would have gone in with a huge wet smile on my face and exclaimed I am so happy to be here, but would you believe what just happened to me? I would have been effusive, probably would have apologized (once) for the damp trail I was leaving and then briefly explained that this was particularly unfortunate because I very much wanted the job and the opportunity to contribute to the organization.
* See the original article on HercJobs Blog 

Jul 24, 2014

They Call it the Worldwide Web for a Reason...

By On 05:25
Complaining about work online is like picking your nose in the car..while it seems private, those outside can see you.
This morning I switched on my computer to find this at the top of my Facebook (Fb) Newsfeed:
My boss calls me while I shower, she calls while I brush my teeth and pack my lunch, then I am trying to drive and she calls me again, so I pull over and try to talk to her, but she screams at me and hangs up a few times without telling me why she is flipping out. "WHO DO YOU WORK FOR?!!!"…

Two more days of being bludgeoned before the weekend arrives...in my next life I would prefer to have more choices...

She's gotten into the habit of abusing me, but since she pays me I am not allowed to complain. I think I need to start going home and being unable to work when she treats me too badly, because this shit will kill me. Must take stand, to preserve so-called sanity...
This is just an excerpt from the status update from my friend, an—obviously disgruntled employee, Robin*. I posted in response to her tirade, “..are you sure you want to voice your disdain for your boss/job on the world wide web?” Right or wrong, I had to respond to her. This woman is my friend, and I’ve seen the worst case scenario play out twice in the last three years. Individuals, friends lost their jobs in their respective fields after badmouthing their direct supervisor or company on Facebook. One of these has not been able to get another position in his field.

A Little Perspective:

Of course, you should have the freedom to badmouth whomever you choose when speaking to your peer network. However, the internet is a complex arena; Facebook doubly so:

  • If your privacy settings are set to only share your content with your peer network, you have one layer of protection from the rest of the web. 
  • But, do your ‘friends’ protect their comments, shares, likes, and updates with the same settings? Maybe some do, but definitely not all of them.
  • Once your friend comments on your negative work-related update, or shares it, it belongs to them and can appear to everyone who follows them. If they have an 'open"profile then anyone who finds them on them internet can view their fb activity--without even logging in!

To gauge whether you may potentially face negative repercussions at work answer this question, are any of your Fb friends coworkers, or friends of your co-workers? If you’re not sure don’t risk your job by bitching on the internet!

Unforeseen Repercussions:

Back to Robin. She immediately responded to my note with this: “Guess who doesn’t care…Maybe I will get fired….If she's not gonna pretend she's nice and reasonable, I'm not either.”

I get it, she hates her job and plans to be fired. She’ll have the opportunity to find another job—and hopefully have a more fulfilling experience. Hopefully when she is back on the job market she won't be applying with or interviewing with anyone who has had to read these hyper-negative status updates about her current boss.

Back when I was an undergrad another student was going through a stressful time at work. In Fb status updates she told the world daily, that she hated her boss, her job, coworkers, and the company. On one occasion I even commented that she was being harsh. She didn't care, she had been interviewing and was about to accept an offer. Our paths crossed again three years later. I was in the position of finding a graphic designer for my company and this woman applied. The memory of her rants about that last job jumped immediately to mind; how long would it take her to become disenchanted with work conditions before status update mudslinging at my beloved organization started. She did not get an interview.

*Her name’s not Robin

Jul 14, 2014

More on the Invisible Job Market

By On 10:35
Back in 2012 I wrote an article called ‘Using the Invisible Job Market'. It outlined how to network your way to landing that all-important first interview. This piece neglected to take into account the longstanding disparities that exist in our society.

I bring this up because in my town it’s glaringly obvious that networking is less of an option for poor black job seekers—with or without a college degree. The Invisible Job Market is not freely available to everyone.

A colleague called my attention to an interesting article in the July/August 2014 Johns Hopkins Gazette that explains more fully why. It talks briefly about the soon to be published book of Dr. Karl Alexander. In his research he followed 800 Baltimore city youth—of varying socioeconomic backgrounds—for 25 years and discovered that, “where you start in life is where you end up in life…blacks don’t have the social networks whites do to help them…” even with the same educational, criminal, and economic roadblocks.

This is well illustrated in one of the research findings: white men of low income (backgrounds) with no college found the best-paying jobs in their group. 45% of them worked in the construction and industrial trades—as a result of their social networks—earning 28% more money than the other groups who ended up in this field.

The networking involved here includes familial ties (fathers, brothers, and close friends working in the field are able to refer their kin, etc). Here’s a quick example of this that I witnessed in our field:

I was tasked with vetting resumes for a graphic design position at my organization. In the 50 or so email applications I found a resume and samples from a former college friend. I noticed her resume but could not, in good conscience, recommend her to my director as a viable candidate. She lacked sufficient real-world experience and had spent the last two years working odd jobs outside of our field.

One day after her email, I learned that (get this) her fiancé’s mother put in a personal call to our events manager—someone who she knew socially—in order to get her application noticed. I was floored at the brazenness of it. However, I understood why she thought to use that tactic. 
To be clear, both white and black women, and black men in the low income strata of the study fared much worse than white men of the same economic standing.

What does one do about this distinct lack of networking opportunities?

My advice, make your own. When you’re in college:

  • be active in campus and professional organizations, 
  • get a mentor,
  •  keep in touch with professors who are influential/inspirational to you, 
  • and for god’s sake! Seek out internships. 
While these ties are not as strong as blood or marriage, these are people who will happily go to bat for you or just add your name to a list if you ask.


Read the Johns Hopkins Gazette: Study looks at how inner city childhood affects adult success In addition to the findings discussed here, Dr. Alexander found that only 33 subjects (of the 800 total) in the low income bracket moved into the high income bracket, and 19 subjects from high income moved to low income. 


**Photo Credit: chuckp via Compfight cc

Jul 11, 2014

Youth Unemployment is Double the National Rate!

By On 05:00
I caught this report on NPR a couple minutes ago and must share. This story puts the the problem of youth unemployment in perspective and really explains several of the insurmountable obstacles that young people face when entering the job market. You're out there competing with people who have  degrees, advanced degrees, and years of experience.

 Renee Montagne talks to Roberto Angulo of AfterCollege Inc. and Courtney Hawkins of the Federation Employment & Guidance Service Bronx Youth Center.

Jul 10, 2014

Just a bit of comic relief

By On 05:05
The truth about College and Getting a job. My bursts of laughter surprised my intern. This really is GENIUS!


This three part comic strip take you virtually through the entire ordeal (and beyond). Check it out

Jul 9, 2014

VIsualize it...

By On 05:25




There's book about positive visualization...I've never read it, nor do I remember the title, but it's about visualizing the outcomes that you want--thereby willing them into being.



This is what I've been working on for the past few weeks; seeing a future of my devising and picturing the steps with which to achieve them.



My early morning, weekend, bike ride takes me along a well-worn, familiar track. I pedal down the footpaths and walkways slowly--noting the way the sun comes up above the historic buildings, the way light shines through manicured foliage making the undersides of leaves glow lime green, the cool morning air that greets me even in this warm season. Once my route has circled the entire campus, I pause under Frederick Douglas' statue and I look back along my course…imagining walking between campus buildings, racing to a meeting, talking to students and soon-to-be-grads, hanging my motivational sharks up in my work space. I see myself as part of the community. I also imagine the routine of taking the secluded bike path from my home to this campus as my daily commute (it's a bear). Visualizing it as if it has already happened. Then I re-mount my two-wheeled transport and head back home.



It's a ritual that I undertake when the spirit moves me. Yes, I do more than imaging, and yes think this visualization exercise works. At the very least, it's an exercise in mindfulness; it calms my mind and gives me a positive start to the day on a weekend.





Image by Practical DINK: Frederick Douglas statue on the campus of Morgan State University in Maryland.

Jul 4, 2014

This Week: Mobile App Update

By On 11:27
Okay, I'm working in Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) to create the next great university technology mobile app. All is going quite well. This week I put the finishing touches on two more articles and am almost ready to create the campus technology maps--this will be a bear!!!

For now, take a quick look at one page of the faculty technology article that has a fun little folio overlay made of 3 object states. Enjoy:

Text: Looking for professional development featuring the latest technology tools? You Got IT"

Jun 6, 2014

Interview Question: What you Know About ‘Us’…

By On 06:33
This basically translates to, have you done your research?
The interview is never solely about you. What do you know about the company? Is it positive or potentially harmful to their brand? Have they won any recent design awards? ..updated their website or branding? …hosted successful events? …

Here's a great example of how one interviewee approached this question…

A good friend and colleague told me this scenario. It’s definitely relevant here.
"I once had in interview for a Webmaster post at an organization that’s walking-distance from my house. In reviewing their website before the interview I was surprised to notice that their website update footer said 2011 instead of this year. I made note of that and a few other web-related items that made me curious; non-responsive design, inaccessible image and media content, social media feeds with months old updates, etc...

After introductions were made, they jumped right in with their first question, “what do you think of our website?” I told them my findings and then offered them viable solutions—even though they didn’t ask for them...

The result was a lively conversation with panel about the latest in responsive web design practices, integrating social media, and my love of outdoor concerts (I swear). After we shook hands goodbye—and before I got back my apartment—they had called my references and left me a voicemail message regarding a job offer.

Jun 2, 2014

Great Leave Behind Ideas

By On 06:20
In doing some research I found several fantastic leave behind ideas for graphic design inspiration. If you opt for professional finishing or taking the handmade route, the leave behind is definitely worth it:




Most of these samples are on this Pinterest board (sources listed)

Here are a few others to get your creative juices flowing:



May 22, 2014

From Lunch and Learn to Webinar

By On 16:07
Adobe Connect Virtual Meeting Room
Many of you know about the TechTalk lecture series that I spearheaded last year. I got a lot of great feedback on the design from the PubDesign groups on FB and LinkedIn!

What you probably don’t know is that after much deliberation my cohort and I have decided to switch the format from an informal lunchtime conversation to an (Adobe Connect) webinar. There are some good reasons for this.


  1. While the fall and spring events were captured using Panopto, Connect, and (once) a digital video camera.  The recording method was not formalized and a bit ad hoc in the earlier days. Each one offered different pros and cons.
  2. Second, the lunch option was a great idea, but became impractical later in the semester. A lot of the faculty (and a couple TAs) who attended were busier by the later weeks and ended up no-showing; food was wasted. These busy folks ended up catching the recorded session after the fact.
  3. Lastly, one of my goals in starting this professional development series was to–eventually—open it up to the larger university community, reaching professionals at schools like Hopkins, Bowie, Maryland, etc. The webinar format allows for others to easily join the conversation without having to drive to my school. We had several colleagues from Notre Dame make the trip for several of the sessions. Webinars can be watched as they happen, OR after the fact.


The added benefit is that Adobe Connect allows participants watch the recorded session on demand and also to download webinar materials (like PowerPoints, PDFs, and Docs) that were used in the session. That’s a major bonus. I got several requests for links to TechTalk materials days or months after the talks.

That said, Sue and I—that cohort I mentioned earlier—are now planning the upcoming fall sessions, and creating the marketing plan for the next year. Whew! More designs to come.

Check out the posters for 2013/2014 

May 19, 2014

This Week: Planning DPS Mobile App

By On 03:30
Late last summer I got the proclamation from on high that my team was entering the mobile app business. After purchase of DPS we’d be tasked with creating a digital mobile app to distribute to our various constituent groups. And I’d be in charge. It was an exciting prospect and the time has finally come for this work to begin.

This community technology mobile app—that drops in a few months—will be written by me, designed by me, tested by me, and marketed by me. Sound like fun? In the past week I’ve created a rough outline, listed existing and necessary assets, and worked out an editorial schedule; that’s right, I’ve got to create copy for a couple dozen articles of varying lengths. My calendar has already been blocked out and the editorial process begins next week. Following that, I’ll visit our marketing department to scour their image database for photogenic people interacting with technology to liberally pepper the app pages. Then the real work begins.

Also in the last week I checked out some fantastic DPS apps for inspiration. That was a fruitful endeavor. In addition to seeing how developers market their completed creations, I also downloaded several of the design and played with the functionality. Skylife is my absolute favorite!

More to come!

May 13, 2014

This Week: Logo Design

By On 10:44
I just completed 2 back-to-back logo designs from folks that I love working with.

The first is a university initiative focused on reducing paper consumption. The second is a clothing designer/website. The time I spent on both projects combined is about 8 hours; from industry research, to preliminary sketches, to comp submission to finals (roughly). I effin’ LOVE when clients/projects are easy and fun!!

I know that several freelance designers have run through the spectrum of difficult clients. I've been lucky in in my near-decade to not have had too many of these folk (barring one freelance photography client and a website for a notoriously difficult and dishonest pothead in Fells Point). Great clients make this job the best job ever.

Take a look at what the abridged process for one of these clients:




May 7, 2014

More Job Search Advice for new Grads

By On 07:21

A new graduation season is upon us, and feel the need to revisit this topic. When I first wrote this article I was a recent grad-school-grad and introduced the topic using a conversation with a former school-mate.
Original 2010 article

Guess what. It's even tougher out there now than back in 2010. As a new grad you should know what kind of design job or work environment you're looking for. Casting a wide net and applying for any open position, that either a.) doesn't interest you, or b.) doesn't fit with your goals, is a recipe for high stress. Be selective and take the time to go after jobs that you actually want. It'll make you happier in the long run.This is something I've always believed and it hasn't let me down yet.

If you've already identified your ideal work environment, start your job search now. This means:

  1. Keep your Resume Updated: This is a good practice for everyone. However, I must stress that each resume you submit in application for a job should be tailored to more closely reflect the stated requirements. Don't lie. Instead choose specific words and phrases from the posting to include in your copy. Here's why it's so important...
  2. Regularly Update your Portfolio site: For creatives, the website is usually an employer's first contact with you. Be sure that your best work--and recent work--is showcased. Once or Twice a year is sufficient.
  3. Network and make inquiries: This is a must for all professionals in all fields. Keep connected with folks on LinkedIn, say yes to the alumni happy hour invitation from school, give your college friends a call. I can't stress this enough; ask these people questions! 
  4. Assess your Qualifications: Once you've found a job opening that's interesting, look at it critically to see if it's really a good fit. Be sure to look at the duties AND also the industry (or type of business). Some very talented designers work best outside of agencies. Be sure that you fit the bill and the employer fits yours. 
  5. Apply Early: With this current job market, positions are posted and taken down before you know it. When you see a position that suitable, don't waste too much time procrastinating. Instead, take a day to: format your resume and letter, have a peer proofread your efforts, make your revisions, and apply.

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