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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Dec 8, 2015

This Week: Plan , Promote, (Pour)

By On 10:29
This winter I got to plan the Office of Educational Technology Open House for the Technology Incubator Lab. Planning began in early fall and ended with this event. This was the start of our winter season and a great kickoff for the Ed Tech Team. Especially after having outrnew branding in place (and fabulous)!

And there was wine… thanks Bota Box.

For my part, I worked to:
  • design the digital and print invitations and hand-delivered several (very old school)
  • setup the lab furniture using the latest in collaborative learning space design models—allowing for individual work and group work—as in focus groups or meeting participants, 
  • setup Recording studio for optimal efficiency—if not lighting, I prefer a more subtly lit room than most of my peers), 
  • laid out refreshments and try-before-you-by technology tables (my favorite was the robot phone, but there were also Mac Book air, iPad pro, Surface Pro, Logitech headset microphones, and Apple Watch), and
  • helped demo all of the fun technology to the steady stream of visitors who visited the lab.

This meant that I was busy from before the start until the end of the day…almost too busy to snap pictures. Here are few of the images I got during the most successful technology open house in recent history:
Demo technology included this Surface Pro, iPad pro, Mac Book Air, and much more...

You may not see the "Robot Phone' but it can see you...

Entrepreneurial Spirit: JennyJen 42

By On 07:28

Last year Jennifer McBrien was voted the Art Teacher of the year. Not a small feat for someone in a public school system that has whittled down art offerings and budgets to make getting stuff done tougher and tougher for educators. Jen joined us for our holiday dinner party and we see her and husband several times a year.

On a recent visit to their art studio, my eye was drawn to mini tapestry, drawn freehand on Jen’s sewing machine. This is the art that she makes when not in front of a classroom. After wine, conversation, and several visitors coming through the open studio tour hubby and I had to buy this piece—as a Christmas present to ourselves.

Dedication and Development

As an artist, Jen is completely responsible for her production, self-promotion, event scheduling and planning. It really is a full time job—in addition to full-time teaching. As we talked I was surprised by the dedication and self- control that it takes for one to be ones own production staff. What I love is seeing her development through the years. She creates birdy-birds, from the cartoonish abstractions to advanced ornithological accurate sewing machine drawings.

The piece we purchased took something like 7 hours(over days) to create—from idea, to sketches, to inception, to finishing. It’s amazing. But Jen also takes evenings and weekends to produce wares and art for craft shows, fares and juried online exhibitions

Shameless Self Promotion

Jen’s blog is regularly shared on social media, her Etsy Store is another stream of content that appears in my facebook feed. She applies and for and attends sales events around the country and enters online juried exhibits on a regular basis. Since we’ve met I’ve visited Jens booth at the east coast’s largest arts festival every year. Hubby and I have purchased four of her unique and beautiful pieces so far.

We’re still looking for the perfect home to hang our Christmas present

Nov 17, 2015

Year Long Quest II: Mentor Intervention

By On 09:43

5-Part Series on an Exhaustive(exhausting) Job Search

Six months in to my cycle of apply-get a call-interview-pass or fail-then interview again, I reached out to my mentor to help sharpen my focus. To give me focus, really. In our three-year acquaintanceship she knew me enough to give homework and expect it *done. After a lunch meeting, she gave me homework.

The assignment: List the things (activities, aspects of the job) that you need to be happy in your work environment. List everything and rank them by order of importance. Make it an infographic.

I took a week or two and wrote this list then sketched the graphic, then played with the color palette, then emailed her an odd-sized PDF of my needs and wants for my ideal work environment.

She asked why graphic design was so low on the totem pole, and I had to be frank in my response, ‘I can make graphic design a part of any job—it’s an inescapable aspect of business in all arenas.’

Image Source;
High on my list is that I make a positive impact—that I do something worthwhile. High on my list is a bikeable commute. High on my list is autonomy. High on my list is odd hours to accommodate my Jeffersonian sleeping habits.

With this graphic as my guide, I began my search again, half-a-year after my first email application was sent , I realized exactly where I needed to be and why. So I applied to every singly posting at one particular organization. Then after having heard nothing for over a month I reached out to everyone I knew with ties to this place. Folks who I hadn’t seen since grad school, someone I took an undergraduate class with, a former employee at destination X, a woman I met at the salad bar in the grocery store (yep I cyber stalked her) and even my mentor who knew somebody-who knew somebody.

Another thing that I did was to cast a winder net. I then applied with four nonprofit organizations, one museum, and I put in 5 resumes with the regions largest employer, and two with state government. Of the dozen applications, I had four interview requests (an impressive success rate in the current job market). In one case I was positive that I’d be hired, then wasn’t. In the other three cases—I learned a few home truths about the nonprofit industry of 2015. It’s a much different climate than even 5 years back.

First, I need a collaborative and effective team. Second, my move must be worthwhile and offer me chances to grow, and not get bored, while having a creative element and allow for autonomous work. Lastly, I've gotta be able to get there easily, have the  ability to start my day early, and get to they gym on the company dime. Not on my list is the fact that I refuse to work in a cube--apparently, the longer you do it the less soul-sucking it seems (which is reasonable considering you have less of a soul).
Up Next : Nonprofit Needs

* My mentor is also my former communications director

Nov 16, 2015

A Year-Long Quest (part I.)

By On 06:28

Notes on the Job Search

This is crazy, but I took a break from my job search after a highly successful interview, followed by rejection, followed by a good Tarot Card Reading…

Here’s What Happened

I’ve mentioned in the past that my professional development and training skill has been honed and encouraged in my current job. Not only am I great at it, I love it. Getting the feedback, the ‘Aha!’ moments give me such a rush after a seminar. In general, I love the rush and satisfaction of teaching.

In the summer I applied for a job that incorporated teaching / training / professional development as a larger part of the job. The posted position was for a trainer who would travel several times a month, conducting various training sessions, layout print training materials and develop some web-based training materials. Interesting, right?

For my panel interview I was asked to design and deliver a brief training that did not rely on technology. Being awesome, I designed a 5-minute interactive training session where I taught the panel how to propagate succulents to help purify the air in a stuffy office building. My plan was to wow them with dirt and knives then get hired in the 4 weeks that it took for the African Violets to die off completely.

The interview went off without a hitch, the panel was appropriately engaged throughout the interview portion, and then wowed at the training portion of our hour-and-a-half together. Shortly thereafter I got a cordial condolence letter..

The weekend after reading that note, I sat on the couch going through the storage ottoman and watching the West Wing. I found an old faded box of novelty Tarot Cards, the Rider Deck. In doing a simple three-up reading, I got the fantastic news that made me stop my job search.

Just so you know, the desperate always look to the supernatural in times of great strife.

Nov 13, 2015

This Week: Finally Finished - Relax App

By On 13:07
Well, I've done it… the app is DONE. I'm happy and awaiting feedback from my 'client'. The testers a will also get a crack at this over the weekend and then I wash my hands.

 This is a guided visualization and relaxation apple for the campus community..mainly students a, but also staff--to a lesser degree. It offers resources for recognizing and dealing with stress, and also some soothing and relaxing audio exercises that really work to calm the mind and body
I should know, I narrated several of them.
Two things that I'm fairly proud of in this app, appropriate use of creative commons, and the aforementioned narration. I always try to stress to my students that they can find and use images on the web and use them freely--while giving due credit to the original creators.

Nov 12, 2015

Stuff I’ll Miss About my Job (III)

By On 12:29
In summer it's easy to find a quiet
place to get work done.
It’s been 3 years at Loyola and I’ve definitely learned a lot about higher education, technology, instructional design and multimedia. One reason that I made the move to this small-ish private university was because I wanted the chance to work with more motion multi-media and video in my design work. Mission accomplished!

It's important to note: in 3+ years I've worn many hats; one of designer and communications manager, one of writer/ editor for print and digital publications  one of multi-media and web developer, one of software tester, and another of trainer / workshop presenter and designer of professional development on a regular basis, and also occasional podcast host.

In under a week I leave this post for my next big adventure. Without much more ado:

I'll Really Miss

  • Most of my awesome team.
  • Opportunities to do more. This is a blessing and a curse. As the sole graphic and multimedia designer in the IT department, I was tasked with a lot of cool, fun, dynamic projects; like this,
Designing event promotions was a large part of my work. This is my very last one.
Truly, a beautiful campus.
  • Flexibility in schedule. Which other companies out there will accommodate my early-bird waking schedule?
  • My extensive work wardrobe. It's a shadow of it's former self, today.
  • Lovely campus and peaceful commute! 

Stuff I Won't Miss Very Much, at all

  • Olfactory evidence of *Brian's lactose intolerance.
  • I stand byt this: Cube farms suck.
  • Sub-par communication. Who knew that nonprofits had figured out the right formula. Face-to-face contact is key.
  • Eye strain! Five days out of the last 365 I have come home from a long day of design with unbearable eye pain. No more, I say!
Now that that's all said, I'm truly excited about my awesome new job!
(Name's been changed)

Oct 26, 2015

This Week: Open House Invitations

By On 11:25
My department, the office of Educational Technology, is about to launch our new faculty innovation and production space, and we plan to do it with finesse! Yes, beautifully printed invitations that are hand delivered to some and mass emailed to others. At the event, we'll have try-before-you-buy new technology and continental breakfast, technology give-aways and boxed wine. It promises to be a fantastic networking event for our team and our core constituents.

Here're my roughs for this invitation:

(It occurs to me that yes, print is not dead, or dying. This is evidenced by the fact that whenever a client starts talking about exclusivity or a personal touch they always want printed collaterals-not web or multimedia.)


Mind you, the second side is mostly text and our new logo!

Aug 23, 2015

This Week: Website Redesign

By On 06:13
This week, I'm taking my own best advice; creative professionals need to have an accessible online presence and a place to showcase their best, recent work.

It's time again for me to update my website. In the last 3 years I've completed several campaigns, design projects, and PR writing gigs. It's been a busy thousand(+) days! My current website doesn't completely reflect these fresh new projects; they really should be collected in that location. Plus, there are 4 blogs that I maintain--this blog, a personal blog, and two educational blogs that I use for undergraduate courses. That's a lot of web assets! Hence the update.

While I still rely on a responsive design model for this site, my approach is more personal (updates should be completed byAugust 28).

Here are a few shots of what's to come:

The brand is creative, informal, and personal. A change from the last, a quirky take on academia.

In my current site I reference student work--posted on the educational blogs--but now I showcase them.

 If you haven't seen my last site update. Check out my last redesign--way back when.

Aug 18, 2015

Why Do I Need a CV?

By On 09:45
This week I met with a new freelance client who is stuck in the rut of a fruitless job search. We went through her identity package with a fine-toothed comb before I made the suggestion that she develop a Curriculum Vitae (CV).

She asked, “Why do I need a CV? I’m not in academia.” 

That much is true, she’s not. However, there are good reasons to have one. Especially for someone who will likely create and send out a dozen different tailored resumes this month. In her search, she’s looking for a variety of positions in the nonprofit sector—not specializing in one area. A CV will her to:
  1. Be Organized: The CV allows you to keep your skills, accomplishments, awards and experiences organized in multiple pages, under specific and relevant subheadings. If this document is thorough and well written, you can borrow huge chunks of text from it to update resumes for different jobs. This saves time. It’s like the master document from which you can borrow and add.

    This client’s thoughtfully laid out, comprehensive CV will have her project management, budget management, and event planning experience clearly delineated—and therefore easy to copy and paste into an application, interest letter, and/or resume.
  2. Be Prepared: In the past few years, more US companies have begun adding the words ‘…apply with your resume OR CV…’ Developing this comprehensive personal marketing piece can take hours, days, even weeks. In today’s market, that dream job that shows up online on Monday could be unlisted by Friday. This master document could easily move into the primary role in a personal identity package. Again, saving time.

At the end of our meeting, this intrepid young woman came away with homework. Use a CV Template to begin to get organized.

There’re several available online, covering content and design:
CareerOne: Australian website specializing in job posting and career search resources
Duke University: CV resource page for students and faculty
Pinterest: Several boards offer design options for you

Note: University and college career centers are often great resources for finding downloadable templates. Always be careful when downloading any files from the internet.

Jun 22, 2015

Adobe Illustrator: Identity Packages

By On 12:05
We've worked long and hard to get these pieces put together. They showcase a range of shape, color palettes, typography, balance, contrast, alignment, repeated elements, and proximity. We'll discuss these in depth when class next meets: