Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.– Joe Sparano
Life on Earth
According to the United Nations, world population reached 7 Billion on October 31, 2011. That's a lot of people! Facebook had over 1.44 billion monthly active users as of March 2015. One thing is for sure - there are a lot of different communities and cultures in this world. There are a lot of new projects our there that could use a designer to help develop original websites, logos, ads, promotional materials, publications, and more!
Sadly, the challenges of life can seem like more trouble than it's worth at times. Every week I see new media that express fears related to the negative side of life–idealizing the past or the future.
However, it can be life affirming to focus is on NOW and the power of SOCIAL and CREATIVE activities with family, friends, colleagues, and people in your community.
What creative ideas is with you today?
Art, events, products, programs, retreats and all types of creative adventures require a team effort for success. Having the right people in the mix makes a difference in productivity and innovation. Foreverbird Studio is specializing in getting creative ideas to take flight.
COLLABORATIVE Creativity environments
What is graphic design?
Graphic design is a profession in the creative arts field. It covers a wide range of projects, both in print and digital media. Unlike industrial design, graphic designers work in mostly 2D areas like journalism, advertising, marketing, or product development.
Graphic design is the art of communication, stylizing, and problem-solving through the use of type, space and image. The field is considered a subset of visual communication and communication design, but sometimes the term "graphic design" is used interchangeably with these due to overlapping skills involved. Graphic designers use various methods to create and combine words, symbols, and images to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use a combination of typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce a final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated. - Wikipedia
The government categorizes graphic design in a business category. It's under: Services > Business Services > Commercial Art & Graphic Design > and then there are over a dozen SIC codes for various types of industry terms under it, like graphic designer. You can use a specific SIC code to research businesses by sales volume, number of employees, location and a few other things. You can look up the SIC code 733603 on http://www.referenceusa.com to get your own reports. I can gain access to their data for free using my local library card. It a great resource if you are looking got hire a graphic designer or looking to start your own graphic design business.
Graphic Design Jobs
In any creative project there are levels of responsibility. It's kind of like a pyramid, with the top being the creative idea and the bottom being the production. It's somewhat subjective, but looking at financial compensation in a corporate environment, it's the person responsible for the creative vision that gets paid the most and the production jobs that are typically paid less. What ever the level there is a high amount of repetition in the graphic design process. You might be coming up with dozens of ideas for an ad campaign or correcting hundreds of photos for a newspaper.
Launching a New Website?
Today I finished my new website - hosted by SquareSpace. I decided it would be helpful to share my philosophy. Technologies used in websites are changing quickly. If you have a small business it can be challenging to sift through all the marketing clutter and change your current web solution.
For me the change motivating factors included:
- Wanting my site to be mobile friendly
- A legal business name change
- New in brand / copy language
- Desire for an updated look / feel to my website
Try a newer content management solution
Companies like SquareSpace, Wordpress.com, and WIX are all in one CMS solutions for websites. They manage the technical aspects of a website, hosting and such, allowing users to edit and customize their template designs. There are no special technical skills required to build a CMS website. It's always nice to have a professional help you but it's not required to get started. Newer templates and designs, offered by companies like SquareSpace founded in 2004, tend to have built in features that are more current (like social media). It's always a little risk to go with a CMS service, so be sure to keep local copies of your content too.
Don't be afraid to try more than one CMS
I've signed up for so many online account services over the years that I can't even keep track of them all. Back in the day I had a .mac website, myspace, friendster, along with about.me, tumblr, blogger, and who knows what. In my case, I constantly used only 2 services; wordpress.com and behance.net. I've been blogging on wordpress since 2008 and have almost 700 posts and over 2,000 images (as of summer 2014). I'm not the only one who likes Wordpress. Many people use the CMS of wordpress for their websites - in fact they say 19% of the internet is using it!
"Monthly pageviews for all WordPress sites and blogs rose to a massive 4 billion in 2013." - http://venturebeat.com
Think of your content as separate from your website design theme
The thing about content management systems (CMS) is that you need to have your own content ready to plug into their themes. Essentially you are customizing a template every time you pick a new theme. Not all themes are created equally. Most designs were created with a specific use in mind. There are special design features for a business that sells products that are different from a service based business like mine. A band / musicians website is very different from a t-shirt company, newspaper or a local winery.
Keeping your content in a folder on your desktop will help you keep focused. As you play with templates and layouts don't be afraid to switch things up. If your content doesn't seem to fit right in the design, try a new design template. Eventually you will find something that works for your needs! One of the reasons I loved using wordpress.com was because I could change my theme every 6 months or so as new templates became available. In fact, I recommend updating your theme when it gets outdated.
Embrace messy and gradual transitions
I'm using a new URL with my new website. I've made it a bit longer – foreverbirdstudio.com – in part because it's my business name and in part because I want to leave up my old website. I'm keeping my old websites, foreverbird.com (behance) and mitracline.com (wordpress). I'm not sure what traffic sources are linked to the pages and old content. I'm putting my energy into a new website, but I'll be linking the old with the new as part of my gradual transition of sending all relevant traffic to the new site. Some thing to update:
- Link to your old site to your new sites (If you have a new domain)
- Update you email signatures
- Update your website link in your social media profiles
- Don't forget to update your website/email info in your print materials too
- Publish first and fix it as you go
One of the fantastic things about publishing on the web is that you can edit or update whenever you want. No matter how small the edit may be - it's easy to fix with a CMS. Some of my clients are hesitant to publish until everything is perfect. I sympathize with that desire – I also fall into the trap of perfectionism sometimes. But the truth is, people pay lots of money to attract customers to their site, so the chances that your website will be viewed by many people right away is small. It's a big world out there and you have to be pretty radical to get noticed. Don't promote your new website until you feel it's ready. But do publish and share your website with friends and family to get feedback along the way.
RELAX, PLAY WITH YOUR SITE AND ENJOY LEARNING!
Redesigning a logo - where to start?
Recently I was inspired by a couple of events to consider updating the logo for my business. One of my favorite things is to redesign a logo. It's something I have done many times over the years. Unlike creating a new logo, there are many more factors to consider in a redesign.
WHY START A LOGO REDESIGN?
When you start to think about changing you current logo, it's an indication that the transformation has started. The first inspiration I got to redesign my own logo came last week I went to a networking event in Ventura, The Ladies Luncheon: Eat Meet & Greet. The guest speaker was the owner of a local retail store – Trystology: For love or Passion. Along with presenting all the products in her retail store she also spoke about her recent brand change – formally Karmasutra Closet. New names is a classic process for many business. Her branding change also includes a new logo and tagline – but the essence of her business remained the same.
The second nudge, that pushed me over the edge, was a suggestion from a close friend. After observing my business he suggested I create a new logo based on the Phoenix. I instantly got excited about the suggestion because I have been inspired to paint the Phoenix in the past as a symbol of rebirth and transformation. It's a perfect reference for the type of work that I do professionally as a designer and also as an artist – as many of my clients are giving new life to an idea or passion in their lives. It's also a reference to the creative process in general - as an ongoing cycle of burning the old to make room for the new.
CONSIDER THE ESSENCE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHEN REDESIGNING A LOGO?
The most compelling idea for me to redesign my logo is that the new design will more accurately represent the essence of my business. As a small business owner I have had many turns and twists in my focus – growing pains so to speak. Also, as a designer I have enjoyed the process of identity development in a visual sense immensely and probably have undergone more transformations than most businesses in the last 10 years.
A very brief summary of my own process is: Indoor Gardens > Outdoor Gallery > Artist Cooperative > Independent Designer > Creative Studio. The essence of my business has been the same - creative transformation for growth. Inside gardens that transform your space for better health. Mobile galleries the transform the outdoor world into social spaces for better community. Artists groups that transform culture and create better communication. Graphic design services that help businesses grow and communicate with customers to make produce and services better.... you get the idea.
CULTURAL RELEVANCE OF LOGO
Now that I have discovered a new essence quality for my business that I want to turn into a visual logo - the next step for me is to do a little research. My logo is a symbol for my business - and I want to make sure that it's culturally representing what I *think* it's representing. The earliest way to get a good sense is to do a google search for they keyword and also take a look at the images. In addition I like to check out wikipedia definitions and also scope out similar designs on a stock sites like graphicriver.com.
Phoenix, in ancient Egypt and in Classical antiquity, a fabulous bird associated with the worship of the sun. The Egyptian phoenix was said to be as large as an eagle, with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage and a melodious cry. In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix (Ancient Greek φοίνιξ phóinīx) is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.
SPECIFIC RELEVANCE OF LOGO
In my case there are several other specific connections with this logo that are really nice. It's very powerful to have an authentic and meaningful connection to any symbolic image. For me, as a business owner, it's cool that my name is also a reference to worship of the sun. I have use my name in logos in the past - and it's meaningful to find a symbol that combines my name with my business in some way. I also have painted the Phoenix in the past - as a memorial to my great-grandfather who had passed and all my assessors in general.
Other key connections include the fact that my business is called forever bird studio. I didn't specifically think of a Phoenix at the time, but it seems obvious now. I have already been moving my color palate in my logo toward the red and yellows of a fire bird. I have also been drawing stage dragon bird hybrids... like drag-bat and dragon-parakeet.
All it all it's clear to me that the cultural as well as personal symbolic meaning of the Phoenix would be a better way to visually represent the essence of my business to myself and my clients. My current logo has only one visual element (a bird) represented in the imagery and tagline. The tagline is, 'Where creative ideas take flight'. My brand focus is on the 'bird' as a reference for freedom and launching of new business but does not represent the other half – the forever, the redesign.
With the new changes in my logo I can expand my essence to be represented - forever / transformation - the Phoenix. It happens to be a subtle but important evolution of the design. I can also reinforce the new image with a tagline change. I could say, "Where creative ideas burn bright" or something like that...
IMPORTANCE OF ORIGINAL DESIGN
In the past variation of my logo I have used both custom and stock graphics. In fact my current bird logo was purchased for $29. I have had challenges working on my own designs. It's easy for me to get lost in details and forget the focus - so choosing a template seemed like the best idea at the time. I normally recommend to new business owners that they start with a template design, after all Twitter did it! It's just the first logo - and most business go through several identity changes before they find the right fit.
Time can be a factor in many businesses for logo development. When your product, sales, and marketing teams are waiting for materials, the logo can hold up other essentials business processes. When time is a factor, it's always a good idea to choose a template logo that has already proven itself to be popular in the stock art world. Chances are your logo will never be side to side with your competition in your corner of the globe - but it does happen. It's kind of like showing up to a party to find that someone else is wearing your shirt - but al least it's a nice professional design.
Redesign logo projects can be more relaxing and exciting both for the designer and the company. First of all – the time factor should be less pressure. Second of all – the company has a clearer idea of what essences are important. At this point in my business this is the case – I am taking my time in development of an original logo design. An original logo design is a sign of commitment and clarity in a business.
In summary, redesigning a logo can be a powerful and meaningful process. There is no perfect time and no perfect logo. The logo is a symbolic representation of your living business – and as such is included in the ongoing process of growth and transformation.
Enjoy the journey!
Create swag for your project
Print on demand services are growing and can be a nice addition to any project. I'm familiar with several services and able set up accounts as well as design custom, royalty free, artwork for use in products for sale like; shirts, mugs, posters, bags, pillows etc.
PRINT ON DEMAND SERVICES
- The artwork on Society6 is created by hundreds of thousands of artists from around the world. Society6
- Bluecanvas.com is an international, multi-genre, online community of artists and art lovers. BlueCanvas
- Redbubble is quite simply the finest and most diverse creative community and marketplace on the interlink - RedBubble
Sample Marking Plan
An overall marketing or brand document can help business owners focus, manage and control the costs of finding customers. A plan ensures your marketing message is on brand, clear, and cohesive in all the channels from social media to traditional print.
WEBSITES, LOGOS, AND WHAT ELSE DO I NEED?
This example marketing plan starts with the end results. It's challenging to estimate the costs of individual projects when the focus only is on the end result. Many business owners have little experience with the nuts and bolts of the creative process. I can help you become aware of the steps involved in the design puzzle so you make informed choices.
THE END RESULT
- Marketing Plan Document (print & digital)
- Website, eNewsletter, Social Media Accounts (digital)
- Business Cards, Flyers (print)
- Mobile Gallery / Presentation Setup (physical)
THE MAINTENANCE ON CONTENT MARKETING
Like any marketing and advertising effort there is regular maintenance involved with content marketing. Blogs posts need to be made, social media engagement must be done, someone needs to analyze performance reports, and someone needs to manage contacts from this networking activity. The plan requires a budget for time and materials to execute the recurring jobs, like:
- Monthly Free Calendar Blog Post
- Blog Posts on New Paintings in Process
- Sharing posts and engaging in Social Media (facebook, twitter, and linkedIn)
- Monthly art print giveaway to newsletter subscribers
- Weekly art show at the beach for sales and networking
THE MARKETING STRATEGY AND RESEARCH
Deciding on what to do for marketing requires some research in order to create a strategy. In most cases it is the research part that leads to a strategy. It's not always easy to create a winning marketing campaign right from the start. However, if you have a plan it's easier to dissect the pieces based on results and fix, adjust or build on them one at a time. In this case the target audience was identified by lifestyle characteristics, geolocation, and education. The marketing strategy was targeted (city), social(word of mouth), public(content marketing), and mobile(art popup shop).
THE MARKETING CREATIVE ASSETS
Once a plan has been outlined and agreed on then the creative assets needed to be purchased and organized. This includes all the content needed to fulfill the desired end result. It's possible to buy stock photos,templates and royalty free art online. Investing in a set of core assets add value to your business. Original content can be used many times in a variety of end result products like; business cards, posters, blog posts, product packaging, swag etc.
In this example the artist was able to provide the raw materials: original photos and illustrations for posts, text for about and contact info etc., and vector logo. From the raw materials provided by the artist a stylistic theme was identified and became the basis for a basic brand identity that included: colors, fonts, and descriptive tone,