Best Design & Tip Program

A question I often get asked via email is “Which graphic design school / university should I attend?”. To be honest it’s a very hard question to answer as everyone has different needs, however, today we haveBrian Jenkins* here to highlight some of the top US design schools. If you are not from the US please do share the top design programs in your country, in the comments below.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2008, there were about 286,100 graphic design jobs in the USA . Employment growth for graphic designers from 2008 to 2018 is forecasted by the BLS to be about as fast as the average for all occupations. Keen competition is expected for positions in the field. According to the BLS, those with website design and animation experience will have the best job opportunities.

Recent college graduates will have to depend on their educational credentials and portfolio to convince employers to hire them so it’s vital to select a recognised graphic design degree program to ensure you get the education you need. Some important factors for employers – after your body of work – are the school’s reputation, the quality of the graphic design program, and accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. These certainly not the only credentials, but it does help.

When choosing a school, consider schools that have up-to-date design software and technology as employers are looking for candidates who know how to use them. Find out if the schools you’re considering have connections in the graphic design industry and if they provide internships. Internships give valuable experience and networking opportunities, and oftentimes employers will their hire talented interns.

US Top Rated Design Schools

The following schools’ graphic design graduate programs were ranked in the top ten by U.S. News & World Report in 2008. These schools also offer quality undergraduate degree programs that include the vital elements of graphic design:

  • The Rhode Island School of Design: This school is widely regarded as one of the best stand alone design schools in the nation.
  • Cranbrook Academy of Art: This school doesn’t have faculty, but instead has artists-in residence. The program focuses on the core of art and design. Cranbrook provides a very unique experience.
  • Yale University School of Art: This fine school is tied #2 in the U.S. News & World Report list.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU): VCU offers a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The program includes a range of design-specific classes.
  • Carnegie Mellon University: Graphic design students attend the university’s College of Fine Arts. The college emphasizes hands-on learning.
  • Maryland Institute College of Art: It’s one of the nation’s oldest art colleges. The school is included among the top 25 design schools by ID magazine.
  • California Institute of the Arts: CalArts, founded by Walt Disney, offers a graphic design program that places an emphasis on the practical and conceptual sides of graphic design. Students have access to studios 24/7. The school has a extremely accomplished faculty.
  • Pratt Institute: The Institute’s School of Art & Design faculty is made up of numerous recipients of prestigious awards including Fulbright, Tiffany, and Guggenheim fellowships. Pratt is a member of the Association of the Independent Colleges of Art and Design which consists of 36 of the premier art schools in the nation. It has been regarded as one of the leading art schools in the nation since its founding in 1886.
  • School of Visual Arts: This school offers a graphics design undergraduate program that works in 3D, 2D, and digital media.
  • California College of the Arts: CCA provides internships at publishing and printing firms, nonprofit organizations, and technology companies.

Here’s a list of other US notable schools:

  • University of Delaware
  • Penn State University
  • Kansas City Art Institute
  • Academy of Art University
  • Parson Schools of Design (see their Graphic Design Degree)
  • Cleveland Institute of Art
  • UCLA School of Arts and Architecture
  • University of the Arts
  • University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design

Remember that not one school is right for every individual. Do the research to find out what’s best for you & try your best to get there!

Notable Schools In Other Countries

  • Billy Blue College Of Design – Australia
  • Hyper Island – Sweden

Have a recommended design school in your country? Please let us know in the comments.

*Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of topics related to education and careers for BrainTrack, including careers in graphic design & online graphic design degrees.

How to Guide How Freelancers Can Compete with Large Studio Designs

Let’s face it, being a freelancer is just plain tough. In what other arena is one person responsible for answering the phones, balancing the books, paying the bills, designing the website, creating the graphics, and working with the customers throughout the entire process? Yet, despite our amazing ability to juggle all of these duties, we still face one large barrier. We don’t have that glowing brick building that somehow screams, “We are a successful company!” As a result, it can be difficult to “capture” large clients.

We Have To Beat the Big Guys

Today, freelancers are becoming more and more prevalent. Why not? It is a fantastic job. We set our own hours, we take on only the jobs that we desire, we have artistic freedom, etc. But, the biggest gripe I hear repeated time and time again is the fact that the main client pool consists of people with tiny budgets. You also may want some tips on how to get your first job.

We’ve all done the local work for far less than we would normally charge. We’ve all received the email from the guy that needs an E-Commerce website for $200.” We’ve all had the regrettable experience of taking a job against our better judgment. When our stomachs are screaming, “Don’t accept this job!”, we ignore it and must ultimately deal with the repercussions: the man with the $150 budget for business cards that expects you to work around the clock; the person who promised he would pay you only to suddenly change his mind a week later. Do you know how much the average graphic designer earns?

Quite simply, the small jobs don’t pay the bills. In order to succeed, we have to beat the big guys. Who are the big guys, you ask? I’m talking about the established design firms in those “brick buildings” that do exquisite work. But, how do you stand out when you’re the shortest guy in the room?

What can we offer that they can not?

To truly be content and financially secure as a freelancer, we must be able to grab the large clients. But bottom line, why would a financially stable company go with a freelancer when they can easily choose a more reputable firm? To answer these questions we must look at our strengths.

What can we offer that they can’t? There are a few constants. First, we most likely won’t be able to out-perform a team of designers as far as “chops” are concerned. I believe we can equal that level of quality, but won’t be able to stand out in this respect. Second, we can out-price them, but cost typically isn’t as big an issue with large corporations. So, how do we beat the design firms?

Customer Service

Think to yourself: What is my main gripe, as a consumer, with large companies? My first thought goes to my bank. I called them recently to remove an erroneous error only to be put on hold for thirty minutes. When I finally did speak with a human being, he most likely lived in another country and had little, if any, interest in my situation. They, like many large companies, have terrible customer service! We can use this to our advantage.

Nine times out of ten, a prospective client doesn’t know exactly what he wants. He doesn’t know the jargon or even how to communicate a semblance of what his company desires. This is where we can rise above the larger design firms.

Act As a Guide

It may require a bit more work, but it ultimately gets us the contract. New clients are weary about the entire process. It is foreign to them. If we act as a guide, we can take their hand from beginning to end and provide them with the comfort of knowing that someone is looking out for them every step of the way.

If they have a question, they can directly call us – no receptionists, no programmer that doesn’t know the full details, just one person. In my experience, this has been vital to my success.

I’m a firm believer that customer service is what has gotten me every single big client that I have. There will always be an individual or company that can do the job better. As much as this agitates me, I accept it. To stand out, we must focus on our unique “freelancer” strengths.

Use Deadlines to Your Advantage

What you’ll find, if you haven’t already, is that deadlines are a very real issue with corporate clients. They must have a job completed by a certain date, no questions asked. The only problem is that they very rarely have all their ducks in a row.

They have sudden changes that come from corporate which require immediate revisions. Who is going to make these changes in the middle of the night in time for that presentation Monday morning? They know that the successful Firm X designers won’t be at work until Monday morning. But, Freelancer Y is a single ring away and will be happy to fix it at midnight. Yes, I’m talking about you, fellow freelancers!

How do I personally get big clients?

How do I personally “reel” in a big fish? First, I will work on weekends when the bigger firms are closed. Second, I will give a client my personal number and tell them to call me immediately if they think that they might have a question. Third, I’ll pick up the phone on the first ring – whether that is at two in the afternoon or four in the morning. When a client knows that he can rely on you no matter what, you begin to stand out in a big way! Editors note: First ring is pretty freaky!

I will close with a portion of an email that, just a few weeks ago, secured a very large client’s business.

“I truly hope you’ll consider me. If you have not already heard from other divisions in your organization, I will be personally available to you 24/7. If you need a quick change to the site at 10:00 at night, it’ll be taken care of. If you need me to communicate with your print designer in the very early morning, it will be taken care of. Relieving you of as much stress as possible is my goal – and I always achieve it.” Please don’t hesitate to call me personally if you have any questions. I’ll hope to work with you soon.

The client called me later (without ever being put on hold, I might add) that day and said, “Let’s do it!” Was it my “web chops” that got me the job? Nah, any developer can code a site. My “customer service chops” got me the job.

Creating a Website with SEO and Conversions in Your Mind

If you’re running an online business, you’re not alone. Millions of other online entrepreneurs are out there trying to earn livings. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to get educated about search engine optimization(SEO) and social media. You also need to know how to design your site to be as conversion-friendly as possible. If terms like “SEO” and “conversion rate” throw you off, take heart: It’s easy to get on track. You could also enlist the help of a digital agency, one such example is GearyLSF.

Keep it Simple

Visitors to your site is just the first step in the online sales process. After all, they can just as easily click themselves away from your website. That’s a lot less likely to happen when your site has a clean, stylish design. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, you shouldn’t ask too much of your visitors. If they have to jump through a bunch of hoops just to get to the shopping cart, you are doing it wrong. The simpler and less cluttered your site is, the more likely someone is to stay and explore; the easier you make that visit, the more likely they are to become customers.

Entice Visitors to Click

The language that you use in your site’s copy has a profound effect on how visitors react. Within seconds of landing on your page, visitors need to be enticed into clicking their mouse buttons. Those clicks represent legitimate interest that can be used to gauge the success or failure of your site’s design. You can encourage clicks by using terms like “sign up now,” “learn more here” and “send a comment.” Those words are action-oriented and will spur visitors to click the associated link; from there, it’s much easier to turn them into customers.

There are many other ways to improve conversions on your site. Play around with its color scheme to see how color affects its conversion rate – you’re sure to be surprised by what you discover. Heat mapscan also give you a feel for how various design changes affect the way in which people interact with your site.

Include Calls to Action

Calls to action are absolutely crucial when it comes to generating online sales. Visitors want to be told what to do – they don’t want to be left in the dark. If your site leaves them scratching their heads, they won’t understand the point. In that case, they will leave without buying anything. Once again, the terminology that you use will have a strong impact on prompting action. Phrases like “buy now” and “add to cart” provide clear instructions. You need to pique a visitor’s interest and get them to close the deal as quickly as possible.

The content on your site should always be rounded out by clear calls to action. After explaining a product or service, include something like “click here to place your order now” or “learn more about this service here.” Links within the calls to action will lead people to the next step in the process, which should be simple and streamlined.

Maintain Relevancy

Good SEO relies heavily on relevance. The search engines aren’t going to rank your site too well if it doesn’t use relevant keywords. If the backlinks that connect to your site aren’t relevant, your ranking will suffer, too. At all times, keep the importance of staying relevant in the back of your head. Just because another site is willing to link to yours doesn’t mean that you should take the bait. Every little decision matters, so use common sense. You want to attract people who are looking for what you sell, after all – there’s no use in tricking anyone. Reading websites like SEOMoz, SEOBook or SEOMoves will make it easier to see how your campaign is faring; for a reasonable annual fee, you can log in to its simple interface to keep track of your site’s statistics and other data.

Prioritize Keywords

Keywords are at the heart of any successful SEO campaign. Once you’ve selected a great batch of keywords and key phrases, make sure to use them properly. Don’t stuff your content too full of keywords, because that will get you in trouble with the major search engines. Instead, use your keywords as naturally and relevantly as you can throughout the content on your site. Don’t forget to use keywords and key phrases in your anchor text, which is the text that makes up a hyperlink. Sprinkle keywords into titles and headers, too, to keep your site well organized and easy to scan.

As you become more adept at SEO, you will be able to use it to improve your site’s conversion rate, too. For example, you can play around with a variety of different widgets to attract a more targeted audience. Title tags are also important; like so many aspects of SEO, however, that importance is changing. Instead of stuffing them full of keywords, for instance, more people are using them to bolster their branding to great effect.

Make it Easy to Connect

Social media has dramatically transformed the process of marketing online. If you’re not already plugged into popular sites like Twitter and Facebook, it’s time you got on board. You’ll be amazed by how easy it is to connect with prospective customers; such sites also make it easy to keep existing customers happy. It’s simple enough to add social media buttons to your website; similarly, you should link back to your site from all of your social media profiles. Like anything else, you can easily keep track of how successful or unsuccessful your various social media buttons are, which will help you optimize your site even more effectively.

There’s no question about it: Running a successful online business takes a whole lot of work. By being familiar with basic concepts like conversion rates, calls to action and social media, though, you can increase your odds of achieving phenomenal success by a considerable degree. A small amount of extra effort can really pay off, and it is smart to pay attention to emerging trends. There is no finish line when it comes to running an online business; with top-notch SEO best practices, you can stay ahead of the competition.

Where to Sell Your Design Online & How

Art Web

The basic objective of Art Web is to sell art online throughout the world as it works as the central point for both buyers and sellers. In reality it is an ecommerce website that provides opportunity to creative artists and buyers so that they can interact with each other in the form of community. As a result, they can make money from this process.

Bouf

Bouf is an interesting and innovative platform where creative people sell their unique products and designs. This website is selective in a sense that you have to go through an application process and after that you will be able to sell quirky accessories or designs. The main focus of this site is to target the niche market who is interested in buying home and garden stuff.

Click for Art

This website specializes in promoting and selling different art work such as house wares, cushions, canvas prints and others. This platform is quite useful and helpful for those new designers who want to sell their designs for commercial purpose.

Gela Skins

This is a kind of platform that supports art designs suitable for iPods, iPhones, and tablets as well. This website actually helps the independent artists from all around the globe in selling their designs.

Unbound

This website is helpful for those designers who want to publish books about art or graphic design. This is the right platform where you can easily connect with people who will support your ideas and provide funds in order to accomplish your dreams.

Big Cartel

This is a different website as compared to other websites that provide opportunity to sell designs online. On this platform, a designer can build his or her own store and can customize or make changes according to his or her needs. This site also provides tools so that designers can enhance their social networks as well.

Threadless

On this platform, an art work is sold through the help of online voting. During this process, an art work or design is placed on the website and through voting and social networking.

Society 6

Society 6 is also a popular online website that sells art work provided by creative and imaginative people. This website focuses on the provision of cost effective art designs including iPhone cases and T-shirt prints. This site also charges a percentage of products or designs sold by designers but in return provide great value.

Etsy

Etsy is the website that offers it services to different buyers and sellers all over the world. This site actually focuses on the selling and buying of handmade stuff or products to a large extent. This platform also supports vintage products or crafts.

Zazzle

This platform provides the opportunity for creative people who come from different parts of the world. It supports the idea of selling different designs on various products such as T-Shirts, posters, business cards, mugs, and others. This is also helpful for designers as it helps in creating an online store for free.

PixApp

Sell your pics and designs to a global audience. What makes them different is that they distribute 90{630e2ad5fdf42e5f0a643f39a89d0917942ac8ddf22ba5d78e35a2a22793dd66} of commissions to the sellers/designers, ship worldwide within 3-5 days (unlike any other!) and are completely mobile.

How Your Portfolio Works in These 5 Simple Steps

Recommended Materials & Equipment

1) Daylight Bulb

The main reason we use a daylight bulb is because it matches the colour temperature of ‘daylight’. This keeps the photo looking natural and balanced, which makes it pleasing to the eye.

2) Desk Lamp

A flexible lamp is needed to control where the light is facing. This allows us to control the types of shadows that we create in our photos.

3) Backdrop Paper

The color of the backdrop paper will dictate the mood and atmosphere of your portfolio piece. Be sure to use a smooth paper instead of textured.

4) DSLR or Point and Shoot Digital Camera

Both types of cameras are great, however a DSLR camera offers more flexibility and functions that will be discussed later. In this post, the camera that I’ll be using is the Canon 1100D. I highly recommend this camera for anyone who doesn’t have much experience in using DSLR cameras. It’s low cost, has tons of functions and as you’ll see later it takes great photos. You can see some some photos that I’ve taken with this camera here.

5) Tripod

A tripod is needed to ensure sharpness in the photo. In this case, I used a Gorillapod, which is highly flexible and easily allows you to take sharp photos while keeping your camera at a low distance.

Funny and Good Design About Graphics Jokes and Humor

Funny Graphic Design Videos

 Original Design Gangsta’ – Great Rap Video

 John Stossel 20/20 – Short & Sweet Humerous Clip

 Enter The Serif – An Asian fight between Serif & Sans Serif.

 Make My Logo Bigger – Parody of clients asking for their work to be the way they want.

Trust Your Graphic Designer – The Graphic Avenger – A video parody.

South Park – Mac vs. Pc – Computer Commercial

PC vs Mac Spoof – Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs

 Holiday Photoshop Advert – A very humerous photoshop.

Paint Shop Pro vs Photoshop

 How Not To Use Powerpoint – A parody of how people use Powerpoint in the wrong way.

Humourous Graphic Design Jokes & Parodies

8 Ways to Drive a Graphic Designer Mad
As everyone knows, graphic designers are the reason there are so many wars in this world. They get inside our heads with their subliminal advertising, force us against our will to spend money on the worst pieces of shit, and eventually, drive us to depression and random acts of violence. And of course, most of them are communists. So to do my part to save the world from them, i made a list of things you can do when working with a graphic designer, to assure that they have a burn-out and leave this business FOREVER.

Graphic Designer’s Judgment Clouded By Desire To Use New Photoshop Plug-In
The aesthetic judgment of Paul Gaskill, a graphic designer working on a brochure for Valley View Apartments, was “severely clouded” by a desire to use a new Adobe Photoshop plug-in, coworkers at Blue Moon Design said Monday.

Hillarious Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine Front Page Graphic Design Error
This really ‘rights’ itself. The major magazine of Fort Smith, Arkansas’s partners in education issue that just came out has the following front page. Partners in Education help our local public schools educate (indoctrinate) our children often working with an elementary school or other individual school. Try to find the huge typo.

 25 Reasons You Might Be A Hardcore Graphic/Web Designer
A list of signs that you might be a hardcore designer. A lot of these signs can overlap other professions too. From my experience, the following list contains mostly truths, mixed in with a little humor.

Another You Know You are a Graphic Designer When
Another list of ways to know that you are a graphic designer

 You Know You’re a Graphic Designer When
A list of ways you know that you are a graphic designer.

Mac / PC Commercial Parodies
A Parody of the well known Mac / PC commercials.

You Know You’re a Font Fanatic If
A top 42 list for font fanatics.

The UnSpoken Rules of Graphic Design
37 funny rules for being a graphic designer.

The Patron Saints of Graphic Design
A humorous and beautiful page about the unknown saints of Graphic Design.

The Way Graphic Designers Used to Work
Pictures of the tedious way graphic design and layout used to work. Not funny, but put a smile on my face because I’m so happy that things aren’t like this anymore.

Ad-Agency Print Buyer Can’t Believe They Want To Add A Perf This Late In The Game
A fake news story by The Onion.

Area Man Knows All The Shortcut Keys
A fake news story by the Onion

Indexed
Makes fun of his life as a graphic designer.

AdVerbatim

Pay attention, professionals or not- in Communication, Marketing and Advertising. These things happen almost every day; sometimes we don’t even notice them. But they’re here to stay. They are verbatims. And yes, they’re REAL.

Murphy’s Graphic Design Laws
A cute set of laws for graphic designers.

This is What Happens When Your Dad is a Graphic Designer
Look to see what this baby’s dad does to her pictures. Cute.

Worst Company URLs
Want a laugh? Look at these web site URLs that spell things a bit different than what the owner was hoping.

Logo Design Humour

Redesigned Logos 2.0
Redesigned Logos in Web 2.0 Format

Make The Logo Bigger Song

Listen to the song made for logo designers.

 Most Unfortunate Logos Ever

Hmmm…some of these logos are um…just look for yourself.

Flickr Photos Tagged with yay2dot0logoparody

Well known logos redesigned for web 2.0 for fun.

Ironic Sans

Logos designed for terrorists

How to Fake a Web 2.0 Logo

Web 2.0 sites are all the rage and if you’re lucky enough to be bought out by Google or Yahoo there are millions of dollars to be made, but how do you fake it as a Web 2.0 site? Well, all Web 2.0 sites have one thing in common : they look the part.

 Fake Google Logos

Like fake google logos?

KFC’s Logo First to be Seen From Space

KFC Created a logo to be seen from space. Not that funny but still cool.

The Worst Logo Ever Gasp

Gasp, this is the worst and most shocking logo ever.

Rejected Google Holiday Logos

Here are some funny rejected holiday logos.

 Naughty Logos

Logo design gone wrong.

The Worst Logo Ever

Really seems like it is a joke, but this logo is for real.

Corporation’s New Logo Changes Everything

A fake news story by The Onion.

Font humour

America’s Most Fonted

Ugly fonts, cutesy fonts, unreadable fonts, bad fonts . . . they have terrorized us for far too long, infiltrating our homes via e-mail, IM, and low-rent ValPak ads. Here, LMNOP presents the seven worst fonts–and the people who use them.

Type Obituaries

During a late night online conversation with another black, white, and orange website fan, it was decided that certain fonts should be retired. They’ve had a good run, but some things must come to an end. Whether, by overuse, obscurity, or just plain ugliness, here are some that just don’t make the cut.

Extra-Slanty Italics Introduced For Extremely Important Words

A fake news story by The Onion

DT&G Typography: Ask Yourself How it Will Read

Choose font and kerning well.

Helvetica Bold Oblique Sweeps Fontys

A fake parody news story by The Onion.

 A List of Design and Fonts Jokes

Another list of design jokes and fonts jokes

Song Parody: I Like Big Fonts

A parody of the song, ‘Baby Got Back’

Alpha-Bits Now Available In Serif Font

A fake parody news story by The Onion.

Fontly Speaking

Another fake news story by The Onion

2 Cheesy Font Jokes

These are cheesy jokes, but enjoy anyway.

Another Cheesy Fonts Joke

Even cheesier fonts joke than the one above it.

You Know You Are a Fontaholic When…

Much of the following has been ‘floating around’ the USENET comp.fonts list for a couple of years.

Your Monkey Called – White and Sajak on Fonts

Not really so funny, but cute.

Adobe Photoshop Jokes & Humour

Black Guy Photoshopped In

A fake news story by The Onion.

Photoshop Jokes

It all started with this, the hilarious Marquis de Sade picture, which was made in a flash of inspiration at work, one day. Within minutes of sending it to friends, jpegs started coming in thick and fast, as everyone began jumping on the comedy bandwagon. T

You Know You’re Addicted to Photoshop When

A list of ways to know that you are addicted to Photoshop

Fark

Photoshop Thread on Fark

If Leonardo Had Photoshop

A comic of what Leonardo Da Vinci Would have Been Doing if he had access to Photoshop

Acquired Paint Shop Pro Syndrome

The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta today announced the identification of a new disease.

Jokes for freelance designers

Difference Between Freelance Designers & Onsite Designers

The difference between working in-house and freelance:

Gaping Void

This smart entrepreneur thought of this great idea, putting cartoons on the back of business cards to be remembered. They are called ‘blog cards’ and some of the cartoons are funny:and if you ask me, a great idea for freelancers.

Printers Humour

Guide to Using Printers

A very funny document giving advice on printers that will just make things much worse.

Aggression Against a Printer

Have any of you ever reacted this way?

Xerox Commercial

Cute Xerox commercial

A New Way to Print

A picture that will make you smile.

Hope you enjoyed the list, there is many hours worth of humour here so don’t view it all at once.

What You Should Know To design about FSC

What is the FSC (Forest Steward Council)?

FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established in 1993 to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

It provides standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies and organisations interested in responsible forestry. Products carrying the FSC label are independently certified to assure consumers that they come from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.

How does FSC implement this?

FSC developed “The Chain of Custody Process” which insures trees cut from FSC managed forests will go through the FSC certified process. This rigorous 5 step process ensures that all environmental and social obligations have been followed and have achieved the stamp of approval – the FSC logo (as seen below).

For example, if you receive a postcard with this symbol on it, you will know that it has gone through 5 different FSC certified processes since it was cut down. The chain goes something like this Pulp Manufacturer > Paper Manufacturer > Paper Merchant > (Designer) > Printer > Approval from FSC.

Where does the FSC logo go and what does it mean?

The FSC logo goes on any piece of design that is printed on FSC certified paper and is printed through an FSC certified printer. It is also appears on timber and other items that are FSC certified.

Once you have completed your own design and you have put the FSC logo in its place, you then submit your design to the printer… the printer then needs to submit the piece and all specs to FSC to get the green light to print.

In most cases, underneath the FSC logo it will contain a certification number. This contains the printers ID number, percentage of post consumer waste plus any other recycled information. This information helps verify that the Chain of Custody process has been followed.

What can you do to help support FSC?

FSC’s mission is to improve the management of the world’s forests. There are many ways you can support:

  • as a consumer you can buy FSC certified products
  • as a business in the forest products business, you can become FSC certified
  • you can promote the FSC by using the FSC logo on your products (you must be authorised to do so – information here)
  • everybody interested in the fate of the world’s forests can become an FSC member and actively contribute to the future of the organisation.

Worth mentioning

And just so you know… only 7 percent of the world’s productive forests are FSC certified. This global organisation, active in 79 countries, has an extremely ambitious agenda, a long way to go and must do everything possible to keep itself above reproach.

In saying that, worth mentioning is FSC Watch – an independent website (not associated with FSC) dedicated to encouraging the scrutiny of the FSC’s activities. FSC Watch aims to increase the integrity of the FSC’s forest certification scheme.

Have you ever been involved in an FSC project? Have you got any more information to share? Please let us know in the comments below.

How to Create a Poster Your design and experience

I want to share with you some of my poster design  work and the tips that  I  came across during the process.

Over the past few months I have been working for a Nightclub in Newcastle, Australia designing their in-house posters (you can see a few below) advertising different events held at the club.

The problem with designing these in-house posters was that I had to design them to be printed at A3 and A5 while also being able to be viewed correctly in a square format at 150 x 150 pixels on the web. This was quite a design problem, but I did learn a lot throughout this process.

The 3 posters above were the first ones that I had designed without any knowledge of poster design.

After reviewing these posters on forums and with other designers I learnt that the first 3 posters I had designed were too busy, and there wasn’t a clear hierarchy.

This lead me to do a bit of research on poster design (which I should have done in the first place).

In a nutshell, I found that an an effective poster should be …

  • Aesthetic – It should get attention so the message is delivered.
  • Focused – It should focus on a single message.
  • Ordered – The sequence should be well-ordered and obvious.

If you then compare the first 3 posters to the poster I designed after the research (below), you can clearly see the difference. The poster now has a clear hierarchy with DRU HILL being the main focus and the date as the 2nd focus. It is aesthetic, focused and ordered thus making it a successful poster.

On a similar note, I have just designed an invite for my 20th birthday. This year, I have a fluoro (it’s spelt fluoro not fluro if you didn’t know) theme for my party as fluoro is in fashion this summer in Australia. Below is the invite that I designed for it. I was influenced heavily by the electric style of the clubs here in Sydney, along with their random combination of images and vector graphics.

What are your opinions? I take constructive criticism well so fire away 🙂 It’s how you learn.

For further tips on poster design check out Effective Poster Design.

15 Description of Designer Duty

As a student, I often hear other students asking their tutors “What is the difference between a creative director and an art director?”. To be honest I didn’t know at first however luckily enough I was given a linkby one of my teachers answering just that question. So I present to you 15 designer job descriptions.

Solo designer
A freelance or self-employed design professional who works independently of a company and has no employees.
Owner, partner, principal
An owner, partner, principal holds an equity position and has major business responsibility for a firm having employees.
Creative/design director
A creative director or design director is the creative head of a design firm, advertising agency or an in-house corporate design department. In all of these areas, key responsibilities can include the development of graphic design, advertising, communications and industrial design publications.
Art director
The art director establishes the conceptual and stylistic direction for design staff and orchestrates their work, as well as the work of production artists, photographers, illustrators, prepress technicians, printers and anyone else who is involved in the development of a project. The art director generally selects vendors and, if there isn’t a creative director on staff, has final creative authority.
Senior designer
The senior designer is responsible for conceptualization and design of solutions from concept to completion. In some firms, a senior designer directs the work of one or more junior designers who generate comps and create layouts and final art. In some cases, senior designers do not manage staff but are designated “senior” because of their authority in design decision-making.
Designer
A designer is responsible for conceptualization and design of graphic applications such as collateral material, environmental graphics, books and magazines, corporate identity, film titling and multimedia interfaces, from concept to completion.
Entry-level designer
An entry-level designer is one-to-two years out of school and requires mentoring in all aspects of design conception and implementation.
Print production artist
A print production artist has a working understanding of layout, type and color, and is able to take instructions from a designer and create a complete layout, working proficiently in InDesign, QuarkXPress, Photoshop and Illustrator. Responsibilities also include producing final files that image properly to film.
Web designer
A web designer determines and develops the look and feel for sites, and is responsible for site navigation design and visual execution.
Copywriter
A copywriter is able to write, edit and proof promotional or publicity copy for print or electronic publications. At higher levels, copywriters are often responsible for strategic and conceptual development of messages and stories.
Print production manager
The print production manager is responsible for managing the process (bids, scheduling, production and delivery) of producing publications, from concept through production, including photography, separations, 4-color press work and digital production. Print production managers are strong project managers, managing multiple jobs simultaneously. In some cases, proficiency in InDesign, QuarkXPress, Illustrator and Photoshop is desirable in this role.
Marketing manager, new business manager, director
A marketing or new business professional is responsible for seeking business opportunities, developing proposals and marketing the firm’s practices.
Web developer (front end/interface systems)
A front-end developer uses HTML/JavaScript/ASP/ColdFusion and other tools to develop static and dynamic web pages.
Web programmer/developer (back end systems)
A back end programmer works with web server systems and web databases, develops web queries to databases and programs web applications.
Web producer, senior producer, executive producer
A web producer organizes web development teams and ensures adherence to budget, schedule and design of website development.
Content developer
A content developer is also known as a web writer or editor. He or she is responsible for the production and repurposing of text/graphic/audio content on sites.

10 Typography Tools, Templates and Libraries Web Designers Need to Know

Typography is indeed one of the most crucial components of every good web design. As a novice or professional web designer, knowing about the best typography tools, frameworks and libraries is definitely a plus point.

All these resources can aid you in dealing with web design typography in a better manner, offering you extensive control over fonts used on the web. Enjoy!

1. FlowType

As a handy plugin, FlowType will dynamically adjust the font size in accordance to the width of the wrapper under focus. Additionally, you can use the plugin for applying an ideal count of characters per line along with screen of variable width specification. FlowType can be easily downloaded from GitHub and plays a vital role in accomplishing the most legible typography which includes 45 and 75 characters on a per line basis.

2. Typeplate

As a complete framework for setting up typography in a web design, Typeplate is shipped with some stunning basic typographic styles that address critical elements within web design such as colors, scaling, dropcap, small capital, hyphenation, code block, blockquote, scaling and a lot of other interesting stuff.

3. Gridlover

As a brilliant typography tool, Gridlover allows you to establish a typographic system wherein there is a fully adjustable CSS for the line heights, font sizes and all margins. As an easy-to-use tool, Gridlover allows you to achieve perfect typography for your web design.

4. Hatchshow

Hatchshow is a special web typography plugin which expands the size of your font, thereby filling in the entire width of the font container. Utilizing a specific algorithms, Hatchshow will measure your container’s width, length of font characters and finally append the appropriate font size.

5. LiningJS

As an excellent JavaScript library, LiningJS allows you to individually style each line within a specific paragraph. Stimulating the idea of “::nth-Line()”, “::nth last-line()” and “::last-line” pdeudo-classes, LiningJS will serve as your most trusted library for creating a brilliant web typography.

6. Underline.JS

A yet another remarkable JavaScript library, Underline.JS will allow you to improvise the text underline. You can compare the demo with the underline output of your current CSS text-decoration for spotting the key differences.

7. Modular Scale

Modular Scale is a handy typography tool that will generate an ideal font along with proper scaling for the body and heading of your text. Output received with the use of Modular Scale is available in Sass and should hence be used in conjunction with Sass library.

8. Kerning.js

Kerning.js is a JavaScript library that marks the meeting of kerning with CSS. You can use it to automatically style, kern, scale and transform your web typography using real CSS rules.

9. FFFFallback

FFFFallback is a brilliant web typography tool that allows you to find stack of font that would further degrade in a graceful manner. Available in the form of a bookmarklet, FFFFallback will analyze will allow you to analyze the family font on a particular page, followed by suggesting you the most appropriate font.

10. TypeSettings

As a remarkable pack of CSS rules, TypeSettings is available in Sass and Stylus. You can use it for defining vertical rhythm, font scaling and reasonable ratio for your web typography.

Spot Tips and Work with Good Graphic Engineers

It is an unfortunate truth that in our society, engineers are underrated. Compared to the scientists, architects, and politicians they work with, the engineers remain relatively unknown and are just those behind-the-scenes ‘elves’ who hold the ship together.

Are engineers disrespected, under-appreciated, overworked? Is their role in society valued and rewarded? This debate is ancient, and it comes back into the light whenever something big goes terribly wrong. NASA scientists landed men on the moon, NASA engineers mixed up feet and meters resulting in the loss of an expensive satellite. You see my point.

What is A Graphic Engineer?

The design profession has it’s engineers too, and they are just as underrated as their sciencey counterparts. Their arena isn’t space tech or tall buildings, but rather packaging die lines and website code. I’m not talking solely about the production people, proofreaders, mechanical artists, programmers, etc., but rather those individuals who dedicate themselves to becoming Graphic Engineers. The Graphic Engineer (GE) is not identified by his job title or his skill with software, but rathey by his mindset, his personality, and his work habits. He is someone who views the world differently and approaches every problem from a slightly steeper angle of incident.

The GE is a valuable member of any successful design team, and a good engineer can make everyone’s job easier, but they’re not always easy to manage or to work with. Here’s how you might identify, and then accomodate your GE, to get the most out of him, and your team overall.

How to spot a Graphic Engineer

Is obsessed with Details.

Not just the obligatory ‘detail-oriented’ that every job description in the world includes, these people go above and beyond what most folks would consider ‘a closer look’. Spotting a misused Em Dash from 30 meters is just the beginning. Editor: One of the 15 signs you’re a bad graphic designer.

Values the methodology, sometimes over the results or the time frame.

Embodying the philosophy that “anything worth doing is worth doing right,” the GE will go out of his way to ensure that any process is done to the letter, including documentation and feedback, which often go overlooked. He’s the one most likely to create immaculate CSS style sheets, even if it’s just for an internal login page. Table styles in InDesign, layer comps in Photoshop? Most likely put together by a GE. Best practices, after all.

Never accepts good enough.

Along with his obsessive nature, the GE has an overdeveloped sense of duty, and never leaves a job unfinished. For that matter, he re-defines the word ‘finished’, and will take those extra precautions to ensure quality. After all, it’s his butt on the line when something goes wrong. Just like NASA.

Lives in a world that always needs fixing.

Rather than simply striving to make the world more enjoyable or more beautiful, the GE strives to solve problems, correct errors, and iron out all manner of wrinkles in the day-to-day of our profession. It’s a very blue collar approach to graphics but show me where the leak is.

How to get the most from your Graphic Engineer

Now that you’ve identified your groups GE (raise your hand if it’s you! – Editor: You got me spot on!) , you have to understand a few things about how he works. Because GEs are unlike regular employees, a bit of tact is required to get the most out of your engineer.

Give him space.

This is both physical and metaphorical. Clearly, all GEs work better with a larger desk, larger monitor, more sunlight and square footage, and an ergonomic chair, but at the same time, I’ve never met a GE who worked better with bosses hovering and peering over his shoulder. In fact, that’s probably the easiest way to get shoddy work when you need it most. (Editor: Amen)

Ask his opinion.

Personalities aside, GEs always have opinions. And those opinions are often based on independent research, industry knowledge, trial-and-error, prior experience, and good old fashioned gut instincts. In other words, those opinions are valuable and ignoring them simply isn’t smart. GEs want to improve their general situation (they live to fix leaks, remember?), so their advice is usually constructive. Also, ignoring those opinions can lead to bitterness, depleted productivity, and the wording of those same precious opinions and ideas.

Let him rant.

Since engineers are often under tremendous pressure, they may need to let off some steam. (pardon the metaphors) So let them. Do whatever you can to get the most out of your GEs, even if that means shaking things up in your studio. Ranting often brings to light feelings and thoughts shared by many members of the team but why not let your hardest thinker explain why the current situation has gone pear-shaped.

Learn from him.

The engineer is naturally a teacher. By providing knowledge, he helps elevate everyone around him and thus feels less aliented. Also, this makes his job easier because the rest of the crew is meeting him half way (or at least part way). Considering GEs are often well versed on the latest trends, languages, software techniques, and professional happenings, you might actually learn something when he pulls out the “well, actually” during a meeting.

If you’ve never spared a thought for the Graphic Engineer, now’s the time. Next you need him to tidy up a messy style sheet, extend a poorly cropped photo, or a revive hand-me-down Mac, show a bit of appreciation and understanding. Graphic Engineers are the glue that hold together the gears of the creative industry. Imagine your life without them.

Related Pages With Top Design Blog

The pages have been categorised into five broad categories: Freebies, Tutorials, Inspiration, Web Design and Articles.

Freebies

  • 30 Essential PDF Documents Every Designer Should Download from Positive Space
  • Ultimate Web 2.0 Layer Styles from DezinerFolio
  • Free High Resolution Plain and Grunge Paper Textures from Fudge Graphics
  • Free Hi-Res Watercolor Photoshop Brushes from Bitt Box
  • 200+ Free Grunge Photoshop Brushes from You The Designer
  • Free Hand Drawn Doodle Icon Set for Bloggers from Spoon Graphics
  • Free Icons: Function Icons from WeFunction
  • 40 Beautiful Free Icon Sets from Six Revisions
  • 50 Most Beautiful Icon Sets Created in 2008 from Noupe
  • 63 Must have Grunge Fonts from OutlawDesign

Tutorials

  • Super Cool Frilly Bits Typography from Abduzeedo
  • Design with Swirls and Flourishes from MyInkBlog
  • 40+ Tutorials for Working with Wacom Tablets from Designm.ag
  • Advanced Glow Effects from PSDTuts
  • Colorful Glowing Text Effect in Photoshop from Tutorial9
  • That Wicked Worn Look ~ The Series from Authentic Boredom
  • Create a Dream Design with 3D Typography from GoMediaZine

Inspiration

  • 50+ Kick Ass Logos for Inspiration from Fuel Your Creativity
  • 92 Must See Creative Photographs from Just Creative Design
  • Another 79 amazing album covers from Inspiredology
  • Business Cards of Bloggers from Brian Yerkes

Web Design (+Inspiration)

  • 15 Excellent Examples of Web Typography. Part 1 from I Love Typography
  • 50+ Gorgeous Navigation Menus from Vandelay Design Blog
  • 83 Beautiful WordPress Themes You (Probably) Haven’t Seen from Smashing Magazine
  • 21 Mindblowing Premium-Like Free WordPress Themes from Smashing Apps
  • Unraveling the Secrets of WordPress’ Comments.php File from NetTuts
  • 7 Fresh and Simple Ways to Test Cross-Browser Compatibility from Freelance Folder

Articles

  • Why your web startup will fail from Ideas On Ideas
  • 101 Essential Freelancing Resources
  • Video Game Design Between 1990-2008 from Web Designer Depot
  • 12 Common Photoshop Mistakes, Misuses and Abuses from Design Cubicle
  • Top 50 graphic design blogs from David Airey
  • How to be a good client from SwissMiss
  • Obama logo ideas that weren’t chosen from Logo Design Love
  • 2008 Design Trends from Web Designer Wall
  • The Color Wheel and Color Theory from Creative Curio

What is your most linked to article? Please share with us in the comments below. To do so, type your web address into Yahoo! Site Explorer and look for the article with the most links (not your home page).