Articles by Month: May 2010
For this installment of Blank Canvas, Go Media is interested in hearing about your forays into the analog world.
With so much design work being created and used online and in digital format, it’s easy for a creator to only see their work on the screen. And typically the work you create is for a client.
Our question this time around: how much work do you create for yourself, and do you exhibit that work in shows and/or galleries? If so, how do you go about finding an outlet for your design work?
We also want to hear from you illustrators out there. How much of your work is personal creation, and do you show your art in community events?
Personally, most of my illustration work ends up being seen on-screen. I’ve been planning to create more personal digital artwork and get it out into the physical world, but to be honest I have been dragging my feet in that area.
At Go Media’s recent WMC Fest art/music/film event, I had the opportunity to display work and worked up an original illustration and had it printed out. The impact of seeing non-client work in large format print was addicting, and I plan to do much more of this in the coming months.
I’m also very curious as to those on the design end of the spectrum, what your thoughts are regarding personal creations and displaying them in a public setting. Sound off in the comments section below.
You may have heard about this little art, film, and music festival that I’ve been planning this year. It’s called Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and it’s happening THIS weekend here in Cleveland. I wrote this letter to the fine people who live in our city to encourage them to pursue their creative passions. This was reactionary after the Cavs lost last week and all we’ve had to deal with ever since are Lebron James rumors.
Anyway, WMC Fest is a celebration of creative visionaries who defy the hand they’re dealt. It’s happening this weekend, May 22 and 23 at Parish Hall – 6205 Detroit Ave in Cleveland Ohio. The fun starts at noon and three of us from Go Media (me, Bill Beachy, and Adam Wagner) will kick off the event with a 45 min talk about how this all started and how a creative agency can benefit itself from something like this.
We’re featuring lots of talented artists, bands, and filmmakers. More info at wmcfest.com.
Read my letter below and let it sink in. How does it make you feel? Inspired? I’d like to create more awareness about the festival this week and I need your help.
To win an official Weapons of Mass Creation t-shirt, I want you to write your own blog entry about what you think it means to “defy the hand you’re dealt.” Post it on your blog and then comment here to link us to your article. It can be as long as you want and we’ll pick the 3 we think are best. The only rule is that you need to add a link to wmcfest.com and tell people when and where the festival is happening (see above). The 3 winners will win an official Weapons of Mass Creation t-shirt, stickers, and a WMC 1.25″ button pack.
You have until Thursday at 11:59pm of this week (May 20th) to post it and comment. Make sure to give us a way to contact you in case you win. We’ll need to get your address to mail it out. You don’t need to live near Cleveland to win either. Anyone can do this and we’ll mail the winner their prizes.
Without further ado, here’s my letter.
To the city of Cleveland: defy the hand you’re dealt.
Like a lot of Clevelanders, I sat in my living room fixated to my television last night, watching the final Cavs playoff game in what was supposed to be THE dream season in which we’d finally win it all. Nope. After we lost, I turned my attention to sports talk call-in shows and Cavs message boards to empathize with the distraught and fed-up fans. I could have been just as deflated, but I’m not.
For many of us, we live generally decent and happy lives. Good job, family, friends, etc. Our sense of well being often hinges on whatever our beloved Cleveland sports teams do. It’s something that we buy into and root for but we cannot possibly control ourselves. And that leads me to my point. Why waste your energy getting worked up over something that’s completely out of your control?
Clevelanders, I suggest you take this advice. Defy the hand you’re dealt.
The Cavaliers have dealt us all a losing hand and instead of crying about how we’re cursed, we should be going out and improving our city’s reputation by means in which we actually HAVE control. We’re all sick of the national media not giving us enough credit. We all have the capability to do something remarkable and be remembered for something. What have you done lately that is worth remembering?
I write this because on next weekend, May 22 and 23 I’m hosting my first ever Weapons of Mass Creation Festival right here in Cleveland. A year ago I was tired of waiting for the perfect fest that blended my love for art, film, and music. I was jealous that the city of Austin, a thousand miles away, lights up every year during SXSW. Instead of waiting around, I told myself I was going to make it happen right here in Cleveland. Start it out small and see what happened. 10 months later, we’re here.
Weapons of Mass Creation is a celebration of creative visionaries who defy the hand they’re dealt. It’s about being remarkable and pursuing your passion. My passion is creativity and doing things on your own terms. Not letting outside forces you can’t control dictate your happiness or impact. I’m bringing in local and national artists, designers, bands, filmmakers, and other creative leaders who inspire me and are living their lives with the mentality that you are in control of your own destiny. You have a passion and have the freedom to pursue it.
So come out to Parish Hall in the Gordon Square Arts District on May 22 and 23 and get inspired. There will be 10 bands, talented artists, inspiring speakers, and a few award winning films. Just in time to lift your spirits and remind you that you can be remarkable if you really want to be.
Check out www.wmcfest.com to get you and your friends a printable e-ticket.
Remember Cleveland: defy the hand you’re dealt.
So that’s it, let’s see your article!
I have been creating extreme metal logos for over 4 years now for many bands all over the world. Being an extreme metal fan and a logo designer, it was only natural for me to start creating logos for the metal scene. The demand for these logos were more popular than I expected and I managed to get quite a lot of work from it alongside my studies.
Now that I am focusing on different area’s of work I have decided to write a tutorial to explain in detail how I went about creating the most popular of all my logos; the death metal logo. This will be a symmetrical, hand rendered, vector logo.
First of all, it is important to know a lot about the band the logo is for. What sub genre do they fit in? (technical death metal/progressive death metal/old school death metal) What are the lyrics about? (politics/urban life/religion) What type of audience are they trying to attract? (mainstream/underground).
Once you have collected enough information about the band, you can then start researching the relevant visuals. If you are not so familiar to death metal then its a good idea to find as many logos you can to use for inspiration. To make the logo more unique its a good idea to find inspiration elsewhere including religious/medieval/occult symbols, typography, non-metal logos etc.
The logo I am using for this tutorial was for an old school death metal band. They had influences from hardcore punk and the lyrics were about politics and society. I took inspiration from death metal logos, punk logos, gothic architecture, the Book of Kells, Blackletter fonts and ambigrams.
You should now start drawing the logo straight onto paper. Start drawing the letters from your influences, if you lack experience in working with typography pay careful attention to the fonts. They dont need to be perfectly drawn or measured, we will use Illustrator to do all of that. Spend a lot of time on the sketches, creating at least 3 or 4 that you are happy with as these sketches will determine how good the logo is.
Some letters are more difficult to make symmetrical than others, use backwards letters if necessary or make 2 thin letters symmetrical to one wider letter. You might want to just keep the first and last letter symmetrical if you want it very legible. Try to keep the widths of the letters as consistent as possible. It helps to understand the basics of typography.
Some letters a more tricky than others to make symmetrical. It is sometimes a good idea to start with the most complex letter, then draw a flipped version of the to use as a template. You can then try to fit the other letter inside the template as best as possible. Sometimes the first letter will still need to modified to get a balance between the 2.
Here are some examples of sketches where I have had to make 2 letters symmetrical with each other. The green area’s are where the template was drawn from the other letter. Once you have drawn around that it should then be erased.
Once you have some sketches you are happy with, scan it in, get the band to pick their favorite.
Open up a new Illustrator document at any size/mode. Import > Place the sketches in. Go to View > Rulers. Then drag down rulers wherever things need to be on the same level and wherever you want straight lines.
Lock the layer with the sketch on and open up a new layer. Make the fill color transparent and the stroke color a bright red. Select the Ellipse tool and draw circles wherever there are curves in the logo. The more thorough you are, the smoother your logo will look.
Open up a new layer, drag this layer under the layer with the circles on and lock the layer with the circles on. Select the pen tool, change the fill color to black and make the stroke transparent. Now start to draw in the shapes, using the guides and circles to help you. Just do it shape by shape, don’t worry about making everything join.
Zoom in and use the anchor points to get it as smooth as possible. If you have trouble seeing the sketch underneath, go to Window > Transparency and select 50%.
Use this opportunity to change any parts of the letters to make them look better. Make sure any symmetrical letters are perfectly symmetrical by drawing one side, duplicating it (alt+mouse) and using the selection tool to flip it over.
Now you have half of the logo complete, create another new layer. Copy and paste all the letters onto the new layer, make the Fill transparent and the Stroke blue. Flip them so they are completely symmetrical to the other half of the logo. Place each letter over the closest matching part of the other side. Lock that layer, go back to the main penning layer. Now draw in all of the other letters using the blue outlines as a guide. Compromise between the 2, this can be tricky, just find a balance of keeping it symmetrical and legible. Keep working at this until you get all the letters the way you want them.
Go to View > Grid and use the rulers to give the logo consistent spacing and alignment. If everything looks exactly how you want save the file and go to Export and save as JPG just to show the band and so you can view it outside of Illustrator. Make any changes before continuing.
Although the logo is now finished in black and white vector form, bands usually want the logo in different colors and textures. This could be achieved in Illustrator but I find Photoshop is easier to use, although it will no longer be scalable.
Select all the letter Shift+Drag the logo out until the width is at least over 1000 pixels (about three times the width of an A4 page). Select Edit > Copy, open up Photoshop. Open up a new document and paste as a Vector Smart Object. I find that the best ways of creating textures is using textures from photos (www.imageafter.com) to fit inside the letters. Grunge brushes are also useful. Then play around with the layer styles until you have something you and the band are pleased with.
You should now have a professional looking symmetrical death metal logo. If it did not turn out as well as you had hoped, don’t worry, just keep practicing. Learning about typography and really paying attention to detail will help a lot.
Recently we published a post regarding Apple’s stance on Flash and their iDevices. The gist of the situation is that Apple has decided they don’t want to be reliant on a third-party plugin for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch products.
Apple’s suggestion is for developer’s to embrace the new HTML5 specs which are supported by most current browsers, with planned support for HTML5 coming in those browsers that don’t currently support it.
There’s actually two components to this situation: the first being a browser plugin, which allows Flash-based video players and Flash-based websites (or web elements) to run on the Apple devices; the second is the new terms for the iPhone OS 4.0, which basically state that coders must use Apple’s tools to create apps for the platform.
So on one hand, we’re talking about browser content, and on the other we are talking about the App Store.
GoMedia wants to hear from you web devs out there: what’s your take on this? Not being a web developer myself, my thoughts come from an end-user perspective.
Personally, I like the idea that video and other interactive content would be browser-based as opposed to being restricted to one single authoring tool (Adobe Flash). It just seems good for the internet in general moving forward.
As far as the App Store, I think that is beyond the scope of the Flash vs. HTML5 argument as you cannot use HTML5 to build an App Store app, but one could easily build HTML5 “web apps” for the Apple devices as Google has done with their Gmail, Google Reader and Google Voice “web apps”. So let’s stick to browser-based content on this one.
I’m sure at this stage Flash has more flexibility and options for creating content than the yet-to-be-approved HTML5 standards offer. Flash has been around much longer. But in the long run, which is better for the internet in general?
Basing interactive elements within the browser as opposed to relying on a proprietary plugin just seems like the way to go. It opens up more options for competing software development tools as well as a set standard and coding language that everyone can use without needing anything more complex than a text editor.
But perhaps I am missing something here, not being a web developer (or in particular a Flash developer). As I mentioned, I am sure the Flash tools are currently more robust than HTML5, but I am also looking forward to what HTML5 has the potential to become.
With the success of the iPad, I have seen many major websites starting to at the least implement HTML5-based options for their video and interactive content. Some have decided to completely switch over from Flash to HTML5.
Go Media wants your input: what are the pros and cons of each route? Are your opinions based on your use of Flash? We’d like to hear from web developers that use Flash, and those who don’t. We’d also lke to hear from those who have used HTML5 to either replace or supplement Flash content — what were the benefits? What were the limitations?
Go Media contributor Andre Silva shares a detailed, 17-minute walkthrough video tutorial on creating an iMac in Adobe Photoshop.
Here’s a preview of the final artwork, scroll down to watch the video in it’s entirety.
What does it take to go from freelancing to building a design firm like Go Media?
Do You Really Want to be a Studio?
Before you embark on your journey to build a design studio, you should stop and ask yourself an important question: “Do I really want the responsibility of a full studio (firm) rather than staying a small 1-3 man shop?” In your mind you may be assuming that larger = better. But this is definitely not always the case.
For instance, you may assume that more employees will equal greater profitability. But what happens when you’re slow? Payroll doesn’t stop just because your work load slows down. Also, if you’re the boss – how do you think your daily job will change when you have 10-15 employees? Will you even have time to design anymore? Or will you spend most of your days in meetings, corresponding and managing?
And what happens when you have a bad employee (they’re not all roses.) Are you prepared to deal with, and possibly fire trouble employees? Talk to other small business owners about their day to day struggles. Make a budget – what’s the overhead of employing 10 people at a reasonable wage?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t grow your freelance shop into a studio, obviously, that’s what I did! But I also had a background in management and a real passion for business. And even feeling like I was WELL equipped to build a firm, it’s been a very long and difficult journey.
So before you go any further, just stop and take a moment to consider all the pros and cons of growing your solo operation into a studio.
Ok, so assuming that you haven’t been scared off by all the negative stuff, why exactly would you want to hire a bunch of designers and build a studio? Go Media’s main impetus was that we wanted to share our daily lives with other artists that would inspire and push us. There is just something a lot more fun about a design collective than being a one-man-shop.
I was completely on my own for several years and found it completely depressing. Also, there is greater efficiency when you have job specialization. And, assuming you ARE very busy – there IS the opportunity to make more money. One really cool thing that I’ve discovered about Go Media is that crazy amazing things happen that I never would have ever dreamed of. Those life experiences are priceless. Without my staff to dream them up and execute on them, I never would have experienced them. I’m very appreciative of the different perspectives, ideas, and energies they bring to the company.
Money Money Money
What steps need to be taken once you’ve decided to grow your business into a studio? First and foremost you need the money. And I don’t suggest taking out loans or hiring with the anticipation of getting more work. Hiring new staff should only take place when you’re so slammed with work that you need them – desperately. That and you should be relatively sure that the work load isn’t going to drop off suddenly. How many new projects are lined up for the near future? If you’re unsure about your workload for the next few months, I suggest outsourcing your overflow until you’re sure you will have enough work for your new employees.
It’s Not All About Design
If you don’t already have a good lawyer, accountant, and payroll service, you’re going to want to find them and form good relationships with them. Your lawyer and accountant are extremely important advisors for your business. You should feel very comfortable and confident in your lawyer and accountant. They should feel like trusted family friends. Don’t just pick one from a list on Google. If you have friends or family with good contacts, meet them first. And then meet a few more for good measure. Basically, you are interviewing the people that will have a major impact on how you structure and run your growing company. I hired and fired several lawyers and accountants before I found the ones that I now trust.
“But Bill,” you ask “what if I can’t afford them yet? Lawyers and accountants are expensive!” Well, if you can’t afford them – you’re not ready to build a studio! I suggest going back to evaluate your pricing, business systems, how you find new work, etc. It’s called organic growth! You only grow when you can afford all the things that go along with growing.
Artificial growth is when you go take out loans and spend money before you’ve earned it. Basically, you’d be gambling on the fact that even though you cannot afford lawyers and accountants NOW, you’re going to get a loan, hire them anyway, and hopefully, before the loan is due you’ll figure out how to make more money. Hhmmm… sounds risky to me. I suggest focusing on making the money first, and growing second.
Suit & Tie Stuff
Once you have a lawyer and accountant that you trust, you should sit down with each of them and discuss your planned growth. They will advise you on how to structure your business, legally and financially. Typically your accountant will have a payroll service that he trusts and works with. Go Media is set up as an S-Corporation and we are on a cash basis accounting system since we don’t have any inventory. These are pretty typical for a design firm.
Along the way there will be a thousand little problems that will surely make you question whether or not you’ve made the right decision to grow your solo design operation into a full blown studio. At the end of the day, you just have to battle through them like anything else in life. One thing that was a major issue that I hadn’t really accounted for was the amount of time it takes to manage.
The time I could spend designing was reduced to virtually nothing the first year that we expanded the staff to over 10 people. Even with a sales/project manager and a full time accountant/customer service rep – I was still inundated with questions, problems, and correspondence to deal with. As I was the primary sales person, I also had to spend significantly more time selling now that I had 8 people to supply with work instead of just 3.
Fortunately, the longer you keep a group of employees together the better they become. They learn the systems, improve at their jobs, get better at working together and require less and less management.
If I did it all over again there isn’t too much I would change. Whatever mistakes I made were good learning tools. If I had to give advice to others making that leap in growth, I think I would just suggest that you take it slow. Don’t be in a huge rush. Take it in steps a little smaller than what you want. You’ll benefit from holding yourself back – I promise!
The Next Step
So, what are the next steps for Go Media? Right now we’re feeling really comfortable as a 12 person firm. We still have some lessons to learn and some systems to refine before we’re ready for our next growth spurt. We’re working really hard to expand our circle of influence and dialing in our business model. There is a lot of growth ahead for Go Media, but right now it’s the internal growth that we’re focused on. We still need to get smarter and more efficient.