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Inspiration Sea

Inspiration Sea is a worldwide community spreading inspiration through art. It allows designers of all kinds (graphic designers, illustrators, web designers, photographers, etc.) to showcase their best work. Users can sign up for a free account to gain access to features like commenting, the message board, the job board, favorite designs they like, and more.

To be able to post inspiration on the site, you must have an invite code from someone on the site or win one through contests that will happen.

If you go to the Launch Giveaways page, you will be able to see that started this coming Monday, there will be a weekly contest for 5 weeks. Giving out prizes like Arsenal Coupon Codes, invite codes, and 2gb flash drives.

Inspiration Sea looks like a great new way to share and discuss your creations with other creative types, kind of like a Flickr for creativity. Users can vote and comment on each creative work, allowing for interactive community-based critiques.

Arsenal: Pullover Hoodie Templates!

Hi again everybody, it’s Adam from Go Media.

If I had a feather for every phone call, email, and comment from designers requesting pullover hoodie templates, I could build the Big Bird float from Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Maybe two of them.

I know you’ve all been wanting these for a long time, and it’s exciting that they’re finally available. There are 7 (and an additional back shot arriving in an imminent update) templates demonstrating great variety & usability.

To celebrate the launch of the most frequently requested template pack of the year, I’m offering a huge limited time $14.99 discount with the coupon code: pullover. This huge discount is only available for one week, until Friday June 25th.

Browse the thumbnails at the Arsenal.

Blank Canvas: Design Contests

There seems to be quite a growing number of websites such as 99 Designs offering design services by way of “contests”, where the client will submit specs for the project, and the designers will then submit actual designs in order to “win” the payment.

While I can see the appeal of these types of services for the client (get designs for free, only pay for the ones you like), I feel this devalues the worth of a designer’s skills. You don’t get to have 5 mechanics work on your car and then only pay the one you felt did the best job. You can’t eat a meal at 5 restaurants and then only pay for the food you found the most delicious.

I’ve read articles and blog comments in defense of these types of services, but none of the arguments was very compelling to me. It reeks of spec work, and the team over at No Spec agree.

Student designers looking to bolster their portfolio, “hobbyist” designers doing it for fun, and the like are the typical arguments in favor of these services.

I suppose it’s the choice of those who participate if they wish to work for the chance of getting paid, but in general I think it sends a message that logo design work is so “easy” that people are willing to do so for even just a chance of compensation.

I much prefer the eBay-style approach of sites like iFreelance where projects are posted and the illustrators and designers bid on the job. No work is done for free.

Go Media wants to hear from our reader, especially as we know many of you out there are students: what is your take on these “design contest” types of sites? Have you participated? Sound off in the comments section below.

Go!

Telling A Client “No”

You’re the expert, right? You’ve spent four years in design school and have a few years of real-world experience, right? You obviously know all there is to know about design and clients are just dumb and uneducated. You force your brilliant design decisions on every client because you have the degree and portfolio to back it up. The client is simply preventing you from making your mark on this world.

Or perhaps you’re just the lowly designer who can’t say no because clients are the ones with the cash? As the Golden Rule goes, “The one with the gold makes the rules.” So who are you to say no when a client waves your next paycheck in front of your face right after they ask you to “make the logo bigger” or “make it cooler”?

Both of these extremes are bad and exhausting ways to live your life as a designer. You need balance (duh, right?). Well most of us play both of these roles at different times, but you need to find a comfortable in-between zone and you’ll find yourself much happier and successful as a designer.

To live in that happy medium you’ve got to balance being informed and articulate with being charismatic and nurturing. Here are a few tips to help:

Be nice and inspiring.

If your voice or email is blunt and without tact, you can really turn off a client. It depends on who you are dealing with of course, but in most cases clients are easily offended when their passionate ideas are judged, criticized, or stepped on. If something isn’t working, let them know in a way that shows you understand and care about them.

Preface your words with positive remarks like, “I think that could be a good idea, but I really recommend doing THIS for this reason.” You won’t win friends by making people feel stupid or less educated than you.

Learn the language.

One sure fire way to increase your ability to say no to a client is to simply read up on the history of design and typography. Understand why certain typefaces work well in certain situations. Understand how people interact with a website and be able to articulate it to a client.

A client doesn’t have the same “eye” that you do, so they might not see what you see. If you can articulate clear and sound reasoning in a comforting and respectful way, you’re gold. Back up your decisions with evidence, not just “because I think it looks better.”

Show, don’t tell.

Sometimes the best way to get a client to understand your reasons for saying no is to show them. Do your idea AND their idea and present them with both options. Tell them you went ahead and did their idea but “here are reasons why my solution works better for you.”

If you don’t have the time to do both concepts, then show them unsuccessful or other anecdotal evidence. A client of mine really wanted to use the Bleeding Cowboy font, but it’s widely recognized as a bad font. I wanted to tell them no and show them links to articles that describe why it is a bad choice. That did the trick and they felt comfortable knowing that I am “up on the trends” so they don’t have to be.

Balance

As a designer, it’s your job to educate and help a client understand the value of what you are giving them. We don’t want you to get walked on by your client, and we don’t want you to come off as a know-it-all that makes the client feel dumb.

Here’s the trick: It’s not about being right or making the client say yes. It’s about building a solid relationship of mutual respect and friendship. Clients will be saying yes to your design decisions all the time if you can balance knowledge and charisma.

Do you have any advice for telling a client “no”? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Brads: Just Google It

Kaleidoscope: Text & Image Comparison Utility

Kaleidoscope for Mac is an interesting new file comparison utility. It looks to be a great tool for both web developers as well as designers, and as far as I know it’s the first utility of it’s kind to do image file comparison.

The app is super snappy, and there’s lot’s of great little features when you poke around the single-window interface. You can set up multiple comparison sets with tabs, and add any number of files per tab.

The image comparison tool supports JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD and more. Compare files using Two-Up, One-Up, Split & Difference.

The text comparison tool will work with any text file: plain text, source code, HTML, etc. Choose from three layouts: Blocks, Fluid & Unified — and it even imports text from .doc and .rtf files. You can quickly jump from change to change and the app will highlight all the added, deleted and changed text.

And if you’re an advance geek, it also supports Subversion with integration for Git, Mercurial, SVN & Bazaar as well as Versions, TextMate SVN, Cornerstone, and the ksdiff Command-line tool.

There’s a 30-day demo, so give it a download and see if it’s worth the €29 (about $35) to you.

Adobe Digital Publishing Platform

Today Adobe announced their Digital Publishing Platform, which in their own words is “a platform which consists of applications, technologies, and services that allow publishers to cost effectively author, produce, and distribute groundbreaking content to the broadest possible audience on a wide variety of digital devices”.

While it’s hard to tell from the web page exactly what the Digital Publishing Platform is, it’s also hard not to look at it as a response to Apple’s recent stance against Flash for their mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.

From the FAQ Adobe states that it will use “Objective-C for the iPad and the Adobe AIR for the desktop and other mobile platforms”. The FAQ also states that at this time the iPhone is not supported, at least not for the Wired Magazine app which is the flagship example of Adobe’s new platform.

From what I can gather, the DPP will use existing Adobe software such as InDesign CS5 so designers don’t need to learn or use new tools to design and at the same time will compile the final output in a format that fits the Apple app store requirements.

Additionally, the DPP will also include support for HTML5 output, which is Apple’s suggested route for web-based rich media on their devices.

Adobe plans to make the Digital Publishing Platform available to CS5 users later this year via Adobe Labs.