Design Faster with Vectors on Hand | Design Tip of the Week

Design Faster with Vectors on Hand

You’re a pro. We all know it. However, do you ever find yourself drawing the same shape over and over again? With the growing popularity of icons and simplistic, geometric illustration, it’s not uncommon for elements to be used time after time in your designs. This does not mean that we have to stay trapped in some sort of weird, repetitive dimensional hell of making that perfectly-narrow (or wide) triangle.

Let’s save some time and design a little faster! Have all those faithful shapes already made and saved in its own Illustrator file. When the time comes to make that “ice cream cone” icon or that minimalistic illustration of a bicycle, you’ll be like, “Oh, looks like I have to ma- WHOA! It’s halfway done!”

ice-cream-cone-icon-614x460 bicycle simple illustration

Before you leave, I want you to know that I care about you. That is why I made an Illustrator file that is full of shapes and elements that you are free to use! I hope that it saves you some time and gets you to happy hour a little earlier. Cheers!



Want more tips? Be sure to also check out Bill’s article on how to become a faster designer!

Also, you can save even more time with our vector illustrations! Check ’em out!

WMC 6 Design Conference Podcast: Ticket Sales, Spec Work, Touring Cleveland, and Ink Wars

Design Conference Podcast

Bryan and Heather sat down for a bit of an informal episode of our design conference podcast. With less than 40 days left, there were a number of updates that needed to be said including where tickets stand for the fest (less than 100 3-day passes left), the workshops (WMC Workshop Tickets Now On Sale!), and the Cleveland Studio Tour (Cleveland Design Studio Tour Sold Out?). Plus, an important lesson was learned about Spec Work and T-Shirt contests.

The Only 2 T-Shirt Mock Up Websites You Need in Your Life

What’s the Best T-Shirt Mock Up Website?

Mocking up designs is an absolute must, of that we are sure. It’s just that extra step that takes a design from flat to incredibly realistic. Clients will think you’ve gone through the expensive printing process, and you will be able to accurately envision your work in real life. It’s a win-win.

Unable to work within Photoshop, or just don’t have the extra time in your busy work day? Head to the very best online mockup tools in the entire world, from your friends at Cleveland web design firm Go Media. These online tools, and are similar, but each powerful in their own right. Both are free t-shirt mockup websites which help you to realistically mockup your designs on tees (Shirt Mockup) and pretty much anything else you can possibly imagine (Mockup Everything). Pro subscriptions, available with each, give you the ability to remove watermarks, have access to larger image sizes, and more – so be sure to give the 7 day trials a try for both t-shirt mockup websites a try > Shirt Mockup trial | Mockup Everything trial

1. Shirt Mockup: Upload your art. Mock it up. Download your image for FREE!  Pro Users have access to over 40 professional photographed and high-resolution t-shirt, hoodie and related apparel templates.   Upload your art. Mock it up. Download your image for FREE

Try T-Shirt Mock Up Website Shirt

2. Mockup Everything: an easy-to-use online platform for applying your graphic designs to a growing variety of print products. Free templates available, as well as hundreds of templates for our Pro Users. Pro users also have access to at least 6 new templates per month.


Try T-Shirt Mock Up Website Mockup Everything

Now go forth and create!

June's templates from Mockup Everything
Templates from Mockup Everything

Enjoy and show us what you’ve created over on our Flickr Pool Showcase!

Looking for Photoshop templates? The World’s Best Photoshop Mockup Templates can be found at our Arsenal.

Tutorial: How to Make a Weird and Wonderful GIF in Photoshop

How to Make a GIF in Photoshop

As you may know, GIFs are taking the world by storm, and this tutorial, “How to Make a GIF in Photoshop,” is going to teach you exactly how to stay hip with these crazy internet trends. I’m going to walk you through 7 basic steps and by the end you will have your very own GIF that you can show off to your friends, family, coworkers and random strangers on the internet.

Step 1: Obtain a video
Easy enough. You’ll ideally want to use a .mov or a .mp4. GIFs are meant to be weird and wonderful. Make sure your source material is worth watching.
I’m going to choose a video from the best conference for graphic designersCleveland graphic design firm Go Media‘s very own Weapons of Mass Creation Fest! Wait and see, it’s a good one. Also, want to use a youtube video? No problem! ClipConverter is completely safe and free, and will convert any youtube video (you just need the URL link) to any format!

Step 2:
 Open Photoshop and import video
Once you have your video, open up Photoshop and import your video by clicking:  File > Import > Video Frames To Layers
A window will then pop up with options. Set up your document as the image below displays. You will also have to select a portion of the video that you want to create a GIF out of.

IMPORTANT: GIFs aren’t movies, this should be a relatively short snip of the video that you want.


Step 3: Set up your document
Now that you have a portion of your video imported, your document will probably look similar to this.


If you don’t have your animation window open (which is shown at the bottom of my image) you’ll want to do that. You can open it up by going to Window > Animation.

Secondly, you will want to adjust your image size to 500px in width. Why? Because GIFs are meant to load quickly, and they can’t do that if they are a huge file size! Making your GIF 500 pixels will help it load quickly and run smoothly! Plus, sites like Tumblr require that your GIFs be under a certain size, so this step is essential.

Step 4: 
Edit your frames
Now that you have your document set up, and your video imported, you can start working with your frames (which will be located in your animation window). First hit play and see what you’re currently working with. Then identify the frames you want to keep, and delete all of the surrounding ones. After this step, I ended up with 14 frames which you can see below.


IMPORTANT: Again, remember, you want to keep your GIF short and sweet. Aim to have around 10-20 frames. Impossible? No worries! If you still have 20+ frames after cutting out the part you want of your video, select all of the even numbered frames and delete them. This will make your GIF slightly choppier and faster, but we can fix that later when you edit your frame rate!

Step 5: Create an infinite loop (Optional)
This step is completely optional, however, it’s a fun effect to add to your GIF. If you play your GIF right now, you’ll notice that there is a clear beginning and end. However, you have the ability to work with the frames and create a GIF that reverses backwards and creates an infinite loop. These kind of effects are the fun, inventive things that no other GIF program allows.

So how do you do it? Simple. Copy all of your frames, except the first and last, then paste them back into your Animation window and drag them to the far right. Then click your options panel (shown in image below) and hit “Reverse Frames.”


Step 6: Change your frame rates
A frame rate is the total time each frame will show! Photoshop will automatically make all your frames .03 seconds, however, this tends to be fairly fast. Your frame rate will always be a personal preference and will also depend on your particular GIF, however, I usually try to stick around .08 to .1 seconds.

You can change your frame rate by looking at your animation window, and clicking the small arrow that is displayed in each frame. Make sure you highlight ALL of your frames though before changing your frame rate.

Step8_a Step8_b

In Step 4, if you ended up deleting all of your even numbered frames, you’re GIF will automatically be faster than originally, so you’ll probably have to make your frame rate around .1 to .2 seconds.

IMPORTANT: Don’t 100% trust the speed of your GIF in Photoshop. You won’t be able to truly tell how fast it is until after you export it (which will be shown in the next step)

Step 7: Export!
Now that your GIF is beautifully and personally constructed, you’re ready to create an actual file of it!
To do this click:  File > Save for Web & Devices, and then follow the image below for what to fill in.


IMPORTANT: Like I stressed above, it’s important that your GIF file size is small. As displayed, my GIF is 1005K. You’ll definitely want to make sure your GIF is under 2 MB. If not, many sites may not be able to load your GIF.

If your GIF is over 2 MB, you’ll want to either cut out more frames, or you can adjust the colors, dither and lossy in this panel. Any of these will decrease the quality of your GIF, but if done in small amounts, it can sometimes be barely noticed.

And here is my final product!

You have created your very first GIF. Time to celebrate.

(Remember to watch the footage from the best design conference in the entire world, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest! Check out the full WMC Fest video here and buy tickets to Weapons of Mass Creation fest – coming up this summer at downtown Cleveland’s Allen Theatre.)


Design FASTER: Seven tips to becoming a faster, more efficient graphic designer

How to Become a Faster Graphic Designer

I wanted to talk about a subject that is very important to being a successful designer – speed. I’m talking about how fast you can produce designs for your client, boss or even just for yourself.

Just why is it important to learn how to become a faster graphic Designer? And why does speed matter? Time is money. It’s a simple fact. Your boss or your client needs a result – a design. It’s your product. And if you can produce that design faster, it saves your boss and/or your client money. If you can be a faster designer, you’re going to be a more valued employee. And trust me, every boss and every client out there KNOWS who their fast designers are and who their slow designers are. I want to say that again because it’s important: YOUR BOSS KNOWS IF YOU’RE A FAST OR SLOW designer. And guess what – they love their fast designers and are frustrated with their slow designers.

If we compare designers creating designs to workers assembling widgets, if one worker can assemble two widgets in and hour, and another can assemble ten widgets in an hour, the one who produces more is more valuable to the company right? Of course. Now, imagine it’s the end of the year and the boss needs to decide who to give a raise to, and who to fire – do you think speed is a component of their decisions? It sure as shit is.

If you have any lingering doubts about how important speed is – just go work for yourself. A focal point of every sales conversation you have with potential clients is budget. And what does a budget mean? Money. And what does money mean? Time. Similarly, if you charge $500 to design a logo and you can design one a day – great, that’s $500. But design 10 logos a day and you’ll earn $5,000. Is the difference speed can make clear?


I think sometimes this can get a little muddy to a designer who is collecting a fixed salary. After all, the designer gets paid the same each payroll whether they produce a lot or a little. But guess what – it does make a difference to the owner of the company. If the company produces more and earns more – the owner gets to pay themselves and their staff more. Or, as is sometimes the case at our Cleveland Design Firm Go Media, if the designers don’t produce enough, the owners (that’s me) LOSE money. So trust me, while you may not be feeling the effects of working slow or fast, you will – eventually you will.

Is this clear? Work faster, make more money. Be more valuable, get raises and keep your job! Speed matters.

But what about design quality? I know what you’re thinking: “But Bill, what about Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y? Quality takes time, and don’t clients want quality?” Yes. Absolutely. Quality is also important. And yes, if you gave a designer two different time budgets, the design done with the longer time budget would most likely be of higher quality. The optimal designer is BOTH fast AND good. You should be working towards both. But remember that you’re not competing against yourself. In the grand pool of designer employees out there, you’re competing against other designers. And guess what – some are faster AND better than you. SO, if you’re going to be a valuable designer, you need to work on both.

For the sake of this article, I am going focus on the subject of speed.

So… how to become a faster graphic designer?

1. Know the difference between being an ‘artist’ and being a ‘commercial artist.” Look, I know that many of you take great pleasure in being ‘artists.’ I understand that your ‘happy place’ may be doing tons of research, then exploring many directions, and taking your time to create something amazing. That’s fine. That’s you approaching your work in a way that is most fulfilling to you. I do this too. When I’m drawing, I need long hours to create something great and I’m not satisfied when I make something that I think sucks. It’s ok for you to be an ‘artist’ and to work in this way. Just understand that your 9-5 job as a paid graphic designer is not your ‘art.’ You’re a professional worker with a skill that charges a certain amount per hour, and that your client has a budget! Getting the job done in a way that is efficient, and getting the job done in a way that is fulfilling may be two different things.


If you can find clients that don’t care how long it takes you and are willing to pay you to spend as much time as you want on your designs, well, congratulations to you. I hope you appreciate what a gift you’ve been given. In my experience, clients are hyper aware of their budgets and generally want everything as cheaply as possible. Design is a job. Sorry, this isn’t your free time. This isn’t your ‘art.’ You’re working. And sometimes (for most people all the time) work sucks. Designers need to remind themselves of this now and then. If you can recognize that your time ‘on the clock’ is work, and that you’re a professional doing a job and that it’s fundamentally different than your ‘art’, it’s an important shift in your perspective that you need to adopt. ‘Cranking out a design’ may not be fun because you’re being rushed, but that’s the job.

2. Design in your head first. As a salesperson for Go Media I am afforded a long ramp up phase prior to starting a design project. As part of the sales process, I typically have several meetings with clients, ask lots of questions about their business history, goals and ideas. It may take several weeks from the time I first meet a client until the time I sit down to design. Frequently, by the time I sit down to design – I already know exactly what I’m going to make. The image is clear in my mind. At that point all I need to do is assemble it. It’s more production than ideation. Having a clear vision of my design before I even start designing certainly makes me a much faster designer. How is it that I know exactly what I’m going to design? Obviously, because I’ve been thinking about it during the entire sales process.

While most designers aren’t out selling, they can also employ this technique – start thinking about your designs BEFORE you sit down to your computer. If you can get an early look at creative briefs on projects that are coming up READ THEM! Wrap your head around all the details of the project days or weeks in advance. Ideally, you will then use your down time to think about them. Start the design in your head. This may require a conscious effort on your part! That’s right – you may have to WORK. But hopefully, you love this shit, and it doesn’t feel like work. You naturally think about the design in advance because it makes you happy.


But here’s the good thing – even if you can’t find spare time after hours to think about your designs in advance, I believe that it helps anyway. The human brain is a mysterious and powerful thing. Your brain will be solving your design problems whether you realize it or not. Some subliminal consciousness is functioning, thinking, processing… …designing! It happens while you’re eating lunch, while you’re having drinks with friends, even while you’re sleeping. But the brain can’t solve problems while you sleep if it doesn’t even know the problem exists. So, step one is to start learning about your graphic design projects in advance – then make an effort to think about them during off hours.

3. Guard your time. In today’s day and age, there are a thousand distractions to steal your time. You’ve got a constant stream of emails, text messages, Facebook Updates, phone calls, co-workers coming up to chat with you, meetings, lunch breaks, and on and on. Fast designers learn how to protect their time. When was the last time you told a coworker: “Sorry, I don’t have time to chat right now. I have to get this project done.” If you can’t remember, you’re probably doing a bad job protecting your time. Turn off your e-mail. Turn off your phone. Pack your lunch instead of going out for lunch. Don’t check your social media feed. In my experience I can almost see the fast workers – their heads are down, I can see the look of concentration on their faces. I don’t see them in the kitchen chatting with fellow employees – they’re quiet, they’re focused.

There are tons of techniques out there to help you protect your time. Recently I’ve decided that I need to have ‘production days.’ On my ‘production days’ I’ve given myself a license to ignore my emails all day long. 99% of my emails can wait a day. If there is a real emergency someone will call me. The techniques are secondary. The important part is that you need to recognize that your time is wasting – every day. Sometimes other people are wasting your time, but more likely, you’re wasting time yourself. If you want to get more done each day, you’re going to have to make an effort to stop it.

And let me tell you – your boss will appreciate it! If I imagine that I was in a meeting with several staff members and one of them stood up and said to me: “Please excuse me Bill. I just realized that I have nothing to contribute to this meeting. I’m wasting my time. I would like to get back to my desk so I can get my design project done.” Can you imagine how I would react? I’d give that employee a gold star, smiley face and an A+. My perception of that employee would be forever altered. “Wow. Bob is SERIOUS about being productive. He’s a worker! I LOVE BOB!”

4. Consider your time budget before you start. Take a moment before you start any design project and familiarize yourself with your time budget. By stopping to consider how much time you have on a project, it will influence how you approach the project. You may have thoughts like: “Gosh, I would have really loved to design icons from scratch for this poster, but I can buy stock icons and save myself three hours. It’s not ideal, but it will get the job done faster!” And you can actually download stock icons and vectors from Go Media’s Arsenal.


5. Set a time budget. Don’t have a specific time budget? Make one. Challenge yourself with a goal. You might have a thought like: “Normally, it takes me three days to design a poster like this, but I’m going to only give myself one day!” I used to actually ‘speed design.’ I would create a race for myself. I’d set up a stopwatch on my desk, give myself an unreasonably short amount of time to get something done – like one hour, and I’d see how far I could get. There is a side benefit to this game – I frequently found that I designed BETTER! By forcing myself to work fast, I turned my brain off. I designed on instinct. I didn’t over think or over complicate things. I just went straight to the solution. And often in design, the simplest most obvious solution is also the best.

6. Know when ‘good enough’ is the right approach. Look, nobody likes to create mediocre designs. We all want to design stuff that’s so amazingly good that we become rich, famous and change the world. But sometimes ‘Great’ is less important than ‘fast’ (on budget). We have a saying at Go Media that I stole from a Labatt Blue commercial: “Crose Enough!” (Close enough.) In essence, everything isn’t going to be perfect. Sometimes ‘close enough’ (a mediocre design) is good enough.

7. Recognize when you’re ‘tinkering.’ This item is closely related to the previous point. I’ve known many designers that kill their time budgets because they ‘tinker.’ They’ll actually work at a nice speed, get the design 95% done, then spend just as much time getting the last 5% done as they did getting the first part done. There is often a perfectionistic streak in them that forces them to fiddle with their designs for hours – trying to make them more perfect. They nudge some copy to the right an eighth of an inch, they increase the contrast of their images by 3%, they adjust the kerning of every single word on the page, etc. Learn to recognize when you’re doing this – making relatively small changes to something that’s basically done. Stop. Let it go. You have other projects to work on!

Now, take a deep breath and get back to work (quickly now!) We know you have it in you.


Adventures in Design Podcast – Ep 204: Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Speakers – Mark Brickey and Antonio Garcia

Adventures in Design Podcast

What? Another two-for-one special over at Adventures in Design Podcast, WMC Fest Fans!

Following in AID Episode 203’s footsteps, we’re being treated to yet another podcast featuring two of this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2015 speakers. I don’t know about you, but we’re feeling pretty elated over here. We get Mark Brickey and Antonio Garcia all wrapped into one – and what’s better than that?

Episode 204 Talking points, courtesy of the Adventures in Design Podcast site:

Antonio Garcia is doing the day job thing right by making sure everything else he does professionally is very different. Antonio loves to act as a consultant to fellow creatives tying to get big ideas off the ground.

Talking Points you’ll hear on Episode 204
– Antonio’s simple two step rule to tell if your job is right for you.
– Letting go of your ego and being able to help others find their time in the spotlight.
– How chasing a passion can yield a profits but a chasing a profit rarely yields a passion.
– Having a future that is fueled by past goodwill.
– Antonio lets us in on his speech for WMC Fest this August and how he’s created a simple list of 15 lessons that anyone can apply right away to their career.
– Teaching others to professionally respect you by laying down ground rules and showing you respect yourself.
– How giving so much to others in only making Mr Garcia a better student of life.

The Circle of Trust (paid content)
– Antonio and Mark break down common friend trends and showcase the traits that make people successful as well as the traits that seem to hold people back from trying.
– Things that fathers do for their sons.
– Allowing yourself to dream big, but also making dreams that are realistic to your path

Have you heard the Weapons of Mass Creation crew on Adventures in Design elsewhere?

See Antonio and Mark live and in the flesh at the best design conference in the entire world, Cleveland graphic design company Go Media‘s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, August 7 – 9 at the Allen Theatre. Tickets at

Adventures in Design Podcast 2015 - Ep 203: Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Speakers - Mark Brickey and Jay Fanelli

Adventures in Design Podcast – Ep 203: Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Speakers – Mark Brickey and Jay Fanelli

Design Podcast 2015

It’s a two-for-one special over at Adventures in Design Podcast, WMC Fest Fans! AID Episode 203 includes two of this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2015 speakers in one delicious podcast. Not only do you get valuable Mark Brickey time, but you’ll also hear from Jay Fanelli, co-founder of Cotton Bureau.

As AID describes on their Instagram, “Jay shares with us his company’s unique business model as well as what designs he does and doesn’t allow to make its way onto their popular website.”

Episode 203 Talking points, courtesy of the Adventures in Design Podcast site:

– The curation process of keeping their collection narrowly focused on today’s best graphic design trends.
– Allowing your business to find it’s own path in life and allowing to keep it evolving.
– A debate on the Threadless business model. – Respecting your users, customers and partners while allowing your business to grow and make money.
– Respecting the laws of supply and demand to keep growing but not burning out.
– United Pixel Workers and other projects that naturally evolved into the Cotton Bureau.
– Making strong relationships with other businesses that support your business.
– Focusing on doing one thing really well and not trying to catch every dime that comes your way.
– The backstory on “Blowing Up Overnight”.
– Using the Cotton Bureau as way to test your talents and get a taste of passive income.
– Focusing not on what your heroes are doing but what’s best for you.
– Mark presses Jay on making sure every designer walks away with some sort of reward for having a produced design.

The Circle of Trust (paid content)
– Jay shares with us some entries and cliches in their user submitted Hall of Shame.
– Designers who foolishly fight back and argue when their designs aren’t picked.
– The cold stone truth of commerce.
– How Jay takes time to give rejected designers advice on how they can improve their work.
– How marketing is just as important as the product.
– Dealing with copyright infringement and toeing that line.
– All the little steps along the way that make you better for the long haul and help you create what you’re meant to create.

Listen in: Episode 203 – Jay Fanelli of The Cotton Bureau “Promotion Is Just As Important As The Product”

Have you heard the Weapons of Mass Creation crew on Adventures in Design elsewhere?

See Jay and Mark live and in the flesh at the best design conference in the entire world, Cleveland graphic design company Go Media‘s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, August 7 – 9 at the Allen Theatre. Tickets at

Tips on Drawing Symmetry | Design Tip of the Week

Tips on Drawing Symmetry


I have a hard time drawing things perfectly symmetrical. I mean, really, who doesn’t? Drawing symmetry is tough! We’re not robots with mathematical precision. No worries, here are some quick tips that will surely help.

One trick that I picked up on is to draw half of your image, scan it in, duplicate it, flip and merge it together. It helps to draw a center line, so you know where the one half ends and the other will begin. Need the whole piece hand-drawn and inked? No problem! Just print it out an opaque version (of the whole image – two halves merged) and use that as the structure for your drawing. In fact, the legendary Jon Contino works this way. (I reached out to Jon over email about this, to which he graciously replied, resulting in us bonding over this mutual creative process.)

This approach is a “two birds with one stone” kind of thing. By duplicating, flipping and merging the one half, the whole drawing is completed! And it required only half the work! If you want to see more on how I use this method, check out this article I wrote about creating the WMC Fest 6 Poster.

Thanks for reading!


Kickin’ it Old School with Print Media!

Educate yourself: Here’s why this is important

Ladies and Gents, it’s time we all took a moment to honor our good friend, print media. Print media includes a wide range of techniques that challenge us as designers to go back to basics and work with our hands. It is a nice way to take a step back and do some design work without the help of our beloved computers and advanced technology. Although, if you want to stick with the computer AND get that handmade print feel, Go Media has something for you too!


So I’m lost, please explain what this is?

Allow me to focus on a few types of print media: letterpress and printmaking.


Letterpress focuses on mostly typesetting. Using both metal and wood type, a designer can create tons of different print materials with an old world feel. Shout out to Gutenberg for this one. From menus to postcards, you can try out an assortment of print materials. Even though this process uses an abundance of type, imagery can be used as well by carving linoleum blocks.


Printmaking, on the other hand, is the ability to create limited quantity prints that are unique created by use of ink and different techniques. These are original designs and are not photo realistic replications. Here are some of the different ways to go about printmaking:

  • Monotypes: This is the equivalent of painting. Only, the printer paints with ink and once printed, the image is backwards.
  • Etching: You can create an image by carving or using acid to eat away at a zinc plate. The image can then be printed two different ways. You can simply roll the ink on a create a solid background/reversed out object or you can rub the ink into the etched lines to allow only the linear elements to show up.
  • Aquatint: This technique is when you let large areas of a zinc plate to be eaten away by acid, creating different values according to the length of time it is exposed.
  • Screen Printing: This one works a bit differently.  With this method, you create your design with different screens that display one color. Each screen is prepared to have small holes that allows ink to flow through. To create the final product you will need to layer each color or your design. Aside from being a totally different process of printmaking, screen printing allows you to print on a variety of different mediums. From textile patterns to paper prints, you are set!

Save the press: Try it out!

People say print is a bit of a dying breed. However, more and more people are heading back to this form of design and its popularity is slowly regaining strength. Not familiar with how this all works? Give it a try! There is nothing quite like a little bit of first hand experience. And trust me designers, sometimes stepping away from technology and reverting back to working with your hands can really set you up for success.

My own trials


  • I am definitely a long way from being a master printer, however I loved trying out these different mediums of design. it is a really nice way to get in touch with the roots of graphic design, while still creating something fresh and new!

A word of caution…

  • Before you leave the computer to go make some prints, take a second and make sure you know all the proper techniques when it comes to handling equipment. Print techniques have been around for hundreds of years, and often times so has the equipment you are using. Let’s be honest, when is the last time you found a brand new press for sale? .. That’s what I thought. Take care of your materials and be nice to your press.


  • Second tidbit of advice: Clean hands is key. Ink gets everywhere and smudgy fingerprints can turn a beautiful project into an eyesore in seconds. Don’t let this happen to you!
  • Lastly, don’t forget that everything you do before you print needs to be backwards. As if it wasn’t a tricky process already. This is especially crucial to remember when dealing with text and lettering.
  • Not feeling challenged? Try diagonally setting type or give aquatint prints a try. Need more color? Tryout a blend roll. Enjoy!

Some favorites to inspire you:

Get pumped to print! The possibilities are endless.

Printers to look up:






  • Pressing On Video/ Kickstarter
    • This is a sneak peak at an upcoming documentary all about letterpress, its origins, and its survival. Check out Pressing On via their website as well.

Happy Printing Designers! 

Game On! Our Favorite Game App Designs

Naturally, we all love wasting time. Procrastination is something all human beings can relate to and are notorious for. But if you are going to procrastinate, you might as well be looking at some good design while you are at it!

Flat design takes the crown!

There are lots of games out there for our time wasting aficionados, however some of my favorites are the ones that attract me to the design qualities, and there are other games as dadu online if you like to play Casino games as well. Illustrative characteristics and flat design always seem to capture my interest, therefore many of our examples are ones that caught my eye derive from those qualifications. Game app design can be any number of styles, all of which have their own strengths that should be appreciated.

Examples, why they are the…

Two Dots


Gotta love the designers here. Not only is this game addicting (I am ashamed to admit what level I am currently wasting time on), the illustrative design style fully captures its audience as well. The game takes you through multiple environmental realms as you pass up a collection of levels. The design itself takes you through a continuous scrolling page that changes with the environments.

Monument Valley


Take M.C. Escher’s impossible shapes and make it into a game, you’ve got Monument Valley. Now, unfortunately, I am not super familiar with how this game works, however the clean design has already got me hooked. Plus, it is sort of mind boggling that Ken Wong, artist and designer behind it all, was able to make these shapes and environments believable within a moving, digital realm. Bravo!

Alto’s Adventure


Sure, the premise of the game has a tad of ridiculous attached to it, but the design is simply gorgeous. In this game you are a snowboarding llama herder (don’t say I didn’t warn you). The backdrop showcases snowing mountain peaks and and geometric design. One of the most elegant elements of this design involves the use of silhouettes. Two thumbs up to designer Harry Nesbitt on this app!



As to be expected, Bicolor revolves around only using two colors. Yet even with these limitations, the puzzles go beyond expectation and are visually very successful. Limiting colors allowed for a nice, clean design in this case. Hats off to the designers at 1Button software studio for this one!

Device 6


The app intertwines the love of literature with the love of puzzles.  If you are a mystery novel kinda person, then this one is for you. If you’re not, well…the design itself might just be enough to persuade you. The use of typography, color schemes and photography set this game app from Simogo apart from the competition.

A special thanks goes out to all of the designers responsible for these creations. We salute you in your endeavors. Enjoy all of the beautiful designs, fellow procrastinators!

Tutorial – Lines & Dots: How to Make Quick and Easy Patterns in Illustrator

How to make patterns in Illustrator: Lines and Dots

X-acto Ouch-01

Patterns can be a wonderful visual element. They can create form and show depth in an illustration, or add more visual interest to a large color field of a graphic. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to easily create two patterns in Adobe Illustrator: line and dot.

Line Pattern

Step 1: Create a rectangle and diagonal line going through the center. Begin and end the line from the top-left corner anchor to the bottom-right anchor, then select and scale it up proportionally.


Turn off the fill in the rectangle and set it and the line at 1 pt. stroke weight. The crucial part of this is that the line must be aligned perfectly in the center, shooting diagonally from the top-left corner to the bottom-right. Smart Guides (View > Smart Guides) is a huge help.

Step 2: Duplicate the objects (the rectangle and line), aligning the one copy at the top-right corner and the other at the bottom-left corner.



Again, Smart Guides will make life easier. Make sure things are perfectly aligned: the corners of the original rectangle are touching the centers of the duplicates.

Step 3: Delete the two duplicate rectangles and the line of the original rectangle. Turn off the stroke of the original rectangle.


Step 4: Select the two lines and in Blending Options (Object >Blend > Blending Options), set the Spacing to Specified Steps along with an desired increment, which MUST BE AN ODD NUMBER*.Then click Okay.

*This number will determine how many lines are repeated in your pattern.



Step 5: Go to the Blend option again and select Make.



Step 6: Select the two lines that are forming the pattern AND the rectangle in the center. Drag these to the Swatch Palette, resulting in a newly created swatch.


Step 7: Select the lines and rectangle and drag it outside the artboard.* Test the pattern by creating a new shape and setting its fill to the new swatch.


*Keep these original objects off to the side in case the pattern needs to be edited: the color of the lines, stroke weight, increasing or decreasing the repetition. If changes are made, a new swatch must be created ( objects again dragged to the Swatch Palette) in order to use the new pattern.

The reason behind testing the swatch pattern in a shape is to ensure the elements are lining up correctly. However, there are times when the pattern looks misaligned or distorted. Zoom in and out to double-check, it could just be the monitor depicting the pattern in a funky manner.

Dot Pattern

Step 1: Make a square (with a 1 pt. stroke) and dot. Align them at their centers.


This is the spacing between each dot in the pattern.


Step 2: Turn the stroke off on the square. With that and the circle selected, drag it to the Swatch Palette.


Step 3: Create a shape and then select the newly created swatch pattern for the fill.


The amount of dots is dependent on the size (and spacing) of the original dot. If the pattern needs to have more dots, simply shrink down the original dot (with its square) and create a new swatch pattern.

Things to consider

Because patterns add another level of visual interest, it is often easy to throw them on everything. Like any element, they don’t work ALL the time. Take the time to really consider if something needs a pattern or not. Also, in regards to Illustration, consider the form that is being depicted. A line pattern would make more sense on straight-edge surfaces, where a dot pattern may best fit with an organic, rounded form. Patterns are super cool, no doubt, but use them deliberately to elevate your illustrations and designs.

We love Patterns!

Check out these Arsenal Products that will add patterns to any project with ease!

Circle Pattern Vector Pack


Halftone Pattern Vector Pack


Op Art Vector Pack


Textile Patterns Vector Pack


Propaganda Patterns Vector Pack


Energy Gels are Booming Business

Boom! Energy Gel Branding

Carb Boom! Energy Gels, that is.

Carb Boom Sports Nutrition Inc., founded in 2000, has recently developed Carb Boom! Energy Gels, a fruit-based, high-carbohydrate product that, according to CEO Lammers and partner Mike Cousino, had a “cult following” among endurance athletes. The company was shut down a few years ago, and had “totally lost its way,” – that is, until Lammers and Cousino “cracked the code” in late 2013. Following in early 2014, Lammers, Cousino and five other investors relaunched the company as Boom Nutrition and began selling its signature product, the Carb Boom! Energy Gels.


With a continually growing market, Boom has a simple approach to reach their customers – sponsor as many events as possible and target the athletes who compete in marathons, half-marathons and triathlons. These athletes train quite a bit and tend to be very vigilant when it comes to what they put in their bodies. Boom carefully considered this sentiment and made a product whose packaging is almost as important as its ingredients. The natural fruits in Boom’s energy gels are “easier on the runners’ guts,” and they are popular with customers because they actually “taste like you’re eating fruit.”

Appropriately, Booms efforts paid off, and they are now the official energy gel of USA Triathlon. They are also the official on-course energy gel for the Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City marathons, in addition to the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships. These sponsors have helped Boom get its products in Dick’s Sporting Goods stores, which are currently sold at four markets, and will soon be available at all of the retailer’s locations.


Boom isn’t only remembered due to their fruit-based, high-carbohydrate product though. They’re a known quantity and recognizable brand by their athletes because they are forward-thinking and market-savvy. Boom enlisted the help of a pair of Cleveland companies, Muse Content Group and Go Media, to help relaunch their brand. “You eat with your eyes first, and our packaging, if nothing else, sells great taste,” Lammers said.

With a year-over-year revenue that is up 860%, Boom plans to develop additional flavors and products that complement its gels. The energy gels are manufactured in California, packaged in Utah and distributed out of Boom’s headquarters in Middleburg Heights, but their Cleveland base hasn’t stopped them from locking up international distribution deals in Canada, France, Panama, Costa Rica and Brazil. With plans to “build a global brand” in the endurance sports marketplace, Boom hopes to have annual revenues “north of $20 million” in the next four or five years.

“We’re fighting well above our weight,” the company co-founder said.

Read the full article on Crain’s Cleveland Business.
View our Boom! portfolio.

Designer Justin Mezzell: Finding balance for creativity, family and success

A successful illustrator and art director talks about sacrifice, shifting priorities and exclusively admits to listening to the Backstreet Boys.

Justin Mezzell is a designer living and working in Orlando, Florida. He is art director for Code School, an online learning site that helps people learn how to code. He’s also a sought-after designer and illustrator, having worked with clients like Facebook, Twitter and Google, along with magazines like Wired, Fast Company, ESPN and Fortune. He also helped make this.

Justin manages to juggle a busy work schedule with personal projects and freelance work, all while working to be a good husband and a dad to two little ones— a daily balancing act he usually seems to manage quite well. I recently spoke with him via email to find out how he’s tried to cultivate that balance in his life, how he views his commitment to professional and personal commitments and what drives him in his day-to-day work.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Justin Mezzell, a designer/illustrator based in Orlando, Florida. I’m currently working as Art Director with the amazing folks at Code School. As a freelance illustrator, I’ve had the privilege of working with some truly wonderful companies, like Twitter, Wired, Google, Facebook, and others.


You’re in a major role at a busy tech company. How do you juggle personal projects and agency projects?

The short answer is that I don’t all too often. When it comes to taking on additional work, I’ve had to learn how to most effectively balance the work I do during the day with the work I want to do at night. There was a steep learning curve on that one—plenty of sleepless nights pounding coffee. What I’ve really come to learn is that the whole “Never Stop Creating” mantra is incredibly inspiring as you’re starting out, but less so as you actually settle in to a routine of ceaseless labor. Taking breaks is instrumental to working at your best. This essentially means passing on a lot of exciting projects because I know that I won’t be able to give 100 percent to them. The last thing you want is to turn in half-assed work that bears your name on it.

As for working on personal projects, that’s something I always like to have in progress. They’re so immeasurably valuable in cultivating exploration and self-discovery within the creative process. As you take on more work (and more responsibility), you’re sure to fluctuate on just how much time and energy you can sink into these extracurricular endeavors, but having ongoing personal projects is something I’ll always be passionate about.

What inspires you right now that might surprise people?

I still prefer iTunes over Rdio, largely because I can listen to whatever the hell I want to in private. I keep my library on random most days and ping-pong somewhere between 90s pop music to hardcore to neo-80s-electronica to hip-hop. It’s sporadic and, clearly, so is my personal music taste. A coworker recently reminded me that purchasing the Backstreet Boys’ Greatest Hits collection can’t be ironic if I’m the only one who’s aware I own it.

I suppose this interview changes that.

You’ve got a busy family life, and a busy professional life. How do you make sure to properly pay attention to both both—without sacrificing either one?

I don’t think I believe there aren’t sacrifices being made in relation to each other at all times. Every choice we make is made in the place of another reasonable path we could have chosen. For me, I’ve had to become more aware of where and when those sacrifices are being made, and to be more intentional with how I invest the time I have. In becoming a father of two, it’s safe to say my inventory of free time has only diminished since the days of being single and working. But people make these kinds of choices every day, whether or not they work in our profession. Choosing to date someone may remove your ability to stay in and play video games in your underwear until 4 a.m. Getting more into working out and investing in your personal health removes time you could have used to improve your professional craft.


We won’t get more hours out of the day in any scenario—barring a catastrophic cosmic event that changes our course around the sun. All we can do (and all I try to do) is invest in the life I want to live. Becoming a husband and a father hasn’t diminished my desire to push myself in my craft. It’s changed the way I think about success—but I’d say that transformation in me has been a mostly healthy one. I’m less interested in what’s “socially” successful and more focused on improving my craft where I want to see it go, rather than to where others might want my work to head. And my affirmation of a life well-lived has become a more personal endeavor than a public one.

You live in Orlando, which isn’t San Francisco or New York City. How do you think that affects your approach to design?

I’ve had my brushes with the West Coast—I’m originally from over that way—but for me, it just hasn’t been the right move at this time in my life. Being in a city that isn’t known for design or technology isn’t always the most tantalizing thing for some, but for me, working here has been a really positive force. It’s exciting to be in a city where you can change the entire conversation of the creative community and plug right into being effective where you are. We’re a city that’s only just beginning to align and embrace the creative and tech communities; being on the ground floor of that has been both affirming and thrilling. Also, getting to be near so many colleges has been a great opportunity in forming some truly great mentoring opportunities.

Where you live is more than where you work; it’s where you do life.

The fact is, you can do great work wherever you are. And if you’re not doing great work where you are, a change in location might jumpstart some of that in you, but it might not. It’s sort of like wishing on a star: That old star can only take you part of the way. You got to help him with some hard work of your own. (Thanks, Princess and the Frog. Did I mention I have kids?)

Do you think the industry is shifting away from assuming all “real design” has to come from NY/LA/SF?

Absolutely. I see great, inspiring work coming from all over. From Indiana to Montana to Georgia and everywhere else, the Internet is making distribution a limitless variable. Your work its reach is nearly boundless when coupled with an internet connection.

I’ve also noticed companies are more open to having offices that aren’t parked exclusively in SF, and remote work is becoming more and more common in practice. Hopefully, we can move the conversation beyond designating someone as being “too good” for the city they’re in. Because they’re really not.

What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on and why?

Right now, we’re working toward making Code School an even more valuable product in the learning conversation. We’re in the process of reorganizing the architecture and our approach to teaching. It’s certainly the most difficult undertaking I’ve worked on, but it also gets me ridiculously excited. Being someone who went through college and didn’t leave with a degree based on anything I happen to do today, I’m really interested in improving how we cater to and encourage learning technology here and abroad. It’s inspiring to get to work on something that can actually transform someone’s life.


Who are other designers who inspire you?

I’m going to miss so many people on this brief list, but some people that I can’t help but consistently check in with would be: Jay Fletcher, Tobias van Schneider, Allison House, Kelli Anderson and Ryan Putnam.

Say I’m a designer just starting out, or trying to start out in Cleveland. What would you say to me?

If you’re waiting until someone asks you to do the work you want to be doing, but you haven’t started doing it yourself, you’re going to be waiting an awfully long time. Where you are shouldn’t be a barrier for you putting yourself out there and crafting the career you want to have. I’ve also got a particularly soft spot for Cleveland—it’s a great city.

Remember to re-evaluate what success means to you, and how you want to go about pursuing it. Our notions of success change over time and it doesn’t make us directionless, it makes us human. Pursue what fuels you, but don’t expect it to be the end-all-be-all. Look for inspiration outside of just design, and don’t fall prey to the idea that if you work hard enough, that’s the only ingredient you’ll ever need to be truly happy.

[Tweet “”Pursue what fuels you.” – Justin Mezzell”]

Anything else you want to add?

Thanks for having me and for letting me talk shop and all else. Also, thanks to anyone reading this. It’s a long one and you’ve got a lot of other things you could be doing with your day—maybe that you should be doing with your day. Don’t hesitate to say hey and if we’re ever at the same conference or place at the same time, let’s get a beer or (even better) a bourbon!

Learn more about Justin Mezzell’s work at his website, on Twitter or on Dribbble. You won’t find him on Spotify though—he’s busy hiding the fact he still listens to Yellowcard all the time.