How Designers Use Social Media

How These Designers Used Social Media to Expand Their Reach, Take On the World

How Designers Use Social Media

These days, you can’t go anywhere without noticing someone staring at their phone, laptop or tablet. Most of the time spent on these beloved devices is on social media like Instagram and Facebook. Social media runs a large part of the public’s everyday lives and many choices are made by the content they see. Why not use social media to your advantage as a designer to get your work out to more prospective clients? Here are some designers who took to the web in order to broaden their reach and made a name for themselves in cyberspace:

joanna zhou photo

Youtube isn’t just for gamers

Joanna Zhou, who goes by Maqaroon on Youtube, is a professional illustrator/designer based in Austria. She first created a Youtube account in 2011 to build a following and gain exposure for her budding online shop. When she started posting videos in 2013, she had little to no experience in the online world and how to create a niche for herself. But, two years later, her YouTube account has become a hub for all things girly “Do-It-Yourself”. With 208,296 subscribers and 10,444,514 total views in two years, Joanna became the most successful Youtuber in Austria, now partners with Tastemade and has 22.5k Instagram followers. Since her online exposure, she has been featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan.

lolly wolly doodle photo

Homemaker to Facebook extraordinaire

Facebook isn’t just for friending anymore. Many people spend their time liking, sharing and commenting their little fingers off. What most people don’t consider are the business benefits available to you because of it. Homemaker turned designer, Brandi Temple, made a name for herself on Facebook. Now the CEO for Lolly Wolly Doodle, a clothing company for children, Brandi created an empire overnight with her designs. She originally started by just posting clothing designs on Facebook and selling to friends. Now a full-fledged company, Lolly Wolly Doodle uses their Facebook page to let fans know about deals, sales and upcoming seasonal lines. What started as a homemaker’s hobby in 2009 turned to a startup conquering Facebook sales, Lolly Wolly Doodle boasts over 1.1m likes, made $11 million in 2013 and has been featured in The Business Journal many times.

Instagram first….then the World
Instagram is one of the newer social media platforms, at least compared to Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. Originating in 2010, the social media app focuses on sharing photos and short videos with your following and allowing them to like and comment on them. Below are two artists who took this app to the next level and used it to not only showcase their hard work but even get them the exposure of their dreams!

mike kus photo

Designer and photographer, Mike Kus, turned his Instagram in a mobile on-the-go portfolio. Boasting a whopping 859k followers and 1,461 posts, Mike uses the app for traditional social media purposes and also keeping fans and clients up to date with progress. Since he was one of the early adopters of the app, he also found himself at the forefront of a budding phenomenon. Instagram featured him as a suggested user for other users to follow and offers started pouring in. Some of these projects include being approached by the clothing company Burberry to shoot them backstage at London Fashion Week 2011 and to shoot for the European cell phone company O2. Using the social media app, he shows off his finished projects with hints on where to pick them up. Mike has also worked with HP Europe and Techné Watches, and posted mockups and photos of the designs to his Instagram followers.

Maura Photo

Instagram was what sealed the deal for young designer and illustrator, Maura Creighton. Currently majoring in Arts Management and minoring in Design at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Maura gained notoriety on social medias for her art and designs. What started out as a hobby for Maura, turned into something she found could make her money online. Her exposure on Instagram allowed the creator of the clothing brand Anthem Made, Kellin Quinn, to contact her on the app after seeing some of her work to create two designs for the Summer and Fall 2014 lines for the company. After her stint with Anthem Made, she was commissioned to make t-shirt design for the band Man Overboard. Since then, she has gained a following and commissions designs straight from her Instagram for those who are interested and constantly updates her followers with designs that are in progress.

Interactive Webcomics

Not only are comic books a very popular endeavor as of late, but some designers have found notoriety on the web for their stories. Web-comics came to be a gold-mine for Andrew Hussie, who created the popular hub of MS Paint Adventures. MS Paint Adventures houses his four series, which are Jail Break, Bard Quest, Problem Sleuth and most famously Homestuck.

homestuck photo

The use of the online platform not only allowed Andrew to get his work out to a larger audience but also employ different design techniques like GIFs, Flash plug-ins and music to make his comics come to life and capture readers. The popularity has grown so large that Andrew’s Homestuck has merchandise in Hot Topic.


Whether you use any of the social medias listed above or another one entirely–they are an important tool to consider. Using social media in a technology driven world like ours to create a name for yourself is one of the more clever business moves to make. Just because your accounts are online, you can still promote yourself in person with Favicards. The above designers took to the web to not only promote themselves but also get their designs to the masses and you can do the same.

Don’t Make Squiggliepoo: Trade Show Marketing Ideas with the Experts from Jakprints




1. useless marketing detritus, usually handed out at conventions or trade shows

Synonyms: junk, tchotchke, futile doodads

You’ve put in the time and effort to get your company space at the big trade show – good job. Next, you’re prepared a checklist of must haves for convention success:

  • Booth – check
  • Chairs – check
  • Branded tri-folds – check
  • Business cards – check
  • Product samples – check
  • Key chain ice scrapers with your company logo on it – …why?

Take a quick survey of your desk right now. How many promotional stress balls do you have emblazoned with random company logos? Are your keys currently attached to any functionless keychains? Breweries know what’s up, my Bell’s key chain is a bottle opener.)

Don't Print Keychain

If you’re like most people, coming home from a convention is when the Great Unloading Ceremony takes place; when you – unceremoniously – toss all the useless garbage you’ve accumulated. So why even make this type of item? Is “trash” the thought you want associated with your brand? We both know you’re better than garbage!

At Jakprints, we are all about having cool booth stuff to give away. We do a number of large shows every year (SXSW, HOW Design, etc.) and as printers we have tried it all with the best of intentions (and some of it has been marketing chaff, sorry plastic Inky).

Don't Print Inky

You want your brand to add value to a customer’s convention experience, and in turn have them associate you with that value. Doing this is simple, give them something they can use right away.  At shows, we have started giving away our pocket notes, so that attendees had something to write on that looked way cooler than a normal pad. When they got home, instead of our marketing handout being tossed in the trash, it stuck around with all of their valuable show notes in it. Now, every time they go back to look at something they committed to paper, they’re also reminded of our brand. So far, these little books have been the most successful item we’ve handed out — more so than some of the design kits or sticker packs (don’t worry, we love our sticker too much to stop passing those out). Judging by the way pocket notes fly off our tables, they should be a convention staple for us for a long time to come.

unbranded pocket note sample
| unbranded pocket note sample |

We’ve got it made with these little books because they promote our brand and show off one of our favorite products at the same time. We realize not everyone has this opportunity, but as a rule of thumb, try to get your swag as close to the product or service that you offer while still keeping the item useful. Cleveland graphic design firm Go Media gives it’s new clients a branded Moleskine. It relates to their business, as many designers use it to sketch their ideas, but is also useful to any business owner.

Everyone has a stockpile of branded bank pens on their desk or lost somewhere between the drivers seat in your car and a cup holder full or change and other miscellaneous items. However, in either your house, or your parents (depending on your generation), I bet you will find at least 1 calculator with a bank logo on it. While no one really associates banks with writing, back in the day, balancing a checkbook required a calculator (so I am told) which made it useful and easy to link it to a bank.

Checkbook open to pay bills

[Tweet “”The best way to be remembered is to provide value.” – Jakprints”]

So for your next convention checklist, keep in mind the best way to be remembered is to provide value. Don’t get too gimmicky and be lumped in with all the other cheap, off the rack companies. Stand out with useful giveaways and watch your hard work pay off with increased leads from your next show.

Tutorial: Pro Tips On Preparing Artwork For T-Shirt Printing

Foil Stamping: A Finishing Favorite

Foil stamped cd wallet

Foil stamping is always a fan favorite, due to the elegance and high visual impact that it can provide. Foil stamping (also called hot stamping, dry stamping, foil imprinting, or leaf stamping) can be used to add flair to products like business cards, book covers, gift cards, office folders, and a whole host of professional or personal items. Instead of using plates or inks to print words and shapes, foil stamping uses dies, or sculpted metal stamps.

Foil die

Foil Stamping: How it’s done

The heated dies seal a thin layer of metallic leaf/foil onto a surface. The foil comes in a wide roll, large enough for several passes, backed by mylar. The hot die works similarly to a letterpress. Once it’s heated, the die presses the foil against the substrate material with enough pressure that the foil sticks only in the intended places, leaving a slight imprint.

Gold foil stamping

Foil leaf is available in every imaginable color and pattern. Rarer types of leaf come in matte, pearlescent, holographic, opalescent, or glossy finish. There are also semi-transparent foils that allow an under color to show through. Not only does it provide a uniquely vibrant image with depth, but foil stamping can be applied to a much more diverse selection of substrates when compared to ink. Businesses typically use foil stamping to identify folders, cards, signs, and magnets with their logo. The reflective and unusual treatment is sure to catch the eye of your potential customer!

Print Technique: Reflecting on Strike-Through Varnish

reflecting stricke-through varnish

When most of us want to add additional flair to our print project, we automatically look for elaborate finishing processes to help us accomplish this, forgetting that a well-designed spot varnish can really take the perception of quality and design up a few notches. Unfortunately, most people look to spot UV to hit this mark, since it’s immediately recognizable based on its high-gloss, wet-look appearance.

Spot UV’s Dirty Little Secret

While spot UV truly does produce a beautiful product, it’s sort of like the Las Vegas of the print world…..all the glamor and glitz, with lots of dirty little secrets. First, it’s a petroleum-based product, and the last thing any of us need is for your postcards, business cards, or annual report to further our dependency on foreign oil. Second, spot UV can be very expensive and typically runs off-line, as an additional process.

So, why bring it up if I’m only going to talk you out of using it? Because I can offer you a comparable, but much greener process!

Go Greener with a Strike-Through Varnish

Here’s how it works: The contrasting glossy vs. matte effects are accomplished using our water-based coatings and a strike-through varnish, printed as an ink, inline on our presses. First, the dull/matte strike-through varnish is put down with a traditional printing plate in the areas that are to stay matte. At the end of our presses, an overall flood of our gloss aqueous coating is applied.

As it cures, the gloss coating is dulled down in the areas where the strike-through matte varnish had been applied. Also, since we’re using a traditional printing plate in a standard print unit on our press, we can achieve as much detail as we want. Otherwise, you have to cut a coating blanket specifically for the areas where you want glossy, and that blanket can only be used for that press run or project.

Strike-through varnish

When designing for this, remember that, because it’s a water-based setup, the contrast is not as dramatic as the petroleum-based UV. However, keeping the varnish design on a darker, solid-color background will ensure you get the maximum amount of visual appeal out of this process.

Get The Guides

For more info on how to setup your spot varnish files, download the PDF of your preference:

Living In A Die-Cut World


I spot die-cut

Assuming you’re in the print or design community, I’m sure you can appreciate my hyper-awareness to the massive amounts of die-cut materials sprinkled throughout our every day lives.  Scattered around my kitchen, I’m seeing cereal boxes, pizza cartons, even the regular mail is filled with standard #10 envelopes that had to be die-cut before they could be glued and converted into plain old envelopes.  So much engineering and craftsmanship in such a neglected and undervalued piece of paper.  Right in front of me, I’m looking at an iPhone, beautifully constructed of round-cornered components, all masterfully die-cut and stamped parts.  Next to that sits my wallet, stuffed with die-cut credit cards, gift cards, my health insurance card, drivers license, various permits, and even my Blockbuster card has round corners.  Whether it’s for aesthetic value, functionality, or even the protection of the piece, it serves a purpose.

So, why is it then that when most clients look to design or print marketing materials, they don’t all choose to customize their project with some fancy die-cutting?

The bottom line is usually the bottom line, right?  Cost.  Especially in this economic climate, if every company, large or small, had it’s own “trending topic” Twitter list, cost consciousness would always sit at the top.  While many clients surely see die-cutting as an added, unnecessary expense, I think few truly understand the real value that it brings to the table.  Typically, it’s more cost effective than you think, especially when you think about the big picture.  With the amount of time, energy, and money you spend to acquire leads, prospects, or clients, shouldn’t you seize that opportunity to communicate with them as effectively as possible?  Of course you should!  Think about how much printing you see every day and then realize what it really takes for something to really jump out at you.  It takes more than a rectangle and some stock photography.  So, like I said…die-cut it.

Let’s walk through the process of die-cutting and then we’ll discuss how to setup your file.

1. Die-creation

This starts with a dieline, which most of the time starts with you.  Once the dieline is submitted, it’s converted into a .dwg (AutoCAD) file for the die to be engineered.  Typically, a blank sample is cut to ensure that the piece works.  This is especially important if the die-cutting provides functionality.  Many times, for cartons and other packaging, numerous samples are made with the exact paper being used for the job, until it’s perfect.  Once the dieline is good to go, a large automated table cutter uses various tool attachments to drill and carve an incredibly precise copy of the dieline into a 3/4″ thick pine board.  Once the board is cut, the die rule is cut and formed to fit the curves of the die, so that it can be inserted into the carved slots and then pounded in securely and perfectly even for cutting.

Die-cutting rule being shaped/formed
Rule being secured into place
Die board with half the rule inserted

If you reorder the same piece later, this process only happens once. Assuming no changes need to be made to the die, then your die cost is a one-time expense and this die will be re-used.

2. Die-cutting

The die is setup on the machine and locked into place.  The machine is sheet fed, so individual sheets feed into the press and are pressed against the die with a precise amount of pressure.  The operator must pay constant attention to the  pressure being used and the registration of the cut to the crop marks and printed piece.  If this job is a piece of packaging or has other folding, conversion or functionality, the operator will strip the piece out and certify that it completes properly before running the full quantity of the job.

Stock entering the feeder of the press
Die entering the press

3.  Stripping

Once the job is finished die-cutting, it’s still in full-sheet form.  You may be a little confused at this point, but this is because, if the machine cut the piece completely out, you’d have odd shaped die-cut paper pieces flying around loose in your machine.  Not a wise move when you’ve got sheets cranking through that press by the thousands.  There are larger presses that can handle stripping on press, but they’re much more expensive, so, as you’d expect, they’re used for larger jobs.  Smaller jobs are hand stripped, which can leave small “nicks” on the printed piece, from the tiny strands of paper that kept them fastened to the rest of the sheet for delivering out the back of the press and stacking neatly.

4.  Additional Finishing

After this, if there is additional finishing to be performed, it will commence.  Typical examples are folding, gluing, applying fugitive (booger) glue and gift cards or promotional coupons, tipping (inserting) in product samples, bindery, etc.  If none of these processes apply, the job is packed and shipped.

5. Setting Up Your File

Now you know more than the average joe about die-cut techniques – now put them into practice! Watch this short video to learn how to set up an Illustrator file that’s ready for die-cut production.