I was asked a question recently how we keep the creativity flowing at Go Media and not get bored, uninspired, and lazy. Well, we have a handful of designers here and they’re often working on a variety of different jobs at any given time. So things are usually really busy and it’s hard to get lazy. But when we are given the job to come up with something creative, and we’re feeling uninspired, here are somethings that seem to do the trick:
1) Coffee or other stimulant. I’m not a regular coffee drinker but if I make a trip to my favorite coffee shop, I usually have a bunch of creative ideas and motivation. But I must not be distracted with other things because I’ll end up freakin’ out and working on 5 things at once and
Damon and his crew at Communicator were hired by Pepsi to help market their campaign with the Black Eyed Peas. Communicator did what they do best and came up with all the great marketing ideas that formed the foundation for the website. Communicator hired Cleveland design firm, Go Media, to bring those ideas to life. Basically, we took all their ideas and developed the graphics, animation, and technology. They were the brains, while we were the creative production team. We’d like to thank Communicator for hiring us and trusting us with their project and Bernstein & Andriulli for hooking us up together.
The site scored extremely well on all of the judges criteria:
Standards Compliance and Cross-Browser Compatibility
For more information, check out the Interactive Media Awards
Here are some more of the things I’ve learned this summer at Cleveland Website Design firm, Go Media:
1. Design Fundamentals
I am not officially educated in design, so many of my blunders can be fixed by adhering to basic design rules. If you’re in a similar situation, go to the library and order some books on the fundamentals of 2-D design and soak them up. After you think you’ve got it, try to apply the concepts. One fundamental rule I regularly overlook is watching out for tension points where design elements are too close (to edges for example). I must have a preference for really tight claustrophobic designs – but they usually look better with some breathing room.
2. Today I learned how to make a halftone in Illustrator.
1. Make a linear gradient from black to white in any shape you want by using the gradient in the Swatches pallete.
2. Go to the Effects –>Pixellate and choose Color Halftone. Increase the Max Radius to 15 pts and click OK. Your gradient will now be made up of little circles –this is a halftone. But it is not a vector halftone (yet).
I’m sure many of you have heard the term “RSS” right? Well, it stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and my first few years of blogging and web design I completely ignored it. It wasn’t until 6 months ago I realized the power and fun behind RSS feeds. I noticed that all my favorite websites, forums, news portals, and blogs had them but for some reason, I didn’t care to click on them or learn about it. I sort of knew what they were about, meaning I could use some sort of RSS reader to view the blog. Why would I want to do that when I can just visit the website every day? I had my routine of visiting about 5-6 websites every single day and I was happy with that. But then it hit me…
I kept hearing all this hype about Netvibes and Google Reader. So, like most people, I ignored it the first 20 times I scanned past it in the news articles I was reading. But I eventually wandered over to Netvibes and decided to give it a try. After about 15 minutes I was addicted like a giddy little web nerd.
Time Saving Shortcuts
Howdy. This is week five of my series, and here are three more tips. I hope you enjoy them!
1. Time saving keyboard shortcuts: Really, every shortcut I learn makes using illustrator much more natural, but here are two biggies: 1. Ctrl+F pastes directly in front of the copied object 2. Ctrl+B pastes directly behind the copied object. These two shortcuts are really essential in Illustrator, especially when using the pathfinder. Ahh, the pathfinder… Ps- here is the whole list of keyboard shortcuts from Adobe: Keyboard Shortcuts
2. Learning how to use the Pathfinder I had no idea what the Pathfinder did before my intership with Cleveland web design company, Go Media, but I realized very rapidly that I needed to figure it out. My second night back home I sat down with the Illustrator, opened up ‘help’, started figuring out the powerful pathfinder. The Pathfinder can combine shapes, cut one shape out from another, keep only the shape where two other shapes overlap – and so much more. If you’ve not exploited the power of the Pathfinder to do more stuff with less effort, now is a great time to learn it.
3. A Richer Gradient: 1. Make a regular gradient 2. Copy the gradient and Paste in Front using Ctrl+F 3. Change the pasted gradient to a solid color that is slightly lighter than the shade in the middle of the gradient. 4. Move the solid color to the back with the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+[ 5. Change the blending mode of the gradient to multiply from the drop down menu in the Transparency pallete. The result is a gradient with richer, and probably darker tones than the original. Many of the technical tips in this series are pretty simple, but when combined and applied they represent the technical tricks I’ve learned at Go Media to make things look better, faster. And there is still more to come! Till then, happy designing.
Adobe Illustrator Shortcuts
Hello again. These last couple of weeks I’ve been sharing some of the broad lessons I’ve learned this summer with Cleveland graphic designers, Go Media, such as learning from criticism, and realizing the importance of presentation.
This week I’m going to get more practical and share some Adobe Illustrator tips that my coworkers have taught me.
We’re all in one big open room at the Go Media offices, so I have the freedom to steal glances at the other designer’s monitors. In my inexperience I would undoubtedly see them taking an approach I had not been exposed to, or would never think of taking. I started a running list of cool techniques I saw for future reference. I’d like to share some. We use Adobe Illustrator for almost everything here, so the tips are rooted in Illustrator. (Warning: these are revelations of a Go Media intern, so don’t be surprised if some of these techniques are less than ground-breaking).
1. Oliver showed me how to do make a radial.
- 1. Draw something cool (preferably long and narrow)
- 2. Activate rotate tool by pressing “R”
- 3. Move anchor point further out from the center of the object
- 4. Hold Alt and rotate the object by 5-15 degrees
- 5. Hold Ctrl+D (which repeats the last action) until radial is closed
2. How to Rotate Text Boxes:
- 1. Text boxes won’t rotate as expected when using the handles in Illustrator. Instead, the bounding box will simply rotate while the text remains horizontal.
- 2. In order to actually rotate the text, you must use the rotate too by pressing “R”, not by using the handles.
3. A Richer Gradient:
- 1. Make a regular gradient
- 2. Copy the gradient and Paste in Front
- 3. Change the pasted gradient to a solid color that is slightly lighter than the shade of the gradient.
- 4. Move the solid color to the back with the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+[
- 5. Change the blending mode of the gradient to multiply.
That does it for this week. If you’re a student like me, I hope you learned something new today. But don’t stop here! This is just a taste of what there is to know about Illustrator – and Illustrator is just one design application! I’ll be sharing more tips next week, but in the meantime keep educating yourself.
As some of you know, I’m a stats junkie. Since I’m involved with Cleveland web design, I love web analytics and keeping track of who is coming and going from all of Go Media’s sites. I use Google Analytics of course like everyone else. But the problem with Google Analytics, is it’s slow. Oftentimes you have to wait 24 hours or more for your stats to show up. So I tried using ReInvigorate for a free solution to real time stats. It’s been great so far, but my problem is that the most of the real time stats are only for the current date or even less. I can’t look at all my referrers from the past month. But I do get them in real time.
Then I discovered Clicky. They like to call themselves Web Analytics 2.0 – which is a fun buzzword. They are real-time and have a super friendly web 2.0 style interface that makes me feel comfortable. Their stats feel more valuable when designed nice. Weird huh? The numbers are the same as anything else, but because they are well designed, I find myself preferring them over other web analytics apps.
Heyyy. The lessons at Cleveland Design firm, Go Media are abundant, and here are a few more that have been kindly passed along to me by everyone here.
When working for a client or a friend, try very hard to decide what is most important to him or her, and deliver it. Is it timeliness? Rock bottom costs? Nailing the look? If you are confused, communicate.
Soak up the company culture. I’m very lucky to be at Go Media, which values experimentation, progress, quality work, and getting the job done. Once you figure out what your company culture values, be proactive about adding value, even (especially) if it requires you to step outside of your job description. (***Note: If you happen to be stuck in a negative company culture, don’t follow this advice but fight tooth and nail for positive change!).
While I’ve learned a lot of practical and technical things at here in Cleveland with design firm Go Media, I’ve also learned some more general, but valuable lessons. In my first couple of posts I’d like to share them with you.
1. Swallow your pride / Be open to criticism
Sometimes this first lesson comes naturally, and other times it does not. Yes, design is subjective, but as an intern I have broken some basic rules on many occasions. Its good practice to not be offended by criticism because it often holds valuable lessons. Don’t have access to awesome mentors like those at Go Media? Here are some ways to get more from criticism:
- Don’t Rationalize: “But I’m only 19”, “I just started using Illustrator a month ago”, and “But business cards are boring” don’t really matter on a professional level (which is what you’re aiming for, right?).
- Instead find the reason for your rationalization – if you feel you lack experience then do some free freelancing. If you aren’t up to speed with certain tools of the trade, take a class or wait for Go Media to release some awesome video tutorials. Be proactive about improving in your weakest areas, don’t just exercise your strong points.
- Wait: Does your latest design make you giddy when you glance at it? Put it aside and look again in a couple of weeks. You might notice certain elements that would create more unity if changed slightly. Become your own critic by removing the bias from your own eye with time.
- Just Do It: Even if you don’t agree with criticism you’ve received on one of your designs, just follow it anyway. At the very least you’ll expand your horizons of “what looks good”, and most of the time you’ll find the recommendation really does help!
2. Make the most of your failures:
- This revelation is straight from the Go Media guy himself – Bill Beachy. Bill has taught me that each failure is a gem of experience and a sign of progress. Don’t dwell in past failures, but don’t ignore them either. Each one should sharpen your eye for detail, help you avoid future mistakes, and help you be proactive about creating good work.
3. Presentation is important:
After all, isn’t this what design is all about? Presentation – of anything (information, emotion, etc). So when presenting your designs to a client or applying for a job be sure to spit polish every aspect of the presentation process. Do you have matching stationary? Is your cover letter nicely formatted and addressed to proper recipient? If you have trouble remembering these presentation ‘musts’ make a checklist and file it.
Brand yourself. Spend an afternoon coming up with a killer monogram or simple logotype for your name. Keep the color scheme consistent with the rest of your presentation materials, such as portfolio covers and stationary. Showing you can create and present your own materials will convince others that you’re the one for the job.
Check out the user showcase recently added to the Go MediaZine and post your self-branding projects there. If yours is a model of awesome self-marketing it could end up here in the Go MediaZine!
There are more lessons and other practical tips to come, so check back. Till then, happy designing.
You’ve manufactured your product, paid the talented artists at Go Media Inc. to build your website, posted it live on the internet and then sat back, put your feet up and waited for the cash to start flowing in. But there was a problem. It didn’t. What the heck went wrong? You constantly heard about the fortunes being made on the internet. Where is your slice of the pie? You know you have a good product and the website design is top notch (naturally.) So, what’s wrong?
Advice for Graphic Design Students
About twice a week I will get a letter from a student or young graphic designer that asks me a variety of questions. Typically they are questions like: “How do I get started in the design industry?”, “What software should I study?”, and “How can I work for Cleveland Design firm, Go Media?”
After writing lots of very long emails, I thought perhaps I should put together an article of my answers and post it here so that everyone can read it.
I want to stress that these are only my opinions (I’m William A. Beachy). These are not necessarily the opinions of everyone at my firm (Go Media Inc). And, they are only that: opinions. There are a great many ways to design, a great many ways to get into the industry and a lot of different pieces of software. I can only give you my recommendations based on my personal experiences. If I say something that does not fit with what you’re doing don’t necessarily stop what you’re doing, Just take my advice and log it in your brain. Over time you will figure out what works for you.
So here goes.
Does Go Media offer internships?
We do have very few limited internships. We are typically looking for designers that are in their junior year of college. Basically, you need to have enough skills to come in and be a productive employee. While you will learn a lot as an intern
We are happy to announce that Go Media was featured in the latest issue of Computer Arts (#134 – April 2007). They ran a little feature on our vector packs and included a sampling of them on the CD that comes with the magazine. Click on the image to read the write up. Here is a quick rundown of what the editorial said about our vector packs:
“Tight deadlines are an unfortunate reality of commercial illustration. Clients rarely give you a comfortable amount of time to complete a project so it’s handy to be able to take a few shortcuts once in a while.
If you’re creating vector illustrations, one of the most laborious parts of the job can be finding good source images to trace or vectorise, so these ready-made vector images are a godsend. Go Media’s Vector Packs have been cleverly categorised into sets of commonly used design flourishes, such as halftone patterns, paint splats, and arrows, which means you can just grab what you need without having to trawl through masses of unsuitable images.”
There is also a special discount code offered by Computer Arts, but you’ll have to buy the issue to find out what that is :-)
6 Essential Marketing Tips for Designers
In today’s world, there are so many artists out there looking to get noticed. With design software readily available, everyone is a designer these days. But to those designers serious about getting your name out there, here are 6 essential tips brought to you by the Cleveland graphic designers at Go Media that will ensure some more exposure and more sales.
1.) Write articles and tutorials
One thing’s for sure, people love to learn. And learning for free! Writing good articles and tutorials will drive traffic to your website and get yourself some exposure. It helps establish yourself as an authority on the subject and builds trust and loyalty. Don’t make the mistake of writing an article about cliche subjects that have been covered many times before. Choose a niche. Write a unique article about how to get your work published in magazines and publications for example. Which leads me to my next tip:
2.) Submit work to magazines, books, and other publications
If there was an article out there with tried and true methods of getting published, you know it would be hot. First of all, your work needs to be good. And it needs to fit the publication’s criteria. But keep your eyes peeled for “Calls for Entry” and Submissions. Every publication needs content, so find their editors and submissions contact information and show them what you have got. At worst, your stuff will be rejected. But even then, they at least saw your work! If you can get published, that’s a huge amount of exposure.
What Makes a Great Logo Design?
Having a quality Corporate Identity (Commonly referred to as a “logo”) is the critical first step in building a business!
What makes a great corporate Identity? (What makes a great logo?)
Your corporate Identity must have several characteristics to make it “great.”
First and foremost your logo must be relatively simple. A logo needs to be instantly recognizable at great distances or when printed at very small sizes. Often times we will have clients request extremely complex logos. These complex logos do accomplish one of our goals of a great logo; they further the brand by communicating a message. Unfortunately that message is only delivered to the customer successfully when they have the time and proximity to take in all the details of the art. A complex logo looses it’s effectiveness on a billboard when a potential customer has only a moment to glance up at your logo. Something too complex may look like nothing more than a blob of color to a passing driver. My all-time favorite example of a great “simple” logo is the Nike swoosh.