Jeff Finley’s (VP of Cleveland Web Design firm, Go Media) new book Wake Up: The Morning Routine That Will Change Your Life comes out Tuesday, April 14. In anticipation for the big release, here are 11 ways artists and designers can benefit from waking up early every day.
Time to Draw
Finally, give yourself some quiet time to draw and let your right brain do the work. This is especially convenient that you can start drawing immediately after you wake up from some vivid dreams. Before you get started with the left-brain, logic oriented work-day, start off the day illustrating your dreams and imagination!
Uninterrupted Time Without Distractions
As creatives, we flourish when we are left alone to focus intently on our work. What better way than to get out of bed before everyone else and tackle that difficult task without anybody bothering you. Don’t forget to turn off distractions like email, social media, or wi-fi!
The Sunrise is Beautiful
Take time to bask in the beauty of the planet. Sip your coffee or tea as you watch the sunrise without any pressure to rush off to work. Realize that this happens every single day and you’re missing out most of the time. As artists, we are especially attuned to recognizing beauty and letting it inspire our work. Start the day off by breathing in some fresh air and watching mother nature wake up.
Get Your Exercise Out of the Way
If you’re like me, exercising doesn’t make it high up our priority lists. I’d rather be making music or working on my creative projects. However, waking up early lets you get your workout in early so you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. I found myself enjoying yoga in the mornings as it went well with my other morning routine habits like meditation and journaling.
Reflect on Your Life
The mornings are a wonderful time to reflect on your life. Are you on track to your goals? Are you happy with where your life is headed or are you spinning out of control? Do you like your job? The habit of journaling is one that has allowed me to become a better writer and pave the way for realizations, aha moments, and astonishing life lessons. I use Day One app for Mac to write in my journals and I’ve logged over 1,000 entires since I started two years ago.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Waking up early sets the tone for the rest of the day. Not only do you get more done, which allows you to feel more at ease the rest of the day, but the early mornings are calmer and more peaceful. Combine this with mindfulness meditation, I recommend 5-10 minutes per day, and you will notice more clarity and inner peace throughout your day.
Establish a Morning Ritual
One of the best parts of waking up early is creating your own morning ritual. What does your ideal morning look like? Here’s mine. What activities would you do? Would you wake up and check your email right away? Would you make a big breakfast? Go for a walk, ride your bike, meditate, write in your journal, plan the trip of a lifetime? Use your mornings as a launch pad to creating the life of your dreams.
The mornings are often the most predictable parts of our day. Look at your current morning routine, you probably do the same stuff day in and day out. If you woke up early, you could add a 90 minute distraction-free focus block to work on your important projects. Finally finish your website that you’ve been putting off! I’ve notice that I get more done when I tackle the important stuff right away before I check email or social media. Check out my 2 hour podcast episode on Procrastination!
Be More Productive
When you’re not procrastinating, you’re being more productive. Combine this with silence and eliminating distractions and you’ll be getting more done before 8 AM than most people do during an entire day. Spend the morning taking action on your biggest goals and aspirations.
Discover Your True Self
One of the most life-changing results of my wake up early habit was the discovery of my true self. In other words, I woke up to a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in my life after practicing meditation, journaling, and yoga combined with my voracious appetite for learning – a whole new world opened up. Waking up early can help you begin a path to self-discovery and self-mastery.
Learn Anything You Want
When you’re up early enjoying the sunrise and sitting in silence, why not read those books you’ve been putting off? I think I read something like 30+ books during the my first year waking up early. It was insane! I also listened to audiobooks and podcasts while I worked out or took walks in my neighborhood. Follow your curiosity, what do you want to learn that you’ve been waiting for “the right time” to learn? Practice your guitar, learn a language, watch 100 documentaries, etc. You get the idea!
Bonus: 12 Get into Lucid Dreaming or Astral Travel
This is a personal favorite of mine. If you start waking up early and keep a dream journal, you increase your chances of having lucid dreams, out of body experiences, or astral projections. Say what? If you don’t know what this is, I’ll let you look it up. I had my first out of body experience by accident. It got me totally hooked on the topic! As creative types, we have a proclivity to explore the dream realm. If this resonates with you, I really encourage you to follow your curiosity here!
Are You Ready to Wake Up Early?
That’s 12 ways you can benefit from waking up early. What if you woke up early for a week straight? Or a month? Or a year!? Imagine what you would get done or how your life would be different? I woke up early for a whole year and it drastically changed my life!
Jeff Finley’s new book ‘Wake Up: The Morning Routine That Will Change Your Life’ comes out April 14th. It will teach you how to establish the wake-up-early habit for yourself, build the perfect morning routine, and help you begin your path to self-discovery and self-mastery. Look for it on his website MakerMistaker.com or on Amazon.
Skull Vectors for Days
When we first thought to create a new skull vector pack, we thought we’d simply update some of our older stuff. Perhaps add a few new skulls, refresh them and polish them up like a shiny new pair of shoes.
After all, we have some great stuff and skulls never get old, now do they?
But here’s what happened – We reached out to some really great friends and kind of got carried away.
What came about was a…
BRAND. NEW. SET.
Ninety eight brand new skulls and related vectors. Yes, completely new content created by seven talented folks we know and love, including Jeff Finley, Steve Knerem, Blake Stevenson, Michael Hinkle, Justin Sobota, Scott Fuller and Go Media’s own internal designer Jordan Wong.
With this set, you’ll grab these must-have 98 vectors in total. Here’s how they shake out:
- 10 vectors from Steve
- 12 vectors each from Jeff, Michael, Scott and Jordan
- 20 vectors each from Blake and Justin
Don’t believe me when I say they’re incredible? Well let’s just let the visuals speak for themselves.
…See! Told you they were awesome!
DO. THIS. THING.
Looking for more awesome products? Hop on over to our Arsenal for more!
Go Media Cleveland Creative Studio: Our 2014 in 3 Minutes
Go Media is so much more than a creative studio.
Small in number, we are mighty in what we set out to achieve each and every year – from our passionate web design, logo, branding and print design projects, to our product Arsenal, our blog, our subscription based mockup sites (Mockup Everything and Shirt Mockup), video series (On the Map) and annual design conference (Weapons of Mass Creation Fest).
Not to mention the other hijinks that ensue throughout the year due to our collective love for design, community, life. Enjoy our look-back on 2014.
We hope to see you in 2015!
About Go Media:
What does great design mean to you?
For some, it’s all about sales and results. For others, it’s about winning that next big award. At Go Media, a Cleveland web design, branding and print design studio, great design is the product of passion, purpose, and possibility. It’s a place where the art of communication is expressed in ways that surprise and satisfy our clients.
Our Ohio City headquarters is buzzing with artists, strategists and enthusiasts who approach each new project with an eye for detail and an ear for objectives. The result? Visually stunning concepts that captivate, compel purchase and even earn a few awards.
How can we help you express your next big idea? Get Started Here!
How to Brand Your Apparel Line: Keys to Success
“It’s a common misconception that a brand is a company’s logo,” Go Media Partner graphic designer extraordinaire Jeff Finley notes in his book, Thread’s Not Dead. “That’s just part of it. Some experts say that a company’s brand is the “gut feeling” in their audience. The brand is actually a combination of all experiences that a person has with a company. When you think of every interaction as “branding” you can begin to shape the way people feel about your company in a natural way.”
So just how did our favorite clothing brands build their brands and what can you learn from them?
Read on as we talk shop with Jeff and friends Ben Scrivens from popular apparel brand Fright Rags, visual media designer Lain Lee and Hallie Perrin and Chris Miles, both from Cleveland based printing company Jakprints.
Consistency is Key
“The most important thing in branding is consistency. You need consistency in your designs, website, packaging, and social media presence. You need consistency in the way you talk to customers, how you answer the phone, what your email signature says, and the verbiage on your website, etc. The number one thing to remember is you are setting and meeting customer expectations.” – Jeff Finley, Author, Thread’s Not Dead
“It is very important to keep consistency throughout your brand so that the community can recognize it in stores, in the streets, and on social media. My recommendation for keeping this consistency is keeping your logo and the garments you use consistent throughout the merchandise you produce. This helps the community recognize the logo and for the consumer to recognize a high quality product that they love. It will also give them the confidence when purchasing from you.” – Hallie Perrin, Jakprints
“Developing your Mission/Vision Statement in the early stages of planning can help identify who your core demographic is. Staying true to the core values expressed in that document is a sure way to get your customers to identify themselves with your products. Be consistent with these principles when building your brand and you will have longevity in the marketplace.
Fashion is a reflection of our own personal tastes and even the most obscure has a following. Get in touch with those personalities and make them feel like they have a larger sense of community by leveraging social media. By giving them a platform to connect with like-minded individuals, you will gain invaluable advertising through word of mouth. Stick to your ideals and participate in your own forums, with it will come an army of loyal brand patrons.” – Chris Miles, Jakprints
Build a Culture Around your Brand
“It’s all too common for people just starting out to tout themselves as bigger than they are. They use terms like ‘we’ when it’s just one guy in his basement. I did the same exact thing… Ironically, as I really did become a ‘we’ I gravitated to using my own name and identity with my brand. I personalized emails to my customers, and even shot videos of myself talking about how I got into horror and why it means so much to me. Little did I know, I was crafting my story behind our brand and putting a face and voice to the company that customers could relate to. Now I spend a lot of my time cultivating those relationships by doing things like sending surveys, allowing customers to vote on designs, showing them the process of taking a design from sketch to shirt, and even showing them how a shirt is printed.” – Ben Scrivens, Fright Rags
“The first step in building a culture around your brand is to DEFINE the culture you’re seeking to appeal to and develop. A huge mistake a lot of these apparel lines make is not defining their brand – the who, what and why they’re doing it. They start out by making clothes they or their friends want to wear more than anyone else, never really taking the time to do their due diligence and research, making sure that their audience is also looking for what they’re putting out. Without a definition, without a “backstory” to your brand, without understanding the culture you’re seeking to develop around the brand, you’re doomed to just putting designs on clothes (and being stuck with unsold inventory). Building a brand is way too expensive and time consuming to not take the time to define the who, what and why you’re setting out on this journey for.” – Lain Lee, Lain Lee 3 Design
Concentrate on What Makes You Different
“What I believe makes Fright Rags unique is the connection we have to not only the horror genre but to our customers. Everyone who works with us is a fan first. We think like horror fans, and we are active members in the community. Using that as a jumping off point, our sensibilities are already tuned to what other fans might like, which helps guide the types of designs we create. Also, we use original artwork commissioned by artists for our designs. While that is done more and more these days, it was a fairly new thing when we first started as many other companies used poster artwork for their shirts. Our designs are unique artists’ takes on the films we love. Branding is as simple as finding those things you do that sets you apart and honing in on them. It may only be one thing, or a few, but you need to boil it all down to the essentials and build on those. It’s simple – yet also very difficult – because shirt sites are a dime a dozen these days so you have to be very clear with your message or no one will buy from you. In addition, authenticity is also crucial. If you aren’t connected to the types of products you sell in a personal way, it will be much harder to convince others to trust and purchase from you.
I get emails all the time from people who want to create their own brand and they are so fixated on how many designs to release when they start or how many to order for their first run. While those need answering, they are the last things to figure out. If you don’t have customers then it doesn’t matter if you order one shirt or one hundred. What makes you stand out? What is your or your company’s vision? Why would I buy a shirt from you? Answer those questions first, and focus on creating your brand and customer experience around them. The rest will follow.” – Ben Scrivens, Fright Rags
Focus on Customer Service
“Customer service is huge for new clothing lines. The main goal for customer service is to ensure that customer will be be a return customer even if the issue/situation is not in their favor. If that’s a promo code, or an email for them to be the first to know when their out of stock garment is back in stock, it will make that customer feel special and feel like a key asset to that specific clothing line. The possibilities of making that customer feel special are endless, and being resourceful with this is key. – Hallie Perrin, Jakprints
“Customer Service is the key to having repeat customers. If you plan on selling your merchandise online as many independent clothing labels do, be sure to have as much information available about the fit and finish of your garments. You will reduce the amount of returns by simply listing the measurements of each size and by providing a footnotes about the merchandise and models shown on your product pages. When possible, include helpful hints like “sizing runs small”, or “loose fitting”.
Implement Free Shipping and Hassle-Free Returns if possible. By including these costs in your “overhead” before you add markup, online retailers can lower the barrier to entry. Bank on either worst case scenario when building your shipping costs into your pricing or seek out flat-rate mailers to ensure that your operating costs are fixed. 2-way shipping may be too much cost for your product’s price points to absorb, but if on average your customers only return 1 out of every 20 orders then you can build an extra 5% of the shipping fees into your product so that your return will accumulate over time. Be sure to audit the amount of returns vs. the number of shipped orders at least once a year and make adjustments accordingly if necessary.
Last but not least, respond to all comments and complaints promptly. Negative reviews on the internet can be devastating for a company of any size and can be almost impossible to erase from the web. Treat even the most irrational customers with respect and offer them fair resolution, even if it costs you a little extra. The price you pay for “bad press” will far outweigh any spoilage or ruined product that you may have to replace on your own dime. With enough data, this too could be accounted for and added to your operating costs formula.” – Chris Miles, Jakprints
Polarize Your Audience
“It is very important to polarize your brand. Taking a position is what will set you apart. Remaining in the “middle of the road” and trying to appeal to everyone will keep you exactly there – in the middle of the road. If you think of some of the world’s best brands, they always let you know where they stand within their culture and what they represent. Coca Cola, happiness and nostalgia. Apple, quality and innovation. Bad Robot (JJ Abrams production company), mystery and great storytelling. In-N-Out, simple, classic burgers. Remaining marginal will keep you from getting noticed and definitely keep you from standing out in your customers’ minds. To polarize your audience, take a stance and become very vocal about it. If your brand is all about being youthful, fun, and party-hopping, shout it from the mountaintops. If your brand is about clean lines, minimal design, and honoring the spirit of Herman Miller and the Eames, post articles that reflect that mentality and denounce the use of over complicated elements of design. The bottom line, pick a side, then pick a strong subsection of that side, and become very vocal about it’s integral role in your brand.” – Lain Lee, Lain Lee 3 Design
And then…Take it Back to Basics.
“Once you’ve developed your brand, what are the first, most important steps to getting it launched and really seen?,” we asked Lain.
“This is one of my favorite questions that I get asked a lot. And it’s one of my favorites because the answer is the exact opposite of what every article online will tell you. Are you ready?
Make quality, meaningful connections with your audience OFFLINE and use online properties to leverage those relationships. In a world that makes it increasingly easier to connect with people online and never have to touch, talk to, or interact with them, we’ve become way too reliant on the internet and smart phones to handle all of our networking. There is no substitute for shaking someone’s hand and looking them in the eye as you share your passion with them.
People don’t buy your clothes because they’re better than anyone else’s, let’s be honest. Sure, you might have a style that appeals to them. But let’s play a little game really quick: You and another company release the same exact design at the same exact time. You have no followers, you’re just getting started, and you’ve only reached out to your immediate circles through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email. The other company is just getting started too, but they’ve decided to release their new design at a local sneaker convention (feel free to substitute in here any other type of convention you’d like).
You hear from a few friends about the shirt, and finally your grandma decides to buy one to support you. They get to spend the next 2 days passing out info, shaking hands with like-minded people, and sharing stories, laughs and making real connections with people about their brand. They end up almost selling out of their design. They get home and see that 52% of the people they handed out cards to have started following them on their social media channels, and their mailing list has grown. They also received several inquiries about what else they had in the works. In this scenario, who do you think made the better decision and why? While you chose to solely rely on social media, the other company went out into the “real world” and made genuine connections with their customers.
So what’s the take home here kiddies?
[Tweet “Customers buy from you because of YOU, not just because of what you’re selling them. – Lain Lee”]
They become invested in your company when you show them why you’re doing it. So in summation – define your brand’s culture, polarize your brand’s ideologies and views, and when making connections with your audience, start with why. (PS: Simon Sinek, a world-renowned author and speaker, has a great video on Youtube in which he explains why you should always “Start with Why” when selling, I highly recommend checking it out.)” – Lain Lee
– So why should we buy your tees? Tell us below! –
More about our contributors:
Photoshop Drawing Tutorial
New year’s resolutions are always thrilling for me. They breathe a sense of new life into both my personal and professional life. In 2015, I have one main goal – to throw every ounce of my soul into design. To dive into it, roll around, fill my brain with the endless information available and explode with happiness because of it.
Digital Illustration & Drawing Techniques Video Tutorial
I’m super stoked about Cleveland Graphic Designers, Go Media’s first Arsenal launch of 2015: a Photoshop Drawing Tutorial by Jeff Finley. This 6 hour video tutorial is for intermediate PS users looking to create some awesome digital artwork. We’ll learn Photoshop shortcuts for killer results while simultaneously enhancing our drawing skills. Who’s with me?
– Heather, ‘ Zine editor
Resident Partner, Designer, Breakdancer, and one of the architects of Cleveland Graphic Design Firm, Go Media, Jeff Finley, is here to get you in the workflow with his Spotify playlist, “Pop Punk Favs.” So press play, pop open that pen and let the magic begin.
Jeff Finley’s “Pop Punk Favs”
More Go Media Staff’s Spotify Playlists for Getting Sh*t Done:
Volume 1, William Beachy
Volume 2, Bryan Garvin
Volume 5, Aaron Roberts
This is a tutorial or a simple “how-to” guide to help you with your design projects. This is not the end-all, be-all way of doing things. We will try to make what is normally a long and detailed process of creating commercial art into a simple and easy-to-follow guide. We encourage your use of artistic license and creative vision to make high quality work for your clients.
I wrote a brief tutorial on Apparel Design roughly a year ago for Go Media, the source for web development in Cleveland and it received a lot of good response. But it’s a bit outdated now. We’ve done lots more apparel work, including stuff for Avenged Sevenfold, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Evanescence, Atticus Clothing, Strhess Clothing, and tons more notable bands and clothing companies.
Needless to say, we’ve learned a lot about what’s hot in today’s “underground” fashion market. And when I say underground, it’s actually not so underground. Just take a peek into your local Hot Topic or Pac Sun and you’re going to see some great apparel graphics. And this tutorial will show you just how it’s done.
Everything you see in Hot Topic or Pac Sun these days features some combination of skulls, flourishes, splatters, and miscellaneous grunge effects. Why? Don’t ask me, but I’m sure it’s got something to do with the recent rise of popular screamo, metalcore, and hardcore bands into the mainstream. With bands like Avenged Sevenfold and My Chemical Romance paving the way for that ultra sceneXcore aesthetic. Which can look ultra lame if done bad, but hella cool if done right. And I’ll show you how it’s done right.
Before You Begin
How do you make all those flourishes, splatters, and other design elements? Well, some do it by hand and draw their own flourishes, wings, skulls, etc. But what most t-shirt designers are doing these days is using stock design elements and clip art. Old floral graphics and whatnot. It’s a quick and easy way to get that cool look without actually doing a lot of custom work.
We at Go Media prefer to create our own elements. But to make it easy on you, we’ve created a bunch of stock vector elements for you to get started right now. We’ve created custom shapes to destroy and beat up your designs at the highest quality possible. And just about every trendy element today is covered such as wings, crests, tech shapes and more. And they’re freakin cheap as hell. So if you want to skip the hard part and go straight to designing kick-ass apparel graphics, then check out our kick ass stock vector packages – for that ultra sceneXcore aesthetic!
On With the Tutorial!
You’ll need these:
— Illustrator CS2
So with that said, let’s get on with the tutorial! First you need to open up Photoshop and Illustrator, as you’ll be using both. Mostly Illustrator. So get that Pen Tool ready!