15 Awful Mistakes Made by Designers in the Music & Apparel Industry – 3 of 3

Designer Fail

In an effort to help further educate designers about things they should NOT be doing, here is the last installment of the popular 3-part Mistakes series. Part two talked about staying original, following directions, utilizing the medium to its fullest, showing respect to fellow designers, and when to release source files for your projects.

If you missed the first two parts, you can catch up here:

I’ve picked the brains of 10 great designers:

Rob Dobi Dan Mumford Derek Deal
Jimiyo Geoff May Justin Ryan
Laurie Shipley AJ Dimarucot Jimmy Heartcore
Chris Sandlin

My apologies to Chris Sandlin, who I seemed to have left out of this list in the last two posts. He’s a very talented artist and his contributions definitely helped shape these articles. Sorry Chris!

So let’s get right to it. Here are the last 5 mistakes that designers are making in the music and apparel industry:

11. Working for “Exposure”

Exposure is good right? Yes of course, but “exposure” is how many designers get into trouble and wind up getting screwed.

This is a double edged sword. I’ve done pro-bono work for exposure. We all have. It’s difficult to determine how much “exposure” you’ll get and how that exposure will translate into new work. But a smart designer can weigh his options to determine if that exposure will be real and the chances of benefiting are high.

The mistake comes when designers are tricked into working for free by “buster” clients who offer “exposure” as their form of payment. After being a victim of this many times I realized that these busters are easy to spot.

Bill says in his Designer’s Guide to Pricing article:

“Busters” is the term I use for people that have no money and want you to do work for them. They will do everything in their power to convince you that their idea is the next big thing. They will promise you great riches, fame and success beyond your wildest dreams. If you’ll just do this first job for free they will pay you triple on the next job. Or, if you do the design – they’ll pay with royalties when their product starts flying off the shelves. – Bill Beachy

How do you know if the exposure is worth it? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who will be seeing my work? What kind of people?
  • How many people will see my work?
  • Will those people be likely to hire me or purchase from me?
  • What is the real benefit of the exposure? More work? Fame? Respect?
  • How much work do I need to put in? Risk/Reward?

The only bonafide circumstance that one should allow the possibility of exposure being a main reason for working with a client, is when it is with an established company who’s customer base is so large, that working for them will allow your work to be seen by many people. – Jimiyo

Bands will not name drop you on stage

Ironically, just about every project in the music/apparel industry can be considered an “exposure project.” Meaning every client can try to offer you “mass exposure” instead of cash. Bands will tell you that they will “promote you everywhere they can” and name drop you on stage. Seriously? Yes they will tell you that, but they’re not going to do it.

A band is not going to name drop a graphic designer in between songs unless they’re already friends and happen to be at the show. Fans don’t care and would greatly prefer to hear another song over listening to an out-of-breath singer name drop and rattle off a random website URL. And even if they did, chances are slim to none that people will remember and then contact you for work – let alone be willing to pay you for it.

Rob Dobi shares some insight on working for shady bands:

Don’t bother working with bands who seem shady unless they bother to pay upfront or want to work out a kill fee. When I was younger I would spend countless hours pumping out designs for bands that would ultimately pass on every piece I made, it ends up completely frustrating and a total waste of time. Discuss your concerns with the band’s management before you spend an entire week working on something that goes nowhere. – Rob Dobi

As a designer, you’ll have to learn how to judge which projects are actually worth it.

Good exposure situations are:

  • Doing editorial illustrations for a magazine
  • Writing a tutorial for a magazine
  • Tagging your name/url or logo on the piece (credited)
  • Good cause or charity.
  • Branding – will it enhance your brand to be associated with the client?
  • Writing an article for other popular blogs (something we need to do)

12. Failure to Research the client

Find out who your client is, ask them questions, research the company or concept they present to you. The ultimate balance as a commercial artist is delivering the needs of your client while still being true to yourself as an artist. – Laurie Shipley


This is similar to not following directions.
It is crucial to have an understanding of who the client is and what they’re looking for. Usually, they will explain it in a brief, but it’s also good to do a little reasearch yourself. If you’re working for a band, listen to the music! Find out what the client likes or is inspired by.

Nothing is worse than having a progressive metal band who focuses on being different and obscure, get a shirt design filled with trendy hand drawn swirlies and neon colors. This should be obvious, but I’ve seen it done.

Just ask questions

In my friend Jimiyo’s experience, he finds his clients are very picky and on the conservative side. He offers this bit of advice:

Do not neglect your client’s market. It’s one thing if the client requests that you do whatever you want, but in most cases there is a specific market the client is requesting for whom you are to create artwork as well as at least a slight idea of what they want. Designing for yourself is fine with your personal work, but client work is a job, is a job, is a job. Absolve any aspirations of making anything totally original. Most clients are on the conservative side, as most consumers usually do not take to total abstractions and new ideas easily. They like their generic honey toasted Cheerios, so don’t go wild in being artistic and go make chocolate sprinkle covered Cheerios because you think it will be a great seller. That is the clients job to decide. – Jimiyo

I agree with Jimiyo to an extent. I do not believe clients are only after what they want and are not open to any creative ideas the artist may have. I encourage designers to speak up to their client and let them know you think their idea is generic. Offer a solution that will help them increase their sales. Just do it in a professional manner and you should be ok.

13. Unclear Communication up Front

Designers run into trouble when they fail to specify the terms of the project with the client. I’m talking about costs, time estimates, payment schedules, and deliverables.

Having unclear terms or terms up in the air is a very big mistake. Make sure you are clear with your clients about payments, deposits, direction, revisions policy, rights, etc BEFORE starting a project. No one wants to make 10 major revisions on a $150 tshirt design, or go a month over schedule on a web project, without getting extra money. – Chris Sandlin

Go Media has a strict policy on receiving 50% payments up front before we start a project. This works for about 80-90% of our clients. However, not all of our clients agree to this. We have a few that pay us on THEIR terms. Those clients are usually bigger companies or agencies with strict policies who hire outside vendors all the time and have implemented their own policies to pay them. We’ve got to play by their rules sometimes if we want to continue working with them.

I had a client who I was doing a couple designs for and totally forgot to set the price at the beginning of the project. When I invoiced them, they were shocked at my price. So we had to haggle back and forth to arrive at a price we were both happy with. Sometimes it doesn’t work out at all and you just wasted a lot of time and energy. – AJ Dimarucot

Don't screw yourself

However, in most cases, you’re going to want to get a deposit to weed out the “busters.” Designers will be eager to get started and are afraid to lose the job if they ask for money up front. But you should be confident in your professionalism and happy to reject clients that don’t play by your rules (of course, be smart and understand where an exception might be needed).

Always get a deposit first. This insures you against the client pulling out of the job. You’re going to get paid something for your work, at the very least. 50% of the total expected invoice is pretty standard. – Jimmy Heartcore

It’s a good idea to have these terms laid out in a nice PDF that you can send your new clients so they understand your policies. Or this could even be on the invoice you send them. Whatever it is, you want to cover your bases so that in the time things go wrong, you can refer back to your terms.

Some designers suggest getting your clients to sign a contract up front. But in the music/apparel industry, this sometimes scares clients away because it’s not a standard practice. Most of the designers working for bands and these upstart clothing companies are young and do not fully understand the business side of design. They consider doing a design for a band a privilege and would never think about making them sign a contract.

This usually changes once the designer starts feeling taken advantage of. It seems every young designer learns the hard way in this industry. That’s fine, but this article is hoping to remedy that some.

14. Letting One client be 40% of your income

This happened to us and we learned the hard way. One of the jobs we had last year earned us just about 40% of our income for the year. We were ecstatic. However the project was incredibly demanding and took up all of Go Media’s resources for a few months. We could barely take on any new jobs and had to increase our staff as demand was too great.

Big Fish. Big Problems.

The client was such a big fish that we had hardly any control over what deadlines were feasible and how to handle a project of that scale. It seemed our timelines for when we could achieve what they wanted were always unacceptable and never fast enough. We ended up working a ton of OT and even through Christmas break just to meet their demands. It’s hard to say no when 40% of your annual revenue is waving in your face.

Needless to say, the client didn’t have a great experience and they left us. In fact, we’re still working to try to get paid for a few months worth of work. We basically got screwed big time and we’re now overstaffed and struggling to pick up where we left off.

Lesson learned, big fish are not always a good thing.

Don’t let a large amount (40%+) of your monthly income come from one client. They may give you a lot of work and pay well, but you never know when they may eventually stop needing your help, go out of business, etc, leaving you struggling to fill the void to help pay your bills. If you have a contract with a set period (x months), that is, of course, a different story. – Justin Ryan

15. Thin Skin – Unable to take Criticism

Young designers are usually looking for approval by their peers and are often insecure and still maturing as a person. The first sign of an amateur designer (aside from a mediocre design) is one that gets upset, cries and gets defensive when something negative is said about his or her design.

On Emptees, this happens daily. Threads are even started complaining about those that complain about getting their feelings hurt. The point is, be strong, take the constructive criticism and improve.

I’ll take my latest, super sweet, design for that hot, new Swedish Death Metal/Jazz/Pop/Funk band and post it up on Emptees and it gets ripped to shreds! Instead of getting all hurt and dejected, I take the criticism and try to make the piece better. If you can’t take criticism about your work then you’re in the wrong field. – Geoff May

When working for clients, they’re going to be a lot harsher and aren’t going to try to butter you up and make you feel good when their money is on the line. The client can easily be seen as the bad guy that is cramping your style, but remember, graphic design is a give and take relationship. You and the client need to work together as a team to come up with the best result. Part of that process is being able to accept feedback well.

After spending hours and hours on a design it is easy to get bent out of shape when someone questions the work you’ve been doing. However, getting feedback is a part of the process and important to improving your skills. If you can’t take simple criticisms, it makes you look childish and unprofessional. – Jimmy Heartcore

Not everyone likes a chef's signature dish

Revisions are just a part of the design process. A smart designer knows this. And to be successful in this industry you need to check your ego at the door. At Go Media, our Prooflab software was designed specifically to encourage feedback/revisions. We want to make this easy for our clients. Sure it’s nice when clients love your stuff immediately, but it doesn’t always happen.

Sometimes you might feel that the client doesn’t understand your artistic vision. Or that your personal integrity is being shattered. If you feel that way, you need to communicate this with the client in a professional manner. But sometimes, your ego needs to take a backseat:

Sometimes the revisions make sense and help the piece. Sometimes the revisions make no sense and hurt the piece. Either way, you have to decide if you want the job or do you want your artistic integrity. Artistic integrity is always nice to have. But last time I checked, the bill collectors don’t accept artistic integrity as a form of currency. Sometimes you have to do what the client wants, right or wrong. Feel free to call it “selling out”, I don’t care. I always tell myself that as long as the client is happy, then I’m happy. – Geoff May

Conclusion:

This post concludes the three part series of 15 Awful Mistakes Made by Desginers in the Music and Apparel Industry. I hope you learned from it! Remember, these are not exactly “rules” and even the most brilliant and successful designers are making these mistakes. The best we can do is learn from them and move on. Thanks a lot to the awesome designers who helped contribute to this article. It wouldn’t have been half as good without you.

In case you missed it, here are links to the other two parts to the series.

Part One – Mistakes 1-5 | Part Two – Mistakes 6-10

15 Awful Mistakes Made by Designers in the Music & Apparel Industry – 2 of 3

This is part two of the 3-part mistakes series. The first one, in case you missed it, covered issues such as undercharging, typography, unprofessionalism, over promising, and the lack of understanding of apparel production. It was well received and a lot of people posted their comments. It was a pleasure reading all of them.

I’ve picked the brains of 9 great designers:

Rob Dobi Dan Mumford Derek Deal
Jimiyo Geoff May Justin Ryan
Laurie Shipley AJ Dimarucot Jimmy Heartcore

So without further ado, here are 5 more mistakes made by designers in the music and apparel industry.

6. LACK OF ORIGINALITY

Some designers have developed a style that is instantly recognizable such as Shepard Fairey, Rob Dobi, Derek Hess, Hydro74, and Angryblue. They’re highly coveted and sought out for that style. A lot of designers today simply try to mimic the style of others, and oftentimes, it is the client asking them to do this! Like I said in an older article, I get asked to “Make it look like Affliction” all the time.

Don’t completely cave in to what clients ask for, you have to leave a little room for your own aesthetic. If a client wants a certain type of imagery, make it your own rather than doing the obvious. A big mistake is failing to establish your own style, your ultimate goal as a designer should be to have someone see a shirt and instantly know it is yours. – Rob Dobi

Be Yourself

Rob also goes on to talk about biting trends:

No more silly shirts with huge text, food, cartoony animals with sunglasses, and anything else that looks like a third grader doodled them in their notebook. This style will look dated and completely immature in a few years. There is a reason why tees didn’t look like this in the punk / indie community a few years ago, mainly because it is a passing trend among fifteen year old girls who will flee the scene just as quick as they came. Glamour Kills has this market down to a science, every other brand that imitates it just ends up looking like they are riding GK’s coat tails. – Rob Dobi

If a designer can develop their own style, or spin on another style, this will greatly benefit them in the long run. Also, if a designer is TOO versatile, they will often be overlooked because nothing they do stands out from the crowd. Being a jack of all trades but a master of none only gets you so far.

I think some designers are so eager to break into the industry, that they end up just re-hashing tired concepts or ripping off other people’s styles. Most of my favorite designers infuse a lot of their own personalities and interests into their work, which in turn separates them from a flock of would be designers. I don’t think there’s any reason why you can’t be an ‘artist’ as well as a hired gun. Just be honest with yourself, maintain your own personal aesthetics and if you’re luckily you’ll start getting more work that vibes with your personality. – Derek Deal

Slater Rip

In addition to just following trends, there are people who call themselves designers who outright steal or rip off other people’s hard work. You are seeing this more and more today. There are countless threads on Emptees about various instances and websites completely devoted to pointing out design thieves.

But what constitutes ripping? I know I have a few designers I admire whose techniques I study and try to implement into my own work. Is that ok? Everyone knows that every creative piece of work done today is a copy of something else in the past.

I think sometimes designers use inspiration for a piece (which is totally cool), but then unintentionally use too much from it, thus resulting in a rip. – Chris Sandlin

Westside Mordor ManticoresAs a result of the constant ripping that is pointed out on Emptees, a little “club” called the Manticores was formed. The Manticores (short for West Side Mordor Manticores) were formed to help police and publicly shame individuals who steal or rip off other artists. Sometimes the acts are completely embarrassing to the individual who decided to steal someone’s design, and this drastic measure of public humiliation might deter thieves from ripping in the future. I called myself a “member” of the Manticores, but I personally try to keep my opinions professional and mature. If I get ripped, I try to go about it in a professional manner. In fact, I wrote an article about what to do if you get ripped. I haven’t been following the Manticores much lately, but from what I heard, they no longer exist.

This is a great thread by Edgil who is an amazing illustrator. He admits to ripping off another artist in his early career and how he didn’t think it was so wrong until it happened to him. It’s a good honest story. He’s since become one of my favs on Emptees.

What about using stock artwork? As you know, Go Media sells vector packs and other stock on the Arsenal. We promote them to other designers and encourage them to use the artwork in their designs. Using stock is completely legal when used within the terms of use, but isn’t that being unoriginal?

Not necessarily. You can be original and use stock to save time on your project. Think of new ways to utilize it. We would much rather see someone buy our stock and use them in a way we haven’t seen before or add them to an illustration that WAS original. I’m sure other designers who create stock artwork feel the same.

7. Not Following Directions

No Skulls Idiot

You’ve always heard that communication is key. Young designers and even experienced ones lose jobs because they don’t follow directions or listen to what the client really wants.

It is better to err on the side of communicating too much than not enough. During business affairs, make sure to communicate often, ask many questions, and make sure you get a clear idea of what the client desires. There is no shame to say that you aren’t certain of the direction the art is to go, if you validate the seemingly negative statement by letting them know that you want to ensure they are getting the product they desire and will be totally satisfied. – Jimiyo

Here’s a common situation to avoid: You get a new t-shirt design job for a band you’re really excited about. You jump in and start drawing and before you know it, you’re 4 hours in and really tightening up your linework and colors. You post your first set of proofs and the client writes back and is upset. What the heck happened? It was one of your best designs yet!

“I told you in the beginning I didn’t want skulls or anything related to the human form. I said less than 3 colors on a shirt color THAT IS NOT BLACK.” – angry client

Woops. You just failed. You look back at the project description (or email in some cases) and see it was all explained already in plain English. The client is not happy and thinks you’re an idiot. This is a sure fire way to lose clients. Not to mention you wasted 4 hours of your own time that you’re probably not getting paid for.

Make sure you read directions and listen to your client. If you’re not sure then ask!

8. Not utilizing the medium to its fullest

When designing for print or apparel, designers often forget or ignore the medium that allows them such creativity in the first place. Mr. Mumford had a strong opinion about this as well. In this case about doing CD Packaging:

I like to try and think carefully about what’s placed next to what and how you can use the on-body design of the CD sitting in the tray to good effect or tell a narrative throughout the booklet. I generally do all layout for the CDs and vinyl I work on, and because of that I always try and make as complete a package as I can. – Dan Mumford

Print design is more about just pretty graphics

And Go Media’s own Chris Comella has a passion for packaging. He’s a really hands-on designer and is often seen printing and folding his own packaging mockups out of plain paper. He adds:

Now that people are downloading all their music, its forcing designers to add value to the tangible CDs they work on. Alot of artists are cutting down their CD runs and embellishing their actual packaging…making it more of a ‘collectors item.’ This approach opens the floodgates in terms of production techniques and finishes that transform run of the mill packaging into more personal experiences. Alternative packaging and specialty productions really nail down the idea that the good is in the detail. – Chris Comella

I like the way Chris appreciates the physical medium of the project. Not just the graphics or what can be done in Photoshop or Illustrator. I am actually going to get him to write a complete article on packaging and how it makes you a better designer. Look for that soon.

As far as apparel goes, the past 5 years have seen major improvements. It’s no longer just the front and center chest graphics. With printers like Design by Humans and Amb3r able to print just about ANYTHING, pushing the envelope of what can be printed on a t-shirt is as important as ever. Just for an example, Oliver’s Concentric Downpour tee utilized both the front and back in a unique way. And AJ Dimarucot (aka Collision Theory) is someone I see that enjoys experimenting with apparel medium.

9. Lack of respect for fellow designers

Maylene and the Sons of Disaster by Oliver BarrettMost designers that email me are usually very nice and respectful. But some out there can be little brats that need a spanking.

These brats are seen trolling message boards, calling people faggots and telling people that their designs suck and they’re rips of another designer’s style. These are the same people that commit the ripping/stealing mistake. They do not care about other designers or their property. They are out to get attention. In fact, I shouldn’t even say they are designers.

Laurie Shipley told me she takes offense when other designers try to make her divulge client contact information:

I’ve noticed recently that a lot of designers just starting out are asking some more experienced designers to offer up their contacts like it ain’t no thang! This is absolutely a huge FAIL in art community etiquette, it’s mind blowing. You gain knowledge and insight by working within the industry. Building up a contact list doesn’t always come easy, and to have someone expect you to just hand it out is disrespectful. – Laurie Shipley

Karma.  Enough said.

Another example is after we spend a few days writing a tutorial, we have a few people who like to spoil the show and rip into it. We appreciate constructive criticism but we laugh when we get comments like this on Dave’s Gigposter Design tutorial.

Yah, that was like, “Take trite design convention #1, add Trite Design Conventions #2 and #3, and blamo.” Also, you didn’t put The Fall Of Troy first because you like them more. You put em first, because the design problem here would have been to put the Deftones first (they certainly would have been the headliner). So instead of solving a design problem, you used a bad example of how to work-around your issue. It’s obvious that if a promoter came to you with this project, that it would be rejected. He’s more worried about the tickets the Deftones pull in, not Fall of Troy. As a design tutorial — C+ As a design problem solved? — F- – Some insecure designer

Showing respect for your fellow designers can benefit you in the long run a few ways.

  • They refer clients to you if they’re overworked
  • They link to your site from theirs
  • They offer their own tips and advice

10. Delivering Files before Getting Paid

This seems like a no-brainer but it happens. It happens to us from time to time and it costs us a lot of money. There is nothing worse that spending 10-20 hours on a design and then sending out the print ready files before you get paid. The client is NOT going to pay you once they have received the final files, unless you’ve already established a working relationship with them and know they will pay later.

If you’ve given the client artwork without getting paid, you might be out of luck. If the client doesn’t want to pay you, and they have your artwork it might not be worth it to you to pursue legal action… It’s an expensive lesson to learn. – Jimmy Heartcore

I did this once and learned the hard way. They didn’t pay me fully because they claimed that they didn’t use the art. Nowadays, I only send final art after getting fully paid. – AJ Dimarucot

Get Paid First

To sum up, be original, pay attention and follow directions, experiment with printed materials, show respect to fellow designers, and never release your files before getting paid (unless you have worked out a deal you both agree to).

The next 5 mistakes are coming up shortly. Subscribe via email to get notified about new posts.

Jeff’s Weekly Review July 21-29

Judging by the welcoming response to last week’s review, I’ll go ahead and continue with this one. You suggested that I keep posting the reviews because it reminds you that you’re either a) slacking off and need to get to work or b) “oh, i’m not as much of a slacker as I thought!” Here’s what I got accomplished this week.

  • Worked on a simple wordpress theme with Adam Law for a redesign of Red Ferret
  • Did some sketches for a few illustrations for Complex Magazine. Oliver and I start final concepts this week.
  • My Trivium Design from last week along with some from Dave and Oliver all got approved. See below for those.
  • Assigned a job for Chris Comella. Write an article about the why packaging design is awesome.
  • Worked on a tee for New Kids on the Block. I might need to do some more this week.
  • Successfully participated in my second “Jam Night” – I played drums with a couple other musicians on Tuesday nights. It’s fun to get out and play with people I’ve never met that are 30 years my senior.
  • Started working on Phase 3 of the Arsenal. The customization of the “My Account” section.
  • Cleaned one of the toilets at Go Media for my chore. We use Chorebuster around here to keep things tidy.
  • Published part 1 of the 15 mistakes article that you have probably already read. I spent time promoting the article as well. Can’t wait for part 2.

Trivium design by Oliver Barrett

Trivium Design by Jeff Finley

Trivium shirt design by Dave Tevenal

Trivium shirt design by Oliver Barrett

Moleskine: The Artists’ Notebook

I’ve often felt product lust over those shiny Moleskine notebooks on the shelf in Borders, and this is why: guys like Jeff Finley use ’em – they must be good.

As I was flipping through the Moleskine that sits on Jeff’s desk here at Go Media, I thought you might like a peek at it too! Read on for scans of the first few pages of the notebook, and Jeff’s comments on his sketches.

Getting Things Done: My First Weekly Review

After a long day at your desk, do you ever ask yourself “What the heck did I accomplish today?” I know I could be working like a madman and pushing projects out before deadlines and I still won’t even remember what I did. It’s all a blur. At the end of the week, I could barely tell someone what I have been doing at work lately when asked. I’ve found a nice trick to help me fix that and regain that feeling of accomplishment.

Maybe you’ve heard of the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. I’m reading this book at the moment and one of the most important things he talks about is writing things down. Write everything down. When you think of an idea, get it out of your head and onto paper. The reason behind this is to get your brain clear of distractions so you can focus on the task at hand.

This past few weeks, I’ve been using my Action Notebook that I bought from Behance. I don’t think I’m using it perfectly, but it’s a good reminder for me to write things down and outline my todo lists AS it happens. I’m always adding items to my list with little checkboxes as I go along. For the most part, I’ve seen a serious productivity increase.

Another thing David Allen stresses in his book is doing a constant review or revisiting to those items. What good are they if you don’t review them to see what you’ve accomplished or missed?

So every Friday I’m going to review my lists and time I’ve logged at Go Media and come up with a short review of what I have accomplished this week. It should give you a way to kind of look inside my life at Go Media as well as give myself a way to remind myself that all the hard work I did over the week actually meant something. View my weekly review after the jump:

Project Managment: Go Media Style


Go Media’s Prooflab Demonstration Video from Go Media on Vimeo.

This video will walk you through our customer and project management system called “Prooflab.” We built this application from the ground up based on our specific needs as a design firm. There are many 3rd party apps out there like Basecamp, but we needed something tailored to OUR business. So we built it. It’s not exactly the most perfect system (its only version 2) but it’s helped us streamline our design process with our customers for over 2 years now. It works great (when our clients are using it). Most do, but some need a little educating on why it’s important to use it.

So, to help educate our clients and potential clients (maybe you?) we created this video. We want to show a

The Dreaded Design Lull – 9 Ways to Get Out of a Slump

Recognizing and reacting to a slowdown in design work.

I can remember clearly when it was just me alone in my apartment running this design firm. It was easy to stay busily and happily working on a non-stop string of client projects for months on end. Then unexpectedly one day – I would notice something strange. I felt depressed. I felt tired. I couldn’t seem to stay focused. I was more inclined to surf the web than work on my projects.

The design lull

Was I losing my ambition? Was I a no-good bum? Was I burnt out? No. I was just in a design lull. The work on my plate had suddenly stopped or lightened significantly.

A Pseudo-Sugar Skull: From Start to Finish.

sugarskull_finalimage_web.jpg

Hey people! It’s Dave again giving you all yet another excuse to get your knowledge on. This isn’t as direct as my previous Gigposter Tutorial (by the way – thanks to everyone who found that helpful!) because I’m actually covering a piece of my own artwork, and as we all know, there are just some things that are hard to explain during the process. Hence why I’m condensing it down to the nitty gritty. Kinda like a walk through my process if you will.

4 Tips to Combat Creative Block

lightbulbman3.jpgI 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

I’m an RSS Addict. Here’s why:

RSS Feeds, what's the big deal?

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.