Design Drama

documenting the delicate dance of design

Archiving your work – the Old Skool Way January 12, 2009

Most of my friends know that I can be a bit of a pack-rat. It’s a trait I got from my family – so I got it honest. But as of late, I’ve been purging around here – cleaning out closets, going through boxes and just simplifying in general around here. I filled 3 laundry baskets of with clothes, separated computer cords to take to the Goodwill – hopefully someone can use those, and about 87 cosmetic bags from the freebies from Clinique. I even found a Syquest drive from 1997 – the discs are only good for use as coasters at this point – Remember when 280 MB was a huge amount of storage?

Anyway, in a box in the back of my closet, I found a box with stuff from college. Inside, I found slides and photo negatives of stuff I’d done in Drawing I & II and Design I & II. Somehow, back then I had a wise professor that had the foresight to have us take our artwork to have it photographed for posterity. I gasped when I found this stuff. Immediately I began scanning the photos to put them in my archives of work.

I don’t know how stuff is done now – that is, if having work photographed is still the norm as I’ve been out of school for a little over ten years. But, to all design students out there, take your stuff and have photos taken. Or do it yourself. Don’t just rely on a hard drive or a disc to store your stuff. Have hard copies – slides or negatives – of your stuff. You never know when a hard drive will die on you – or fires or natural disasters – I have a friend who lost all her photos in Katrina, for example.

I am so thankful someone told me “Take it & have it photographed” – who knew?

 

The Native (Files) Are Restless November 11, 2008

I had a dilemma arise this week that I’ve never encountered before.

First, a little background:

I took on the task of a project that seemed simple enough at first – design a packaging for a product. Upon the initial client meeting, I was handed a disc of art files and additional materials instructing me on how the client wanted the product to look. We also agreed upon a flat fee, half of which I received up front.

Last Friday, I began the project as I had awaited one final element to begin the design process. I spent over seven hours on Friday working on the project — this included looking for two types of photographs that can only be described as obscure. That task was only complicated more as the client didn’t have the money to spend on any type of professional photography services, nor did said client have the money to purchase anything from a stock photo site on the web. Basically, I had little or nothing to work with.

I ended up getting severely lucky with one of the elements. The other, he happened to have what he needed in his possession and took his own photographs and sent to me. After acquiring those two photographic elements, I spent six hours cutting the background out from one of the elements – the other photo, I gleaned the piece of the photo I needed which amounted to exhausting that one element of the photo, using Photoshop to enlarge it and adding more to what was previously not there before.

Then, over the weekend I got an email from the client. The email stated that the project was to be at the printer today (Monday). I replied to the email and explained that deadline was virtually impossible as I had only received photographic elements mid-afternoon on Friday and was still knee-deep in the design of the project. He relented and said Tuesday would be a workable deadline.

So, today I sent a second proof via email. The client and another person involved pow-wowed on the proof, sent back edits and I reworked the project to their exact specifications. I went down the list, checking things off.

Tonight, after sending the second proof off, I got an email asking that I send the native Photoshop files to him — that he would like to work with them and that it “must be the designer in him.”

WTF?

Now, I don’t know about other designers, but this here are my things about this:

I spent years in college honing my art skills and my design capabilities. And I’ve spent 10+ years working professionally as a graphic designer. I have what it takes to get a project to a final conclusion that I am proud of. I have a portfolio full of projects I am proud of and clients I am blessed to have a continued working relationship.

In all those years that I have spent, I have learned many things. Why should I turn over my intellectual property to someone who can just take this and that and reuse it for their own profit?

Also, knowledge is power. I possess a design and computer proficiency that makes my talent valuable. I know how to set up a file for print and I can muddle my way through a certain amount of web design. If everyone knew how to do this, my profession would cease to exist. And if I just hand over my knowledge to every client that asks, aren’t I devaluing my design knowledge and artistic skills and running my own business into the ground?

Also, once I hand over the Photoshop files, it ceases to be MY work.

I consulted the web to see what other people had done in my situation. The results were all over the map. But the general consensus seems to be that a graphic designer is only beholden to give up the final files for printing, NOT the workable native Photoshop files. Those are the designer’s intellectual property.

One person made the comment that the PSD files contain “trade secrets” — I guess I’d have to agree with that. I have a certain way of creating certain looks within my design. I’ll be the first to admit, one way I learned a lot about Photoshop was from looking at other designers Photoshop files. Who is to say that some fly by night person who bought Photoshop won’t do the same? (There’s no way this person will be able to reach the learning curve my PSD files would throw his way… I’m not terribly worried about that, actually…)

I spoke online to a former classmate of mine tonight. She echoed my point of view on another facet of this topic — why aren’t graphic designers taught business courses? My classmate and I, during our college years, were required to take FOUR semesters of foreign language. Now, I’m not putting down the need to be bilingual in any sense, but we both agreed that those four semesters would have been better spent in business classes that specifically dealt with the ethics of graphic design and selling art. And for the record.. all my four years of Spanish taught me was how to order a beer and find a bathroom — which in my opinion, are the two basic things needed to when speaking that language.

In the end, after I calmed down after receiving the email, I emailed a response to my client and explained that the question he broached made me uncomfortable and I found it somewhat unethical to pose such a request. But I also added that as I am a designer that works with my clients, although every bit of me that values my design skills was against it, I would send him the files. BUT any edits that are made to them are subject to an additional fee as this could lead to a disruption of my work flow. I told him I’m sure he would understand me amending my end of the agreement (my fee) as he was amending his (hiring me to do the design work exclusively without outside interference).

I’ve yet to hear back.

What do you think?

 

A Public Service Announcement July 29, 2008

I’ve written on this blog a few times about my love affair/addiction to Flickr, a photo sharing/upload service.

Although I still find the site to be wonderful, as all things on the internet, a few screwed up people ruin things for the rest of us.

Without further rambling, I’ll direct you to Newscoma’s first hand account of her experience with the perverts that surf the web.

Click HERE for more info

 

Summer Work 2008 July 11, 2008

I wrote in an earlier post about my summer endeavors — gardening and archiving photos. I do actually design for a living – I work for myself, by myself – and here’s my accounting of a few of the projects that have highlighted my summer of 2008.

CHIP GREENE PERFORMING SONGWRITER ADVERTISEMENT I have a really talented singer/songwriter friend here in Nashville, Chip Greene. I met Chip through another friend, Dave of Nashville Feed. In addition to being super talented in a musical fashion, Chip is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and he’s easy on the eyes as well. Chip called me one day to request my design services to create an ad for him to be published in Performing Songwriter Magazine. Chip performs often here in Nashville – as well, he’s recently completed show dates in Memphis at the Hi-Tone as well as New York City’s legendary Bitter End. Below, is the ad I created for Chip. And be sure to check out his website for music, show dates and all other musical goodness.

ADVENTURE SCIENCE CENTER – MEMBERSHIP BROCHURE We are very blessed here in Nashville to have The Adventure Science Center in our backyard. The fine folks over there contacted me to redesign their 2008 Membership Benefit Brochure to highlight the addition of the Sudekum Planetarium. The new planetarium is a huge coup for Nashville — the ASC website describes it better than I: At the center of the new Sudekum Planetarium is the GOTO Chiron optical star projector that fills the dome with more than 6.5 million stars (the previous star ball projected 2,500). This breathtakingly realistic night sky is combined with a Digistar 3, high-definition, full-dome system that projects images and animations of the wonders of the universe from horizon to horizon. No other planetarium in the country offers the seamless integration of these two technologies. The gently sloping seating and powerful 5.1 surround sound system give the visitors to the Sudekum a unique, immersive and exhilarating experience. If you have kids, or am just a full grown space-related geek like me, consider membership to the ASC. You can learn more at their website here. Meanwhile, below are images from the ASC’s new membership brochure I designed.

TENNESSEE ANIMAL RESOURCE CENTER – LOGOS The Tennessee Animal Resource Center is staffed by some really caring people who generously donate their time to the quality of life, rescue and adoption of our furry friends. From the TARC website: The Tennessee Animal Resource Center (The ARC) was established as a 501(c )3 nonprofit organization in 2006 by a group of women dedicated to ending the pain and suffering caused by the pet overpopulation problem. Coming from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds, this dedicated board has developed a unique model designed to assist and train animal welfare agencies while promoting and funding spay and neuter efforts across the State of Tennessee. The ladies at TARC contacted me to design some logos for their cause. These included the TARC logo itself and the logo for their 2008 Spay It Forward Conference. The ladies were a joy to work with and I admire them for their hard work and tenacity when it comes to the welfare of cats and dogs. Thanks to all of my wonderful clients, past and present, for making my working life so fullfilling! And, for more examples of work from my day gig, click over there to the right, on my sidebar — there is a link that says “My Art” and that will direct you to my website with more design from the past.

 

The Possibility of Falling in Love with Logo Design / Adobe Illustrator April 28, 2008

Like most designers I know, I have my own little beaten path of doing things. I love love love Photoshop and could work in it almost exclusively. But for logos, I force myself to use Illustrator because it’s the right way to do things.

In the past few months, I’ve had more logo work come across my desk than normal.
As I’ve stated before, I’m not the biggest fan of logos. Of course, like everything else, practice makes perfect. I’ve found, recently, as I blogged about a few posts back, that sketching logos by hand, away from the computer is the way to really let the mind play – to not rely on the fonts loaded on a computer to dictate the look of a logo

Honestly, I think the true reason I shudder at the thought of the design of logos is I’ve never really felt all that comfortable in Adobe Illustrator. I was one of those people that learned Aldus/Macromedia Freehand (I’m showing my age here, ack!) & Illustrator in college, but it was really on my own, even though I was paying money to be taught — which means I didn’t really learn it as well as I should.

And that’s the thing here: knowing Illustrator and KNOWING Illustrator are two different animals. I started a project for 3 logos this week and grudgingly opened Illustrator, because I’m a big believer that logos should be initiated as vector art.* Anyway, so, I bit the bullet and decided I wasn’t going to let my fear take over.

I didn’t know how to do this one thing I wanted to do and I started Googling. I stumbled across this website, Illustrator Techniques. Where has this been all my angst filled Illustrator life? This website is just what I needed at just the right time. And it’s actually more than I needed. Looking at the galleries and reading the tutorials are really amazing, because they are written from the standpoint of being kinder and gentler to the reader — they’re not written over my head. Just “here’s how you get from point A to point B to point C to point D. I love this site!

*I wish I had a dime for every time I had to work with someone’s shitty version of a logo pulled from the web, scanned poorly or designed as 72 dpi — I wouldn’t be working; I’d be sitting on a beach, cold Corona in hand.

 

Photoshop Express – a FREE web version of Photoshop March 27, 2008

THIS is badass — Adobe Systems, the fine folks who brought us Photoshop, have just launched a basic version of the popular photo editing software online for FREE.

From the Associated Press:
“While Photoshop is designed for trained professionals, Adobe says Photoshop Express, which it launched in a “beta” test version, is easier to learn. User comments will be taken into account for future upgrades.


Photoshop Express will be completely Web-based so consumers can use it with any type of computer, operating system and browser. And, once they register, users can get to their accounts from different computers.”

I haven’t tried this out, and probably won’t as I already own the full version of Photoshop and am an unabashed and unapologetic Flickr fanatic. But lots of people will have a whole new world open up for them, as Photoshop is a monster. There is truly no other software that compares to it.  Of course this is Adobe hoping users will upsize to their $99 Photoshop Elements (or whatever it’s called) version. However, it’s damn good marketing and good for Adobe’s Feng Sui. But the real winners will be all those people who want to edit and tweak their photos for free & for that reason, I think this is fantastic news.

And anyone who tries it out ; I’d love to know the thoughts on the capabilities.