long time no see!

I’m sorry it’s been a long time guys since my last post and I hope you all had a great Christmas. Just a small update on my design based life.

I’m no longer freelancing because of my fantastic new position I’m working as a graphic designer for a furniture retailer which I’m really enjoying.

I wish I could give more of an insight into what I’m currently doing but I’m guessing from retail you know what kind of work I’m doing.

In terms of design and retail I’m finding that in relation to graphic design. how important and wonderful showing your customers the origins and bare bones of you product to be and the honesty of the product they are buying are. Although I’m yet to find a brand who can successfully get a cross the origins of there product rather than just the heritidge aspect.

Anyone seen any good example of origin based retail story’s ?

X

Places to go people to see!

Okay so this week has been a little bit of a weird week as I’ve been away back to Nottingham to see my parent only just got back. To which was pretty non stop the entire time which made things a little crazy on the freelance front. although I did see some good art at Nottingham castle which was fun.

So naturally here I am sat on a train with my handy mac computer and my latest copy of computer arts (The innovations issue!) getting things together for my clients because they need me and plus I pretty much give a dependable service. Last week I did a poster for a new girl band coming and the speed and quality of the work has (hopefully) ensured my long term freelancing with that client finger crossed the guy seemed really happy and did say and I quote ” I will have lots of work for you over the summer” so that seems promising.

I’m also designing a new logo for a smoothie company which is mainly linked with tropical fruit my main focus of that project is for the coconut to look less like an egg… and then we are laughing! but other than that its going well.

I’m also working in conjunction with a eCommerce clothing brand based in Glasgow who want me to design some t-shirts for them for there latest range of t-shirts and there is regular work in that for me which sounds good. so yes I’ve been very busy.

I would add some image to show you some of the work I’ve been up to but for some reason my images keep uploading strange they all look like tiny little ants in size : ( must get that fixed anyone know why this is happening please contact me?!

What do our clients really want?

I’ve been freelancing for awhile now and as part of this I’ve been reading a few books. mainly “know your onions” graphic design and I’ve come to realize that some of the simplest of things that a client would need tend to be over looked by us. So I’d just like to highlight some of the things I’ve put in place with my own clients that keeps them happy and ultimately leads to more work.

1) Contact In my experience working with someone local to you can be way better than working with someone on the other side of the world the key reason for this is communication. (unless you can travel and work on the project in there country) or vice verse contact can be difficult. Skyping can be a great way to make things work although you also have to consider time difference. but the best client relationships that I have are the ones that I live on there door step. They know that they can phone me when I need to and that I will respond or we can meet in person, which gives them peace of mind. It makes sense they are investing there time in you and they need the confidence that you can do your job ect.

2) Pixel Perfection essentially this one is probably the most obvious but the way they see it is the better the perfection the better it looks on them. For example if you are designing a poster for them and there is a tiny bit out of place and there customer, client or whoever notices this. This can look bad on the company and instantly look unprofessional the same thing goes for a website. You have to think carefully one little thing out of place can send your customer on to another site, because imperfections can make you look sloppy and what customer would put money in your hands to do something, when you website flyer or whatever isn’t up to scratch.

3) Time Management  They say time is money for a reason I believe that this is true especially from a freelance perspective from the clients perspective the work should be done quickly and efficiently thus saving him or her money and getting just as much work done. This isn’t all ways easy when a client wants a lot of changes and lets face it we’ve all been there. working until the early hours of the morning is normal for the freelancer (yes I am referring to a freelancer as a hunter gather someone has to put food on the table!) but the main thing is the longer the project takes the more money we receive from the project (hopefully or not in some cases) but the more agitated the client would be that you didn’t just finish the project in the first 20 logo examples you gave them.

anyway I hope my little life experiences are of us to someone and if anyone has anything more to add on this please do so in the comments.

blue tit in hat

A quick catch up #busy #busy #busy

I’ve had so much to do recently, I just haven’t had the time to update my blog. I’ve been working on a few things this month. Mainly self improvement and the way I can improve my design. Over the easter break I took some time out to soak up some inspiration in London.
I’m currently working on a new portfolio and I think its important to get together a collective of your current works. I only recently took a look at my portfolio and thought wow this needs updating.

I’ve been seeking the Advise of a creative director via linked in to give me some hints tips and ideas how to beef up my portfolio without adding too much in there. Because it dawned on me the other day, that you don’t know what is going to be around the corner and its always best to be prepared for whatever life throws at you. I one things for sure I intend to grow as a designer and to do that I need guidance of experience professionals who can get me there and to help me achieve my goals.

On top of that I’ve also produced a new cushion design this week my blue tit design has finally arrived on beautiful cushions I hope you all like it 🙂 you can buy it here

blue tit in hat

will update my blog soon with something more interesting … promise!

how do you feel about doing a test piece of work? (freelance)

(how do you reply) This is a difficult subject one of which I’m not sure how to answer but I’m looking at it from  both perspectives.

A client come to you asked you to do a piece of work as a test to see if he likes what you can do. in a job based interview this is ok. but is it acceptable for someone who earns money on there pieces of work alone to do on a freelance basis? should a client take into consideration portfolio before he or she takes the plunge or does the client have a right to give you a test run.

I’ve done these test runs before and while for me it has been sucessful I’m wondering are there freelancers out there who will only give the ok when they have there deposit and no test for cash flow reasons can simply not afford to give away there work (if brief) for free?

I sometimes feel that the designer feels cheated they worked hard to get qualifications a portfolio and to ask for more… well to be honest I’m just not sure on this one.

I think sometimes its good to test the water it also gives the designer a chance to understand if they will get on with the client or if it will be doomed from the start by which time you aren’t at a point of no return.

If any of you freelancers out there see this post (and my lovely followers) please do share your experiences with me i’m interested to know how you have dealt with this situation and if this is something you have come across. Have you gone along with it or point blank just refused?

 

Should you design a covering letter?

I’ve been doing some searches on how to make my CV look beautiful. My previous CV was how do I put it…. A little bit boring just plain black and white like a corporate CV. So I’ve designed my CV to be in sync with my website and my blog to keep my brand consistency, which is a sensible move. but the question I’m wondering is if applying directly (obviously in a creative manner job) with a fully designed covering letter can effect the decision of the hiring manager or does it simple just say “PICK ME, PICK ME” and provokes bad attention toward the candidate.

Covering letters are defiantly a bit of a blank subject for graphic designer at university they tended to miss off the covering letter part and skip to the interesting CV design. Which considering the lecturers are designers themselves who can blame them they didn’t get into lecturing about there favorite subject to talk about copy writing or maybe we should have all just taken a creative writing class!

But in a serious note the covering letters that I see online seem to be branded and very simplified but in tone with the graphic designers branding. but then I come across others that have the same cookie cutter style and then the word “I CAN DO IT” embossed in the centre. or a designed post about why they would like to work with them. But my question is do creatives on hiring teams enjoy this kind of thing? well I’m sure it provokes some entertainment but is acceptable. Would that covering letter be seen as “trying to hard” or “lazy and inappropriate” whats creative and acceptable and what is stepping the mark?

anyway I’m sure you all have your own opinions. Take a look at my CV design and tell me what you think.

CV design CV design CV design

Design portfolios what is the norm? or is there not one?

I’ve been thinking about design and recruitment recently and the type of things that must go through there minds as they see a portfolio.

Things are getting more and more digital so does this eradicate the need for a print portfolio although I must say (PRINT IS NOT DEAD)… ahem… but it must be difficult when you have to compare one to another. in different types of medians we now have to view work.

In my experience I’ve been asked for various different things from supplying them with 5 to 6 pdf examples under 5 mb (which I’m sure most designers find quite hard when they want there work to be shown in the best possible light shrinking it down to a small size and not compromising the work quality is tough)

print portfolio

To just being asked to provide a link which is simple enough and makes sense for video and animation positions. But I ask myself are there print designers out there sending promotional pieces of work to companies in order to seek work and what is considered the norm or does the organized savvy designer out there just prepare for every eventuality and hope for the best.

animation portfolio

Its made me realize the other day recruitment is tough in the design industry… large amounts of people after one job being sifted through recruiters before you get to go on to the next round  and most of the jobs have a shelf life meaning there career is often uncertain and lets face it … its hard to find a stable job in the design industry because it feels like companies are always on the look out for hot new talent… (at least that’s my opinion anyway) being freelance puts your career in your own hands and puts you in control even when jobs are out of control and you can’t find any leads. I guess thats why people consider it as a career …. you know what to expect when you get out of bed in the morning!….. unless of course you are rudely awoken by the sound of a client ringing your mobile!…

portfolio image 2

Logo design

Do clients understand the importance of brand consistency?

So I’ve had a fair few clients now and sometimes depending on the client they know what is needed and the others are not so clued up (I mean they’ve hired me so clearly they need my help and nobody’s an expert in everything even I wouldn’t call myself one.) but sometimes I wonder if they are aware of the potential damage that an inconsistent brand brings.

I sometimes get the odd client that just wants one thing designing for them which is okay and other times I’ve pushed for more work that needs doing or suggestions that I can make and for the ones that have needed more (not all some) tend to have there own individual ideas for each project which is fine and the key is to incorporate this with the designs that already exists other wise customer get confused they lose interest and because of the brand inconsistency they lose trust in that company that’s how things are these days and lets face it (I speaking for everyone here) big brand no matter what country you live in stick to these rules and the consumer is used to seeing this. So if a company is inconstant it sticks out like a sore thumb and comes across as… well confusing… and don’t get me wrong branding isn’t easy brand books are normal big thick books with exact dimensions colours and everything. but the key is to get it right take your time and don’t get me wrong it isn’t easy to disagree with a client on something at the end of the day he/she is paying you money but freelancing isn’t just about design its about communication and that in itself is branding. So if your client want a purple background and your coulour scheme is yellow or they want “Times new Romans” (god only knows why or comic sans for that manner…. hate that font) instead of “helvetica” just tell them how is it and hopefully when they have a successful brand they will thank you for it.

 

Logo design

Creativity vs Cash: A graphic designers work flow..

It’s come to my attention recently that I haven’t really discussed what is going in terms of my work and freelancing for a while at current I have 2 clients. which they are both going pretty smoothly one only initial wanted me to do a logo and business card design and now I am doing there website as they are so happy with the results which is good. The other is a packaging based project which I am very excited to be part of.

It is great to have a clients that lets your creativity flow.

I mean some client already have an idea and a vision in there head which they want you to materialize other have absolutely no idea what they want and are happy to let you as a professional in your industry lead the way, as to what is appropriate for their target market.

Most graphic designer prefer the latter (at least you would think) although sometimes the one that know what they want can give you an idea if you can execute it correctly. So if this is the case then in theory in terms of money and turn over which one would you decide option A or option B

A. The client know what they want you can execute it much more quickly meaning that  your quote for the project would be better off because your shooting above your time scale.

B. The client doesn’t know what they want. You get the creative control but It may take you longer the client could be indecisive and therefore your turn over would be less if you gave a quote that didn’t take this into consideration

It’s a difficult option basically creative vs cash but this is the kind of world we live in and as a freelancer who’s constantly learning about new things every day. It makes me stop and think about projects option A or option B which is best for me as a designer one feels like the easy route and the other creative but maybe financial less.

Basically and this is the “deep” part everything boils down to our decisions and risks sounds psychological but maybe its true. are you a risk taker or are you safe and now from analyzing my client base I guess I’m the risk taker in option B. but the question is who has the better portfolio? and at junior level anyway surely its quality not quantity … maybe I will get to option A In the future… perhaps design and experience will change the way I design in the future who knows.