creative inspiration


landfit logo
this logo for a gardening matchmaking service is really appealing to those of us who love gardening. and i love the concept, a service that pairs people who want to garden but have no land with those who have land & want a garden, but don’t want to do it. brilliant!


ferocious quarterly
[image: ferocious quarterly]
announcements of a new publication, ferocious quarterly, have been posted in a few design communities. from their site: Ferocious is a curated, quarterly publication that collects illustrators, graphic artists, short fiction authors and written text. indeed! thanks how magazine for the link.

parse is a new blog project from how magazine, aiming to make sense of issues and information relevant to design practitioners. check it out!

this just in from the design review of books, a review of jost hochuli, detail in typography.

design industry

take a spin through the annals of design history: graphic design through the decades series: the 70s, from

if you’re a creative professional in need of some marketing mentoring, ilise benun’s marketing groups are about to kick off for fall. join the track that’s right for you and get one-on-one help from a creative industry marketing pro: marketing mentor’s advanced marketing groups.

another great installment from design*sponge: biz ladies: using a blog to grow your business.


some interesting looks at labor day, what it’s not currently, and what it could be. labor day is almost meaningless now. we can change that, by steve mccallion for With an increasing belief that socioeconomic mobility is now less possible in the US than in other countries, Labor Day has the potential to reclaim some of its initial promise — a celebration of American labor and an inspiration to the American worker.

another look includes what ever happened to labor, by seth godin: In a world where labor does exactly what it’s told to do, it will be devalued. Obedience is easily replaced, and thus one worker is as good as another. And devalued labor will be replaced by machines or cheaper alternatives. We say we want insightful and brilliant teachers, but then we insist they do their labor precisely according to a manual invented by a committee…

creative freelancer conference 2010, day 2

breakfast roundtables at the creative freelancer conference 2010 in denver, colorado
[photo: dyana valentine]

[recap day 1 of the creative freelancer conference here]

the 2nd day of the 2010 creative freelancer conference was a whirlwind of activity. i was dead-set on getting to peleg top’s roundtable breakfast for my peleg pep talk on client relationships, which i have been needing for months now!

how to make clients love you

peleg top is an outstanding business coach for creatives. i’ve taken a few of his workshops before, and always leave feeling empowered by his advice and perspective on approach to client relationships. in this breakfast he started by asking us to think about who we are ideal clients for and why we give loyal repeat business to our favorite companies. we settled on the fact that ultimately it’s how our favorite service providers make us feel after working with them or buying from them, we sell experience as much as we sell our actual services. if you can give clients a service that make them feel relief, confidence and empowerment, they will become loyal patrons of your services.

we looked at apple as an example, since we are all loyal patrons, and agreed on things that make us feel good about buying their products. they serve us well, because we are their target market, they think about our lifestyles and design for solving our problems. they deliver quality, and it’s not cheap, but we pay for it because we know it’s a better product that improves our quality of life. research your clients and their lifestyles, ask them what they need in their professional lives, involve yourself in their industries so you can understand how to solve their problems and help improve their experiences.

it’s your money, so take it personally

galia gichon gave a great talk on getting organized and proactive about your business finances. i am typically pretty organized, but she had some great advice that reminded me of some areas where i could improve. overall, i liked her style of advice, which was to stop avoiding it, stop thinking you can’t do anything just because you don’t have all the money you want right now. start small, organize, analyze your own finances, consolidate loans and investments, and plan one day a week where you check in and make adjustments. ask yourself where you’d like to be in 3 months, a nice, short window to work with, and give yourself a dollar-oriented goal. finally, connect with what you’re good at, and give yourself a positive affirmation about your money habits to feel good about.

freelancer’s legal basics: contracts & copyrights

jean perwin‘s presentation on contracts & copyright was a good kick in the pants for anyone who isn’t using a contract and isn’t charging for the true value of usage rights to their work. i still hear of so many designers who shy away from legal agreements, but her main point was: it’s just business. always use a contract, never assume your client understands your business agreement. it’s okay to over-communicate to prevent misunderstandings, be very clear about what service you are providing, what you are selling, and what you are not selling. she went through a solid list of what should appear in a contract, as well as the 5 levels of usage rights: reproduction, derivative work, display rights, distribution rights, and performance rights. every right you release has individual value and should have a price: charge accordingly. perwin was extremely knowledgeable about the design industry and copyright law, i loved her presentation.

the art and science of pricing a project

i read shel perkinstalent is not enough a few years back and found it to be a great resource on the business side of running a design practice. for his presentation, he went through all the factors that go into figuring out your options as an independent creative professional, how to calculate your overhead and operating costs, and how those figures affect the pricing you work out for each project you bid on. according to perkins, the process is mostly science, with a bit of art thrown in at the end. he also went through a must-have list of items that should appear in a proposal, along with some optional add-ins, and how to best present them. the advice i liked best was about writing your cover letter last, when you have worked out the entire scope of the project and are excited to get to work.

your internet marketing toolkit: find and use tools that are right for you

aliza sherman is a veteran social media marketing specialist, and gave a presentation on how to find the tools that work best for your online social networking style. your main objective is to build your brand and increase your reach with your market, so choose networks where your clients hang out, that have an interface you like working with. be clear about what you offer, provide strategic contact points regularly, so the people who want to work with you can find you. pick one of each in the social toolkit triad and them out: a social portfolio, a social network, and a blog or microblog, and post in them at regular intervals you know you can maintain. then, just keep being yourself!

success profile, cause farm creative

beth goldfarb of cause farm creative
[photo: dyana valentine]

between sessions, the creative freelancer conference staff had picks of creative business success stories they wanted to share with the group. they asked my colleague & conference travel buddy, beth goldfarb, to share her new business launch of cause farm creative with the conference, as well as tell a little bit about how she came to this decision after working with her business mentor, peleg top. i’m really proud of her and think her new brand looks fantastic.

prioritizing, deciding and doing: your hands-on guide to making the best decisions

samantha bennett gave a really enjoyable presentation about how to help yourself decide what to do, lest you fall into the perils of procrastination. i really liked her system, because it’s a balance of being proactive, but also asking yourself what you really want to do, as opposed to just throwing a daunting list of things at yourself and then scolding yourself when you don’t do it all, or getting bogged down with shadow goals that aren’t actual priorities. she showed us how to make lists of everything we need to do, prioritize them based on how we’ll feel when they’re done, decide what’s important, and then get to work. one of my favorite tips from her talk was about taking 15 minutes every day before checking email to write about personal values, motivations & reasons for why we do what we do. it’s a great way to center your mind and stay focused on what matters.

wind up

this year’s conference was at a really great time for me. i was starting to open up a lot of questions about myself and how i run my business, which can be a lonely and confusing place without guidance. i held off any major decisions, and i’m so glad i let all these fantastic people in and all the helpful things they had to share. i’m leaving it feeling happy, empowered and renewed. it was also fantastic to see the physical manifestation of so many friends i made last year [we keep in touch online, but face time rocks]. with them as my main CFC network, i met a lot of new smiling faces too. i’m looking forward to getting to know all of you better in our social networks, and checking in again next year! thank you, marketing mentor and HOW for another great year!

creative freelancer conference 2010, day 1

ode to the entrepreneur, samantha bennett

it’s finally here, the creative freelancer conference for 2010! i got into denver yesterday all ready to take on the double header [CFC is closely followed by the how design conference]. the conference kicked off today at 2pm, here’s my run-down of the day’s events:

you are a business!

the opening keynote was given by ilise benun of marketing mentor: you are a business! she gave a humorous recap of how she got to be in business for herself, and talked about the various descriptions we give ourselves, as well as the different stages of success we feel we have to enjoy before we truly take our businesses seriously. these examples started off appealing to our less-business-minded sides, the ones who sometimes deny ourselves the titles we deserve, but she progressed toward some more empowering ideas many of us could identify with. one thing she said that i liked was “there’s no such thing as a business person, only business tasks.”

pitch perfect

the first session was dyana valentine‘s pitch perfect. i will admit, i’ve participated in this process in a few different incarnations, and as its developed over time, it’s become better with every revision. valentine now has this pitch brainstorming & refining exercise down to a guided worksheet, where you’re thinking about the kind of work you do best [or want to do], the clients you most want to work with, what your secret weapon is, and what clients have said when you do your best work with them. taking all these ideas, you get into the essence of what you do best and how to communicate it clearly in an elevator pitch that people outside your field can understand. really great session!

who’s the boss?

the next session was who’s the boss: managing clients and their expectations with luke mysse. i really liked this session, and not only because it echoes ideas i’ve heard by my very favorite mentors. mysse talked about moving past being a creative and becoming a business that sells creative services [again with the advice to stop denying you’re a business]. he told an honest story of the evolution of his career and shared some of his most valuable takeaways, like getting to know yourself, defining your boundaries and policies [and sticking to them], marketing yourself confidently to get the right clients for your business, keeping open communication and ultimately knowing when to move on. my favorite advice was his suggestion to offer a monthly marketing meeting with your ongoing clients, to stay engaged with their plans, offer help and solutions, and help advise them on the best moves from a marketing and design standpoint. i really like this idea, it’s so closely integrated with what i already do that it makes sense to help clients plan out their year from the beginning.

freelance success panel

steve gordon jr. at the creative freelancer conference 2010 in denver, colorado
[photo: dyana valentine]

the day wrapped up with the freelance success panel, featuring steve gordon jr., alisa bonsignore, and laura foley during which we got to hear from 3 really different professionals on their goals, how they run their businesses, and how they got to where they are today. we then got to unwind and network at a well-deserved happy hour.

i have been so happy to reconnect with so many people i met last year, catch up with where they’re at, and meet many of the new attendees. another big message of this conference is “you are not alone!” and though it may feel that way sometimes, it’s really nice to be able to tell colleagues that i love their newsletters, or that i saw some of their work in a store or online, or that they wrote a great article—or to hear compliments that they’ve been seeing & liking what i’m doing too. we’ve built this great life, going out on our own and getting to work, it’s been good to take time out, meet up and appreciate the progress.

but before any more of that happens, it’s time for bed so i can wake up early and tackle those breakfast roundtables! more tomorrow!

[continue with day 2 of the creative freelancer conference here!]

event calendar: may 31 – june 6, 2010

just wrapping things up in the studio so i can take off to denver for the creative freelancer conference june 5 & 6, immediately followed by the how design conference june 6-9. it’s going to be a grand-slam design conference marathon, and i’m going to blog about every day of it.

creative inspiration

HOW and creative freelancer conference round-up

how cd experience
if i haven’t mentioned it before, this year will be my first at the HOW conference, so i’m following as much preliminary info as i can. i wasn’t aware that there’s a tradition of a CD exchange, but thanks to, i not only know about it, there’s a showcase of what kat feuerstein / gilah press + design did for last year: 2009 HOW design conference CD exchange sleeve. i’ve always liked silver ink on a dark stock, this one is chocolate brown!

the HOW conference closing party theme: white space. i have plenty of white to bring, now it’s just a matter of which white will it be?

if you’ve got questions about copyright or trademarks, jean s. perwin will be at this year’s CFC. thanks to the creative freelancer blog for this list of copyright resources: got copyright?

another great feature of CFC are the breakfast roundtables. here’s a list of some of the attendee-run tables you can join in on: what do you want to learn at breakfast?

event design

identity for brad radke
[image: charles ross]
thanks to for finding this great event suite by charles ross for the retirement party of minnesota twins player brad radke. he did a great job of capturing the best of baseball memorabilia.

logo design

frut logo sketches
[image: adam gf]
this logo development for smoothie company, frut, is an interesting look at how designers brainstorm on different shapes and ideas: logo design love: unsung heroes. i have a few pages like this myself, most of which never see the light of day. follow the link to see the final identity system, which is a super-fun burst of color.

35 smart logos with second thought to make you look twice is a nice collection of logos that work really well for the messages they convey.


anatomy of type
[image: sigurdur armannsson ]
need help with your type anatomy? refer to each part of every letterform with accuracy, using this anatomy of type desktop graphic, free from

silent dance
[image: camila drozd]
the work of this lovely hand-drawn type designer, camila drozd, has come up a few places in my weekly reading, and i think her work is really stunning.

creative inspiration


[image: print magazine]
in his article lettercentric: type as writing, paul shaw outlines a brief history of script type and how opentype technology has helpt script fonts get back to looking like hand-lettered forms. from print magazine.

the periodic table of typefaces has been circulating for awhile now, but i thought i’d post it up for clients who hadn’t seen it yet or are outside the design blogosphere. this chart outlines many classic typefaces in somewhat of a hierarchy of ubiquity, with the ability to zoom in for a better look and a credit to the type designer.

how magazine posted this really cool spotlight on james patrick gibson‘s new york type photo blog in which he photographs and submits specimens of awesome type samples from the wilds of new york city. what a great collection!

design industry

[image: by alonzo felix]
thanks to <a href=" for posting some of the results from the haiti poster project, which has a staggering number of great posters to peruse.

my colleague & wordpress master doron orenstein just posted an article on how to easily create and share color palettes online. thanks for this cool utility!

did you know that AIGA [the american institute of graphic arts] has a center for practice management free and available to the public? if you are frustrated with running your design business, see how your management style measures up with our industry organization’s list of best practices.

get your paper index from how magazine! from their blog: download [a pdf of] a comprehensive list of paper mills and suppliers, as seen in the May issue of HOW!

going to the creative freelancer conference or how conference in denver this june? i just joined this twibe [a twitter tribe for attendees]. if you’re on twitter, join up!

creative inspiration

Augustine Kofie:Echo Park Triangulation:Time Lapse from Augustine Kofie on Vimeo.

design industry

[photo: isaac arthur]
designer isaac arthur brewed his own honey apple mead and designed this lovely label. from

going to the creative freelancer conference this year? i am, and i’m doing whatever i can to make the most of it in advance! this rundown of product releases will help you shop around at the conference, from the <a href="how magazine blog.

ever need a reliable list of universally recognized symbols and signs? the aiga has one for you! from A first set of 34 symbols was published in 1974, and received one of the first Presidential Design Awards; 16 more symbols were added in 1979. These copyright-free symbols have become the standard for off-the-shelf symbols in the catalogues of U.S. sign companies. They are now available on the web for the first time.


did you know that hoefler & frere-jones offers suggestions for type combinations? they do! say you want to use their super-cute slab serif archer in a layout, just hit up the page, scroll to the bottom, and see the h&fj suggests section for suggested font pairings with graphic samples. brilliant!

solar beat bonus!

this lovely infographic music box is in a category of its own. solarbeat is a planetary simulation set to music i found on i’ve been letting it drone away all morning [about 5 plutonian years], it’s very comforting.

creative inspiration

design industry

[photo: department of graphic sciences]

my friends over at department of graphic sciences were featured in under consideration’s for print only blog for their outstanding packaging for original beans chocolate. they even utilized the long-coveted custom paper services over at french paper. truly lovely work!

another colleague of mine, velvette de laney of dew drop studios wrote a great piece for jeni herberger‘s blog: no designer is an island. and it’s true! when we work on our own we realize how much we need our network and support system. great piece, velvette!

who’s going to CFC this year? if you’re going to the creative freelancer conference and you’re on linkedin, come on over and join the discussion. let’s get to know each other a bit before the conference! or comment here!


[image: jenny wang]

awhile back, good put out a call for submissions to design an infographic about a neighborhood, putting out a few parameters to follow. they’re reporting back on some of the submissions and they’re really cool to look at & analyze. check them out!

creative freelancer conference recap: networking

networking lunch at the creative freelancer conference
[l-r: genevieve margherio, joy worthen, kirk roberts, and me! photo by bruce wayne stanley.]

before i ran my own practice, i probably would have laughed at anyone who told me how much networking i’d be doing, and how much i’d enjoy it. i used to think of it as something i had to make time for, or something i regretted not doing when it came time to move from one job to another. sure, it’s something i do for business, but if you do it right you make a lot of friends. and then you have margaritas!

the creative freelancer conference stressed to us that we’re not competitors, but co-workers. even in leaner times like these, there is enough work for everyone. i prefer to see us all as choices, a client could choose me, or one of my colleagues, and they do so for a reason that is not about us competing because we don’t offer the same thing. addressing this upfront brought the level of camaraderie way up, and allowed a lot of us to talk in-depth about our experiences in business, with clients, in times of challenge and success.

once we all got honest and brave and started asking the revealing questions, this theme emerged that i hadn’t noticed before: creatives are highly empathic people. we can take on your stories, information and motivations, consider them carefully, and spin them into communication vehicles that become far more than the sum of their parts. but there’s this fine line between being empathetic with communication efforts, and taking on client concerns to the degree that we compromise the quality of our work with compromised time & budgetary resources. my overall takeaway about creative personality disorder is that we have to put our abilities to wrap our heads around our clients in check when it comes to business negotiations and set realistic limits so we don’t end up over-committed & under-compensated.

on the upside though, creative personality disorder leaves you with a room full of really awesome, funny, quirky, highly social people who aren’t around this many other people like us nearly often enough. i was networking before i got there, rooming with beth goldfarb which has turned out a great new friendship with a fantastically talented colleague. i think we met our first conference buddies in the hallway on the way in. everyone was itching to say hi & see each other’s business cards and connect, it was so exciting to meet everyone, share laughs & design hugs. this lunch, pictured above, was a group of 12 people who had to split into 3 tables. the 3 designers i sat with all have uniquely beautiful work [go see for yourself], but more than that, they’re super nice people [and their clients have a lot to say about how much they love working with them].

which brings me to the session on networking—socially & online, that is:

the astoundingly simple secrets to making social media work for you with colleen wainwright
i’ll admit right off the bat that i’ve seen this talk twice and i didn’t take notes this time around. wainwright is a veritable portal to so many fantastic sources of information, i honestly preferred to watch her talk than write things about it. i’m lucky and i see her often enough that many of these things have become conversation topics rather than bullets in a talk, so i encourage you do to the same. reach out to her, talk to her—hire her to help you figure out your marketing strategy! in the meantime, i’ll do my best to give you the goods:
– social media online is a new way to network with a much bigger pool of people than would be sustainable without the internet.
– online networking is all in how you use it. choose your voice first, then create a consistent presence online.
be useful, be specific, be nice: talk about relevant things directly to your audience in a supportive, helpful way.
– create a manageable list of networking sites you can commit to regularly maintaining.
– don’t be afraid that it’s a time-suck: you determine your level of involvement.
– if you feel overwhelmed, lurk awhile before jumping in. when you feel comfortable, start participating.
– approach participation from a place of support. post helpful info, offer to connect people you think would like to meet.
– speaking of awesome, go read these free reports by chris guillebeau and consider his call to “be awesome.”
– and check out chris brogan and his book, trust agents.

if you need some cold-hard facts about social media and the effect & reach it has, this video sums it up nicely: