Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

And Happy New Year to all.

The final was printed on Curious Metallics galvanised paper.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

There's the Rub

For Christmas this year I decided to bottle my BBQ rub for family and some friends. I had the logo already so I needed to come up with a label design. I really liked the look of the white flaming Q on a black background. It has a classy, high end feel to it. I thought a high end BBQ look would be cool. Yeah, I know high end, classy and BBQ don't usually go in the same sentence, but why not?

I did some research about labels to get ideas and figure out the look I wanted and settled on one that I thought worked well. It speaks of a high end product you might find at a specialty store. I also searched for just the right bottle to put it in. I found a great spice bottle at World Market that would work well for this small run of rub.

You will notice that the usage of it has changed a bit from my original post about the Q logo. I think the way I have chosen to use it now will lend itself to more applications and easier to change for sauce and other items.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Operation Thanksgiving Turkey - Followup

Following up from Operation Thanksgiving Turkey. My friend Ken (who started the operation) received the below letter this week. It is from one of the 286 recipients of the turkey expressing his appreciation. The card he received was from my daughter (yes I am proud of her :-)).

December 3, 2009

Sometimes you don't feel particularly "needy:' But over time, things that uplift your soul tend to slip away.

With the children grown and scattered, holidays are one of those things.

Christmas decorating for the past ten years consists of digging the wreath out of the storage room and hanging it on the front door. All done!

Thanksgiving is even worse. Maybe we go out to a little nearby restaurant and have some turkey. Maybe not.

As my wife's vision deteriorates, she's made the painful decision to hang up her car keys. Cooking also has become a chore for her.

Bless her heart, she has borne up bravely as I try to teach myself to cook. But if I were the one married to me I'd divorce myself.

Lots of sandwiches. Cheerios sound good for supper tonight? Doggie bags from the restaurant will feed us for two days! When I cook, the smoke alarm indicates the meat is done.

Enter Angel Food.

I don't even remember where I heard of Angel Food, but October was our first Signature Box. We liked it so much, we ordered another for November and a Senior Meals to boot.

Saturday. November 21, I arrive to pick up, Naturally I go to the wrong table. The one I stop at is where you sign up for Thanksgiving Dinner ... delivered!

Mama didn't raise no dumb puppies! How much? Free? Sign me up!

Now here is where expectation departs from reality. What I envisioned was a plastic plate with some sliced turkey, a scoop of mashed potatoes, stuffing, maybe some green beans. Maybe even some cranberry sauce. Ready to pop into the microwave. I would have been happy and pleased. I know my wife would have been thrilled she didn't have to eat my cooking.

Late delivery OK - say eight or nine? Yes ma'am, that'll be fine. Wednesday night. A phone call. Were running late. No problem, I never go to bed before 1 a.m.

Todd and his son, Chris, arrived shortly before midnight. The guys have been out delivering all day! Talk about above and beyond the call of duty! But the gifts they were bearing drove out all logical thought. I was stunned! A whole turkey! Smoked yet! And all the fixins - corn, beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a whole pumpkin pie! I've never had a smoked turkey in my life! It was delicious!

In addition were two little presents. One was a New Testament. Always welcome. Always needed. Always ready to dispense inspiration and wisdom. Not too surprising, though - it's a Baptist Church after all!

The other present was a simple card. "Hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Remember Jesus loves you!" and signed Alyssa:' Below was a drawing of a little smiling turkey, saying "gobble!"

Tears fell unashamed from my eyes.

I could see clearly Alyssa and her friends sitting at a table making card after card for people they didn't know and would never meet.

This leads to a vision of hundreds of turkeys being prepared by your church family. Boxes and boxes of fixins being cheerfully parceled out. The thought staggers the imagination.

A church event. A family event. Young and old pitching in and working late to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for nameless and faceless people ... out there.

You have cast your cornbread stuffing upon the waters. And it has filled my grateful heart.

Alyssa, you and your friends at First Baptist Church of Fort Mill were my blessing this Thanksgiving.

May you and your church family receive God's blessings in abundance this Christmas season. And may your hearts be filled with the knowledge that your efforts have reached out and the hearts of others.

In deep appreciation,


Take time this Christmas season to help someone out. Give some change to the Salvation Army bell ringer. Send a card. It is amazing what a turkey, fixins and a card can do for someone and how much it can help out.

If you are on Facebook you can follow Catch a Fire for Q.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thinking Different

I came across this image on FFFFOUND! today. FFFFOUND! is a site I like to go to when I need some inspiration or just need to look at the world in a different way. Some of the pictures are risque (so be warned), some are frighting, some are odd and many are just plain interesting.

When I saw the boat table I thought, "Now that's innovation." How often are we asked to create something with what we have on hand. We have to look at what we have and see it in a different way. Just like the guy riding the table boat. He had an obstacle (the water), a boat engine and a table. He solved his problem of crossing the water by looking at the table in a different way and using "Design Thinking."

Instead of being overwhelmed by a problem and thinking we can't do it because we don't have the resources, we should look at what we do have and find new uses for it.

Why should we let a little thing like water stop us from doing what we need too? Flip that table over, slap an engine on it and go full throttle.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Operation Thanksgiving Turkey

A friend from Church started BBQing a couple of years ago and entering competitions. He has a huge smoker that he uses to do this. Last year he got the idea to smoke as many turkeys as he could for needy families in the area. He did 40, which isn't bad for a first year. He was able to get BiLo to help out with the groceries and turkeys so each family would get a Thanksgiving meal.

He had volunteers deliver them to the families. One of the houses had a teenage boy answer the door and when they gave him the groceries he was so grateful. He told the delivery people he didn't know what he was going to eat from Wednesday until next Monday because he was on school assisted meals and they had no food in the house.

This year my friend had a goal of 200 turkeys and meals for families. He asked people to adopt a turkey for $20. That $20 would pay for the turkey and the sides. He is doing 286!! He has 7 cookers helping cook and about 50 volunteers around the clock, helping to prep, cook and deliver. Again our local BiLo helped out with the turkeys and the fixings and our local Starbucks has donated a 1/2 pound of coffee to each family and coffee for the volunteers. One of the local Chick-fil-a's is bringing lunch over for the volunteers.

People often wonder what one person can do to make a difference, this is one thing. He started small and shared his vision with friends who also got on board and helped out. Next year he is planning to do it again but BIGGER!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Red Devil

I did this illustration a few months ago but have been wanting to blog about the process of creating it. It started as a little imp of an idea and grew.

I used a similar process to the one I used for the shrunken head. Started with a sketch but this time only drew half the face. I drew a fairly detailed sketch so I knew were to put the lines and had an idea of the shading.

Once I had the sketch where I liked it I scanned it in and imported it to Adobe Illustrator. I scaled it to the size I wanted to work with, reduced the transparency to 50% and locked the layer.

I then created a new layer and started to create my vector outlines. I start by roughing them in and then going back and refining them to follow the sketch. In some places I didn't like the way the lines look once added so I alter them to be more visually appealing. Once I had half the outline done I filled it in with a nice red to get an idea of how the shape looked.

I created another new layer that I added the facial features to. I refined them also to make sure they looked like I wanted them to.

I added the horn and some subtle shading to a new layer.

I added more details to give the image the look I wanted. I then duplicated the left side and flipped it.

Combining the two halves gave me the whole face. I went in and tweaked it some more. Adding extra shading and details to make it look better. One thing I had noticed when I first combined the halves was he looked cross-eyed. I redid the eyes and liked the way he looked finally.

I added some colors and shading to the background and used one of the textures from Crumble. Crackle. Burn. to create the final look. I also used the image as one of my bottle labels for Monster Brew.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Visual Journaling

I was cleaning around my house the other day and came across old sketch books. I find it fascinating to look back through them. Some go all the way back to high school. As a designer sketching is an important way to get ideas down and to work through design problems.

Comic idea from 1993

As I flipped through them I realized I knew exactly where I was and what was going on when I did each sketch. Whether it was an idea for a project, a class in college or a trip. Going analog is a good way to start any design project. It helps to get multiple ideas down in a rough stage and lets you keep a record of those ideas for future use.

Christmas 1995 "cat watching fish"

Thinking about this I dug out some of my college notes and high school notes. Looking back through these I have doodles and sketches on the margins. These doodles helped me to remember what the teacher was talking about in the classes. Being a visual person many of my notes contained doodles of what the teacher was talking about. When test time came I could never remember the words on the page but I could remember the doodles and those would help me answer the questions.

Pizza de Campo, Sienna, Tuscany 1996 "Lovers on the plaza"

Most people keep written journals about their lives or events. I find I keep a visual one. The only problem with it is in the future my kids will have no idea what each drawing was about.

2006 Gibbs Design logo sketches

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Business to Keep Your Business Safe

I was approached by a small start up company to create some business cards for them. After meeting and talking with the owner it was apparent that they also needed a logo to help brand their web site, business cards and other materials. The company helps other businesses recover from disasters, back up their files and make sure there is a plan in place so a company can keep working even in an emergency.

We talked about various images for logos and settled on an abstract safe tumbler.

We also talked about what colors to use to represent her company. We went with a deep, rich burgundy and a dark blue for the main colors. For secondary colors we went with lighter more pastel colors that contrast and play off the other colors. The burgundy represents strength, leadership and respect. All good things for a business continuity consultant. The blue plays a counterpoint to the red and represents harmony, trust and confidence.

After deciding on these things I came up with a design for the business cards. I had a couple designs. The one I preferred didn’t have any of the bullet points on it, but the client felt it important to keep those on the card so people would understand the business quickly.

Over all I was pleased with the final result and look forward to working on similar projects.

Monday, September 14, 2009


If you follow me on Twitter you know I love BBQ. Not grilling, but BBQ. The difference you ask? Grilling is hot and quick and BBQ is low and slow. Both are good, but the flavor you get in BBQ can’t be beat.

I helped a friend at a couple different BBQ competitions and got to thinking, “With all these people walking around, not many are wearing cool BBQ shirts. Someone needs to make some.” So I created some.

My original idea was a line called “Q-wear.” I shared my idea with a couple friends who are designers (I have found as an independent designer it is important to have a network you can share ideas with). I used their feedback to refine my image and ideas. After going back and forth I settled on just Q. It can use it in multiple ways - from shirts, to sauces, to rubs. It was also pointed out to me “Q-wear” could be misread so just “Q,” short for BBQ, was the way to go.

I had done some sketches and played with some fonts and flames with various results.

After some revisions and redoes I created this.

I can use it in a variety of ways, like these:

It also looks good on t-shirts.

If you would like to purchase a t-shirt you can do so at

Friday, September 4, 2009

Design Thinking

The other day I was listening to the Reflex Blue Show from 36 Point. They were interviewing Bill Grant and he used the term “Design Thinking.” I had never heard of it before. Being a designer, it piqued my curiosity so I did what anyone else would do. I Googled it. I came across the Wikipedia entry and they defined design thinking as -

Design thinking is a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result.[1] It is the essential ability to combine empathy, creativity and rationality to meet user needs and drive business success”

After doing some more research, I found there were various number of steps for the process ranging from four to eight. Also the process when applied is not a start and stop process but a continual one. The final step leads back to the first step so there is constant improvement and refinement.

I laughed to myself as I thought, “Hey that’s what I’ve been doing for a while now and never even realized it.” In fact it is part of my design process. When I started my design business I knew I needed a process or a way to explain how I work. After much thought I boiled it down to four words, each encapsulating a different part of the process - Imagine. Explore. Design. Create.

Imagine. Defining the problem. Identifying the audience. Determining the goal.

Explore. Examining solutions. Creating options. Considering and researching possibilities.

Design. Brainstorming options. Refining and selecting the direction. Putting ideas on paper.

Create. Reviewing the goal. Choosing the best design. Executing the final product.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I recently did this job for AIMCAL. It was a three part project consisting of the Sourcebook cover, laying out their newsletter and creating an insert/mailer.

I created the cover for their Sourcebook first. It took a couple rounds of ideas to come up with something they liked but it was worth it. I then used the cover to create the cover of their newsletter. I also laid out the inside.

For the insert, that went in the newsletter, I had to create the illustration of a person chained to their desk. They wanted something that had simple line art but showed the different sections of their website at the same time. Throughout the insert the computer monitor changes to show each site that is talked about. When the insert talks about their conferences the desk is empty with the chain laying there.

It took sometime to do but I think the final results look good. It was also a fun project to work on as I got to try out some new techniques and learn how to use a few new tools.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

7 Habits of Effective Designers

I recently read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Franklin Covey, and was trying to figure out how I can apply this to my business and the world of graphic design. The seven habits he puts forth are great and can be applied to many areas of life.

Be proactive

For a designer, being proactive means you are contacting people about jobs letting clients know what you are working on and networking. Each of these things can help to generate new jobs from clients and new clients. Keeping in contact with existing clients and talking with them can open up possible jobs. They may mention an upcoming event or a direction they want to take with their advertising giving you an opportunity to help them.

Begin with the end in mind

When you begin a project make sure to have clearly defined goals. Know what the desired outcome is thus helping you define the project and keep on task. There are times when you and the client will define a project but as you get into it, the project changes. This can change the cost of the project which is easier to show if you had the project defined to start with.

Put first things first

This one sounds like a "Well, duh," idea but there are times you get excited about a project and forget a critical step. Make sure you work through your process and follow all your steps. This helps to make sure you have all the info from the client to start with, you have a contract in place, and you and the client are looking toward the same goal.

Think win-win

As a designer it is our job to give the client the best solution as well as a solution they are happy with. You have ideas of what the final product should be and so do they. When you design for someone, you want to make sure you collaborate with them. Share ideas but know that you may need to compromise to your client’s desire. Remember, your client knows their business better than you do. When you collaborate and work together you can come to a solution you are both pleased with.

Seek first to understand then be understood

This may be one of the most important steps. When we sit down with a client it is important to understand their needs so you can accurately talk to them and make sure that you are doing the right thing. Once you understand their needs you can make suggestions regarding improvements. It is important you leave preconceived ideas at the door so you can fully understand the client’s needs and explain what you can do for them. This helps to create the win-win situation and leads onto synergy.


Work with the client and use your network. Everyone views things differently and at times, it is important to get a new perspective. As you work on a project, keep the client updated and share your ideas so you can have feedback. There have been many times I have felt I had a project in the bag only to find out it was not the direction the client wanted to go. It will also give you greater buy-in from the client at the end of the project as they feel like they are part of the process. Remember, your network of other designers and friends can help you. Share ideas with them and get feedback. I have a few design friends I like to share projects with for their feedback. Many times it has saved me from going in a direction that would have ended up not working. Cooperation is the key to good synergy.

Sharpen the saw

This is often overlooked and neglected. You need to be constantly learning new skills and updating the ones you already have. Creating a network of designers can help by keeping you up-to-date on new trends. Attending a seminar like the HOW Design Conference can give you new insights and help you connect with other designers. Taking courses at can teach you new skills or get you up to speed on new software. Once you're a professional the learning doesn't end.

Each of these habits is great for not only designers but others too. The key is to figure out how they work for you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Business Cards

After redesigning my blog and website I needed new business cards. I designed a card I really liked and searched for a printer. The card used a die cut which made it rather cost prohibitive on my limited budget. I remembered a design friend of mine talking about Copy Craft. I contacted them and was surprised at the price they quoted, it was under half of what I could get locally.

I sent them my design and had them print the cards. In about two weeks my new cards arrived and I was disappointed, the blankets had not been cleaned properly and left a ghost image. I called them and they told me to return the cards so they could reprint them. I did and now I have my new, cool looking cards. Copy Craft is a great printer to work with and they did a great job.

Beanstalk Soy

Just finished designing some business cards and a flyer for Beanstalk Company. They sell soy candles and beeswax polish. Both are eco-friendly and all natural.

It was a fun project to work on. I tried to keep both the card and the flyer in line with the website and yet give it a bit of a vintage feel. Overall I think both the cards and the flyer came out well.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why do we need branding?

Branding makes you, you. It separates you from the crowd and makes you stand out. It defines the uniqueness of your services and products. It informs people who you are, quickly. It is how you are perceived by others.

For these reasons you need to protect your identity and work to make it strong. To protect your identity you need to make sure you are consistent in what you produce, in how you use the logo and how you talk about the company as a whole. To make it strong you need to make sure you have a unified look and feel, and are sending out a unified message, whether it is in an email, a memo, a phone call, a client visit or an event.

Branding is huge; because it is more than a logo or materials, because it encompasses so many areas and touches so many parts.

  • How do you tackle it?
  • What do you / can you do to make it work?
  • What are the pieces?
  • How do you get the employees to own it?
  • What is the value to them?
  • What is the value to the bottom line?
  • Is our brand/culture in line with our mission/vision?

Branding isn’t just a logo and some color. It is a feeling a person gets when they work with a company not just from one individual in the company but the company as a whole. It is the reason they come back. If they get quality but no service why would they want to return? If they get great service but bad quality, again, why would they return? A brand permeates the company it is what everyone in the company believes and strives for. It is what makes the company work. It is not static but a changing entity. It has a core that is solid a foundation which doesn’t change but how it is approached does.

Companies throw around a lot of words that they want to be reflected in the company; respect, trust, quality, transparency, responsibility, knowledge, experience, insight. These are great ideals but where do they get you? Not far. There is a need to have a vision, a goal that you are striving for. A destination. Once you have a destination you can use these ideals to reach it to work together and get there. What is your company’s goal? In one year? Five years? Ten years? What is or reason for being beyond making money? What are our core values? What are our aspirations?

Branding isn’t something that the marketing department should own alone. It is something the company owns. Each department has to have a say in what the culture is like as each department has its own sub culture.

Branding isn’t something just done outside of the company. It is an internal process too. The internal branding is even more important than the external as your employees have to buy into the branding to make it work. They have to know how it will benefit them. Branding helps them become unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity. It brings them together, aims them at a common goal and helps them to identify with each other, to find a common ground where none may exist. Every associate is key in building a brand image through their verbal and written communications, execution of business processes or business development efforts.

Employees are the organization. They are the ambassadors of the company as they meet and interact with colleagues, customers, suppliers, competitors and industry experts. As well as interacting with an impressive number of people totally disconnected to the corporation in the form of family members, friends, former colleagues and many others.

Your brand is your culture. Your culture is your brand.

The benefits of a strong brand and culture are:

  • Happier employees
  • Lower turnover
  • Better customer service
  • More production
  • Better results

Each of these things can be measured but they take time to build.

Ultamitly the cornerstone to a strong brand is consistency.

  • Graphics Standards
  • Written and Oral Communication Standards
  • Business Cards & Stationary Standards
  • Endorsement of Image Attributes
  • Strong, Simple and Consistent Messages
  • Internal Branding

Today, brand building no longer constitutes a mere manipulation of the consumer’s perceptions and desires, but it is a creation of a system that on the one-hand makes promises and arouses anticipations, while on the other-hand it delivers and realizes the promises that it makes.

– Dan Herman, PhD, owner and CEO of Herman – Strategic Consultants

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A friend of mine posted the following video on Twitter. It is very cool. The creators went around the world and recorded different musicians and singers singing to the recording of the first musician in the video.

This is an AWESOME example of what collaboration can do, even when you don't know who you're working with but you are working towards the same goal. It also shows the power of a network. When you have one vision and a group of people willing to work towards it you can do anything.

As my friend Steve "RDQLUS" Gordon says, "We are stronger than me."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Look

My blog and website now sport a new look.
I have been working to design a new logo and brand myself across my blog, website and Facebook pages.
It has taken some time to come up with a look and feel that I like. I'm pleased with the final results. Take some time to follow the links and let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Spaces Between

The other night I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.” It is a fascinating show as he explores various cultures through their food and past times. In this episode he was in Japan and was talking to a person who did traditional Japanese flower arranging – Ikebana. One of the things this flower arranger said was, “It is not about the flowers and stems but the spaces between.”

That one line stood out to me because as designers it is not about always about the positive space (the drawing or the lines) it is also about the negative space (the places where the paper shows through). A good example of this is the FedEx logo. Everyone can see the blue and orange but most people miss the arrow that is made from the E and X. Once you see it though you can’t miss it. It is one of the reasons this logo works so well.

It is also not about how much we can fit on a page. But putting only what is needed and letting the white space enhance it. Working in the financial industry I have found that financial people like to cram every bit of information they can on a page in a font that is so tiny you need a magnify-glass to read it. Take a look at the printed version of the Wall Street Journal to see what I mean.

Often times clients want to fit as much as they can on a page or in a document. One of our jobs is to try to weed out what is essential to their message and make that stand out. Good use of white space can make your message stand out and be more memorable because it is not cluttered up and the mind doesn’t have to work to read the meassage. The white space enhances the text and images. Sometimes we have too much white space for what we need and the design looses it’s meaning and impact other times we don’t have not enough. Finding the balance is the key.

As in ikebana the organic shapes around the flowers are as important as the flowers and stems themselves. They each play off each other and enhance one another. The white space, or negative space, gives the arrangement dimension, while the flowers and stems, or positive space, give you context.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Designers over Contests

Lately in the design community there has been a lot of discussion on the ethics of using and participating in a contest to create a logo or other design work. The argument from seasoned designers basically says you wouldn’t have a couple lawyers write up contracts for you and than you choose the one you like best and pay that lawyer for their time. The other lawyers wouldn’t stand for it and you would end up having to pay them all for their work. I think as designers the argument goes deeper than that. It goes to what we can provide the customer beyond just an image or icon. It goes to how we can help the client develop their brand and present a consistent unified body of work for a company.

I understand many start up companies don’t have big budgets to spend on their logos and creating a brand for themselves but that doesn’t mean they can’t start off on the right foot. As a small company or large company you don’t have to use the biggest design firm or the most renowned designer, you can find someone locally that will fit your budget and do a great job. Talk to other business owners who have logos or marketing materials you like to find out who did them. Talk to local printers to find out if they know of any designers.

If money is an issue, tell your designer your budget. Many designers can work with in a budget. If it is too low the designer should be able to let you know and hopefully you can talk about ways you work it so you can get the job done. Maybe it’s a payment plan, or cash and a trade in services. Remember you wouldn’t give your services away for free so don’t expect a designer to either.

The biggest difference in a design contest and using a designer is and should be the level of service you get with your project. Many times people use the word brand and logo interchangeably and that is a mistake. The logo is not the brand and the brand is not the logo. When I talk about a logo here it is an icon or avatar that represents the company, and when I talk about brand it is the idea of the company. They are separate things but intertwined. With a design contest you will get a logo/icon for your company but will not necessarily get help with the branding.

A logo is an image or typographic treatment that represents you or your company. It is the visible element that people associate with a company. When you say Apple, Nike, McDonald’s, a particular image comes to mind. When you see the logo of a company it evokes a feeling of some kind – that is the brand.

When a designer creates a logo they try to take into account the brand the company wants; who the audience is, how it will be used, what feeling the company is trying to convey. If the designer is good they will try to fit the logo into the brand and work with you to create the feeling you want your clients to have when they see your logo.

Design contest, to me, is design in a vacuum. You don’t have real client contact and interaction to get a true idea of who they are as a company and what they are aiming for. As a designer part of creating the logo is also doing brand consultation. Working with the client to help them create what others will think of their company. A brand is not what you think of your company if is what others think of it. When the designer gives the client the final art work for the logo they should also include a usage chart that explains how to use the logo correctly over various media so the client can get a consistent look and feel to build brand equity. From a designers perspective if you give the client this type of service they will ask you back to help create other collateral material or if you don’t do brochures etc. you can recommend a designer who does. This ensures the strength of the logo and the brand going forward.

Designing a logo is not just about creating an icon or avatar, it is about creating a solution that fits the company and will last. Without the client/designer interaction, through design briefs and surveys, you can miss out on that. Without these briefs and back and forth a designer gains understanding of the clients business and the competition so they can create a solution that fits the client.

Another area of danger from a contest is the possibility of a design being a rip off of another logo. Yes, some designers will do the same thing but are generally more careful of what they pass off as their own. It may not be a problem initially but in the long run it could cost more than you realize due to lawsuits or other legal actions from the company who originally had the logo done.

As designers we need to offer that extra that separates us from contests. We need to work with the client to fit their needs. As clients you need to realize that you will get a better, well rounded logo when working with a designer. A logo, which is yours and only yours, that has had thought put into it and a process behind it to make it such. A logo, which is just not an icon of your company, but also an extension of your brand, your mission.

More related blog posts concerning this story:

David Airey: Forbes calls designers snooty
Jeff Andrews: Forbes Magazine: Graphic Design is a Snooty Business
Steph Doyle: Forbes Promotes Graphic Design Kitsch
Swiss Miss: Forbes calls designers snooty
Brian Yerkes: Why CrowdSpring Owners Should Be Ashamed of Their Business
AIGA: Position on spec work What is Spec Work?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Monster Brew

After creating Frankenstein, the shrunken head and the devil image for MonsterMonday, I was wondering what they could be used for. I showed the shrunken head image to a friend and the made a comment about “creative juices.” That got me thinking about different names for it and I came up with Voodoo Juice. “Hmm ,” I thought, “that would make a cool beverage label sitting on a shelf in a store.” I played around with it and came up with the Voodoo Juice label and then the light went on. Why not do Monster Brew’s labels and see what they look like? So I took the three I had done and added a pirate themed one and “BAM!”

After creating the labels I wanted to see what they would look like on bottles. I found an image of a suitable bottle and went into Photoshop and placed the labels on the bottles. I then clipped the bottles out and placed them all together.I had the beverage bottles but they needed a neck label to show the company. After tossing around some ideas I came up with Monster Brew. Each of the labels had the silhouette of a skull and cross bones behind it so I had to use that as the logo. I played around in Illustrator and created the logo.

I turned again to Photoshop and added the labels to the necks to produce the finished look.

I love it when one idea feeds another. As you can see the creative process is sometimes WHAM! and you have it other times it is slow and takes time. In this case each idea created the next and I have a final creation that I like. There are two more brews I want to add to finalize the six pack, so watch for them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Work for Free?

A friend posted this on the HOW Design Forum. It gets to the heart of the matter that many artists, designers and illustrators face when looking for work. The original below was first posted on Craig's List.

Every day, there are more and more CL posts seeking "artists" for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they're NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are "seeking artists", let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? ...none?

More than likely, you don't know any. Otherwise, you wouldn't be posting on craigslist to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the "opportunity" to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him "a few bucks" for "materials". What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered "yes" to ANY of the above, you're obviously insane. If you answered "no", then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me... why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a "great opportunity" for an artist to have his work seen on your car/'zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a "great opportunity" for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a "student" or "beginner" in an attempt to get work for free. It's ignorant and insulting. They may be "students", but that does not mean they don't deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a "student" once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it's one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their "portfolio". They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It's not compensation. It's their right, and it's a given.

4. Stop thinking that you're giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need "experience". But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the "experience" they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother's house when they were seventeen?

If you your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to "submit work for consideration". They may even be posing as some sort of "contest". These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the "contest", or be "chosen" for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or "spec", work. It's risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely. For more information on this subject, please visit

So to artists/designers/illustra
tors looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are "spec" gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free... please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you're accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.

Dave D'Esposito
ArtMonkey Studios, Inc.