Mother and Freelance Graphic designer, what can go wrong?

I am a working mom, and as such I wish I could give you a detailed list of how to succeed on being one. I can only offer you my experiences. Being a working mother has never been an easy task. I remember my mother, back in Chile, working all day and walking home for about 2 miles after a 45 minutes bus ride. Tired, hands full of bags filled with food and work.

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Now I am a mother as well. I have two little girls and a husband that fill my dreams. I worked as a graphic designer in AD agencies for about 12 years. Now I do freelance graphic design. I run my graphic design business from home. I wear all the hats one wears while running a business: accountant, PR, office manager, HR, office guru, cup of tea, dream maker, risk taker, etc… sigh.

Mother and freelance graphic designer, what can go wrong?

well, it turns out that plenty! My house is a mess, my kids are barely surviving and my husband takes what he can, poor guy. How do you keep a balance between work and home and family?

I can’t begin to tell you how messy my house is! I walk around it and squint my eyes so I don’t see all the piles of dishes, clothes unfolded, beds unmade, bathrooms mess, and all-around crazy living spaces. I have hired, ladies who would come and clean my house. IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT TO ME to pay someone to do my housekeeping job. If you know of someone in Las Vegas, I would love the referral ;).
I do what I can to clean my house a bit, but it is difficult to keep it clean when I am supposed to be serious about working. I pretend I am paying for an office space somewhere out there and come home at the end of the day, like every working person does. Cleaning my house has become second in my priorities. Sigh… my poor family.

I feel as if my kids are barely surviving. I made working hours for myself in order to establish structure in my day. I get up in the morning at about 6:15am. Shower, get dressed and wake up the girlies at 7am. We then fight about brushing their teeth (because apparently its always a surprise they have to do so) and getting dressed. We look around the house for clean socks. We have a box full of “lost socks” where we can look into when a pair is needed. I go downstairs and prepare their breakfast and lunch for school. Do their hair and off we go to school. I then come home, make my own breakfast and begin my work day. I usually stop working by the time they get home from school. I have been blessed with an awesome husband that has the ability to pick them up after work. It’s so nice. The ladies get home but there is no food on the table. I literally forget to make my own lunch sometimes, less alone make food for someone else. Then we fight about homework while my husband makes dinner, and then we get the girls ready for gymnastics and soccer. I do have to say one thing though, I have happy kids and that MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE. My husband is a huge help too. I feel forgiven most of the time but it all goes away the next day, when we are looking for socks again.

My poor husband takes what he can. He picks up the girls from school and comes home, to a place where only the dog runs to see him. We say a quick hello with a quick kiss and off we go to homework and food time. My husband and I have learned to appreciate the time we get together. We lead such busy lives. Since we both work and have many church and family duties, our lives together are made of moments.  I would think this is true for any working couple. We were counseled to go out on dates at least once a month. We love those few hours we have together. We eat. We laugh. We talk about the girls. We have worked on getting friends. It might sound a bit silly but for us its huge! Its so nice to be able to talk to other adults, about their problems and joys.  We love our friends.

I have to say that I love being a mom, a wife and an entrepreneur. I wouldn’t change my life for anything. I feel stressed out because my house is a mess, my kids are barely surviving and my husband takes what he can while supporting me. Being a working mom is not a walk in the park. I have been working at my time management skills and learning about the business of graphic design.  However, I always keep one thing in mind, MY FAMILY IS FIRST.

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How do you manage being a mom and a business owner? I really want to know! Please leave a comment below.

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4 things to have in mind when creating a great marketing piece.

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It is often the case that a client would come up to me with a marketing “want“, but without a clear vision of what “they need” for their marketing piece to happen. This is absolutely common, and in my opinion, there is no need to panic and freak out, I am here to guide you.

Here are 4 things to keep in mind when creating a marketing piece:

1) Your audience: It is important to know who your audience is because that will determine the look, feel and text of your marketing piece.
To say, “my audience is everyone between the ages of 15 – 65” is not very helpful. You need to narrow it down; think about what your business has to offer to certain individuals. When thinking of an audience, I like to think of my family and how they would respond top what I created. My 18 years old nephew could care less about what his 48 years old mom likes.  Lets say a community center offers gym classes to everyone. Wonderful! however, if they want both my nephew and sister to attend, they will need to approach them separately. My sister would go for a flyer that uses a friendly image of a woman, modern colors and inviting text describing HOW it would help to attend their classes. For my nephew, all he would want is the social aspect of it with an engaging image of teens having fun together, use of modern color and application, and interesting text. Nothing too “Tubular”  because they’ll know the center is trying too hard.

2) Color Palette: Did you know that there are such things as modern and classic colors? feminine or masculine? Playful and serious? Now, when it comes down to a business, one has to learn to separate the personal from the business. You have to think in terms of your business, not you. Look around you, what do you see? I recommend going to the mall or local shops and see if you can determine who their audience is JUST by looking at their color palette. Take notes, take pictures, you are doing research. You found a color you love for your business, use it. (However, you cannot use Tiffany’s blue. They trademarked it). Here is a cool website that can give you a little insight on color palettes.

3) Text: or in design terms, “copy“. If you have been blessed with the talent of writing, use it. I’ll envy you. if you are just like me, then there are two ways you can go about it: Get feedback from someone you trust OR use a copy writer.
I am from Chile, a beautiful country in South America, so English is my second language. Expressing myself eloquently comes with challenges. I know a couple of copy writers that are just so … beautifully clever. Words flow like honey when they write. its impressive and worth every penny for a marketing piece. I wish I knew how to write well. I have many talents but writing is not one of them. I’m not that clever. I always say “I’m not a writer but I can make your stuff look amazing!”

4) Deadline: yep, you need to know when you need your stuff IN HAND, printed and ready to distribute to the masses. The best way to do this is working a backwards timeline on your calendar. Look at the date you want your stuff in your hands. Now, looking back on the days of the calendar, take into consideration that a printer will need at least one week to print. Two, if you want to be nice and have a “cushion” for mistakes and such. Then, talk to a designer, like me, and work out when your piece needs to be at the printers, see options from your designer on your marketing piece and when the designer needs things from you, such as copy, images, etc… Deadlines are beautiful. I especially love them when the go “woosh” right pass you. 😀

Woohoo, now you’re on your way to marketing greatness. By having these 4 things in mind: audience, color palette, text and deadlines, you will be on your way to creating a great marketing piece. Best of luck and contact me if you need me.

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Walk This Way!

Being a graphic designer has trained my eye to notice things most people don’t. One of the things I have been noticing lately, is the way a few mortals chose to walk. I notice them while driving, at the gym, having ice cream, etc…

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Here are 4 ways of walking I enjoyed watching:

1) The Practice walk

On the way home from dropping my kids off at school, I saw this one guy practicing the way he walked. He was even talking to himself! So picture this: African American dude, wearing very low jeans, comb on the fro, white shirt and a black jacket, listening to something on his headphones. This guy was taking s-l-o-w-m-o-t-i-o-n steps while arching his right hand and arm over his left leg, and with the other hand, holding on to his pants for dear life… while tilting ever so slightly to his left. The guy was practicing his swagger! Oh my gosh, it was so fun to watch. He was walking S-L-O-W, slow, slow. I wonder if he was saying to himself, “yeah, this is how you do it man! Chicks DIG IT! I’m so cool and I’m so groovy when I go bom, bom bom!” I felt like the little pig that laughed all the way home. I can still see him in my head. Classic!

2) The Ridiculous Walk

I’m at the gym, walking. People are walking all around me, some are running, of course. and suddenly, out of nowhere, this man passes me on the right. He was speed walking! I know that those who exercise this way claim that it is very good for you. That it’s way better than running and walking… so why not combine the two? I’ll tell you why, because it looks ridiculous!  I tried to do it myself, and see if I could find joy in it…but… NOPE!  Speed walking was invented in the 70’s and THAT’s where it should stay! However, it looks like those who practice it, take it to the next level… the competitive one! Here is a dumb video to prove it.

3) Arched Legs

Now, this is self evident. its something that was not chosen or agreed upon. This old man was just born this way…Maybe?  Instead of making fun of this way of walking, I would like to concentrate on the difficulty of walking this way! It must hurt the joints I imagine.
My husband can attest to my pain. I don’t have arched legs but I do suffer from knee pain every once in a while. Well, Knee, back, neck, shoulder pain…. All the time, it sucks! So, I suppose I can imagine how painful having arched legs must be. I guess the man I saw became arched-legged with age? My husband tells me that this “Bowleg” thing happens as well to people who ride horses a lot. So, cowboys are just made that way.  LOL!

4) Old Woman with Walkman

One of the greatest joys in life, I find, is to listen to music. I listen to music all day long while working. So, it comes to no surprise, that many people enjoy life while listening to some good old tunes. Well, that’s exactly the case with the old woman and her Walkman. I haven’t seen one of those little wonders since the 80’s, when I was a kid.
For those of you little ones who don’t know what a Walkman is, it is the music playing box that Peter Quill, from Guardians of the Galaxy, listens to while zoning out. Anyways, there she was, in all her lose-spandex-leggin glory,  listening to her music. This old lady looked adorable! I wonder what she was listening to? Because whatever it was, had to be old enough to had come in a cassette tape.

How about you? Have you ever noticed anything peculiar in the way some people walk? I would love to read your stories.

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What Does Branding Mean To Small Business Owners

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Most of my clients are small business owners. Many of them, at first contact, need me to design a Logo for their company. Then, its usual that they would like business cards, stationary, and then roll into direct mail, posters, digital banners, icons, etc… Pretty much branding.

Today I will talk about what branding means to small business owners and why it can help your business succeed.

Branding to small business owners means a few things:

  1. Instant recognition
  2. Consistency
  3. Credibility
  4. Peace of mind

1- Instant Recognition

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of small businesses coming up every day. Out of all these, a good 15% of them do what you do and offer some of the things you offer as well. Branding helps you come out of the pool of businesses as one that is visible, recognizable and remembered. It is always a good idea to invest in your brand. Think about the many ways your clients could remember you. My advise would be to begin with your logo and stationary package, depending on your business. If its a restaurant, posters or direct mail might be a good idea too.

2- Consistency

When people know what you look like and the way you behave, they trust in your consistency. I read somewhere that branding should be treated the way you describe a person. Happy/sad. Elegant/laid back. Colorful/monotone. Modern/Classic. Whatever the description is, when a brand looks the same on everything a business, your business, produces, it is thought of as reliable, professional and good for them.

3- Credibility

When your clients see and recognize your brand, they will chose you over someone else; Solely based on remembering you. If they remember you, they believe in you and POOF… you have more clients. Think about it, why do you go to your favorite Chinese takeout instead of the one, maybe, closer to you? Of course, their food is good. BUT what made you go inside their restaurant in the first place? recommendation, you drove by, direct mail, email, etc… “mmh, this looks like a good place!” you say. But think of why. Their branding dragged you in.

3- Peace of mind

Branding your business will help you come on top, acquire new clients, make money, and therefore, it will give you peace of mind. Peace of mind to know that things are working out and that whatever you do in the future, for your particular business, will work just as well and it will be a great deal easier to make it happen… again.

 

I highly recommend you invest in a good designer to create a branding for your business. Designers come in all shapes, sizes and prices, so it is up to you to chose one that best meets your needs. Your business branding is very important because it will give you instant recognition, consistency, credibility and above all, peace of mind.

Let me know if you would like to work with me. I look forward to helping you create a great branding for your business. Go to my website and contact me.

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Best Websites Ever

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Designers, beware. What you are about to see will make your brain spin. There are so many AWESOME features in each one of these sites that you are going to  want to learn it all. Research away my friends.

So I have been wanting to create a more unique and interesting website for myself. I discovered MUSE, which is an ADOBE product which lets you create websites without coding. Very cool and easy to use if you are familiar with Adobe products. I guess I came in late into the game since this product has been around for a while.

Anyways, I then decided to look around for great websites that could inspire me. I AM IN AWE about the amount of talent and possibilities in existence out there. my mind is blown away! Granted, and most likely, these sites used programs and features I don’t know…but I wish I did. SO MUCH TO LEARN!!!!! (sigh) How fun!

Without much ado, here are the best websites I found:

1) Yul Moreau, Digital Art Director
This website is just crazy awesome. In a scale of 1 – 10, it is a 200. It uses movies, images and links to his creations that have no parallel. I’m sure that a great number of designers were behind every creation. Enjoy the awesomeness of his portfolio.

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2) Steven Mengin, Digital designer
This guy’s website moves with your mouse! it follows the position of your mouse creating a ripple effect not like any you have seen before. His portfolio is extremely beautiful as well.

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3) Melanie Daveid
Very envious of how she accomplished this website. I love the fluidity of the lettering but the way links work and how portfolio moves and reacts is incredible.

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4) Christopher Lee, Illustrator

Raw talent! I love how simple the portfolio looks when in reality, its so much  FUN, I hate him!! LOL

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5) Bjorn Meier, Product Designer

She creates beautiful work. Her portfolio site is amazing. Every link, though super horsy, takes you to a two dimensional world of scrolling.

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You can see even more incredible website here.

If you have any comments about how any of these websites were made, please comment below. I am dying to learn! Thank you in advance!!

How to talk to a graphic designer

How to talk to a designer

 

If you are beginning a business, or want to “spruce up” the one you already have, chances are you will end up using a graphic designer. What do we designers do? In a nutshell,  we make things look pretty!

Be it a logo, a brochure, a website, etc… we designers make things look clean, orderly and all around pretty for our clients. Those of you who have dealt with designers before, you are familiar with some of the lingo we designers use in order to talk to you about a certain project. If you are contemplating hiring one of us to help your business succeed, then this guide will be a good stepping stone.

Ready? here we go…

Initial meeting: When you meet with your designer either in person, on line or though a phone call. I always find it best, if meeting in person, to meet at a neutral location such as a Starbucks or local cafe.

High Res images: An image, or picture, used for your brochure or any printed material. This is always the best option.

A high res image can be either purchased or taken by a good digital camera. Images from a phone do not work. Images downloaded from the web, without permission from the owner of such image, does not work. Images that are 2″x 2″ ( inches or centimeters) and are high res, do not work. Here is the reason why: Digital images, or scanned to become digital, work in pixels. Pixels are tiny little squares that make up an image in the digital world. The more squares (or resolution. ex: 300 dpi) the better the image. Images used on the web are at their lowest resolution (72 dpi) possible, making them look VERY fuzzy when printed. They are also VERY small physically speaking. Phone images are the same way. Downloads from the web without permission are a total no-no. You would be placing yourself under legal harm’s way for using an image that doesn’t belong to you. Also, Images can not be pulled out of thin air. Meaning, if you have a photo of the “top” of an apple, the designer can not “turn the apple” to show the “side” of it on your project.  You would need a new picture.

Copy: This is the “TEXT” need from you, the client.

Unless the designer will be writing everything for you, a very unlikely scenario, you need to write all the information needed yourself. This includes addresses, emails, phone numbers, etc… Please spellcheck your work. Designers should not be accountable for your spelling mistakes. When drafts are given to you, check and double check everything written on your project.

Drafts: Ideas and layouts given to you before the final material. Drafts are usually emailed to you.

Logo Design: A logo is probably THE most important piece to your business branding. It is important, for your success, to be recognize among the plethora of businesses just like yours. A logo will give you that recognition.

How much should you pay for a logo? well, that will depend on your designer. Just so you know, the “Graphic Artists Guild” suggests that a logo should be between $50,000 and $2,000 dollars. This all depends in the size of your business. If you are just starting and are working from your garage, chances are that the designer will give you a good price.

Live Area: This is the area you can physically SEE on a print.

When images are printed, they get to be printed on really large sheets of paper and then trimmed, or cut, to the final size of your piece. It is very important what part of an image you see on your product.

Printing Process: How your project will be printed. 4 color, UV, 1 Pantone color, foils, emboss, deboss, etc… all done by a printing house, or vendor.

Small quantities can be printed digitally. Large quantities should be printed on an offset printer. ONLY offset printers can accommodate 1 color Pantone, foils, funky inks, etc… Also, be very aware that the color on your screen might not be the colors on the final print. This is because all computer monitors and phone screens are not created equal. You can either cross your fingers that things will look great when printed from a file onscreen or get a “paper proof” of your project. Now a days, you’d do well practicing your faith that all will turn out alright!

Common Misconceptions: Things that designers can do only in the client’s imagination.

Designers Are Not/Do Not/should Not:

Make things bigger by the push of a button, take calls in the middle on the night, read the client’s mind, robots, add to the “image” of something you made without the original files, participate on the client’s desperation and/or emergencies, make up a new day in the calendar, work as fast as superman, be in two places at once.

Designers DO however listen, work hard, show patience, guide, are professionals and need to get paid in a reasonable time.

I hope all these lingo from designers make a bit more sense to you now. There are plenty of other things to consider when hiring a designer to make a business shine and look pretty. It all depend on the communication you and them have. Mutual respect is the key.

Do you have any other questions about designer’s lingo? What has your experience been so far?

Have a creative day,

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Surviving the first day of Kindergarten

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I have two little girls, Fia is 7 and Isa is 5 years old. This week was Isa’s first day of Kindergarten. I was worried about her happiness and how well she was going to adapt to a new school, a new teacher and new friends.

The week prior to the beginning of school, we had the chance to meet the teachers and see the classrooms. Isa freaked out! she begun crying and not wanting to be anywhere near her teacher. It broke my heart to see my daughter so stressed out about school. Not fun! Not fun at all!!!

I spoke to several friends who either have experience as a teacher or children psychology. One of them gave me the best idea ever! She told me to “pave” the going to school by “acting out” the day. brilliant! For those of you who do not know what “paving” is, “paving” is a way to prepare a person by talking about what is going to happen when… we go to the store, go on vacation, meeting a new person, explaining a job, etc…

So, off we went to pave the way for Isa. On Sunday, we decided to have Family Home evening, which is like a family night but with a spiritual focus, and taught about the importance of learning both spiritual and secular things, and moved on from there.

This is how we survived the first day of Kindergarten:

  1. We talked about how God wants us to learn about him at church and “seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118)
  2. Asked the girls to put on their uniforms
  3. We had a “pretend” breakfast and made their “pretend” school lunches
  4. We “pretended” to be in my car and went for a “pretend” ride to school. I had them kiss me goodbye. My husband was waiting for them at the gate of the “pretend school”.
  5. Then pretended to have a full day at school with classes included.
  6. At the end of the “pretend” day at school, my husband “drove” his “pretend” car to pick them up from school and I welcomed them home with open arms.
  7. My husband gave them a Father’s Blessing for the upcoming year.
  8. Finally, we drove to the actual school and dropped the girls and husband off at the gate, drove around the block and picked them up.
  9. Had watermelon at home as refreshment.

I am very happy to inform you that this little “paving for school” worked like a dream! Fia and Isa were so happy to go to school. Isa was still nervous but not nearly as stressed out as before. To this day, day 4 of school, Isa is very happy and wanting to go back to school with her teacher and her new friends. I feel very blessed!