Tag Archives: design

Climbing Out Of The Negativity Rabbit Hole

1 Nov

I understand that this is something girls say (see above), but holy crap HOW is it November? Do you know what November means? November means that it is almost a year since I started Love Citron, that it’s almost time for the holidays (thank you, marketing for making this impossible to miss) and that I can no longer pretend that it’s just ‘really late summer’. The light in my apartment has changed, the leaves are finally turning, and it’s painful to go outside barefoot. It can be painful all year if you aren’t paying close attention, since people like to smash beer bottles on ‘my’ sidewalk, but you know what I mean.

November also means that it’s officially time to take down the Halloween decorations. I’m not looking forward to this because THAT means that I have to clean out my closets. Since the apartment is older, and I guess people back in the day didn’t like to store anything, our closets are microscopic, and they’ve been poorly organized since the beginning of time. I have been preparing myself for this day for months, and it’s definitely time.

I guess I always think of November as the beginning of the change. It’s always been like that – people start looking forward to the holidays, the weather becomes officially cold, the time changes, it gets dark at noon, the urge to drown your seasonal affective disorder in cheese and white flour becomes overwhelming (just me?) – but this year it seems particularly fitting.

I arrived at a decision this weekend that I think marks a turning point for me. I’m not sure if it’s come across here, since I have zero objectivity when it comes to my blog, but lately (like in the past 3 months) I have felt myself sliding into a rut. I think I sort of expected freelancing to just magically work out, and I know I didn’t have a solid plan going into it. It was so discouraging to watch week after week pass, and feel like I was simultaneously working hard, and not working hard enough. I knew I wasn’t doing enough to build my business, but whenever I tried to work on it, I felt so overwhelmed and discouraged, like it wouldn’t matter, that I couldn’t make much progress. This isn’t to say that things haven’t been going well, but they have been progressing nearly as quickly as I’d like. I felt like I was wasting a lot of time and potential because I wasn’t organized, and I was focusing too much on the negative.

It was scary. Not to be too dramatic, but it almost felt the way it does when you have a nightmare, and can’t run away from whatever it is that’s scaring you. I felt like I needed to work harder, but I didn’t know where to begin.

So I made a decision. I have stopped focusing on what has gone wrong, and what could still go wrong, and I’m only focusing on what I have to gain. It’s scary to invest both time and money in myself and my work, but it would be scarier if I didn’t try. There are things I’ve spent a lot of time stressing out about, but sometimes it’s okay to try things that don’t work out. It’s okay to fail sometimes. I remember that it’s okay to not be perfect at this immediately. The only person I have to prove things to is myself.

 

The second thing I did was put myself in boot camp.  I made a wish list of all the things that I needed in order to begin seriously promoting myself and growing my business.  It’s very ambitions – if I had written out every step associated with the items on that list, it would be at least 10 pages long, but I’m trying to complete it by the end of the week.

I feel amazing. I feel like I’m finally making progress, and I’m more creative than I have been in a while, and like I’m learning and growing. I also feel a lot happier, and excited about what I’m doing. I’ll update you on some of the changes I’m making as I make them, so stay tuned for some exciting updates this week!

What do you do when you feel yourself heading down into the negativity rabbit hole? How do you jump start projects?

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On Making Things Pretty

9 Mar

One phrase I have come upon frequently in my career is ‘…and then you will make it pretty’. It is generally used to describe my role as the graphic designer in a project, and it never fails to set my teeth on edge. Usually my coping mechanism is to just smile politely and let it slide, but the time has come for me to explain why, exactly this bothers me so much.

Before I tell you why it is not in my job description to ‘make it pretty,’ let me first tell you why it is such a grating phrase in this particular context. When you tell me that I will ‘make it pretty’, I hear that you don’t think my job is very hard. You are saying that I do the things that I do without any reasoning, just because I like the way it looks. It implies that I don’t put any thought into what I do beyond ‘this looks nice’. It tells me that you think a graphic designer is someone who comes in at the end, once the hard thinking has been done, and polishes up what you have already made.

That is so wrong.

Graphic design as a field has exploded in so many different directions. There is print, web, interface, user experience, information, and systems design. (Who do you think is instrumental in designing subway signs, highway signs, really any sort of wayfinding system?) Designers deal with so much more than making it pretty. Graphic design has an impact on our everyday life. Look at the backlash when they changed the Gap logo. Think about how ubiquitous logos are in our everyday life. Target, Wal-Mart, FedEx, UPS, Nike, etc.. You know those symbols like the back of your hand, and that’s just marketing and corporate design! Did you know there is a new typeface being rolled out on highway signs across the world? A group of designers worked to make sure this typeface was easier to read than Highway Gothic, the one previously used. They ran experiments to make sure it was as readable as it could possibly be when you are speeding by at 80 mph, to help prevent crashes and confusion. Another designer worked with Target to revamp how we interact with prescription medication. She came up with a system to help streamline and clarify the labels on prescription medication, so there little room for error in interpreting the instructions. (You can read more about Clearview, the highway typeface here, and the Target pill bottle revamp here)

My graphic design projects in college almost never focused on the aesthetic aspect of the piece. The biggest question was always, does it function to the very best that it can? Is this the most readable, the most informative it can be? If the answer was no, it was not considered successful. We spent semesters studying systems and examining information organization. Graphic design was regarded as a vital tool, not something to be slapped on in the end for extra wow factor.

The truth of it is, most designers (the good ones) are working toward solving a problem, and that problem usually has an attractive solution. The fact that the final piece is aesthetically pleasing is part of the solution, and not the end goal.

This is not to say that every single act of design ever committed is world-changing, and that designers are like superheros. It is to say that professional designers should be given more credibility than they often are in today’s world. Just because anyone can buy Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop and crank out a logo doesn’t mean that anyone can be a designer. Most graphic design is a series of informed decisions working toward solving a problem visually. Models make things pretty, designers change the world!

Valentines!

21 Jan

I always have big plans for Valentine’s Day. I will make cards by hand, I think to myself. They will be beautiful. I will use ribbons, and lace, and paint, and paper, and perhaps clippings from magazines, and everyone will think I am so clever, and be so amazed at where I find the time to do such thoughtful things. Then, suddenly, it is February 13th, and all I have to show for it is a blank piece of paper. Oh well, I say. Maybe next year.

These cards are for the people who want to send a thoughtful, handmade Valentine, but simply lack the time. It is a pack of eight cards, each of them different. I drew hearts in bright pink and metallic silver, and also white on cream, which is a subtle surprise.

Their charm lays in their imperfection. They were made with love, not machines. The sentiments are simple and heartfelt. You can purchase them right here.

Buy these cards!

I love Valentine’s Day, and I had fun making these. I think that February 14th is a day to celebrate all kinds of love, not just romantic. I busted out the paintbrush, and my screenprinting inks, and tried to make Valentines I would want to receive. If these aren’t quite your style, stay tuned! I will be putting more valentines up on the shop all of next week.

Happy New Year!

11 Jan

I hope everyone had a great holiday season! I certainly did.. It’s been slow going getting into the swing of 2011 for me, but before I move on, I wanted to show you a little something I did last year. It is a personalized photo card!

Lindsay’s family has this sweet tradition of sending a photo card kissing their daughter’s cheeks each year! I was so excited to help them continue the tradition. I used a variety of patterned paper for the “Blessings” cut outs and the ornament backgrounds.

I am excited for the new year! I have plans for thank you cards, Valentine’s Day cards, and more… Hurray for 2011!

David’s Graduation Announcements!

5 Dec

I was delighted to do these cards for David, since he is a very close friend. I wanted them to be special, of course, and incorporate his modern design taste. I also wanted to incorporate school colors (red, white, and black) as well as his favorite printing method: black on black. Congratulations, David!