Tag-Archive for » blogs «

Final: Blogetery In Forward Motion

Design is a very competitive field. My peers are my harshest critics. Many don’t easily (or free of charge) offer much in terms of advice or insight. Considering how tech savvy graphic design is as a field, you would think more designers would be open in their blogs/websites. I set out on this blog wanting to do something different.

I use Photoshop and the Adobe creative suite on a near daily basis. It would be too easy to simply talk to the core audience with technical jargon, but my audience is intended to be larger. While, I won’t quit my day job, I do enjoy stand-up comedy and quotes and ideas from that realm seep into this blog. I have a passion of design, but I also realize that it is okay to laugh and poke fun of yourself. As I’ve said several times, it humanizes my job.

I am writing a blog. That word grew out of weblog. In grammar school, we had to keep personal accounts for our science fair project. We called it a log. A lot of the students had difficulty accounting for their trials and tribulations. Our teacher was looking for something personal about our successes and/or failures. To me, it was being honest. It seemed so easy to me, it was fun. Writing a blog is the same.

What Do You Know?

Again, this is common among my peers in the field. Who really has esoteric knowledge in design or in life? I am still looking to meet these people. Before I enrolled in graduate school, I felt the need to learn more. I went on some Amazon shopping sprees and purchased a number of design sources. I am looking to further develop my knowledge and my voice on this platform. I have the books and know some good resources. This blog provides the opportunity to finally utilize them.

How Have I Grown?

When I first starting posting, I wrote about fears, successes, failures and personal stories. I thought it was a good foundation, but felt something was lacking. That something was design. I was honest with the reader. To some, it came off as a lack of passion or confidence, but to me, it was just the ups and downs of a designer trying to make it in the field. I grew from the personal stories to talking about my experiences with the larger goal of design concepts in mind. If I blogged about working with a local YMCA, I wrote about the evolution of their logo. If I read about the word of mouth that was the OBEY Giant graphic, I wrote about the evolution and controversy surrounding the logo. If I was looking for an online portfolio to upload my designs, I posted about which sites worked best (or worst) and why. I went beyond just me during the course of this blog and talked about the larger concept of designs and how they affect me.

What’s The Plan? Next Steps?

The next step in this blog is the actual design of it. With all of the blogs I have written on the subject of design, I realize that the proof should also be in the look. Choosing another designer’s template is almost like having someone ghostwrite my posts. It would not feel natural. As I grow as a graduate student, I hope to take my graphic design skills into web design and give this blog the look I feel it should have. This would also reflect on my Twitter page and YouTube channel for continuity purposes. To learn web design and post about it would be a comprehensive learning experience in the future.

Personal Achievements

In an earlier post, I mentioned how writing was a passion as a child. There are a lot of children that dream of playing a professional sport, but for the majority, that dream fades into adulthood. With the way technology and communication have changed, my passion for writing does not have to fade.

A major accomplishment for me writing for something I am truly passionate about, even if I have the occasional writer’s block. If you took a look inside my room, you would find music/movie posters, sports memorabilia and a rather large collection of DVDs. I could much more easily blog about music or movies. The key is that I would never really learn anything, as those are not fields I strive to break into. I knew in graphic design this would not be the case. To attempt to post a compelling blog meant that I had to sometimes go outside of what I knew and tap into other resources. That made me learn. There was never any wasted motion in this process. If I spent hours trying to create an online portfolio, I blogged about it. If I was inspired my metaphors in my writing, I also tapped into how they affect me in design. These were topics I can take with me well beyond this blog.

From the start of the blog up to now, I feel Blogetery in Motion has a much greater sense of identity. It evolved from my personal ramblings to graphic design, life experiences and creative ideas (as mentioned in the blog subhead). The Blogroll on the upper left column has relevant links to my YouTube channel, a design website and a Photoshop tutorial site. Below that is also a link to my design portfolio. To make the blog a bit more official (and to prove that I actually design), this accelerated the need to also create an online portfolio to link up to, at least until I become an improved web designer.

In my writing class, my professor said something that will really stay with me moving forward in my classes and career.

“Your worry shouldn’t be will I find a job, but what if I miss this opportunity?”

I knew going in that blogging about design would not be the easiest topic for me. Design is subjective to many and sometimes too can have to segmented of an audience to appeal to universally. To choose anything other than it would have felt as though I was not only cheating the reader, but more importantly, myself. It would have been that missed opportunity.

Stepping In the Social Media Squared Circle

I have always been interested in sports and entertainment. With my nephew recently discovering the live action soap opera that is professional wrestling (marketed as sports entertainment), I thought it was the perfect time to revisit what I watched as a child (World Wrestling Entertainment) and review their social media presence.

I stopped watching the then-WWF as a teenager for a time because I felt they were always slow to adapt to change. To my surprise, their social media presence is apparent right on the front page. There are links and logos for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter prominently featured on the front page. The Twitter page gives links to all of the wrestlers’ official Twitter accounts. I would be very curious to see if the performers are required tweet in character or not. I actually think it is a great opportunity for a newer performer to connect with fans. Characters live and die with fan support, so this could be a great way for a performer who may not get a lot of television exposure to stay in eye of the fans. While their website offers their own video player, I think it is also important to utilize YouTube. I think having a personalized YouTube page for WWE’s brand offers fans the opportunities to potentially embed videos to their own blogs.

I chose review the WWE’s social media presence because I feel it was always an industry slow to adapt to change. While they never really outright inform fans each broadcast, it was long been accepted that the events are staged and results are predetermined. It goes to show the importance of social media. Even a traditionally “sheltered (in terms of other working with other media)” company like the WWE realizes that there are more ways to connect with fans rather than just using their website. It provides a new way for both fans and performers to interact with fans, in ways that “real” sports does not officially adopt.

What About Design?

Web designers are always on top of the latest trends. When I do a search on social media and graphic design, I see that a lot of great work is being done in terms of designing logo, templates and favicons. However, I don’t see an abundance of interaction within social media. Blogs whose feeds I subscribe to include You The Designer, 2expertsdesign and Logo Design Love. All they really have are infrequently updated tweets on their Twitter accounts. What can I learn from this?

My Own Social Media Squared Circle

Like the WWE’s undercard of talent looking for a break or fan reaction, I think it’s important to stay on the forefront of social media, even if I’m not a publicly traded sports entertainment company. How to do this?

Twitter
I find that the more I tweet, the more followers and blog reads I receive. I recently blogged about the relevance of the OBEY Giant artwork. I personally found the topic interesting (did I mention that I watched wrestling as a child), so I posted an offbeat tweet about it. To my surprise, I received a fair amount of feedback. However, I don’t always check Twitter as religiously as others, so when I go weeks without a tweet, I notice I’ve lost a few followers. Clearly, the advantages (especially for an upstart professional) outweigh the disadvantages. I’ve learned to tweet items relevant to your blog and not post with a course agenda to them. Unless sending a direct message, I want my tweets to sound authentic. I tend to never read a tweet from a peer that posts “Assignment 5: Post 1.” We all have writing requirements, but its important to continue to attract outside followers with similar interests. Now the key, is to hold their interests.

Facebook
I do not consider Facebook (at this juncture) to be a viable means to reach my audience. As someone with a personal account, I don’t feel comfortable promoting my brand to friends and family at this stage. To gain notoriety and success is the dream of any graduate student and should (or optimistically when) this occurs, I would feel it is appropriate to create a Fan Page.

LinkedIn
I find that LinkedIn is sometimes in the shadow of the other social media giants, but is also important. While not as informal in tone as my blog posts, I think it is important to show the client where I have been in my career and also read recommendations on my work.

YouTube
YouTube is the next realm of social media that I want to take more seriously moving forward. I have already posted a link to my DesignSource project and YouTube will be a platform to not only post tutorials, but perhaps a video slideshow of my portfolio. Perhaps not necessarily YouTube, designer Dave Werner utilizes video to describe his work in an extremely effective manner.

I think most of us (even you wonderful baby boomers) have come to accept social media as the norm and not a fad. For an upstart trying to make a name for myself, it would be foolish for me not to try. Of course, I can go on about this…now to make it happen!

Midterm: A Blogetery Proposal

Have you ever visited a graphic design blog? The first hits on a Google search will land you on the pages that give you tutorials and examples of logos or typography. These sites, while being helpful, have always left me wanting more.

“Graphic design is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, abnormality, hobbies and humors.”George Santayana

I couldn’t agree more. Beyond Photoshop, there has to be more to design. That is what I seek to uncover in this blog.

What Is Blogetery in Motion?

Blogetery in Motion is my (somewhat) witty take off the phrase “poetry in motion.” Where is the motion? Well even though this is a blog, I am always moving. Moving towards a graduate degree, becoming a better graphic designer and forging a successful career. So many blogs give “10 Ways To…,” it seems like a lot of people in the creative field have everything figured out, right? Graduating with a bachelor’s right in the midst of the recession, everybody talks about success, but few seem as though they talk about how they got where they are. Whether it is trying my hand at drawing as a small child or just trying to work with a client who happens to be a good friend, these are some of the stories that separates this blog from the rest.

Humanizing The Job

Don’t get me wrong, some blogs are informative and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I appreciate a personal touch. Working in non-profit, if there was a donor that worked with me, I would leave a handwritten note. Just to show them I appreciate them.

Until they ran out of credible artists, VH-1 milked the show, Behind The Music. People enjoyed the journey of music artists both good and bad. Am I living the life of Motley Crue? No. Do I think my life and journey is constantly interesting enough to share? Not always, but it humanizes my job. The goal is to have the reader understand my point of view and to “pull the curtain back” of my job and give a fresh perspective. When I say pull back the curtain, I mean talking about design in ways other bloggers do not. I want to bring a level of authenticity from someone who is still maturing in the field.

Online Presence

A Voice – I have had experience writing for blogs that I never really had the intention of growing. It was a way to find my voice and create a tone. While I am still evolving, I do feel as though I have developed. I feel most “at home” sharing personal stories relevant to design, but now I am ready to also share my take on design concepts and trends.

Twitter - In the increasing interactive world we live in, it is important to have multiple platforms for your voice. Twitter, is used on a semi-regular basis (though not overkill for a follower) as a way to announce new blog posts, revelant links about design or just saying/retweeting a witty joke. I chose the name @JonBlogetery to create a sense of continuity between Twitter and Blogetery in Motion.

Other Avenues – I use LinkedIn as a way for clients to post recommendations (which I am currently building) and to link up to an online portfolio. As far as an online portfolio, I am currently creating a Flash version of one (via wix.com). The ultimate goal is to design my own page, but I am still in early stages of learning html and Drupal (which will be something to blog about). Also, I am looking into designing my own background to reflect the theme of the blog.

The Blog – This is where my online presence resides the most at this time. As of now, I do post and tweet under a pseudonym, but would change that when my professional portfolio/website is up. I am also going to put a description of the blog below the title, to make it clear what the blog is about.

Lessons Learned

“If Ernest Hemingway, James Mitchener, Neil Simon, Franck Lloyd Wright, and Pablo Picaso could not get it right the first time, what makes you think that you will?” – Paul Heckel

Get To The Point - In the past several weeks, I have posted well over 20 blog posts pertaining to design. The initial goal was to systematically start off with my history with design, then move into the field at large. Sometimes we get so involved in our own history, we fail to remember that not everything we post, resonates with the reader. I have always liked what I call the “slow build.” In a movie, the story is set, you have some background on the characters, and then the film hits the ground running. A future goal in the blog, would be to get the core of design. Recent blogs like Trading Ethics for a Design, Find Inspiration, Not Theft and Visual Metaphors have reflected this approach.

Never Be Content – The great work of other designers is what motivates me to get better. The same can be said of writing. I did go into my blogging experience thinking I had an edge, since writing was a passion in my youth. The ability to win over a reader that otherwise would have no interest in the subject is a big picture goal here. I want to be good, really good. Not just in my design, but in how I articulate that in my writings.

Goals

“Stop looking at yourself as a designer, and start looking at yourself as a deliverer of ideas.” – Stle Melvr

Whether it is finding your niche or just being stuck in a rut, I want people that, even if they avoid Photoshop, walk away thinking of a relatable experience, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with design. Blogetery in Motion is meant to entertain, but also inform. Why listen to me? I have a great passion for sports, comedy, music and movies, none of which I intend on pursuing for a career. I could write about those topics, but I feel I would be cheating the reader and myself. With design, the creative well never runs dry and it’s a big part of what I want to do.

Write or Right?

“When you’re not concerned with succeeding, you can work with complete freedom.”Larry David

Long before Photoshop and the term “interactive communications” was coined, I wanted to be a writer. I knew I could not draw and was a pragmatic enough child to know that being the star quarterback for the New York Giants was not going to be a reality. I liked to write. I felt no matter how bad my penmanship was if what I had to say was strong enough, writing would be the life for me.

Enthusiasm Curbed

My grammar school teachers praised my efforts and even though I was a lazy teenager, my high school teachers told me I had flashes of potential. Then I was off to college. Some professors used intimidation tactics and seemed more focused on making sure we had the correct MLA format rather than the actual content of the paper. I was interested in writing what resonated with me. I had also been sidetracked with discovering my creativeness through other means of technology along the way.  Just like that, my dream of becoming a writer was a mere afterthought.

Not long after college, I revisited my first creative passion and started writing under a surname for a couple blogs ranging in tone to sports to just goofing around with friends. Writing became fun again. Larry David’s quote I mentioned above is a breath of fresh air for me. I just wrote what I knew and did so with creative freedom.

A Blog About Nothing?

My niche here is graphic design. I see it as being creative and will always talk about it in some form, but beating the reader over the head with it wouldn’t appeal to me. If design is subjective, why must I have a dominant, underlying theme in every blog I write?

Maybe to a fault, I watched Seinfeld at a young age and loved the show. He played on the show what he really is, a comedian. Of course, there were some extrapolations of who he really is on the show. At the same time, I talk about what inspired me as a child to where I’m at presently. Does it tie back to design? Yes or at least, eventually. I hope to convey my passion for design and make that clear to you, the reader. At best, writing will help me articulate who I am and help me establish an online presence, which is increasingly important in today’s digital world. At worst, I get to write with creative freedom and have fun. It’s a win-win.

The Breakfast of Intellects

I once asked a very pessimistic friend if he was on Facebook. That friend replied, “Social media can bite me.” Well, now he can take a bite out of social media along with the rest of us, with the brand new cereal, Bloggies. A lot of us cereal lovers enjoy the logos and icons used on the boxes (or marshmallows in the case of Lucky Charms), but instead it’s the world’s first social media cereal (after all, the basis for this blog is interactive communications). Tired of seeing the world’s greatest athletes grace cereal covers that only a select few of physically gifted individuals can aspire to be? What about the unsung heroes of the world? This is the cereal for them…its Bloggies, the only cereal that can actually make you smarter.*

*Bloggies is not responsible for making you more or less intelligent and will most likely just rot your teeth (as said on the side of the box).

Ridiculous sales pitch aside, the idea for the cereal is to have a honey glazed cereal mixed in with marshmallows that represent some of the most popular social media web icons today. Delicious.com making you feel hungry? Grab a box of Bloggies while you surf the web. For the purposes of the cereal, I’ve decided to be completely selfish and throw myself on the first cover…not to say there are not dozens of potential covers featuring icons of the web, social media and technology.

For this idea, I decided to use the Vanishing Point to give the 3-D perspective for the box. Basically this entailed creating three separate layers for each panel of the box. To help guide me, I created an outline for the box using the pen tool, then was able to transform the perspective of the panels within the Vanishing Point window. For each one of the panels, I added in a texture (from blending mode) and added in a light shadow (along with an angle for the shadow) to give it a sense of perspective. The tool definitely takes some playing around with to get used to, but helped make the box look a bit more authentic. For the marshmallows, I used free icons that I was able to download and layered them into the cereal. I get an RSS feed from the site, youthedesigner.com and they provide different types of social media icons…everything from icons that look like soda caps to ice cream bars to even origami…everything that is, except marshmallows.  To get that look, I dragged in the standard square icon layers to the cereal bowl and in each layer I went into blend mode, added an inner bevel and then added a contour to give the icon almost a 3-D angle, to represent a small marshmallow.  To have the icons (now “marshmallows”) lay in the cereal; I transformed each layer with either a perspective, skew, rotate and/or scale tool, depending on where the layer was in the bowl. To have the marshmallows actually look like they were part of the cereal, I used the clone stamp tool to copy a part of the cereal itself and created another layer that I used to clone some of the cereal over and around the marshmallows to make it look more realistic (or as realistic as social media icons in a bowl of cereal can look).

For the logo itself, I wanted to have that familiar Wheaties look, but with a twist. I created the Bloggies font in a very similar fashion to the Wheaties version (Haettenschweiler font). I then took the text, converted it to a smart object and then skewed the font to give it the angle that the Wheaties logo has. I then added a stroke and inner shadow to capture the other colors in the logo. To give it that “opposite” look, I reversed the colors (blue as the background, orange as the stroke in the letters). The subhead, The Breakfast of Intellects was used with Karmatic Arcade to convey a kind of an old-school, 8-bit technology effect.

Overall, it was a fun project to create, although a lot of detail went into this. While the cut-out of my picture was relatively easy and the logo font took a little research, the detail in the cereal was very time consuming. I have always been one to notice logos (especially in cereal), so I figured why not combine the social media icons I see everyday into a breakfast cereal? I went light with the tone (as usual) and for some silly reason, the downright campy title of Bloggies for a cereal made me chuckle, so I kept it (still better than Webbies, Brainies or even worse, Foodpress). All in all, I am relatively pleased with the end result. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve their own cereal cover?

That’s right, sucka.

Word of Mouth On Steroids Side Effects

I love blogs.  I see the benefits. I had better or the wheels of Blogetery in Motion will fall off. It is a wonderful business model for a company to be transparent, accessible and authentic. I admire the passion that goes into the blogosphere. Business model aside, when does everyone else’s opinions start getting old? Not to sound hypocritical, but on a blog I read recently, a quote that stuck out was “There’s a lot of passion and is all being put into repetition.”

“The Most Informed, Knowledgeable Group of Morons In History”

The previous quote was from Carlos Miceli’s post Thank You And Good Bye, Seth Godin. In this post, he explains he is unsubscribing from Seth Godin’s blog in order to form some original thoughts and questions of his own, rather than just regurgitating the the words of another. I respect that way of thinking. It is important not to get to caught up and live vicariously through another’s words and take it as absolute.

Sex God, Steroids and…Blogs?

Semper10’s Sex God, Steroids and…Blogs? was another thought-provoking post. I totally agree with the quote, “blogs are based on opinion and select fact.” This is true, anyone can voice what they think is fact. I do disagree, however, that “companies will not be overrun by blogs in the present or in the future.” To me, that is not the purpose of a blog. The purpose is not unlike the yellow page ad of old, although this version of the yellow page ad allows for direct feedback from customers. This is not natural progression for everyone and I share Semper’s sentiments in blogs not working in every workplace. General Motors and Microsoft wanted to seem like friendlier businesses, so blogs worked for them. An owner like Mark Cuban stands little to gain from having others in his basketball franchise share their feelings (the NBA already cracks down on social media).

Semper10 also says, “You would assume that the number of blogs must be at least doubled by now…if not tripled. But if that is the case, then why does it feel like blogging is on the out in 2010?” That makes me wonder if I’ll be watching VH1’s I Love The 2010s (or something) 15 years from now and watch pseudo-humorous panelists talk about how every “average Joe” had a blog back in the day. Blogging will not go away, but I think we may see more posts from traditional journalists and less opinion “from thin air.” As Schwartz is quoted in Naked Conversations, “Journalists are there because they are independent thinkers who provide fresh insights.” This is something the blogosphere needs more of.

Do not get me wrong, I support the innovation we call blogs. They certainly have their place, especially in a particular business. As Picard says in Blogs, Tweets, Social Media, and the News Business, “the content that news organizations produce (at a cost) is distributed by others, thus removing the need or desire for many people to seek out the original sources of the information.” In Naked Conversations,  Yossi Vardi tells us, “Blogging is word of mouth on steroids.” The chapter goes on to say, “Unlike major league sports, where steroids have caused a multitude of scandals, word of mouth on steroids builds credibility, enthusiasm, and customer evangelism.” I think it is a very catchy metaphor and yes blogs can “stick it to the man” in terms of calling a company out on producing a shoddy product. Just remember steroids have side effects too. Take advantage of the information you can acquire, but remember to think for yourself.

References:

  • Scoble, R. & Israel, S. (2006). Naked Conversations. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons
  • Picard, R. (2009). Blogs, Tweets, Social Media, and the News Business. Nieman Report
  • Semper10. (2010). Sex God, Steroids and…Blogs?. “Blogging” For Dummies
  • Miceli, C. (2009). Thank You And Good Bye, Seth Godin. Brazen Careerist