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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.

Web Design For The Non-Web Designer

I have posted a lot about graphic design on this blog. You have read my words and perhaps heard my voice (on this video), but you have not really seen a lot of my work. I have alluded to some of the projects I have worked on, but trying to showcase them all is not easy, especially since I am not a web designer. However, as a graphic designer, I am very specific in how I want to show my work. For a while now, I have been looking into a customizable, online portfolio to show my work. Without knowledge of coding, HTML or CSS, finding reputable (and free) options are limited.

Wix

Wix.com allows for some Flash animations and is customizable. The widgets and apps have features that allow you to connect with Google Maps, PayPal and RSS feeds. The downside is that it takes too long to edit and you are often limited to what templates are available. Also there did not seem to be a way for me to link up a widget on this blog, thus not as much connectivity between online platforms. From a website with potential to…

Web.com

I signed up for web.com last winter. Big mistake. It is free for 30 days, but they still have your credit card information on file and will charge you when the trial runs out. Since it is a publicly traded company with 275,000 subscribers, I assumed the site would be legit. I called just to make sure the site was customizable for my needs and the operator assured me they were. They answered my questions a little too swiftly, making me suspicious from the start. The available templates were laughable and something you would find on Websites That Suck. I later found out that there was very little customization on the user end and if I wanted any of the advanced features, I would have to pay for them (NOT what the operator told me). Even the cancellation process was a hassle. When you do a Google search on web.com one of the auto results is “web.com scam.”

Lesson learned. I just wanted to have a level of independence to showcase my own work and be taken seriously.

Coroflot

I was initially hesitant to use coroflot.com. It seemed very bare bones without a lot of customization. The more I thought about things, I realized that while web design is a goal for the future, I want to show my work now. I remember choosing Facebook years ago over Myspace. I did not want to deal with all of the add-ons and features that Myspace had. I wanted a clean and (at the time) simple interface that Facebook provided. With Coroflot, I didn’t have to be ashamed about my lack of coding skills to create my own personal and professional portfolio. The layout puts everyone in the same boat, while making your work speak for itself. While not overly flashy, Coroflot also allows you the option of placing a badge (similar to embedding a YouTube video or Facebook Fan Badge) to your own website (as seen below).


view my portfolio:
coroflot.com/faccento

It is not the end all of what I want to do. The goal (as I move forward in my graduate program and career) is learning the ins and outs of web design. In today’s job market, the lines between a graphic designer and web designer are blurred. A lot of jobs expect both out of one person. I always had dreams of launching a website to show all of my work and branding. Someday that will happen, but in the for now, its important to show the work you do have. In the meantime, my portfolio will have to do, at least until this website idea takes off.

Module 10: DesignSource Presentation

Intro

Hi. My name is Jonathan Faccento and I recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree. Currently, I’m a Marketing Associate at a non-profit organization that’s given me a couple opportunities with graphic design projects, which is my dream job. Sure, our great country is in the midst of a recession, but with experience and a little bit of patience, I’ll be on the fast track to “living the dream” in no time.

Cut to

Look, I’ll be completely honest, that was 3 years ago. Sure, I’ve had a few freelance jobs here and there, but I’m always looking for more. CareerBuilder and Monster searches aren’t enough and I just don’t think my portfolio has gotten enough exposure. Graphic design is not an easy business to break into without that competitive edge.

In 2006, there were 261,000 people employed as graphic designers. By 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of graphic design jobs will increase 13 percent—as fast as the average growth for most occupations. Despite growth in the field, however, there is strong competition for graphic design jobs. The hours are often extensive, and in the start of your career, you may not get the most thrilling assignments. According to The Princeton Review, many new graphic designers become discouraged and leave the profession within the first few years.

About 25 percent of graphic designers are self-employed, and many of these designers work on a freelance or contract basis. As a graphic designer, I love nothing more than heading to my computer, turning on some music, tuning out the world and get motivated about my project. Unfortunately, jobs are not always easy to come by. It takes the right amount of networking, personal branding and experience to land your next gig.

Are you new to design? A graphic design student looking for jobs or career advice? Or an experienced professional designer trying to further your prospects? Maybe you’re just looking for inspiration?

Find it all with DesignSource.

What is DesignSource?

Are you a client looking for the right design? Are you a designer looking to showcase your talents? Let Designsource.com be your bridge to creative networking. DesignSource is a way for designers and clients to create, explore and connect. It’s taking the work or potential work you have and sharing it with a community dedicated to making the client/designer relationship as smooth as possible, all in one source.

For Designers

You’re an artist. A web designer. A graphic designer. You want to sell yourself. Now, sell your complete self with DesignSource. DesignSource is a comprehensive site dedicated to sharing your work and helping you find new work and connections. For graphic designers, there are plenty of websites dedicated to showcasing your work…and they have a catch. Many require you rebuild your portfolio from scratch using their own Content Management Service. Websites like Monster and CareerBuilder help you look for jobs, but often allow you to attached a pdf when going for jobs. Isn’t there a better way to showcase your work regardless of format? Do you have a portfolio you want to showcase be it web, pdf or Flash? Share it. No need to rebuild one that you already have. Link directly with DesignSource.

Your Identity

In the digital age that we live, many of us have spent countless hours sharpening our social media identity. Social media helps define who we are both professionally and personally. Decide what you want people see. Some of us might tweet, have a Facebook fan page, YouTube video portfolio or a LinkedIn resume they want to share with a like-minded community larger than they know. Share it. Show what you want to show. Be as transparent as you want to be. DesignSource provides the user the opportunity to link up what want to showcase from their desired social media site, be it widgets for Twitter, Facebook fan badges, Linkedin resumes or just embedding a YouTube video. You can do all of this with DesignSource’s simple in easy to navigate interface.

For Clients/Agencies

Ideas are almost never conceived perfectly. Nobody ever said brainstorming was easy. Many organizations that have a marketing team simply cannot afford a graphic design with all of today’s cutbacks in the business. Trying to find a designer with fair rates is not as easy as finding a repairman.

DesignSource takes design and outsourcing tasks to the next level. It gives designers the opportunity and platform to showcase their portfolio and website, but also serve as a way for companies and agencies to hire, recruit and discover designers. Designsource.com connects the client with the designer, all in one source.

Job postings/recruiters will be charged a nominal fee per job post. This not only helps build revenue for DesignSource, but helps us make sure are recruiters are legit.

Other Benefits?

Showing your work and finding jobs aren’t the only things DesignSource has to offer. We plan on having sponsored design contests to get your work showcased as a featured portfolio on our front page, much like a top YouTube hit of the day. We also plan on having special guest speaker videos and blogs with advice from experienced professional. In additional to this, DesignSource will provide monthly RSS feeds notifying our email list of industry trends featured employers and other site updates to stay connected with our audience.

DesignSource is convergence for the modern day designer. Unlike the competition, there are no gimmicks, templates or other product tie-ins. Just the work you already have. Think of it as your own blank canvas which you can add your work, social media presence, find inspiration, networking and potential careers.

Find creativity. Share creativity. DesignSource.

To GPS or Not GPS (In Design)?

At my current job, we have our logo and branding in place. Sometimes, I can add in my own creativity in a design, but mostly, we have our templates laid out. Change is not an expression at this job, it’s a slow process. When I first started, I felt stifled by the creative limitations. On the other hand, when a design is due at the last minute, I can always quickly modify a template and get the job done.

Recently, I had a client that was the opposite. They told me to create a poster for a grand opening to their business. What would you like? What’s the size of the poster? What theme are you going for? The response I got was, “Make it nice and use your best judgment.” I thought that was perfect, until I sat in front of my computer scratching my head for an hour. Where do I start?

The question is what works more effectively, too much creative direction or too much freedom?

Free At Last?

Freedom is why people even come to America. However, in the design field too much can make the mind wander and lose focus. When the mind wanders, time drifts away. At a certain point, I find myself watching a rerun of Seinfeld hoping a killer idea will magically appear. This can turn into a time consuming process and when there is a deadline looming, a lack of direction can put you in a creative rut. I look at it like a head coach telling a player to coach the team for the rest of the game. Sure, it is liberating, but at some point, you need a little direction.

Limited Too

Time is saved to a very high degree in this case. But at what price? It is nice to have a job that is a little easier every now and again, but to have no say in the creation is frustrating. I find that a lot of the jobs that tend to be limiting are often jobs that I wouldn’t really want to include in my portfolio. It feels like a lie for an idea I didn’t really help mold. Besides, how am I ever supposed to grow and master my craft if I’m not allowed to think “outside the box?”

What’s The Solution?

The easiest solution is balance. I was lucky enough in my first full time design job to have a boss provide an outline of what she wanted, but always asked my input. It felt like a total team effort. If we weren’t on the same page, she would have the final decision, but was always open to whatever additional drafts I created. This reminds me of the film, Fletch, in which director, Michael Ritchie and Chevy Chase had different visions of how a take should go. Ritchie would have final say, but allowed Chevy to ad-lib his own take. It was that nice creative balance. It’s easier said than done, but it’s nice to have direction and your own “Chevy take.”


Elevating My Pitch

In my graduate writing class, a topic discussed was elevator pitches. Another was the non-profit sector. Both of which I have my share of experiences. While I was not a grant reviewer, my main responsibilities were part administrative, part marketing (leading me to design) and resource development (or fundraising/campaign). My first campaign? The summer of 2007, when the word, “recession” was very popular.

Professor Kalm said in a recent blog post, “It is always a bad time to ask for money. Ask anyway and be prepared for rejection that will humble you.”  Gone are the days of the workplace being a large community where philanthropy is the expected from management to the mailroom. These were and are tough times. Going out and expecting things were foolish, even in my early twenties, I had enough sense to know that. I had to find my niche.

Owning your execution in this way makes you credible

Just like the way I talk about graphic design in this forum, I had to find my passions in our organization’s mission. I started speaking to company’s about what I thought my organization would want me to say. In hindsight, that method didn’t work. I had to give them something back. I had to say things that resonated with me and came from the heart. I didn’t realize it then, but I became personally invested in the work we did. After that, the pitch was easy. All I had to do was believe it, live it and sell it to people in a way I would want to hear. Who knows me better than me?

The best way to learn your job, is to do your job. We advocated volunteerism, so I volunteered. We advocated early childhood education. I visited and promoted after school programs and even diaper drives we held for my campaigns. People had questions, I always got back to them.

The Pitch

A difficult part of the pitch was just getting to the point of speaking. Sometimes a barrier would be a coordinator that had enough jobs going on, that they did not have time to hear me. I was in the very fortunate situation of designing our campaign collateral, so this made it easier for me to speak about. Once I was in a company for a campaign presentation, I kept my pitch light. I gave an introduction telling people our mission and who we are. Then follow that up with 3 key areas (education, income and health) and a brief conclusion thanking the audience for their time and offering them tangible services (volunteerism and 2-1-1 service).

With this experience in elevator pitches, you might think it comes very naturally for me. When talking about the community when people were (and still are) in desperate times, I felt I had nothing to lose in terms of my pitches. I felt liberated winning someone over in something I believed in. Design is something else I believe in and I am passionate about. Can I bring the same level of intensity in pitching about this niche? This is something I will explore in blogs to come…

Find Inspiration, Not Theft

“In West Virginia yesterday, a man was arrested for stealing several blow-up dolls. Reportedly, police didn’t have any trouble catching the man because he was completely out of breath.”Conan O’ Brien

If that quote teaches us anything, it’s that crime doesn’t pay. The same holds true in the creative realm of design.

In today’s digital age, stealing material is viewed subjectively. Take arts and entertainment for example. Music and piracy has been an issue, from the days of bootlegging a concert to Napster at the height of its fame. Even in the entertainment world, the stealing of a comedian’s jokes has been a long standing issue, from Robin Williams to Dane Cook. Just Google or YouTube search Carlos Menica. The results range from his infamy in stealing jokes to unabashed hatred towards the man. In a world where people have traded ethics for personal gain, do they exist in the design world?

There are ethics in design. They are the same that exist in different avenues of creativity. If I were to tune out my peers and legendary artists that came before me, and still be able to produce great work, then I would be a creative genius (I wish). I use Delicious to bookmark my inspirations. I need to get inspired and learn from people that came before me. I believe in viewing various concepts to encourage a design, though with my own spin on things. After all, how many musicians were inspired by The Beatles and/or Elvis? Sure, there were a few blatant copycats along the way, but they also helped influence some legendary individuals.

Get Inspired

Inspiration may sound like “borrowing” for some, but there are several sites that encourage sharing of designs and have sections specifically for inspiring designers. Sites like You The Designer and the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA) are great examples. Speaking of AIGA, official ethical practices in design have actually been in place. In an earlier post, I talked about personal ethics in a job. AIGA’s original idea, known as The Living Principles of Design focuses on not only that concept, but provides an online community to share best practices, tools and ideas for designers of all ilks.

Just like the code of ethics and rules on academic plagiarism (that we usually don’t have time to read), you have to understand what you are getting into when you use a concept. Be sure to credit your inspirations. Not everything I’ve done for clients has been totally original, but its important to establish your own ethical boundaries.

Works Cited:

Stuck In A Creative Rut?

So it about 8:30 p.m., I’m going to sit down and get started on a design. Before I do, let me just check my email. Okay, I’m kind of thirsty, let me just grab a water. I need to get the creative juices going, let me just listen to some music. You know, I don’t know enough about The Doors, I should Wikipedia them really quick. Okay, now I really need to get started. I wonder what my buddy Drew thinks about LeBron James going to the Heat? Let me call him. Wow 11:30 already??? I’ll just start tomorrow…

That scenario is procrastination brought on by a heavy dose of being in a creative rut. So, how does one overcome?

Scott Hanson posted a blog called, Overcoming The Creative Block. In this, he received quotes from 25 designers and creatives on what they do to combat the lack of creative juices. As I type this I am getting distracted from this, as a friend sent me a video about obsolete video formats. I’m sure many of you bloggers go through the same issues. A lot of the creatives had some interesting bits of advice in this blog. Some cook food, listened to music, travel or simply take their mind of the work and get away from the computer all together. Chad Hagen’s advice resonated best with me,

Staying creative is hard work. Honestly, I don’t think when I got into art school I was very talented at all. I struggled to stand out. I struggled to stay in school. Staying creative was hard work. BUT, the one thing that kept me focused was my desire to be good. I wanted to be really good. I wanted to be as good as those people that WERE talented. I used to think I would eventually, if I worked hard enough, master art like a math equation and then I could relax and just make great stuff and let everything else follow. That time definitely never came, and I know now I never want it to, because the most important thing that keeps me creative is my wanting to be good. So if I’m ever in a rut, the best things to get me out of them is to put myself in places that engage that desire to be good. In a general sense this means to get out and be expose to others creating. In my opinion, there is no better way to trigger your own creativity, than to see what great things others have made or are making. Going to museums, galleries, shows, etc. always inspires my mind in a way that make me want to get back into my own work and make good things.

I really needed that advice 5 years ago, but it still rings true. I failed classes as an immature youth. I assumed everything would fall in place. In some respects, some things have. I reached a point (late) in my undergrad career where I was no longer content “getting a good grade.” I wanted and still want to be good, really good. I look at some peers in my ICM grad class and strive to match some of the work I see. I used old coworkers with great deals of experience as mentors and want to match their levels. Like Hagen says, why sit back and relax and let it all flow? You still have to challenge yourself. So when I have to create something for a job or school, I look at the great work that others are doing and get jealous. Not in a “sinful” way, but in a way that drives me to attempt to match those levels of hard work.

Why did I post a column about being in a rut? Well, all this blogging about designing has kind of drained me out of ideas so in a way, this is therapeutic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get distracted.

Works Cited:

  • Hanson, S. (2010). Overcoming The Creative Block. blog.iso50.com/2010/02/10/overcoming-creative-block/