Hey there, my name is Daniel and I'm currently 16 in my sophomore year of highschool. I'm enrolled in a class called digital design, which I've really taken an interest in. Art and design have always been a big part of my life. Everywhere I go, I see a logo or flier and think to myself what I would do to enhance the visual appeal of said logo or flier, or how it could be better catered to the demographic the product is reaching. I follow your blog and love to read your tips and blurbs here and there, but I come to you looking for a little help. I'd love to pursue digital and graphic design, and I was wondering when you began to take interest in the subject. Also, I was wondering if you had any tips for an aspiring designer, or could point me in the direction of some valuable resources, books, articles, anything you'd recommend. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.
Hi Daniel, thanks for your message. Good to hear from someone else who has the same passion for graphic design. I remember when I started out in the industry 10 years ago I was asking very similar questions, the biggest was working out how I was going to break into the industry.
As you can imagine graphic design is very competitive so believing in your own work and abilities is the most important thing. You cant learn this at college or any educational institution, it is simply something you have to believe within yourself. So my advice, no matter how many knock backs you get, don’t give up. Keep pushing, you will get there eventually.
My other advice would be to maintain your own style and originality. Design is about difference, not about blending in with everyone else. Explore different ways of working and don’t simply limit yourself to using purely the computer. This is not only good for your own self development, but also does your client a favour by ensuring they are noticed in their respective market.
As far as technique is concerned, be very aware of how you use typography. The difference between a professional and an amateur is the amount of thought they give to their layout but also their use of type. http://www.typophile.com is an excellent resource if you want to learn more about type and using it effectively.
The other tip I would give, is try to engage with other creative people. Team work brings about new ideas and dimensions to work. Joining professional groups like the AGDA (Australian Graphic Design Association) and attending design related conferences is always a good way to see what is currently out there. Events like AGIdeas is a great experience http://www.agideas.net/home. Best of luck mate, and let me know how you go. :-)
Quite possibly one of the best subscription based graphic design magazines available. Excellent tutorials covering the basics of graphic design from page layout grids, typography to image manipulation and editing. Practical examples provided showing step by step processes making this an excellent resource for those budding graphic designers who want to finesse their skills.
Could it be that bad design is in fact a contradiction? Before you get angry and ask, what is he on about, lets consider this statement in more detail. Is indeed, badly constructed graphic design, as bad as it sounds, or in fact does it have a hidden agenda.
In this age of computers and technology, the ability to create technically accurate designs has become as easy as setting up a few page rulers, typing in a few grid co-ordinates, and clicking the mouse. Indeed anyone with computer experience and an eye for detail can achieve it. Herein the problem lies; since the ability to produce attractive design is so common these days, and practiced in such large numbers, have we become so accustomed to it that it no longer has an impact on us? Is in fact good design loosing it's ability to capture the imagination of the masses?
By creating large amounts of technically correct designs, are we in fact boring the people viewing the work. In a sense it could be argued that good design is about distinguishing oneself from the rest. By adopting a design style that matches that of the majority in a particular genre, are we not contradicting the whole point of design? We are no longer identifying the design as an individual, but rather as one of the sheep. From an advertising perspective, producing commercials that fit in is in many ways providing the client a dis-service. We are no longer identifying the product as an individual, and as such run the risk of blending in with the rest.
Is the answer to the numbing of good design, to produce bad design? What do you notice more, a page that has been technically well designed, or something that is a bit out of whack? This is a question worth posing, especially if design is to remain innovative and progressive when it comes to capturing the attention of society.
"Sometimes disasters give birth to great things. Sometimes without warning."
Article: Designing within a grid
In this article, I thought I would look at one of the designers most loved or hated elements when it comes to editorial design. To some it is a blessing and allows them to arrange their page elements in some predictable kind of order. To others, it is a over ruling dictator that pulls in the designers individual creativity. What ever way you may feel about grids, they are part of the day to day practices of most editorial designers. Is it really possible to live with them and not end up feeling like a clone, or are we doomed to be stuck in a predictable mathematical certainty.
When I have been involved in editorial design I have always treated the grid as just a "guide". I use this term pretty loosely, because when I have often followed the grid to closely, my work has ended up feeling quite stagnant. Other people in my office have verbally condemned me for breaking the grid on a number of occasions. From my point of view as a designer, I have always felt it is our job to push the boundaries and break the rules. Clearly this opinion is not shared by all, and many designers still feel we should stick to such blatant traditions.
When I was first introduced to the grid system it initially made my job as a page layout artist incredibly easy. It gave me rules to work within, hence in my early days I became somewhat creatively lazy. All my work looked the same, and there was this terrible sense of predictability in all my projects. Today I still use them, but don't follow them so closely. Since I have being doing this my work now has a level of creativity I am happy with, as well as that extra punch to impress the client.
I am the first to admit, that without some order and rhythm in design, there would be very little point in designing anything. Of course with to much order we run the risk of removing the human part of design. Imperfections and slight oddities are in their own way beautiful. If we follow the grid to closely we run the risk of removing these intriguing elements. Therefore we need to strike a balance between following the grid and knowing when to break it. So the next question is, when it it technically "OK"?
As with all things related to design, there is no clear defining situation when a certain technique or rule should be followed. It all depends on the brief, the target market, as well as the clients own personal tastes. As a general rule of thumb, a grid based page layout is best applied to corporate jobs like annual reports and other related publications. This is for the simple reason that the information contained within needs to be put into some kind of logical order. This is not to say you can't be experimental with this type of media, but rather it is good to provide the client with something familiar and "safe".
There is no doubt that the page grid will always be with us, and there will always be those designers that swear by its reliability. On that note, I think it is important to stress once again that the grid is but a guide, and not so much a rule as has often been pushed by arts educators. Go forth and experiment, and break out of the page rulers!
Most consumer end, and some semi-pro DSLRs, often come with a kit zoom lens. Zoom lens are particularly useful if you are shooting different subject materials on the go, and provide a good all round experience. Unfortunately a lot of the time zoom lens due to their multiple focal lengths can often suffer from a few short comings including things like soft focus and a limited depth of field. The solution? Invest in a few Prime Lens.
Prime lens, unlike a zoom lens, have a fixed focal length. A lot of the time they have a much larger aperture, which makes them a perfect lens for portrait shots and low light situations. Of course a fixed focal length doesn’t come without its disadvantages, so it is important to chose two or three that will give you the most flexibility when shooting subjects.
Typically lens can be divided into two focal lengths; wide angle and telephoto. Generally speaking anything with a focal length less than 50mm is classified as a wide angle lens, anything above, a telephoto lens. When purchasing a prime lens, it is worth considering one from each category, as well as a standard 50mm (as the eye sees) lens.
Which focal lengths you decide to buy is personal choice, but generally speaking, wide angles are brilliant for indoor and large vistas where you want to capture as much sharp detail as possible, and telephotos for where maximum creative control over depth of field is necessary.
From personal experience, telephotos are particularly useful for portraits since they can throw the background behind a subject into a comfortable neutral blur. Wide angles on the other hand are brilliant for landscapes and other large vast spaces.
So what focal lengths are best and what do I recommend? Well, first and foremost, any basic kit should include a good quality 50mm lens with the widest aperture you can afford (smallest f-stop). Secondly, something around the 85mm for a telephoto that allows enough control over depth of field to create portraits with non-distracting backgrounds. Thirdly, a wide angle lens around the 25-35mm to allow the capture of stunning landscapes.
"If technology is the tool that has allowed humans to advance exponentially, then language is certainly the forge in which these
tools were created."
Article: Tethered shooting on the mac
Every now and then you sometimes come across a gem when it comes to genuinely free software. Sofortbild is one such program that any Nikon photographer who uses a Apple Mac should not go without.
Simple, easy to use and beautifully designed, Sofortbild allows you complete control of you Nikon DSLR from your mac desktop. I have recently been using it with my D7000 in the studio and I can honestly say I am quite impressed with the amount of settings this software allows me to manipulate on my tethered camera.
There are many tethered shooting programs out there, but many command a price well in the hundreds. To find one that is of exceptional quality free is virtually unheard off. If your a Nikon photographer and require tethered shooting, I urge you to check it out. It can be easily downloaded through the Mac App Store.
I was recently asked by a colleague of mine about the process that I go about when selecting to purchase a new DSLR Camera. Given that I recently just invested in a new Nikon D7000, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on the matter.
In a consumer market filled with endless options, it can often be difficult to know where to begin. Generally speaking there are three different brackets that you could decide to buy into.
Firstly, there is your consumer end DSLRs like the Canon Rebel 600D and the Nikon D5100 equivalent. For those starting out in the photography and want to familiarize themselves with DSLR camera, this is a great starting point. The prices for the cameras in this range can get as low as $500 with a standard kit lens attached.
Secondly there are your enthusiast, mid range cameras. These include the Nikon D7000 and the Canon equivalent 60D. These machines have a lot more options than the entry level cameras and allow for more creative options for the photographer. Some of the other advantages of this range of cameras, and often understated, are things like weather sealing and a better quality build. At this point prices start to creep up around $2000 for a camera with the basic kit lens.
Thirdly, there is the pro level. This includes cameras like Canon’s 1D Mark III and Nikon’s D3. This category is generally reserved for those who photograph for a living. The quality of build is often emaculate, the images exceptional, and the price excessive. Cameras in this range command as much as $8000 just for the body and no kit lens attached!
Regardless of what camera you decide to go with, I am going make a fairly big claim and suggest that rather than spending your entire savings on the camera body, you are much better to invest the money in a modest body, but with the best lens you can afford. I can not stress enough the importance of having good quality glass wear mounted onto the end of your image making device. Better lens result in sharper images, more creative options when it comes to depth of field, as well as avoiding frustrating things like image distortion and chromatic aberration.
"Creativity knows no fear, nor hides from change. Creativity is the mother of progress."
Article: Dealing with clients & freebies
Recently a good friend of mine sent me this link describing one designers experience with a client that wanted something for nothing. It gave me quite a smile considering I have come across this numerous times from family and friends, and in some cases with people off the street. If only I had approached my situation in the same way.The full article can be read by selecting the articles heading or by selecting here.
Stephen Fry is one of those celebrities that holds a special place in my heart. Not only do I find him engaging and enlightening, but being a sufferer of Bipolar like myself, he inspires me in the pursuit of excellence in my own life and career. It is refreshing when influential celebrities are so open about their own forth comings and choose not to hide it from what is a very judgmental world.
Recently I was invited to review several websites associated with various businesses from electronics and computers, to clothing and gifts. During my adventure it came to my attention that a lot of people out there developing online stores are filling their home page with what can only be referred to as clutter. In come cases it was an over saturation of poor quality images which would take ages to load. In other instances it was paragraphs upon paragraphs of text.
I am not sure about most people, but when I enter an online store I want to feel as if I am entering a nice open plan environment with plenty of white space. Perhaps it is my underlining experience as a graphic designer bringing this issue to mind, either way in some instances the sites left me so much in a daze, I doubt I would ever want to visit them again. Clearly this is not good for business people, as I am sure you would be aware. Customers are unlikely to revisit a website that makes the viewer feel as if he or she has just read a post graduates thesis.
While I am on the topic of online shopping, there is another issue that often frustrates me, and that is the lack of information on payment options. In some instances, wait no, in most cases, the options are not provided to the customer until they reach the checkout. This is incredibly annoying when you have filled a trolly with several items and have reached the checkout only to realise they only accept credit card payments and nothing else. A shopper should be made aware of payment options when entering a store not exiting it.
Anyway, web developers and the like, that’s my whinge for today. Please, for once, think of the customers using the site and not just the retailer.
"Keeping a sketch pad next to my bed at night could be one of my most useful tools."
Article: Behold white space!
It seems everywhere I look, design is lacking the use of effective white space. Many designers seem to feel that they need to fill up every part of the page and make their concepts as complicated as possible. It may just be me, but this kind of design confuses me, and as a viewer makes the concept very hard on the eyes.
Whatever happened to making the message as simple and clear as possible. After all, graphic design is essentially visual communication. Apply too many elements and the message gets lost.
Lets preserve white space and think about placement of a design within the page and use the white space to guide us through the message. Remember the old KISS principle. It was a valuable lesson I was once taught by a wise designer.
Generally as a designer I am never without my laptop computer or my portable hard drive, but every now and then I am pressed for space and am required to travel with my very space limited iPad. It is during these times that an online storage space comes in very handy.
I have tried a lot of online storage spaces in the past, but have often been disappointed with the lack of space, the online interface and the way I transfer files from my computer. When I came across Dropbox I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is it very easy to use, it places a convenient folder on your desktop or in your chosen folder where you can simply drag your files to sync with your online space.
Every now and then I come across a gem of an application that helps me in my general workflow as a graphic designer, and TotalFinder from Binary Age is certainly one of them.
For those of you who use a Apple Mac computer, I am sure you are aware of the limitations of the finder application when handling your files and the limited options that are provided when wanting to view several finder windows side by side, or wanting to view and edit system files. Well with TotalFinder you need to look no further. Several other useful features are also thrown in as well including cut and paste tools, and a rather useful file finding tool.
Finally an application has been born where by not only can I copy directly across two finder windows side by side, but I also now have the option for tabbed browsing. This is particularly useful when I want to transfer work I have recently done on my desktop and what to save across to several locations. Other useful features include folders now being placed on top of files, all very useful when you are pressed for time to find things and you want to speed up your workflow.
For more information TotalFinder as well as a trial, visit the website by clicking here.