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7 Lucky Gift Ideas for Artists

If your thinking of getting something for the artist life, this guide is for you. Birthdays, holidays or just a gift for Monday and Tuesday. Here's a wish list: Start off with a basic A Complete Graphic Pencil Set. The #2 pencils from school were great for filling out classroom exams, but an artists needs a soft 9B, a sharp 9H for details and all that in between. Inspire your craftsman with this Green Guide for Artists. If you think he or she will be into creating non-toxic paints, glues and recycling paper then pass this one on. This Acrylic Paint & Easel Art Set will get anyone who has lost their painting habit back into the game. Twelve colors of acrylic paint, six brushes, a wooden palette, a 11" x 14" Canvas Board, a plastic palette knife, a tabletop easel and a sturdy portable tote. If you're feeling creative yourself, follow these directions to make a Paint Chip Wallet. It just takes a little sewing. Encourage your artist to get out their in showing prints (or photos) of their work with a Presentation Portfolio Case. The one pictured has ten slots for them to show off their very best work, although it is expandable. For a more complete way to store all of those supplies, how about a Storage Box with lots of compartments for the big and small utensils. If bigger is better, then maybe you can help define your artist's space with a Drafting Table.

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Gifts for Graphic Designers: A Wish List

Whether you're getting ready for the holiday season, a birthday or even without an occasion here's some graphic design related gifts that are on my wish list.
PRINT Magazine
The gift that keeps on giving. What could be better than a subscription to PRINT: America's Graphic Design Magazine filled with trends, commentary, reporting and ideas.
"STEP Inside Design" Magazine
Another magazine subscription worth considering is STEP Inside Design which tends to be a topical look at the current state of design. Each issue highlights creative people, design in the business world and hot design topics.
Wacom Intuos3 9 x 12-Inch USB Tablet
The Wacom Intuos3 9 x 12-Inch USB Tablet is an interface made perfectly for designers which allows you to access features and techniques in programs like Photoshop that you can't access any other way. This tablet includes shortcut keys and a five button mouse.
Pantone 100 Top Colors
Pantone 100 Top Colors is an affordable (under $30) set of colors for quick reference. For the price you get a pretty decent set of 1,114 colors.
"Hillman Curtis Designer Series"
The "Hillman Curtis Designer Series" has short films featuring Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, David Carson, James Victore, and Pentagram Design
"How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul"
The book "How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul" by Adrian Shaughnessyis a business guide to being successful in the field. This book isn't about effects or visual tricks, but the business of being a commercial artist. New designers are often surprised at how important the business side of their career is and how little they learned about this in their formal education.
"Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students"
"Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students", a book by Ellen Lupton, isn't about fonts but working with type effectively on the page. Update: Read the full book review. In "Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop" by Timothy Samara the topic discussed is one of the most important aspects of design: grid layout. It seems like many designers are unprepared to deal with the grid and there is always more to learn. It's essential to learn how to handle the many elements you will be asked to include in your designs. Learn the rules and how to break them effectively.

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Tips for a More Perfect Design Portfolio

Trying to put your best foot forward in your portfolio is a task all designers strive to improve at. Here's a guide to get your started. Select the best of the best. The number of pieces in your portfolio will vary from person to person. However many pieces you decide to include, make sure they are all great work. The order counts too, make the first and last pieces the best ones to start and end on a good note. The first and last impressions are the ones they'll remember most. Don't put in things just because they are your personal favorites. If they are not appropriate for the reviewer to see, they should be removed. In the end, you will be better off having seven impressive and appropriate designs rather than twelve pieces at different quality levels. Look at the work of other designers; don't live in a vacuum. We all want to be original, but you need to know the trends of the day. You need to know what's going on in the world. Be both critical and encouraging about what other designers are doing and reflect on that when you put together your portfolio. Imagine that these are the designers applying for the same gig as you and how you would tell an interviewer that your approach is the best. Consider something unexpected. I've included paintings in my portfolio to emphasize that the computer is just a tool and that I have some insights about composition and scale that other designers might not have. Consider showing a skill you have and be prepared to explain why you feel it's appropriate to your portfolio and to the position you are applying for. You might have sketches that provide insight to your process. Maybe a very professional photograph that you took. Or just something with such a great concept that you can show off and show that you are just that creative. Just remember the earlier tip that anything in your portfolio should be as perfect as possible. If it's sketch it should be a great sketch that would hold up to anyone else who had one. Creativity is good, but don't let the portfolio itself overshadow the works within it. You want your portfolio to be clean and present the pieces you have to display. Whoever looks at it should feel the clear focus on the individual pieces and not how they are presented. However you choose to display portfolio, make sure you choose something that you can easily edit. You'll want to add new pieces and take out a few too depending on who will view it and what tasks and skills you are emphasizing. Everything is more than the sum of it's parts: each work displayed should show a greater understanding. A piece might show your understanding of a particular business, depth of research and other skills that aren't directly related to design. If you are showing your portfolio to a medical related magazine that you want to work for, that freelance dentist project might be the one that clinches it. The perfect portfolio is impossible. Your portfolio is an ongoing and evolving collection of works. Accept that it won't be perfect, but continue to make it the best that you can.

More information

You might want to check out Building a Strong Design Portfolio, a question and answer session with Nomi Altabef, Associate Education Director at DesignMentor Training.

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Uncanny Creativity helps artists and designers do more with less stress

Get free art and design productivity tips and podcast episodes by email! We're here to help you get more made in less time.
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First Name