Choosing Graphic Design Work that Matches Your Values

How do you make sure that your work fits in line with your personal ethics? Although this is a post targeting designers and artists, almost every working person deals with this issue at some point. You might have seen a colleague who thinks it’s “just business”. And chances are you don’t trust this person, even if it seems like they’re a fine upstanding citizen outside of work.  When taking a job, full time or client based, do you think about the clients ethics?

What are work values?

These are the set of beliefs that you’ve acquired over your life. Mom and dad instilled you with a sense of right and wrong.  There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to do something you’re fundamentally against to survive or because you’ve agreed to a job you don’t agree with.

Evaluating Your Client

First of all, let’s qualify this by saying you should understand your potential employer. Go in with an open mind.  Sure this company may have a bad reputation in your industry for it’s practices, but without discussing it with them and doing your research you don’t really know if it’s a good fit. If you’re hoping for repeat business, ask your client about any potential for more work.

Core Ethics

Take the time right now to do a self assessment. Figure out what your core ethics are. Perhaps it’s important to you that you have a certain amount of autonomy with your projects.  Accept nothing less.  There are clients out there that will trust you to complete the work.  I’ve designed marketing projects where I’ve heard very little from the client and they’re happy with the end results. Your dream client is out there.  Imagine that you want autonomy and have no part in the decision making process. How upset will you be?  Imagine if you thrive in variety and have to do a monotonous job.

In the end, you won’t be truly happy with your work unless you’re following your own morality. It’s not just business, it’s a huge part of your life.  Figure out what’s really important and use that knowledge in your decision making.  Say no to the clients and career moves that don’t match up.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Finding Your Calling in the Working World

 A degree can’t promise success in your career path, but it can help you make tremendous strides toward achieving it, especially if you truthfully answer the questions below.

Do you have an idea of the goal or goals you want to accomplish?

Having a medical degree does not mean you have to become a doctor; it can encompass others areas, such as research, practice administration or even the pharmaceutical field. Likewise, a business degree does not necessarily mean “9-to-5” hours in an office environment. However, having a goal makes it easier to narrow your choices and direct your focus more fully when you start out on your career path.

Whose goals are they?

Are the goals truly yours, or are you trying to please someone else? Ultimately, you are going to be the one who is working in this career. And, that applies to family-owned businesses, as well as other ones. If you discover that you want to pursue another career path, the sooner you are honest with yourself and everyone involved, the better off you will be.

What do you really want to accomplish?

Do you want to have a career that allows you to live comfortably but still have plenty of leisure time? Or do you want to be the one to make the next big discovery, no matter what field it is in? Only you can answer these questions, or at least ones similar to them that will help you determine your career path.

How disciplined are you?

Do you, or are you willing, to keep going even when things start getting rough? Or do you try to avoid conflict and difficulties? Do you need to become more disciplined? Be honest with yourself when answering these questions. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to make plans and set goals that can be accomplished.

How flexible are you?

You may enter and leave college with a clear goal in mind, but circumstances can happen that will cause you to have to make a complete change. However, you may realize once you are into your new career that this was actually your goal all along. So, be willing to change, if necessary.

Have you done your homework?

Not just your college homework, but do research into your career and those that are, or can be, connected with it. There is no substitute for practical experience, but gaining as much knowledge as possible will certainly be an asset.

Again, this can apply to family businesses as well. You may think there is not one more thing you can learn about running a restaurant or building houses, or whatever it is your family has always done, but changes happen every day.

You may have always had a dream of what you wanted to do with your life. Examine yourself honestly, using the questions in this article and others as a guideline, and you will most likely find that dream becoming a reality.

Elysabeth Teeko is a lover of technology, interior decorating and design. She’s recently started blogging about these interests, and you can follow her on Twitter @elysateek

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

How to Podcast for Free (on Archive.org)

I recently moved my podcast from Libsyn‘s pay service to the free hosting on Archive.org, the Internet Archive and home of the wayback machine. If you’re willing to allow a licensing model compatible with their upload system, this might work for you. Libsyn is a great and simple solution, but the monthly payments have added up and the free solution is pretty easy using Feedburner and WordPress.com to create an iTunes compatible feed.

Step 1: Create your podcast audio file

 

Audacity in BNI-Ubuntu
Creative Commons License Audacity. photo credit: Sloshay

Record your podcast in a standard audio format. Mp3 is pretty common and universal. If you need a free audio recording and edition program, I suggest Audacity. That’s what I use. It’s free and open source.

Step 2: Upload to the Internet Archive

On Archive.org, click on the SHARE button. If you don’t have an account, you’ll be prompted to create one. You can even login with your usual OpenID if you have one. If you’ve already created your WordPress.com account (which you will need to do in Step 3), you can use your WordPress.com URL as your OpenID/Login.

Archiveupload

With the SHARE button, your browser will prompt you to select the file or files. On the new page, you’ll be able to see the status of your upload. In the Title field, put the short name of your podcast. Archive.org will generate an identifier with this name that you can use to add more episodes of your podcast as your create them. Although you really don’t need to keep all of your podcasts under the same identifier and can upload anywhere, the site has what it calls Collections and it simplifies things to keep all of your episodes under the same collection. The description and keyword fields should be about the general podcast and not episode specific. Choose a license if you want. Finally, click Share My File(s).

It will take a minute or so for the site to create your page. Save the url that it generates as this is where you’ll be updating your podcast from now on. Under “Audio Files”, you’ll see the file name of your episode. Right click (Windows) or Command click (Mac) on the listand copy the link URL to your audio file to your clipboard.

Step 3: Create your WordPress.com Site

In this example, I’m using a free WordPress.com blog. You can substitute the blogging site and software of your choice as long as it will generate an rss feed.

wppodcast

Follow the directions on the site to sign up. It’s pretty straightforward. Create a new blog post. Put the episode title as your post title. Add any description or show notes or links about the episode as needed in the body. At the very end, paste your url to the mp3 and make the url link to the mp3. Publish the post to the web.

Step 3: Create your podcast RSS feed

This is the part that turns your blog and mp3 file into a real published and subscribe ready podcast. By default, WordPress.com will put a link to your RSS feed on your blog’s page. Copy that url. Google’s Feedburner service makes this part pretty easy. Log into your Google account or create a Feedburner account and past the URL in the field marked Burn a Feed right this instant. Check the box that says I’m a podcaster. Hit next. You’ll have to title and create a short url for your feed. Continue through the options hitting next and filling out all of the fields until Feedburner says “You have successfully updated the Feed”.

Step 4: Submit your podcast to iTunes

 

itunespodcastsubmit

Most of my listeners come from iTunes, so this step is pretty important. Follow this link to Submit Podcasts to the iTunes Directory. This will open iTunes. Copy your feed URL from Feedburner, paste it into the iTunes’ Podcast Feed URL box, hit continue until your submission is complete. It could take up to a few days for your podcast to appear in the iTunes Podcast directory.

That’s it, you now have now have a podcast!

 

Update January 4, 2012: With sites like mypodcast.com no longer doing podcast hosting, I think it’s important to remind you to backup your content!  Archive.org is much more stable and capable of holding your content than many smaller sites. Be safe anyway and make sure to have copies of your content even if it’s on the server already.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

How to Make Your Graphic Design Portfolio

If you’re working steadily in a graphic design job or just starting to look for work, it’s always a good time to have an up to date portfolio. The hard part is to figure out how the pieces fit together.

I’ve already discussed the basics of what should go on the pages in Tips for a More Perfect Design Portfolio. In that article, I explain why to choose your absolute best work, how to use the work of others as inspiration, and how to use an unexpected twist to make yourself stand out. Building a perfect portfolio is a process that continues over and over again throughout your career.

How to choose a portfolio case

12 Steps to a Super Graphic Design Portfolio from Youthedesigner.com starts us off by telling us about the case. Choose carefully and consider how you want to present your work. Think about yourself in an interview or with a client. Find a case that fits a style of presentation that works for you.

My first portfolio was a leather case with sheets of thick photo paper printed pieces. Especially for interviews with multiple people, passing around the works in my portfolio and letting people handle them and really look at them had went over well. These were designs for magazine layouts and for advertisements so it mimicked the original experience.

For a later portfolio, I chose to use a 12 x 12″ scrapbook binder. It came with removeable sheets and a very slick looking cover that made for a very professional cover. Check out crafts stores and office supply stores for case and presentation ideas and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

How to present your portfolio

AIGA has a great article on “Presenting your portfolio by Steff Geissbuhler of Chermayeff & Geismar Inc. It’s both from the point of view of someone who hires designers and from a design who has been there himself.

How to choose what to present

Brian Scott writes in “How to Create Your Freelance Graphic Design Portfolio” that you should include your best work and only your best work. I agree. It’s better to show five perfect pieces than to show eight that include work that you aren’t happy with. Your enthusiasm about every piece in your portfolio has to be there.

Tips to Create an Effective Graphic Design Portfolio from Twit Taboo emphasized the importance of variety. Show off different concepts and skills in your work. I’d add that you should make sure that each skill is somehow relevant to the specific position and company you’re applying to.

Building Design Portfolios: Innovative Concepts for Presenting Your Work (Design Field Guide)

Building Design Portfolios by Sara Eisenman tackles how to build your portfolio and, for hiring managers, it tackles how to look at portfolios critically. It contains a series of interviews with leaders in the field, provides inspiration and shows real world portfolio.

Graphic Design Portfolio Strategies for Print and Digital Media

Graphic Design Portfolio Strategies for Print and Digital Media discusses portfolio building for graphic design students. How do you take your student work and present it for employers, graduate schools and fellowships? This book tackles that question with illustrated examples of successful student portfolios.

The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Portfolio Design

 The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Portfolio Design is another book helping students transition into becoming professionals. This puts the portfolio in the context of resumes, interviews, and cover letters

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

15 Paths to More Sustainable and More Green Graphic Design

Graphic designers can help apply the principles of efficiency and waste reduction in our industry. This can save us money and time if we’re creative about it.

After watching The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard, I’m just beginning to understand the meaning of sustainability. Recycling works and buying recycled goods helps because there is only so much space on the earth to put all the trashed plastic so we might as well put it back in our stores. That principle might be applied to all kinds of things and on this page I’ve looked for an answer to how the graphic arts fits in. While I’m still not totally convinced that all of these methods are viable for everyone, but it’s still an interesting discussion.

If there is something you’re doing to be more efficient and less wasteful with your design, share a comment.

Books

 

Green Graphic Design by Brian Dougherty and Celery Design Collaborative is a book explaining how to make every step of the design and production process a little greener: paper, printing, binding, shipping, packaging.

SustainAble by Aaris Sherin aims to educate on sustainable applications and tackle sustainability in paper, printing, formats, materials, inks, and practice.

Packaging Sustainability by Wendy Jedlicka talks about making effective packaging that is minimal eco-impact.

Design for Sustainability: A Sourcebook of Integrated, Eco-logical Solutions by Janis Birkeland takes design to every level covering specifics in industrial design, materials, housing design, urban planning and transport, landscape and agriculture, and energy and resource use.

 

Articles

Kirsti Scott talks about Sustainable Graphic Design on the Hot Design Blog. She argues for more efficient practices, working from home to reduce travel, using only recycled or bamboo papers and even using fonts that use less ink.

The Green Resource Guide tells us the story behind Green Signage in Produce. There are great photos showing how the reclaimed items factor into the farmer’s market look of a grocery store.

In “Making Sense Of It All: How to Promote Your Brand While Staying Sustainable“, Delia Bonfilio of Fast Company talks about the challenge of balancing environmental ideals with business realities.

Paragon Muse talks about implementing some green practices in their post Joining the BandWagon: Sustainable Design. They are promoting recycled papers to their clients. They have redesigned their business cards with tree free paper and use only soy-based inks. They make some great points: the need for actionable ideas, more education and spreading the word.

Tips: Sustainable Graphic Design” by Metropolitan Group gives us a number of ways to ease our impact by requesting biodegradable elements from others in the chain, creating multi-use products, using designs that require less white space (less paper), targeted mailing (instead of blind mass market mailing) and other ideas.

In “Sustainable Graphic Design in Malawi” by Jesse Rankin, we’re asked “how can graphic design actually help Malawi in the development process to becoming a self sustaining country?” and given some very powerful answers.

Sustainable Design” from Drawing on Experience gives us 10 Best Practices for Sustainable Design.

More Resources

Renourish is a sustainability toolkit. Great way to start getting things in motion in your production process.

Lovely as a Tree wants to tell you everything about environmentally aware graphic design with tips about paper choice, printing considerations, case studies and a database of printers and paper sources in the UK.

Design Can Change is a pretty website with a message: you as a designer can help.

AIGA Center for Sustainable Design has more case studies, interviews, and resources.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.