Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year's End: Now What?

I'd like to formally say that 2009 has been an exciting and blessed year for me. It had many highs: Engagement to my wife on a mountain in Phoenix, AZ; Co-directed an new Easter production; Another nephew joined the family; Spent an unbelievable amount of time with my family; helped my church get through a variety of changes brought on with renovations of the Nexus Pavilion, Impact Center, and the main Sanctuary; Married Katherine Search on August 15th and honeymooned in Seiverville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg—which is also where I discovered that Longhorn Steakhouse is my favorite restaurant of all time; Filmed 10 weeks worth of announcements; Spent an even-more-unbelievable amount of time with my in-laws because they're awesome; Joined with UC Collegiate Ministry on their Greatest Ever Winter Retreat at a lodge in Gatlinburg; co-directed another Christmas contada. Yep. It's been a joy to do so much and to work with everyone on these endeavors. I'm proud to say that 2009 was a great, fulfilling year.

Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our official 2 years of being together (I asked her out Dec 30th, 2007 @ 11p). She planned the evening: we went to see Sherlock Holmes (loved it!) and then went to Longhorn for a delicious dinner. As we were driving home, it occurred to me that I've spent a quarter of my life in Cincinnati. I was 18 when I came down here for college, and now I'm 24. 2010 will be the year I turn a quarter century old. Wow.

Well, here's to 2009 and the great decade it came with. I heard a friend say that "Dubya ruled politics" for the 2000s, and I'm satisfied with that. It's been a good decade for me.

So to you and yours, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Eerie Truth, But Good Wisdom

I ran across a posting from a designer friend on Facebook, that I quickly found funny and true in the same moment. This particular post was from another website, and it commented on how horribly difficult it is to get friends and family—the ones generally asking for favors, all the time—to cough up some change to pay you for your services. But, as the posting also illustrates, it's a reality that Graphic Designers must endure, until we hit the big time. This website actually has a variety of humorous satirical work, along with some exciting resources for design gurus and geeks.

So aside from being enthralled with the reality that "fully 92% of your time will be spent on unpaid favors", what happens when you actually get paid for some of those favors? Well, I guess you're now above average, as long as you can keep it up. Yet as we all know, Freelancing is a roller coaster. A big client here, small client there, no client for a month, then they all come running to you for 2 weeks.

I wonder: in the hours we spend educating ourselves, but then the client pushes us to learn more, to fulfill their ideas: Is this ever a bad thing?

No. It's actually a good thing. I believe that the client isn't always right, but also that the demands of the client should be heard and addressed when designing. They are important (for more than just the pay) and you as the designer need to always respect them. Part of that respect is also knowing when to speak up, and add in your sentiments (from past experience), and it's also a good idea to make sure you understand their objective, so ask them to clarify. The best way that a client can be sure you're clear about what they want is when you repeat it back to them after you've written it in your notes, and then you also send it in an email after the meeting, so that everyone is "in the same boat" (on the same level). Only then can you assure them and be sure of yourself that you know what needs to be done before the next meeting, and what the end may look like.

Knowing that most of your work will be unpaid may seem hard to take in, but if you love what you do, and you can convince your clients that you are better than average, act on it, do the work, and know that you've done a good thing. You'll always have someone who can't afford to pay you your proper fee, but sometimes, doing the pro-bono stuff is more satisfying.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hmmm. Let's think.

Innovation. What's in it for Print/Graphic Designers today? What's in it for Consumers? It's a new way of experiencing a culture coming out of recession, into better financial positions. Entrepreneurs, artists, and designers are all working creatively to meet the increasing demands of a young, cyber-conscious, media-conscious society.

In a society where young & hip is where the money jingles, is it also any wonder that the design profession is quickly advancing and finding itself in the midst of so many toys to solve so many different problems? Adobe has posted a really cool link to show just what design professionals can offer in this eclectic society:
Once you're there, it'll take a little bit of time to load, but move around in the virtual environment and find the JOB FEED and take a look. As of this posting, there are currently 30,198 jobs available that require some form of Adobe software knowledge. What's more is that Adobe is one of those "toys" I mentioned earlier. You can't really be an effective designer in this society and not have any knowledge of the main 3 programs Adobe has created: Photoshop, Illustrator, & InDesign. We have the unlimited ability to work creatively and efficiently with the world of computer technology.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thankful hearts are cheerful hearts.

On this Thanksgiving Day, 2009, I want to share my list of 10 things I'm thankful for:
1) to God for another day of life and celebration
2) for my beautiful wife and being able to spend our first Thanksgiving together
3) for my close-knit family and parents that have endured through time (and 6 kids), and whose marriage is inspiration to many
4) for my in-laws who put up with my silliness
5-6) for an exciting job, designing for my clients
7) for a home to live in
8) for all my friends in Cincinnati, Continental, and all over the world
9) for our freedom to worship freely in this great country
10) for my education from Continental schools and the Art Academy of Cincinnati

I could keep listing, but I'm getting a strong wift of the stuffing and turkey.

Be thankful for what you have and you'll be able to enjoy life better. A thankful heart IS a cheerful heart.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going Revolutionary

As a designer, we typically think of ways to promote, rebrand, enhance, or engineer an image, person, company, or event, so that the perceived audience can have a better understanding of what it is, and/or how to use it (get involved in it). Many times it presents puzzling circumstances, coupled with risky situations. Yet, our creativity isn't silenced, and our ability to think outside of the box, triumph once again.

So, why, as seems to be the case quite often, is it such a hard thing to get someone to notice that we can help them out? As a Visual Communication Design graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, one might think that offers would be knocking on the door. One could imagine the possibilities are greater with a bachelor's degree, attached the the prestigious Academy. But, then again, it's not the only school with a great design program.

What I've come to realize is that there are many like me who offer their services as a freelance designer to companies, shops, and agencies, trying to do what they know best. And in this economy, who can blame them? People are getting creative—they have to in order to survive.

I have always been a follower of Christ. Raised in the church, sang in the church, performed in the church, and worked in the church. What I've realized is that through volunteering and now working on staff at my church, there are just as many avenues inside the "church" to use my VCD knowledge to help others, as there is outside the church. Yeah, the competition may have some better benefits outside the church, but inside, you're working with family.

The difference between designing for a church and designing within a church is simply this: you must go beyond trying to be relevant to 21st century America. You have to be revolutionary—to think beyond the four walls of a building, to see the masses of hurting people and help them find peace, hope, joy and love again. I posted this today on my Facebook status: We walk different roads, but they all lead to the same place: the feet of Christ. From there, it's judgement and eternity.

Designing something just to make money is worthless if that's all life is about. It just get's thrown in the trash and left in a landfill for hundreds of years. Designing for Christ—that's where it is for me. Don't just be a revolutionary. Be revolutionary.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stepping Out and Going Big

Design is an ambiguous term that refers to the creation, development, and/or establishment of something, whether through print, web, environment, interactive, written, or thought. This is my working definition, compared with that of


–verb (used with object)
1. to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), esp. to plan the form and structure of: to design a new bridge.
2. to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
3. to intend for a definite purpose: a scholarship designed for foreign students.
4. to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan: The prisoner designed an intricate escape.
5. to assign in thought or intention; purpose: He designed to be a doctor.
6. Obsolete. to mark out, as by a sign; indicate.
–verb (used without object)
7. to make drawings, preliminary sketches, or plans.
8. to plan and fashion the form and structure of an object, work of art, decorative scheme, etc.
9. an outline, sketch, or plan, as of the form and structure of a work of art, an edifice, or a machine to be executed or constructed.
10. organization or structure of formal elements in a work of art; composition.
11. the combination of details or features of a picture, building, etc.; the pattern or motif of artistic work: the design on a bracelet.
12. the art of designing: a school of design.
13. a plan or project: a design for a new process.
14. a plot or intrigue, esp. an underhand, deceitful, or treacherous one: His political rivals formulated a design to unseat him.
15. designs, a hostile or aggressive project or scheme having evil or selfish motives: He had designs on his partner's stock.
16. intention; purpose; end.
17. adaptation of means to a preconceived end.

1350–1400; ME designen < class="ital-inline">dēsignāre to mark out.