Recently my professor hosted a discussion panel for my entrepreneurship class. The panel consisted of 3 local designers who all have very unique experiences working within the industry.

The guest speaker that particularly sparked my interest was Brian Chard.

Brian obtained an Arts Degree in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia and now operates a design business in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This business provides clients with design and consulting services. In the early 1990′s Brian began using is computer knowledge to design for the web and since then has helps countless businesses in various i industries implement goals through design and the use of strategic web development.


What I found interesting about Brian was his journey becoming a designer.  Brian spoke about how he has a passion for cycling and told us that told us that a lot of his initial jobs were from businesses within that industry who were seeking designers. I have observed that a lot of successful designers initially find job opportunities by connecting with people who have similar interests and passions. Many people tend keep their work and passion separate from one another but as a designer it seems to be the best way to gain opportunities that both improve your business and your own quality of life.

Brian sat confidently on the panel, his answers were very direct and helpful. He spoke minimally about his own success, he focused more of his energy on talking about the real issues that someone running their own business would face.

Another point that peaked everyones interest, including my own is when he spoke about qualifying the client. I this is something that not many people want to address but it actually very valuable when starting a new business. When you are running your own business you cannot waste time. It is important to connect and establish relationship with people through networking but when people seem interested seeking out design services you need to be able to assess whether or not they are serious about obtaining your services. There are many ways you can asses a client and figure out if their business will be something that is right for you but it is something each individual has to sort out for themselves. A general red flag when qualifying a client is any resistance to pay, or any real financial hesitation. Asking for a deposit upfront it a quick way to tell who is serious about hiring you for work and who is expressing empty interest.

I understand that businesses all have individual target audiences but I wasn’t considering myself a business until I heard Brian speak about himself.  Ultimately if you design for everyone, then you design for no one. Not all clients are right for every business but developing good working relationships with the ones who are contribute greatly to the chances of you having a positive and successful business

The information Brian shared regarding his personal experiences as in entrepreneur were very insightful and I hope that he will attend future panels hosted by the St. Lawerence Graphic Design program.





RGD Rules Of Professional Conduct

As part of our preparation for entering the work force we have begun a closer review  on the rules of professional conduct. Using The Business of Graphic Design, The RGD Professional Handbook as a guideline for Graphic Design industry standards we reviewed 3 of 8 rules listed in the handbook.

Branding Identity & Application

This is a redesign for educational purposes only.

Live Out There provides their customers with products and useful information that will help their customers get the best possible experiences from their outdoor adventures. Instead of expanding their locations Live Out There decided to take an aggressive Online approach that enables them to reach a wider market with products, inspiration and lifestyle information while giving their customers fast efficient service

This logo will be used mostly Online, in the initial design this was not carefully considered and the Logo was in need of refining. The original design had a variety of line thicknesses and the company required something that was long lasting a scalable

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The abstract shape of the mountain was aligned to a grid and constructed using the X and Y height of the L in the logo type. While it was still an abstract object the careful complementary measurements and fine tuning gave it a more structured and well designed look making it a more simplistic and scalable object.

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The typeface for the logo remained the same, Univers is a font that is now available for the web. It also has a variety of weights and styles that makes it a font that is able to be used as their corporate type face.

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When the rebranding process was complete, the logo became part of a much larger picture. A brand identity was already in the process of being being formed. One of the key components to developing a good brand is understanding the companies brand values and establishing  a tone of voice that is clearly applied and visible in every aspect the company.

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The idea for the company came to life while the founders were climbing Mount Everest and the blue chosen in the primary colours is inspired by the breathtaking richness of the night sky. The original Live Out There brand was done in an orange, being vibrant and daring is important to the company but because of the richness of the blue a bolder color was needed.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 1.06.59 AMA brand guide was created and photo page designed to inspire and help employees better understand the tone and mood. The brand is about community and exploration and they have really tried to include their clients by allowing them to tag photos of their own journeys.  Originally the majority of  the photos used were filtered and usually not high image quality but this kind of photography is not effective when trying to express the quality of a brand.  The photos displayed in the brand guide are high quality black and white photos that are typically used when showing intense activities that may have more motion. The black and white photos are paired with vibrant , crisp, clear, breath taking photos that do not have filters on them, show casing the earths natural beauty.

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A variety of applications were explored during this process. In future, more application such as a personal clothing brand, social media extensions and unique packaging design will likely be explored.

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This weekend I had the opportunity of going to RGD event, Design Thinkers.
There were many interesting people who came to speak but I came eager to hear John Furneaux speak about Designing Building Blocks.  Our role as designers are changing, we are no longer there to just come up with a design for a single platform, we are there as a consultant to assist in setting up foundational blocks that can be used in a variety of ways though out different platforms to suit the clients needs and evolve with them in ways that we may not have even been anticipated yet.

The talk really resonated with me. I started the St Lawrence College Graphic design program during a time when the curriculum was being revamped. My classmates and I had the opportunity of being the first students with the privilege of having a whole new learning experience based on a new curriculum that had a strong focus on user based design and strategic thinking. In keeping with what John said, our role as designers is shifting and we must change with it so that we continue to add the value and expertise that clients need to come up with long term solutions to their challenges.  Graphic Design has always been a profession that demands constant change from the people in its field. Every day new programs come out that change what we design for. Every time there is a software update we are required to learn and grow with it, new trends come up that we must choose to follow or avoid, our profession is one that will forever be changing.

A class mate of mine used a quote in a piece of work recently that said, “Design is How it Works”. It is a very pure statement, one that will never change and becomes even more relevant as the things we design for become more complex and require us to think even further into the future than ever before.

Building Your Process Portfolio

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the 2014 Design Thinkers conference in Toronto this year but as a designer even if you are unable to attend these fantastic events you should still be trying to learn and improve yourself anyway you can.
This week I took the time to review some online webinars posted on the RGD website. One in particular was by Russell Gibbs and it was on the topic of building a process portfolio which I will be starting to build next semester. My teachers have already started giving us information relating to building a process portfolio but you can never know to much when building something that is showcasing your  skills for your potential employers.

I find typing or writing out the information helps me retain it better than just listening to someone speak, below I typed out what I felt were the important points of the first half of his webinar. Hopefully this will be helpful to other students or young designers who are in the field and trying to build a strong portfolio!

Creating and Effective Design Portfolio
By: Russell Gibbs

What is a Portfolio?
A Representation of your best works

Keep in Mind…..
Sometimes you may not be able to explain every detail of your portfolio to the person viewing it so it is important that your work speaks for itself and provides the viewer with clear self explanatory visual.
The portfolio you create should show case your talents and personality.

What format should be used digital or print?

Consider this:
What format suits your work the best?

Interactive, App, Web Design, etc. = Digital
Illustration, Branding, etc. = Print

Either one works as long as its professional and well thought out.

How Many pieces should be in a process portfolio?
8-12 projects (not pages, projects)
Find a happy medium, not too sparse and not too overwhelming

What should you include in your portfolio?

Choose a diverse range of work to put in your portfolio. Don’t limit yourself by focusing on just one specific area of design. Obviously you want to showcase your stronger talents but make sure that you are giving the person viewing the portfolio a variety of work so that you aren’t limiting your employment opportunities by just focusing on just one area of talent.

How do I show my work? 
Scan or take Photographs?
If you want to take pictures, make sure you have the skill level to do it properly.

Should I show my Roughs? 
If it enhances your projects, Yes. If it doesn’t mean anything or add anything, leave them out.
If you don’t have roughs, don’t recreate them.

How do You organize your work?

Keep your work consistent and leave them wanting more

Consider your portfolio as a story, your story.
What projects are where?
What is the evolution of the story?
How is it flowing together?

Play with the composition, be unique. The effort you put into your portfolio because it shows.
Remember: Layouts can be whatever you want them to be just make sure whatever you do makes sense.

Check and re-check your work, give it to a friend or several friends to check as well.
Spelling errors are not acceptable.

Consider the competition. 
Does your book hold up against the stronger students in your class or program?

For the complete webinar click the link below:

The biggest design demon, pride.

Last year our Typography teacher retired at the end of the semester. I felt quite disappointed, I was concerned as to what this meant for my overall learning experience and it was a great stress to me through out the whole summer. 
My first typography class of this year was rough everything was different. I liked my old familiar teacher and I was SURE this kind of dramatically different change would not be a positive one. I found myself mentally arguing with everything that was said during that first class. My first critique wasn’t any better; I left feeling frustrated because I basically had to go back to the drawing board. Nothing seemed to be working out for me but then something changed.  My second critique I really began to listen to the advice that were being given to my peers and for the most part, I agreed with the suggestions our teacher was giving. 
That night I realized that I had been focusing more on the background image than I had been on my text layout and suddenly the teachers critiques of my work began to make sense. I was so motivated that I drove right into my design project and finished it that same evening.. I came to class excited and SURE my teacher was going to love it. I would like to tell you that my third critique went well and I had fixed all my errors but unfortunately there was much to improve on. It still stung a little, I was used to having strong work and there were rarely any issues with my previous pieces but I left my third critique with a much more positive attitude and a clear understanding of what I needed to fix. It wasn’t because my teacher was clearer in her explanation, she had been consistent through out all of the critiques, I was just more willing to receive the advice.
I think this is the first time in my whole life of creating that I have had to step back and deflate my ego, up until this point I had been pretty humble and willing and ready for suggestions. I’m not sure when it changed for me, maybe I was overly confident because my work was now being graded or because for the most part, people never really responded negatively to my work. Artists and designers should always be open to the ideas suggestions of others, it how we grow! We should at least consider what is being said because there is always room for improvement or at least an interesting discussion. Im not saying I will always follow the advice given to me, but I want to be open to receive what others might say.


Millers Law, Millers Magic 7, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two

This year we are starting a new course called Information Design.  
What is Information Design?
 The best explanation I have heard is from  The Society for Technical Communication who said, Information Design is “the translating of complex, unorganized, or unstructured data into valuable, meaningful information”. I would love to say that my brain retains all of the information given to me during this 3 hour class but, unfortunately it does not but, according to Millers Law thats ok! One thing that did peak my interest last class was,

Millers Magic 7
The General breakdown of Millers Magic 7 is that the average person can only retain about 7 pieces of information. If more information is added, then it must be put into groups or “chunked” so that it is easier to remember. Once the information is “Chunked” people can generally retain an additional 2 pieces information (Millers 7+2). Once those pieces of information have entered our short term memory, our brain makes a choice as to what information is relevant and will go on to be stored stored in our long term memory. Anything that is not considered relevant or important is then dismissed. Of course, its a little more involved than that but for blogging purposes, this explanation will do.

How does this relate to Graphic Design or more specifically, Information Design? When designing and simplifying information and instructions for people we as designers need to be careful how we choose to layout information. We need to make sure that it is clear, concise and also, that it leaves the user feeling happy  and less stressed because the information provided is not confusing or frustrating.

One way we could apply this principal is to web design. I have been combing through many different webpages and some of the most popular pages such as, Google or Facebook use a limited number of categories in their navigation bar, 7 to be exact .  Users need to be able to navigate effortlessly on a webpage so they will enjoy their experience. A person may not remember all of the specifics about a particular site but if the information is grouped in an easily, memorable way it will keep a person coming back. After separating content from site into seven main categories the information can then be “chunked”  so that it is sub categorized and easy to find. Web design is not the only place I feel this principle can be applied to it could also be very effective in helping with instructional designs or  in learning design tools for educators. Millers theory has been debated in many circles, but personally I feel that when used properly can be effective in the world of design.