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Entries in graphic design (92)


How Not to Design a Business Card, via the US Navy

Your business card should work for you. Period. It's the version of you that will sit on someone's desk and remind them of you and the work that you do. Think of it as a mini advertisement. A business card can quickly tell someone your personality, the image of your company and the quality of work you produce.

Does your business card convey confidence and knowledge about your product? Does it show credibility in your field of expertise? Your card should tell people you understand their problems and you or your product is here to help them.

What about looks? Does your business card need to be fancy? The short answer is no. Your card does not need to be die-cut or spot varnished, but it does need to be clear and creative. A good design should make a good statement, it should also be easy to read.

So what does this card say about its owner and their product?

USS Ronald Reagan business card

Does its design say I command the USS Ronald Reagan the world's most advanced fighting ship? Does it say I am the captain of America's Flagship? Does it even convey the ship's motto "Peace through Strength"?


Not at all. It's a mess. Where's there any strength, any confidence or any personality? The design is weak and frail. And the paper? Just as awful, thin and sad. The complete antithesis of their product. They have the coolest ship on earth to work with and this is what the Navy comes up with? There's an image of the ship but its been ghosted out to near obscurity and used as a faint and confusing watermark creating an uneven margin. Even the ship's seal that has a lot of interesting symbolism is well designed but is underutilized. It sits quietly in the top left corner and is far too small to read. I've never seen a military business card before so I'm not sure if they're all this bad or if it's just the Navy that chooses to embarrass their leadership like this.

But you can avoid this kind of upset if you choose a good graphic designer that understands you and your brand. When you're working with a designer to create your business' identity, it's good to think about what you want your business card to say about your company and it's also good to consider what you don't want it to say. Show your designer the work of other brands you identify with and brands that don't match your way of thinking. All this helps you and your graphic designer work together to create something unique to your brand. Remember, your business card is a mini advertisement that talks about you when you aren't there. Take the time to frame the level of creativity, credibility and strength you want to convey.


This week's good stuff

It's been awhile since I wrote my weekly good stuff post and I'd really like to get back into the routine and what better way to start a routine than to just do it.

Don't use black for shadows. Chris Coyier writes a good article about making shadows a darker tone of the item they fall on. For example, if a person's shadow falls across concrete don't just automatically made that shadow black but rather make it a darker tone of the concrete. While Chris' example is written for web design, it really falls across all design, painting and illustration.

Here's 40 trendy business card designs... always good for inspiration.

Invoicing is a necessary evil of being a freelance designer. Here's 15 good tips to make sure you keep on top of your billings. Stop scribbling your invoice notes on little pieces of paper that end up on the floor of your office and organize yourself with some software. It will save you time and earn you more money in the long run because you'll look more professional.

And if invoicing doesn't prove to you that being a freelance designer is a tough career choice then maybe you should read this article about whether or not freelancing is for you. If you'd rather stay in bed all day or don't necessarily like people then don't quit your day job.

This last item, via Frau Lipstick, is for the knitter and designer in me. It's a hilarious video produced by a sweater mill in Scotland that makes "700 billion cardigans a day." Watch it even if you're not a knitter, you'll still love it.


Graphic Design: Coffee and Travel

One of today's design projects was a new yarn label for a fiber called Coffee Beenz. The yarn is intended for adult and sophisticated children's sweaters. A neutral color palette led the way for this coffee house inspired yarn.

To design the label I had to get thinking about coffee. I made myself a cappuccino as inspiration and sat down at my computer to research all things coffee.

working breakfast

I first hit the major coffee house players to see how they are selling coffee these days.

coffee websites

, in the upper left hand corner, is clean and stark. I was surprised to find their site so white and so simplified from previous versions. I like it, but it wasn't the warmth I had in mind. Next up was The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Their site invokes the the emotions that go with knitting, things like warmth, softness and comfort. I like all the layers and colors too. Seattle's Best on the bottom right was so red. I know their logo is red, but wow. I think a red label would be too strong for this yarn. Peet's rounds out my main search and I like their look that has warm tones and a foreign feel.

Also, Starbucks coffee bean bag.

Starbucks coffee

By researching these and a few more samples I was able to narrow down the ideas I had for this yarn label. I like the browns, greens and tans. I like the feeling of foreign travel and the exotic locations coffee beans come from. I kept thinking of the old world, the seven seas, and traveling by boat. But I also wanted the label to be fresh and enticing.

Here's my final design approved by the client.

yarn label for Coffee Beenz

I chose a warm greenish-brown background with a slight gradient. The seal in the background I created from the company's logo to invoke the feeling of coffee farms in exotic foreign locations. For yarn name and other important information I used a rich tan. A couple hand drawn coffee beans add interest and fun. I can't wait to see it on the skein!


Now with less space in her home!


These are some new labels I designed for Plymouth Yarn Company. Grass up there is a cool cotton and hemp blend, hence the name. And Sweet Caroline and Covington are some new cottons that my mom will love. Dreamin' rounds out the bunch sporting the first label I designed for Plymouth. It's a sassy, sparkly mess of a label for a giant ball of yarn that includes the pattern and enough yarn to knit an entire baby sweater. And lastly, there is now more yarn than ever in my studio office because I just have to have multiple samples of my design work!

Sweet Caroline




Merry Christmas

I hope Santa brings you just what you want!