Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Rise of Infographics

As the name suggests, infographics (otherwise known as information graphics) provide visual representation of information, data, facts and the likes in a concise manner. Basically, infographics are able to present vast amount of information within a confined space quickly and succinctly to a wide range of audience. A fine example would be a subway map as it is able to display a wealth of information in a graphical manner within a confined space like on a standard-sized poster. 

Long are the days where graphic design needs to be accompanied by texts or written words. With infographics, both of these elements can be seamlessly merged into one, creating a comprehensive visual content that is both informative and appealing. In the past the more archaic varieties of infographics are prevalent and more commonly seen in informational advertisements or public service announcements. Although these types of infographics serve their purpose, they still lack the creative panache in terms of design. People usually considered them as boring and monotonous.

More recently, designers are making infographics more appealing visually by tweaking the color schemes, positioning of the content and so forth. I believe the fascination towards charts or graphs will continue to grow with the advent of more well-designed infographics. I have posted a variety of the most creative and visually appealing infographics on the web at the moment below. Enjoy the infographics-visual-fest!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Facebook Issue: Your Professional & Personal Life Don't Mix

The rise of social media has brought about a change in the way how employees present themselves online. Any misappropriate conducts on the Internet, either through Facebook or Twitter can cause an employee to be in a lot of trouble if his or her employer finds out. Didn’t show up for work because of a hangover but you told your boss that you are sick? Or what about providing negative remarks aimed at your superior? These are some of the gaffes made by employees on social media sites that will bring about some significant negative consequences if employers do find out.

With more and more companies utilizing social media to make their presence known on the web, employees are more at risk of revealing too much online. Thinking of finding a new job without your bosses knowing? Better think twice about updating your Facebook status. The same goes with commenting derogatory remarks about your bosses. This is certainly something of concern if you have added your boss as your friend or your privacy status is inadequate from avoiding those prying eyes. So don’t blame your superiors for being too omnipresent on the web, you should take a step back and analyze on your presence on social media websites.

Let’s take the Ashley Payne’s case (read article here: Can Employers Fire Over Facebook Gaffes? - WSJ.com) for example. She was dismissed from her job after she was caught posting a picture of herself holding beer on Facebook. That is why it is important to limit your exposure online lest your career could be affected. Nowadays, companies are also resorting to perform a sort-of quick “background” check on individuals applying for positions in these companies through social media platforms. Facebook is just a click away after all. The picture of you with a beer pong? Or the one with you posing in an indecent manner? Better increase the privacy settings of those photos before your future employers find out which might reduce your chances for any career advancement.

What has an employee got to do to prevent any blunders from being overtly “active” on social media? Well, first thing you should not do is add your bosses as your friends. You need to separate your professional life and personal life. Do not mix both of them together. But what if a superior of yours wants to add you as his or her friend? Politely decline their request. You can say that you are not that active on those said social media sites or you only add family members and relative to stay in touch. Besides, you should also adjust your privacy settings. Ensure that the message or status you post is intended to a specific group of friends and not to your bosses. Google+ has that nifty option. The next time you post, edit the settings beforehand.

Above all else, be vigilant of what you say online as anything offensive can affect you in the end. Social media should be something fun and enjoyable and not the other way around.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Misconceptions in Designing by (Most) Novice Designers

For newbie designers, it is more often than not that they will have preconceived notions about designing for a huge project. The first thought to cross their mind is that having the opportunity of designing for a big design project will allow them to become famous or have their names associated with the design. That is not true, newbies! Here is the deal:

  • #1 You are a novice designer.
As seen by your superiors, your limited experience alone will limit your involvement in the designing process itself. Contribution-wise, you might only have a small percentage in the finalized work. Unless you are really lucky to score a huge project all on your own, you will only be involved in menial tasks required in the project.

  • #2 Your name will not be associated with the design.
If you are working for a design studio, chances are you will not be credited for the design. Your company will. So what if you designed the logo for Company XYZ which is a Fortune 500 company? You will not be credited for having creative involvement in the logo but your company will.

Basically, you will not gain any huge benefits from designing for huge projects except for the experience gained. Your résumé can be more colorful due to that as well. Usually huge projects will have more limitations as the company might want the logo to look a certain way or it needs to follow a color scheme or a font style. Besides, there will also be a clause stating the usual strict rules, regulations and terms to protect the intellectual property of the design and preventing you from telling anyone outside your company about it.

It is much better to design for smaller corporations or companies where you are the pioneer for that particular logo design. Better still, if the company attained fame, you will be forever known as the original creator for the company’s logo design. So, it is best to start small before heading for the big leagues.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to be a good creative designer? The rules, tips and faux pas. [PART 2]

This is Part 2 on “How to be a good creative designer? The rules, tips and faux pas.”

9. Originality is overrated.
Creative designers would usually take the current designing trends with a pinch of salt. Instead, what separates the good designer from the bad is their knack in improving the design trends instead of copying it 100% and that my friend, as you may know, is called plagiarism. Originality not only stems from improving something already in existence but by taking it to another level that surprises people. In the wise words of Aaron Russel, “every designers’ dirty little secret is that they copy other designers’ work. They see work they like, and they imitate it. Rather cheekily, they call this inspiration.” So, is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? You be the judge.

10. For Sale: You.
Know how to sell yourself not only to your clients but to everyone as well. You need to know how to package yourself as first impression counts. The way you dress and the method in which carry yourself is an indication on your work ethics and design aesthetics. For sure, if you cannot make a good and lasting impression on others, you cannot design to impress. No matter how creative you are, if you cannot market yourself or your work, you will find it difficult to attain the success you so much desired.

11. Criticism will not kill you.
Most designers will be offended if their work process or their designs are criticized even though the criticism may be for the better. It is often that clients or your superiors will offer their opinions on your designs which only serve to better the quality of your designs. Improvement is crucial for any good creative designers. Sometimes, hard-headed designers can be difficult to work with as they would be completely adamant on their own opinions only and this can cause untold conflict at the workplace.

12. Research your way through.
Great designers are the ones who can come out with unique designs that fit the clients’ requirements. It does not necessarily need to be too loud or too quiet. As long as the designer reads the project briefs beforehand, he or she will have a better understanding on the type of design that the customer wants. As they say, knowledge is power.

13. Recycle, reuse and reduce… errrr… No!
Do not in any way recycle your designs even those that have been rejected by your superiors or clients. You need to be able to create something unique without relying on past designs. Moreover, design templates or free fonts should not be the integral tools in your designing process. A good creative designer is judged by his or her abilities in designing something at the drop of a hat.

14. Colors, fonts and everything in between.
You need to know industry standard fonts such as Helvetica, Century and Arial among others. These are fonts regularly requested by clients even though they are shunned in the design community. Colours are important as well. You do not need to know the CMYK or Pantone colour codes but you have to know what certain descriptions of colours actually refer to such as navy blue, salmon pink or lime green. This is because clients will usually describe the colours they want instead of the actual colour codes.

15. Your portfolio is your own brand.
A portfolio is important for every designer. Always start compiling your best work for your portfolio at the beginning of your career as this will show your growth as a designer. A good creative designer will have a portfolio that is both expansive and interesting. But you should never use work that you have created while under the employ of any organizations as this will mean that you have breached the company’s confidentiality rules and regulations.

16. Specialty equals strength.
A good designer should always choose their career path in which they can excel and be good at. Unfortunately, most designers will actually go for a new job because they want to learn new things but they should instead continue working on what they are already capable of and improve. Specialization is important. I am not saying that a designer should set boundaries on the design projects that he or she should handle. You can still take up on other design projects that are different from your specialty but try sticking to what you are skilled at. By doing so, your superiors or clients will know that you are competent in a particular field and will trust your expertise in handling those said projects, thus giving you a higher priority over others.

17. With passion, nothing can stand in your way.
Hard work alone is insufficient to give you the fulfilment you need in your career. Passion is what separates the cream of the crop from the mediocre. Breathe life into your designs by doing something different and new that you have never done before, this could be a textual effect or colour schemes used. In short, do not be a line worker at a factory and produce something that is the same day in and day out. Challenge yourself to be different.

18. Bringing your design into the real world.
This is important when you deal with designs that need to be translated into the real world such as packaging designs or business cards or even brochures. A digital sample of the design is inadequate. To be a good designer, you need to be able show the client the finished product in various media – no matter whether if you need to print or fold or mould or cut and paste your design proposal. Remember that not all clients are fantastic visualizers. A dummy artwork will serve as an important tool for the client to know how the design will look like in actuality. Just showing the design on a one-dimensional surface is simply insufficient.

So I hope that these 18 tips will help in explaining what characteristics constitute a good creative designer. Until next time at TheLogoBuzz!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How to be a good creative designer? The rules, tips and faux pas. [PART 1]

Being a good creative designer is not as difficult as some (hot-headed, I-know-it-all designers) pictured it to be. All it takes is hard work, perseverance, creativity, patience and all of those other qualities people associate with being a phenomenal creative designer. Here are some suggestions that you may find useful (or otherwise) based on personal experiences. There are two parts to this post and Part 1 will focus on eight tips while another eight will be highlighted in Part 2.

1. Be aware of the latest trends. Ignorance is not bliss.
Not only on trends appearing in the design world but everything else as well such as the design aesthetics in technology, fashion and architecture, just to name a few. Being conscious of the latest trends will definitely help you in knowing what actually works and what your potential customers want. Design is ingrained in practically everything, so do not take this for granted.

2. 24 hours is not enough? That is why time management is important…
You must be able to juggle a number of design projects effectively without affecting the quality of your work. Being a good creative designer is not only about churning quality designs but also following deadlines. For instance, if you postpone a project, it will affect the entire design cycle process, hence a longer turnaround time for clients. It is well-known in the advertising industry that designers need to work round the clock all day (even on weekends!). This is merely an urban legend as if you can manage your time properly and efficiently, you will not have to burn the midnight oil in completing your designs.

3. An emotional designer is a banal designer.
In times of stress or whatever the reason that affects your mood, do not in any way let your emotions get the better of you. You need to control your emotions as it can affect your designs. Reign in those feelings and try to focus on being a professional designer at the work place. I know it is easier said than done but hey, a little hard work goes a long way in becoming a good creative designer.

4. Breaking conformity is beneficial… but not all the time.
A good creative designer always think outside the box when designing but he or she needs to follow some rules as well particularly at the work place. In terms of business relationships, it is best that a designer play by the rules instead of being a rebel. You do not want to be the designer that is hard to work with. Listen to your clients or superiors and respect their comments, opinions or decisions in order to achieve a healthy professional relationship.

5. Ideas, ideas and more ideas.
To be a good creative designer, one has to be able to provide ideas and suggestions that can improve a design or how a business is carried out. Regular inputs will not only put you in a better place, career-wise but you will also get to learn the effective ways to generate new ideas. It is a good way to let your superiors know that you are a team player who is willing to contribute for the betterment of the company and also improve the quality of your designs.

6. Knowing something and being able to perform something are two entirely different things.
If you aspire to be a good creative designer, you need to be equipped with the relevant technical skills used in designing. Knowledge on how to use Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and other industry standard should be at the tips of your fingertips. You need to be able to manipulate and utilize the software according to your vision and not simply use the software as it is without any creative input. You do not want to be called a Desktop Publishing Artist – an individual who only makes changes or enhancements to a design following what the client says verbatim without any form of creative contribution whatsoever.

Basic designing skills such as sketching a logo design with a pencil is a definite must as well. You need to be able to pen your thoughts on paper before embarking on digitalizing it on your computer. However, it should be noted that simply knowing the functions or shortcut keys of a particular designing software is not enough in being termed as a good creative designer.

7. Turning an idea into reality.
Conceptualization is vital in churning out a good design. You need to be able to conceptualize an idea or a suggestion posed by your client in order to become a good creative designer. Allow your ideas to flow freely and do not confine yourself to follow a rigid thought process. A million dollar design is not entirely dependent on the type of software you use but how you use them to realize your vision which is why conceptualization is essential.

8. Owning a Mac does not make one a creative designer.
Enough said.