Recently in Personal Category

Our waste is definitely a personal issue. There are various ways that people reduce their waste, and not everyone does the same. Some believe that recycling is enough, others collect tabs, others only buy eco-friendly, or help out in other ways. I think its being self-aware of what you're putting out and how much. There are give and takes in every situation, including waste.

Ecomii.com believes that, "living a simpler lifestyle isn't about doing without or cutting out the things you truly enjoy. It's about knowing the difference between what you "need" and what you "want." It's also about prioritizing - looking at your days and deciding what's really important to you so that you can make better decisions about how you spend your money. In this way, being careful about what you bring into the house has more benefits than just reducing the trash that you produce: It also can help to simplify your life and reduce your stress level."

My personal example is diet mountain dew, now if I could have a fountain at my house to reduce waste I would, however I don't believe I will be purchasing that anytime soon, but in the mean time I recycle my bottles, and believe it or not trying to reduce my dew intake. Now I'm aware of my mountain dew intake but I try to exchange that type of waste with my use of tupperware everyday or reuse bags. Thats my personal way of reducing. I think each person should have a small way that they are reducing their own waste.

How I Put My Portfolio Together With Less Than 100 Dollars

Lets talk about finance, more specifically let's talk about financing a portfolio. With a sweet vision and a slim budget I was able to piece together an appealing portfolio that reflected my identity, my style, and my work.

I started out with a vision of my box: an old hard cover suitcase. I ventured to a few antique stores but had no luck. I made my way to my favorite 2nd hand-clothing store, Everyday People and low and behold there was the suitcase of my dreams. It was bright red, big and hard covered, 15 bucks, not too bad.

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Later on I was talking to my boyfriend about what kind of boards I should use, being the highly skilled wood worker that he is, he suggested Masonite. He said we could cut them down to fit the suitcase just right. So we went to Menards and found a large Masonite board for only 8 bucks. And for a six-pack and a Jimmy John's sandwich ($10) Cooper, lovingly, cut out 12 beautiful boards with rounded corners and middle indent for easy accessibility.

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At that point I had spent 33 dollars total, I then had to remove the inside lining of the suitcase, it was quilted satin with ruffles (not quite the look I was going for). After which I ventured to wet paint in St.Paul. Wet Paint is conveniently stocked with the finest papers from all over the world and the finest people on that side of the river.

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I brought my suitcase in and a bearded friend and I went through book after book of Japanese, Chinese, Indian and European papers. We finally settled on speckled, retro, linoleum like paper from Japan, for the inside of the suitcase. And a sea foam green paper from who knows where, for the back of the boards. In total it was 18 dollars, leaving me with 49 more dollars to work with.

Next I called Jonathan, who had previously told me about an office max in Roseville that was far more helpful then, any Kinko's. Anyhow I arrived at Office Max only to have my work printed by the nicest young man in the surrounding area and total costs brought me to $22.81. Leaving me with $26.19, not too bad.

All the cutting and adhesive materials I had at home, which goes to show one should never throw anything away because it could be put to good use someday (I guess this can also depend on what that thing is). So before you go and spend 500 dollars on your portfolio, think about reusing, saving money, searching for deals and nice people, and use your resources and friends, responsibly. We are all creative people, and creativity doesn't only to apply to art and design.

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It was a gloomy August afternoon and a seven year old me could not wait to go outside. As it began to rain, my brother and I gave up and slouched into our extra large white couch from the 90s. The day seemed to drag as we both waited for our Dad to get home. As a side note, my Dad is awesome. Throughout the late 80s and early 90s he was the "sports guy" for KARE 11, and practically pioneered what that guy Perk does with Perk at Play.

My back yard was always cut and chalked into some sort of sports field. My backyard was the greatest wiffle ball field on the block for two reasons: 1) It always had the crazy alternating grass stripes that real baseball fields had and 2) My elderly neighbors did not put up much competition. Come fall, Carroll stadium became a scaled down Metrodome - complete with end zone markers and painted pipe goal posts. Eventually, my Dad returned from work that night and suggested we go out and play some football in the rain.

Mud Bowl '93 was not so much an ultimate sporting event as it was an excuse to enjoy the subpar weather. The three of us played football for a couple of hours, eventually covering each other (and our kid sized Vikings equipment) with mud. And as many of you know, getting completely covered in mud is not exactly something Mom's are enthusiastic about. Unfortunately though, this blog post is not about mud. This is about the importance of details, and how much they contribute to our experiences.

Would the experience of Mud Bowl be any different if there weren't yard lines mowed and chalked in my back yard? Probably not, no. But the fact that those insignificant details were in place made it that much more memorable. Both print and web design allow for an innumerable amount of details. One example of almost overwhelming detail is the product page for Transmit 4. The beautifully modeled truck at the top of the page is actually just the icon for the application. I emailed them about it and they said they even modeled the undercarriage of the truck, which no one will ever see. That, is detail.

We are in the business of details. Design is all about putting in the effort to work in details people didn't know they needed. We are the people in charge of chalking the metaphorical backyard wiffle ball field. As a result, my Dad's meticulous attention to detail has been something that has stuck with me and continues to be a huge influence on my own design work.

Do you have a special niche in Design?

Sculpting out a special niche in the Design world can be of much help. There is so much competition in the advertising world that even the best and most talented artists are struggling. If you can become aware of that special design area you are interested in you will become an expert at it. Clients LOVE experts. Some designers accidentally stumble upon this and others consciously decide what direction they want to take. Gwyneth Dwyer from Larsen had mentioned this, also; find a niche, focus on that, create networks, blogs, research, comment, and become VERY informed on your niche. Create a place in the design world with this niche on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all other social networks you are involved in to become known and known for you knowledge and interest.

Is one niche sufficient?

One niche definitely helps to become known and helps to focus on a certain aspect of design since it all can become a little too overwhelming at times. Although this is of help, other skills are needed. Being an expert at one thing and having knowledge and experience of others is necessary. It can definitely kick you in the butt if you only focus on one area and that's it. Design firms are relatively on the smaller side, so the more you know the more of an asset you are to their company. Technology is changing everyday and to become an exceptional designer this must be acquired.

Being personally aware of our own interests and talents can really aid in our networking skills and designing overall. The social media and striving to become recognized in the design world can be dreadfully devastating. Focusing on a minimum amount of specialties can only push us forward.


http://artbistro.monster.com/education/articles/10119-carving-out-a-niche-in-the-design-industry

Gwyneth Dwyer, Larsen.

I recently participated in AIGA's Portfolio One-On-One, which personally was a great experience, but socially was a completely different event of it's own. The idea of the event was to put yourself out there and show your work to professionals, but it was much larger than that. All the attendee's of the event were marketing themselves. It was the purest, most honest, and best form of marketing I have experienced so far in my design career. No one could hide behind their work, they had to stand right next to it and sell it. No one could recreate or front their "personality" via blogs, tweets, and facebook, because we were all there, in person, standing next to people we wanted to impress. And the only way to impress them was to actually talk to them and be yourself! The point that I'm trying to make here, is that I think personal marketing should come natural. When it comes to personal marketing, my motto is "Don't tweet about it. Be about it!" Actually, one of the things that really upset me about the portfolio one-on-one event was that they encouraged people to tweet about what they were doing at the event. That seemed ridiculous to me! Here we are standing with hundreds of other designers, actually standing with our so-called "community of designers" from minneapolis and the surrounding area, and they want us to communicate to some other community of who cares who?!? Why not just go and talk to someone in the room about how cool your studio tour was, instead of freakin' tweeting about it. Tweeting in this case, almost comes to a point where it's more anti-social than social. We all paid good money to be here at this event, so why not acknowledge the fact that you're at this thing instead of being somewhere off in cyberspace. Connect face to face, not tweet to tweet is all i'm saying.

This is what makes personal marketing way better than social marketing. Personal marketing is getting yourself out there and having real conversations about things that you care about, whereas social marketing is a totally surfaced form of communication and interaction. So minus that little twitter thing, the portfolio one-on-one event was great. I actually wish there were more opportunities to personally market yourself. I think personal marketing gets down to stronger connections that you have with people, and ultimately is the best form of marketing because of those strong connections.

I understand that twitter and even facebook provide great advantages when it comes to becoming part of a social circle and keeping up on what's going on. But while there are big trends in design being spread all across the internet, most likely there are big trends in design happening elsewhere that will soon be the next biggest, most awesome thing to ever happen to design that everyone will be spreading over the internet! I still haven't bought into the whole twitter thing, and I don't think you need twitter to personally market yourself. I'm not saying twitter is bad, but for me, I spend enough time sitting at my computer, that I don't care to waste more time at my computer tweeting about what I had for breakfast (lox bagel with herb neufchatel! yes it was awesome. no, i'm not jewish). Of course, people don't always tweet about how good their lox bagel with herb neufchatel spread is, i know there is lots of inspiration to be found in connection to design. But personally, I think you would have a stronger connection finding that stuff in real life, than you would on the internet. For example: think if you saw Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster on the web for the first time vs. seeing it at a rally or somewhere while walking around in the streets. I think you would have a much stronger connection and feel something more by seeing it first hand, rather than on someone's blog. The way that this relates to personal marketing is that by doing and seeing things that are more meaningful or more tangible will help your work. Personal marketing is doing things/ designing things that you care about and are interested in.

So when it comes to personal marketing, don't use twitter. I think twitter is fine for social marketing, but not personal. If you have another form of personal marketing, you will be better off. Personal marketing should be exactly what it sounds like, personal. Market yourself honestly and in a way that speaks to who you are. This will help you decide what type of place you want to work at as well. One common piece of advice that I've heard for getting an internship is: "be cool." Meaning, be someone that people want to hang out with. You're portfolio may kinda suck, but if you seem like you would be a good fit with the personnel at a firm, they're much more likely to give you an internship opportunity. And the way that you "be cool", is by personal marketing. Just let yourself stand out a bit and if you mesh with a design firm, then you'll have a good shot of getting an internship. Some firms will think you're cool and some will think you're too silly for them or not the right fit, but it's better for you to figure out what firms you'll be best with by being yourself.

Overall, I don't think you should have to try too hard with personal marketing. There is a place for personal marketing and a place for social marketing. To me, they should be treated separately, but don't have to be completely separate. A marketing teacher would probably lecture me for an hour about how marketing is marketing, and one type flows into the other. But I think personal and social marketing can be different. The more fun that you have with your personal marketing, the more likely it is that your social network will open up (so i guess the marketing teacher is kinda right).

Don't tweet about it. Be about it.

Resources: * the "being cool, be yourself" bit. Advice from every design person I know.

Within a decade we've seen design for floppy disks change to usb drives, desktop computers to notebooks, boom-boxes to cd players to mp3 players, vhs to dvd to blu-ray, print to electronic, check books to credit cards etc. The list can go on and on but there are very few things that stay in a constant demand and are prominent. For us designers, keeping up with demands may be overwhelming that familiarity and little change is a welcome sign. For instance health, clothes, housing, children's wants and needs, shelter etc. Maybe I am not thinking hard enough or am too concentrated on my topic but "children" and their wants and needs are something that I know will exist and be in demand for as long as humans continue having babies.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, children have a huge buying power known as the "pester power". Most parents would rather buy a "wanted" product than deal with a child's whining, even if they are low on money. And in my opinion, priority for what is wanted goes from a child to an adult. For example when I take my nephew or niece to the store if they want something, with enough whining and puppy eyes I give in and purchase what they want while I leave behind something I want. As human beings I believe we are conditioned to want to be the cause of a smile or laughter from a child. And because of this emotion we hope to attain, the demand of any children product will always be existent.

The greatest example I have encountered where parents have spent money on a child's "wants" instead of purchasing something they need was during my trip to Laos. Laos is a third world country where indoor plumbing is a very new thing. People walk barefoot for miles to just reach clean water. Adults and children wear outfits that are too small for them. It's a place where people raise chicken and cow but have NO meat intake because to sale the animal would be more profitable. People live in villages and depend on farming for a living, if the crops don't survive, they are left with nothing to eat. So imagine my surprise when I walked into a dirt-floor house built of bamboo and found toys and children books laying around. I questioned myself, "Why buy all these things when you can't even afford to buy rice to eat?" I knew these people lived a life full of struggle to survive day by day yet here they were buying stuff their children wanted. And although there weren't many toys, a child had a toy when a parent had no shoes. Parents generally just want to make their children happy.

The design world is constantly on a move. Inventing and reinventing new and old products to satisfy our wants. People's interests shift quickly and fast. One day we were all using CD players and the next we are using MP3 players. The demand for products can hit its' peak and fall off the chart just as quickly. BUT one thing stays a constant need. The wants of a child. So as the design world moves so quickly, it is nice to know that there is some form of stability available for us. We will always know that a young child loves the comfort of a stuffed toy, nothing can replace that, not even in the technical and electronic world we live in today. With the buying power children hold, designers are sure to know that unlike VHS, boom-boxes, cd players, toys for children will never have a drastic change and always be in demand.

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There's a saying in life that goes something like this: "Time is money." And if there's one thing that I've learned throughout my college career, that phrase might be it. Trying to find the time for school, work, friends, exercise - just to name a few - seems almost impossible to do. No matter what, there never seems to be enough time to do everything we want. So what does this have to do with cost effectiveness? Well, if time is money, then cost effectiveness is, in a certain sense, the same basic principle as time effectiveness. Which brings me to my point: the ability to effectively use and manage your time is something that is becoming increasingly important when trying to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

While reading up on time management, I came across a certain blog post that referenced Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This particular post referred to a concept within the book that separated time into four different quadrants

"Quadrant I: Urgent and important matters. Crises, pressing problems, deadline-driven projects. We all have these things; we've all got to do them.

Quadrant II: Non-urgent but important matters. Relationship building, planning, recognising new opportunities, improvements to your workplace, exercise, recreation. Things we know we should do but don't because they're not urgent.

Quadrant III: Urgent but not important things like phone calls, email, interruptions, popular matters, some meetings. This is visible stuff on-hand at the moment that isn't really important. It's easy to get caught up in this quadrant!

Quadrant IV: The worst of the lot - non-urgent and non-important matters. This includes trivia, spam, time wasters, distractions, non-productive activities."

If there was one "time quadrant" that you could chose to spend the most time with, what would it be? Unless you're insane, I would assume that you would chose quadrant II. Without spending time on those activities, I would imagine that life would be rather shallow. So this is where time effectiveness and management come into play. The ability to juggle the time you have available is tremendously important in making room for the activities you really enjoy, while at the same time allowing for the completion of the urgent tasks at hand. And the better you are at managing your time, the easier it is to strike a balance between these four "quadrants" of time, which in the end, hopefully add up to a healthier and happier life.

Time Management for Graphic Designers

Freelancing and Time Management

Quality of personal use in web design, is very important. Our generation has taken a big leap forward in technology and most of our parents and grandparents struggle with the changes of the web. As designers, we all want our users to go through our work without asking many questions on how to use it. This is why we test our work before putting it out right away.

Some grandparents use Facebook and most of my family uses it. Facebook has made many changes since I have been on it and some of them are unnecessary.

Two weeks ago in my Types & Travels class, our professor brought up websites and asked what important qualities a site must have. Usability was the first response. He even said he had issues with the news feed Facebook added and that the rearrangement of the page layout was frustrating (1). Facebook is a great social tool, but some of its changes are pointless and users are making that known.

We, the designers, seem to know the main issues of web usability, but for those who do not know much about web design, here are the top 5 issues:

1. Content: "When you open your page in a browser, what do you see? If you've created a usable Web site, you should see 80-90% what your customer is looking for. However, with most Web sites (yes, this site is no exception), usually what your customer is looking for only constitutes between 50-60% or less of the main portion of the page. The rest is ads, confusing navigation, and extraneous graphics."

2. Page Layout: "Closely related to content is how that content is displayed on the page. While studies have shown that people are willing to scroll to read through Web pages, if they don't find relevant content quickly, they will be more likely to leave. Keep your pages clean and simple. Try removing elements, and see if your page needs them, if the page functions without them - take them out."

3. Colors: "Colors can affect the usability of your Web site. Web browsers have standard colors that are used for links (blue for links, violet for visited links, and red for active links). When you use other colors, you run the risk of confusing your customers. Also, colors of other elements of your page can affect your readers. For example, color blind customers might not recognize color coded images."

4. HTML: "The version-specific elements of HTML will automatically exclude some of your visitors. The only way to be absolutely usable is to limit yourself to HTML 1.0. According to Jakob Nielsen, "it will be a year before the majority of users will even be able to access your fancy use of new technology." The best solution is to avoid beta-level technology until it has been in use for at least one year."

5. Download Speed: "Access to the Internet may be getting faster, but that doesn't mean that Web pages should get bigger. In fact, Web usability studies continue to show that the speed a page downloads is very important. After 10 seconds, your customer has lost interest in your page, no matter how interested they were in the topic. You can't control all aspects of the download - so it's important to do what you can" (2)

The importance of how a website functions and is presented is huge and if you want your customers to return to your site, follow these simple steps. If they can't use your site, they will not stay.

Bad websites will help you avoid creating your own bad site. Here's a link to get you started: http://www.manolith.com/2009/08/25/worst-website-designs/

(1) Bill Moran - Types & Travels Discussion - 4/16/2010

(2) Top 5 Most Important Web Usability Issues
http://webdesign.about.com/od/usability/tp/aatpwebusable.htm

(3) 20 of the Worst Designed Websites In the World
http://www.manolith.com/2009/08/25/worst-website-designs/

While reading an article on "Designing for the Elderly", I just found a snippet that sums up a lot of what I've said in my other blogs. Here it is,

"In a time that people are getting older and older, many over 65 have the physical and mental capacity of people that are twenty years younger, engage in demanding professional endeavours and personal activities, and would hate to be called 'elderly'. They might have a different time horizon than younger people but they are not less able.

An additional issue is that many of the problems that some elderly face are not unique to them, but also affect e.g. the disabled, parents with strollers, young children, people who have temporary health problems, caregivers, etcetera.

Rather than narrowly focusing on the elderly, a broader 'designing for differences' approach can help make sure that everyone can use certain products and access certain services. This also has a social advantage: people don't feel excluded. We therefore advocate a social and enabling approach of 'designing for social inclusion'."

Designing for the elderly isn't just about designing for the elderly! It's about designing for usability for all. It sort of defeats the purpose it it becomes designing for just one group. We need universally usable design that everyone can access, use, and enjoy.

Also, design-for-the-third-age should be design for everyone because the elderly don't want to feel excluded or singled-out! No one likes to feel babied, coddled or treated like they're incapable. And that's what a lot of design-for-the-elderly does. Aging is a personal, life-changing, often unpleasant thing. People identify themselves with the products they use, what they wear, and what they do. And telling older people they have to buy bulky phones with big buttons, wear ugly, orthopedic shoes, and generally use "old people things" is sort of like telling them who they're supposed to be. And nobody, especially the baby-boomers, likes being told who they're supposed to be.

People want to express who they are, not how old they are.

So, here's the important stuff.
1) Design-for-the-Third-Age will be REALLY important, REALLY soon.
2) Design-for-the-Third-Age is a misnomer. So don't think of it that way. It's more like Usuable-Design-for-All.
3) Usuable-Design-for-All will be REALLY important, REALLY soon.


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For my last post, I would like to talk about biodegradability from a personal standpoint. Our deteriorating environment, harmful non-biodegradable products in every day items, and proper waste disposal are issues we must each individually face. How we go about dealing with these issues is a personal choice.

I personally do care about our environment but don't always know what I can be doing to help out. I can handle simple tasks such as not polluting, recycling, and using less water/electricity. I still feel as though I am harming the environment. I did some research and found a very helpful book. Its called "GreenGreenerGreenest" it talks about many every day objects and activities and the effect they have on the environment. They then provide three different sets of solutions to the problem. There is a green section that is very easy and cheap to do but still better for the environment. There is a greener section that suggests things that are even better but might require more work or sometimes more money. Then they provide a greenest solution that is the best way to handle the problem.

There is another site called "use-less-stuff.com" that can has some helpful tools and interesting links. If you can get by their logo without vomiting, it provides some good stuff. It actually led me to this article on "reusable bags" that actually reveals that walmart's new blue bags that I last blogged about, actually only use one third recycled plastics and last half as long as their original, black, recycled bags. So the moral of reusable bags is to just reuse whatever bag appeals to you. Just that fact is helping the environment, not the fact that you are buying a wal-mart reusable bag.

There are a lot of resources out there to help you and me become more environmentally friendly, its just a matter of putting in some effort. I know I am leaving this class much more aware than I came in. Now I only hope that companies "cough, cough, apple" start making their computers to last longer than three years so I don't harm the environment as much and don't spend my life broke.

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