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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How to be a Design Superstar!

That’s right everyone just wants to be a Design Superstar? Oh really? No the fact of the matter is, when all else is equal, Superstars get hired, and boring designers don’t. The main difference between the two? The Superstar has the ability to sell his/her brand of design and if you want to be a Superstar, correction, a hired designer, you should seriously consider doing the same.

A designer’s guide to self-branding

Of all the professions out there, I think there is no other one that can benefit from “self-branding” as much as a design professional. That is because it is a profession that is almost solely driven by talent. The equation is very simple, in design it’s not about how many certifications or affiliations you have, but what gets you ahead is the quality of your portfolio as well as your plain raw talent.

Before we go on, you might like to take a look at the basics of “self-branding” or what Tom Peters calls “Brand you“. Smart guy that Tom, he has been talking about it since 1997. Briefly, in a world where the consumer product market is so saturated and most products are essentially the same, the only proven way to get ahead is by branding. Not only just about branding of products but a holistic 360 degree effort including everyone else in the process including the design agencies used to create such products.

Drawing similar branding parallels from the consumer product industry, we are our now well past the new millennium and into a knowledge economy driven by talent. Competition within the talents for the top job is very high, and logically the only way ahead is by the talent branding themselves in some way. You see the crux of the matter is, every single positive influence adds up to putting you ahead and a personal brand is one big factor.

1) Do a SWOT analysis on yourself.

Remember the design methods class you fell asleep in? Well its a pity, especially since no one told you that a SWOT analysis could and should be done on yourself. Just like a company and its ability to generate revenue, I encourage designers to see themselves as a “business entity” that can generate income as well.

Therefore you need to identify your own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (to apply your strengths) and Threats (to your weakness) as a designer. So that when faced with the question of what are your strengths, you should never have a problem. Finally it is always good to have a short, medium and long term plan for yourself and career. It shows prospective employers what you want to do and that you have a vision for your future.

After you have listed all these points, you now have a list of keywords that can be the bases of creating your own personal brand and brand values.

2) Get a hair cut.

No seriously. I believe you are what you design. Many people get insulted when they are told they need to dress like a “designers” to be taken seriously. They figure that its a rude comment and encroaches in their personal style and space. That is further from the truth. Just like a consumer has only 3 seconds to size up a shelf of products, your prospective employer will size you up in that same amount of time.

In any case its pragmatic. Simply, that first impression is the most important. You will be surprise of the amount of control you have if you understood the stereotypes people associate with designers, and by looking like one you can use that to your advantage. Just don’t turn up for an interview in a beanie.

So carefully use your Strengths you have identified in Point 1 to style your own look. Your hair cut, sense of dressing, your watch (for guys), shoes (guys and gals) are all clues to a picture that you want to paint of yourself. It’s all part of your personal brand and something that should be part of your physical presence when you walk into a room. Remember every single positive point counts.

3) Buy your name as a dot com

I cannot begin to tell you how important this is. Not only for identity protection, but what you want is to turn up at the top of a Google search if a prospective employer or employment agency is doing research on you. As the Internet gets more and more integrated in today’s business world, the chances of you getting Googled is very high. I know I do it all the time.

4) Re-Brand your Portfolio

Now that you have identified your personal brand “keywords” and objectives in your design career, its time to “re-brand” your work. Just like a company’s branding initiative, you need to ensure that the documents you leave behind reflect your personal brand as well. Your portfolio, name card, resume, and perhaps that website design needs to reflect this through and through. This is especially important if you are putting your portfolio online.

On a slightly different but related note, do you then create a personal logo or monogram that reflects this personal brand? Personally, my feeling is don’t do it unless you spend some serious time working on it and that it looks good according to everyone who sees it. Most of the time I find personal logos or monograms very ugly and not well considered. A clear name card with just your name in a suitable font is good enough. But at the end of the day if you decide to create a personal logo, do ensure it reflects your personal brand values.

5) Start a blog

Now that you have a website that show cases your design work why not start a blog? The reaction on this, at this point in time, is mixed. There have been instances that people were fired when employers did not like what was written on their employees blogs. But these cases are rare, and if you keep your blog away from office politics you should be fine.

A great reason for starting a blog is to have your “voice” behind your work. Many times you can’t tell a designer’s personality by just looking at the work. But if you are able to share your thoughts, you will be better positioned as many employers often feel that they just don’t have enough time to determine an employee’s personality during those few interview sessions. Another great reason for a blog, is that it allows you to connect with other designers through the posting of your thoughts and by responding to comments left on your blog.

6) Join design networks

Get out there and market yourself! There are tons of great portfolio networking sites like Behance and Design Related. Just sign up, post your work, make friends, ask and respond to comments. Don’t forget that discussion forums on design are a good way to network with other senior designers as well.

Finally, don’t underestimate traditional non-design social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook as a means to share your work and network with other design professionals.

7) Win design awards

While its not the end of the world if you don’t win any, I always say you have nothing to lose by entering, and winning one gives you eternal fame an glory. Well not entirely eternal, but it is a great marketing tool for yourself and a confidence booster to be able to know that your work has been recognized by your peers.

8) Don’t oversell

At the end of the day, you need to be careful of all your different tools that you can use to sell yourself. The important thing to do is not use the wrong tool for the job and worst still end up by looking like you are overselling yourself. For example, don’t bombard people on your social network with every single job you did in your 15 year history as a designer; leave that for your resume. Don’t stick all your beautiful high resolution images on your portfolio website making it hard to navigate, just leave that to your face to face meeting instead.

9) Do good work!

Always, I say ALWAYS do good design work. Even if you hate your job or your boss or the project, make sure that it is the most beautiful design you can make it be. A good reputation is hard to build, and it is just too easy to lose.

10) A different take?

I like to close this post by getting you to check out a few tips at Fast Company’s 2004 update of Tom’s Brand-you Article as a different, more corporate, but relevant take on this issue of Self-branding.


As you can probably guess becoming a Design Superstar is not easy and requires a lot of hard work. It does not happen overnight nor is it something you become. What it is, is that it requires is time before it can happen. Simply because with time, you will do good work, acquire more knowledge, build an interesting portfolio, rinse and repeat, again and again. Best of luck in your design career!


Re:Think, Re:Design, Re:Cycle your Business Cards

27 Creative Business Cards You Should’ve Seen


Cool business card designs


18 Smokin’ Hot Business Card Designs


Business Cards - a set on Flickr:

Example for Paper Supplier :

Make Your Own!:

Example for Metal & Plastic Business Cards:

Paper Crafts, 3D:

Paper History - Gallery of Papermaking:

Don't go Mad:

- Kiril Balkanov

Best 10 Firefox Addons for Designers

These 10 essential Firefox addons will make your life as a graphic and web designer much easier! The Firefox addons are extremely easy to install and you will be notified when new versions of the addons are available. I have hand picked all of these add ons and without further ado here are the 12 best Firefox addons for graphic designers!

ColorZilla 1.0

ColorZilla is an advanced eyedropper, color picker and measuring tool.

Download ColorZilla

Window Resizer

The Window Resizer addon allows you to resize your browser to common resolution sizes allowing you to view website designs in a variety of popular browsing dimensions.

Download Window Resizer

Web Developer

The Firefox Web Developer addons is one of the most popular addons for web designers. It has a variety off essential tools that allow you to code quality websites and troubleshoot problems easily.

Download Web Developer

Palette Grabber

Palette Grabber is a nifty little addon that creates a color palette for Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, Flash, Fireworks, or OS X based on the current page you are viewing in your browser.

Download Grabber


GridFox is a great Firefox extension that allows you to overlay a customizable grid on any website allowing you to make sure the grid you designer in your layout translate correctly to the web.

Download GridFox


FireShot is a cool extension that allows you to take screenshots of your web pages and also has a set of built in annotation tools that allow you to add graphics and notes.

Download FireShot


FoxyTunes is a kick butt addon for anyone who listens to music while they design. It allows you to control almost any media player from your browser. You can also find lyrics, covers and so on.

Download FoxyTunes


MeasureIt allows you to overlay a ruler on a browser page so you can verify width, height and alignment of page elements.

Download MeasureIt

IE Tab

IE Tab is a useful tool for designers who need to check to see if their website looks good in Internet Explorer. A simple click will switch you back to Firefox.

Download IE Tab


FireFTP is a free, secure, browser based FTP client that allows you to easily access your server via Firefox instead of having to launch a separate program.

Download FireFTP

Via: youthedesigner

Creating Road Maps in Adobe Illustrator

Creating Road Maps in Adobe Illustrator

Sooner or later every designer comes across the exciting job of producing a map, whether it’s on a leaflet or website the overall aim is to visually document a particular area of land to allow for people to find their way to a place of business or event.
An important factor is the amount of detail required for the map, for most situations the map should be basic enough to provide a recognisable road structure without too much intricate detailing. As you will have seen on existing maps, the use of graphics and colours are important to distinguish between different types of road, this tutorial will cover the process of using Illustrator brushes to create a map of a small road network.

The finished map graphic needs to be crisp and clear which is why the map will be created in vector format in Illustrator. Imagine if the map needs to be enlarged on the leaflet as a client requirement, in Photoshop you would be left with fuzzy pixelated edges. Plus, the complete map will be editable allowing the road shapes to be tweaked without having to delete and redraw the complete line.


Start by drawing a straight line (hold Shift) on your new documents, add a quite thick blue stroke. This will be the base for our UK Motorway, being the largest type of road this line needs to be the thickest.


Copy and paste the line back into place (CTRL / CMD + F), and change the weight to a thinner stroke and colour in white. This will give a blue and white striped appearance to simulate the dual carriageways.


Select both of your strokes and click the ‘New Brush’ icon in the brushes window.


In the option box select the ‘New Art Brush’ radio button.


In the next dialog box you have the option of naming your new brush, in this case it’s a ‘Motorway’. Also check the direction is running along the length of the brush and not across it.


You will now notice your new brush appears in your Brushes Palette. (I have deleted the default brushes here to allow for easier access)


Go ahead and repeat the previous steps to create a selection of brushes to represent the different road types. Experiment with different stroke weights and arrangements to produce some interesting effects. Remember to produce these brushes according to the hierarchy of the roads they represent, for example a minor road needs to be thinner and less prominent than a major road.
TIP: Extend the inner stroke outwards slightly on roads that will need to interconnect, this will allow them to merge together without the outline running across the joint.


As well as the road graphics, use circles to produce matching junction icons. Using similar fill and stroke colours will allow them to blend with the roads.


Now we’re ready to draw the actual map, create a container box for reference and press CTRL / CMD + 2 to lock it. Don’t worry about any roads extending beyond this container, we’ll clip these later.
Use the Pen tool to draw your first major road, refer to an existing map to ensure the shape and scale is correct. This is where all you USA residents have it easy! The UK is full of curly whirly roads which are great for driving on, but a pain to draw up!!


Add the appropriate brush to the new path, transforming it into a Motorway.


Add in a couple of junctions where necessary and use the text tool to provide additional information.


To add an interconnecting road draw the path as required, then use CTRL / CMD + [ to send the new path to the back of the stack allowing for the junction circles to remain on top.


Continue drawing paths and selecting the appropriate brush to produce a network of roads.


Go in and add in the junctions and roundabouts by copying and pasting the junction circles created earlier.


Work down the hierarchy onto the minor roads, which will be even more intricate. Draw each path and add the Minor Road brush. This is where the tip mentioned above comes in handy, allowing the roads to interconnect without the outline running across the joints.


To add some names to your roads, use the Pen Tool to draw a path in a similar contour to a particular road.


Then, select the Type tool and hover over this line until you see the Type of Path icon appear. Type out your road name and you will notice the text flow follows the line, you can use the little handles to edit the position of the text, or use the Direct Selection Tool to fine tune the shape of the path.


Finally, trim off the excess roads from beyond the container. Copy and Paste the container shape (CTRL / CMD + Alt + 2 to unlock the object), then select all (CTRL / CMD + A). Go to object > Clipping Mask > Create and notice how the lines are trimmed back to the outline of the box.

Illustrator Road Map


Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - New online tool for brand managers opens up the ad industry by bringing creative talent and buyers together, bypassing obstacles to creative thinking and reaching across the world with, ‘out of the box’ thinking

A new online marketplace for the creative services industry launched today. BootB, a product that allows anyone anywhere to respond to the creative briefs of major companies and be paid professional fees for their ideas.
It is a shock to the agency world, as Pier Ludovico Bancale CEO of BootB explains, “For years I was on the client side, with L’Oreal, Johnson and Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive, and I was so frustrated with the lack of creativity which the typical agencies show. I have been speaking with brand owners all over the world, and I’m not alone in my frustrations. BootB would break that pattern with its sheer creativity. Clearly, it is an idea whose time has come.”
Martin Lindstrom, internationally renowned branding expert and adviser to BootB, believes brand owners will benefit from opening up channels to wider creative resources. He believes the concept of ‘unlimited creativity’ ™ which comes from engaging the wider world and not just the experts within typical agencies, will unearth best possible creative executions and deliver maximum impact for marketing budgets.
By bringing creative talent and buyers together, bypassing obstacles to creative thinking and reaching across the world with, ‘out of the box’ thinking,it will provide new talent an audible voice, enabling clients and sellers to meet in unexplored territory.
According to Lindstrom, it is the beginning of the end of established advertising agency models since it introduces brands to powerful new dimensions.
If you have ever seen an ad and thought “I could do that,” (or “I could do better than that,” this product will make it possible.
Anyone with any sort of creative impulse is invited to respond to the creative briefs placed on BootB by major advertisers. Children and housewives in Marrakesh are as eligible as Ad execs on Madison Avenue. And the Ad agencies themselves are welcome too – if they’re not afraid of the competition from the man in the street...
The website, is the brainchild of Pier Ludovico Bancale: “The world is full of creative people – especially children - but most of them have no outlet for their ideas. BootB gives individuals access to a lucrative market where they can win business from top brands. The creative world, thanks to BootB, is now open for business. Anyone, from inside the industry or from outside, can get involved. The BootB message to would-be creatives is Make Your Talent Fly!

How does it work?
The briefs will be published on the site in 12 languages, thus reaching 95% of the global population and giving brand builders access to creative solutions from people across the world.
BootB is already working with some of the world’s biggest brands, people who realize that not all the best ideas come from the great marketing conglomerates in New York or London.

BootB returns 90% of the budget to those who have the best ideas so people are properly rewarded for their efforts
For every brief published, there is a budget tied to it. This is provided via an ESCROW account so the client doesn’t lose any interest on that amount. And with the budget already covered there is no chance that unethical clients will take the ideas and not pay for them.
The website is SSL encrypted to ensure the integrity of the ideas. And the registration process sets up a legally binding contract between the creators and BootB stating that all ideas remain the creator’s property until a client buys the idea.

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