Overcoming [Design] Challenges

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, DOES MAKES YOU STRONGER.
 
As in life, being a creative person or graphic designer does have it’s fair share of challenges.
 
In life, the challenges are vast and many—and every day we mere humans have to face them, large and small. Some push us beyond our limits, and when the small ones pile up, they become a mountain.
 
In the design industry, our challenges can be equally as daunting, and on a daily basis as well. We come across difficult clients and/or creative partners, design projects that test our skills and knowledge, and even financial or legal woes that turn our hair gray.
 
So what do you do when you face a challenge or difficult task? How do you view it, or react to it? Then how do you deal with it?
 
QUOTE33_scares-580
 
One of the common challenges as a solo creative I encounter is juggling multiple projects that are equally demanding of my time. While that might not sound daunting to you, it can be insane for me—there’s just not enough of dezinegirl to go around. And then there are unique instances where I hit a creative stumbling block, or receive a project that is way over my head in subject matter, but still within my wheelhouse for the task.
 
Do I panic, freeze up or stress out? Yes. All the above. That’s my immediate response. I’m a reactive and emotional person – it’s in my DNA.
 
However, wisdom kicks in and shuts out all those fears, and shuts down any potential anxiety attacks. Over the years, I’ve learned to change the way I think about challenges or difficult situations. I don’t like to give up, I put up a good fight, and I figure out how to work through it no matter how big that mountain may seem, or how hard the climb is. 
 
First, I remind myself to pause… to breathe in peace, and exhale out anxiety. Then I take each moment at a time—I also like to make lists, lots of lists! I digest and tackle each challenge into bits and pieces. When you don’t look at the big picture, it’s not such a big mountain after all, but rather several small bunny hills. And guess what, sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you tackle what you thought was a weakness. 
 
Other times I just have to step away from the desk, I’ll go take a walk or do some yoga. When I come back, it’s with an open and calm mind. 
 
For example, I have a technology client [think IoT, virtual architecture systems, big data and nanowires] that I create many infographics for. When each creative brief comes through, my brain literally hurts and shuts down after reading through it. Fear sets in and I think there is no way I can create graphics for what is given that is so beyond what my little noggin can handle. 
 
However, I manage to pull it off, and beautifully I might add [so says the client, too]. I amaze myself! It’s because I took the time to break the project down into bite-sized pieces, research the heck out of it so I fully understand what I am working with, sketch and re-sketch the design until I’m ready to take it digitally. And then the infographic just transforms as I go along.
 
There’s something to be said about pausing, shifting your stinking thinking, and living in each moment with a clear and calm mind. It can take you far. We grow when we face challenges head on—not when things are easy. Challenges help discover who you are.
 

The Creative Process

A GUIDE TO WORKING WITH A GRAPHIC DESIGNER

You’re ready to launch your new business, product or service, but need to bring in a professional graphic designer to help establish the brand and design all the elements. 1) Where do you begin? 2) What’s it like to work with a graphic designer? 3) How do they go about their process of designing the end result?

Answer to question  1: Begin with finding an experienced, established designer that takes their creative business seriously. You can start here, of course, with dezinegirl creative studio. I’ve been creating lifestyle brand designs for over 20 years. But if my style doesn’t float your boat, you can go to trusted sites like AIGA or Behance and browse through portfolios.

Answers to questions 2 and 3: I’ve developed this infographic just for this purpose. Most of my potential clients ask me how I work, what’s the process, how long does it take, etc. This infographic pretty much sums up my answers in a visual, brief guide. This should help eliminate the guessing game when you are ready to launch!

Feel free to share it, pin it, download it, or even post it on your website.  

More questions? Send me an email [you’ll find the address on my website] and I’d be more than happy to answer.

how to work with a graphic designer

Quotes & Tips

 
 BUSINESS TIPS AND INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES
 
About 16 weeks ago, taking direction from my creative business coach {RaShelle Roberts} I started designing and producing weekly business tips and inspirational quotes to send out to the masses via social media. She said it was a good way to ‘market’ myself online and shine.
 
We both know it’s not the most aggressive marketing technique to get work. But she knows how much I dislike {I would use the word ‘hate’ but it’s such a strong word} the sales & marketing aspect for my freelance business. I’m a designer at heart, introverted a bit when it comes to networking and talking to strangers, and would be happy if I could just design all day long.
 
The reason for the biz tips and quotes is to show the world that I am an expert in my field by providing inspiration and insight for others. That I care enough to send the very best out in the wide world of web.
 
And then some client would hire me because I know and care so much.
 
In a perfect world.
 
It hasn’t happened.
 
But what has happened is that I am actually inspiring myself! I’ve done a lot of research to gather up the biz tips and quotes. I pull out the ones that I think people will need to see and design accordingly. And I have received some nice responses, or ‘likes’. So, I am reaching people and making a difference. To me, that is success. Getting a client on top of that would be icing on the red velvet cake!
 
However, in the end, they are actually helping ME. I laugh. I must be subconsciously picking the tips and quotes that I myself need to read, to remind myself of what RaShelle has taught me, or what I have read and learned in the past few years.
 
Life as a freelancer is challenging, especially when you have no one else to depend on for extra income when the work ebbs out to sea. You doubt yourself or the direction you are heading. You are always on the hunt for work. Always. You think about your business 24/7. There is always something to do for it. Always. And you fail, or fall down A LOT.
 
This Chinese proverb is one of my favorites that I try to remember when I do fall down: Fall down 7 times, get back up 8.
Each quote or tip I design picks me up one more time.
 
Here are a few of them.
BIZTIP5_goals

Write Out Your Business Goals

BIZTIP6_stepbystep

Take Baby Steps

Check Yourself

Check Yourself

See the Opportunities in Life

See the Opportunities in Life

 
You can see all of them, to-date, on my Behance portfolio >
 
Or follow me on

The Freelance Designer Life

Most freelance or solo graphic designers that I know purposely set out to become one. I did not.
 
They didn’t want to work for “the man”, they wanted to make more money, or they just wanted a more flexible work schedule due to having children. Some just didn’t like working with others. It’s probably a good idea for those folks to work solo. 🙂
 
Moving from out of state into a small design market like San Diego, and not knowing a soul, freelance was the only way for me to get work. Six months later I found a steady “freelance” gig for 4 years – not my ideal kind of work, but I struggled to find my niche here and it was a reliable income.
 
In San Diego, I am too senior level for most designer positions, and have earned higher salaries in past jobs that employers here can not match; nor I do I have enough staff management experience to become a creative director or similar…well, I am really not interested in managing other designers anyway, but the pay is higher…I just never fit in…
 
…until the company I was working for got bought out and the office closed down. I was one of the lucky ones to be kept on for freelance work. And I was able to work from home. This gave me the sweet taste of the freelance designer life.
 
shutterstock_129057911-designer
 
13 years later, I’m still at it. And I love it!
 
Many emerging students I have met in the recent past have visions of rainbows, unicorns and sugar plum fairies in their head about what freelancing is like. They only see freedom in their schedule, how much more money they could make than a full time job would pay, and without having to work as much. I have to let them down slowly and then give them a reality slap in the face…
 
Yes, there is freedom in having a flexible schedule. However, most clients want you available during their working hours, which is between 8am – 6pm. Some even want you available on weekends when necessary. They do understand you are not chained to your computer and that you will have times of unavailability—so there is that.
 
The rude awakening is that somehow your work days get longer than you thought they would!
 
A typical day, on average, is about only 4-6 hours of billable work. More if you have mastered the ebb and flow of projects/clients {I still have not – it’s hard to control the world}. There’s the unknown future of income to worry about if you don’t have retainers or steady client work. The rest of your day is all non-billable.
 
Because you are a solo designer, you are also a small business owner. You have to wear all the hats if you want to be successful: accounts receivable and payable, IT person, marketing, sales, social media, replying to emails, and everything in between.
 
It’s all up to you to keep up with technology, learn new software and programs, the latest marketing trends, and stay on top of your industry. We also must remain sociable and schedule 1-3 nights a month for networking events, seminars, workshops, or happy-hours with peers. And…I haven’t even talked about getting in workouts, meal times, family time, and sleep! Oh, and then there is the non-paid vacation and sick time to boot.
 
When I tell them all this, their eyes glaze over and their smile goes upside down.
 
However, the pros outweigh the cons. It’s all what matters to you most, what you’re willing to put up with and what makes you the happiest.
 
For me, what makes me happy is being able to work directly with my clients [one on one], design in my style [that fits their needs], work in my ideal environment [at home in my pjs, on my souped-up mac, with my favorite tunes playing] and basically have the flexibility to go to yoga or pilates class at 11am, sleep in when I can, and not have to drive in traffic every day.
 
I’ve learned to love the business side of being a solo creative person. It took many years of workshops, books, tutorials and being involved with AIGA and other nonprofit organizations to get there.
 
Now, if I can just control the world to keep a steady stream of projects and stay in the flow! 🙂
 
There are many articles written about the freelance life that can give more insight or other perspective, that are all true > from Design Professionalism, The Graphic Quarter and Rasmussen Edu.

The Infographic Process

THE STORY BEHIND THE INFOGRAPHIC PROCESS

I designed my first infographic in the beginning of their peak in March of 2013 and discovered a passion and talent I didn’t even know I had until given the opportunity to create one…and it was the about beer! I was an early fan of infographics and started a pinterest board for them in 2011 to capture all my favorites. Little did I know…

Two years and 30 infographics later, I’ve become known as the infographic queen around town, and even nationally. I even caught the attention of the creative director at Visual.ly and they hired me as one of their designers in their marketplace later in 2013.  I think my early training years of information architecture—while designing Royal Caribbean’s 95-page International Fleet Catalog at my agency job—has a lot to do with why I excel at them…and they do come easily to me {not everything does!}

My brain is wired to take content and organize it so it’s easy to read and quickly find the information you are looking for. I also have a natural skill to interpret data, statistics, and bulleted information, and translate them into beautiful graphics. Yes, I am tooting my own horn here! 🙂 But I’m also laying the foundation for this infographic I recently designed for clients and potential infographic clients.

While I may have a couple of years of experience with infographics, most companies are just now getting to know about them, and realizing the value of their marketing power. But most have no idea of how to even begin, or what it’s like to work with an infographic design. So, this Infographic Process infographic was designed for just that need. There are slews of infographic designers out there, but you need to make sure you work with a professional one in order to get your desired results.

The key to a successful infographic is 1) Hire a professional, experienced infographic journalist to write the outline 2) Hire a professional, experienced infographic designer to design/layout the content 3) Promote and share it!

TO SEE SAMPLES OF MY INFOGRAPHICS, VISIT MY VISUAL.LY OR BEHANCE PROFILES.

The Infographic Process by dezinegirl creative studio

The Infographic Process by dezinegirl creative studio

 

 

How to Work from Home with a Cat {Infographic}

So, last June I made the unexpected leap to adopting a kitten. Since I work from my home studio, it can get a bit lonesome with just myself to talk to, apart from social media sites or the occasional call from a client. I have grown up with cats as a teenager, during college and post-college, so they are my preferred pet. The desire to have a kitty started to consume me—searching adoption centers for just the right kitty—and waiting for the funds. One afternoon I got the nudge to go to Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe to see some cute kitties in person that I saw on their website.

After testing out a couple of kittens and older cats, I heard the cutest little meow in the corner of the room. I really wanted a white or creamy colored cat since I have light colored furniture, but there she was – a Tortie Calico [black, white and tan fur]  as cute as can be. She was the only one that was chill in my lap and let me pet her. I was warned that she needed a lot of attention and didn’t like other animals. I thought, well, I have lots of love to give and owned no other animals…it was just me and her. This kitty pulled at my heartstrings, and 2 hours later, she was home with me.

JOSIE THE PUSSYCAT

JOSIE THE PUSSYCAT – FIRST DAY

Fast forward 8 months later, Josie the Pussycat has changed my life. She will be 1 years old in 2 weeks. I have to say, this was the most challenging kitten I have ever had. While she was so gosh darn cute and fun, she was fiesty, bold, clingy, needy and oh so naughty. She was smart enough to learn her name, the word NO or GET DOWN, but stubborn enough to refuse my commands because she wanted what she wanted. She has ruined my office chair, patio chairs, carpet, window screens, broken a few sentimental gifts from friends, and leaves fur everywhere she goes. After 3 weeks I was so tempted to return her because she drove me CRAZY. It was a hate-love relationship, a constant fight to be the alpha female, and choosing my battles to fight for.

BUT! I kept her and hung in there as friends advised. I’ve also done plenty of research to understand her behavior so that I don’t blow my fuse. Over time, she has softened my heart, taught me patience and an unconditional great love like I have never known {I don’t have kids}. Plus she has mellowed out a great deal, sleeps more and has adjusted to my schedule of working and leaving the studio. That is the biggest key: setting a routine for us both while I work at home. Granted she determines when I wake up so she can be fed, but otherwise we’ve settled into a nice little life for ourselves. Cats depend on routines, when they get fed, when it’s time to play or sleep–this gives them a sense of comfort, confidence and security. I guess the stray kitties need this because they were taken away from their mother at such a young age [no matter how].

JOSIE THE PUSSYCAT - AT 11 MONTHS

JOSIE THE PUSSYCAT – AT 11 MONTHS

As an independent graphic designer, I work a lot—whether its for clients or for my business, I’m at the computer a majority of the day. Josie has become accustomed to this, but in order to keep us both happy, I set up times of the day to play with her, love on her, feed her—and it works {most days…she has her cranky days and so do I}. The only time she jumps up on my desk or gets into my office things is when I am not there in the studio space. My home is a small, open concept space, so it’s basically one large room with a balcony, bedroom and bathroom—I can see her from just about anywhere. But I make sure all my studio valuables are covered up or out of the way so there is no temptation for her to be naughty. She just likes to sniff everything {over and over and over}.

With that said, I thought an infographic with a guide to working at home with a cat would be of great need for others—all the things I have learned from my furry feline friend. ENJOY!

Make Your Difference

The Leadership SPA
 

Over the past several years I have designed my fair share of conference branding and materials for various clients {which I love to do}, but not too often do I get to attend them. However, last November I had the privilege to attend one that my client was hosting. This amazing conference is The Leadership SPA {Smart Power Academy}—a vision founded by Will Marré and hosted by his wonderful team. LEARN MORE >

I had a strong desire to go to the SPA because the workbook/journal I created for it was so chock-full of incredible wisdom and leadership guidance, plus contained interesting discovery exercises that I wanted to be involved with.

By attending this conference, I knew it would also help me understand the diagrams I created for it more than just a design interpretation of words. This lead me to realize that I should attend any conference I design materials for to get a greater understanding of my clients. Granted not all of them are local, so that would be a financial challenge.

The Leadership SPA  Workbook

The Leadership SPA Workbook

It’s not what you think… yes, we did have yoga classes and enjoyed yummy spa-like meals on the 32nd floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego with a sweeping views of the bay area, but it actually was 2-1/2 days of training women executives on how to become Smart Power women leaders—bringing career clarity, leadership confidence and a commitment to grow—making a difference while enjoying a work-life balance.
 
The thought-provoking, interactive program was designed to greatly improve women’s leadership effectiveness and opportunities for growth. It even went beyond that to define their T.R.U.E. Power {Talent, Rewards, Evolve, Uniqueness} to “SuperCharge their Career” and “Work Like a Genius”.  As Will stated, “TRUE” work strengthens your life force — it turns your natural ability and passion into value for others. People who create [new] value are always in demand {it’s our responsibility to create value}. Our passions are what makes us, our life, interesting! When you are clear on what you want or don’t want, your life will change. BAM!
Work like a Genius

Work like a Genius

I’m one of the fortunate ones to have known my career desires early in life; being born gifted with creative genes. Going through the workbook exercises affirmed my path as a designer, but also gave me insight in how to better manage my life/work balance. As a solopreneuer, you pretty much work every day – even for an hour or two – your business is always on your mind. The “Work Like a Genius” graphic breaks down the the day when certain activities are best for certain times. Of course, not everyone can follow this exactly, but it’s a good model to refer back to when life gets hectic.
 
The Leadership SPA was the pilot conference for others to come, and not just in San Diego! Stay tuned to the website, and sign up for Will’s amazing newsletters full of insight, wisdom and resources – designed just for us women! I am so blessed to have a client who wants to empower women, who truly understands and cares what it takes to be a working woman. Make Your Difference!
 
SEE THE WHOLE BRAND CAMPAIGN ON MY BEHANCE PORTFOLIO >

Introducing Infograms with a Holiday Offer

Another Made-up Word for Webster’s Dictionary: Infogram

As a designer of infographics and Instagram graphics for clients, my idea of mixing the two together was the result of my friend’s stumbling of words during a discussion recently. We were talking about infographics and social media marketing including Instagram, and out of her mouth blurted: INFOGRAM. We laughed at first, but then a light bulb went off! Both are used separately as marketing tools online and on mobile devices, so why not combine them together for a quick way to promote on Instagram? {I owe her one if this takes off!}

The first thought I had was to offer bite-sized infographics because everyone knows I am the Infographic Queen 🙂 No one has done this that I know of. But the more I thought about it, I figured out even more ways to use Infograms {some of you may be already doing this, so just glaze over those parts}.

With an Infogram, you could promote an event with a Save-the-Date or a reminder for it, you could promote a sale or offer for your services or products, you could send out messages to your customers, and the best idea is that you could create snapshots of data from a larger infographic you already have posted on your website – linking the Infogram back to your site for more traffic.

Here are some examples I created from projects I designed for clients, just to show you how it could be done…these are not actual Infograms:

INFOGRAM EXAMPLES BY DEZINEGIRL CREATIVE STUDIO

INFOGRAM EXAMPLES BY DEZINEGIRL CREATIVE STUDIO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources

There are a couple of ways to get your Infogram graphic from your desktop computer to Instagram. 1) You can mail it to your mobile device {smart phone or table} and upload through the Instagram app [see guide]. 2) Or the other method is to upload from your desktop computer via BlueStacks, an Android emulator that lets you run Android apps {like Instagram} on your computer. You can use BlueStacks on both Windows and Mac OS X [see further down the guide].

Holiday Offer for New Clients!

I hate to say this but the holidays are one of the best times to market your business, service or product, but in a subliminal way using a holiday theme. Even though we are bombarded with ads and offers, it’s widely accepted among consumers, and well, they are in a shopping mode anyway. So here I am…because I want to share my excitement of this new service, I am offering new clients a holiday special on Infograms. It’s for a limited time only, so you must hurry 🙂 If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

 

HOLIDAY PROMO FOR NEW CLIENTS

HOLIDAY PROMO FOR NEW CLIENTS

 

dezinegirl brand has grown up

Yes, it’s true, dezinegirl has grown up! Well, sort of…I will always remain young at heart, but that doesn’t mean my own brand has to {I’ve kept the name at least}. As the years go by, my talent, skills and tastes get more refined, and it just seemed to me that it was time dezinegirl got a facelift to reflect this {and well, I love to play with design!}.

I have received many compliments from peers or clients on my previous brand and website, and some have asked me why would I change what already looks good?

Many brands never change their logo because it works for them, but they update their brand style to stay on-trend, remain current and keep up with their industry. And that is what had to be done for dezinegirl as well. As I grow, mature and change, so does my brand need to.

A refreshed brand can lead to new business or bring a new perspective to current clients that gets them thinking I want to work with dezinegirl!; and hopefully receive bigger projects to fuel my design passion…and buy more coffee!

CHECK OUT THE NEW WEBSITE! >

dezinegirl creative studio brand new look

dezinegirl creative studio brand new look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact dezinegirl for your next project that needs a refresh!
THE COFFEE IS ON ME!

What the Font?

Most of my clients understand good typography design, which is nice for me. But, there is a small handful that do not, and I need to fill them in on correct typography usage. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect my clients to know proper kerning or leading [or known as vertical spacing these days], or even the difference between a font and typeface.

And then there are the emerging graphic designers that haven’t had enough experience with typography to understand the do’s and don’ts—I’ve seen it plenty of times at student portfolio reviews.

Small businesses or solopreneurs don’t have the luxury of time to learn how to pretty typography, if they can’t afford to outsource to professionals. However, they should at least know about the hierarchy in the presentation of fonts.

I’ve created this simple typography guide [with a touch of humor] just for them and the former in an infographic here below, and PowerPoint slides on SlideShare. I’m a true advocate for good design and good typography, and I have to admit that it does bug me when it’s done incorrectly, or in bad taste. I’m no design snob, I just have a sixth sense when it comes to refined design.

Enjoy!

 

A quick and helpful guide for professional typography usage.

A quick and helpful guide for professional typography usage.