File Organization and Organization in general.

17 02 2009

If you’re a creative you’ve probably heard that organization is key. For the most part it is and ironically I usually find myself with clutter on my desk. Though how many of you can have a desk full of clutter yet know where everything is? – I’m one of those people and cleaning the big eye sore kind of throws me off from time to time, but it must get done.

Though minus being a semi-mess my files are usually key when it comes to my organizational skills. I’m sure most of you (if not all) have some form of doing this. Which is completely fine, I’m going to give a run down of how I organize my own for those of you who might not have a system. In the end it saves a lot of time and frustration from pulling your hair out and trying to find files. Also I’ll give general tips on how to make sure all your files are where they should be in several different programs so you and your printer won’t be smacking yourself over the head.

I’m notorious for lists, but for the better of me I’ve decided to implement graphs and charts. We’re visual people and I’m determined to add more visuals along my posts.

DEFgraphics key to organizing files:

diagram

All right, so the diagram seems a bit smashed so I’ll explain it, it goes:

Step 1:
Project Name
Well, I think this one is self explanatory, but for those of you who want an explanation here it is. This will be the folder of which all your contents for the current project you’re working on goes. Therefore if I were working on a book about dogs I’d probably name the folder The title name or “Dog Book”.

Step 2:
Thumbnails

This will thus be a folder within the folder of your project folder. I suppose I’ll go off of the whole Dog Book thing because I brought it up. Here sketches that are pertaining to the book will go, maybe some quick layouts. Nothing too fine rendered just yet. Just your brain throwing up idea. Possible brain mapping (I will write about that in a later post) as well as a brief of your current design.

Step 3:
Roughs

The stage where we are first working in programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. This folder is going to need to be broken up into more sub-folders. I know, I know, you’re asking “DEF! Why so many damn folders?!” and I’m telling you why right now because it’s easier to find and access things than have them scattered all around – that and I’m possibly a little OCD, but that’s besides the point. So in this stage there will be folders such as:
– Stock/Reference
– PSDs (Your Photoshop files)
– Ai Files (Your Illustrator files)
– Pre Deliverables ( Comps before your final comp, ready to show the clients etc)

Step 4:
Final Project

Where all the magic happens. If you’ve ever found yourself rushing to figure out where you left what file, then here is the perfect folder for you. This is pretty much where all the finalized pieces go, go you will see similar sub-folders here, which are:
– PSDs (The final version of your PSDs)
– Ai Files (The final Ai files)
– Deliverables (The files that are ready to be sent off to the printers, the final project)

There you have it my friends, how I, DEF, organize my files. Now my question to you is how do you organize your files and/or do you have a system of how you do. Feel free to leave your commentos, I’d love to hear your feedback on this.
– DEF

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Social Media: My Friend Twitter

7 02 2009

To me, I believe most things are good and bad. I mean most things have either a positive or negative response with the actions you take. Then again you’re only as good as you are responding. – This thus leads me to the whole meat and potatoes of this post, social networking and social media.

To me, the whole reason for the social networking/media sphere is to communicate not blast me with ads to try and sell me something. I guess turning off ads to me is second nature, unless of course you catch my attention, but that’s a whole entire blog post in itself (Which I’ll possibly elaborate on).

As far as communication goes it’s usually between two people, though with modern technology it can be with several different people all at the same time. Thus this is where the social networking sphere evolves. Networking sites such as Twitter are usually a good place to start. I for one am on twitter and there are people who I enjoy talking with. Though there are some people who I wonder what their sole purpose of using it is?

So I’m usually notorious for lists, and I suppose I’ll list some things that I’ve learned from other people as well as being social in general. I think the main focus is going to be on my favorite networking system which is Twitter, so here we go.

1. Communication is the sole purpose of how we connect.
If you start up a conversation with me, I for one am likely to talk back with you. Most of my fellow twitter people could vouch for me on that one. The way for social media/networking to work is for you to actually socialize with your crowd. Really sometimes a simple hello is enough to strike up a conversation. The more you engage the more information you’re going to gain, the more knowledgeable you’ll be, and well you’ll potentially earn friends who keep you entertained as well as informed.

2. Don’t be a douche bag/asshole.
Just because you have a couple thousand followers, if you’re a real jerk about certain things you’ll be losing them just as fast as you’ve gotten them. Remember these people follow you because they either a) find you a valuable person with valuable resources b) everyone else follows you (or so it seems that way) or c) they’re mooching off your friends list. – I’d go with A, but the other options are also possible. Be nice, you make a lot more friends that way.

3. Stop trying to sell me things.
I know that Twitter is a potential market, but it doesn’t mean I want to buy anything from you. For one if you’re there just to blast spam the likelihood of me following you back is slim to none. There’s a huge difference between spam and valuable link resources within your close knit circle. No I don’t want to see how I can make $5000 dollars in a week and retire at 21, but I do want to see valuable resources on package design, logo design, and things that are going to appeal to me.

4. Interact.
It sort of goes hand in hand with number one. Interaction is key, ask questions and answer questions. Ask for help and there’s a likelihood someone is going to help you. The more you interact and engage with your audience the more positive of an image you have. Now, as reference to number 3, if you’re a douche bag people are just going to think you’re a douche bag, if you’re nice and valuable and talk with people then I’m sure they will pass along the word that you are indeed someone who personally gets back to people and does not ignore them. No one likes being ignored.

5. Be Helpful.
If you’ve ever had someone tell you that there’s no such thing as a stupid question then they were probably right. Unless you’ve tried really hard to form a question that is stupid (which I’m sure is possible for some people). Mind you, you don’t have to know everything or even pretend you do. Everyone has valuable knowledge to share with other people and keeping that knowledge to yourself is kind of selfish if you think about it (I mean really think about it). Besides being helpful makes most people feel good. It’s better to be helpful than useless.

6. Quality over Quantity.
This issue could be debatable, but on my terms I value quality over quantity when it comes to socializing. I respect being dedicated to answering questions and listening to what others have to say. There are people I know who have few friends on twitter, but make a difference, then there are people I know who have thousands of friends on twitter and can’t simply reply to all of them. To me, I’m there to build relationships with people not try and see how many followers I can get because I want to be number one. Ironically I do actually listen to the people I talk to and respond back. I’m not in it for numbers or ranking, I’m in it to be helpful and useful for the folks who I do consider my friends as well as the people who do follow me.

Hope this post was helpful to you and feel free to add any more things that you think are useful in the comments below.
– DEF





Harvesting Creativeness/Inspiration

4 02 2009

Harvesting Creativeness and Inspiration.
Usually I’m plagued with the question of ‘How do you do it?’ Usually stated with another question of ‘How do I do what?’ thus leading into the real question of how I harvest my creativeness and inspiration. To be truthfully honest it’s really quiet simple.

To me, my creative process never stops working. Yes there are times where it feels a little stagnant and I’ve got to prod it with a stick and try and come up with something, but when I do get that lucky strike things just happen. Though I never know exactly when those things are happening. . Which thus leads me to my list of things that I personally do to harvest my creativity/inspiration. So here we go.

1. I usually carry a sketchbook and pen with me.
Really I do, but then again sometimes sketchbooks are quite tedious to lug around especially if you get that strike and you have to pull it out etc. Though small sketchbooks are relatively easy to conceal and they get the point across. I usually doodle ideas or words etc. Which soon leads to other words and doodles and brain mapping and then sparking new ideas that I have to jot down before I forget.

2. If my sketchbook isn’t handy and/or I don’t have anything to carry it in I bring a notepad
Same concept with the idea stated above. I usually just shove them in my pockets and go on my merry way. These are usually ideal when I’m shooting photography and come up with a quick idea to just jot it down that or I’m busy with other things where a normal sketchbook would not suffice for me. – Mind you don’t forget to take it out of your pants pocket or it mind end up destroyed by the local washing machine. Really, it’s happened to me.

3. Collect something.
It could be anything honestly. For instance I have a real bad habit of collecting things I like design wise, such as brochures and magazines and calenders, books are also another good one. I like having them as reference material when I can’t think of anything. Since we are visual people looking at visuals usually helps spark something creatively for myself. Mind you my collecting has upgraded from rocks and seashells, but if that’s your thing I don’t judge.

4. Listen to music.
Art and music go hand in hand like when the dish ran away with the spoon. I usually like setting my itunes on shuffle and going from there, but if you’re like me and listen to any type of genre of music you will come to understand why a minute ago you were listening to ABBA then suddenly Ill Nino starts playing. Usually if I’m trying to design clean looking pieces I’ll listen to peaceful calming music, if I’m designing for something more non-conformist I’ll break out the heavy stuff. Though it always puts me in the mood/zone.

5. Do something other than designing.
I for the life of me can not paint to save my life, though I do rather enjoy water colors and being tactile and making books of that sort of nature. Remember those times when you were a kid and you’d finger paint – yeah you know what I’m talking about, and yes I’m telling you to go finger paint. Seriously once you do it you’ll remember why you had fun doing it when you were a kid. Honestly I find that the key to my success half the time is tapping into that inner child we all have. Yes, some of us have probably shut it out and shut it up, but it’s time to relive certain things. Remember when board games were fun? I know you probably now want to go play monopoly even if it takes forever and somehow someone cheats and they get the boardwalk – but you know something? Least you’re having fun right?

6. Stop being practical and realistic.
Remember that thing called imagination? Remember the crazy things you use to be able to come up with on a whim because you didn’t care what other people thought about it as long as it made you happy? I say screw being realistic when it comes to creativity, who hinders how you create? Clients? Screw clients! (not literally). Creativity is about you and what you like doing, sure clients want something on a whim and what not, but meshing clients and raw creativeness kind of dampens how much potential to creativity you’ve got. Thus this is why keeping a notepad is important when that evil client won’t let you design comfortably, you can always design it for yourself later.

7. Relive a day when you were a kid.
Seriously? Break out the damn crayons on construction paper along with the Elmer’s glue and scissors. You know what I’m talking about, Arts and Crafts. Come on there was a whole Arts and Crafts movement! Who’s to say someone won’t still like making macaroni pictures? Hell I do, that is when I have the time to make pictures.

8. Have fun.
I figured when I’m having fun I’m not really thinking about anything else and I’m not stressed and I’m not trying to pull my hair out. My mind is clear of any stress at that very moment which leads to more creative function etc.

Hopefully those tips have helped you somewhat in trying to harvest your own creativity/inspiration or have lead you to want to play a board game or two. That or make arts and crafts and doodle. Whatever it is I hope you enjoy what you’re doing. Remember if what you love doing isn’t what you love to do anymore then why are you doing it? – Have fun.
– DEF





Deconstructing the Creative Process

31 01 2009

While checking my Twitter updates, I came across a follower by the name of Carter Harkins. I’m usually one to follow back on twitter, considering I do like socializing, and socializing with Carter lead me towards his blog. In a recent blog post where he had gotten inspiration from Graham Smith (Who I also socialize with on twitter), he had asked questions about creativity.

Since I had been designing just a couple minutes before hand, I was compelled to answer these questions, since they made me think about why is it that we create. So without further ado here is my take on it:

What constitutes creativity? Is it a uniquely human process?
As far as I see things, creativity is something all of us has in us, because if we aren’t artists (which creativity is usually associated with) we all have the ability to create things. Creatives are usually classified under different names such as engineers, artists, designers, etc. Creativity is a process, sometimes a new process to solving problems. Problems that can be solved in numerous ways, which is why if you gave a group of people cameras and told them to shoot a picture of the same object, you’d come out with pictures that are somewhat relatively the same, but are also different. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are many different ways to solve things and even if one way is the most popular way, doesn’t necessarily mean that trying to go about it in a different prospective is necessarily the wrong way.

Are there “Creatives” and “Non-Creatives”, or is everyone inherently creative?
As stated above, I believe everyone is creative. Then again not many people live up to their creative potential. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are people who are more creative than others and then there are some people who don’t realize they’re creative. I guess it depends on the degree of tapping into your creative spark, to know what you’re good at. Some people are earlier starters and they automatically know, then there are some people who are late bloomers and don’t find out until later that they have creative potential.

Are there hard creative limits or only self-imposed limitations?
As far as limitations with creativity goes I suppose it has to do with surroundings. To my knowledge at least, that’s how I see it. I mean if I’m relaxed and not having to think about things and I’m just observing my surroundings I find that ideas come easier to me (why I usually carry a note pad with me everywhere I go to jot these things down). Though if I’m in a high level of stress situation and I’m required to think creatively it seems more so impossible to think of something good, because I actually have to think about. – Meaning when I’m not thinking about being creative something sparks, when I have to think about being creative I’ve got nothing.

I suppose creativity to me is like a roller coaster, there are times where things go smooth and I’m happily doing things, then there are the peaks where I get a ton of ideas rushing at me at once, but then you slope down and you have the hardest time trying to come up with something.

How do we grow creatively? What holds us back or keeps us in a rut?
Hm, this is a tough question. Growing creatively is a process, though through praise and even sometimes negativity it somehow shapes how we process things. I guess to better say it, is that we gain exposure to things and with that exposure we have reactions, whether they be good or bad is a matter of personal preference. Creativity to me is always a learning process, I’m always learning from people I socialize with and just observing. I guess to grow creatively we have to be open to new things and new experiences.

That being said, there are certain things we’re not always opened to or we don’t have enough exposure to and don’t really feel the need to progress with it. I guess that’s what holds one back from progressing into a new media/medium. That or the new media/medium seems so intimidating that we shoot ourselves in the foot before we even decide to try it out.

I guess what holds us back is intimidation and fear. Intimidation coming from those around you who can do certain things – for example I have an intimidation of web design. I think it’s because I have the fear of things not working out right or turning out as I planned. Though I’m sure with more exposure to web design and web designing I’d eventually feel comfortable working with it.

Can creativity be a community-centered experience, or is it only an individual pursuit?
I think it’s both. I’m surrounded by artists most of the week and now with social media I’m surrounded by artists all over the world. There’s a sense of community with the artists I socialize with on an everyday basis, those people help me become more creative when I’m not in my creative frame of mind. They help me break through creative blocks, which in turn gets my creativity flowing.
I also think it’s an individual pursuit as well, like I stated before we’re all creative, but just because there’s one popular way of doing things doesn’t mean that an alternative way is the wrong way. We all draw inspiration from different sources which shapes how we think creatively, my perception of a dog for example could be totally different from your perception of the same dog. So in a sense yes, it’s an individual pursuit as well as a community experience.





DEF, you’ve moved?

30 01 2009

Yes,
You’ve heard it right. I, DEF, am moving my blog now to WordPress for the mere fact that it’s more customizable and I like the feel of it more so than where my current blog is. Also I’ve got more options here to move around and I like the feel of it. So that being said, yes I’ve moved to WordPress, and no I’m not sure what I’m doing.

[Update]
So I figured out how to move my posts from blogger into wordpress, saves the hassle of copying and pasting. So here you go, the other posts are up.





DEF Graphics: The Person.

28 01 2009
This post is to better understand what I do and well half the reason why I do it. So I guess I’ll give you the basic rundown on what’s happening. Here we go:

Name: The name’s Bernie.

What I do: I’m a Graphic Designer/Freelance Photographer/ Novice Blogger. When I’m not designing I blog about designing and other things. – I know, sort of a question of ‘why’, but I enjoy it endlessly.

What the blog is about: Graphic Design/Designing/Me. (Somewhat).

What’s with the eye logo?: Well I am one of the many graphic designers who hates logo design. Well not so much hate, more so logos and I have a love/hate relationship. I had to redesign my logo for a portfolio class and I was working with a typographic treatment. If you look closely the eye actually says DEF and the eye in itself represents an eye for creativity.

Why do you sign most of your blog posts DEF?:
Because DEF originally came from a day of spray painting in my garage with stencils. DEF is in fact the 4th,5th, and 6th letters of the alphabet. I coined the term DEF to mean definite or definitely then graphics because I am a graphic artist/designer. Thus becoming DEF graphics and more so DEF. DEF is an alias, and if I’m making things I usually sign it with a heart and DEF in the graffiti style. Therefore having it say ‘Love always’ without having to really say it. (I will post the ‘Heart DEF’ I’m talking about shortly).
The infamous heart I sign most art work with.

How long have you been a Graphic Designer?:
I would say that being a Graphic Designer is always a learning process so I can’t really tell you when I became one, because honestly I’ve been working in editing programs since I was around 13/14 in high school. You know, that one kid who would mess around and made things, that was me. Though if you’re asking me when I really got serious about it, I would have to say around my junior/senior year of high school.

Is it true that you use to hate Photoshop?:
Where did you hear that? Yes, unfortunately it’s true. I use to hate Photoshop with an infinite passion. To be honest, I use to be a Paint Shop Pro person, Paint Shop Pro 8 to be exact. My first design software I picked up. I hated Photoshop, but was forced to use it in my photography class when we had to design a portfolio. Now I don’t hate Photoshop, me and Photoshop are two peas in a pod. I’m a Photoshop junkie.

What other programs do you use?:
Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, most of the Adobe Creative Suite. I’m still learning how to use Flash and Dreamweaver though.

Do you have a website?:
If we’re talking on a personal basis with a domain name and everything; No. I’m still trying to figure that whole situation out. Though if we’re talking about a website tht showcases some of my portfolio/design/photography then yes. They’re located on the blog on the right hand side. I’m actually working on a portfolio based website as of late; it’ll be up soon. I still need to work out the kinks in it.

Do you have any advice for beginning designers/design students?:
Some advice? I’d have to say that the computer is just merely a tool in your arsenal. Don’t rely on it to create works of art with a few simple clicks. That and always write down/sketch out (whatever you’re comfortable with) your ideas. It helps build new ideas, that and you can never stop learning, just because you may think you know a lot in photoshop/illustrator etc doesn’t mean you know everything. Strive to be better, but also remember to have fun.





The designer and you,the equilibrium.

28 01 2009
Finding the Balance

Countless times I’ve questioned the fact that it seems like designing is all I ever do. (For the most part). It’s as if it’s consumed my life for the past three years, and thus it has. Mind you I do like the aspects of graphic design, such as typography and color theory and how visual communication is subconscious and not. Though it makes me wonder if designing is all I’ll ever do. So that being said, where do we find the middle of being a designer and just the average Joe?

Some things I tend to forget, but should remember (as many of my colleagues should as well) is that yes, we’re designers, but it isn’t who we necessarily are, it’s what we do.
I know many of you will probably throw a book at me, or threaten me with an xacto, but let’s face it, it is what we do. I mean there was a time when we weren’t graphic designers. Do you remember that time? Graphic design is only a part of us that we share with other people. Many of us started out as traditional artists who used mediums such as graphite, paint, etc. We were artists first, designers second. Though the two of them mesh together in what makes our styles unique.

Graphic Design is a job and a passion all in one.
For one, yes it does pay the bills and two somehow we get to incorporate our artistic abilities. I find that designing for myself is way easier than designing for a client, but a good challenge. I’m sure many of you feel the same way, and no matter how most of you want to deny it, I know that deep down inside you really hate how a client will use word to store their clip art as well as try and design a logo in photoshop with the bells and whistles of emboss and drop shadow. That and how we all love to complain and wonder how on earth people survive with using papyrus – It all comes along with the territory. Ironically we know how bittersweet we love it. Damn love/hate relationships.

It’s okay to take a break.
No, really it is. I find myself more likely to design things when I’m not under the pressure of designing. Ironic how that works out, but it does. That and it helps me remember what I like doing besides designing, such as making lists and cleaning plus reading (even if my library is filled with mostly design books).

If you’re not having fun, then what’s the point?
Honestly? There’s a difference between having a good time doing what you love to do and doing what you love to do because you need money. If you asked me if I was in this game for the money I would have to tell you that even though money is nice and all, I’m in it because I love it. I wouldn’t have a job that I hated just because it paid well. Needless to say some graphic design jobs do pay real well, but my heart’s in it because it’s still fun. When it stops being fun then it’s time to reevaluate why I’m still doing it.

Balancing the designer and you
You know what makes you happy and if designing for long periods of time is stressing you out, for godsakes go and pick up a book you enjoy reading and/or do something you know makes you happy. To be truthfully honest I can’t sit at my computer for long periods of time or else I start getting ADD and not getting my work done, so usually I spend a great deal cleaning/making lists, making lunch, and/or making books. I realize (even when I forget) that yes I am a designer, but it’s my job not who I am completely. There are other things that make up who I am and other things I enjoy. Sometimes I lose sight of those things, but they always come back around. Never lose what you enjoy completely or eventually you’ll become miserable.

Here’s to remembering who you are before you became the designer.