Archive for the ‘Art & Design’ Category

Design Events in Melbourne – Part 1

industry-talk

There are a plethora of events out there for designers in Melbourne. This time we take a look at the annual events we look forward to each year. Next time we’ll be looking at the regular events that occur weekly, monthly or sporadically throughout the year. Let us know what your favourite Melbourne design event is.

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AG Ideas

AG Ideas was established by Ken Cato in 1991 as a means of celebrating excellence in the design industry and generally promoting the value of design. The week-long festival includes a program of events sharing knowledge and inspiration with students and professionals alike. The three-day seminar brings 40 internationally acclaimed creatives from various disciplines to Melbourne each year.

Pricepoint: Prices start at $310 for students and go up to $1700 for a studio pass (4 tickets).

Click here to view the AG Ideas website

Semi-Permanent

The brainchild of Sydney studio Design Is Kinky, Semi-Permanent started in 2003 and touts itself as a “creative platform spreading art and design inspiration”. Speakers are diverse, hailing from various creative fields including design, illustration, art, film, animation, graffiti and architecture. The two-day event is now in 9 cities in 5 countries.

Pricepoint: $150 for a two-day student pass and $240 for professionals.

Click here to view the Semi-Permanent website

Sex, Drugs & Helvetica

From the people behind the huge poster competition that is Positive Posters, Sex, Drugs & Helvetica’s inaugural conference was a runaway hit in 2012. SDH is practical with a healthy dose of fun. Speakers are professionals from all parts of the industry – paper merchants, printers, lawyers, and yes, designers. Whilst the one-day event has a focus on students, it’s open to anyone who is keen to further their education.

Pricepoint: $40

Click here to view the Sex, Drugs & Helvetica website

Why crowdsourcing design is bad for business

Studio Insights: Why Crowdsourcing Design is Bad for Business

What is crowdsourcing?

“Crowdsourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people. This process can occur both online and offline. The difference between crowdsourcing and ordinary outsourcing is that a task or problem is outsourced to an undefined public rather than a specific body, such as paid employees.” – Wikipedia

So, what’s wrong with that?

In theory, crowdsourcing sounds pretty good for a client. You have a brief, you put it up online, and you return later to find a whole bunch of concepts in your inbox – and only pay your nominated fee. But it’s not quite that simple.

Crowdsourcing hurts designers and the design industry. The core premise behind crowdsourcing is that clients can get their design work completed on the cheap. Ultimately, this involves a myriad of designers doing work on spec (i.e.: for no pay), and only the designer whose work is selected ends up being paid. In the marketing material for a leading design crowdsourcing site, they offer clients the opportunity to hold a “design contest” to get designs “at a fraction of the price” to “spend less and get more” – implicit in this is that designers must scramble to get less and give more.

When you order a meal, you don’t order five and only pay for the best one. No-one should have to work for free or enter a “contest” just to get paid for work they have already completed – plumbers don’t do it, shops don’t just let you walk in and take merchandise, so why should design be any different?

There is no reason that you should get free or cheap ideas or designs just because you are “floating an idea” or a “startup” and there is no excuse for not paying someone for the work they do. Just like you, our jobs are our livelihood; it’s what we do to put food on the table. Crowdsourcing is tantamount to exploitation and it’s audacious to suggest that there is any legitimacy in the practice.

Graphic design is a skilled occupation and as such it is a service that should be paid for. Crowdsourcing is in many ways similar to free pitching, a practice that is frowned upon in the design industry. The AGDA (Australian Graphic Design Association) code of ethics “discourages members from predatory pricing practices such as free pitching, loss leading and other pricing below break-even. Members should be aware that such practices will damage the economic viability of their business.”

Additionally, AGDA stress that they are “unequivocally opposed to the unfair manipulation of designers with the aim of garnering unpaid work.” In a creative industry, ideas are our business and there is potential for crowdsourcing (and free pitching) to be misused as a means of a client accessing a multitude of ideas for minimal or no spend.

There are downsides for clients too. When you use a studio or freelance designer, a key determiner in getting a good outcome for your business is in the collaboration between client and designer. Effective design achieves results via research, concept development, design and refinement. The whole process requires your designer to have an intimate understanding of your business and its needs; this can only be achieved through a strong relationship with you, the client. Users on crowdsourcing sites are not given the opportunity nor the budget to get to know you or your business, and as such you get what you pay for.

Additionally, when joining forces with a flesh and blood designer, you are able to verify their skills and qualifications. Online, you have no way of telling who anyone really is or to ensure the work they upload is their own. Is it worth risking that the ‘unique’ design created for your business could be plastered all over another brand’s building, collateral and website?

Crowdsourcing devalues what we do – design is not simply a logo or a brochure, it’s the bespoke result of an involved process of hard work and informed research. Clients using crowdsourcing for their design demonstrate a lack of respect for and understanding of the design process, designers and our industry. Designers also ought to consider the ramifications of using these sites to earn a bit of cash on the side; it makes them complicit in perpetuating the idea that design is not a valuable service and encourages clients to seek out these services in favour of paying appropriate rates for design work.

A designer’s best friend

iStock Friend Trends

Ever get the feeling that you know someone, but you can’t quite pinpoint where you’ve seen them? Maybe you catch the tram with them everyday, perhaps they went to your high school or maybe they work in your local KMart.

We designers get these feelings too, but for us it’s slightly different. Sometimes a sign or poster will catch my eye and I’ll think, “that person looks familiar”. I’ll rack my brain trying to put my finger on who they might be and then it hits me…

“You’re my iStock friend!” Yep, the lady on that sign does not work at my local accountant’s office (despite being in their ad), she’s the number one result for “female businesswoman”. That man advertising a retirement village is not someone I see on the train, he’s on page one for “beautiful retired gentleman”. And that family representing the childcare centre down the street are not my next door neighbours, they’re in the first row of iStock results for “happy family”!

We designers do rely on stock images as a resource, but some of these images suffer from extreme overuse – so much so that some of these people almost feel like old friends or acquaintances.

Buck the trends and start being creative with your iStock search terms. Perhaps try sorting by number of downloads and avoid the first 5 pages, or just try using words that other people might not automatically think of.  Whatever you do, don’t just pick the first image that comes up, because chances are, 8,600 other designers have used it too.

For more information on iStock trends, click here.

Industry Misconceptions: Why we should strive to correct them …

Industry misconceptions: Why we should strive to correct them

There is a perception or as I prefer to think of it, a misconception that graphic designers have only an innate artistic talent and that our job has little to do with intellect. However, this is not the case; a truly brilliant graphic designer will be an intelligent thinker armed with a suite of other skills.

So why should we, as designers, find this misconception offensive and strive to correct how the public perceives us? Here are my top 3 reasons:

  1. It undersells what we do and validates the notion that we design only for fun. It makes design seem less like a service that should be valued, which people ought to pay good money for and more like a hobby we’re indulging in. Design delivers real results to businesses, so the professionals who do the good work should be taken seriously as experts in their trade.
  2. “My friend has a daughter in year 8 who has Photoshop.” Almost all designers are qualified professionals; bright people who have chosen a profession that constantly provides new opportunities to learn and engage. Being exposed to such an array of work from a wide range of sources gives designers a unique perspective, not only on their own industry, but on the industries of the clients they service.
  3. It’s just plain insulting. Clients’ expectations are high and most of us working in small (or even large) studios are jacks-of-all-trades. For some of us that means taking on writing, coding, administration or sometimes the mundane task of stuffing envelopes. On a daily basis we stretch the boundaries of our job titles in the name of ensuring the job gets done and done well. Don’t we deserve a little bit of credit for that?

So don’t take it on the nose next time someone belittles you and your chosen profession (accidentally or otherwise). Stand up and proudly spell out what it is that makes us special and why design is the domain of smart people with sharp minds.

The Briefing Handbook

A few handy tips and guides for writing a creative brief, to make the job easier and the results better…

Basic Details
This seems like a no-brainer but make sure you start every brief with the basic details necessary to proceed. Contact details, the job and its deadline should not be hard to find so make sure this info is up-front and accurate.

Overview
The overview should include the requirements of the job, the context in which it exists, relevant background information (briefly) and the timeline.

Background & Material
It’s important to put jobs in the context of past campaigns, so here is the spot to provide relevant past material. Any carry-over content that remains relevant should also be provided as well as new content, brand guidelines and other information. If the job involves any kind of co-branding, sponsorship or partnership, make sure all relevant background and style and branding specifications for ALL parties are provided.

Target Audience
Who are you trying to reach? What is the demographic, the purpose in communicating with them? What is their relationship to the client? It is useful to supply some detail about the background, likely views and values and density of the target audience.

The Core Message
This is the purpose of your job or campaign, summarised in a sentence. It can also include the call to action if there is one.

Unique Selling Point
What sets your brand or product apart from the competition? This is the most crucial point to made through your communication as it is what will pull your target audience’s attention.

Creative Direction
The creative direction should include in greater detail the brand style (including for any associated brands), the desired look and feel, the tone of voice and any other brand specific direction to be considered.

 

Top Free (or almost) Design Apps

 

1. WhatTheFont
(Free)
Sourced from My Fonts’ comprehensive font library, WhatTheFont allows you to identify fonts directly from your phone. Snap photos from within the app or choose from saved photos in your photo library.

In-phone image processing optimises upload for speed and accuracy. You can then view font details in your web browser or share a link. This app is fast, accurate and extremely handy for any designer.

2. Shillington Design Reference App
(Free)

Designed by a pair of graduates from international graphic design institution Shillington, this app covers useful design basics in a clean, functional layout.

Features include helpful Adobe CS keyboard shortcuts, international paper sizes, typography definitions and tips, artwork checklist and pre-press terminology.

A great reference app, this is a must-have for students and old hands alike.

3. myPANTONE™ X-Ref
($1.99)

A portable swatch-book, Pantone’s colour reference app is the ultimate guide to cross system matching.

Simply enter an RGB, CMYK or Hexadecimal value and to find the closest Pantone Color match sourced from the following colour system libraries:

  • New PANTONE PLUS Formula Guides Solid Coated and Uncoated with 224 new colors
  • New PANTONE PLUS Color Bridge Coated and Uncoated
  • PANTONE Goe™ Coated and Uncoated
  • PANTONE Goe Bridge Coated
  • PANTONE FASHION + HOME (paper and cotton)

4. Classic Color Meter
($0.99)

Found the colour but need the name? Classic Colour Meter measures and displays the colour values of pixels displayed on the screen, giving you a direct means of identification.

A drop-in replacement for Apple’s DigitalColor Meter application, the app restores all functionality previously available in Snow Leopard’s DigitalColor Meter.

Whilst not free this is definitely a valuable cheapy to have in your back pocket.

5. Ruler 2
($0.99)

Finally the most analogue tool of all – the ruler – has been digitalized. Simply drag the pointer for precise, fully formatted measurements with fractions for inches, decimals or centimeters. Convert between US and metric systems with one tap and save measurements on LED scrap paper to see what you measured and when.

Ruler 2 is a handy tool, not just for designers and at a dollar, is definitely worth the spend.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the team at WhiteRhino

swimming_rhino_lowres

Bet you didn't know we could swim

 

See what other tricks we’ve got up our sleeve in 2012.

We’re all heading for the beach as of 24 December 2011 and we’ll return on 9 January 2012, ready to dive back into the next creative safari.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the team at WhiteRhino.

Andrew, Jeremy, Nadia, Jason, Karen, Grace, Jacqui, Liz & Susan – who all can swim!

Illustration by Jess McGeachin

WhiteRhino has a simply good time at MTC!

WhiteRhino ads for our client Simply Energy, Melbourne Theatre Company season sponsor.

Some of our ad work for Simply Energy, MTC season sponsor. Foyer poster and page three programme ads for productions of ‘Hamlet’ and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’

Thanks to Simply Energy for tickets to the amazing ‘Importance of Being Earnest’, great night!

The Design Files Open House

The Design Files Open House

Nadia and I popped into The Design Files Open House in Fitzroy Saturday morning to be inspired and eat cupcakes… Here are a few quick snaps we took in between swooning over cushions, bowls and Beci Orpin prints.

THE CD COVER NO-NO – Presentation Tips for Design Students

It’s important to design things you love. Working with ideas and concepts that inspire you is what makes designing fun and that’s the best part about this job, it can be really fun. Design tutors often use this technique to get students thinking and engaged in the wonderful world of design…

When showing your portfolio to a potential employer however, it’s important to show diversity so often it’s these pieces that will bring your work down. They stand out in a portfolio like a beacon – so much so that we’ve coined the phenomenon the ‘The CD Cover No-No’.

As a designer, being creative is only half the challenge. Being creative within the confines of a client’s brief can often be what takes a real stretch of the imagination and this is what we don’t get to see in the example cover art you’ve mocked up for your favorite band. Work like this makes up a very small part of the workload too and is more often than not shopped out to illustrators or artists so instead of showing us how creative you are without constraint, show us how you bring that passion to other things.

Just because you don’t have real clients doesn’t mean you can’t create real briefs. What does your Uncle Frank do? Own a garage. Does your next door neighbor still run a health and fitness business from home? Yes. These are your clients. Create your own brief from here and start designing around it.

Develop Uncle Frank a ripper logo, create some indicative stationery or maybe what his imaginary service car could look like. For your neighbor’s fitness business mock up some brochures, a web splash page or even some social media design. Yes, this is imaginary work but I guarantee it will better show your understanding of what’s involved in being a designer and go a long way towards you actually selling your skills and abilities to prospective employers.

So get rid of the cover art you did for your mate’s MySpace band page. It’s a definite folio no-no. Instead, show work that highlights your ability to come up with inspired and creative ideas no matter what the job. If you can make a family garage or backyard fitness business look just as interesting as your favorite indie band, then you can probably make someone else think so too – and that’s what makes a designer.