Tuesday Bassen on Buy Some Damn Art
BSDA is centered around buying affordable originals, with a tagline of “Prints are great, Originals are better.” Check it out!
Studio Tour: Jennifer Young of I ART U
Wow, a studio tour with one of our favorite bloggers and photographers, Jennifer Young! Jennifer runs a blog that needs no introduction, I ART U. Read on to learn tips of the trade from Jennifer along with secrets from her studio.
Meg: Is your current studio space ideal? If not, what would you like to do to make it perfect?
Jennifer: My current studio space isn’t ideal, but it works for now. My husband and are renting a tiny one bedroom house, and since there wasn’t an extra room, we converted the small dining room into a creative working space. Ideally, I’d love to have my studio be in a separate room—it’s so easy to get distracted with the way things are set up right now! I can’t complain though…I’m lucky to have a space to work and be creative/inspired in!
Meg: How does your client photography work differ from the photography you feature on your blog?
Jennifer: My style when comparing the two is similar across the board. The main difference with my client photography work is that it showcases people—real emotions, beautiful and raw moments, connection, etc. A lot of the work on I ART U is just capturing what I see and the beauty of the daily.
Meg: My favorite thing about your photographs are how incredibly intimate they feel. Can you give our readers some tips on how to take intimate photographs?
Jennifer: Thank you so much! My favorite way to create more intimate images is by shooting what is in front of me—pulling out the camera on a whim when something catches my eye. I like when things are not overly styled or posed. This, in my opinion, helps create that intimacy and also captures the rawness of current happenings.
Meg: You seem pretty involved in Pinterest and have an amazingly extensive collection of Pinboards. Has Pinterest helped you to get more readers or even more personal clients?
Jennifer: Pinterest is so great! I use it mainly as a personal tool to catalogue inspirations. I don’t post a lot of my own work so I’m not too sure that it has helped direct more readers/clients my way.
Meg: Most of our Studio Tours aren’t photographed by professionals, they’re usually photographed by designers and illustrators with a keen visual eye. Do you have any tips for great interior photography for our future studio tourees?
Jennifer: I’m still learning a lot in this area! Shooting interiors is fairly new to me. I’d say use as much natural light as possible. Also, capturing wide shots as well as vignettes help show off the character of a space!
Be Free, Lance: Pricing Part 2
A couple weeks back, I decided to kick off my pricing discussion by taking a look at the bigger picture and how to fairly set standards/goals for yourself when it comes to getting paid. But now, we’ve gotta dive in a little deeper. As a freelance creative, there are two well known ways of getting paid : by the hour or fixed fees. Like most things, both of these methods have pros and cons … which I’m here to tell you about. There’s a solid winner in my head, but we’ll get to that later. Let’s get the facts straight, first.
No matter which payment option you prefer, both ways require you to assess any project that comes your way and estimate how long you think it’ll take. Now that, my friends, is a loaded thing to do. I vividly remember estimating the hours of my first project as a freelance designer. I sat there with a blank sheet of paper, trying to write down how long I thought each part of the design process would take. I came up with a number, but was it right?? Nope. The point is, when you’re first starting out - it’s difficult to know your own process and how long each project will take. That takes time and you’ll get it down, just have patience.
In this situation, many young creatives will feel more comfortable offering their services at an hourly rate. This way, they don’t have to give a final price right away and can begin working instead. What many people forget is that money is money and nobody likes spending more than they thought they would. You may have given a rough estimate as to how long a project would take, but hours add up quickly. If you have a client who wants revision after revision, your time is only going to continue to grow. But do you think a client is willing to pay for all of that overtime? No way … even if the revisions and extra time were unforeseeable. Now don’t get me wrong, some people will understand and pay you appropriately, but that’s rare. Nine times out of ten, you’ll have an unhappy client on your hands, and nobody wants that.
A good way to steer clear from all of this money tension is to simply use fixed fees. When you are able to tell a client up front that their project wil cost X amount of dollars and include X amount of revisions, they know very well what is about to happen and how much they’re going to invest for it. If it’s a price that both you and you’re client are happy and settled with, it’s a win-win situation. Of course there is a lot that goes into determining a project’s price, but I’ll cover that next time, as it’s another topic in its own right!
Like I said earlier, there’s a front runner when it comes to the debate in fixed fees vs pricing hourly. I know people can and will argue each way, but for me, setting up a flat rate for a client always wins. Not only does it decide the cost from the get go and avoid money tension during a project, but it also works wonders for efficient creatives. Let’s face it, some creatives work quicker than others. Let’s say two designers with similar experience and talent work on the same project at $50 per hour. If person A completes a project in 10 hours and person B finishes in 20, you can see how billing at an hourly rate would punish the quicker of the two. Person A would make $500, while person B would make $1,000 … double. That can become a big difference, especially when these two people were assumed to be on the same talent scale.
With all of this said, take some time to think about your own process and decide which would work better for you and has the most pros rather than cons. Never punish yourself by making less than you deserve. I’ll be back in a few weeks to discuss how to determine your prices! Until then, feel free to comment with any questions you have or email me at email@example.com. I’m always happy to talk to others about what I’ve written about over here.
Written by Breanna Rose.
MARGOT’S BI-WEEKLY DESIGN DISPATCH, NO.5
+ Ina Luxe kicks things off on a cheery note with her gorgeous patterns & textile designs. Wouldn’t this make for a fun rug?!
+ Reasons for Optimism: is exactly that. An archive of humans doing totally amazing things. Artsy things, science things, all sorts of mind-opening ideas. Take a peek!
+ Tickets for Cleveland’s WMC fest 2012 went on sale this week! Probably the world’s most approachable & budget-friendly design conference & music festival, it’s a grass-roots alternative to huge gatherings like SxSW. And bonus, Tuesday & I are both speaking! I can’t speak for Tues, but this is HUGE for me. Roll call time, who else is going? Kicking off Friday right this week! Head’s up hustlers, the weekend is nigh. Woohoo!
Honor Roll: Allison Kerek
Hey! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Whats your major and where do you go to school?
Hello! I’m just about to graduate from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Design. It was a terrific experience, but I’m ready to see what’s next.
Your illustration style reminds me bit of mid ’90s nickelodeon/MTV, a style I haven’t seen around in awhile. Where you you get your inspiration from? (T.V. shows, comics, other artists, etc.)
90’s Nick and MTV is what I grew up on. When I was young my mom would let me watch shows like Beavis and Butthead, Ren and Stimpy, Daria, South Park, and so on. Looking back on it, I have no idea why she let me watch such disturbing shows, but I’m glad she did. I’m still inspired by those animated series, as well as modern ones like Ugly Americans, and most of the Adult Swim programming. I also love King of the Hill, the characters on the show are perfect. I’m not much of a comics girl, but I am a big fan of the illustrators Josh Cochran and Christopher SilasNeal. Most of my friends are talented designers and artists who consistently inspire me. Tyler has phenomenal professors who have helped me grow tremendously. Dribbble’s awesome as well.
You’re also integrating this style into the web and I think that it’s awesome to see a website not conformed to a 16 column grid with pretty perfect text boxes everywhere. When you are designing/illustrating for web how do you go about laying everything out? I’m also seeing that you’re working with hand done type for almost every page you do, that takes some severe dedication. Tell us a little about your process from start to finish.
When it comes to the web I research the content of the website, sketch out what I want to do, cruise through a bunch of website websites, see how other illustrators approached web design, and then work my magic. I’m so thankful that I was able to learn CSS. Being able to code a website is so rewarding.
When it comes to type I lay everything out in photoshop, print it out, trace over the letters so that I get the kerning, leading and all of that jazz right and then alter the letters until I’m happy with them. When it comes to medium I like to create my type with pen, pencil, paint, or colored pencils. It’s time consuming but worth it.
If you had to choose to do either illustration or (web/print) design for a living, which would you prefer?
I’d probably say animation because it’s the best of both worlds. Seeing your illustrations come to life is so rewarding. I’m still very new to animation, so I’d like to work somewhere where I could learn more about the animation programs.
What is your preferred medium for your illustrations? What roll does the computer play in your style?
The medium I use depends on the project. I usually scan my drawings into photoshop, then multiple color on top of the scan, and then multiple hand made textures on top of it all. For my textures I usually use colored pencil or paint, but I also like graphite, pastels, and charcoal. Sometimes when I’m tired of drawing I’ll paint everything. I like to mix it up.
One project that had my jaw on the floor was “The Retired Kid”. The amount and the quality of those illustrations were unreal. Could you tell us a little about this project.
That was probably the easiest project that I’ve done at Tyler, as well as my favorite print piece. The assignment was to re-illustrate an existing children’s book. I went to the Free Library to find a book, and came across the book “The Retired Kid” by Jon Agee. I loved the story, and thought my illustration style could spice it up. I sketched out the entire book right away, making sure to mix up the lay out often, and then got to work. It was a monster of a project, but I never felt stressed out while doing it, honestly it was a lot of fun. I replaced the siblings in the story with my nephews, which made the project more personal to me. Another bonus about this project was that it the course was instructed by Paul Kepple from Headcase Design, and it was a pleasure having him as a professor. He was incredible.
Your projects have a fun, gruesome, intricate, colorful and super considered vibe to them, how do you go about coming up with the ideas for these illustrations? How big of a roll is concepting for you?
Concept usually isn’t a very big struggle for me. More often than not my ideas come to me very quickly. It really depends on the project. I can pretty much instantly tell what I want my animations to look like. I also like to do a lot of research on all my projects, especially when they involve a lot of content. I take thorough notes on the subject matter, and during the writing process something usually pops into my head. If I’m really stuck I’ll take a break from the project, work on something else, click around on different illustration websites, or clean up my work environment, and then come back to it later. It usually works like a charm.
Have you ever considered screen printing and selling posters of your work? I’m sure there are some people dying to get their hands on art like this.
I did take a Serigraphy course at Tyler, which was a lot of fun. That was a while ago, and I haven’t had much of a chance to screen print since… but I would love to try it again.
Do you have any side projects or an internship going on? How do you handle your time?
My classmate/friend Kelly Thorn and I make art together under the name Kellison. We’ve done flyers for the local band Lightninging, as well Dj Def Janiels (aka the pizza brain dude.) We also do our own personal art. We haven’t had much time to work together during portfolio semester, but if we wind up in the same city after graduation we’ll continue making some art.
When it comes to time management I’m pretty damn good at it. I have a strong work ethic, and don’t really screw around a lot. My projects take significant amount of time since they are hand done, so I like to work hard on them right away so that most of the heavy lifting is done early.
Outside of design, what are you most interested in?
School takes up my entire existence right now, but during break I like to visit my nephews, and go on trips with my friends (for instance we took a trip to a taping of Jerry Springer. That was inspiring…) I’d love to travel more, go to more concerts, eat more cheeseburgers at Silk City, and I’d like to get to know Philly better.
What are your next steps? Where would your dream job be?
Well, I was recently selected to attend Art Directors Club in NYC for the Interactive Design day. Only 8 Tyler kids are selected to go, so it was a real honor. I’m hoping maybe an opportunity presents itself there. I’m praying that someone will dig my bizarre illustrations and pay me to make people laugh/vomit with my animations. Working on something like Tim and Eric would be a dream. We’ll see…
Thanks so much for answering these questions. I know it’s getting down to crunch time for all y’all college seniors out there. I can’t wait to see some more of your animations around and maybe even someday see some of this radness on T.V. somewhere. Good luck with everything and as long as you keep that passionate work ethic going you’ll have no problem landing a radical gig. If you guys out there in internet land want to see more of Allison’s work check out her portfolio or dribbble OR tweet at her here
Be Free, Lance: Pricing Part 1
Not many people talk freely about pricing out freelance work. It’s this scary and unknown place, but honestly, everyone wants to know. I plan on covering a variety of topics regarding money over the next few weeks, so definitely check back for more! Before I sart, let’s get real : pricing is 100% different for everyone. No two people are alike. Creatives have different work ethics, skill sets, and experience … all of which need to be taken into account. It is my goal to give you a general sense of how to approach things.
Let’s start first by thinking of the big picture : your ideal income. According to AIGA’s annual survey, a fresh designer right out of school makes an average of $35,000 - $45,000 annually or about $20 - $30 per hour. If you’re starting out as a freelance creative, these numbers are a great starting point for you to look at. However, keep in mind that these averages are for those who are working with a company, have benefits, and a set work week for the most part. They’re not freelancers. People working for themselves do not receive benefits, have extra expenses, work odd hours, and are required to pay self employments taxes. Plus, not all hours put in are paid. There’s nobody above you paying you to promote and market yourself … It’s all out of pocket. With that said, although the yearly income averages I mentioned above are a very good starting point for research, a lot more needs to be taken into account.
The first thing I did when I decided to work for myself full-time was set a “goal income.” You know, what did I want to make, within reason. And because people rarely talk numbers ( even though everyone wants to know ), I’m going to be completely open and honest about my process. So here it goes : After a lot of thought, I told myself that I would be happy with at least $30,000 after one year of freelancing. That may seem low ( I kind of did that on purpose to myself ), compared to the $35,000 - $45,000 estimated earlier, but I knew that a LOT of my time would be unpaid dedicated to networking, research, and the development of my own business throughout that first year. I realized that I was building something from the ground up and money wouldn’t appear from thin air. My ideal yearly income has since changed, but hopefully this gives you some sort of starting point. Think about what you want to make, what’s reasonable, and find a happy medium. Who knows, you may surprise yourself and exceed your ideal income at the end of the first year. If I can do it, you can do it! Hard work pays off. Gain experience, learn as you go, and your ideal income will increase easily over time.
The second thing to conquer is setting up an hourly rate, which is the most challenging part by far. Sure, you could figure out how many hours you think you’re going to work per week, on average, and do some math with your ideal income to come up with an hourly rate. Or you could plug in some numbers to this free rate calculator. But here’s the thing : doing math will only give you a good starting point. It’s not an answer. There is absolutely no way to know exactly how much you’re going to make as a freelancer. There are just too many variables.
What I can tell you, though, is that you need to compensate yourself fairly. The $20 - $30 an hour estimate from AIGA does not work in this case, because working for a company and being a freelance creative equal different things when it comes to money. In my opinion, if you’re working for yourself, your hourly rate needs to be somewhat higher than the averages found on AIGA’s survey if you’re wanting to reach your ideal income. It’s the truth. While a designer working for a company could reach $35,000 a year by working at $20ish an hour, a freelance creative would have to work even more hours to reach that same salary. The reason for this is simple : not all hours a freelancer works are paid for. There are the hours you’ll spend endlessly marketing yourself and the times where you work more than you initially estimated on a project ( unpaid overtime ). There’s value and work ethic. Long work days and phone meetings. Because of these reasons, and many more, you need to adjust your price appropriately. It’s up to you how you interpret all of these things, but know that they need to be accounted for and added. Don’t undersell yourself, or you won’t survive.
I could go on and on about each and every little detail that goes into figuring out rates … from expenses to your own value as a creative, it’s all relavent! I hope that this post has come across as honest and raw. I know that not everyone will agree with my thoughts on pricing, but it’s good to get it out there and open for discussion. Remember, I’ll be back in a few weeks for even more on pricing!
Written by Breanna Rose.
Margot’s Bi-Weekly Design Dispatch, No.4
+ Starting things off with a song, from French band, Yuksek. Using mirror, the video is all reflections of cut paper, hand-dancing, and typography. The song itself is folk-pop blend and is equally as charming. It’s an absolutely inspired mix of visual & sound that is just so happy. Via Its Colossal.
+ Now, time for a hard think: are you as busy as you think you are? This article really made me sit up and take notice. I’ve been obsessing over my time ever since, probably to an unhealthy degree, but there’s no harm in trying to trim out some of the deadweight, no?
+ Austin Kleon’s newest book, How to Steal like an Artist is basically the newest manifesto on creativity, and it’s getting rave reviews from everyone from Seth Godin to Lifehacker. Looks to be a short read, the kind of book that will sit you down for a hearty chat and a cup of tea, and then toss you free all keyed up and ready to work your magic.
+ 40 iPhone tricks & shortcuts! I thought I was a wiz on the iPhone (since I spend so much time multi-tasking on it) but I learned several new tricks. Even better if you have the 4S and have Siri at your disposal. Oh, Siri, I can wait to upgrade and organize my life with the help of your sweet, dulcet tones.
Pressing Matters: The Booklet Library
As the name suggests, The Booklet Library is a book and booklet library based in Tokyo. All titles are made available to the public (by appointment) at Shibaura House, included in pop-up shows throughout Tokyo, and (best of all!) available to view online. It’s a great visual resource that provides not just cover art, but interior spreads and specs from many of the projects in the library’s archive. If you’re interested in sharing your own ‘zine with The Booklet Library, details about their submission process are available here.
Honor Roll: Teresa Wozniak
Hey there Teresa! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Whats your major and where do you go to school?
I’m a 4th year Interdisciplinary Design student at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’m graduating in May!
As an undergrad what was the most exciting thing you got to work on? What about it made you so interested in it?
I think that when it comes to projects, I’m always really excited about each one while I’m working on it, and the next one just always seems more exciting than the one before it. So I’d have to say that the project I’m working on now - a deck of cards themed after the four food groups in the Canadian Food Guide geared at helping kids and parents learn about nutrition. I’m having tons of fun drawing food, just last night I finished drawing the Queen of Fruit wearing a watermelon dress. the only downside of the project is that I am constantly hungry.
Where do you get your inspiration from? (websites, people, personal adventures, music, etc)
Honestly, all over the place. Dribbble is incredible, as is We Love Typography, FPO, The Dieline and Lovely Package. The designers and illustrators I adore are Jon Contino, Jessica Hische, Hydro74, Allan Peters, Shoe, Craig Robson - I could go on for days. I don’t really get inspired from music so much as it helps me work, and I usually listen to something loud that has a steady beat.
One of the main things that caught my eye about your work was the elegance of your letterforms, specifically the paper cut ones. Could you tell us a little more about that project and how you went about making it?
I honestly just made the outside of the letterform as a guide, glued it down to some heavy pound paper, and filled it with whatever I could come up with. None of it was really planned out. Some of the inside elements were traditional paper quilling forms, like the swirls and circles. But then you get to the point where you’ve been rolling up paper for hours, and it’s getting boring, and you think “Let’s throw a paper peacock feather in there. How do I do that?”. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, lots of thinking outside the box. I usually don’t glue little experiments down until I know they can work. As a side note, when I first started making paper cut letters, I was shocked at how strong the paper elements were. You can literally pile books on top of them and they won’t collapse.
I’m also a huge fan of the “Good Bye, Summer” Popsicle piece, was that for anyone/thing or was it just something that you wanted to make for yourself? And how important are self initiated projects to you?
That’s one of my favourite things I’ve done, and I’m revisiting it and making it into a series for an exhibition that’s coming up. I honestly just drew it for kicks, and was really surprised at the response that I got. I think that self initiated projects are probably the most beneficial and important things that any creative can do. Not only do they help you experiment and develop your skills, but they show others how you think and what you’re capable of. Sometimes briefs for work or school are limiting and don’t let creatives showcase their skills, or people get pigeonholed for one skill because of one successful project, and are stuck doing it for everything after that. That’s where self initiated projects come in and save the day.
I noticed you’re pretty active on twitter, dribbble, and what not. As a designer, do you think that these things are crucial to have?
It’s a great way to get your work out, and I’d attribute most of my, albeit humble, success to social media. When it comes down to it, social media is an easy vehicle for self promotion, and with that comes the criticism that every creative needs. We live in a world where almost everyone has a smartphone, brings their laptop everywhere and spends a good chunk of their day on Facebook or Twitter - benefitting from that is just a really smart thing to do.
Do you have any side projects or an internship going on? How do you handle your time?
Right now I’m working on a couple projects for some collectives (I’m not sure if I can say what they are, so I won’t), freelancing part time, and focusing on getting my homework done. Time wise I tend to procrastinate, so I keep myself on track with hour by hour to do lists, and tend to make mental deadlines for key parts of projects. For projects with clients, I always tell them I’ll send them something by a certain time, even if they don’t care. It keeps you on track. I find if I’m under pressure I tend to work harder, and when you divide projects into several deadlines for yourself you’re no longer deluded into thinking you have tons of time, when really you only have a month.
Outside of design, what are you most interested in?
Music, travel, food and my cat. I’m really not that interesting.
Off topic but…I noticed you made a poster about Philadelphia (my stomping grounds) and I have to ask, what’s an outsiders opinion of Philadelphia?
I’ve actually been to Philly and I love it. It’s old and beautiful and has good book stores, good dive bars (Oscar’s Tavern on Sansom, hello!), good cheesesteaks and lots of art. And people who say that it smells are just being huge babies.
What are your next steps? Are you looking to freelance or maybe live more of the agency lifestyle?
Probably a little bit of both, but I will definitely be looking into working at design studios or agencies. I want to see how this machine works.
Thanks so much fo taking the time to talk to me, I’m so excited to see those Food Cards! I wish you the best of luck out there in the job-o-sphere, and if you ever find yourself in Philadelphia feel free to drop a line! To check out more of Teresa’s work peep her Portfolio or her Dribbble and if you’re looking to get some witty banter going head on over to her Twitter.
Be Free, Lance: Moodboards
One of the most crucial parts of my process as a freelance designer has always been creating moodboards for my clients. It serves as an important visual communication tool between us and is often what I use as my final stamp of approval before designing even begins. The goal? To make sure everyone is on the same page. Now, moodboards aren’t just about putting images together in a pretty way. It’s actually a larger process that I’ve shaped over time to the needs of myself + my clients. It goes a little something like this :
First things first, I always like to open communication right away with my clients. We talk pretty generally about a project in the beginning. A brief dialogue about design aesthetics and project guidelines are covered in this part so everyone knows what’s expected of each other. Once I have a firm grasp on the project, I take time to develop a questionnaire for my clients to answer via google docs. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s basically an online version of microsoft office. I like to create a document that my client and I can share and fill out as time goes on. It’s a great way to collect important information and archive it for later. Plus, you don’t have to send files back and forth. It’s all automatically saved for everyone! You’re probably thinking to yourself … what’s up with all this google doc talk and why aren’t we talking about moodboards?? Well, I actually use all collected information from clients to develop moodboards, so it’s definitely relavent + important.
Now that I’ve covered the initial questionnaire, it’s time to get visual! While it’s great to have questions answered from the get go, there’s nothing like sharing imagery to really get things off the ground. Sure, a client can tell me they like the color yellow, but being able to see different hues, for example, is key. At this point, however, I’m still not ready to put together a moodboard. I know, I know! We’ll get there, I promise.
The next step, for me, heavily involves pinterest and serves as a place where clients can put imagery together to help further explain what they’re looking for. If pinterest isn’t your thing, you can have them do this in a variety of other ways … anything will work, really. They just need to gather inspirational images. The reason I have my clients do this is simply to unload their mind and get it all out there. There’s only so much you can explain in words, so this really is the icing on the cake.
At this point, we now have a filled out questionnaire and an entire pinterest board of inspiration, all from the point of view of the client. As a designer, it’s now my turn to sift through everything, connect the dots, and make sense of it all. If I’m being honest, I find this part of the process to be extremely therapeutic. There’s just something about figuring out the core concept + design aesthetics of a project that I really love figuring out … especially the big ”AHA” moment when everything starts coming together smoothly!
After researching everything and taking notes, I begin to not only pull images from my client’s pinterest board, but anything else that I see fit. This way, I’m fusing a client’s needs with my own design thoughts of how things should move forward. Color palettes and typography are also heavily explored, because I love to get to the point as quickly as possible so that my clients can see a clear path of how things will go.
Like I said earlier, once a moodboard is finished and sent off, I wait for the final approval before the design process even begins. If a designer and their client aren’t on the same page from the get go, problems will most definitely arise at some point! You don’t want to find yourself halfway through a project only to have someone tell you you’ve gone in a completely wrong direction. Seriously, that’s a huge blow to the face. Do anything to avoid it at all cost.
Moodboards can be extremely fun to do, yes, but oftentimes, I think people don’t realize just how important they are! It’s your time to get everything out in the open and create a solid communication between yourself and your client. I can’t stress how important that is! My moodboard process has taken some time to develop, as I haven’t always done it this way. But overtime, I’ve discovered it to be the most effective process to set the standards for a project. Feel free to adapt it as you see fit. Have fun with it!
Written by Breanna Rose.