Tag Archives: graphic designer

What makes a graphic designer stand out?

Professional Graphic Designer Lansing, Grand Rapids, Mid Michigan

In-house Professional Graphic Designer

Recently I spent time with some local graphic design experts and the faculty from the Lansing Community College (LCC) Communication, Media and Arts Department. The LCC Annual Advisory Board Meeting is a time where faculty and professionals in the local graphic design community discuss what is most important for the students to learn to help them succeed in the graphic design industry. It is interesting to hear other professionals and instructors share the talents they are seeing in students and discuss how these skills can be honed.

Because LCC is a community college, students are typically enrolled for an Associates degree. Some students are there to transfer and some students plan to earn their Associates in Graphic Design degree and get a job. In an ideal world training would be geared to each specific goal. This luxury is saved for the colleges and Universities where students will receive Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) Graphic Design degrees or hang out until they earn a Masters in Design. The additional years offer educators to expound on design concepts, color theory, drawing technique, nuances in typography, problem solving and of course in depth graphic design software training. These are the area of study important for graphic designers to succeed. With only two years with the students what can a two year graphic design program at a community college include, what can be reduced, what is learned on the job?

It is a dilemma faced with all levels of schooling each year. With decreasing enrollment, reduced budgets, inflated products and industry tools (like graphic design software) the questions become more important each year. Each view is indulgent of the individual preferences in the group as employers and instructors who are design and art appreciators.

What I appreciate most about our annual meeting is that it has been established to address the needs of the students. What can we do to build better design students? What does a graphic designer need to know to hit the ground running when they graduate from the program? Should there be a strong focus on teaching drawing techniques or develop problem solving and visual sketching skills for future graphic design client presentations? What about software? How much time should be allotted for learning the ins and outs of Adobe Creative Suite? What if graphic design firms switch to different software? And what of the process and the conceptualizing that separates the creative graphic designer from the novice?

So many clearly important questions and so difficult to answer. One of my favorite suggestions that I would love to adopt for myself and the graphic designers in the shop is to fill seven sketchbook pages a week.  How much fun and discipline can I handle? Another list that that I think could be helpful is a list of what many graphic design shops in Michigan and design shops in Lansing may look for in a graphic design applicant.

How Graphic Designers Can Get a Job in Lansing:

  • Design and develop at least one web component with each project
  • Show the process – steps that it took you to get to the finished design
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of type and how it works best with graphics
  • Pull off a clean design of a boring project (like a form) shows tenacity
  • Share designs in public – on Pinterest, Facebook or other forum
  • Develop an online portfolio and a solid, clean interview portfolio
  • Research great design in print and on the web (subscribe to CA and other magazines)

Students and designers will enjoy doing some of the above more than others and gravitate toward their special focus as they become more experienced graphic designers. Truthfully I believe graphic design can be taught. Graphic design that stands out, conveys and emotes a clear and moving message is created by those born with the ability to see things others don’t and communicate thoughtfully and creatively. Regardless of whether it is determined that a sketch book is required in all graphic design classes, I am proud to be a part of the LCC Graphic Design Advisory Board because we are all committed to student success and in doings o we benefit the industry we love.

So what did I miss? What talents do you seek when you hire a graphic designer?

Top 10 Tips for Creating A Great Business Card Design

Business card sample of Bear Creek MaintenanceBusiness cards are still the best and most cost effective form of advertising your business or freelance work. The surest way to stand out like a start up is to say “I don’t have a business card yet.” The next best way to scream novice is to have a  business card design that looks like you designed and printed it yourself.

A business card design should quickly and clearly communicate what your business is. Creating a great business card design that will stay in the forefront of a prospect’s mind says it is customized for you and your company.

  1. Be Clear – Choose a font that is clearly legible. You don’t have to stick to the same standard fonts that are on everyone’s computer. Choose a font with personality that suits your brand just be sure it can be read. Print a proof at 100% size and have a variety of people read it. Don’t close out the senior market because they can’t read your card!
  2. Keep It Clean – A business card should not replace your brochure or website. Add contact information, a tag line if you have one or a coupled of products and services you offer. If you choose to add all of your products and service or other information, consider using the second side of the business card.
  3. Stand Out  – Nothing helps build a brand quicker than a custom logo design. Nothing beats a brand image that demonstrates your commitment to quality, and quickly communicates who you are like a professional logo design. Choose colors that are noticeable and suitable to your brand.
  4. Cover It – It’s important to include all points of contact. Include your company name, your name,  phone number(s), address, email and website. Include the best phone number for customers to reach you. If you don’t want to list your cell or fax number, it is not necessary. Web or home based businesses do not need to include addresses on their cards if they prefer. For independent company representatives, it is good practice to include the corporate headquarters address.
  5. Hold On – Compare the weight of the paper from business cards you have received. Which ones feel best? A flimsy stock will not hold up over time and can easily be lost. Choose card stock, preferably 12 pt and up.
  6. Finish Strong – A gloss- or UV-coated stock is more durable than an uncoated sheet, but it also shows finger prints and glare in high light. An uncoated or matte finish business card stock is more understated. A graphic designer or printer can help you determine which can suit your brand best.
  7. Add Value – Include a coupon, a calendar or dates to remember to encourage the recipient to hold on to your card. Add these to the back of the card so as not to compete with your contact information on the front.
  8. Look Closely – Whether you do it yourself or outsource design, make sure someone who hasn’t been a part of the design process proofs it before it goes to print. Call the phone numbers listed, check the emails and website URLs before printing your business cards.
  9. Show Off – Photos are a custom touch to business cards. Realtors, consultants and professional speakers business card designs benefit greatly by including their image. A picture offers recall for many years after a meeting; just be sure to use a current photo. You can also use a photo of your product, a shot of your corporate office building (if it is attractive), or a photo or graphic that is connected to your industry.
  10. Convey Class  – A business card from your desktop printer screams low standards. Plus inkjet prints dissolve before your eyes with any contact with water!  Full color business cards printed professionally are very economical and show you are committed to presenting your business in the highest class.

There are a few free business card design websites that offer hundreds of pre-made business card design templates. These sites often offer very inexpensive (sometimes free printing). For start up companies on limited budgets, this seems like a great solution. So thousands or companies utilize these business card templates – every day. I remember attending a networking event one evening where I brought back four business cards that were exactly the same design, same ink colors, same logo, etc. and they were all for a different company (and in some cases a different industry). Customize your business card to have top-of-the-mind awareness. If you are a commercial builder, you don’t’ want to be confused with the unlicensed home remodeler in your town because you are distributing the same business card designs.

Connection Group offers custom business card designs as an individual service and as part of our graphic design packages. Call us today for a business card design consultation. We can provide individual business card designs and cards for all of your staff and contractors. We’re happy to brainstorm unique added value ideas including calls to action and informational tips to help people hold to and continue to reference them. Receive

Fay's Evelyn Bay Coffee Shop Business Card  Phoenix Advisors Business Card samples  KISSolution Business Card Sample - Tammey Wine

Do You Know What Your Real Job Is? Graphic Design Job Duties Sure Have Changed!

Illustration of Connie Sweet electronic design illustration‘When you were a kid, could you, your teachers, or your parents imagine your current job? … ‘

My job has changed profoundly over my  20+ years in graphic design. In addition, new industries and jobs have developed that didn’t exist in the field when I chose graphic design as my career. In art school we had to sketch out concepts and handwrite text. My first real graphic designer job, I had to determine character count by hand then spec it for a typesetter – heaven forbid if there was a change in the copy after this step. Now, as owner of a graphic design and marketing firm specializing in brand marketing and website design, the occupation I enjoy as a graphic designer is a far cry from the description from the Kendall College of Art Design catalog back then.

Is your job title one that was included in a compiled Occupation List from Middle School? Is the title the same with vastly different tasks and techniques? Or has the original job you started fresh out of school been eliminated and you have reinvented yourself along the way?

While considering the industries I have been fortunate to work with through Connection Group, brick and mortar retail, real estate brokerages, marketing firms, I have seen and felt the tremendous changes each has implemented to continually evolve to meet todays business climate. How much has your ‘occupation type’ changed since you started your career path? I would love to hear where you started and where you are now, how vastly your tasks have changed since you entered the job market and set your career path.

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