Monday, October 22, 2007

Puzzle Sketch 3

This one is round and has: A fish, a crown, a cat, a baseball player, a chicken head, a rose, a moon face and a stopwatch.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Spots: A Study

I do spot illustrations all the time, for an assignment I had to come up with about a dozen small spots that looked similar. I used the same color palette and a handful of the same illustration elements. Out of this I created these, see if you can spot the similar elements.

Spot Illustrations

Illustration: Loud White House

Illustration: Online Classes

Illustration: Working Stiffs

Thursday, October 18, 2007

No Cell Phones Sign

I illustrated an icon for "No Cell Phones" to be made into a sticker and displayed next to our study areas.

Wireless Sign (and Icon)

The library needed a sign for the wireless initiative that is supposed to be in all the libraries by the end of next year. I created an icon that was supposed to be some sort of international symbol for wireless, since there isn't one, yet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Crabby McShell

St. Libros, Patron Saint of Overdue Books

The Trap

An spot illustration I did for an article that concerned a "trap".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time Flies

Another Spot Illustration for "Time Flies"

Thursday, October 4, 2007


This one has a lion, an alligator, a dolphin, a guitar, a drumstick, a bottle, a leaf, a diamond ring, a knife and an acorn.

Good Luck.

Sketch: Squirrel

I sketched this last night while watching TV, just scribblin', no idea why a squirrel.

Maybe cause they are NUTS this time of year, running around getting ready for winter, gotta bury my nuts, gotta bury my nuts. They are always running in front of cars this time of year, which isn't so nice.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Music Series Display

We put up the new music series display this week. It was the first time I sent a large-format print downstairs. Its about 65 inches wide and is supposed to mimic the brochure I designed the month before.

It turned out well. I will post some pics of the brochure (as well as the brochure from the previous year) very soon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Logo That Wasn't Chosen

Here is my other effort for the Ready to read program, but they liked the kangaroo.

If anyone wants to use this, please contact me. :)

Update: Here is a sketch I did as a preliminary for this logo.

The Ready to Read Logo

My Ready to Read logo was finalized and given the blessing.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sticker Shock

I have an excellent vendor that does stickers and labels. I prepare the artwork and they do the heavy lifting. They provide great pricing and I get to pass that on to my customers, theoretically giving me an advantage in the market.

It doesn't always work out that way, for instance, a few months ago I made up a cute character to help promote a program that encourages early readers. The image is of a duck next to a egg shell (see sample). This image was put onto stickers and those stickers were placed on books that were targeted to early readers and their parents.

I knew about how much I could get them for so I started looking for vendors around the area that could get these done. The Library can't buy stickers from me, cause I work for the library as my full time job, so it would be a conflict of interest.

Anyway, I began with Jakprints, a vendor we had used before for another job and some printing. They offer a great price on some stickers and labels, but on others they are waaaay out of bounds. We used them for the first run because we were under a time constraint. Their price was about $750 for 2,000, 2-inch, 2-color stickers.

I knew I could do better, so I went to a local sign shop for an estimate. I went as far as to tell the salesman that I had the same vendor he probably uses for his stickers as well. I was hoping this would give me a better price, knowing that I knew what he pays his vendor. This didn't happen, his estimate was $817 for 2,500 and another $100 artwork charge on top of that.

I could have done these for $230. SO I kept searching and approached a local printer not far from the sign guys. I explained how they had jerked me around even though I informed them that we used similar vendors. I told him that if he just passed on the artwork, he could up-charge a fair amount and he would be the best vendor to go with. He did and we gave him the business.

That vendor charged a fair amount and got our business, but how many other businesses don't know what's supposed to be a fair price?

All I can say is that you can always email me for an estimate, free of charge.

Sketch: Hidden Images

I did this a few days ago, just picked up a pencil and things started to take shape. There are a few hidden images in there; A flower, a Horse, a Bird and a Sailboat. Can you find them all?

Illustration: Elephant

I did a quick and dirty illustration on the back of an envelope for my sisters birthday card, its an elephant, a symbol of good luck and health.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Master of Your Domain (Name)

I worked for a Puzzle and Game company a few years ago as the Graphics person, helping to create the marketing materials for the company.

My last year there, the new COO decided to hire an outside firm to rebrand the company, getting away from our roots of serving smaller toy shops and gearing the company towards retailers that were major, such as Target, Wal Mart, Barnes & Noble, etc..

The firm came up with a new logo, slogan and advertising campaign. It was decided to unveil this new branding at the upcoming Toy Fair in New York, the biggest toy show of the year. They even bought a full page ad in a trade magazine to announce our new look and logo.

Well, four weeks before this grand unveiling of our new name and look and someone inquires about our domain name, did anyone secure the domain name for the new name?

The answer was no. The marketing firm thought we had secured it and the company thought that the marketing firm had taken care of this.

So the COO went to work trying to get this domain from the guy who had it. He was a former Jeopardy champion who was using it as a springboard for some kind of educational use. The end result was that he wasn't interested in giving it up, I have no idea what the COO offered him, but it was refused.

So two weeks before Toy Fair and we had to change all of our marketing materials because we embraced a new name. We changed our flyers, brochures, envelopes, letterhead and business cards. There was also packaging, for about 30 different products - it was a heck of a week.

There was one more thing that was lost during all of this, the front page advertisement on that trade magazine to be distributed at Toy Fair. The marketing and Sales team had to go around Toy Fair the morning it opened and take the front covers off of every issue of that magazine before it got into the hands of any of the readers.

This all happened because nobody bothered to look up the domain name to see if it was available. So if you are thinking about changing your businesses name or want to start a new business, learn from someone else's mistake, check on the domain name first.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Let It Bleed

From time to time, I will also include blog posts about my full time gig, working for the Library as a Graphic Artist.

Recently I decided to make a minor change in the department's premier publication, named "This Month", we call it the Calender, because it lists all of the programs that the library system offers throughout its 21 branches.

The change I decided to make was to change it to "full bleed". Full bleed is a term used by printers and designers to convey that the image will bleed all the way over the edge of a page. (See samples below)

As you can see, the images actually bleed off of the page without that annoying white frame that makes other publications look like they were printed on a desktop printer. It also allowed me to use the entire page, so I had wider columns and could let the header a footer design elements anchor each page.

The header and footer design elements were repeated throughout the entire publication, making it seem much more of a cohesive publication, even when you open the page, it isn't broken up, the images flow all the way across the page.

The best thing about this minor change was the price, after all was said and done, it was only $50 more per issue. We print about 18,000 copies of this each month, so that equals about 3/10 of a cent for each copy of added cost, but the end results look much more expensive.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Allow Me To Introduce Myself

I decided to start this blog about Graphic Design for several reasons;
Educate potential clients about Graphic Design
Serve as a sounding board for/about my profession
A diary concentrating on the creative industry

All About Me
Where do I start? Well, I have been doing illustration since I was a little kid, loved to draw stuff. When I was in High School, I started working for a Sporting Goods company that produced jerseys for local schools sports teams. I learned all about silk screening and eventually how the designs were made. As luck would have it, the Commercial Artist (yes, thats what they were called back then), decided to quit, so they asked me to fill in, since they knew I had an artistic background.

I started going to NOVA that Fall and worked full time during that same period. The owner decided to use a computer to help make the designs for the silk screening, it was a Macintosh IIfx, and it was awesome. 8MB of RAM, no hard disk, just a floppy disk to keep the artwork. I used a program to manipulate text, so I didn't need to draw and redraw things. It saved a ton of time and I got some valuable experience.

I went to Old Dominion University to study Graphic Design and was exposed further to the Macintosh platform, the graphic programs such as Pagemaker, MacDraw and PixelPaint were in their infancy.

My first job was doing graphics support for a government agency, then as a government contractor, getting versed in programs such as Quark, Illustrator, Freehand and Photoshop and learning about how to get stuff printed correctly.

In 1997 I started working for Federal Computer Week, which was a great opportunity. I really got to show my illustration abilities and create a wide variety of work; Spot Illustrations, Info Graphics, Magazine Covers and even wrote a review for a set of new Mac laptops (july 1999).

My next job was for a puzzle and game company, which sound like a ton of fun, but which I discovered, wasn't all fun and games. I was there for about four years and went through five bosses. I did get a chance to do a variety of work, but not a lot of career growth and potential. More about that later.

After that, I went out on my own, for a short time and it was tough. I would have done a dozen things differently if I had to do it over again, but I decided to take a job working for the local government at the Library Administration supporting 20+ branches. I still do freelance work, but have the luxury of choosing my clients and jobs.

In the last year, I haven't concentrated on my freelance business as much because I am a first-time father and spend most of my free time with him. He is much more independent now, so I get time to do small jobs now and then. I decided that a blog is a good tool to educate and entertain those that may want to know more about Hero Dog Design.