New publication design for the YMCA of KC

The Challenger Your Fashion event is an annual fundraiser put on by the YMCA of Kansas City.There is a silent auction where donated sports memorabilia is auctioned off and all the proceeds go to help special needs children by constructing a sports complex just for them. After discussing a theme with the YMCA marketing department, I created an invite and program for the event. Because the Royals, Sporting KC, the Chiefs, and the Mavericks all donated items to be auctioned, we thought it would tie everything together with a theme of the city of Kansas City. I decided to create a graphic of the KC skyline that would be used through out the piece. It was so much fun to create and I love doing these projects for the Y. 


Alex Custom Homes Logo

Alex Custom Homes, a home relator and custom home builder, was in need of an updated logo. They wanted an eloquent look based around a shield to show the strength and professionalism of their business. Using the info they gave me we were able construct a logo that reflects the luxury and professionalism they were looking for.

5 Helpful Publication Design Tips

Publication design is something almost every graphic designer comes across, and for most of us, it is a pretty regular job. It is a cornerstone for graphic design. Whether you are designing a magazine/newspaper layout, or designing a website, great publication design is essential to the success of your creation. If your audience is confused or bored by the piece, their won't be many people reading or understanding the text, and then you have yourself a problem. Creating a new Indesign document can be daunting and a pain in the ass to set up correctly if you don't know where to start. With a little planning you can make it a lot easier on yourself and inevitably a much stronger and aesthetically pleasing piece.  

Throughout this article I will be referring to a project that I am working on for the YMCA of Kansas City. It is not a real fun piece, BUT it does work perfectly for these tips. If you want to see a much more fun publication design piece click here, or just check out the rest of my site. So in accordance with internet traditions, I am going to give you a list of 5 helpful publication design tips.

5. Setting Up the Template

Before you start laying text into your document you need to think of a few things so you don't have to go back and change a bunch of text or styles:

  • What is the document size? It's not always 8.5x11. Web design does not follow print rules. 
  • What are the margin sizes? (The space between the page and the text box) By default it will be 0.5in. Too large of a margin leaves a lot of wasted space and the need for a lot more pages. Too little of a margin means there will be a lot of text from one side to the other and makes it very hard to read.  

  • How many columns is/should this document be? Maximum character length for one column should be around 70 characters. 2 and 3 column articles are somewhere around 40-50 characters per line. Also a helpful, if you want uneven margins go to View>Grids and Guides> uncheck Lock column guides. Then you can click and drag the column to your liking.

  • What is the gutter width? (The space in between your columns?) 
  • What is the best/correct typeface to be used? This is for the most part, subjective. But here are a few links that take you to sites with good body text fonts.

According to Smashing Magazine (They are legit)

According to Smashing Magazine (They are legit)

4. Master Pages

If you don't know about the master pages, they are pages that dictate what is shown on everyone of your pages. They work well for things like banners, footers, and objects that are needed exactly the same on every page. 

On this design you can see I have a banner at the top that is required throughout the document, a note section, and a footer. To get to the master page section, open your pages panel and double click on master pages.

3. Paragraph Styles

Paragraph styles are designed to save you time. Instead of individually bolding a font, changing the case, adjusting point size, leading, and color you can create a paragraph style to change all that will the click of a button. You can find paragraph styles under Type>Paragraph Styles. From here click New Style, then double click that new style. You will see a plethora of options from here to style your paragraph just the way you would like.  

As you can see, I have several different styles to help me layout a very text heavy document. To apply these styles simply highlight the text you want to change, then click on the style that applies. (Hint: naming your styles helps quite a bit)

2. Hierarchy - Dictating What the Reader Sees First 

Creating a good hierarchy is imperative in publication design. It might be easy to distinguish between a main heading and body copy, but what if there are headings that are less important? In the design world the importance of headings are classified into H1, H2, H3, and H4's. H1 is the most important, with H4's being a header the reader should read after the rest.  Normally H1's are the largest heading out of the bunch with H2s being the next smallest and so on and so forth. But that is not always the case. There are several ways to achieve attention on a page without the use of size. A few of these things are typeface, color, case, and position. Also dividers like bullets and numbers play a role in hierarchy. Once you know the specifications and sizes of your headings I would suggest creating paragraph styles for them. Below is an example of hierarchy using different sizes, colors, and styles. 

1. Keep It Consistent - Keep it Clean

After you have your master pages set up, your headers in order, and are flying through the layout thanks to your very helpful paragraph styles, there is still one thing to keep in mind. Be as consistent as possible. That means if your leading between a header and body text is 18pts in one instance, make it EVERY instance. What case are your headers? What is bolded? What is the padding around a photo? All of these examples are things to keep in mind. Every project is going to be different obviously, but a cohesive document means a consistent document. Have you ever been reading an article and the headers are different colors, or God forbid point sizes are different? It isn't just my weird design mind that notices those difference; subliminally these tiny things add up and confuse a reader. Other things to remember to keep your document looking great are: 

  1. No widows - a paragraph that has one word on the last line. You can use tracking to help correct this problem.
  2. double spacing - If you are copying and pasting text from a word document there is a very good chance there are double spaces. A helpful hint for this is press Command>F on a Mac and it will bring up the find tool. Under the Find: form box press spacebar twice. Then under the Change To: form press spacebar once. Then click Find and then Change All. Gets rid of all those extra space and saves ALOT of tedious work. 
  3. Spell Check - Just do it. You may be surprised.
  4. Take a break - Staring at text for long periods of time, surprise, confuses and strains your brain. Take a break every now and then. It will be there when you get back. Promise.

So there you have. Pretty easy steps to help you in creating a great readable publication design. I hope some of this has been helpful and if you already knew all this, well aren't you just a smarty pants?


Thanks for the Garbage: A Graphic Designers Standpoint To Printed and Digital Junk Mail

Another junk mail letter from any number of creditors with a pre approved credit card inside. Emails from sites you visited once, that are nearly impossible to unsubscribe because the amount of steps you have to jump through.  

We have all gotten junk mail, both actual mail and email. I don't have to say how annoying it is when your trash can is full with nothing but junk mail or getting another email from eBay reminding you that they are eBay, even though you swear you have unsubscribed from them 10 times before. Americans receive around 90 billion pieces of junk mail every year. In addition, Spam accounts for 14.5 billion messages globally per day. That is about 45% of the emails of all emails everyday. So while you are waiting for that important email about whether or not you got the job, you are much more likely to get useless garbage first. 

But what I think is possibly overlooked with both junk mail and email, is the fact that graphic designers have to create it. All of it. Not a small number of designers but a lot of them. Don't get me wrong, I am guilty as well. I have created many emails and mailers that were discarded before anyone even thought about reading them. But if I can help it, I make memorable professional designs. 

Creating “shotgun blast mailers and emails is disheartening to say the least. First off it is a waste of your professional time and talents. You could design something that actually matters by taking a little time with the concept, but instead you are forced to shotgun blast unsuspecting email subscribers and mailing listers with boring, pointless information. Secondly is an ethical issue. At one point you realize the work you are creating is actually making people mad and is not advancing or helping the human race in anyway. Further more, things like postcards, brochures, and other mailers account for 100 million trees being cut down every year. 

Luckily there are a few ways to help stop this mind and soul numbing mail from reaching you. Here is a link that gives some helpful advice on keeping unwanted emails away from your inbox. Some tips include creating a separate email to for all of those unavoidable subscriptions and tips on filtering. To help you get rid of that junk mail in your mailbox, I found a site that will help you streamline the opt-out process of junk mail so you don't have to contact companies yourself. It's totally free.

Junk mail isn't going anywhere for a while, but at least you can give it a big middle finger. Until the next great piece of technology is invented, then it starts all over again.

New Method of Selling My Art: Society6

I found out about Society6, which is a site for artists and designers to post their artistic creations to a very large pool of people to see and purchase. What is really neat is using a single piece and submitting a few different sizes, Society6 will mock up what your design would look like on phone cases, pillows, laptop covers, shower curtains, and much more.  I love the site and have spent many hours checking out some really amazing pieces of art. Their are some truly talented artists that you can tell put a lot of time and ability into their pieces that they post. Those links above are my shop, but take a look around at all the imagination on that site. Also very affordable pricing and so many options. Really looking forward to selling some of my stuff in that community. 

Campaign: 2014 YMCA Spirit of Service Awards

By almost sheer luck I had the opportunity to start working with the YMCA of Kansas City. I was asked to design a campaign for the Spirit if Service Awards that would take place at Starlight Theatre. The Spirit of Service Award show is an annual event held by the YMCA of Kansas City that honors and recognizes volunteers that share their time and talent in YMCA centers and programs to strengthen the foundation of their communities. These are great people that are recognized.  This campaign would include event invitations (mailer and email), photoshoot for the volunteers, table decorations, and the main design, a booklet detailing nominees and the event. 

Every year their is a theme to the event and this year it was "Hats Off To You". Knowing the theme and that the event was being held at a Starlight, I thought it would be fitting to go with a theatre theme. Using the many different colors of the Y brand, I colorfully designed the booklet and event collateral with many different stage and theatre references, all while staying within the Y's branding guidelines. It was such a blast to design this campaign. My favorite part was helping out and giving ideas at the photoshoot all the while meeting such great people.

The event was beautiful and really opened my eyes to the great people that volunteer and work for the YMCA of Kansas City. I was very proud to have been a big part of such a great event with great people and I look forward to working with them in the near future. You can see more pictures of this event right here.


Xmas Card Design Kansas City

Working with Aly Marie Photography again I came up with this design for a christmas card. The photography is once again amazing and it was a lot of fun to design. I got to get creative with typography which is something every graphic designer needs to work on. Anyway check it out if you would like. 

New Local Kansas City Art: The Bullet

I made this digital art piece a while back but just now getting around to posting it. Obviously America has a gun problem, no matter what side of the 2nd amendment you are on. I heard a quote that I thought really spoke a lot on our current situation of lots of people getting shot in this country. "It isn't the bullet with my name on it that I am worried about. it's the one addressed "'to whom it may concern'". I think that is a very good way to look at guns and how we deal with anger. So I decided to make a piece reflecting that saying. So check it out. 

Design For A Cause: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I was  approached by the Saline County Prosecutors office and asked to design a banner for domestic violence awareness month. Of course I said I would make something for them. Got to keep on the right side of the prosecutors office you know. They needed something with large easily readable type that could be displayed outside of the courthouse. I have made a ton of banners so I was no stranger to designing it or getting it printed on the right material. What I came up with was the design below. Purple is domestic violence awareness's color and I thought the "Keep Calm" type would go well and make it more noticeable to people. They had a press release and wrote an article in the Marshall Democrat talking about domestic violence. All very awesome things to bring to peoples attention, in case you haven't followed any NFL news in the past 2 months. I was happy to help out with such a great cause and hope it helps someone out there find some help. Now for some domestic violence facts (spoiler alert: they are horrifying).

Statistics show a victim of domestic violence waits until they've been hit an average of 35 times before filing a police report. Intimate partner violence alone affects more than 12 million people each year. 

Birth Announcement Design: Work for Aly Marie Photography

I have really enjoyed working with Aly Marie Photography and have really enjoyed designing her clients birth announcements. These are 5x7in post cards of newborns that basically welcome them into the world. Aly is such a great photographer and she makes it easy to design great looking birth announcements. You can find more birth announcements like these on my website here.

SEO - Blogs are the Cornerstone to Getting Business on Google

I recently talked with a potential client about the importance of Search Engine Optimization. He is wanting to expand his cliental and gain exposure for his business. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines. It is the likely hood of someone clicking on a link on Google to take them to a page on your website. Ideally, one wants to be on the first 1-3 pages on Google for a search result, because people are very unlikely to click past page 3. 

So how does one rank higher on Google and move up to those coveted first 3 pages? One of the easiest and most efficient ways to move up in Google rankings is starting a blog. Google loves new content and a blog is an easy way to get organic traffic.  It is all about keywords. Keywords are pinged from Google search results. So if you are a pet groomer you would want to use keywords that people would search for when looking for a pet groomer. Things like "dog groomer Kansas City", "pet hair cut" and "Kansas City pet care" would all be good keywords in that case. These keywords are inserted into the blog text and as tags that are not seen by the viewer, that are in the header area of your web code. Even if you read this blog you will notice keywords that I use to help my rankings. When I say things like SEO, Kansas City graphic designer, and web design Kansas City, it is adding fresh organic material to Google and makes it more likely I will receive new business.

There is a reason I have a blog as a graphic designer in Kansas City. The more posts on a blog, the more chances that one of those posts matches a phrase being searched. Thus, regular bloggers quickly find that blog traffic outperforms traditional website traffic by 3x or more. So there you go, that is one very easy thing you can do to help increase your chances of being found on Google. I will also post a chart that gives a visual aid to SEO.

New piece of art

I recently made this piece of digital art. It is just a fun piece, it doesn't have a lot of deep meaning to it. It is fun to mess with transparencies and lighting effects. I saw that Jurassic Park is being re-made and it made me think of raptors and how much I loved dinosaurs growing up. So I guess thanks to Jurassic Park for providing me with really cool dinosaurs and making my childhood fun, and now as a graphic designer in kansas city, I can show my love for the velociraptor. Clever girl...