Hallway Presentations

•April 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Today in class we had to explain interruption projects, but they weren’t our own. Based only on what we had put together in the form of a poster and/or location mock-up, someone else did their best to explain what we planned to do.

Some projects had good documentation with explanations alongside, while others had next to nothing posted. Those who were well prepared had project themes, clear locations, and understandable process (how people would interact with the project). Those who had very little with them were unclear in goal, location, and/or had little explanation of the project.

I actually ended up explaining the project I’m going to be helping with. Anne has allowed my to join in on her plane project. Thus far, I have not contributed and so my explanation was based on what I saw and what Anne has told me. She could have been clearer with how the laptop on the table was a part of the project and also why people would need to know about the specific kinds of airplanes. I also could have read the poster below the project, but it seemed to be a bit outdated.

Informational Interview with Dawn Wenck

•April 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Dawn and I met Thursday afternoon at Olson in downtown Minneapolis. She gave me a quick tour of the company’s workplace before we sat down and began the interview.

To start things off, Dawn talked about how she got into design in the first place. Originally she’d gotten an undergraduate in art education and taught classes at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Relatively quickly she realized that she wanted to be doing what she was teaching. Thus, she returned to school and earned a degree in graphic design from MCAD.

From there she got an internship at what is now Kick and it turned into a job. As of last May, Dawn moved to Olson where she is a senior designer.

While talking I learned that Dawn has helped review portfolios at AIGA’s Portfolio 1-on-1 in the past and she had a lot of good, general advice. Some of the thing she mentioned were:

  • Be an interesting person. Be different. Be original. Be new. 
  • Let your portfolio speak for you.
  • Have multiple formats of your portfolio.
  • Consider the order of projects.
  • Have a point of view and something to say.
  • Have questions.
  • Be excited! Be motivated!

Because she’s reviewed so many portfolios, Dawn says it’s easy to see the trends and who’s following them. Be the one making the trends. Be the person who finds the next big thing! But make sure you stick to your interests. Focus on what you’re excited about and pursue it. Make sure it shows up in your portfolio. You won’t always have the chance to talk along with your portfolio so let it stand on it’s own. With that mind, pay attention to how you order things. Tell a story that makes sense, don’t just drop stuff in there willy-nilly.

Also, never forget to be excited! This was something Dawn brought up repeatedly. Employers can always find someone who’s good and excited. Be that person. As a bit of side-note, if you can, show what other skills you have. Working at an ad agency, Dawn said she’s done photoshoots before and is currently working on something internal to do with letterpress. You like writing and are good at it? Try writing up your own copy instead of using filler text.

As a final note, Dawn talked about being involved. AIGA. AdFed. Volunteer and meet people. Connections are your greatest weapon.

Informational Interview with Nick Lee

•February 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Nick and I met over Skype Tuesday afternoon. Thankfully we had no connection issues and everything went wonderfully smooth. I connected with Nick after interviewing Gordon last month. They went to the same college and have stayed connected ever since. When I asked if Gordon knew anyone from the publishing side of design I could talk to he mentioned Nick.

Once again, here comes the summation of my interview. Enjoy!

[paraphrasing now]

How long have you been a designer?

About 8 years. I interned at International Bible Society (now Biblica) and upon graduation my internship turned into a job. I worked there for about 5 and a half years before moving back to Minnesota. After a year, when I couldn’t get a job here, I returned to Colorado Springs and got a job at David C. Cook. I’ve worked at Cook for 2 years now.

David C Cook logo

What kind of work do you do at Cook?

There are two in-house designers at Cook (designers who are employed by the company instead of them hiring outside design help). We work on both the backlist and frontlist books. Backlist books are already published books that need to be mantained. We make sure they’re up to date, occasionally redesign their covers, and tweak their spines if the printer changes. Frontlist books are incoming books that are in the process of being published. For these books I make the covers and templates (pick out typefaces and design the general layout) for the typesetters to use.

What does your average day look like?

It’s hard to say. Publishing companies, specifically Cook, have three spans during the course of a year; spring span, summer span and fall span. Each span begins with initial cover designs and template making and the end is marked by cover finalization and the release of our catalog. By the end of this week we’ll be finishing the fall span so I’m busy updating our backlist and checking on the frontlist to make sure they’re both ready to go.

I’ll admit, I spend a lot of time on the internet. I look for inspiration and keep tabs on the current culture. This is so when I’m asked to make a cover that relates to say, teen-aged guys, I’ve got a good idea of what will be interesting to them.

Working in-house at a publisher is different than LARSEN where Gordon works. He has to keep careful track of his billable hours where as I’ve got more flexibility.

Do you do any freelance work in your spare time?

I don’t. Which is, actually, a rarity. If I have time to do something artistic I’d prefer to do something for my own enjoyment than just to make some extra money.

What do you do in that spare time?

I really enjoy painting. I also have a camera and do a bit of photography. Writing too, occasionally.

I figure you’re not a part of hiring on designers, but do you have any idea what publishers are looking for in graduates?

Well… you’re right I’m not. If I were part of hiring, something that would stand out to me is details. No detail is too small. Be as extensive in your designs as you can. Also, in the realm of publishing, typography is key. Not too many students have a good grasp on typography, but if you can show that you know type I think you’d stand out. Additionally, because of where publishing is headed, if you know anything about ebook publishing that’ll help you.

What are somethings I should work on while I’m still in school?

Speed. Speed is more important than you think. Even just knowing the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. Make sure you’re always learning, even after you graduate. Design everyday. Hone your skills. Also, learn how to create ebooks. Know how to turn InDesign files into Epub files and then into Kindle files. Learn XML and CSS. Valuable skills in the publishing world. Develop a good work ethic and create a personal brand.

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In the end, Nick and I talked for about half an hour. I learned quite a few things about the publishing industry that I hadn’t known before.

20 People

•February 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Below is a list of 20 people who either are or represent the people I hope look at my portfolio and are interested in what I can do for them…
1. Nick Lee - Assiciate Designer at David C. Cook
2. Dawn Wenck - Senior Designer at Olson
3. Michael Taeckens - Marketing Director at Graywolf Press
4. Dennis Ryan – Chief Creative Officer at Olson
5. Amy Overgaard - Publishing Assistant at 32 Magazine
6. Richard Boynton - Co-Founder / Partner at Wink
7. Marysarah Quinn - SVP and Creative Director at The Crown Publishing Group
8. Andrew Peltcs - eBook Technical Manager at Random House
9. Peter Mendelsund - Art Director at Knopf
10. Carol Devine Carson - Art Director at Knopf
11. Dara Beevas - Founder at WiseInk
12. Rett Martin - Director of Creative at Clockwork
13. Archie V - Musician
14. Jesse Smith - Musician
15. Makkon - Musician
16. K. M. Weiland - Author
17. Ralph Ewig - Author
18. David J. Hartang - Author
19. Aubrey Hansen - Author
20. J. Grace Pennington - Author

Google Apps

•January 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Google Apps has been around for a while already, but who uses it? Is it as amazing and useful as other programs such as Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, or OpenOffice? Is it worth the technological learning curve to have all your documents online?

For a school project I will be researching this. So far my digging has unearthed these sites:

Google Apps for Education

Google Apps for Business

Buckupify – Who uses Google Apps?

Backupify – Google Apps Demographics

CNN – The Hidden Cost of Google Apps

GOS – [posts tagged with “Google Docs”]

GOS – [posts tagged with “Google Apps”]

Forbes – Google Apps by the Numbers

Office – Microsoft Office on your Phone

Office – How Bill Gates uses Microsoft Office

eHow Tech – The Advantages of Microsoft Office

eHow Tech – The Disadvantages or OpenOffice

eHow Tech – What IS Microsoft Office used for?

eHow Tech – Microsoft Office Vs. OpenOffice

GOS – Most Frequently Used Features of Microsoft Office

idealware – Microsoft Office Vs. OpenOffice

Apple – iWork

MacWorld – Using iCloud with iWork

ZDnet – Is iWork for Mac on Life Support?

Informational Interview with Gordon McIntyre-Lee

•January 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I met up with Gordon McIntyre-Lee earlier today and had a quick, half-hour or so conversation with him concerning how the design world works and what Gordon does as a Design Director at LARSEN here in the Twin Cities.

I arrived a bit early (10-15 minutes) and, while I had a list of questions, I quickly realized that I’m not a script sort of person when it comes to conversation. I mentally grouped questions together into broader ones while taking notes in my crazy, indecipherable-by-anyone-but-me style. Here is the cleaned up version for you to read.

[paraphrasing now]

How did you start off in the design world?

I started off in college at CVA (College of Visual Art) with a major in architecture but discovered interactive design at school and liked it better. After school, I didn’t get an internship (I’ve actually never had an internship), instead I did some freelance work for an instructor from CVA. About a year later (with college loans about to begin breathing down my back) I realized that I should be like the people I graduated with and get a full-time job. I used AIGA’s job listings to find one. My first job was at Periscope. A few years later, I began looking around for another job and ended up at LARSEN. I’ve been here ever since.

How exactly do promotions work (at LARSEN)?

Well, as an entry-level designer, you’re focused mainly on craft. As you become better at your craft, you can begin to have more interaction with clients. As you work on those two skills you can eventually rise to working on some projects while managing others. It is your experience and personal skill development that determine promotions.

What happens when you’re faced with a boring project?

You have to make it interesting. Somehow. Even if it is the dryest project you’ve ever faced, you need to find something that you can get excited about. Even if it is simply making the most amazing buttons for a website. You always have to find a way to push yourself.

What are your work relationships like?

I’m friends with most of the people I work with, but the level of friendship really depends on the person. I like biking and there’s a guy here at work who we’ll sometimes bike together.

What is something that shocked or surprised you when you had your first job as a designer?

Design isn’t always  the focus. When you’re in school all you’re surrounded by is design. At a firm, not everyone you work with is so excited about design. Also, you’re always working with people. In school almost all of your projects (except for the occasional group project) are done by only you. When you have a design job, you’re always on a team and have to give and take to work with others.

What are somethings you want or expect at an interview?

I see a lot of portfolios with a range of work, which is a good thing, but I’d prefer fewer projects with more depth than a lot of simple projects that aren’t connected. Like, if you can do a logo, stationary and a website. A combination. That would be great. Also, always bring questions for your interviewer. You want to find out what this company is about and if you fit in and, well, I once interviewed someone who had no questions and it was awkward. Questions show that you’re really interested and that you care.

What should I really be focusing on before I graduate?

Your book (portfolio book). Your book is really important. Like I said before, have a range of well developed projects and put effort into making your book. Be enthusiastic and let that show through your work and when you go and interview people. Networking is important, but if you can make some progress on your book, skip that designer meet-up event.

What do you want to see on a resume?

One thing, and I noticed this on your’s, is put your graduation date. Even if it’s just your expected graduation. Having that there gives people a better idea of how much history you have with design. Relate your previous experience to design. Even if you worked at a retail store, you had client interaction of sorts. Have your skill set. Not a list of programs you know, but creative things you’re good at: ideation, client interaction, ect. Be brief.

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Finally I asked Gordon if he had any suggestions for my site. We went thorough the portfolio page and he offered some commentary on what projects I had up. I found it extremely helpful to get someone’s (designer) opinion of my projects. I’ve got some ideas on what to improve and notes to back them up.

Mind-map of Games

•January 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The games mentioned are only a small sample of all the games out there. For obvious reasons I could not include all game titles.

click to see full size image

click to see full sized image

Internet Usage and Motivation

•January 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Of the 7 billion people on earth, 2.4 billion use the internet meaning almost 35% of the worlds’ population uses the internet. [1] Elroy Jopling, research director at Gartner, said in an article in 2008: “The Internet has become a utility for most consumers, who use it for communicating, gathering information and performing financial transactions. However, a new ‘trickle down’ phenomenon, where teenagers lead the evolution of consumer Internet applications, heralds a new era where Internet applications will mimic life — communicating, entertaining, socializing, informing, transactional, either in a fixed location or on the move.” [2]

Number of internet users in the world. Figure from World Internet Stats.

Number of internet users by continent (and world total). Figure from Google Public Data.

Number of internet users by continent. Figure from Google Public Data.

Top 6 reasons people used the internet in 2008 [3]:

1. Use e-mail
2. Gather information
3. Online banking
4. Sharing photos, videos, and files
5. Geographic navigation services
6. Shopping online

15 Most Popular Uses of Web as of 2011 [4]:

1. Web surfing
2. Email and chatting
3. Social Networking
4. Videos
5. Online Business
6. Job Sites
7. News and Information
8. Classified Ads
9. Blogs
11. Online payments
12. Online Banking
13. File sharing
14. Online games
15. Online Dating

(for another list of popular internet uses, along with the percent of users who perform such activities, see this page)

Figure of reasons for using the internet listed by age

Reasons for using the internet according to age group. Figure from Ofcom.

Surprise Midnight Post!

•November 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Are you surprised? I hope you’re surprised. I’m thankfully not surprised, I had this all planned. And as with most plans, this plan has a purpose.

A friend of mine, an author to be precise, is nearing the launch of her next book and she had come up with a brilliant plan. Which I guess mean I didn’t plan all this… she did.

Continue reading ‘Surprise Midnight Post!’

Bookmark Monday!

•November 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

‘ello! Sorry for the disappearance yet again. Can’t say it won’t happen again, but here’s my peace offering:

9 Reasons to Quit Writing

I’m always encouraging people to be patient, persevere through the obstacles, and doggedly pursue their dream… But… is there a time when you should give up?

4 Presentation Ideas for Indie Authors

As you know, we think speaking is a nifty way to get your book’s content to the masses. It’s awesome for expanding your reach, building your platform, and it offers a painless opportunity to shamelessly promote your book. You really shouldn’t ignore these opportunities. In fact, you should seek them.

Co-Authoring: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I’m a firm believer in co-authoring. I’ve done it several times and I’d encourage other authors to do it. But like anything else that’s worthwhile, co-authoring has its challenges. It also has its dark side.