Visual Evangelism

Illustration, Graphic Design, Web Design, Identity and Branding

Alvalyn Lundgren is an independent, multi-disciplinary designer and narrative illustrator.  She has 35+ years of experience in creating unparalleled, effective design  solutions and illustration for businesses, organizations, publishers and authors. 

Her clients range from small businesses to corporations and government agencies, representing a wide range of industry sectors throughout the USA, and magazines and independent authors.



Narrative, Historical, Sports, Botanical, Likeness


Designing Influence. Drawing Attention.

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Graphic Design

Identity, Visual Branding, Web Design

Alvalyn exceeded our expectations and assisted us in developing products that we are proud to share and has helped us step away from the crowd by assisting us in telling the story about our methodology.

— Dave Johnson, ITG Consultants, LLC —

Are you ready to take your visual communications to the next level?


Creative Services

You can entrust your design or illustration project to me. I offer total project oversight, from concept through completion.

Narrative Illustration

Storytelling in visual form for picture books, story books, trade and nonfiction books., in a fresh, realistic style.

Logo & Identity Design

Your logo is the foundation of your brand strategy. Everything else emanates from it, and it’s applied to everything, from your business cards to your social media. It needs to be unique and specifically tailored for your business or organization and work for a breadth of platforms and media.

Editorial Illustration

Narrative scenes and environmental portraits for magazines, newspapers and journals.

Web Design

Fully responsive, built on the WordPress framework: for business, non-profits, magazine, portfolio, shopping cart, donations, blogging, and more.

Graphic Design

One-offs or campaigns, print or web, for advertising, editorial, direct mail, social media, web sites, signage, trade shows, events.

Brand Strategy

From a graphic audit to a branding plan that fits your goals, strategy is offered along with a design project.

Editing and Writing

Technical, narrative and descriptive copy based on your talk points, and editing of existing copy. Offered as part of a larger design project.


Original photographs in a photo-journalistic style — sports, concerts, events, street, documentary, landscapes. Subjects include locations, people, product and objects, using natural or available light. Available as part of a contracted design project.

Total Project Management

I take care of all the non-creative aspects of a project, including art direction, print management, web site management and set up, mailing services, and more.


My blog, Eye Level, is where I write visual notes and verbal sketches about what I know: design, illustration, drawing, freelancing, copyright.

12 Questions You Need to Ask Every Client BEFORE You Accept Their Project

July 19, 2016
Have you ever gotten involved on a project and then realized that neither the project nor the client is ideal? The project that was going to be so great for you turns into a nightmare, and you’re stuck. We’ve all been there. We’ve each had these experiences as freelancers, if we been freelancing for any length of time. How can you avoid the trauma and the drama? By asking these 12 questions before your client signs your contract! When you do a little homework and investigation up front, you can reduce the risk of taking on a client who turns sour on you once the project has begun. When you can make an assessment in advance of signing the contract, you have the information you need and freedom (and freelancing is about freedom, remember) to walk away before you’ve made any commitments. Working with a client means you are in a relationship with that client. Client relationships are more like marriages than they are like dating. You have made a commitment and you have to make it work. You need to see it through. It’s a bad idea for a freelancer to simply walk away from a project out of exasperation with the client. The best thing is to not get to that point in the first place. No matter how great a prospect appears to be, doing some strategic on-boarding can ensure you are working with the best kind of client. Ask your prospects these 12 questions before you agree to work with them: Have you ever worked with a designer (copywriter, photographer, illustrator) before? In asking this, you want to know what the client will expect from you in the way of  a working relationship. You do not want to work with enterprises that have not experienced working with an independent creative. Don’t make yourself the guinea pig they cut their teeth on. If the prospect has worked with a designer in the past, ask 2 follow-up questions: How did it go? Why are you making a change? You really do want to know the reason the prospect is talking with you about their upcoming project and not their previous designer. You also want to look for clues about how they regard that person. Are they speaking respectfully or dissing the person? You can also check with their previous designer, if you know who that is, about how things went with the client. This may be tricky if they have not actually moved on from that designer, but it can be helpful to you. Consider is as checking a reference. When did you establish your business (or organization)? Do not work with start-ups. Let other independent creatives work with start-ups. Again, you do not want to do work with an enterprise that has little knowledge of its market, does not know the viability of its product or service, or does not have history and culture you can draw from for your creative solutions. The one exception is if the start-up is a new venture by an already successful business owner. You can look at the owner’s

How to Create a Color Scheme

July 12, 2016
With all the options we have available to us for selecting colors, how to create the right color scheme for a situation is still a common dilemma. While we work with color as designers and artists, the need to make a color decision can stop us in our tracks and keep us pondering. We cannot simply use colors that appeal to us personally. This is the issue when working with clients who are going to use your creations to build their businesses. Color choices need to be appropriate for their customers. Appropriate colors work for the purpose of the design or artwork, and are meaningful to the end user. They should not be based on the style preferences of the client or the designer. Here are a few ways to approach color scheme selection as a designer, web designer or illustrator: Use color theory While color theory is a complex topic, understanding the properties of color and how we see color is vital to using it well. Color theory includes a logical, systematic study of color character, interaction, psychology and scheme constructions using the 12-hue and other systems. This makes color selection very practical because it’s based on a system in which colors are harmonious and balanced. An analogous scheme is made up of related hues with various colors created by tinting, shading and toning hues. This example includes orange, red and red-orange hue families: A complementary scheme uses 2 opposite hues with tints, shades and tone variations. Here are blue and orange working together: Choose from existing color schemes Successful color schemes are all around you. “Steal” and modify. One technique I often use is to pick colors from a photograph and create a scheme from them. Adobe Capture is an app you use to collect and share “hidden” color palettes in your immediate surroundings or in photos stored in your cloud library. Borrow color schemes There are a number of online creative communities where you can create and share color palettes.  Color Hunter lets you upload a photo and extract color schemes from it. On Colour Lovers you can create, share and discuss palettes, patterns and more. Consider the purpose of your project Who is the audience? What do you want to communicate? Do you want an active scheme that evokes excitement and vitality? Select colors from contrasting hue families and include wide variations in value among the colors: If you want a scheme that is quiet and peaceful, reduce the range of value contrast: Note that both schemes above use the same hue families, but manipulate value and saturation levels to create very different personalities. Do you need an ominous,  heavy scheme? Select colors that are high value (low luminance) and reduce the range of value contrast. Do you need something that has a nostalgic, old-time feel? Select hues from the warm side of the 12-hue circle and neutralize them a bit to subdue the color. Consider additive and subtractive color Color on your computer and devices is light (direct light), and color printing, paint, ink, pencil, and dyes are pigment. Light involves the additive color

7 Pointers to Rock Your Social Media Marketing

June 30, 2016
o begin with, social media is not about selling, but about conversations and providing value. Be knowable, likable and trustworthy. To make the most of social media for yourself and your followers, schedule time each week to work on it. Social media needs to be part of your marketing mix. 1. Pick your platforms. It is not possible to be fully present on all platforms. Don’t get wrapped up in the frenzy of what’s trending. For instance, Snapchat is trending. But it may not be right for your business. Where is your ideal customer? Where do you have the time and resources to serve your ideal client? You can totally rock ONE social platform. If your time is very limited, pick the one where you will reach your ideal customer most effectively. If you have multiple brands and some significant time (say, 2-3 hours each week to spend on social marketing), pick no more than 3 platforms for each brand. I have multiple brands: illustrator, designer, instructor and mentor. Here is how I spread things out over my platforms: Illustrator: Instagram, Facebook Page — I post new work, old work, work in progress and related content. Designer: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — I post new work, blog articles, events, information about working with clients. Mentor: Twitter, Facebook Page — I post content about freelancing, copyright, contracts, working with clients, and such. Instructor: YouTube — I post tutorials and short critiques. I am still looking at Periscope, meaning that I’m not sure what I want to do with it yet. As for Snapchat, I have decided it’s not my best place to be. 2. Decide on a primary message for each platform and stay on topic. Each platform is different, so your approach on each should be different. Instagram is a wonderful platform to show work-in-progress stills and videos. Twitter is not the best for that. If you’re a writer, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are optimal for posting original articles and curated content.  Your Facebook Fan Page is not the place to discuss politics, or anything else that is off-topic, unless your fan page is about politics. 3. Share valuable content that your readers will appreciate. Where you’ve created or curated it, you want to post content that benefits your readers and followers. Who are your influencers? Follow them, re-Tweet their content, promote their work. Eventually you will start getting their attention, which is valuable to you. It’s the give 4. Incorporate live video. Whether or not you’re comfortable with live streaming or creating videos, they are the preferred form of content on social media. Live video is most likely to build your following, especially if you are again, offering value and include a call to action (join my list, buy my ebook, sign up for my training…). Using live video saves time, and it’s authentic. You don’t edit it, you don’t write it, and that’s okay. Periscope, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook all feature live streaming options. If you commit to streaming daily

Who Hires Creative Freelancers?

June 28, 2016
he current mantra for creative freelancers, and for any independent business owner, is to create or define a niche and aggressively market to that niche. Deciding on what niche you should serve begins with knowing who hires creative freelancers. You will want to have a good idea of the freelance marketplace before figuring out where you fit into it. In my experience, it is a good idea to understand the general landscape of freelancing opportunities and the kind of enterprises that commonly work with freelancers. Why? This knowledge establishes a foundation for targeting prospective clients. By surveying the larger landscape, you are casting a broad net and identifying specific opportunities on which to focus, and also eliminating others. Note: I’ve used the word, Hire in the article title not because freelancers are hired as an employee, but because it is a word commonly used when referring to working relationships. Freelancers are not employees and do not work for their clients, but with them. Clients, Not Customers Freelancers fall into the business-to-business (B2B) sector of the creative marketplace. You are not making things to sell to consumers, which is known as business-to-consumer or B2C. Instead, you are providing professional services. Although you may have an Etsy shop, or sell goods on your own web site, your focus as a freelancer is to deploy your skills, experience and talent in the service of something or someone who is engaged in promoting goods or services to their customers and clients. By surveying the larger landscape, you are casting a broad net and identifying specific opportunities on which to focus A client is someone who uses the services of another. They commission or contract for these services. They communicate their needs, goals and market position to the independent professional, who then creates solutions specifically for the client. A customer is someone who buys goods or services from a retailer or a business. Customers look for bargains, become loyal to brands, and may purchase from a store regularly, but do not enter into contracted relationships to obtain those good and services. Another difference between client and customer is that a client receives a customized solution, while a customer receives something that is offered to everyone in the same form and manner to everyone else who buys it. Customers buy things that already exist. Clients contract for things that don’t yet exist to be brought into existence. Freelancers have clients, not customers. A client is an individual, company or organization who contracts directly with the independent creative. When you work client-direct, there is no agency or firm acting as a middleman. You are not sub-contracted by another creative professional. The client comes directly to you with a specific need or problem, and you create the solution for them. Depending upon the size and type of the client’s enterprise, you will work with an owner, executive director, partner, marketing director, president or vice president. An agent is a middleman, intermediary or representative. Freelancers often work with agencies that place them in short term jobs — part-time or full-time — with the agents’ clients. Depending

Design Fundamentals: Understanding Shape Relationships

June 14, 2016
is one of the formal elements of 2-dimensional design. By formal we are referring to something that is form-based. Form is the visual appearance of something. In addition to shape, the formal elements of design are point, line, plane, space, color and texture. Designs, and all visual art, are built using these elements. Line, shape, color and texture are arranged in a defined space, positioned at various points within the visual plane in relationship to each other and to the entire design space. Much of what designers deal with involves placing shapes in relationship to each other (a design space) in a meaningful way. These shape relationships help us create and understand space. They are the building blocks of form, and can be combined in limitless ways. These shape relationships are very closely related to the Pathfinder Palette options in Adobe Illustrator. The shape relationships are: Detached Shapes are positioned side by side. They are separated by negative space. Touching The edges of the shapes meet, and there is no interval negative space between them. Overlapped A shape sits in front of or on top of another, hiding part of the shape underneath it. Interpenetration A shape is overlapping another, and is transparent, so that the shape underneath it is visible. United The overlapping shapes combine into a single new shape. Subtraction The shape sitting in front overlaps and removes part of shape underneath. Intersection Only the common area of overlapping shapes is visible. Division Shapes overlap and subdivide or fragment into multiple shapes. Each one is filled separately with a different color. The number of shapes is multiplied.

Using LinkedIn Profinder To Find Freelance Gigs

June 7, 2016
Being always on the lookout for new client opportunities, I thought I’d give LinkedIn Profinder a try. It’s a recent addition to LinkedIn and is being rolled out area by area. It is set up specifically for prospective clients and freelancers to connect on projects. LinkedIn has long been geared toward employed professionals, so anything that caters to the self-employed is worth it to me to check out. What is LinkedIn Profinder? LinkedIn Profinder calls itself a curated resource and concierge service for people in need of professional services. A prospective client describes his needs and Profinder matches prospective freelancers to their projects based on information contained in LinkedIn profiles. How does LinkedIn Profinder work? The freelancer registers with Profinder, which is (currently) free. All you need is a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn Profinder vets the freelancer via their profile. What does it look for? A profile photo, a background photo, LinkedIn Pulse articles, recommendations, and relevant experience related to the services you want to provide. LinkedIn Profinder notifies the freelancer by email of incoming project requests that match their areas of expertise. Profinder states that it also attempts to evenly distribute proposal requests among pros in order to give everyone an opportunity. It allows the freelancer to log on and see all the requests, not just those they received by email. The requests are brief in format, and include a location, time frame, and short description. The freelancer reviews the proposal request and, if it looks like a good fit, sends an initial proposal. The proposal is a fillable form that includes a fee amount, a phone number and a text field where you can write your proposal. LinkedIn Profinder emails a notification that your proposal has been received. Then it’s up to the requesting prospect to follow up. If they don’t, you will hear nothing more. Freelancers can choose not to respond to a request. The prospective client receives up to 5 proposals with links to the freelancers’ LinkedIn profiles, and pursues what they think are good fits. It’s also notable that the proposal request expires in 24 hours. When you log on to LinkedIn Profinder you will see a list of what’s available to respond to, what is “in conversation”, what has been passed on, what has expired. Initial communications take place in Profinder (they’re “in conversation”) until a direct connection is made via phone or email. All transactions occur directly between the client and the freelancer. Nothing is paid to Profinder. The Downside of LinkedIn Profinder The freelancer does not have access to the requestors’s name or LinkedIn profile. This may be in order to protect the requestor from unwanted solicitations. But it does not allow the freelancer to vet the prospective client before responding. The freelancer cannot follow up with the prospect to inquire about the status of the proposal when all they get is silence on the other end. Another concern I note with this service is that the client projects are not outlined in detail, so there is no way to

Why Freelancers Should Not Pitch

May 17, 2016
As an independent creative, you get to decide how you will attract clients and projects. One option is via Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Whether or not you respond to RFPs is a choice, and I recommend that you make your decision a business policy. Having policies is simply good business. They act as your compass, keeping you on course. I decided years ago and made it a policy to not respond to RFPs or engage in pitching (essentially the same thing) for new clients. I receive a number of RFPs every year. In 2015 I decided to go ahead and respond to one RFP because it was from a former client. I spent more than a day preparing a multi-page response to the agency’s request. It got me an interview with their current marketing director, who inferred that she was happy with the current designer and was only going through the RFP process because the agency mandated it. They weren’t going to make any changes. Okay, then. Thank you for wasting my time. RFPs and pitching is common when large, long-term projects are on the line. If you’ve seen Mad Men or The Pitch on AMC, you’ll have a good idea of what a creative team goes through to win business by pitching. For smaller projects and clients, it’s becoming more prevalent, especially online. LinkedIn ProFinder, for example, allows smaller businesses and entrepreneurs to propose projects on which freelancers submit an initial bid based on minimal information. Since the proposal/pitch process is so prevalent, why did I make it a policy to not participate? I share a number of reasons here, in hope that you will find them helpful in deciding on your own policies. My purpose is not to deter you from pitching if you choose to, but to explain why I believe it’s not the best means to acquire clients. It omits the careful development of targeted prospects that you can uniquely serve, and requires that you give away your creativity – the reason you are in business — for nothing. Pitching is not good for business. In the pitching process creatives are expected to do their best work for an uncertain prospect with no compensation. Pitching is a huge expense in terms of time and effort, and is entirely speculative. It’s an “If I like it, I’ll pay for it.” scenario, which is speculative. If you win the business, that’s great. But f you don’t win, you are, in fact, working for free, and that is just bad for business. Pitching robs us of time, money and creative energy.  You have to decide: Do I want to compete for my clients or attract them? Do I want to give away my ideas? Pitching is a competition in which a prospective client assesses a number of creative firms by testing them with the same design project guidelines — the RFP. The prospect sets forth the parameters and sends it to many recipients. The recipients then scramble to develop creative concept on an unrealistic deadline and present it to the prospect in a

No-Money Marketing Tips for Creative Freelancers

April 19, 2016
We are always marketing. From the quality of our work to how we talk about ourselves, we are constantly sending messages into the public square, positioning ourselves, and attracting or repelling clients. While we’re hard at work on a client project, we’re marketing through everything we do with that project, and setting the stage for acquiring future work. With that understanding, we can see that marketing and self-promotion do not require a big budget. They can be accomplished with a good degree of effectiveness with little or no money. Here are some suggestions for you based on my experiences: Word of Mouth My business took off  when clients began referring me to their colleagues. My best clients have all been referrals. One successful business relationship is the seed of many more. When clients start referring you it means you’ve served them well, met and exceeded expectations, were easy to work with and created effective work. When you create real value for a client, others will know about it without you needing to do much. One successful business relationship is the seed of many more. Word of mouth marketing is the best kind of marketing because you’re not doing it directly. You’re creating reasons for your clients to spread the word about you. It’s passive. It’s no-cost. It’s highly effective. Your role in the word-of-mouth effort is to ask for referrals. When you’re starting out, ask people you know and ask people who own businesses to refer their colleagues. After you have worked with a few clients, ask them for testimonials for your web site and for referrals. Two long-term client relationships began on the pool deck at high school water polo meets. In chatting with other parents, people learned about what I do. One parent became my client and we’re still working together. Another recommended me to someone else I ended up working with for several years. Return on word-of-mouth is not immediate. You never know who is talking about you at any given time, and what that conversation will turn into. In 2010 I developed a branding system for a client that was referred by one of my students.  Three years later, in 2013, I received an inquiry from a prospect and learned that the 2010 client had enthusiastically recommended me. Cold Calling No one I know likes cold-calling. I certainly don’t enjoy it, but it can work if you have a purpose, a plan and a script to follow. Scripts keep you from becoming tongue-tied, which is part of the awkwardness of cold-calling. As one who vehemently does not like making calls to strangers, I found that once I wrote out a script and made one or two calls with it, the activity got easier. Cold calling is almost no-money. There are no direct costs to it, just your phone bill. To do cold-calling effectively, you should first compile a list of prospects. Determine the number of calls you will make per hour, per day, per week – however

Creating Freelance Road Trip

April 12, 2016
Filling the Gap Between School and Career So you’ve gone through school and developed a creative portfolio. You’ve tweaked it up one side down the other until it perfectly represents your capabilities. You’ve developed a body of work and accomplished a lot during your student career. Now it’s time to launch yourself into the world of professional design. So what do you do now? There is a gap between what you’re taught in school and what you need to know as a design professional. School does not teach you how to market yourself, how to get a job, or how to create a freelance business. >What school is excels in is developing that portfolio. My intention is not to demean the role of a formal creative education. Education will make you a better designer, illustrator or photographer. If you have the opportunity to do so, invest in a formal education. Where the Gap Is Schools tend to focus on grooming students to get hired by creative firms. Hiring rates help schools market their programs. There’s no problem with this. But not every student wants to be a staff designer somewhere. Some want to launch their own businesses. And that’s where the gap is. I experienced this gap myself when I graduated from Art Center. I had my portfolio and my degree and no idea what to do next. My desire was to be self-determined. I ended up a learning how to freelance from experience, but it took a long time — years. I had to piece things together, seek out my own sources, and devise my own plans of action. The bottom line was, I couldn’t go back to school because there was nothing there to help me. I went through a lot of trial and error. A few non-paying clients, a few projects where I tragically under-charged,  and I gradually became knowledgable in how to run a freelance business. It’s 35 years later, and I’m still in business. That gap between school and work still exists and it’s looking bigger than ever. One thing that’s different nowadays from when I graduated is that the economy has changed. There is no real security in landing a full-time design job. There is a strong push toward entrepreneurship and self-determination. Yet independent creatives find themselves competing in a global marketplace with few business skills that will create longevity.  So what is the creative, who has invested so much in a quality creative education, to do? And if you didn’t go to art school? Even if you didn’t go to school, you still need to learn. Your task is even bigger. In addition to learning the principles of visual and verbal communication and the necessary technical skills on your own, you need to learn how to do business well if you want to be successful. This is why I am standing in the gap by creating Freelance Road Trip. What I have learned through experience, I share with you so that you can enjoy a smoother road to success than I did. Sure, there are other great resources and courses available. Freelance
branding design

Making the Invisible Visible

April 8, 2016
There is a phrase: ex nihilo nihil fit. It roughly translates from the Latin as from nothing, nothing comes. Generally, this is a true statement; you can’t create something from nothing. Unless, that is, you happen to be a designer*. We designers are in the business of creating something from nothing. A client has the need for something that does not yet exist. They have an idea of where they want to be (they want to introduce themselves to the world, they want to grow, they want to expand into a new market, they have a new product or service) but they aren’t there yet. It’s so far only an idea. I take hold of that idea and begin drawing ideas. I call this process thinking out loud. Doodles and quick sketches cover many pages until they start to look like the something that does not yet exist, but is starting to. The seed of an idea has been planted and it’s taking root on paper or a tablet. It’s becoming tangible. I translate it onto my computer, bring it to maturity, and send it off as a completed design. My job is to look down the road in faith and envision what the client will be in due time and design to that end. It’s similar to faith in that faith is confidence in something that is not yet visible. I know it’s there. I believe in it. I do the work of fleshing it out until it is fully formed. I take ideas that cannot be seen and make them visible. It takes no faith to see what already exists. My job is to look down the road in faith and envision what the client will be in due time and design to that end. I get to imagine what is possible for my clients. I see them not as they are now but as they will be in 3, 5 and 10 years. I invest my time, thinking, imagination and creative effort in what does not yet exist. If I look only at where my client is positioned now, my work is futile. Because success is best measured over the long term, I anticipate a realistic future for them that is bigger than they are now. And they should expect to grow to fulfill the intention of the designs I create for them. Think of it this way: if the client is currently a single cup of coffee but wants to be a full carafe, the design has to accommodate the capacity of the carafe, not the cup. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.” If he was correct, it can follow that an organization or business, once stretched by effective design, will never return to its former state. *We can expand the title, designer, to include all visual artists who create original work. Where will your business or organization be in 3 years? How about in 10? Are your current design assets able to accommodate your goals? If not, we

I Didn’t Get the Job

April 5, 2016
When you’re in business for yourself and you are regularly seeking new clients and projects, you will come across all types of prospects in your search. Some you will probably remember well, but not because things went well. This is an account of one initial consultation I had, and in hindsight, I was happy to not have been awarded the project. I will, however, always remember this meeting. Not every prospect is going to make a good client and not every project is worth the effort. How the client presents himself or herself in your first consultation is usually a good indicator of how the working relationship will go. It is wise to think twice before pursuing or accepting a client when red flags appear during your first encounter. I met with a prospective client who had been referred by a colleague I have a good relationship with. The prospect contacted me to schedule an appointment, and we met at a Starbucks. When I arrive, the prospect was not there, but I discovered she had also scheduled with another designer, who had arrived early to get some work done. Be wary of a lack of professionalism. The prospect arrived more than 45 minutes late in arriving to our meeting. She had made no effort to contact me to let me know she was going to be late. She arrived just as I was preparing to leave, so I stuck around to meet with her. The other designer also stuck around and moved across the room. The prospect sat down across the table from with no apology. She was dressed in workout clothes, and her hair appeared to have been wind-swept.  She was the executive director and founder of a professional women’s organization, which needed to improve its visual communications and brand  message. In presenting her organization’s needs, the prospect mentioned more than once that she had already worked with designers who were unable to provide what she wanted. After reviewing my work, she asked me to create 3 samples showing how I would approach her project. Be careful of requests for speculative work. Since it is not my policy to engage in speculative work without compensation, I told her I’d be happy to generate a number of concepts for a reasonable fee before she made a decision to proceed with the full project. She wanted to get back to me on that. I made several follow up efforts via email and phone. Once I was able to connect, I was informed that, although she appreciated my good business practices in declining to do spec work for free, she deemed me cocky for declining to do spec work for her. Her stated reason was that she didn’t trust me of being capable of providing what she wanted. Ah, but I had offered to do the speculative work for an agreed-upon fee. I was not unwilling. It is against my policy to provide that kind of value without receiving value in return. It was not an issue of my ability but of her unwillingness to return value for value. Everyone considering working with a

Tactics for Better Business Networking

March 15, 2016
If you are a self-employed creative, business networking is a significant part of your marketing mix. While designers, illustrators and photographers naturally get together with other creatives for mutual support and trend watching, creative industry events will not necessarily put you in direct contact with potential clients. If you want clients, you need to hang out where your potential clients hang out. One tactic utilizes networking events. In-person networking works differently than online networking (such as LinkedIn). Business networking events are presented by chambers of commerce, trade and professional associations, referral groups (TEAM, BNI) and Meet-Up groups. No matter what your target focus is, there are effective strategies you can implement to make the most of your networking time. What follows are some dos and don’ts to help you succeed with your in-person business networking: Do your research. Before you attend, learn about who the event is for. Unless you want to work with medical professionals, don’t go to their events. You are the one who determines where you spend your time, and what will and will not be profitable for you. Be selective. Dress the part. No matter what event you attend, clothe yourself in attire that allows you fit in with other guests. If your market is businesses, wear business attire. Don’t show up in blue jeans and Vans if you are reaching out to accountants or attorneys. From appropriate attire to post-event follow-up, professionalism is vital. Use business cards. An actual card is a necessary and expected item to have on hand at a business networking event. Although younger creatives like to share their contact information digitally, the physical card is still preferred by most business pros, no matter how technically savvy they might be. It’s easy to forget someone who’s share only digital information. A business card provides an automatic series of encounters. People will ask you for them, and there is a reciprocity policy. If you ask for someone’s card, give them yours in exchange. Don’t be a salesman. Attend with the idea that you are making introductions, not closing a sale. Don’t go with the idea that you’ll come away with a new client. Networking is not about selling, but connecting. Business people do business with people they know. Therefore,  go with the intention of starting relationships and conversations, not selling your services or landing your next commission. Listen for clues. Focus on listening to gain insight on how you can help another with their problem. You want to look for clues to what a person’s struggle is, or what their business is dealing with in the marketplace. With a problem identified, you can offer a solution and gain a client. You’ll also want to listen for what’s going on in an industry as a whole in order to address those concerns with potential clients in that industry. Mind your Ps and Qs (pints and quarts). Many networking events include a bar. Be careful with your consumption. Inebriation is embarrassing, awkward, and not what you want to be remembered for. Follow up. After the event, connect on LinkedIn, follow

Create Better Color Schemes By Using Proportions

March 8, 2016
Color schemes work best when the amounts of the colors used in the design are not equal. A variety of proportions creates more interest, and you can set the mood and energy level of a design or illustration simply by which colars you use as dominants and which play an emphatic or accenting role. If you create a design using 1/3 red, 1/3 yellow and 1/3 orange, you limit your ability to use color to create emphasis or focal point. Also, the color scheme can become discordant and lose its appeal or miscommunicate. IT can also be perceived as static, even if the colors are warm in temperature and fully-saturated, as in the example below. To create interest using 3 colors, try a 1/2:1/4:1/4 [50:25:25] ratio. This give the larger proportion dominance, and allows the smaller amounts to serve as accents. If your design uses 4 colors, one rule of thumb is to assign 1/3 of the design space to one color, making it the dominant, and then break up the remaining two-thirds of the design into smaller, unequal areas: 1/3:1/6:1/6. The color that is used least can become the accent if it is lighter or darker enough in relation to the other colors. In the above diagram, notice how much more engaging the color scheme on the far right is compared to the scheme on the far left. Use color to support the purpose of the design. There are no set rules for distributing color throughout a design. Your decisions about color should be based on what you are trying to achieve with the design and who you are trying to reach. Design is not art. It is not creative expression. Design communicates. Purpose and audience should drive all of your color decisions. One method for learning how to use color effectively in your designs is to observe how others have used it. Look at any visual design or illustration that intends to communicate, attract or engage a user. What is the message? What colors are used to communicate the message? What hue families and color qualities were chosen? Are the colors mostly light? Intense? Dark? Are they warm or cool? Are they subdued or neutralized? Are the differences among colors subtle or obvious? A little awareness of how color is used in your everyday activities can help instruct you. Keep your eyes open. Related: Seeing Red 2 Ways We Mix Color 7 Ways We Respond To Color

Does Formal Design Education Matter?

March 8, 2016
Aesthetic sense and talent are raw materials. They amount to nothing without discipline. Education forces you to add skill, discipline and expertise to your talent. And in order to meet project deadlines, you learn to steward your time.
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