1 Colossal Mistake That All Graphic Designers Make

 
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Let’s not beat around the bush with jargon or fancy openings. The biggest mistake I watch even the most seasoned designers make it NOT selecting every single color they use from the Pantone Matching System (PMS). Even some creative directors I’ve worked with (during my days in-house) would never consult or use the Pantone book. What is even worse however is that universities don’t have the basic Pantone Coated book on their supply lists.

Before I worked in-house I had never even laid eyes on a Pantone book. You can spend six-figures on a graphic design degree and you still never come across this holy bible for color printing. So why is it important to get this expensive bright booklet?

Only 55% of spot Pantone colors are achievable when printing in four-color process (CMYK). This means if your client or project ever needs to use a Pantone you are most likely shit out of luck. You’ll end up having to pick something semi-close and the color consistency has gone out the window. Designs can become dull and look misprinted hurting their success as a result.

Brand consistency drives sales. Part of that equation is color consistency. Do you really think you buy Starbucks because the coffee is just oh so awesome? You are buying into a brand that knows how important consistency is. That Starbucks cool green is iconic through high quality printing processes and color consistency. The details don’t matter when you only fudge a few things here and there but continue down this path and after half a dozen minor mistakes… you’ll brand will look like it was designed by someone off Craigslist. The details add up and that is where creatives are crucial to a company’s success.

The Pantone swatch books have HEX (HTML) PMS, RGB, CMYK, Spot references for every single color. This way you can ensure a consistent color experience from print to web to mobile apps. If you start every single color swatch selection process with this book – it’ll save you massive headaches later squabbling over proofs that have funky colors, the cost to reprint signage, and all that fun jazz adds up really quick.

Purchase a Pantone Coated and Uncoated Solid Book for around $135. Graphic design majors please don’t hesitate to purchase this. I also truly believe that every company that can afford Pantones should own a full set of these swatches. They are a worth while investment.

Another quick color tip is to purchase a $6 color mixing wheel. These wheels have charts on them to help you quickly decide on different color harmonies (analogous, complementary, triad, etc.). I use this wheel in conjunction with my Pantone books daily.

This color matching process cannot be done digitally. Even though you can open Pantone swatch libraries in Adobe software – you cannot possibly review and select Pantones from a screen and expect them to look accurate upon printing. My Pantone books were hands down one of the best purchase I’ve made as a freelancer and creative entrepreneur.

I personally find it hard to take any seasoned graphic designers in the industry seriously when they don’t own at least the Pantone coated book. Design is as much about function as it is about form. Granted these books are not cheap to buy new. If you can only afford to buy one go with the Pantone coated book. Coated is the most common type of Pantone used in commercial and project printing worldwide.

9 Books Every Graphic Designer Needs

No, You Don’t Need Tons of Fancy Tools to Make Stunning & Effective Designs

 
 

Over the years I learn more and more everyday that it is how well you know your tools – not how pricey they are that matters.

The DSLR I use, the Canon Mark II, was released in November 2008. It is ancient in the tech world. I still use it for most of my photos. Why do I mention this? Because a lot of people go into a quality overkill trance where they just have to obtain the best gear. This is not logical however. If you think about the majority of content being published to web and not to print… it is complete and utter useless overkill.

Most websites aim to keep images below 300KB in size. You will never be able to display the photographs at true high resolution or videos at 4k quality on the web. Fiber internet isn’t widespread enough and it’ll be at least a few decades before we can load 4k video on your smartphone. Even the quality on YouTube and other streaming platforms doesn’t even come close to displaying TRUE 4k quality video or the akin.

Consider where you publish work the most. Is it print or digital? Everyone’s toolkit should be different depending on your needs and goals. If you are printing large format photographs to be viewed up close – then sure you really do want higher sized dimensions and sensor quality. However a lot of people are unaware that billboards and large format printing from a distance is printed at effectively 1/20th of the quality of a post card. Pixel blobs. This is where learning the technical side of design comes in handy.

It important to view your equipment with a heavy focus on the ROI (return on investment). For instance I prefer to do all my work on desktops because the loading speeds are far superior. It is a no brainer to me. But I know people who don’t mind wasting hours waiting for their laptops to load a PDF or download an image pack just because they like the feel of working at coffee shops around people or on the go. To me that is a colossal waste of time.

When I worked in-house I convinced 3 different companies to upgrade my computer to a maxed out desktop despite just being in a mid-level designer role. I explained the ROI and they could see how much work I was already producing. None of them batted an eyelash. I was given the best computer on the entire design team at all 3 jobs. I believe this speaks to how much marketers and businessmen value the unique quality of approaching design without the linear focus on aesthetics.

I recommend considering these crucial dynamics and factors before purchasing any equipment. Below is a master list of the main tools I use for all of my multimedia design and creative projects. Happy shopping!

MOBILE APPS

VSCO $20/year, Mextures $3, Halide $6, Unfold, Kirakira+ $1, RotateNFlip $1, ImgPlay, and Photoshop Fix (Links to Apple App Store).

EQUIPMENT

iPhone X $750, MoVi: Freefly Movi Cinema Robot Smartphone Stabilizer $299, Moment Case $35 + Wide Angle Lens $117, Canon 5D Mark II DSLR Camera $2,100, Canon 50mm 1.4 Lens $299, Canon 28-135mm Lens $200, Rokinon 14mm 2.8 Lens $300, Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT $480, Canon Wireless Remote Control $22, Manfrotto Tripod $210, 5-in-1 Reflector $20, Shure SM7B Mic $400, Rode Swivel Mount $100, Focusrite Scarlett Audio Interface $300, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet (Large) $342, Transmit FTP License $45, VSCO Desktop Photo Packs $400+, iMac 27” with 32GB of RAM & 2TB Fusion Drive (2016) $4,800, Lacie Rugged External Drive 2TB $160, Basic Ring Light $250 (I resent the name of it too but it gets the job done), Sennheiser HD 280PRO Headphones $100, Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones $250, Powerbeats3 By Dr.Dre $105, Canon Pixma iP110 Inkjet Printer (small enough to fit in a backpack) $129, Ruggard DSLR Backpack $50, Old iPad Mini for Presentations $120, Amazon Kindle $130, and Moment iPhone Wide Angle Lens $118

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Adobe Creative Cloud Suite $52/month, DropBox 2TB Professional Subscription $17/month, and Monday.com Project Management Standard Subscription $25/month.

ADDITIONAL

Numerous Designer Typeface Licenses $5,000+, Tools & Mock-Up Resources Collected (15+ Years) $8,000+, Free Programs: Font Book, VLC, Stickies, QuickTime Player, TextWrangler, Google Chrome, Ad Blocker, Google Calendar, and Image Capture.


Why We Shouldn't Actually Cheapen Our Style of Communication To Maximize Audience Reach

 
Hands at the  Cuevas de las Manos  upon  Río Pinturas , near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.  Credit .

Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Credit.

 

People have searched for ways to communicate information in visual form since prehistoric times. The invention of writing began with pictures that were drawn for survival and utilitarian purposes in the form of petroglyphs, pictographs and ideographs. This was the beginning of pictorial art that is still a functional form of graphic design that is still prevalent today. The majority of design throughout history leading up to the Industrial Revolution was developed with a function relating to human society. Writing was created by the Sumerian people to serve the function of recording information physically instead of relying on the fallible method of word of mouth. Many of the advances made in history were done so in the attempt to make information more organized and efficient as well as make it more reliable.

Despite the benefits of these communicational advances we must attempt to focus on the underlining true purpose of communication. It can be manifested in linguistics, actions, the written word and many other forms but overall its main purpose is to give or receive information. This brings about cogitation of our ability to effectively communicate information since this exchange is heavily reliant on the contexts of it and our personal perception. The differences in our perception vary which in return causes dissidence in the realm of communication. This discord is viewed as a misinterpretation, which in return creates a separation of connectivity with understanding others. The contexts of the communication help us attempt to convey, process and assign meaning. Communication does not have meaning intrinsically but is only given meaning through our own interpretations. These interpretations are shaped by contextual elements like our environment, previous knowledge, memories, opinions and so on. It's all extremely subjective.

Logically you'd think communication would create togetherness but in alterity it doesn't always achieve this outcome. Like stated previously everyone has his or her own interpretation of the human language so meaning cannot be universally solidified. This unresolved ambiguity could be approached through the concepts of pragmatics, semantics, sociolinguistics and numerous other variations of linguistic studies. However focusing on the effectiveness of our communication can help to explain or attempt to make sense of the separation that the human language can bring about.

In present day the integrity of our communication has been in disdain. Words have lost so much of their true meanings. For instance the word love can be used to share feelings towards another of compassion, trust, lust, connection and so on. It can be used to describe a relationship of a deep bond between a best friend and a family member for example. But in contrast its degraded when used in circumstances to describe ones adoration for a pair of sneakers or a new video game. These vast gaps in the context of usage of words make it unusually difficult to define them consistently. As a result we lose so much meaning in communication. In society we use a small vocabulary and language set to communicate a massive amount of meaning and information. The example I used earlier about the word love can be used again to show this. I could explain to you that I love the novel Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz, I love peppermint tea and I love my father. Obviously my love for a book or drink does not equate to the love of my father. However the repetitious pattern of using a shortened vocabulary to convey these meanings can create a desensitized interpretation to the integrity of the word’s meaning. If one was to want to communicate their ‘love’ for a book they might want to dig a little bit deeper into how to communicate this. I could explain that I adore Ferdydurke because of its enlightening concepts. This would link a more specific meaning opposed to overusing words like love.

The subconscious reflex typically chooses to word our communications by selecting the most widely understood methods. Love is used in various different contexts with different levels of meaning but overall people understand that there is a positive connotation to the world. Subconsciously the selection of this word is done so because it’s known that positive feelings will be conveyed if used. This simplification of our vocabulary promotes generalization of these feelings and meanings. The point of communication is to transfer an idea thought or information. The value of successfully communicating is placed as the highest importance; this is what creates the generalization. It’s a shallow form of communication because it relies on deductive reasoning. This means one will take the generalized statements and try to reach a logical conclusion of understanding. These conclusions however are formed from our own personal contextual assumptions which leaves substantial room for misunderstandings and desensitizes the meanings as well.

The effectiveness of our communication clearly has numerous fallacies that are paired with its benefits. I am immensely intrigued by the idea that these formal means of communication actually hinder the genuine connectivity of our species. This discord of understanding doesn’t just extend to spoken language or writing but through all forms of visual communication. In history innovators were driven by their curiosity to expand the written and visual language to enhance our communication. This ranged from the Egyptians creating a more affordable type of paper to the explosion of inventions of different type styles in the Italian Renaissance. There was a thirst to enhance communication with integrity that is in much absence in present day (or at least integrity beyond wealth and attention seeking seems to be lacking in the current processes). The generalization of communication, the manipulation of communication and the lack of interest in communication should be of concern. Communication should be seen as a serious tool to be wielded to propagate communities, the spread of knowledge, and connectivity.