Thursday, October 30, 2014

Client Spotlight - Trainer Jane

When you start your own business, you always hope that it will succeed. You can never know for sure, but if it's your passion, that's sometimes enough to push through and make it big.

When I moved out to the Durham region for a year, the first thing I did was try to connect with other small businesses. It involved a lot of meetings, joining chambers, pressing flesh, the usual stuff. It didn't take very long for me to hear the name "Trainer Jane" being talked about at a number of these events. Jane knew how to work the events, and while I wasn't necessarily looking for personal training at the time, he energy and passion plants the seed in people that she meets that says "pay attention to what this person is saying".

If anyone remembers my post about hats, Trainer Jane kind of makes me look bad :P She's a personal trainer, an author, a speaker, and a professional motivator: she gets people out to her Win Win networking event every month, and connects small businesses over discussions about what they can do to improve business in their area.

The Durham region was abuzz this summer with the introduction of light-up name tags, and the first work I ever did for Trainer Jane was to properly design her one of these, as she was content to show up at her events with her name hand written on this... nobody's perfect ;) Shortly after we relocated to Niagara, Jane contacted me again about her upcoming fitness book, and needed some assistance promoting it. I was familiar with media kits, but this was the first time I really got to sink my teeth into one. The artwork isn't final just yet, but expect these bad boys to be available pretty soon :)

Book Cover (artwork not final)

Sample Media Kit Page

Trainer Jane his all the social media outlets, and I highly recommend looking around at what she has to say. Until next time, thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thronies Rejoice!

What seems like forever ago, Carla bought me the Game of Thrones Puzzle of Westeros.

For anyone else putting this together, I feel your pain: the water is all black with SUBTLE shading water lines to indicate waves, the boats all look the same, and most of the pieces everywhere actually fit together. Over the course of something like a month we finally got it all together.

As soon as it went together I knew I had to frame it. It took a while to make this happen, as we were about to move, I didn't have the wood or the tools, etc. We brought it rolled to my parents' place and soon I started assembling the shadowbox. It had to be deep, as the Eyrie stands about 2.25 inches tall! (so cool!)

I bought the glass for it, had my dad help me with the construction, and coloured the backboard it was glued to to highlight some of the colours (shown in the picture above). Now it's mounted on the wall of our apartment, and I whistle the theme song every time I see it :D

You know you're jealous ;)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fiesta Week!

So if you're in the Durham Region, or from the Durham Region, or have heard of the Durham Region... or really even none of the above... you should know it's Fiesta Week!

Fiesta week is a week long "taste of Durham" multicultural festival where various pavilions represent the diverse cultural heritage of the region, and of their home countries.

It started with a parade on Fathers' Day that went all around Oshawa and continues with food and fun most every night all around town. We're new to the area, so it's really neat to see what's going on, and apparently is a big deal :P I've had a number of people who are local to the area tell me the whole thing is a lot of fun and that they go every year.

So what does all this mean? Why am I, and Intelligent Designs by default, interested in this event? Well, first for all the aforementioned reasons, but also because I got to create some stretch targets in an area I don't often play in: book layout and design.

Every year the Folk Arts Council puts together a publication that gets handed out during Fiesta Week that talks about the pavilions, advertises local businesses that help, and act as a guide book to multiculturalism. This year I was approached to help create overall designs for said book, and eventually worked to help create the layout for the whole thing!

This was a neat little feather in my cap for several reasons: I don't often work on editorial pieces but now I have a complete piece for the portfolio; my completed work was seen by the most amount of people ever, and completely advertised for me (as opposed to pieces for clients where I don't get to advertise myself on it directly); I got to look behind the scenes of booklet layout that will be important when I finally finish all my projects that will need rulebooks and the like.

Anyway, if you're in the Durham region, check out Fiesta Week and grab a book. It's a fancy double-sized version this year, so take two ;)

As always, thanks for reading!

The front cover of the book

Pavilion layouts. Over a dozen in total

Some concepts I created as a special anniversary banner

Thursday, May 1, 2014

BOOM! Headshot!

Can you believe it's been a whole year since those crazy kids over at Headshots sat themselves down, strapped on their Depends, and ran a playthrough of Borderlands 2 for 24 hours?

Oh, you can? Ok, you can leave then. For those that stayed, it's happening again! This Saturday, May 3rd, the team takes over Kwartzlab, pushing aside the 3D printer, sliding over the laser cutter, and propping up a dozen or so chairs to make room for a gaming marathon all with the good cause of working with Child's Play  and because, well, they're big nerds and they love FPS.

Now, I don't mean to rustle your jimmies too much, but there's going to be all kinds of interesting things going on in the slim, slim chance playing Borderlands isn't enough for you: there will be an online auction, as well as telecasted discussions, special guests, a lemur, some celebrities, possibly balloons, food for those in person, and possibly a giraffe.

Intelligent Designs has been working with them from the beginning, sussing out their design needs for the website, the apparel, the advertising, anything they need really. I've also physically been to the event every year, Carla taking a keen interest in getting in front of the camera to help run events.

There's a lot more I could say, and a lot more information that you can find on the website, but really, you have to be there to get the whole effect, so come on down! Maybe if you're really lucky, you're get chased with a Nerf gun, or rock out upstairs on Rock Band :D

Thanks as always for reading!

**Edit** There won't be Rock Band this year, but there MAY be a giraffe....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sneak Peek Redux

Remember this one? Progress has been slow on this project, but I'm hoping to pick it back up!

That is all :P

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Client Spotlight - Dream Yoga Dance

Despite the snow on the ground (I know, right?), spring is in fact finally here. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and our thoughts are set on one thing: cleaning!

Cleaning doesn't just involve your living space or the area around you. It's also the chance to sweep the cobwebs out of your mind and fine tune your inner spirit. For some this may sound a little New Age, but that's sort of the point: just as our bodies need exercise so do our minds, and one of my clients, Dream Yoga Dance, is quite the expert at this. From their webpage:

Founded by Julia Ray, a community leader in the holistic fitness movement, Dream Yoga Dance is anything but your typical yoga studio. Along with weekly Active Yoga classes, you can learn alternative means of Meditation through Movement such as Freestyle Dance and Restorative Yoga. It's a place that honours the Spirit of Community where you can join monthly Dreamsharing Circles and Kirtan Circles, get revitalized through Energy Work and Aromatherapy and work with your Dreams to understand their significance in your daily life.

I enjoy working with Julia for a number of reasons: she's all about what she does, lots of passion, lots of knowledge. I love working with people that are so very behind their businesses like that because it means they'll put in 110% for their clients. Also, like some of the other newer clients I've taken on, Dream Yoga Dance gives me the chance to be VERY creative to roll out their branding and marketing. It's always just a lot of fun to work with them :)

Here's a cross section of the things we've been working on. If you're in the Toronto area this coming weekend, I highly recommend you stop into the grand opening!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Client Spotlight - Christina Gouveia

Recently I've been doing some exciting work with a good friend of mine,  a registered massage therapist who is working to break out into the scene on her own. 
I have a soft spot in my heart for people who turn a hobby or an interest into a viable business, because that means they are way more likely to work hard at it. My wife has used Christina's services on a few occasions and has always come back with positive reviews :)

I'm enjoying this project (it's ongoing) because it's helping me move into the design world of promotional materials and direct marketing, something I did in my corporate days but like getting into because it will help me expand my services to future clients. Hear a little more about Christina's work in her own words:
I am an entrepreneur Registered Massage Therapist in practice since 2011.  I incorporate deep tissue, trigger point and myofascial release into treatments to aid in releasing tension.  My clients enjoy feeling tension melt away with the use of Hot Stone therapy to aid in releasing tension with point specific heat stubborn knots.  Areas of significant importance to me include head/neck/shoulder, TMJ (Jaw massage), therapeutic breast massage, pre- & post- natal massage, scar tissue treatments and pre- & post- operational oncology clients.  I emphasize the importance of educating my clients on proper self care practices.

I recently moved my practice from busy downtown Toronto to the Insight Naturopathic Clinic in midtown Toronto.

Thanks as always for reading!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Design Brief - Greeting Cards

Someone posed the question to me "how do you get people to care about greeting cards?"

To be fair, I hadn't given this much thought in the past. If you're a regular of my blog here, you may have noticed that I love greeting cards, and I love making people love greeting cards, and making greeting cards that people love, and really any other combinations of those words that you can think of ;)

So, why greeting cards? To me, greeting cards are a very base gift, often simple and affordable. They generally speak to one person taking the time to show someone else that they care. Friend having a birthday? Give them a card. Want to add a little something extra to your Valentine's? Give them a card.

Now maybe I'm a bit of a cynic, but I've seen the video outlining how engagement rings are a bit of a scam, and while I know it's not ENTIRELY the same, I can see how there's a correlation between big companies and greeting cards. Believe me, I've been there.

Now that being said, I love a really well made card (I might be a bit of a paper craft nerd), but I'm not always interested in spending a lot of money on something mass produced. I like things that are creative, maybe a little complicated, but most certainly unique... and I'd be surprised if my clients don't as well.

We all have different passions, hobbies, interests. With any luck, we all have someone we care for that could use a greeting card. *makes handshake motion* See what I did there? I took your passion and combined it with your need, and showed you how you don't need to settle.

Thanks for reading :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Design Brief - The Business Card

Business cards. If you're a business owner, an employee, or just have an interesting catchphrase, they are an affordable way for your audience to have your contact information at their fingertips.

If I were to pose the question "what makes a good business card?", with a little bit of thought I'm sure everyone reading could come up with an answer, whether you work with them professionally or not. But if I posed the question "what makes a bad business card?" there would probably be a laundry list of responses all relating back to cards we've seen in the past.

Keeping those horror stories fresh in your minds, and remembering that in some circles I am considered a professional, I'd like to give you all a little rundown of some business card design dos and don'ts:

Keep It Simple
This is a rule that, unless you have a very, very, VERY good reason, trumps all the other rules and is the guiding force behind most of the other helpful hints to follow. The simplicity aspect usually applies to the visual presentation of type and layout, and can apply to the card itself, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with rounded corners or die cuts.

Design For Safety
When it comes to your fonts and images, how you layout your card is important.  Whether you're printing your card using an online company, or providing files to a local printshop, each will have certain guidelines about how close you can put your text and images to the edge so it remains safe when cutting out your cards. While there is a whole other area of consideration when your cards have "bleeds" (images and colours that print to the edge of the card), the core information you do not want to "run off the edge" needs to be a safe distance. Remember that nobody is perfect, paper can sometimes shift in machines, and one printer's safe area may differ from another's.

Choose Your Fonts Wisely
The choice of fonts is a post all by itself, so let's just pull the relevant parts out. First, if your logo already has a font in it, it's a grey area if you can continue that font in the rest of your materials. Some people like to, some don't, but ultimately it may count as a font on your business cards. This key point sets up an important rule - so not use too many fonts. A complimentary font to your logo (a serif and a sans serif, a heavy and a thin, etc.) is really all you need. Remember that a single font like Helvetica comes in a range of sizes, bold, italic, bold italic, thin, heavy... using the one font you have a wide variety of options. In the end, keep your text simple and clean and your cards will look that much more professional.

Pick Appropriate Colours
Colour choice is as important as font choice, and starts off with the same general sets of rules: if you have a logo / brand that uses certain colours, continue these out onto your business cards. This helps give your an overall brand recognition. If you want to use a variety of colours on your cards, again, try to keep it simple and stay to complimentary colours. Don't have your colour scheme fight with anything else: keep your logo standing out, and don't lose your text into the background. Nothing wrong with a simple, white background or a simple one-colour field if your logo or text call for it.

There are many more things that can be discussed here, points regarding your layout and how to properly prepare your file for printing, but a lot of these things are going to resolve themselves by growing a good relationship with your designer. They'll help you choose the best layout, work with you to keep your overall design simple, and often most importantly discuss with you the best way to keep your project cost effect.

Was there anything important you want me to discuss further? Anything I discussed still unclear? Leave a comment and I'll address your points in a future post :)

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A New Year Already Ramping Up

Greetings as always fair readers. And those not so fair. You know who you are...

Man alive did December not explode onto the scene! Several new clients caused me to just keep my head down and hit some tricky deadlines, but we're  back to normal around here which basically means an update every 2 - 3 weeks versus every 2 - 3 months :P

I kid. I hope.

But I have been working a number of side projects and things lately. Apparently, I still like to paint mini figs:

And someone was magical enough to show me how to operate a laser cutter! Oh dear, I think I will just have to laser cut all the things...

Other than that it's more the same around here. I'm going to hit you with some client spotlight posts in the future as a regular thing, I like trying to give back that way. Still working out a proper format for here, suggestions are always welcome.

Stay classy, and thanks for reading :)