7 Freelancing Tips You Need To Read Before You Give Notice

Arianna Orland’s innate curiosity has gotten her far in her career. Never satisfied with the status quo, she continually uses both inquiry and hustle to propel herself to grow and acquire the necessary skills to be successful. She refers to this process as “reinvention.”

Arianna has worked for several companies as a designer in many different capacities over in the past 15+ years—either as a full-time employee or consultant, and what she learned in the process is that she likes the independence and freedom associated with working for herself, because it keeps her perspective sharp and allows her to create across the breadth of her expertise. All of this freedom is not without its challenges. Arianna acknowledges “As a freelancer, you’re your only advocate. You have to understand what your time is worth and how to negotiate the best fees to maintain your business, no one else will do this for you but you.”

After leaving her last full-time job a year ago as Senior Director Creative of Global Brand at Zynga, she now runs her own consulting business, working with startups and Fortune 500 companies on creative direction, brand strategy, and user experience. Of course, never satisfied with just doing one thing, she also is the founder and proprietress behind Paper Jam Press, a letterpress poster and apparel business she founded in 2009.

“You know that expression if you really love something, it doesn’t feel like work? Paper Jam Press never feels like work to me. It feels like a source of inspiration, teaches me things all the time, and consistently reminds me why making things with our hands for other people to enjoy is the most magical thing we as designers can do.” she says.

Reinvention isn’t easy, especially when it comes to freelancing. Here, Arianna shares some advice for those adventurous souls looking to make the move from full-time employment to being self-employed.

  1. Make sure you’re financially prepared to do it. I don’t think flipping a switch is the right way to go about it. Have three months worth of salary in the bank and be prepared for feast and famine. Freelancing can be a financial hardship if you’re looking at your business in a short term way. You have to have the stomach for it and understand it’s a long-term play, but it’s a wonderful way to reinvent yourself and find the kind of projects that you want and stretch your skills and abilities.
  2. You have to tell people that you’re doing it. Tell everyone you know—family, friends, all your old co-workers. You’ve made wonderful relationships with these people and hopefully these people will think of you when they need your services. You never know where work will come from. LinkedIn is a good place to state what your intentions are. If you’re seeking new opportunities, it’s great to state that there.
  3. I love making coffee dates with former colleagues and hearing what’s going on with them personally and at their jobs. Oftentimes it can lead to an opportunity. Being an extrovert and being social is a big part of staying top of mind for potential collaborators.
  4. If you’re passionate about something or want to break into a new market, just do it. We get so hung up on our billable time that it prevents us from doing different things. For instance, I started Paper Jam Press as a way to take a break from client work. I wanted a project where I could be in total control of the creative output and where I could make a tangible object. It started as a way to nurture my creativity and from there it became a business. “
  5. Take a class. Personal and professional growth are important to stay fresh and motivated.
  6. You have to have a diverse skill set and sometimes be a marketer and sometimes do things that aren’t necessarily your expertise. You have to be able to write a proposal, even if you don’t think of yourself as a good writer. Consult with other freelancers about their rates and clients. People are willing to share this information if you ask.
  7. You really have to tolerate ambiguity. I’ve had two week projects turn into six month projects, and I’ve had moments where I’ve gotten really comfortable with what I thought was a long-term consulting gig, only to have it disappear. You have to be able to deal with the ups and downs.

This article was originally published on Creative Live in January 2015, but the information is as relevant as ever!

Logo Design Lessons from 5 Summer Blockbusters

It’s that time of year, when the summer blockbusters are released to much fanfare with overblown, Hollywood budgets. But with so many movies hitting the theaters at once, it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to see. Fortunately, you can usually judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a movie by its title treatment and logo design. Here, Matthew Jervis and I discuss five movie logo treatments and how they stack up in the frenzied Hollywood landscape. We’ll ponder why some logos work and others don’t.


One of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer, Ghostbusters, has come a long way, featuring an all-female cast in this remake, but one thing hasn’t changed at all: the logo. Devised by designer Michael Gross and Brent Boates more than 32 years ago, the logo has not been cleaned up, touched up, or tweaked in any way. Its genius in its simplicity.

But Gross never thought it would see the light of day, as he explained in an old interview. “The logo was in the script. The guys in the film had this logo on their shirts,” so had to devise something long before the production started. So, he came up with the concept of a ghost coming out of a “no” symbol, and asked Boates to comp up several variations. He never expected the logo to take hold the way it did, yet here we are 32 years later, and it still endures.

In the 1989 sequel, the logo was cleverly changed to show the ghost holding up two fingers. Ghostbusters merchandise has been flying off the virtual shelves of online retail outlets, showing that a good logo will stand the test of time, even if it’s for a fictional company.

Take away: Don’t mess with success.

Finding Dory

“The sequel to Finding Nemo, uses the same unique typeface, but it works better with Dory,” says Jervis. “The big round letter shapes of the ‘D’ and the ‘O’ in Dory make it look a little clunky.” Whatever little design issues we have with the type treatment, doesn’t seem to affect box office sales, as Finding Dory had the highest grossing debut of all time for an animated feature.

Take away: “Sometimes sticking with the branded look doesn’t work, but you go with it anyway.”

Suicide Squad

This movie, based on the DC Comic, has all the trappings of an action-based thriller, featuring a team of dangerous villains sent on a covert mission. Jervis says of the logo, “The punk rock aesthetic with a thrown-together placement really reflects the theme of the film. I like this logo for that reason.”

Take away: “The logo lives up to the expectations of the film.”

The Nice Guys

With leading men like Russell Growe and Ryan Gosling, you can hardly go wrong, but the title type treatment may be a little misleading. It seems to indicate this is a fun romp through the disco decade. “It’s a Cool logo typeface, pretty 1970 cliché look. It captures the time this film is set, but doesn’t reflect that the story is pretty dang violent.”

Take away: “We like the kitchy disco ’70s vibe. It always sells.”

Eat That Question

The documentary on the always controversial Frank Zappa, captures his story in mostly his own words. Unfortunately, the title design lacks any of the quirky tendencies of the artist, himself. He was an eccentric, eclectic musician known for speaking his mind, no matter the consequence, but the generic lettering overprinted on his face, doesn’t give the audience much to chew on. Jervis notes, “Apparently the studio decided not to spend any money on a real title design.”

Take away: You get what you pay for.

How to Build a Better Brand from Four Experts Who Know

Brand-building is key to any successful business. Design plays a critical role in the development and evolution of a brand over time. Here, we ask four branding experts about the factors that influence brand success and why.

Meet the Four Branding Experts

Megan Auman is a designer, metalsmith, educator and entrepreneur who has built a multi-faceted business around her passion for great design and sustainable business. Her eponymous jewelry line is sold in stores across the U.S. and online. Her designs have been featured in Design Sponge, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light and more.

April Bowles is a writer, creative business consultant, marketing strategist and photography dabbler. She wants to live in a world where artists and makers adore their blogs, write with confidence and know how to get their unique work in front of people who love it—and scramble for their credit cards because they just “have to have it.”

Stanley Hainsworth is founder and chief creative officer of Tether, a design and branding agency in Seattle. Prior to founding his own agency, he worked as creative director, defining and reshaping the stories for Starbucks, Lego and Nike.

Lewis Howes is a lifestyle entrepreneur, high performance business coach, author and keynote speaker. He hosts The School of Greatness podcast, which has received millions of downloads since it launched in 2013. His newest book, The School of Greatness, provides a framework for achieving real, sustainable, repeatable success.

Learn from the Branding Experts

HOW: What’s the difference between a brand and a set of branded elements?

Howes: Your brand is the feeling people get when they interact with you or your work. It’s how they remember you and what they say to someone else when describing you. Your brand elements are just the visual representation of that feeling.

Bowles: A brand is all the marketing and communication you do to differentiate your business from the competition. Branded elements like a logo or business card are pieces that help to make up your brand.

Hainsworth: A set of branded elements are the badges and the delivery mechanisms for a brand. A brand is a thing, but it’s also a feeling, a movement, a passion. A brand puts a promise out into the world, “if you interact/experience/try our product or service then you will…”

Auman: Simply put: Emotion. A brand is an emotional connection repeated over time. Brand elements are one signifier of those emotions. The challenge in branding is that it’s very difficult to build an emotional connection simply through the elements we traditionally associate with branding. The emotional appeal comes from the product itself, the stories a company tells, the experiences customers have with the company (both online and off), the experiences customers have with the products, and even the way a company is represented in the media.

What person or company, in your opinion, is currently doing the best job at branding and why? What sets them apart from the competition?

Howes: I think The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is on top of his game and brand in a big way. He dominates at social media and has mastered letting his authentic self through in all of his interactions with fans and the press. His brand really reflects who he is, and he’s attracting the opportunities he wants because of it.

Hainsworth: Virgin has a brand and branded elements that are consistent across multiple consumer categories. The multiple brands share the right amount of brand-ness and branded-ness that unites them from the inside out and the outside in. They don’t create industries or categories, they go in and disrupt them, do it better. And then they back it up with their attitude, service, pricing, branded elements.

Bowles: Marie Forleo is a great example of a business that kills it when it comes to branding. From the fonts to the images to the web design to the videos to the products–everything works together and sets the brand apart from everything else out there. What Marie does better than many other businesses is that she stays true to who she is and doesn’t jump on trends for the sake of being cool.

Auman: I am a huge fan of Freshly Picked, which makes baby moccasins. The founder, Susan Peterson, took this from a side hustle, sewing leather baby shoes at her kitchen table, to a multimillion dollar company. This makes them an interesting case study in brand loyalty, as it’s really a brand that was built from the bottom up, by appealing directly to consumers’ emotions, rather than top down by attempting to apply consumers emotions to arbitrary brand elements.

Freshly Picked has a focused, consistent, and recognizable product line. The moccasins are basically the Louboutins of baby shoes. When you see a toddler wearing them in a photo, you instantly know who made them. And for a long time, they only had one product. (They’ve since expanded to a few other shoe types and accessories.) This intense focus helped them become known for doing one thing really well.


So much brand building in recent years has come down to social media and apps. Do you see this ever changing or going back to more traditional methods?

Bowles: No, I don’t see this ever changing. I know a lot of businesses would love to ignore the power of social media and apps, but that’s the world we live in. Everyone is connected to their phones more than anything else. Back in the day, when the internet first appeared on the scene, people said that it was just a trend. The internet! One of the worst things you can do as a business owner is to become rigid in your marketing tactics instead of moving with the market.

Hainsworth: It is all a mix, and will continue to be so. For example, brands that started online are creating physical, or brick-and-mortar experiences. Social media platforms have started creating branded products. It is all a beautiful mix and will continue to change (and stay the same) as new platforms become available.

Howes: Honestly no, I think social media is here to stay. Of course it will keep evolving and there’s always new apps, but the direct connection between a brand and its audience is irreplaceable and that is what social media has allowed on a huge scale.

Auman: One of the reasons brand building has been so focused on those methods recently is that they work! It takes time for brands to develop that emotional connection, and social media, with its frequent updates and need for an endless stream of content, is a great place for that.

That said, consumers are growing increasingly weary of brands’ need to constantly engage on social media. And they are growing even more weary of brands advertising on social media. I think that means that companies will need to look to innovative strategies for brand building, and that may include looking backwards to methods that have worked in the past.


Why do you think some brand overhauls go over well (KFC, Sprint) and others fail miserably (Tropicana a few years back; UPS redesign was highly criticized)? 

Hainsworth: Think of one of your friends who shows up with a significant change in their appearance. If it is a nice evolution, you will nod your head approvingly. If it is a total left turn you will look questioningly and say that seriously? This speaks to the emotional investment that consumers put in the brands they use. It has to be a respectful or believable evolution. If it is too much of a departure, too trendy, too different, too not-who-we-are, the consumer will arch their eyebrows.

Auman: I think brand overhauls fail when a brand fails to understand the emotions behind the brand and the customers they are appealing to. UPS is an interesting example of this, because they’ve really pushed themselves recently as a very utilitarian brand, with a focus on “logistics.” But the average consumer’s experience of UPS is as someone who magically makes all those online purchases appear. A criticism of the logo redesign was that it lost the element of “it’s a present” that appeared in the old logo, which is often how you’ll hear online shoppers talk about getting their deliveries. There’s a strong emotional pull there that UPS is completely ignoring in their focus on utility. And as more and more websites give customers the option to choose their shipping carrier, it would behoove UPS (or any of the shipping carriers for that matter) to focus on branding that appeals to the emotions customers already associate with getting packages delivered.

Bowles: I work with small businesses, so I’m going answer this question based on small businesses. One reason that I see brand overhauls fail is because they move away from what their customers really love about the brand. When you change something that has become synonymous with your brand (and your customers adore), you risk alienating your most loyal customers. If you stay true to who you are during a brand overhaul, you tend to improve upon the things your customers love and it becomes a huge success.


How difficult is it to get consumers to shift brand loyalties? Do you think it comes down to the brand elements/story or the actual product? or is it a mix? can you give an example of this happening? 

Auman: One of the benefits of having a strong brand is that it becomes a shorthand for making purchasing decisions. Consumers are overwhelmed by choice, so when it comes time to make a decision, many will default to the brand they’ve always used. This can make it difficult for consumers to shift brand loyalties. But at the same time, this shorthand also put brands at the risk of losing their emotional appeal, when buyers begin making choices only out of habit and no longer out of deep love and affection for a brand. This presents opportunities for a new brand with a strong emotional pull to swoop in and steal market-share.

Hainsworth: Consumers are loyal to brands, sometimes. But think of your friend again. She talked poorly of you to others behind your back. Will you forgive her? Give her another chance? Or maybe hang out with another friend more and eventually switch your loyalties to her. New best friend. Consumers are the same with brands. If there is a brand mis-step, whether a blip in product quality, or a lapse in transparency, etc., you might try another brand. As an experiment. And you may forgive your former brand love and go back to it, or if the dalliance with the new brand shows promise, you may switch.

Motorola was the darling of the phone handset world. They innovated and provided a great brand experience through the design of their devices. Until they didn’t. When other brands (Apple, HTC, etc.) started putting out devices with similar service but provided an enhanced, sexier experience, consumers went with a new girlfriend without a backward glance.

Bowles: Great branding is so good that it’s hard to put into words. One of my favorite brands of all time is Anthropologie and it’s hard for me to explain why. They didn’t start marketing to me via email or pushing their way into my Facebook feed. I loved them from the moment I walked into the store. It felt like everything in there was made for me, I loved the scents from the candles they were burning, and I felt comfortable in the dressing rooms. You can tell that they pay close attention to every detail and that makes a great experience for customers. When you give people an experience that blows their mind (by paying close attention to every brand detail), you can definitely get them to shift their loyalties.

Confidence is Overrated: Debbie Millman’s Road to Success

As the voice and founder of the Design Matters podcast, Debbie Millman has interviewed designers, authors, musicians, photographers and entrepreneurs learning not only the secrets of their successful journeys, but also the failures and rejections they’ve experienced along the way. Her keynote for the upcoming HOW Design Live Conference, which will be streamed live here on Creative Live, is called, On Rejection: A Cautionary Tale of Dreams, Hopes and Rejection. In her talk, she draws from her own experiences of rejection and despair through revealing and sometimes hysterical anecdotes.

Here, we asked Millman about how vulnerability and courage have played major roles in her successful creative journey, along with the disappointments and missteps along the way. She holds nothing back.

You’ve built your career as this brand strategy leader at Sterling Brands, but in recent years, you started publicly sharing your personal art and it’s very revealing. How did you summon the courage to do that? 

That’s an interesting question, as I don’t really see this as a courageous act. I think that something is only courageous when it feels scary. By the time I started sharing my personal story and art, I was grateful to have the opportunity and platform in which to do it. It took a long time to get here.

I recently met a very engaging young person and asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her answer astounded me, both in its optimism and its confidence. When I asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered, Everything.

I was the opposite. I went through a whole series of career aspirations, but never felt that I was good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or thin enough to do much of anything, let alone everything. In 1979, when I went off to college, I decided that majoring in English Literature would ultimately give me the most options to choose from, and I minored in Russian Literature because I loved Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. I often joke now that I got my college degree in reading.

Despite my grand dreams of being an artist or a writer, the dominant influencer in my decision-making was the imperative to be utterly self-sufficient. I never once felt that I had what it took to make a living making art. My only marketable skills were the tasks I learned working at my college newspaper: basic design, layout, and what we called “paste-up” of a publication (since we used an actual mechanical, not a computer, to compose the pages). My first job was in the design department of a cable magazine earning $6 per hour.

I lived in a fourth-floor tenement walk-up in Manhattan and because my paychecks were so low and my rent was so high, I had to make a monthly decision about what I would use my money for: eating, rent, or paying off my student loan. When the first September came around after graduation and I sensed autumn in the air, I knew I had compromised. But I felt trapped. I could barely make enough money to pay my rent working as a commercial artist! How could I ever conceive of making a living as an actual artist? I assumed it would be harder and never considered I had any other choice.

About a year later, I was offered a position in a real estate development company in Westchester as the business’s Director of Marketing. It was a big title with a big increase in salary—now I would be making $25,000 a year—and it came with a car. I took it. Everyone congratulated me on my good fortune and the potential of this prestigious new opportunity. But on my first day at the new job, I hated it so much that when I finally got home after the long commute, I climbed into bed, pulled the blankets over my head, and cried. I hated my new job for the entire time I was employed there. I loathed the work, real estate, and my mean boss.

And this was SETTLING! This job and the job before it were jobs I had taken because I thought pursuing my dreams of being an artist or a writer were too hard. WHO WAS I KIDDING?

Every job is hard. Design is hard, marketing is hard, and working at McDonald’s and Starbucks and Walmart is hard. Why does it feel “easier” to do something we don’t love than to do something we actually feel passionate about? I think we lose our courage to pursue our creative dreams when we feel that the only way we can make a living is to conform.

I realize now that making a living doing what you love requires a personal belief that you have something meaningful to contribute. What makes this particularly difficult is that making a living doing what you love doesn’t come with a real “rule book.” There is no single process for anything. For example, you may have a process for being creative, but the actual act of living creatively is organic and (nearly) involuntary: You have to do it—you have no choice—or a part of you dies. So if you’re considering settling because going after what you want seems too hard to do, remember that hating what you do every day is even harder.

Were you ever worried that your art might affect your branding career/reputation at Sterling? Your art is so personal, and you’re basically letting all the wolves in. 

Not at all. Branding is all about being proudly authentic. I believe you need to know how to talk about your work and you need to know how to talk about yourself and what you do, even if you are afraid, even if you are nervous.

Many years ago, in The New Yorker, I read an article about Barbra Streisand. The reporter asked her manager what her greatest talent was. He replied that her greatest talent wasn’t singing, directing, acting, or even her longevity in the business. Her greatest talent was doing all of those things while experiencing debilitating stage fright. Despite the fact that she was terrified of performing, she did it anyway. She did it “as if” she wasn’t afraid.

Being nervous or scared about expressing what you want or who you are is not an excuse to NOT do it. I believe you should try with all of your heart to do it anyway. Try to do it “as if” you are not scared or nervous. You can’t wait to be less scared or nervous. The only way to alleviate that feeling of being scared or nervous is actually doing the thing you are scared and nervous about over and over until you get better at it. Very few people ever do something the first time and do it perfectly right out of the gate. Being nervous and scared is normal. But the fears will lessen over time as you get more and more comfortable actually doing the thing you are scared of doing.

Were people critical? What was the feedback?

I have connected to people more deeply and more authentically. As Brene Brown, author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection, suggests, the best way to experience empathy is to look at someone in the eye and say ME TOO. I’ve experienced a lot of that and it is incredibly gratifying.

What is it about being vulnerable that is so difficult for most people? 

I think people are ashamed of not being perfect or totally in control or to show a lack of confidence. After an interview with the great writer Dani Shapiro on my podcast, Design Matters, she and I started to talk about the role of confidence in success. During the conversation, Dani said that she felt confidence was highly overrated. I was instantly intrigued. Most overly confident people, she said, were really annoying. And the most confident people were usually arrogant. Over-exuding confidence was a sure sign that a person was compensating for some type of internal psychological deficit.

Dani argued that courage was more important than confidence. When you are acting from a place of courage, you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or the outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step toward what you want. You are willing to allow yourself to be vulnerable—in showing your art, starting a business that might succeed or fail, having an opinion on something, being in a relationship. You are not waiting for the confidence to mysteriously arrive.

I believe that confidence is achieved through repeated success. Repeated success provides a foundation that exudes confidence. Really smart people don’t have to prove that they are smart; they exude intelligence. It isn’t heavy-handed or showy. You can’t tell someone you are smart or intelligent and expect they will automatically believe you. Authentic confidence is more internal; it isn’t cocky or arrogant. If you have to “tell” people you are confident, chances are you are insecure about its authenticity.

Confidence is achieved through that willingness to continually put yourself in vulnerable situations. Success or failure has nothing to do with it. I know people who launched a startup that tanked, had their art project excoriated by critics, or went through a difficult breakup, yet they’re still confident; they see the experience as something that helped them along their path, and they remain willing to continue on it. Perhaps confidence comes from a certain equanimity that arises from not putting too much stock in whether you’re celebrated or rejected. “Failure” is an arbitrary label, and the most psychologically healthy people I know tend to reframe it as an experiment that gave them valuable insight. So celebrate your flubs, your rejections, your vulnerability—they mean that you’re taking the risks necessary to grow.

I believe that the act of being courageous—taking that first step—is much more critical to a successful outcome than the notion of feeling confident while engaged in the process. Courage requires faith in your ability before you experience any repeated success. But that doesn’t mean taking that first step will be easy. It won’t. Taking ANY step for the first time is difficult and there is a tremendous amount of vulnerability and nervousness you are likely going to experience. But experiencing that vulnerability and nervousness doesn’t give you an excuse not to take the step.

Why is it important to be vulnerable in the arts and design? 

Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity. If you aren’t able to be in touch with and express universal human feelings—and this includes all the good and “bad” stuff—you won’t ever be able to connect authentically.

There are some who see vulnerability as a weakness. Why do you think that is? 

My guess is that they are afraid of being rejected or they are ashamed of what it means to be authentically who they are. I believe the real weakness is in criticizing others for whatever genuine human emotions they feel.

A post I wrote made this list!

Top 75 Design Blogs and their Best Articles

Best Design News & Stories

Do you want to stay on track in the world of design? Our “Best Design News & Stories” category includes topics such as graphic design, web design, illustration, film, photography, and more!

1. Creative LiveCreativeLive brings the world’s greatest experts directly to you! This blog empowers you to unleash your potential by featuring workshops in photography, video, design, business, audio, music, crafting, and software training – for free. For example, you can participate in real-time classes from the world’s top experts. Plus, you can directly interact with instructors.

Best post: Drawing for Graphic Design: 6 Exercises to Sharpen Your Skills | by Emily Potts.

Drawing for Graphic Design

When talking about drawing for graphic design projects, we’re very often talking about a digital process. We’re so used to sitting in front of our computers, plugging away at pixels in Photoshop and Illustrator, that we sometimes forget to step away, grab a pen or pencil, and just draw. Here, we provide six simple drawing practice exercises that revolve around drawing for graphic design. These were pulled from Timothy Samara’s book on that subject. Timothy teaches Graphic Design Fundamentals at CreativeLive and his exercises will help you get started, and hopefully, breathe new life into your work.

1. Positive/Negative

This study trains the eye to tell form from space and pick out different levels of value.


1. Choose a simple object to draw. This can be just about anything you’ve got lying around: a cup of coffee, a pair of scissors, or a desk chair should do nicely.

2. Instead of trying to draw the object itself, draw the negative space that surrounds the object. Define the shape with contoured fields of color rather than lines.

3. Now the actual shape of the object should be defined, so go in and add details using pencil or a lighter charcoal to create different values. Add each level independently, beginning with shadows. In each iteration, increase the number of levels between black and white. See five more exercises, here.

Lettering for Beginners: A Guide to Getting Started

Lettering for Beginners: 5 Tips to Get You Going

From street signs to chalkboard menus to national ad campaigns, hand lettering is everywhere. But it’s also intimidating for those of us who are just getting started. It takes practice, so luckily we have two lettering experts, Annica Lydenberg and Roxy Prima, to give us some tips to get started.

1. Choose Your Pens & Pencils

Having the right supplies will help make hand lettering easier, but you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on pens and pencils right away. There is an extensive range of devices, depending on what kind of style you are going for in your lettering.

Pencils: Mechanical or Lead In

Prima notes, “I like to use mechanical pencils because they always stay sharp. My favorite is the Koh-l-Noor Mephisto Pencil.”

Lead in pencils can be hard or soft, ranging from 6H (hard) – 6B (soft), with HB being middle of the road. Lydenberg says, “I typically sketch at first with lighter pencils—meaning harder lead—and then move on to softer lead, darker pencils, once my design has taken more shape.” Take a look at this pencil hardness guide for reference. If you’re just starting out, you can grab just about any drawing pencil set from your local art supply store. Read rest of article here.

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Roxy Prima

Amy Nicole Schwartz: Making Great Work & Building Community

I was first introduced to Amy Nicole Schwartz and her work in a shotgun approach, along with a couple thousand designers attending the AIGA Conference in New Orleans in October. She was one of seven contestants in Command X, AIGA’s own reality game show that plays out during the conference. The contestants are given design assignments each day to complete and then present the next day. They are judged by an esteemed panel onstage, but the audience ultimately gets the final vote, eliminating contestants each round. Schwartz’s quick wit, great design solutions, and seemingly boundless energy helped her survive, and ultimately, snag the coveted title. I was impressed by the way she composed herself throughout the competition, and even moreso when I learned that she is creative director at Cards Against Humanity (CAH), one of my all-time favorite games. Read rest here.


5 Ways to Pay It Forward this Holiday Season

In the spirit of holiday giving, we asked several creatives to tell us how they give back to causes they are passionate about. Whether it’s donating money, time, or belongings, every little bit matters to those who are in need. We hope their stories inspire you to pay it forward this holiday season and all year long.

Create Art for a Cause

Salli S. Swindell has taken part in an annual event for the past 15 years called the Christmas Stocking Competition, which is held at The Grey Colt in Hudson, Ohio. The event rallies artists, crafters, and DIY’ers to create a handmade stocking using any medium or materials. The stockings are revealed at a preview party in the shop, and then on display in the window the following week. “People buy raffle tickets to win a stocking and the proceeds are all donated to a local cause,” Swindell says.

About 60 stockings are submitted each year garnering an average of $6,000. “The preview party is such a fun and festive event. It’s amazing how creative people get with their stocking entries. Over the years I’ve seen carved wooden stockings, garlands made of clay stockings, every kind of fabric and stitching, and even an evening gown in the shape of a stocking! Many of us here in town start thinking about our concept in the summer. It’s a super cool event that connects the community in a creative way and helps a local cause.”

Read the full article here.


Lettering and Calligraphy: How to tell the difference

In recent years, lettering and calligraphy have experienced a resurgence in popularity. These two art forms have a strong kinship and are well worth exploring. You’d be well advised to understand their differences before listing them in your portfolio, though.

Martina Flor and Giuseppe Salerno challenged each other a couple of years ago to a competition of sorts. They created a site called Lettering vs Calligraphy, and each day they would create a letter—Flor, a letterer and Salerno, a calligrapher— “to explore the capabilities of the two technical approaches.” Here, they discuss the finer points between the two practices and talk about the competition and recent projects.

What is hand lettering and how is it different from calligraphy and type design? 

Martina: Lettering is essentially drawing letters. While type design focuses on creating a full alphabet that works in all its possible combinations, lettering often deals with just a word or phrase. These are drawn for a particular use and no fonts are involved.

Lettering and calligraphy have a doubtless relationship. However, the different nature of each (lettering is drawing, calligraphy is writing) has an impact on the artwork. While lettering often imitates the spontaneous movement of writing, it is the result of careful decision-making. It is the product of determined calculation on how that curve or shape should look. In this sense, lettering and type design are design-related disciplines, whereas calligraphy stands on the side of art. Read the rest of the article here.

Martina Flor’s lettering, left; Giuseppe Salerno’s calligraphy, right.