To be a designer in the past, you had to attend a post-secondary institution, do an internship or two, and then make your way up the career ladder. Learning was formal, and access to conferences, exclusive magazines, and extra courses was a privilege.
Now with the World Wide Web being so accessible: design tools and tricks are at the palm of our hands if you have the right resources and connections. This year, the biggest skill I have gained while learning UX design was being resourceful. If I don’t know about it now, I will know by the end of the week with the right amount of research. I am a big learner and love to discover new trends and ideas in my field.
My new favorite way of getting bit-sized information and trends are through newsletters!
Here are my top current newsletters that have made an impact on my digital design journey.
1. Dribbble Newsletter
Dribble is a social media platform where creatives showcase their designs and bodies of work in a single snapshot. Despite having a newsletter to promote “shots” done by featured creatives, their newsletter is surprisingly filled with actual, helpful blog posts for new and upcoming designers.
2. UX Design Weekly
Curated by product designer Kenny Chen, this gem is packed with useful resources and hand-picked ux articles to help any new designer. Each email showcases a different featured portfolio site, which is a bonus if you are looking for inspiration from others.
TLDR is a tech lover’s favorite. If you need some conversation starters at your next networking event or just want to keep up with STEM trends, this is the daily newsletter to get.
4. Design is Expansive
This is a very new newsletter written by UI/UX designer Akash Solanki and it is pretty great so far. If you are looking for some inspirational storytelling and access to connect with other designers, this is the newsletter for you.
You will be surprised at what you might come across in these newsletters.
I have gotten so many free resources, insights, and inspiration from following these hand-picked newsletters, and I hope this list will inspire you to become a resourceful creative as well.
Vision Board with Me! How to Create and Use a Vision Board to Manifest Your Best New Year Yet!
Happy New Year! In the past two years I have been making vision boards to visualize all my dreams and goals for the year as a constant reminder of the expectations for myself. I didn’t know that when I first decided to make one in 2018, I would manifesting my dreams into reality. I am here to share with you all how I create a vision board that works!
Start off With A Plan
Before cutting and pasting random magazine clippings, create your vision board with intention. Use my free vision board kit to get started! Write down your goals for the year in categories, and where you will find images and texts to place on your vision board. Go to your local dollar store to get all your supplies and solid color (or white) Bristol board.
Look for Specific Pictures Online
I love going on Pinterest to find photos because the search algorithm is very specific. Search for key words that you wrote on your first page of the vision board kit and see what pops up. You want a good balance between visual photos, artwork, key words and quotes. Resize them in a word document so your not wasting too much paper printing larger than needed visuals.
Create Your Own Clippings
I sometimes open up the word document and type out my own positive affirmations or key words that I want to be or achieve. Being specific with your goals with words so you can easily understand your vision board a year after is key to manifesting exactly what you want. Don’t forget to type out the year in big numbers too!
Organize Your Vision Board into Sections
This step is very important to clearly understanding your goals everyday just by looking at your vision board. Try to group similar goals in the same area. In my vision board kit, I’ve organized my goals into four main groups: career development, fitness and health, family friends and loved ones, and self-care/mental well-being (including spirituality). That helps the board to not look to overwhelming. Also, do not feel the need to finish the board all in one night. Take breaks if needed, or have a second look at the layout the next day before gluing it down.
Hang It Up Somewhere You’ll See Everyday!
I like to put my vision board right next to my door so every morning when I leave I see it. It also makes for great decor in your room or home office space.
You do not need to accomplish everything on your vision board on the first week of the new year.
The difference between new years revolutions and setting yearly goals, is that your goals are a process. Your job is to plan how you will accomplish those goals, and you have all year to work on it!
It’s all about your mindset.
Think of everything that is on your vision board as goals you have already accomplished. Say present tense verbs like I HAVE or I AM rather than “I want” when you look at your vision board everyday. Your mind is a powerful entity and once you start believing you have it, you will get it!
Schedule smaller goals inbetween.
Create smaller, more obtainable goals to get to your big goals on your vision board first. This helps with creating good habits and a routine, so you’ll be ready when the blessing comes around. This could be adding content to your portfolio as soon as it’s done everytime, or updating your website regularly, so that when am opportunity pops up you will already have everything up on your website ready.
Celebrate the wins, and stay positive during small losses.
You win some and you lose some. You may not get everything you desire right away, but it is all about timing. Trust the process that when the right opportunity does not come, you now have better feedback for something better. Take it as a lesson to grow and become a stronger, better you. Sometimes it is not about what you get in life at that moment, but how you react. Have gratitude for all of the blessings that have already passed through your life and what is to come.
Are you thinking of making a vision board or already started? Let me know in the comments!
When I graduated university a few years ago, I was freelancing and applying to several creative agencies. When applying for web and graphic design jobs, one of the job applications had an assessment question that still stuck with me today: what is your creative process?
I never actually thought about my process. What I do from start to finish that is consistent in every project. I also did not think it was as necessary to know as I do now, but having a clear process made the work become WAY easier throughout my years of designing.
What is a Process?
According to Merriam-Webster, “to subject to or handle through an established usually routine set of procedures.” A process is a procedure of creation, from conception to final result. Several people have processes in their everyday routines. Having a process is human nature but we never stop to think what our current process is, and how we can actively perfect it to increase our productivity.
My Personal Creative Process
This is where I gather all the information and expectations of the project needed. This includes asking the client or project manager what is the final goal. I then research elements of the project I am least familiar with, and I look at how other creators’ (or people in the field) projects, to see how they went about completing similar projects.
2. Idea Conception
This is one step I rarely skip: getting inspired. I search creative designs and concepts to get an idea of what is it there and to help spark ideas before starting. I have a list of websites and apps that give creative inspiration, feel free to check them out!
3. Creation I start to create. Sometimes I start one with one idea, than another idea sparks. Depending on the timeline of the project sometimes I have multiple versions.
4. Feedback and Revise Getting feedback with a draft is so important for my piece of mind. I like to show my progress so I know I am going in the right direction to my stakeholders. We can get so anxious in showing a draft version of our work, and end up completing it without micro-revisions. Criticism is good if it is constructive and clearly communicated, and can help the end result to look even better.
Reflection Once the project is done, it’s always nice for me to reflect back for next time. This is how I (try to) grow as a person and become better. In a way, this is personal feedback from myself, and is an underrated step. I also like to upload my work online (when I get the chance) and add onto my list of skills if I learned something new.
Create Your Stress-Free, Efficient Process Today!
What is your creative process right now? What step in my creative process so you think can be added to yours? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Holidays are around the corner and so was post cyber monday deals. I encouraged a lot of my readers to start different forms of entertainment that do not require staring at a screen this winter. One of those things was journaling. Journaling has proven to release stress and is a great way to express yourself without judgment or approval. Journaling is an art form.
I personally love creating junk journals with random stickers and clippings. My first junk journal was gifted to me by my cousin who hand made one and passed it on to me, and I was really grateful for the sincere gift of writing creativity.
To help kick off your journal or to get a gift for a friend, here are some fun journal items and accessories you can get off of SheIn.
Fun items to Kick Off Yours or Your Friend’s Journal
Happy Sunday! As many of my readers know, I work full-time at a company creating in-house designs and running their social media, but I also freelance when I get spare time and energy. Lately I have been asked to do a lot of small projects before the holidays. I do not officially have a design consultant company so my communication with my clients can be really casual. In the past as a junior designer, I have run into issues with not communicating enough before starting a project. Here are some questions EVERY visual creator, designer, photographer should ask their clients before starting a project.
Ask Your Clients THESE Questions Before Starting Their Work.
1. What is the goal of the final product?
You want to know what they want to achieve with this project. Knowing exactly what their end result should be can help you with your research.
2. What does the brand look like now?
As a creator you should know what you are working with. Get to know the brand, their target audience, what they sell or the service they provide. Also look at previous projects and ask them what they want different this time around.
3. Do you have examples?
As a visual creator, we tend to play the guessing game on what our customers/clients want based on product descriptions. Stay true to your visual roots and ask for a visual example.
4. What is your budget?
This one is tough. Talking about money from the start can be uncomfortable but be sure that they know at some point what your work is worth. If they want something out of your scope, let them know that it will cost extra before starting.
5. How can I communicate with you in the future?
On my consultation assessment form, I added a question that says, “How comfortable are you with technology”. I usually like to communicate through email and sometimes will text for quick answers, but not everyone is comfortable with email and would prefer to talk on the phone. I had a client who wanted me to set up an Instagram page with 9 posts to start, not realizing the client had no experience with social media and very little with technology. It is good to know your client’s background in technology if you are creating a digital product.
It seems like every application has a “digital well-being” section in their settings lately. Users have been more mindful of how bright their screens are, how long they have been staring at it, and if the time spent is benefitting their life outside of the screen.
As a graphic designer, I really struggle with this. I stare at a screen almost all day. At work, during my leisure time, even in my car to see what song is playing on my large dashboard. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up and practically the last before I go to bed. According to Harvard Health: long-term blue light can affect your circadian rhythm and biological clock, and lack of sleep can really affect your mental health.
Part 1: Save Your Eyesight, Reduce Your Screen Time
There are many ways screen time affects us. Most of the content we see are ads and promotions influencing and feeding us consumerism. Another reason is that we see bits and pieces of our peers perfect lives, comparing them compare to our lives. The third point is staring into a bright light all day, which is not great. In this blog post I will be focusing on how to use less blue light in you daily routine. Now that I am getting older, my eyesight is begging for some screen control, so these are a few ways I plan to achieve that.
Top Ways I Reduce Blue Light Screen Time:
Get a night light app
This is one of the best ideas that has come out. There are built-in and external apps that reduces blue levels in your screens backlight. I use this on Windows 10 settings and on my Google Pixel settings, both with built-in night dimmers. You can also download an app that reduces the blue light. My favourite app is called Twilight and Dimly for android, or an iOS alternative Brightness.
2. Write, don’t type
We are so used to writing lists and notes on our phones. Now I am a firm believer of taking advantage of technology to set reminders and typing quick notes, however not everything needs to be typed. Invest in a journal, notebook and some sticky pads to write your notes. I have seen some really affordable and cute notebooks from SheIn recently. I also recently bought a narrow whiteboard for my room. Writing things down where you can see it so you have a constant reminder outside of you phone is a great way to display accountability.
3. Monitor your sleeping habits
Know when to put down the phone and go to bed. Screen time affects for sleep, which will affect your whole day. Best way to know how to get better sleep is to know how much sleep you need. Once you figure that one, try to limit you screen time before bed to 1 hour prior to going to sleep. I struggle with this because I like to scroll on social media before sleeping. Try charging your phone far away so you are not tempted to check it late at night.
4. Choose alternative entertainment
Try doing activities that do not require you to stare at your screen. Do you like working out and following along with a video at home? Try listening to a video instead. I recently found a great yoga/meditation youtuber that I like to follow along to. I personally like to just play it as if it were a podcast and listen to her instructions. Try writing in your journal or create a dream board or travel board for fun. I also like to listen to music, so I have been listening to Spotify or putting my vintage record player to use lately while I journal. When last have you talked to a friend or loved one over the phone rather than text? They might appreciate the call during these times.
6. Read More
I actually love start a book but hate to finish it, hahaha. But since this unending quarantine season I have been spending time finishing those books I have sitting at home. Invest in a library card and read books that actual interest you. You can find books on literally any topic. I am currently reading a book called, How to Breathe by Ashley Neese (25 simple practices for calm, joy and resilience). I love reading books where I can learn something new or pickup a new habit.
I know that a lot of our free time is spent staring at screens and it is a very hard habit to break, even for me. But hopefully these ideas will help reduce the amount of blue light your eyes stare at during the day. Try to give your eyes a break with new hobbies. On part two, I will dive into social media influencer “framing”, where influencers only show the highlights of their life and we should try not to compare ours to what we see online.
Everyone wants their work to be original. They want their visual content to be modern but nothing anyone has seen before. Personally I am constantly searching for inspiration as a visual designer, so that the content I make is forward thinking. Finding inspiration is at the top of my list in my creative process.
Finding Visual Inspiration Online.
I am always on the lookout for new and upcoming trends because in the digital world, trends move so fast. My creative process starts with research. When I have free time I like to do a quick search of trends, but I discovered following other designers, design account, and design topics on social media is much more effective than just searching for articles on Google when the time comes to create something new. You want to stumble upon new ideas rather than search for them.
All of them are very unique. Ranging from graphic design, mixed photography, web design, product design & more. I like to follow accounts in these websites, or follow the blog so it goes straight to my feed. Again this is just the start of my creative process. Many other steps are taken along side with visual research: including client assessment (having the client give deliverable expectations and the goal for the design/product) and target audience research. A few of these blog sites are great at explaining the creator’s creative process and steps they took to create their final product, so I would encourage you to check them out!
I am sharing my top visual resources for blogging and social media.
As a blogger, we are always looking for resources to bring our social media content to the next level. Most of us do not have the capacity to take our own photos for EVERY post, and creating a graphic from scratch can be difficult, so finding free resources of graphics and royalty-free photos have been a game changer.
Here are some of the best websites I use to take my posts to the next level.
The BEST Photo Resources on the Web
Wondering where bloggers get that cute dog stock photos, a model looking productive on a computer photo or the dreamy beach house photos? These websites are where. If you are not the best photographer or just do not have the time or resources to set up environmental photoshoots (shooting in the subject’s environment), these website will help you. Blog posts that have a compelling photo bring more traffic and increase your SEO score.
Try and stick to a theme when getting photos, and if you want to go the extra mile, edit the feature photos to go with your aesthetic.
The BEST Quick Design Resources on the Web
I am a graphic designer who is fully capable of using Adobe Creative Suite programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to create graphics, but if I want to create or something quickly (especially for my personal brand) I usually run to apps and websites that give hundreds of already made templates which can be customized for my needs. Also if I need to quickly edit a photo before posting, I use easy to use apps for that. Here are just a few:
PicMonkey – Advanced but easy to use photo editor. Oldie but goodie. Used to be free but now there is a small monthly fee, but if you want to invest, give the free trial a try. https://www.picmonkey.com/features
Airbrush (iOS and Android app): Great for doing quick yet detailed photo edits to your social media posts. They have a great library of filters as well. https://appairbrush.com/. I will be creating a whole post about apps I use to edit my social media posts next week.
Other Resources That Will Save You Time
If you are working on Adobe files like photoshop and want to own those cool fonts you see online for free, this is where you can find and download them (or link them to your code!).
Struggling to find a color palette that works for your brand? These resources are great to see what the colors look like together, and can easily be exported in many ways. All of them provide HEX # codes to be reproduced anywhere online.
I hope that this list helps you with your blogging or social media journey as a visual content creator. More graphic design posts will be coming soon. I have been a graphic designer for several years but I am always learning. Read about my design story and how I chose the visual design field!
Hello World! Many developers know that term to test the waters of the website or application they are creating. This first blog post is to introduce myself, show you my design journey and test the water of blogging.
Where Did I Learn to Design?
My first introduction to photoshop and photo manipulation was actually in elementary school. We had computer classes that my library teacher was obligated to teach, and compared to the other children I had very little experience to mac computers, Adobe programs (if they were even owned by Adobe at the time) or typing at the speed of my other peers. Even though I knew I was interested in media at a young age, I was not interested in that class.
Soon after, many school boards cut computer classes out of their curriculum, so I did not jump back into using design or photo manipulation until my high school communication technology class. My teacher Mr. Hughes was super chill, and comm tech was by far my favourite class because I could finally express myself without the limitation or pressure of a grade. I also discovered I can be a creative without being a traditional artist, because lord knows I cannot draw. At that time I became interested in film, TV, design, and digital media.
I went to university for media studies and during the summer breaks I took a few freelance design jobs and an internship. THAT is where I really learned how to learn to design – by doing it. There is so much you can learn while being on the job and being the only graphic designer in an organization.
Was University as a Creative Worth It?
Going to the University of Guelph-Humber; a small school known for collaborative hands-on programs, was by far my best school decision because I received a college diploma and bachelor’s degree together. Sitting in a lecture was not my favourite way to spend my four years but still I love to learn; and having that critical lecture knowledge on top of the hands-on computer labs, studio time and projects really put me ahead.
I can admit, university is not necessary for me field unless you love going further with your knowledge and want to eventually teach. It is just a piece a paper that presumably makes your resume look better than designers who are self-learners. However there is an accountability aspect in post-secondary learning that forces you to learn a lot of information and skills in a short amount of time, that most people would not learn on their own. I always say, if you were to waste your time you might as well waste it in school, because the same four years you take working part-time while teaching yourself how to use Adobe Illustrator from YouTube, you could learn from a professional and have a project to back it up.
What am I Up to Now?
I am working at a shipping and trucking company as an in-house graphic designer, as well as a customer service rep and telephone order taker. I am currently expanding my knowledge in user interface design and hoping to specialize in product/digital design. I recently made a Dribbble account so feel free to follow my digital portfolio there!