First some explanation: my Twitter name is @right_n0w. When I created the account I had use the dreaded underscore and zero as the O because apparently in the Twitter world, having right now as a name is a popular concept, as in this is what is important right now. And hey, that’s what I was going for as well, except that I wanted to mostly tweet things that were inspiring me right now. Things that could maybe inspire other people. It also became a Pinterest board of the same name. This is a great place for me to grab inspiration to save for later. I also use my Evernote app for that because I feel like I’m constantly inspired by blogs and pins and in this fast moving world they can disappear before I really have a chance to dig in and explore the ideas further.
So I dedicate this post to all the things that have been Inspiring Me Right Now this week:
1) Sketch Journaling: Totally inspired by this blog, Open Notebook. (And if right on cue their most recent entries look like other things that have inspired me lately, but really I was inspired by this type entry. So inspired that I started my own sketch journal to capture all these things I’m inspired by right now! See below.)
2) Grid Paper: Saw some really cool logo concepts on Behance that started on grid paper and I thought that was really smart.
3) Polygons: I see this shape everywhere. From ice trays, to logos, to commercials on TV.
4) Ballet posture: Got some inspiration from this blog by Zsa Zsa Bellagio, and also from my life as I’ve always wanted really nice posture and I think it’s so beautiful.
5) Water color: Loved this for a while and really want to take lessons. This blog, Pink Shirts and Car Wrecks, has some fun inspirational use of watercolor + shape + patterns + lettering.
6) Fake Calligraphy: Learned a quickie how-to on Jones Design Company’s blog.
7) Love: Sketching and being creative is something I really love so doing this little project and showing what is inspiring me Right Now was a fun labor love. And I got to bust out a little used sketch journal that I got in an art store in Italy that has been waiting to be made messy and properly shown some love.
Here are my journal pages:
Bonus: This project on Behance incorporates a lot of the themes inspiring me this week: Water Color + Fake Calligraphy and also looks a lot like the stationary from Open Notebook.
Using actions in Photoshop is like using quick keys on your keyboard (If you still say Apple instead of Command raise your hand). If you’re not using them, why not? They save you time and can make your life easier. You can do something the long way, but why not just push a button and watch the magic happen? Also with the plethora of free actions out there, you can also add amazing effects to your pictures or logos, along with guaranteeing uniformity if you’re working on a set of photos that you need to make black and white.
I found this great list of 50 free Photoshop Actions and loaded up some of my favs from their list into Photoshop to see how they would look using the same two photos: A stock image of a woman and a stock image of a sunset road. And as a bonus, I did a more difficult action that involved creating a custom shape to my AG Designs icon.
Here are the results:
This one definitely works better with the woman. I can see it being used to greatest effect on an image with a white background, so that the 3D edges stand out more.
I have to give this one again to the stock woman. To use this one on this sunset image and have it look correct, I would need to go back into my history and make a lot adjustments and then what is the point of using an action if not for it’s push-button ease?
I like this effect on both images. But, I might have to give it to the sunset for the contrast of purple and yellow.This isn’t the magic teeth-whitening bullet I was hoping it would be. The action seems to have whitened out my stock woman’s whole face, but over-all I like it. Her teeth are whitened. Case closed. It’s interesting to see the action on the sunset. The photo is softer and not as high-contrast. Not a bad effect.
Finally, I used a fun action to create this 3D effect on my icon. It came with a folder of items that you need to create the look using their sample. But I wanted to do it on my own icon. So first I had to trace it with the pen tool to create a custom shape and then let the action do the rest of the work. It turned out pretty cool. I can see where this action could really come in handy for creating quick realistic 3D effects.
Well, that was 5 of the 50 freebies from that page alone. I could test out freebies for days and days! Try them. Have fun with them. Use them in ways that the original action creator hadn’t intended and then when you do something cool and complex in Photoshop create your own action and share it with the universe. I know I am going to!
The hand-written font look is dominating packaging and design right now. My love for it runs deep and it doesn’t seem to be a trend that is letting up. But surely there will be a backlash soon. A possible hint of that, I just redesigned a magazine that was only a year old to rid it of a hand-writing font that hand just become to ubiquitous: Hand of Sean. So, maybe the actual fonts are getting to be tired, but when something is truly one-of-a-kind, created by hand, like on book covers, they just pop off the shelf. And that’s definitely what publishers and authors want.
The book that actually got me thinking about handwriting again was this one, The Missing Ink. A book about the lost art of handwritten notes. I loved the cover so much and then found that it has an equally awesome UK cover. It sounds like a fascinating read and I added it to my list on Goodreads.com.
These covers got me thinking about other covers I’ve seen recently. Here is a round-up of some of my favorite recent (and semi-recent) book covers that utilize hand-drawn text and just for fun their UK versions as well. I was going to write an in-depth blog about why book publishers created different covers for the different international markets, but then I found this great blog that explains it better than I probably could. So, if you want to know why there are different versions in different countries, read here.
Or…more on the branding of my independent design business: AG Designs
My last post was about the personalized notepads I made. A notepad is great, but to make other pieces of paper and plain envelopes into professional stationary, I knew I also needed personalized self-inking stamp. It had to include my logo icon and just a couple of lines of text. It should to be simple so that it wasn’t difficult to read. I was thinking about including my phone number and email address but that’s all available on my site. Why muddy the waters? Most of the time the best design is also the most straight forward aka “form follows function.” (Which I thought from my memories of college graphic design classes was a Bauhaus philosophy, but it turns out it was an American architect named, Louis Sullivan as well as a song by Lupe Fiasco. Thanks Google!)
Again I used Vistaprint. They just seem to have the best deals and their site is so easy to use. Downloading the template I needed to create the stamp was so simple. It’s a designer’s dream because you have your choice of vector or jpg format. Since I mostly do my logo work in Adobe Illustrator, it’s nice to be able to use my native .ai or .eps files not have to create a jpg before uploading the file.
Here is what my stamp looks like on an envelope:
A Stamped Envelope
Pretty cool, huh? I love that has a very satisfying clank the stamper gave me, when I use it. Also that the impression it leaves is totally legible but just ever so slightly grunged-out depending on how much pressure I use or the type of paper.
I love this stamp so much. Wouldn’t it be fun for you to have one that is customized just for you? You can always go and do it yourself or you could do yourself one better and have me create a custom stamp for you. If you are interested in this or have any other branding needs contact me: amy (at) amygaitan.com.
Here is a lovely shot of my hand holding my newest weapon in my branding arsenal:
The Large Custom Stamper
4″ by 5.5″ notepad
Look what I made! Well, Vistaprint actually printed, bound and shipped it to me, but I designed it. How fun is this? What is better than getting a personalized note from someone? Maybe leaving a personalized note from someone!
My daughter saw it and instantly wanted one for herself, ‘though I’m not sure what to do about the bottom section. She doesn’t have a cell, email or website. She’s 5.
I think I figured out what to put down there…
long time ago before Steve Jobs, there was this guy name Johannes Gutenburg. Have you heard of him? He revolutionized the printed word and changed history. Yet with everything going digital is there still a place for the letterpressed printed piece today? Of course! Haven’t you held a business card or invitation in your hand and said, “I’m keeping this!” It probably was more than the design. It was the tactile sensation of the raised or inset text. It can take a blah piece to the next level or an amazing design even further.
Style Me Pretty Business Card
Elum Blog is fun site that showcases their awesome letterpress designs. They also do Baby Announcements, Invitations, etc.
Dauphine Press also does beautiful work and has a blog full of their eye candy.
But how feasible is it to purchase your own letterpress for personal use? Good resources can be found here and here. And a good reference guide for the designer who is outsourcing the letterpressing: here. I’m just diving in and trying to figure out what’s the starting point for the at-home-letter-presser. I found this set of instructions for creating my own press. It looks rather intimidating, but maybe worth trying!