A good old-fashioned phone call

Yesterday I had some issues with PayPal credit not issuing a credit from a company who charged me for a service I had requested to stop. I went back and forth with both companies, the seller claiming they had already issued the refund, PayPal saying they had no record of it. I had sent PayPal a "resolution required" complaint which they decided to cancel! Nice service. I called PayPal again (at least I could actually talk to somebody) and he decided the way to handle it was to issue a new resolution complaint that would take another two weeks or so to resolve. I suggested he just CALL the seller and resolve it on the phone, instead of having to go all through their process that takes forever. It took him awhile to realize he could do that. Once he called the seller, the situation was easily fixed. 

Why can't we just call people on the phone anymore to resolve issues? I was online yesterday (it was a day of conflict resolution) for an hour with Squarespace and Namecheap, using their "Chat Live" feature. Which is VERY cumbersome. Takes forever for the chatter to respond, especially since I learned one of my "chatters" is in the UKRAINE. It would be so entirely much faster if we could just pick up a phone and talk to a live person and if there is a technical problem, have them walk you through the necessary steps.

Technology is great but sometimes we just need to think about whether or not it's actually serving us.





Off to a nice start

All signs point to a banner year in the making. We can use it! I've got, let me count my time sheets, ELEVEN projects underway. Granted some are more involved than others but I'm taking this as a sign that it's gonna be a good year. 

I've just designed a very cool logo for ODOT, they'll be undertaking multiple construction projects on I-84 in the Columbia Gorge. I'll post the logo next week. I actually did an illustration of the gorge. It reminds me how much I love to do illustrations with vector points. Here it is >>>>>>>>




Xmas Greetings . . .

. . . past and present.


Up top is my current greeting card design which I've sent to many of my clients. I do send out cards several times a year; if you'd like to be included on my list, please email me your address. Note the umbrella theme. And the raindrops that are now snowflakes. 

Consistent imaging, that's what I focus on in all my marketing materials. I'm lucky to have a last name which lends itself to all sorts of creative applications (thanks LJR). The umbrella image works. I recently was at an awards night and was re-introducing myself to a business person I'd met previously. I recognized her name. She didn't remember my face, but when I mentioned my name she said, "Oh yeah, the umbrellas." A brief moment of glory for me and realization of my branding success. Which is my goal. It should be your goal too. If you need help devising an effective new image, or "look" for your brand, give me a jingle. 

Herewith some previous Xmas cards. Keep in mind, these were done BEFORE Apple and hence before computers were used for design. These were created the old-fashioned way, with hand cut out film and hand drawn images. Yeow. So the card on the left using the same umbrellas-as-xmas-tree concept is a little rough. A little. Okay, a lot. And the reindeer (I have a really cool reindeer collection, btw, probably more than 60, I've kind of lost count) is funky. Check out one of my old logos below him, an umbrella and rain, huh.

On to 2015!

I'll have to eat my words

On a recent trip up the Columbia Gorge to get some peaches at Maryhill (so yummy) we stopped by the cemetery and I spied this absolutely beautiful type specimen. 

Usually I am the first to rail about the use of multiple decorative fonts but in this case I think it's not only appropriate, it's also quite lovely.

I like everything about this and I think it's a perfect example of mixing decorative typefaces.

At the top. the script type (the closest I could match is ShelleyVolante which has the really beautiful M) establishes a sense of dignity. The C E M E T E R Y letters, another decorative font work because of the contrast in weight between the other type. District #4 looks like a Futura and as such is a nice, go-with-everything sans serif.

The spacing between Wm. & Mary is funky but that's about the worst thing I can say.

Maybe the fact that it's been softened by the years of standing in this arid climate makes all the type coalesce so nicely. Whatever, it's a good example of how decorative type CAN be mixed successfully.

Which is not to say it's a good idea, just that it can be done.

Oh and here's a picture of the new label for Gunkel Orchards where we get our peaches. It's pretty much the view that you get from the Maryhill Cemetery, looking west down the Columbia River with Mt. Hood in the background. 

We're on the Move

I'm recently back from a four day trip hiking around the Olympic National Park. Note I said hiking, not backpacking. I'm a cabin-stayer, not a sleep-on-the-ground type. As is my husband. And anyway our national parks have incredible lodging, spendy, but very cool. Most was constructed as WPA projects. Below are some photos of our lodging at Lake Quinault, finished in 1939.

The details inside the lodge are all Native American/Northwest Indian based themes and motifs. See below for a snippet of the detailing inside the lodge.

Ceiling detail at Lake Quinault lodge. Throughout the park the names and, often, the design motifs of the native Americans tribes have been preserved and celebrated.

Ceiling detail at Lake Quinault lodge. Throughout the park the names and, often, the design motifs of the native Americans tribes have been preserved and celebrated.

Lake Quiinault suite deck right outside our room.

Lake Quiinault suite deck right outside our room.

Front of the deck. SO CUTE.

Front of the deck. SO CUTE.

For our whole trip the skies were beautifully clear and it was unseasonably warm, which allowed us to experience stunning views from the high elevation trails. Below is our favorite trail, which is reachable after an 18 mile dirt road. So worth it.

One of the things that amazed me was the continual, unending, ceaseless stream of jets overhead. Heading east. They must have been coming from SeaTac and headed to Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and other destinations due east of Washington. They didn't stop. They were five or ten minutes apart. Continually. How could there be that many people flying to the Orient? How can they all afford it?

There are so many people constantly on the move, flying here there and everywhere. 

It's no wonder Ebola is spreading like wildfire.

Fresh as a Daisy

Another comment from my gym teacher ... when we're almost done with our workout and pretty much exhausted by it, she says, "You feel fresh as a daisy," and we soldier on.

Do your business materials look fresh as a daisy? It's a good metaphor that i keep referring back to. Especially in my down time, between projects. That gives me time to research what other designers are up to and make sure that my stuff is up to par. Some designers have so many blog posts and tweets and product offerings I just don't know how they actually get any work done. Fortunately for me I have been busy with paying clients (thank you one and all!) but I still know and believe in the value of keeping my promotional materials current .... and fresh.

If YOUR business needs a freshen up, please call me.

Second Impressions

Last chance for a good impression

Last chance for a good impression

So in my gym class the other day (I guess you don't call it gym anymore, I should call it my workout class at "the club" but it's not really a club, it's a 24-Hour Fitness). Anyway, we were working with some weights and the instructor asked if we knew the value of a second impression. She said everybody knows about the value of a first impression, but what about the second impression? Which means that last look you leave them with as you leave the room. Which, in my gym class, translates into more exercises for the gluteus maximus. Which we can all use.

But it got me thinking about the value of a second impression in my business. We've all had it pounded into our heads the significance of making a good first impression and of course in business it's no different. That first meeting with your client face to face, or the first time you meet somebody at a networking event, or the first project you complete for a new client, or the first time they hear about you online via your website or (hopefully) your eNewsletter. These will set the tone for establishing a relationship with your client, definitely. But in order to maintain that relationship, the second impression you make will be even more valuable.

In other words, your dependability. This means always being available to your client, always responding as quickly as possible to emails and phone calls, always offering suggestions for improvements on projects ... in other words, always being there. Knowing they can count on you will set you apart from the other designer/whatever. I once cut my vacation short for one of my best clients. A bit extreme maybe but I'm self employed and I depend on them so I need them to know they can depend on me . . . always. Without Fail. Consistently. Invariably. Regularly. Habitually. Unfailingly.

(yes I looked up the Thesaurus meaning of always)

For me anyway, a good second impression means consistent, reliable performance.




Logo Process

I was lucky to work on the initial roll-out of the Sunday Parkways program here in Portland and since they're in full swing, I thought it'd be fun to go back and look at some of the original ideas I presented for logos and to get a look at how a logo design progresses. On the right are some of the original ideas>>>>>>

1) Below is the first original logo, which you can see is a combination of two of those on the right, adding more elements and basically enhancing the already existing images. You can still see this logo sometimes although they've replaced it with the next one below.

First Original Logo was this one

First Original Logo was this one

2 ) We also had to be a simpler type-based logo for use on other applications and for other sizes.

3) Over time, because of the popularity of the event, Kaiser Permanente decided to be a major sponsor, which meant revising the logo to feature their name. Here's what I came up with and what is in use still.

Such a fun project .... I love designing logos and initially provide a pretty wide variety of "looks" for my clients to begin whittling down. We then begin the process of refining and re-evaluating to ultimately design the perfect logo.




Getting Organized

As part of my new (finally) push to work on an online media presence I’ve been spending a lot of time organizing my thoughts into some sort of plan of action. I've been thinking about how I can translate what I've learned into useful tools for others, and figuring out what sorts of specific help I can offer potential, and existing, clients. The key is to establish an outline that encompasses all of my ideas in one place and yet is flexible so I can adjust it as I go. I’ve been reading a lot of how other people have gone about it, have researched templates that others have sworn by and looked at charts and schedules that others have used for this. 

None of it seemed to work quite right for me. Maybe because I'm a designer and don't think in quite as linear a fashion as many, the templates seemed clunky and didn't suit my purpose. Also, as a solopreneur (love that term) and as a designer, my audience is different from many others. I’m selling a service, not a product (although watch out, I hope to come up with some idea of a product I can market eventually, I’d love to be able to share my illustrations). Most of my work is done in InDesign and the templates I was looking at were in Excel which to me is cumbersome and awkward. 

So I decided to do it my own way (no surprise) and create my own template of ideas and content and schedule, using my favorite software program. I use ID for everything, even my illustration; it's my go-to, feel-good program. It's easy for me to work with and it works for ME.

In order to be authentic with my content, what I show and say about my business, I realized it truly needs to be about me from the get go. Right down to the way I organize what I'll be presenting, even if nobody else ever sees it.

That age-old adage, "To thine own self be true" trumps everything yet again. Even if it means it takes a little longer to get it all organized, it is absolutely essential that my plan of attack makes it easy for me to use and ultimately to show what my business is all about. 

Some Lessons Learned on Creating my own Editorial Template

1) Be true to yourself. Starting with the way your business systems work.

2) Don't hesitate to create your own way of doing something, even if everybody else is doing it a different way. 

3) There are multiple ways of doing things, the way you do it might not work for somebody else but as long as it works for you, go with it.

4) Create something that you will be able to use, easily.

Last thought on all this:

Make it fun. If it's a pain, you won't continue with it.

Here's to a sunny day.

Summer Walks and Special Effects

Yesterday I went on a Ten Toe Walk led by Rich Cassidy as part of the PBOT SmartTrips program. The walk started at The Grotto, a serenely lovely spot in East Portland which, in addition to a chapel and grotto at the base of the cliff also has a very lovely park above the cliffs, you have to take an elevator to get to it but it's worth the $4 ticket. If you're coming in on the 205 from the airport you'll notice the giant cross on the cliff; that's the Grotto. 

The walk went from the Grotto along a path which borders I-205 and the east side of Rocky Butte and then headed up to the top of Rocky Butte Park which has been renovated in the 1990s by a private group. The construction of all the rock walls and ramparts was a WPA project. Lots of good views. Always good photo ops. 

I really liked the people silhouetted against the sky at the top of the steps in this photo and cropped in on them and enlarged them to get a sense of the moment the photo was taken. 

Very ... almost viking-like elements on these lights. They actually work now. 

Very ... almost viking-like elements on these lights. They actually work now. 

I like the composition of this photo and the way the lady in green is the focus. Also like the head peeking out below her skirt.

I like the composition of this photo and the way the lady in green is the focus. Also like the head peeking out below her skirt.

The original photo ... shows how much I enlarged it.

The original photo ... shows how much I enlarged it.