One of the more interesting and challenging jobs for a graphic designer is the shaping of a visual identity for a company. It requires gathering information, and usually the company owner has never had to think about his or her company along the lines of the questions I ask. In addition to help flesh out and distill the details on the personality of a company, It is important to see what the competition looks like. Any successful company needs to have a distinguishing feature from its competition and this needs to be reflected in all of the visual touchpoints that go out into the marketplace.
Today I have been working on a questionnaire for a pottery studio. A artists studio will usually be fairly unique from others as is the nature of a creative venture, but those features still need to be identified for the creative process to begin.
“General update” is a bit of a boring title for a blog post I suppose, but tonight the creativity has been sucked out a bit by this heat wave here on the West coast!
The Geodesignworks website is still taking baby steps to completion, but I have added some additional content to the portfolio section.
One of the projects recently completed was for High Power Exploration. They needed a series of illustrations to help explain why their HPX geophysical survey techniques were advantageous over their competitors. They had sketched out the basic concepts to convey. From these I created a simplified cross section with varying topography and based all of the illustrations on this section. The illustrations ended up being used in the High Power booth during the 2015 PDAC.
For the last four years I have been a part of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Art Studio Tour. This is a local event designed to give the public an opportunity to visit artists in their studios, see work in progress and possibly purchase some artwork.
The main way people navigate the tour is by using the brochure. It lists all of the artists, some information on each one and has a map with the studio numbers. In previous years there were a lot of complaints about its usability. This year I had the opportunity to redesign it. This was a challenging project to work on as it involved working with information from 36 artists. That is 36 highly creative people reviewing your work! Happily artists and customers both loved the brochure and found it much more useful to navigate this years tour.
We are just a week into 2015 but I already am starting to feel anxious to make this a year of successes. Like most people I start the year with high hopes. I know an important part of realizing my goals is to write it down. What better place than on a blog 🙂
One of my major projects from last year was to get a better website designed. It has only been seven years in the making. Part of the reason it has taken so long as I was working fulltime with a large mining company leaving me with little free time. I would think about it, occasionally create something but inevitably be my strongest critic and scrap it. Its rather hard to design for oneself! This past year I hired someone to help me with the backend while I concentrating on the design of the front end. Currently it is done, I just need to make the time to transfer it over and add content. So Goal #1: Get this done!
Last year I also put together a PowerPoint presentation of my PowerPoint design work. Trouble is I don’t think many people have seen it. Goal #2: Send this out to people so they can see the work that I do.
Goal #3: Create a brochure about Geodesignworks. Brochures (two or four page) are a common piece of print communication mining companies use at trade shows. Many of them are very badly designed because they stuff in as much content as possible, with whatever images are on hand. The result is something very uninviting to read. I am quite passionate about designing brochures that convey the right amount of information to do what a brochure needs to do – inform people about projects and companies in a concise manner and direct detailed questions to the website and people at the company.
I have more goals but I think I had better stick with these ones for right now. Stay tuned for a progress report!
A few days ago as I was web-surfing I came across an article about a local politician. It was an editorial in a local newspaper. I started reading it, but became so irritated by the lay-out I could not finish it. The paragraphs were broken down literally into individual sentences. I imagine it was simply a result of taking the article how it was laid-out in the newspaper and pasted into the website post. Print newspapers are laid-out in narrow columns, and often have paragraphs composed of one or two sentences. It’s not a problem in this format as the eye does not have to travel very far to continue reading. A webpage is a different animal. If there is a hard return after every sentence, my eye has to travel much further to continue reading. This causes eye-fatigue and is very irritating.
This was a good reminder to me of the importance of how copy is presented. Obviously what is written, and how it is written is crucial to the success of any print or digital communication. After all the hard work and editing of an article, why would you want to make it difficult for your audience to read it? Factors to consider include the typeface, number of columns, spacing between lines of copy. This is how a graphic designer can make a huge difference to just about any piece of communication. A graphic designer works with readability, or the ease with which text can be read and understood. If a lay-out is done properly it is invisible and the content shines through. If done poorly you may not be fully communicating as your audience loses patience and might not even know why.
I am currently working on a social media strategy for a very small one-person run company. The person that started it knew he needed to get better at it, but was feeling overwhelmed. I don’t blame him, it is totally overwhelming not just with the choice of platforms but all the information and tutorials that are out there. As I have been working on this strategy I have learned a lot, and learned I have so much more to learn. I think the best way for any organization to approach this is to try to keep it simple, as in don’t try to be on every platform. Spend more time on a few, and post information, share information more regularly. I know I need to!
Another key part of social media is remembering your companies brand. It should be foremost in your mind when you are choosing content, and any conversation you have online should also reflect these values. Write them down, have them by your keyboard, read them everyday.
Although life seems to be very busy at the moment for me on a personal level, I am going to try to be more engaged and knowledgeable about the mining industry and “big picture” viewpoints on the state of the industry and how it is changing. I came across this website today for the International Council on Mining and Metals . From their website: “The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is dedicated to improving sustainable development performance. ICMM’s vision, values, goal and objectives create a platform for members to work together and with others to strengthen the contribution of mining, minerals and metals to sustainable development.” Sustainable developement is a term often used by the mining industry, but what does it really mean? Next post I am hoping to reflect on the information I find on this website.
One of the groups I have done work for is Minerals Ed. They used to go by the title Mineral Education Program of BC. Their mandate is to provide education on earth science and the mineral exploration and mining industry in BC. I would have loved to have had these resources at my finger tips when I was in school as I dreamt of being a geologist. Check them out!
I was so excited to get into UBC, and work on what I had always viewed as my lifelong, and life-long lasting dream of becoming a geologist. It was not nearly as easy as I had expected, dang university was hard! You mean I have to really study, what?? Once I had my degree (actually the summer before) I was in the bush in the NWT soil sampling, mapping, logging core. These were remote camps but a lot of fun. Great people (for the most part), helicopters, drills; even spectacular fossil hunting. This was where the learning truly happens, this is the work that teaches you what being a geologist is all about. During one of the down cycles in the mining sector I lost my job with a major only to be picked up by a junior in diamond exploration. It was the perfect sized camp, perfect weather for the NWT and NO mosquitoes (anyone that has worked in this kind of bush knows how utterly horrid the bugs can be!) but I realized I was not happy. WHY?? I asked myself over and over again. I am fulfilling my lifelong dream, in a perfect camp. It took a lot of long walks and evaluating my interests and passions to realize I needed to change direction. I asked myself what projects did I really enjoy? I drew detailed logs, loved drawing out anything, even did a painting of Snap Lake Kimberlite core. Hmm. the picture started to come together and I started to draw up a new plan and it involved going back to school. It was a difficult decision though to finally quit. A painful financial one as well but I knew it was the right one. I immediately pictured being an expert in visual communication for the mining industry. I am still working towards this goal, 10 years later. I feel I get better everyday.
When I tell people I am a graphic designer but I worked as a geologist for a large part of my life their is a moment of silence, and then the inevitable question or variation of it: “Why?” Well, it is a bit of a story, but really like most people these days my career path was bound to be fluid rather than static.
From about the age of six I knew I wanted to work with rocks. I collected them endlessly much to the chagrin of my parents (rocks in the house, scattered in the grass, going though the laundry) and as soon as I could read I wanted to read about volcanoes and earthquakes. I knew my career path when most kids wanted to be princesses and firemen. Of course I had no idea what a geologist really did. Through school I had an idea of being a world traveller and collecting rocks. All my classes in junior high and high school were focused on my end goal. Except one class: Art. Art and then commercial design, whatever was offered. The two passions were distinct and so important to me but when it came to “what do I want to be” the geologist side always won. I had to focus on the science side in grade 12 as I knew I had to maintain good grades to get into UBC. And I was successful. I think it was when I started university life the dream started losing its lustre..