Should Creatives Work For Free?

“Don’t worry, even though you’re not getting paid with money, the rewards in the long run from all the exposure you will get will be so worth it!”

Has anybody else in the creative field heard these words before?  With me also being a musician (in addition to a designer), I know I certainly have heard these words countless times before.

It’s a frustrating position to be in as a creative person (sometimes).  You are passionate about what you do, and that is why you love what you do.  You want to get work, because that’s what pays the bills.  No matter what type of creative you are, the services that creatives provide will always be needed.

Everybody at some time or another will need to solicit the services of a creative — let’s take weddings for example.  A graphic designer will be needed to design the wedding invitations, a photographer for documenting the entire day, musicians for the ceremony music and a d.j. for the reception dancing music, and a chef/catering company to provide all the good food (just to name a few).  Now, I am married and I know how scarily expensive weddings can get!  I also know that (in my experience) that most people think that creatives overcharge for their services and people essentially want to get the services that creatives provide for free.

Now, I’m all for a good deal but creatives deserve just like anybody else to receive the pay for the good/service they provide.

I think that what makes it difficult for people to accept what creatives charge is that art (in its many forms) is difficult to measure.  Yes, it can be easy to calculate how much time an artist would spend on a specific service in contribution to the wedding, but part of the service charge is the key word here:  artistry.  How many years has a designer, a photographer, a musician, and a chef dedicated to get their skill to the level where it is today?  That is very difficult to measure.

Any average Joe can go around with a camera and take pictures, but those pictures aren’t going to look a thing how the client wants them to look.  So, in response to the question posed in the title of this post — NO, a creative should never provide their services for free.  No creative should undermine their expertise in their area like this, no matter how much a person promises for all the “exposure” in the world.

Now, especially for younger creatives, I think if an arrangement is made for an exchange of goods/services instead of money, there is nothing wrong with that.  As long as a creative is not working for free, I’m happy.


3 Important Things to Remember About Branding

One side of graphic design that can tend to be pushed to the back burner is how important graphic designers are in the implementation and use of branding.

I have been reading a good deal about branding recently, and I have found a lot of similarities with what I have been reading.  The below are some of the most important things that I have been reading, and they are especially important so that a business’s voice is able to be heard.

          1.  Be Smarter, Not Louder

With so many businesses vying for our attention, they to be smart if they want to be heard over everybody else.  The key to grabbing a consumer’s attention probably will not be trying to be “louder” than everybody else; depending on the product as well as the audience they are communicating with, the answer might actually be to whisper to the customer.  I believe the key to success is being inventive and innovative, not louder.

          2.  Tone of Voice

Since businesses communicate with their customers is so many different ways now, one of the things that is so important to keep consistent is the tone of voice.  Across all mediums in which a business communicates from, the message that is being communicated needs to be exactly the same.  I think that if a customer were to get a different tone of voice from a business on social media and then on print, the message that was trying to be communicated would be lost.  The goal with branding should always be to keep the customer engaged in what the business is doing.

          3.  Believe in the Product

Pretty simple concept, but if a customer gets the impression that the business doesn’t believe in the product/service they are marketing, then the customer certainly won’t either.  Customers want to see that a business believes in their product with unwavering support.  That’s certainly what makes me interested in and have confidence in a product that I am going to invest time and money into.

Website Landing Pages: Good Design That Captivates

Have you ever wondered what it is that some websites have that makes you sit and just look for a few seconds?  I have certainly come across my fair share of great landing pages and I would like to take some time and share with you just a few of my favorites.

  • Apple

apple website

I have always loved visiting Apple’s homepage.  I think simplicity in good design can be highly underrated, and Apple just embraces the simplicity.  They truly let the products speak for themselves (one product at a time is featured right in the middle of the screen), the font choice is very easy to read, and the website is just as easy to navigate.  I also love their use of all the white space as the background for the website — it almost allows the viewer to breathe a little bit; it is such a breath of fresh air to not see too much going on with a website.

  • Pinterest


I will say that while I am not the most avid Pinterest user, I do enjoy using the website for a good recipe every now and again!  There are a few things that are striking and immediately noticeable when going to Pinterest:  1) To view any content on their website, you must join!  2) They’re all about passing information on to the user.  So literally, Pinterest has something for anybody who could happen upon their website.

While I don’t think that Pinterest is the most clean looking website I have ever seen, I do think that they do a great job of keeping everything quite organized (with as much information that is being shared), and it is also very easy to navigate.  With one quick search you’ve got a few thousand different recipes at your fingertips, and that’s just for Fettuccine Alfredo.

  • Indochino

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 12.05.56 AM

Ah, Indochino.  I have been to this website many times but I have never actually purchased anything from them.  This company specializes in custom made suits, and the entire ordering process takes place online.  The website will even walk you through step by step on how to get the perfect measurements (if you don’t already know them) so that you can get the perfect bespoke suit in the mail.  These folks really know how to make a gorgeous suit.

The whole concept of getting a custom suit all online is still a pretty new concept, and I think that the design of the website reflects that.  The website is modern looking and simple, and it is ridiculously easy to navigate.  The first thing you see when you open the website is always either a closeup of one of their suits, or a group picture (usually a wedding shot) of guys wearing their suits.  You almost can’t look at that first glance of one of their suits and not continue clicking farther and farther into their website.  Indochina certainly does know what they’re doing.


These are just a few of my favorite landing pages with websites that I am familiar with.  That first look at a website does make a big impression, and I know that is makes a big impact on what I think about the company.

Typography: Symbol Fonts

When I think of typography, the first thing that crosses my mind is probably not the wide array of symbol fonts that exist.  Even more exciting, a good number of these fonts are also free to download and use to your hearts content!

Below I have included a few symbol fonts that I have found interesting and that could be useful in many different graphic design projects.

  • Glyphyx One

glyphyx symbol

The symbols in the Glyphyx One set are all related to transportation in one way or another.  Containing symbols from cars and bikes to taxis and helicopters, this font would probably be a great option for an information graphic.  (The “leisure” themed items seen above come from the Glyphyx Two set).

  • Cittadino


This free symbol font is an eye-catching collection of pictograms, which apparently are already featured on the Milan Metro map.  Designed by a Moscow based desire, this set includes both upper and lower case letters as well as numbers.  Talk about real-life design solutions!

  • Rosette


This eye-catching and beautiful set of rosettes was created by a font designer and calligrapher that was formerly an architect.  I love hearing of great “conversion” stories of designers using their already honed skills and directing that into design careers.  This designer certainly made the right choice and I would love to use one of these in a project soon.

  • Kalocsai Flowers

kalocsai flowers

This set of flower symbols is very attractive and I think that has to do with the simplicity of the flowers.  There is beauty in simplicity, and I really like this set.  What makes it even better is that these are free to use!

  • Adhesive Nr. Seven

adhesive nr. seven

Yet another set of symbols that are free to download and use, these textured banners are widely versatile and I think they can be used with a wide variety of design styles.

  • Vintage Wedding

vintage wedding.png

Unfortunately this set is not free (costs between $20 and $108), , but it has symbols that are able to be used for design solutions other than just weddings. This is a very large collection of symbols at 432 icons that can be used for many different celebratory occasions including baby showers, Valentine’s Day, birthdays…

Real Graphic Design Solutions: Adobe Creative Cloud at Work in Pete’s Dragon

I love movies.  Plain and simple.  Something I am also a big fan of are smart reinventions of movies that I loved from my childhood.

I was beyond thrilled when I found out that Disney was remaking Pete’s Dragon!  I loved this movie when I was a kid (even though this movie was technically a little before my time) and it just brings back great memories from growing up.

What makes me most excited about this remake is knowing how much technology has changed since the ’70’s.  What is even cooler is that Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps had quite a bit to do with the process of creating the giant green star of the movie, Elliott.  In a recent interview with Adobe, one of the supervisors involved in the creative process told how the team used Photoshop CC and After Effects CC a lot during the visualization of Elliott.

Since one of the fun aspects of Elliott is his disappearing trick, the team had to get creative   with finding ways to make him disappear (and reappear!)  They were able to use Photoshop render layers to create multiple looks, and then they were able to finalize them in After Effects.  Illustrator was then used to create visual diagrams that the team actually used while on set.  These diagrams main purpose was to show where the camera was in relation to the actors, including how high it is and where it moved.  All this came together to make sure that the vision the creative team had makes sense and lines up with what the actors are able to re-create in real life.

This, I’m sure is only scratching the surface on how the creative team for Pete’s Dragon was able to use some of the Creative Cloud apps to their advantage.  Each day I learn more and more about how the apps are able to be used other than their obvious ways for design.  I love reading about these real-life applications of graphic design!

Drawing: It’s Not So Bad!

In the past four weeks I have done a good amount of drawing, which is saying something!  I have never considered myself to be a drawer in any regard, but I have found drawing to be (and I’m sure it will continue to be) a useful skill.  Drawing has helped me to visualize the work I am doing before I even go into Illustrator to start designing.  It has helped me to have definite direction in the design from the very beginning, which I have found has saved me a good amount of time.

I have seen that my drawing has improved, even over just the past few weeks.  Practice truly does make perfect, and I know that my drawing will only get better the more I practice it.


The above is my favorite drawing that I have done over the past few weeks.  I am very proud how it turned out, and it is certainly my best so far!