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We are excited to share with you some of the official photos from the District Bliss event!  All photos courtesy of Kathy Lynn Photography.

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Thank you to Sara and Sarah for organizing!

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One of the best parts of District Bliss is hanging out to meet new people.

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Our Kendra Scott sign on the counter with two of their fab employees.

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Drinks mean a chance to design some rad coasters.

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The giveaway we designed for fall – sunflower seeds for planting.

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Proud to be linked with these fantastic ladies!

 

In November we were a featured vendor for District Bliss at the Kendra Scott store in Bethesda. If you haven’t checked out Kendra Scott yet, you definitely should stop by – the jewelry is beautiful, and they have a color bar where you can chose your stones and make a unique piece that is truly your own.

For the event, we created these amazing thank you cards, signs, coasters and giveaways in Kendra Scott yellow. The designs were a big hit, and we are excited to share them with you!

Official pictures coming soon, but until then, enjoy this sneak preview!

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Business cards are something that almost everyone has a use for. They are a great way to quickly share contact information with a colleague, contact or potential client. They are also part of your first impression. But are your cards as successful as they could be?

The number one piece of advice I have for clients is: put your name on your cards. I recently went to a networking event where I received a plethora of cards, many of which contained only the name of the business. This made it hard for me to reach out to these individuals to follow up and connect. After a brief meeting, it is natural that someone might miss or forget a name or two. Not having your name on your card discourages people from finding you on LinkedIn or sending you that thank you email. While there are situations where you might give a newbie to your company temporary, blank cards, a card with a name will always be more personal and encouraging.

Also, make sure to include your website. Your website is the modern day brochure for your company. Even if someone is hesitant to reach out after a meeting, there is a chance they will check your website – and if you get them there, you have a better chance of converting them into a customer.

Think about the format of the cards. While it may be trendy to have round cards, or unusual sizes, in the end, the business card goes into someone’s wallet or rolodex. A circle or an oversized card may not fit, and may discourage someone from keeping the card in the long term.

What other business card faux pas have you experienced?

As I mentioned in our newsletter, November is going to be an exciting month for us.  We are getting ready to be a participating vendor at the District Bliss November Social at Kendra Scott in Bethesda.  If you aren’t familiar with District Bliss, you are missing out.  Run by Sarah and Sara, an amazing photographer and wedding planner, the events are a chance for creatives and wedding vendors to mix, mingle and socialize while learning about each others businesses.  Each event has featured vendors in a variety of categories who provide work for the event – from venues to florists to photographers, and in this case, designers, which is the role I’ll be filling November 5th. Come back for a sneak preview of what I’m working on soon, and in the mean time, sign up for the event here!  It will be a blast.

Jensen064

Invitation Design by Stacy Kleber Design.  Photo by Paula Player Photography.

 

agency vs in house-3

I am one designer that has the pleasure of working in all realms – I have been an agency designer, an in-house designer and now I work full-time as a freelance designer. Each role has its own set of rewards and challenges. Today I’m hoping to shed some light on the mystery of agency vs in-house.

An Agency Designer

An agency designer is an exciting job in that it offers new challenges all the time. One day you might be working on a hotel logo – the next you might be working on a flyer for the Humane Society or an annual report for the Chamber of Commerce. There is a constant stream of different clients, which prevents you from getting into a creative rut.

The downside of being an agency designer is long hours, depending on the agency. I have found that agencies work more quickly and at a higher volume than in many corporate settings.

An In-House Designer

As an in-house designer, you have the advantage of being the expert and truly knowing the brand inside and out. While some may say this means the work is repetitive, I see it as a means of constantly challenging oneself to break outside of the comfort zone.  It is easy to churn out versions of the same design, but how can you take that design and make it different and interesting? In some ways, this pushes your creativity more than ever.

On the downside, sometimes working in-house for “free” challenges your legitimacy.  People think they can get higher quality work at an agency, or they take your work for granted. While this is not true, it is an frequent challenge to in-house designers. The best defense is doing solid, creative design.

What challenges have you faced as an agency or in-house designer?  What is your favorite part?

Why I still love it.

While I definitely appreciate web design, and all the possibilities that come with going digital, I will for now and forever more love print. There is something about a tangible design that I feel is rich and lush – a luxurious experience that a design on screen can’t quite emulate.

Take a wedding invitation, for example.  While e-vite sites are vastly improving with the development of sites like Paperless Post, most brides still opt for rich paper and extravagant printing methods like thermography or letterpress.  It feels special.  It feels expensive.  On-screen-only invites just don’t have the same flare.

At conferences, people still love tangible giveaways.  They pick up business cards, postcards, buttons… What they often don’t do is scan QR codes – and if you put your info on a thumb drive, they can’t see it until they get home.  People like stuff – particularly free stuff. It is yet another experience that we have not found an equivalent for in the digital realm.

According to Karlene Lukovitz at The Association of Magazine Media, printed magazines often fail when attempting to make the transition to digital only (Perception vs. Reality).  I think part of this is that we fail to celebrate each medium for what it is.  The virtual experience strives to get closer and closer to the actual physical experience…  This means that the print experience clearly resonates with the audience.  Why does iBooks implement a page flip function?  People still want books to look like books.

While I think both print and digital have their place, and are both amazing mediums, I feel that print is far from dead.  Long live paper.

Stacy Kleber Design Fuel DC

For those who missed it, I spent one night last week with Fuel DC teaching small business owners tips to create simple images for their websites and social media.  If you aren’t familiar with Fuel DC, they run a few events a year in order to help entrepreneurs learn skills that will assist them in running their business.

While having a designer create custom graphics for you every day would be an ideal scenario, as small business owners, we all know that this would be neither cost effective nor realistic for someone who is either starting out, or is a single person business.  That is why we need to find simple, fast and lucrative ways to promote on a budget.

I covered some of the websites that I shared in my blog post earlier in March as a teaser for the event. This week I’ll recap some of the tips that I gave on designing your images for maximum effectiveness.

Fonts

Keep your fonts simple, and stay away from cliches like Comic Sans. Script fonts are ok, but be wary of using them on images that will be used small, such as photos you are inserting into tweets. Script can get hard to read at small sizes.

Colors

A color wheel is a great cheat sheet for choosing colors.  Do not overlay colors on opposite side of the color wheel, or they will appear to “vibrate” to the eye (for example you wouldn’t overlay yellow text over purple, or bright red text over bright green). Stick with dark on light, and light on dark for maximum contrast.

Overlaying Text on Images

When you want to overlay text on an image, choose something that is either blurred out so that the text won’t compete, or an image with a large blank area such as a sky or a grassy field, where the text will be easily visible.

Message

Keep your message short and simple. People skim their social media, and if they don’t get the message within a few seconds, the opportunity to hook them in is lost.

Brand

Even with all the options out there for creating images, be true to your brand. People build a relationship and come to expect a certain image from you as a business.  If you start giving them conflicting messages, and images that don’t fit your brand, you will begin to build a level of distrust with the customer.

Thanks to Studio DBI for hosting, Fuel DC and Capitol Romance for organizing and of course, thank you to everyone that attended!  Let’s get designing!

WHEN IN ROME

I have worked with international companies for a number of years now, and very often we end up printing designs in locations other than the US, so I thought I’d give a quick recap on US versus international paper sizes.

In the US, you are probably familiar with our standard sizes – letter, legal and tabloid being the most common.

Letter – 8.5″x11″

Legal – 8.5″x14″

Tabloid – 11″x17″

Also common are 3″x5″ and 5″x7″.

Internationally, it is much more common to use A sizes.  The interesting thing about A sizes are that each size is a sheet folded in half.  So A2 is half A1, A3 is half A2 and so on.  As the number gets larger, the size of the page gets smaller.  Most of the time these sizes are listed in millimeters, but for the US audience, I have put them here in inches for easy comparison.

A1 – 23.4″x33.1″

A2 – 16.5″x23.4″

A3 – 11.7″x16.5″

A4 – 8.3″x11.7″

A5 – 5.8″x8.3″

A4 is the closest to US letter.  It is a little taller and thinner than letter. A2 would be closest to US tabloid.

There are additional A sizes, but I think this should give you a pretty clear picture of how it works.  There is also a B and C series, but I won’t get in to those here.

Have you ever printed internationally?  What is your biggest challenge?

Color!

288C?  150U? 

Almost every designer will provide you Pantone or PMS colors with your logo – but what are these?  And why and how should you use them?

What is it?

Pantone colors are a way of creating a standard color match. Designers and studios will buy Pantone books, which look like paint swatches – each color with a specific corresponding number. This number can be given to a printer, with a guarantee that when printed in spot color, you will get an exact match in your printing.

Each color has a specific formula that the printer will mix. With Pantone, there are colors such as neons or metallics that will only come out that way by using Pantone rather than CMYK. This is because of the inks used as the base.

Most commonly used books

The most commonly used set of swatches is Pantone Solid Coated – solid colors set for coated paper. These are denoted by a number, followed by C. You may also see U or uncoated.

When would you not use it?

There are times when you simply can’t use a PMS or spot color. This includes times when you need to print photographic images, as the images are made up of CMYK inks.  In this case, it is helpful to provide the printer with the PMS number for your brand and let them know that the logo or background should closely match that color.

When would you use it?

You might want to use your PMS color for letterhead or business cards – products that only have one or two colors. While this may sound limiting, Pantone also allows you to use percentages of these colors in 1 or 2 color printing. This means you can get a range of depth with very few colors. You would also want to use spot color for thermography, or raised, printing. Sometimes, using only 1 color can also be a money saver. It really depends on the job.

Other interesting facts

Pantone was originally for printing only, but has moved in to all sorts of different areas such as home and fashion, weddings and Pantone Universe accessories. We even look forward to their color of the year every January to give us an idea of what is trending in the year ahead.

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the DotGovDesign Conference in DC.  I’d like to share some of what I learned with you here, to give you a taste of what is going on in local government design.

Creating Motion Graphics & Video Communications – Department of Labor

The first session that I attended was Creating Motion Graphics & Video, presented by the Department of Labor. They showed their video on family leave, as well as some other interesting videos. A favorite highlight in this talk was the animation at the end of the video – where the wings flap slightly to animate the logo. While many people think of government design as restrictive, the Department of Labor staff proved that there is interesting and modern work going on, and that you should seek to constantly challenge the status quo to make each design better than the last.

Design Federal – Jason Schupbach

The next session I attended was the keynote by Jason Schupbach from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He talked about the history of the NEA, including the many grants they have sponsored to help better the arts. These grants have touched many people, including some of the great designers like Ivan Chermayoff – who produced “The Design Necessity” for the first Federal Design Assembly. Jason mentioned that the NEA funds about 50% of design grants submitted – so start applying and get some funding!

Building Confidence in your Agency’s Leadership for New Designs and Solutions – IDEO

The next session I attended was with IDEO, and was about building confidence in design. They gave us 5 basic principles – design for someone specific, build props, everyone in government is a service designer, make the design process transparent and design for the way decisions are made.

Design for someone specific suggested that the more specific you get, the more broadly applicable your solution will be.

Build props is about making your project easy to imagine. Showing people a prototype or sketch can go a long way in helping you both sort out the wrinkles in your design, as well as get your design approved.  It starts a dialogue.

Everyone in the government is a service designer brought forth the notion that as a designer, we can empower others to see themselves as valuable contributors to the design process.

Design for the way decisions are made was one of the most insightful parts of this talk – it implies that instead of trying to fight the process, we can use it to our advantage to help get our ideas through the decision making process. It seems so obvious, and yet it is something that many people can easily overlook.

Could Design Help End Extreme Poverty? – USAID

After lunch, I attended the talk by USAID on “Could Design End Extreme Poverty?”  Again we saw video design for USAID, which seems to be an extremely effective way to engage people for cause advertising. Many of the work at USAID is done in conjunction with Ogilvy, a well known design firm. The ads were engaging and tugged at the heart strings.

Designing for 1600 Penn – Ashleigh Axios

Designing for 1600 Penn was the talk that I was most looking forward to at the conference. Ashleigh’s talk was full of interesting tidbits and insights.  Some of my favorite quotes and insights were:

Designers are creative problem solvers at heart.

In house designers have a special kind of endurance.

It is a little easier to get things done when the White House has done it before you.

Mistakes will happen. Roll with them.

40% of lower income families only check internet on mobile, so think about how you strip your site down for that screen size. 

Ashleigh showed us an extensive wall plan for the enhanced State of the Union address – with layers upon layers of infographics, the President’s speech and key facts that could be interspersed for viewers.

She also consistently proved that no matter where you work or who you work for, design is design and things happen. From a slide not showing up on the President’s Powerpoint to “handling the crazy,” it seems life at 1600 Penn is not so different from life at our other in house design studios.

Thank you AIGA DC for organizing the DotGovDesign Conference!