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Archive for the Design category

So you want to be a designer…

As a design studio in a highly creative town (Portland, Oregon USA), we get a lot of emails and personal correspondence from people asking what it takes to get started in the field of graphic design. Questions range from “what books should I be reading” to “what are some of the best schools for design” to “can I has job?”. Our response to these hails are generally the same so we’ve decided to create a blog post for all our future design prospects. We hope this post can offer some clarity into the road ahead, but this advice should be taken with a grain of salt as everybody’s path into design (or at least should be) varied and unique.

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Schools:
There aren’t any particular schools that we recommend for graphic design that don’t cost a metric-ton of money (Cal Arts). What I will say is save your money until you are absolutely sure that design is for you. If you were thinking of attending a school like the Art Institute, you should be prepared to spend a good amount of time working to put a portfolio together and working closely with your freelance competition. We know a lot of instructors at the Art Institute and have hired several designers from there, it’s not a bad place to start but it is certainly an expensive “baptismal by fire” to see if you really want to be a designer.

Our recommendation is that you should round out your education by getting a degree in applied arts and getting a few projects, in a few different mediums, under your belt. That way, you may find talents you never knew you had from welding to ceramics to video production to a thousand other disciplines that can aid your future career be it graphic design or otherwise.

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Books:
As for books to read, we’d (and I’m serious about this) start with Graphic Design for Dummies which should teach you about definitions and expectations. That series is like a ‘CliffsNotes’ for any subject and provides a basic understanding of the core concepts in design. After that, we’d recommend books on art history, anatomy, drawing techniques, printing, pairing and even magazines that focus on design principals (How).

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Tools:
Regardless of your feelings of Mac v. PC, I’d suggest getting a decent computer (at least 4GB RAM) and start working with any design programs you can. You don’t have to be working with Adobe right out of the gate as there are many alternatives to those applications these days. If you do have access to Creative Suite, you should start to familiarize yourself with Illustrator (vector) first. Photoshop is a phenomenal program but when you start working with print ready files programs you’ll need to know how to produce files as vector art and the requirements for exporting and getting those elements properly prepared for print.

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Experience:
Now, here’s the most important thing of all, in order to be a great designer, you need to get out to concerts, museums, the mall, ANYWHERE there is art on display. We’re not talking exclusively about pretty pictures, but we are saying that knowing what has resonated throughout history (museums) will definitely give you a good base to work from. Seeing posters, shirts and people at events (concerts/sporting events) should give you a good idea of what graphics work in what context. Even the mall can a great place to see both good and bad POP (point of purchase) displays and to start getting ideas for what works and what doesn’t.

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The first step towards becoming a designer should be the act of picking up a spiral bound sketch book so you can start drawing and taking notes on the world around you. As a designer, it’s your job to know what works visually and what doesn’t AND be able to echo that on to your client. Design is everywhere and they play an important part in driving sales and creating marketing efforts that build awareness and loyalty. There will always be a need for designers and GOOD designers, the ones that can separate the wheat from the chaff, the ones who have a working knowledge of history, are the ones who keep getting paid and picked up for gigs.

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What is your website saying about your brand?

Jon Gelberg of Blue Fountain Media, recently wrote an article for Inc.com that how going with a template based web option might be good for the short term, but over the long haul it cheapens your brand and makes you look like you don’t take your marketing and messaging seriously.

The crux of the article was that a website goes beyond just ‘setting and forgetting’ and no matter what solution you come up with there will need to bee some thought put into the cost of maintenance, upkeep and content development.

Before any of that begins you need to start with what you want your business to say BEFORE you look to a template to decide that for you. If your business commands a bulk of your time (which it should), find a design team that shows a demonstrated understanding of what you do.

If you are thinking of getting your business online or if you are going through the process of updating your website, we highly recommend this article.

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Destination PlayStation

Here we are at the 11th annual Destination PlayStation event, hosted by Sony Computer Entertainment America.

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We are in the picturesque Sonoran Desert but it is a bit colder than you would expect. I’m not complaining as this desert could do with some rain and, plus, it makes walking the floor at the expo a little less muggy.

We are here for a week’s worth of meetings and planning for the next phase of Bauer Graphics and to talk all things Sony. It was a toss up for which show I would be attending (DPS or GDC) but I figured that I’d be hitting those same folks up at E3 this year so Destination Playstation won out. Plus, how can you compete with the luxurious Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort? Come on!

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Looking forward to bringing back some key partnerships this year and to start working with more companies in the game industry.

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Lego Antikythera Mechanism

This ancient machine was discovered by divers in 1908 off the coast of Antikythera. Coverd in corrosion the purpose of the device remained a mystery for almost 100 years. Through the use of X-Rays and CAT scans scientists were able learn that the device was an extremely accurate computer used by the Greeks to predict eclipses and other celestial events.

It is an analog computer with over 100 gears and 7 differential gearboxes. It is accurate to a day or two over it’s range.

Five turns of the central yellow handle advances the machine one year. The dials on the left represent the Saros cycle of lunar months. The dials on the right represent the positions of the sun and moon against the zodiac.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

After my last post I went to sleep and have just awoke to find it it 30 days later! Thank goodness I awoke moments ago to wish everyone a HAPPY AND JOYOUS NEW YEAR. Let’s storm the beaches of opportunity together in 2011

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Absolutely Useful Web Apps For People Who Run Business

This is one of the very best list of its kind where you can find incredibly amazing and Absolutely Useful (Yet Free) Web Apps For Business People.  These would be great enough to bookmark or just for get in your knowledge. I hope everyone of you will like this list. This is absolutely helpful for business owners, entrepreneurs, office workers, managers, designers, web designers, developers etc. Just take a look at them and share your thought’s here.

You are welcome if you want to share more useful web apps that our readers/viewers may like. Do you want to be the first one to know the latest happenings at  SmashingApps.com just subscribe to our rss feed and you can follow us on twitter as well.

smartQ

smartQ is a web-based visual project board for tracking tickets through a multi-step process. You can distribute the work, track the progress, identify the bottlenecks and store team communication in one central place. It is really adjustable to fit any workflow.

Skylight

Skylight puts powerful but easy-to-use business management tools in the hands of the whole team, in or out of the office. Skylight helps business users achieve success while providing anytime, anywhere access to important business information. Projects, contacts, resources, accounts and files in one place.

Gantt

GANTTIC is an online project management software for scheduling resources and projects. This online scheduling software provides user-friendly graphical interface and interactive Gantt chart for real time collaboration. This is really perfect for resource management and project scheduling of any business.

Teamlab

TeamLab is a free open-source platform for business collaboration and project management. It allows you to use social networking tools such as blogs and forums, organize business tasks and milestones, as well as communicate with your team members via corporate IM.

Perq

Perq makes leave management painless with an easy-to-use policy creation tool, automated tracking with accrual, and a simple time-off request process.

SmartPointment

SmartPointment is a simple but effective way to schedule appointments online. With this, You can let your customers schedule appointments at their convenience. SmartPointment analytics give you the insight you need so you can direct your efforts into what has the most impact on your business.

Mavenlink

This is one of the best project collaboration applications which can be used to manage your projects, track time spent on each project, communicate with team members, manage payments, invoices and do a lot more.

Disqourse

It’s easy to use communication and task management system. Disqourse is best for teams that are communicating with their customers and mainly it’s perfect for B2B businesses like design shops, webdevelopers etc

SkyLedger

SkyLedger will change the way you look at bookkeeping and accounting forever.This system makes it so any small to medium size business can be up and running with a fully robust accounting system in seconds.

Producteev

Producteev will help you manage your tasks from wherever you’re comfortable working like E-mail, IM, Web, iPhone, Gmail, Google Calendar…

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SourcedFrom Sourced from: Free and Useful Online Resources for Designers and Developers

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Gender Disparities in the Design Field

Advertisement in Gender Disparities in the Design Field
 in Gender Disparities in the Design Field  in Gender Disparities in the Design Field  in Gender Disparities in the Design Field

Walk into any design classroom, at any college in America, and you’ll see a comfortable mix of male and female students. Turn your attention to the front of the classroom, or down the hall to the faculty and staff offices, and that wonderful gender balance starts to skew. Travel outside the campus, and there’s really no balance at all.

But why? If there are design classrooms across the country with a 50/50 blend of men and women — and in many classrooms, there are more females than males — then why doesn’t the design field represent the same ratio? Why does creative employment still showcase a male-dominated presence? What happens to these passionate and educated females? Certainly, there must be more to it than child-bearing — or is there? Is a more gender-balanced field really all that important? Why, or why not?

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Gender disparities in the design field is a controversial as well as a complex topic. Image credit: Choichun Leung

These questions and many others accompanied me to a design and technology conference this past fall. Minnebar, an annual Twin Cities conference that celebrates vision, niche technology and collective wisdom, provided the perfect platform for such inquiries. I hosted a session aptly named “The Equal Sign” to pitch the dilemma of the field not representing the classroom. I played the role of discussion facilitator, and was eager to see where the conversation would go. What I hadn’t realized, was that I wasn’t the only one perplexed by this phenomenon.

First, the Stats

According to Findings From A List Apart Survey 2009, a poll created by and for Web designers, 82.6% of Web designers are male. Ironically, 66.5% of the same respondents stated there is “definitely not” a gender bias in the design field. Web design is just one segment of the design world, but the statistic is nonetheless chilling.

My audience for the session? Predominantly female. It seems the topic itself is more intriguing for women than men. What these women had to say was sobering. One mentioned that it’s foolish to expect a male-dominated field to be able to design interfaces that appeal to how women want to interact with technology. In other words, young girls put off as consumers of technology aren’t likely to desire to create in that arena.

Another common theme during the discussion was that of heroes. So few female designers exist, and of them, few are known superstars in the industry. Of these, even less are known by individuals outside of the industry. Lack of visible female heroes results in lack of female interest. But there are countless male role models in the field; why can’t they be heroes for young girls with computers? The same reason why I’d rather aspire to be Run DMC, than Mariah Carey.

Second, the Perceptions

In the book Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, two researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that “research shows that both males and females believe that males are better than females at computing” (Clarke, 1992; Spertus, 1991). This finding is nearly 20 years old, but this mindset could easily have been held by the parents of today’s college students. Going to college can be hard, but pursuing a degree with little support from mom and dad makes it even harder.

There is also an unspoken expectation that women are very creative and make great print designers, but aren’t wired to splice the intricacies of new and constantly changing software and platforms — as noted in a Fadtastic.net article written by designer Matt Davies. The field generally represents the occurrence of women holding positions in print, illustration and photography, with noticeable scarcity in more technology-dependent roles such as Web design, animation, game design and programming.

Google-she-invented in Gender Disparities in the Design Field
Google used to return the correction “Did You Mean: He Invented” for the search “she invented”. It generated a lot of buzz throughout the Web.

Third, the Conditioning

Conditioning is perhaps the most obvious and potentially controversial (but definitely the most changing) of all the reasons why there aren’t more women designers. Video games and scrapbooks are cliché, but a telling, cultural phenomena. Traditionally, young boys have been fascinated with video games. The constant newness of the technological capacities; the integration with other male stigmas, such as television and computers; and certainly the intense competitive nature of the games, whether against a friend or the software itself, have all catered to masculine characteristics.

Scrapbooking, on the other hand — often a self-involved, self-rewarding, aesthetic, process-oriented affair — has appealed to feminine sensibilities. Great; but what do video games and scrapbooking have to do with gender gaps in creative fields?

Everything. And, it’s changing. In the Newsweek article “’Where’s My Crazy Hot Guy?’ A Female Designer On Women and Videogames,” award-winning female game designer Brenda Brathwaite confessed, “There was a time literally, within this decade, when I knew every single female game designer out there. Personally….” Video games, or more specifically, the video game format, have found their way into almost every media component of our lives.

Log in to Facebook, and in no time you’ll end up fielding requests from friends to play “Farmville.” Shop your favorite store online, and you may be prompted to click a link and dress a sophisticated cartoon character to help you with your purchasing decisions. Save some time at the grocery store by going through the self-checkout line, and you’re confronted with the all too familiar series of buttons, colors and graphics to ease your way through the credit card swipe and out the door.

Video gaming isn’t just something engaged in by teenage football players. It’s a format that is relevant to men and women, boys and girls, and this inclusion of the female population is invariably causing more females to ask themselves how it all works, and how they can be a contributing factor.

Fourth, the Status Quo

All things design — video games, Web design and graphic arts — can bring two genders together and create acceptance and encouragement, which fosters the potential to level the creative employment playing field. You must ask yourself, “Is this a good thing?” There are numerous reasons why more women are needed, and need representation; but is the “female designer dilemma” really all that bad? If a city of people stormed the doors of their school district demanding more male kindergarten teachers, they might be mercilessly scoffed at.

Similarly, few are tooting the horn for more female firefighters, or male nurses. Our culture has built functioning gender-based roles, and has birthed young boys and girls excited to fill them. Why fix it if it ain’t broke? If gender balance is achieved in the creative industry, will it be adding new jobs for females, or replacing jobs that males had? If the latter is the case, what will happen to these men? My audience at Minnebar had blank faces, and empty responses, when I asked them.

All of this matters for one reason: I don’t want to face my female students every day with the thought that more than half of them won’t ever be designers, and of the few that do, what exactly do they have to look forward to? They will have to deal with their peers, employers, clients and families being both impressed and confused when their sisters, friends and coworkers create designs that aren’t “girly” and “cute.”

Lisa Firke, a woman embodying that rare combination of female and Web designer, commented on Zeldman.com: “I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that 90% of my clients are women. Perhaps taking women seriously as designers goes hand-in-hand with taking women seriously as Web consumers.”

Sources

Fisher, A. and Margolis, J. (2002). Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.

Editor’s Note

This post is an article from our series of “opinion columns,” in which we give people in the Web design community a platform to raise their voices and present their opinion on something they feel strongly about to the community. Please note that the content in this series is not in any way influenced by the Smashing Magazine’s Editorial team. If you want to publish your article in this series, please send us your thoughts and we’ll get back to you.

— Vitaly Friedman, Editor in Chief of Smashing Magazine

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SourcedFrom Sourced from: Smashing Magazine Feed

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Web Designers vs. Web Developers (Infographic)

Let’s be honest. Being a web developer or a web designer doesn’t exactly give you an edge with the pretty girls (or guys) at your local pickup bar. If you were a part-time firefighter or investment banker, maybe. Nevertheless, the feud continues between web designers and web developers over which profession is the true calling. Like the yin and yang, these two are in constant battle to prove their dominance over the other, even when they work closely together.

Here is an infographic of the differences between web designers and web developers.

Click to enlarge.

Web Designers vs. Web Developers (Infographic)

Infographic by: Shane Snow. Shane Snow is an entrepreneur, writer, and recent Columbia MS/Digital Media graduate. Visit his personal site and follow him on Twitter @shanesnow.

Related Content

About the Author

Wix is a free website builder tool for quick and easy creation of quality Flash websites. Follow them via Twitter as @wix, and subscribe to their blog where they post useful articles for website owners.

SourcedFrom Sourced from: Six Revisions

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25 Photoshop Tutorials for Designing Abstract Backgrounds

Abstract backgrounds are very common in web design and for other purposes like poster and wallpaper design. Photoshop provides plenty of potential for designing amazing abstract backgrounds, and in this post we’ll showcase 25 tutorials that show how it can be done.

Create Abstract Colorful Balls Illustrations in Photoshop CS5

Create Abstract Colorful Balls Illustrations in Photoshop CS5

How to Create Abstract Colorful Background with Bokeh Effect in Photoshop

How to Create Abstract Colorful Background with Bokeh Effect in Photoshop

Blend Tool Backgrounds (video)

Blend Tool Backgrounds (video)

Create Electrifying Light Effects Around an Image

Create Electrifying Light Effects Around an Image

Chroma Wallpapers

Chroma Wallpapers

Quickly Build an Abstract Background of Colored Bars

Quickly Build an Abstract Background of Colored Bars

Digital Star Effect

Digital Star Effect

Stripy Abstract Wallpaper in Photoshop

Stripy Abstract Wallpaper in Photoshop

Creating a Mac-Type Background in Photoshop

Creating a Mac-Type Background in Photoshop

Abstract Lighting Effects

Abstract Lighting Effects

How to Create an Abstract Colorful Rainbow Background

How to Create an Abstract Colorful Rainbow Background

Lines Tutorial

Lines Tutorial

Creating Colorful Disco Lines Effect

Creating Colorful Disco Lines Effect

Aurora Borealis – North-South Polar Lights

Aurora Borealis - North-South Polar Lights

Design Eye-Catching Laser Particle Abstract Effect in Photoshop

Design Eye-Catching Laser Particle Abstract Effect in Photoshop

Hexagon Bokeh Effect in Photoshop

Hexagon Bokeh Effect in Photoshop

Really Cool Eclipse Effect in Photoshop

Really Cool Eclipse Effect in Photoshop

Create a Carbon Mesh Background in Photoshop

Create a Carbon Mesh Background in Photoshop

Design a Vista Styled Wallpaper

Design a Vista Styled Wallpaper

Windows Vista Aurora Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Windows Vista Aurora Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Creating an Abstract Background for Poster

Creating an Abstract Background for Poster

Create a Futuristic Abstract Wallpaper

Create a Futuristic Abstract Wallpaper

Creating a Stunning Digital Smoke Effect

Creating a Stunning Digital Smoke Effect

How to Create Vibrant Lighting Effects from Scratch

How to Create Vibrant Lighting Effects from Scratch

How to Create Brilliant Light Streaks in Photoshop

How to Create Brilliant Light Streaks in Photoshop

For more Photoshop tutorials please see:


SourcedFrom Sourced from: Vandelay Design Blog

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Elecom Actrail headphone removes wire clutter from your iPod Shuffle

wireless headphone for ipod shuffle

Portable music players may let you enjoy music on the go, but the disorderly headphones cable suspending all over the body just messes up the tidiness. Providing a solution, Elecom has developed wireless headphones, named the “Actrail,” for the iPod Shuffle to offer clutter-free music to the listeners anywhere, anytime. Integrating a 3.5mm jack on the side to keep the Shuffle in place, the Bluetooth headphones replace the regular over-the-head band with the dorky wrap-around-the-back-of-your-skull design to attract the trendy users. Measuring 112mm in depth, 150 in height and 57 width, the wireless headset weighs 46g only and supports 30mW input and 20Hz ~ 20kHz playback frequency zone. Priced at ¥4,200 (about $50) a pair, the Actrail is available in Japan with pink and white color options.

Continue reading…

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