Creative Process

The Art of “Yes and…”

Posted by on Dec 3, 2017 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 0 comments

The Art of  “Yes  and…”

“Yes and…” is one of my favorite take aways from To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink. He says we are all salespeople, whether we’re moving goods, services, ideas, or otherwise trying to persuade anyone to do anything. Times have changed in the world of influencing others, he says. Now consumers can educate themselves and access feedback from other consumers with the click of button. So “the stable, simple, and certain conditions that favored scripts have now given way to the dynamic, complex, and unpredictable conditions that favor improvisation. Beneath the apparent chaos of improvisation is a light structure that allows it to work. Understanding that structure can help you move [i.e. influence] others, especially when your astute perspective-taking, infectious positivity, and brilliant framing don’t deliver the results you seek. In those circumstances and many others, you’ll do better if you follow three essential rules of improvisational theater: (1) Hear offers. (2) Say ‘Yes and…’ (3) Make your partner look good.” HEAR OFFERS.  The first principle of improvisation hinges on attunement, leaving our own perspective to inhabit the perspective of another. Cathy Salit, Founder and CEO of Performance of a Lifetime, emphasizes slowing down and shutting up as the route to listening well. Listening without some degree of intimacy isn’t really listening. It’s passive and transactional rather than active and engaged. ‘Listen without listening for anything.’ Objections are often offers in disguise. SAY ‘YES AND…’ is the second foundational skill for improv artists. It depends on buoyancy, in particular the quality of positivity. “Yes and…” carries a particular force, which becomes clearer when we contrast it with its evil twin, “Yes but…” as the following exercise illustrates: YES BUT… One person begins with a proposition—for example, “Let’s have our high school reunion in Las Vegas.” Every subsequent comment from both participants must begin with “Yes, but.” It usually unfolds something like this: “Let’s have our high school reunion in Las Vegas.” “Yes, but that’s going to be too expensive for some people.” “Yes, but that way only the people who really want to be there will attend.” “Yes, but some of our classmates don’t gamble.” “Yes, but there’s more to do there than play blackjack.” “Yes, but even without gambling, it’s still not a great place for people to bring their families.” “Yes, but reunions are better without all those kids.” “Yes, but if people can’t find child care at home, they won’t attend . . .” The planning process spins and spins, but nothing—and nobody—moves. YES AND… Then participants take an alternative route, where the undermining conjunction “but” is replaced with its more inclusive sibling, “and.” This version might go like this: “Let’s have our high school reunion in Las Vegas.” “Yes—and if it’s too expensive for some people we can raise money or organize road trips.” “Yes—and if we start early, we could reserve a block of rooms at a hotel that offers volume discounts.” “Yes—and for families with kids and for people who don’t gamble,...

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The Right Time to Rebrand

Posted by on Aug 6, 2017 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Right Time to Rebrand

EDITOR’S NOTE: If it’s time to freshen your brand, we’d love to help. How many of these factors are true for your organization? Guest post by Mike Wicks When it comes to rebranding, there can be big risks and big rewards — and timing is everything. When a press release about the rebranding of Accent Inns hit my inbox recently, it made me think about the do’s and don’t of changing, or updating, your brand image. Many people are under the impression that you should never tinker with your brand for fear of losing customers who might no longer recognize the new you. Several years ago, I helped rebrand a town, a golf course, and a Chamber of Commerce, all successfully, so I thought I would share with you some rebranding tips. First, let’s remind ourselves what constitutes a brand. Essentially, a brand is the sum total of what people see and feel about us when they see our corporate image, our marketing materials, and when they interact with us. Budget or high-end? Friendly or formal? Like it or not, people have preconceived feelings — good, bad, or indifferent — about us based on our brand. Internally, a brand is the visual representation of our corporate culture, our philosophy, and the standards that form the basis of our brand image. When I rebranded the town of Golden, it was suffering from an image problem because people felt the downtown core was not attractive. However, Golden is special because it’s surrounded by some of the best outdoor recreation in North America, so out went “Town of Opportunity” and in came “Kicking Horse Country.” This helped prospective visitors focus on Golden as a place to experience outdoor adventure, not to walk along main street. GOOD REASONS TO REBRAND There are more good reasons to rebrand than bad ones, but the most important reason to rebrand is when your current brand is confusing, or worse, misleading your current or prospective customers. Rebranding is not something you do because you want to, it’s because your customers need or want it. Let’s take a look at Accent Inns: they thought their brand was working, but when they decided to renovate their inns and held focus groups to find out what potential customers really thought, they were shocked. Mandy Farmer, CEO, thought customers would immediately recognize that the inns were affordable but also high quality, eco-aware, socially responsible, locally owned, one of the best places to work, and above all else “cool.”  She was crushed to discover the focus group thought Accent Inns was an “American bottom-of-the-barrel budget motel line.” If any of you have ever stayed at an Accent Inns, you’ll know how very far from the truth this is. The misleading red, white, and blue logo was changed to softer blues and orange (to correspond to the B.C. flag) and its edges were rounded for a friendler look. A rounder font was chosen for the same reason, and the positioning statement changed from...

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How Art Changes Consciousness

Posted by on Apr 22, 2017 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

How Art Changes Consciousness

by Jacob Devaney Art can heal us, inspire us, and alter our brain chemistry With so much talk about the evidence of the positive effects of yoga and meditation, you might be surprised at what scientific research also says about how art effects the brain. Long before modern neuroscience, artists were creating works to inspire people and today complex brain imaging scans can show us just how art changes the physiology of our brains. Contemplation, observing, and taking in beauty all stimulate pleasure centers within the brain while increasing blood flow by up to 10% in the medial orbitofrontal cortex. This can lead to an elevated state of consciousness, wellbeing, and better emotional health. The blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love. It tells us art induces a feel good sensation direct to the brain. – Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London Observing Art Mirror Neurons  are neurons that fire both when a person acts and when the person observes the same action performed by another. This brings us back to a very basic concept in human evolution which involves modeling. When you observe a profound piece of art you are potentially firing the same neurons as the artist did when they created it thus making new neural pathways and stimulating a state of inspiration. This sense of being drawn into a painting is called “embodied cognition”. Art accesses some of the most advanced processes of human intuitive analysis and expressivity and a key form of aesthetic appreciation is through embodied cognition, the ability to project oneself as an agent in the depicted scene, – Christopher Tyler, director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center Detail of Banks of the Siene at Jenfosse by Claude Monet This explains why we might feel like we are dreaming when we look at impressionists like Claude Monet, or having an ecstatic vision while looking at a painting by Alex Grey. The ability of art, combined with our own imagination, to transport us to other realms is astounding. Artists have the ability to show us new worlds but we shouldn’t put them on a pedestal because each of us is an artist. Making art activates the whole brain and can foster integration of emotional, cognitive, and sensory processes. – Joan French MA NCC LCPC Detail of Arise by Amanda Sage Creating Art The act of creating art is also therapeutic which has been the impetus for the art therapy movement. Every one of us lived like artists as children and we have the ability to bring back this powerful form of expression and self-healing if we allow ourselves to. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy smearing paint on a canvas and letting your pleasure centers light up like a child! Art therapy, sometimes called expressive art or art psychology, encourages self-discovery and emotional growth. It is a two-part process, involving both the creation of art and the discovery of its meaning. – Paula Ford-Martin Modern Visionary Artists are applying the idea that art inspires...

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7 Good Reasons to Work with a Professional Graphic Designer

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

7 Good Reasons to Work with a Professional Graphic Designer

(Adapted from a 2012 post) I so appreciate entrepreneurs and the courage it takes to launch a new business. The vision it takes. The optimism, commitment, drive, passion, sense of purpose, confidence, resiliency … It can be quite a ride and it’s not for everyone. I especially love the energy that comes with a start-up, and have collaborated with many on their branding and print promotions over the past 20+ years. But I’ve also seen new entrepreneurs neglect the critical step of creating a solid graphic identity as a foundation for their organizations, and end up projecting an embarrassingly unprofessional image right out of the gate. Here are my top 7 reasons to partner with a professional graphic designer: 1.  A professional look and feel communicates quality. It generates trust and credibility. Your graphic identity makes that all-important first impression. Sophisticated audiences recognize, value, and respect quality. If you opt for a homemade look with your own company image, where else might you cut corners in your business practices? Having the right software to do the job is not enough. A solid knowledge of design principles and an eye trained for detail can make your branding and promotions shine. 2.  Collaborating with a professional designer saves you time, freeing you and your staff to do what you do best. Most small businesses can’t ‘do it all’ in-house. An experienced creative partner can help streamline the process of developing marketing materials by interfacing with commercial printers, photographers, and other specialists, and providing project management services as desired. 3.  Hiring a designer can save you money.  An experienced designer can usually hammer out a project quickly and efficiently, having already climbed the learning curves involved. (S)he also has the right tools and skillset for the job and knows where to find the right resources (fonts, graphics, photographers, illustrators, etc.) for your project. 4.  A professional image gets you noticed in a crowded marketplace. A great graphic identity or promotion rises above the noise and clutter to grab attention, pique interest, stoke desire, and prompt action, while making your organization look good. That can’t help but impact your bottom line. 5.  A graphic designer is a professional communicator and problem solver. Clear, strategic, user-friendly layouts, impactful visuals and precise, persuasive language help guide the reader through to acting on your offer. 6.  You get not just ‘production’ but a treasure trove of creative ideas, resources, and inspiration based on broad and deep experience in the world of design and marketing. This includes, not only cool visual approaches and effects, but communication strategies you may not have considered. 7.  Your business is worth it! Your graphic identity is more than your signature…It’s your reputation. A client review:  “I feel Linda was the right choice for me as a start-up business. Her understanding of marketing in general and for Kauai specifically is a great asset. Her patience, guidance, and timely responses have helped me feel comfortable and confident as a new business owner. I would highly recommend Kauai Design Graphics to any new or established business for design and marketing services.”  ...

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Blue Space

Posted by on Jul 17, 2016 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

Blue Space

Science Explains How Staying Near Water Can Change Our Brains Excerpted from an article by JENNY MARCHAL Editor’s note: Many of us are instinctively drawn to the water for renewal, refreshment and a connection to something primal.  As John F. Kennedy said, “when we go back to the sea, we are going back from whence we came.”    Have you ever felt at peace when you’re walking by the ocean? A sense of rejuvenation when you stand by a waterfall? How about taking in the view of a breathtaking lake from your window? We often feel a sense of calm when we’re around water. And scientists report that it has a positive effect on our brains. Looking at water and listening to its sound puts our overloaded minds into a relaxed and hypnotic-like state. Our brain processes generate more calm and creative states and increase our sense of well-being. Often referred to as blue space, the impact of the sea, rivers, and lakes on our happiness and well-being is being researched by neuro-scientists and psychologists. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, has discussed and published the different ways bodies of water positively affect us and many psychologists have researched how just having blue space in front of us can boost our mental health. Water Induces Meditative States When we hear the crashing of waves by the ocean, it can put us into a mindful, mediative state. The sound of waves has been found to alter brainwave patterns, invoking a meditative, relaxed state. Simply observing the movement of water causes our minds to calm. This contributes to improved mood, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting mental clarity and sleep patterns. Water Invokes Inspiration and Creativity When we’re near water, our brains switch from busy mode to relaxed mode. In this relaxed state, weʻre more open to inspired and creative thoughts. In essence, we are switching our busy brains, providing a more receptive mental environment for insight and introspection. Water Gives Us A Sense of Awe Awe is an important factor for our well-being according to the science of positive psychology. The emotion of awe contributes greatly to our happiness because it not only allows us to be in the present moment but it causes us to think about our place in the world around us. This can invoke feelings of humility, a connection to something beyond ourselves and the pure vastness of nature. Water Increases The Benefits of Exercise Exercising is obviously a good way to improve our mental well-being. However working out by the ocean will increase these benefits ten fold. Going for a swim in a lake or cycling along a river trail will give you more of a mental boost than working out in a crowded city or gym environment. Being surrounded by blue space adds positive benefits to exercise, with the increased exposure to good-feeling negative ions. Water Is A Rich Source of Negative Ions Exposure to positive and negative ions influences how we feel. Positive ions are emitted by electrical appliances such as computers, microwaves and hairdryers, and...

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20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

In 1996 I was having a blast doing creative projects for friends and family on my first personal computer, while studying the principles of design from library books and the occasional seminar that came near my rural part of northern California. My brother Tim mostly taught me the basics of Adobe Pagemaker (precursor to Adobe InDesign) from across the continent via email. It soon dawned on me that if I started a ‘desktop publishing’ business, I could justify all the toys (hardware and software) I needed to take the fun to the next level. After five years of operation in California’s Napa Valley, constantly honing my craft, my (now) husband and I made the jump across the Pacific, and Kauai Design was born. As I celebrate 20 years, I’m looking back at a few of the essential lessons I’ve learned along the way. CLIENT RELATIONS 1. Listen… …to understand my client’s goals, products, services, and target audience so we’re on the same page, solving the right problem 2. Inform Share design expertise, technical knowledge, and resources, give honest feedback, and communicate throughout the process. I’ve learned it works better to err on the side of over-communicating than under-. 3. Be Generous After meeting with a new client, I summarize our agreement in a written proposal, spelling out the cost, scope of services and timeline for their project. Then I strive to exceed my promises and over-deliver on the goods. 4. Be open-minded Design is subjective. As with all art, personal taste looms large. While I find long-standing principles of good design valid, and generally worth heeding, sometimes they must be over-ridden by the client’s preferences or an inspired but offbeat idea. 5. Small business owners rock I am continually impressed with the vision and commitment, the willingness to take risks and do what it takes to launch and maintain a business. Entrepreneurs are a special breed and I’m honored to have collaborated with so many on their branding and promotional needs. THE CREATIVE PROCESS 6. Get psyched Get my head (and body) in a good space before sitting down with a project. Approach the work with the mindset of being receptive, curious, interested, eager, and open to relationships between the parts. 7. Be willing to walk away For me, a swim in the ocean is the best way to clear my mind, work out my body, and re-boot the creative process when I’m feeling stuck. 8. Stay open to possibility Allow for the unexpected flashes of inspiration, the seemingly off-the-wall ideas, and the breakthroughs that emerge from “mistakes” 9. Trust the process Know that the unfolding requires incubation and marination and sometimes even divine intervention. Stretching to take on something I’ve never done before, though sometimes intimidating, has always made me a better designer. See let-it-incubate-germinate-marinate/ INDISPENSABLE DESIGN PRINCIPLES 10. Start with art The reader’s eye will be drawn to a picture first. Make it count. Fonts, colors, and other graphic elements can take their lead from the art....

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Let it incubate, germinate, marinate…

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Let it incubate, germinate, marinate…

I’ve long been a believer in immersing myself in information and images related to a design or writing project, then backing off, focusing on something completely different. The data then simmers and churns in my unconscious mind, connecting the dots (as Steve Jobs called it), generating new associations and relationships, insights and revelations. In my 20 years as a designer, I’ve learned to relax into a receptive space, to trust the natural ripening or gestation process. In September 2015 I shared a post about the little book, Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch. (See “Free Play and Creativity”) That book is packed so full of intriguing ideas that it holds the record for the number of stickies I’ve ever stuck in a half-inch thick book. I marked dozens of passages I wanted to re-read and re-think. Nachmanovitch notes that our language of nouns and verbs contributes to the illusion that we, the subjects, control the creative process (the object). But in the act of creation, there are unseen, unconscious forces doing the heavy lifting. Our job is sometimes to give our analytical, judging brains a rest and let the muse, our intuitive wisdom, our DNA, and the collective consciousness speak. RIPENING In a chapter called “Ripening,” Nachmanovitch writes, “In one phase of the [creative] process we exercise technique and try things out step by step. In another phase the conscious working of ideas sinks down and assimilates with the unconscious. Then there is  the seemingly magical part of the process in which the material resurfaces, enriched and ripened by its unconscious sojourn. It is not, of course the material that resurfaces, it is we who resurface, more ripe and ready to bear the material.” Our stuck places may well hold the greatest potential for creative breakthroughs if we can surrender, drop the struggle, and walk away. The process then goes ‘underground’ to cook, incubate, germinate, marinate (choose your metaphor…) the raw material and emerge with fresh connections, insights and aha moments. “Like a birth, creative expression bursts out, of its own accord, when you and it are ripe.”      -Stephen Nachmanovitch Solutions usually come when we are NOT focused on the problem. Answers usually come when we are NOT focused on the question, but when we are mentally relaxed and open. We could be showering, driving, taking a walk, meditating, lying in bed, floating in the ocean. The bottom line? Take breaks. Chill. Let go. Trust. It’s one of life’s paradoxes that the secret to creative productivity is ‘non-productive’ down time, incubating, germinating, marinating ideas. And I find that having faith in the mysterious creative process is good practice for building faith in the perfect unfolding of life in general. See also How Creativity Works and Learning to Trust Be Sociable,...

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Ellen DeGeneres Invites ʻEverybody Design Nowʻ

Posted by on Nov 21, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Ellen DeGeneres Invites ʻEverybody Design Nowʻ

Fresh News | November 15, 2015 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s new campaign initiative to take its Design in the Classroom program nationwide has gained substantial support from television host Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres recently matched contributions up to $100,000, and to date, more than $325,000 has been raised toward the museum’s $500,000 goal to launch the national program. The program itself introduces classes K-12 to design thinking and learning through interactive hands-on workshops. “As the nation’s design museum, it is our mission to ensure every student is introduced to the power of design and understands how it can be used to solve everyday problems,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “We’re so pleased to have the commitment of Ellen DeGeneres, her brand ED and countless other friends in the design world. Their support will enable us to bring this free program to schools across the country. We’re hopeful that with the public’s help we will reach and inspire even more of tomorrow’s designers.” “This program encourages students to think like designers as they engage in the design process through active observation, critical discussion, the act of making, visual communication and presentation and critique,” said Caroline Payson, director of education. “It has been a longtime dream to bring the unique experience of Design in the Classroom to every student in America.” Through Design Challenge kits, children are tasked to use common materials to build a prototype that solves a design problem and learn that design thinking can be used to solve problems faced in daily life. The 45-minute workshop instills creative confidence and encourages students to approach the world in a visual way. The program imparts essential 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, visual literacy, teamwork and problem solving, and can be used to enhance the teaching of any subject matter, including mathematics, science, environmental studies, language arts, history and visual arts. In year one, the museum’s educators will conduct four regional trainings, appoint select educators as regional ambassadors and conduct in-person follow-up visits to evaluate the integration of design into the curriculum. The national objective for the program will be accomplished through a “teachers training teachers” model. With every 100 educators trained, the program could reach 7,500 students per year. If each of these educators went on to train 10 of their peers, that’s 1,000 educators per year and 75,000 students. The museum is now inviting the public to support the campaign through the crowdfunding platform Razoo. Photographs: Jessica Nunez Copyright: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Be Sociable,...

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What John Cleese, Stephen King, Paul Simon and Anthony Trollope Can Teach You About Creativity

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

What John Cleese, Stephen King, Paul Simon and Anthony Trollope Can Teach You About Creativity

BY JAMES JOHNSON • AUGUST 13, 2015 • blog.shareasimage.com Anthony Trollope was one of the world’s most creative writers. In the 1800’s he regularly released novels over 700 pages in length, multiple times a year, and wrote whole series so long that Lord of the Rings looks like a short story. And, he did all of this while working a full time job for the British Postal Service. According to Stephen King in his book On Writing, he was able to stay so creative for one simple reason – his process: “He wrote for two and a half hours before work. This schedule was ironclad. If he was mid-sentence when this two and a half hours expired, he left that sentence unfinished until the next morning.” If he finished a book in that time too, he’d simply write The End, set it aside, and start writing his next book. Now you’re probably thinking, “Wow, that’s insane! How can you be that creative, that often?” And, you wouldn’t be the only one. The truth is,  a creative process is all you need to be more creative. In fact, it’s the only part of creativity that you have any control over at all… The Creative Process John Cleese is a comedy legend – you might remember him from Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda – but he’s also a keen psychologist. And, not too long ago, he did a lot of research into the realm of creativity. And in this research he came to the conclusion that: “Creativity is not a talent, but a way of operating” That is to say that you creativity isn’t a feature only a few people have. It’s something you can unlock. For example, in comparisons between people who are deemed intelligent, such as Engineers and Writers, and those who aren’t, there was no difference in I.Q that suggests the smarter you are, the more creative you are. As long as you have a base level of intelligence, you can be as creative as anybody else on the planet. Which is great news. But how do you unlock this creative potential hidden deep inside of you? Well, Cleese points out there are 5 ways you can become more creative if you arrange them correctly. These are: Space Time Time (Again) Confidence Humour Now, there are no guarantees that any of these will give you your big idea instantly. As is the case with anything creative, there are good days, and there are bad days. You could sit around for hours and get nothing, or you could sit down, sip your coffee and be hit with a freight train of original ideas. As the man himself says: “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” But what all of these steps will do, more importantly, is get you into an openmind. Which is the breeding ground for all creativity. Open Your Mind… There are two types of thinking when it comes to...

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Free Play and Creativity

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

Free Play and Creativity

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” -Carl Jung My husband read that quote to me and then the first paragraph of ‘Mind at Play,’ a chapter in Stephen Nachmanovitch’s dense yet liberating little book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. I was hooked. I’m fascinated and infatuated with the creative process and adore being in it. Now I’m inhaling the rest of the book, and sharing some highlights with you. May it inspire your own inner child. Here’s that first paragraph: “Improvisation, composition, writing, painting, theater, invention, all creative acts are forms of play, the starting place of creativity in the human growth cycle, and one of the great primal life functions. Without play, learning and evolution are not possible. Play is the taproot from which original art springs; it is the raw stuff that the artist channels and organizes with all his learning and technique. Technique itself springs from play because we can acquire technique only by the practice of practice, by persistently experimenting and playing with our tools and testing their limits and resistances. Creative work is play; it is free speculation using the materials of one’s chosen form. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. Artists play with color and space. Musicians play with sound and silence. Eros plays with lovers. Gods play with the universe. Children play with everything they can get their hands on.” Nachmanovitch, an improvisational musician, suggests that, although each art form comes with its own language and lore, there’s a kind of ‘metalearning’ and ‘metadoing’ that transfers across art forms, where the essence of creativity dwells. No matter the medium of expression, “what we have to express is already with us, is us, so the work of creativity is not a matter of making the material come, but of unblocking the obstacles to its natural flow.” He writes of creativity, knowing that “our subject is inherently a mystery. It cannot be fully expressed in words, because it concerns the deep preverbal levels of spirit. No kind of linear organization can do justice to this subject; by its nature it does not lay flat on the page.” “We are all improvisors,” he observes. “The most common form of improvisation is ordinary speech. As we talk and listen, we are drawing on a set of building blocks (vocabulary) and rules for combining (grammar). But the sentences we make with them may never have been said before and may never be said again. Every conversation is a form of jazz. the activity of instantaneous creation is as ordinary to us as breathing.” There is a zen quality to this material. Regarding being in the moment, Nachmanovitch notes, “When we drop the blinders of our preconceptions, we are virtually propelled by every circumstance into the present time and the present mind: the moment, the whole moment, and nothing but the...

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Recipe for a Perfect Logo (infographic)

Posted by on Jul 25, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Recipe for a Perfect Logo (infographic)

Image credit: David Joyce | FLICKR Original blog post: Kim LaChance Shandrow | ENTREPRENEUR Close your eyes and imagine Apple’s logo. Now think of Nike’s. How about Target’s? We’re willing to bet that you conjured up images for each in your mind’s eye in less than a second or so. They’re that memorable. As you can see, logos are so much more than simple symbols. They’re epic icons. Logos are the face of your company, the deliverers of the all-important lasting impression, crucial visual representations of your business, what you do and what you’re about. Accordingly, the utmost care and meticulousness should be taken when designing yours. If you already have a logo, the same goes for redesigning it. Spare no attention to detail. Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Company’s Logo From the font to the color, to the use of negative space and beyond, the aesthetic elements of a logo greatly impact how your company (and its offerings) are perceived by customers. Does it attract them or repel them? Does it stand out or fade into the background? Does it distinctly identify your brand or confuse it with your competitors? These are all critical questions to ask during the research and design phase, but far from the only ones, only a smattering of the main ingredients for the master recipe for cooking up a successful logo. Check out the famous logo-packed CompanyFolders infographic below for a complete list of specific, actionable tips and ideas to help you design the best logo possible for your brand.   Need help with your organization’s ‘signature?’ Logo design is one of our favorite kinds of projects. Let Kauai Design help make it shine!   Be Sociable,...

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Social Media Images That Work

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Social Media Images That Work

by James Johnson, ShareAsImage.com If you’ve been looking to supercharge your social media strategy, you probably know a lot about the benefits of using images. But, how much do you know about actually creating scientifically shareable images? Turns out, there’s tons of actionable, research-backed advice on how to create social media images that get shared—the ideal colors, fonts, text, and more, all leveraging what we know about design, psychology and the Internet to get more shares and engagement. By the end of this article you’re going to be fully aware of how to make images that your readers can’t help but share. All backed by science.   What Makes A Shareable Social Media Image? A shareable social media image is made up of five components: Emotion: When your readers feel it, they’ll share it. Relevance: Your image should not only fit your niche, but fit your audience too. Colors: Using the right colors, to get maximum shares. Typography: Choosing a font that not only looks good, but also says what you’re trying to say. Hashtags and Text: Using the right words, phrases and hashtags that will make your audience interact. In the article you’re going to learn how you can take advantage of all of these elements, and put them together to create the best social images you possibly can. 1. Emotion Create Epic Content (Or Nobody Will Share It) Before I carry on, there’s one thing I do need to mention: You need to treat your images as content. And not just any sort of content. I mean the epic kind, that’s going to add a ton of value to your reader’s life. Because that’s the only content people share, right? If you’re creating images because you feel you need to – and just scatter them throughout your news feed – you’re not going to get anywhere. Your images should:    Back up points you’ve made    Show statistics    Provide tweetable (or valuable) quotes    Add depth    Go above and beyond the content you’ve written So, be sure that the images you use – or make – aren’t just there for the sake of it. Treat them as content and put a high value on what goes on them. What Makes An Image Emotional (And Shareable)? Emotion is the biggest piece of the sharing puzzle. And it’s the driving force behind all five points on this list – so it deserves a lot of attention. So, what makes an image emotional? As it turns out, there are a lot of factors: Color: Studies of abstract art have shown that the way color is used and distributed across a piece controls the emotions you feel. For example, black creates feelings at the despair end of the spectrum and bright primary colors can create joy and happiness. Font Choice: You’ll learn about this in depth in section four. Complexity: This isn’t complex designs – more on that next – but emotionalcomplexity. Research shows that the more feelings your images can convey,the more viral it will go. Showing one of these five things: Research from Harvard studied what makes marketing campaigns, and their images, go viral. They found that: Admiration, Interest, Serenity, Amazement and Astonishment were the most shared...

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Posted by on Mar 22, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

A review of the book by Daniel Pink As a longtime student of human motivation, I donʻt know why it took me six years to get around to this book. It’s game-changing information that researchers have known since the late 1950’s, but that business and educational institutions have largely ignored. Pink describes three levels of motivation: Motivation 1.0 is the most primitive “operating system,” based on our basic biological needs: food, water and sex. Motivation 2.0 is all about motivating with rewards and punishments: the carrot and the stick, the predominant model for human behavior since caveman days. The new paradigm Pink illuminates so well in this book is Motivation 3.0: instrinsic, internally-generated motivation driven by our needs for automomy, mastery and purpose. In this ambitious book, Pink explores four decades of research on what boosts performance and creates satisfaction in our lives…and what doesn’t. He shares the pioneering work of research psychologists Harry Harlow and Edward Deci, who demonstrated that the performance of a task can be its own reward. Harlow proposed this radical idea back in 1949, based on his studies with rhesus monkeys, but it was not widely accepted by the scientific community. Deci picked up the investigation twenty years later and ultimately concluded that we have an “inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise [our] capacities to explore, and to learn.” Pink makes the case that the carrot and stick approach can actually be detrimental to motivation, in that it can: extinguish intrinsic motivation diminish performance crush creativity crowd out good behavior encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior become addictive foster short-term thinking He convincingly spells out why external incentives are no longer the driving force they once were. A growing number of aging baby boomers are looking back on their lives so far and finding a lack of meaning and purpose. We, and the generations behind us, are seeking jobs and projects that are creative, interesting, and self-directed. Pink shares ways for both individuals and organizations to transition into a Motivation 3.0 framework, building more intrinsic satisfaction into our lives. He explores a variety of alternative business models that enhance performance and address the human inclination to perform tasks for their own sake. These incorporate Pink’s three elements of motivation — autonomy, mastery, and purpose — and include: ROWEs (results-only work environments) where the employee determines when and where they work, as long as their work gets done 20 Percent Time where workers spend one day a week (20 percent of their time) on projects of their own making “Homeshoring” where customer service reps take calls from home, doing their work with greater autonomy and no commute Creating flow-friendly environments where the creativity and mastery of employees is encouraged. Building in opportunities for workers to derive purpose and meaning from their jobs by contributing to a cause larger than themselves Pink also provides alternative educational models and a 70-page “Toolkit” including: Nine Strategies for Awakening Your Motivation Nine Ways...

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Acting Happy Helps Us Stay Healthy (Duh.)

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process | 0 comments

Acting Happy Helps Us Stay Healthy (Duh.)

One of my favorite subjects: happiness. SO many benefits SO worthy of cultivating. Dr. Anderson lives it and backs it with science. Ok, so how exactly is this subject related to this blog’s stated parameters of graphic design, marketing and the creative process? Well, there’s some creative writing in here…you start writing your own scripts where you’re the hero or heroine (not the victim) and there’s always a happy ending. And what could be more creative than creating your own quality of life? As Dr. Anderson models (and Pollyanna before him), attitude is always a choice. Guest Post by JEFF STRICKLER, MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE February 25, 2015 – 9:32 PM Acting happy helps keep us healthy, says a [Minneapolis] doctor who employs the upbeat philosophy in his practice — and in his own life. Dr. Dale Anderson’s background includes extensive training in surgery, family practice, emergency medicine and the Stanislavsky method for actors. No, he’s not a frustrated Broadway star. In fact, other than for a couple of roles in school plays 60-plus years ago, he’s never done any acting. At least, not on stage. But every day he acts happy, which helps keep him healthy. “A happy body produces endorphins,” he said. “Endorphins are part of the opioid family. That’s the same as opium and morphine. We have our own internal pharmacy that is always open and has no copay.” A retired clinical assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, Anderson has focused on studying and promoting the connection between a happy outlook and a healthy body. He’s convinced that we have the ability to make ourselves happy — or, more to the point, make our bodies react as if we were happy — and, thereby, make ourselves feel better. “By learning to act as if you are happy, healthy and vital, even when you don’t feel that way, you can change your body’s chemistry and begin to feel the way you act,” he argues. The flip side, acting unhappy and making ourselves unhealthy, can happen, too, he warned. “The surly bird gets the germ,” he said. (Anderson is a master of the pun, a verbal machine gun throwing out terms such as the “individu-well” and the “well-derly,” along with directives to “inner-tain” yourself for “the health of it.”) His interest in acting happy for better health stems from treating a patient who made him unhappy because he couldn’t help her. “She was an actress who came to me complaining of aches and pains,” he said. “We tried everything from physical therapy to chiropracty, but the pain didn’t get any better. It’s very hard for a physician when you can’t do anything to help.” She mentioned that her current role involved playing someone who was angry. A few weeks later, that play closed and she switched to a role that was upbeat. “All her aches and pains went away,” Anderson said. “I started reading everything I could about method acting.” He conducted a survey of the Twin Cities acting community. The performers who described themselves...

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Reflections on a Product Launch

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Reflections on a Product Launch

Maybe it’s a little early to be ‘reflecting’ . . . this venture is barely two months old. But the launch of Kauai Design’s product line has been consuming my daydreams lately. After 18+ years of designing for my fabulous clients, I’m having a blast creating images for my own self-expression . . . and hopefully another income stream. For one thing, it’s putting me in the shoes of my clients who are launching products of their own. And it has made me more sensitive to the needs of local retailers. It has also brought me into the world of the ‘maker’ culture on Etsy.com. I’ve never called myself an artist. Although I’m pretty good at manipulating vectors and pixels onscreen, I still can’t pick up a pencil (or stylus) and draw much of anything to my satisfaction. As a graphic designer I’ve always been a curator, editor and assembler of visual chunks of information into a cohesive message. Until now it has always been someone else’s message. Now it’s what resonates with me, starting with my love for things tropical and earthy and simple. My first project was a series of mahalo (thank you) cards featuring six simple, colorful icons of island life. The boxed sets were released the day after Thanksgiving with the intention of helping to extend the season of . . . well, giving thanks. I’m a believer in appreciation, in focusing on the good in people and situations. The term “Pollyanna” is usually used derisively but I think Pollyanna was on to something with her glad game. Appreciation is an uplifting state of mind that generally makes me feel better and makes my life work better. My current bedtime ritual includes writing down what I most appreciated about the day, which sends me off to dreamland in a peaceful and positive state of mind. And there will always be a special place in my heart for the seven retailers on Kauai who purchased my first product, the mahalo cards. The next series was a set of whimsical seascapes featuring different moods of the the ocean and skies. Close on its heels was a series of marine animals, a whale, a dolphin, and a honu (green sea turtle) in their element: the rippling, flowing, sparkling sea. The ideas continue to churn. I’ve been immersed in Hawaiiana and island images for awhile now, incorporating tasteful touches into client projects whenever appropriate. And decades before moving to Hawaii, I was already enchanted by vintage Hawaiian art. In the 1980’s I acquired an original Gill airbrush (Woman in Sarong c. 1940’s) from a colorful character I knew in Austin Texas. He collected vintage Hawaiiana and always wore aloha shirts. He would bring his found treasures to the frame shop I was managing for archival framing, although he couldn’t always afford to get them out of hock. In the end, he had to sell some pieces to pay his mushrooming framing bill, and I found myself in the right place...

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The Element of Surprise

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 2 comments

The Element of Surprise

SURPRISE DELIGHTS US, PLAYS WITH OUT HEADS, de-rails our train of rational thought, throws our expectations and stories about the way things are out the window. Studies suggest that incorporating an element of the unexpected (something surprising or novel) into messages helps make them stick in people’s memories. (See Making Your Message Stick.) The element of surprise was also famously called “the secret to humor” by Aristotle. A sudden, unexpected twist (or surprise) underlies much of what makes us laugh. Surprise gets our attention, it’s memorable, often funny or ironic, and it stimulates our creative juices. In his book Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention, Mikhaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that the first step toward a more creative life is to cultivate more interest and curiosity. He writes, “On this score, children tend to have the advantage over adults; their curiosity is like a constant beam that highlights and invests with interest anything within range.” Experiencing the fresh perspectives and insatiable curiosities of youngsters can reawaken us to the large and small wonders of life on earth. Csikszentmihalyi proposes that interest and curiosity can also be boosted by 1) trying to be surprised by something every day and 2) trying to surprise at least one person every day. If we deliberately invite more novelty into our daily lives (in the form of playfulness, exploration, adventure, openness, humor, spontaneity, fun), it’s almost sure to generate more of the connections and associations that seed creative ideas. Similarly, cross-pollinating different disciplines and cultures with fresh influences often generates fresh, innovative breakthroughs. Number 4 on Csikszentmihalyi’s how-to list for cultivating more interest and curiosity? “When something strikes a spark of interest, follow it.” Of course it’s a luxury to have time to pursue one’s interests. For many, basic survival needs preclude any in-depth commitment to a craft or creative direction. “But often the obstacles are internal,” writes Csikszentmihalyi. “If a person is concerned with protecting his or her self, practically all the attention is invested in monitoring threats to the ego.” Albert Einstein believed that “the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” If we believe it’s a friendly universe, we need not bind up our time, attention, resources, and psychic energy in defending against others who we think are out to take us down. We can instead spend that energy focusing on what we want, and create positive change for ourselves and our societies. A sense of safety allows openness, expansiveness, receptivity, attunement to our intuitions, gut feelings, and glimmers of genius. Once the brilliant idea is born, however, we must paradoxically flip into a closed mindset to implement it. After the creative breakthrough, the work is generally reductive, highly focused, defended against distractions, analytical, judging, and detail-oriented. So the creative person must be skilled in both opening the mental gates to receive the input and generate the vision, then closing them to successfully execute the plan. “Graphic design allows me...

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Lessons from Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 0 comments

Lessons from Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Guest Post by Catherine Clifford Entrepreneur.com November 30, 2014   If you aren’t already an entrepreneur, you might become one by the time you leave Burning Man — in some shape or form. You won’t make money in the desert; the exchange of money isn’t allowed at the annual, weeklong arts festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. But you will have created something for someone. You will have seen a need and met it. You will have innovated a solution to a problem or decided to spontaneously create a new service or product for yourself and your fellow Burners (that’s what attendees are called). And that energy, that entrepreneurial spirit, is priceless. It’s what so many management consultants charge top dollar right now to bring to stuffy corporate offices. As a business owner, it may not be feasible to take your entire company out to the desert to get them to start thinking more entrepreneurially. So, what is it that Burning Man has? How can you set the stage so that kind of innovation will grow in your community, business or brain? Related: Think Like A Startup: Look for Ideas Everywhere, Be Decisive. Image credit: Jared Mechaber Whether your goal is to get your creative juices flowing, or to facilitate a more experimental and productive workplace, you need to start by eliminating unnecessary regulations and burdensome structure. At Burning Man, “an entrepreneurial spirit is going to come to the forefront very easily because there aren’t a lot of rules, but there is opportunity,” Harley K. Dubois, a co-founder of the event, told Entrepreneur earlier this fall at The Feast, a social innovation conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. In the nearly three decades that the Burning Man festival has been around, 10 philosophical principles have emerged as guideposts for behavior in the community. But there aren’t expectations or schedules. The community self-regulates, encouraging creativity and discouraging judgment. “It is unrealistic to think people aren’t going to judge. People are people and they do, but when they do and somebody calls you on it, you have to reflect on yourself,” says Dubois. Related: Indiegogo Co-Founder: When What It Means to Be a Fearless Entrepreneur Changes Burning Man, like entrepreneurship, is an event that requires equal parts organization and whimsy. Festival participants — of whom there are tens of thousands — dress in elaborate costumes and spend significant amounts of time and money preparing accommodations for their stay in the desert. They have to bring everything they’ll need to camp out in the desert and, at the end of their stay, clean up so that the desert is exactly as it was. Participatory art installations dot the landscape of the “playa,” as the area used for the festival is called, and the weeklong celebration culminates in a massive structure of some sort being burned. Part of the entrepreneurial culture at Burning Man, says Dubois, is that there are no repercussions or penalties for failure when you are out in the middle of the desert. “Failure is part of it. I mean, you...

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Borderless Layouts

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Borderless Layouts

bleed (n.)  In the printing world, a ‘bleed’ is an extension of the artwork 1/8″ or so beyond the outside dimensions of the layout, to be trimmed after printing. The design, including bleed, is printed on oversized paper to allow for trimming afterwards. This way the ink runs all the way to the edges and cleanly ‘bleeds’ off the page. Bleeds are necessary because printers can’t print all the way to the edges of the paper. If you don’t have the luxury of a bleed, you typically have to reduce the size of your full page layout a bit and live with uneven white margins. Your impeccable design can end up looking amateurish and unattractive. So what do you do? Disconnecting the edges of the design from the edges of the page can minimize the white border effect while giving your layout a more compelling look and feel. Here are some alternate approaches…   The variations shown above are just a sampling of many possible layouts that eliminate the need for bleed, by uncoupling the design’s edges from the page’s edges. (Crisis Outreach is a fictional organization.) Be Sociable,...

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18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

Posted by on Jul 12, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

by Carolyn Gregoire, Huffington Post, March 4, 2014 Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process. Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don’t have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works. And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it’s not just a stereotype of the “tortured artist” — artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person. “It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self,” Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. “The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self … Imaginative people have messier minds.” While there’s no “typical” creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. Here are 18 things they do differently. 1. THEY DAYDREAM. Creative types know, despite what their third-grade teachers may have said, that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time. According to Kaufman and psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, who co-authored a paper titled “Ode To Positive Constructive Daydreaming,” mind-wandering can aid in the process of “creative incubation.” And of course, many of us know from experience that our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are elsewhere. Although daydreaming may seem mindless, a 2012 study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state — daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it’s related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Neuroscientists have also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity. 2. THEY OBSERVE EVERYTHING. The world is a creative person’s oyster — they see possibilities everywhere and are constantly taking in information that becomes fodder for creative expression. As Henry James is widely quoted, a writer is someone on whom “nothing is lost.” The writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times, and said that she wrote down observations about people and events as, ultimately, a way to better understand the complexities and contradictions of her own mind: “However dutifully we record what we see around us,...

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High Touch

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

High Touch

In my 18 years as a professional graphic designer, I’ve felt many times that I ‘should’  move into web design, but resisted.  (Whose voice is that anyway?) The programming aspects of web development are not a good fit for me, for one thing. But even more, I love the look and feel  of the printed page—how it engages multiple  senses and is so enduring compared to the fleeting, virtual world of pixels on a screen. I am even more kinesthetic than I am visual (perhaps unexpected in a graphic designer) or auditory. I learn best hands-on and am most strongly rewarded by movement and touch. So tactile engagement works for me. And I am not alone. Graphic Design USA magazine recently put out an issue focused on product packaging that spoke my language. “Humans were designed to touch and feel. Print—an extremely tactile media—caters to this need,” writes Gerry Bonetto, of the Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California. Maybe the pendulum never swung as far as we thought from high touch to high tech. Four years ago, five major magazine companies—Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, Time Inc., and Wenner Media—launched one of the largest print advertising campaigns ever, to promote the vitality of magazines as a medium (See below). It was published in 90+ magazines reaching 112 million readers per month. The goal? To “reshape the broader conversation about magazines, challenge misperceptions about the medium’s relevancy and longevity, and reinforce magazines’ important cultural role.” The ‘Magazines’ logo, created by Y&R NY, combines the distinctive typographies of multiple magazine logos. How many can you identify? (Answers: M from Time, A from Vanity Fair, G from Rolling Stone, A from Entertainment Weekly, Z from Harper’s Bazaar, I from Marie Claire, N from Fortune, and ES from Esquire) Bonetto goes on to share the latest data on print vs. other forms of media: “Print not only provides a warm and friendly experience that no other medium offers, it also offers a sense of permanence that simply feels more trustworthy.” Recent studies show that consumers find print ads quite a bit more trustworthy than those they see online. While 60% of consumers trust newspaper and magazine ads, just 48% trust search advertising or online video ads, and only 42% find online banner ads worthy of their trust (1) Another recent study shows that newspaper ads rank noticeably higher than ads on radio, TV or online-only sites when it comes to measures of advertising effectiveness such as “usually notice ads” and “likely to purchase.” (2) Magazines outperform TV and online for critical purchase drivers such as brand awareness, brand favorability and brand purchase intent. (3) Social media—the darling of the marketing world—may not be that darling after all. In a 2014 study of more than 1,700 social media marketers, less than 8% were actually happy with their efforts and 21% were so dissatisfied that they’re ready to replace their social spend with more traditional buys. (4) (1) Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, Sept. 2013 (2) Nielsen, 2013 National Cross-Media Engagement...

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The Psychology of Storytelling

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Marketing | 2 comments

The Psychology of Storytelling

10 PROVEN WAYS TO CREATE BETTER STORIES (AND WHY STORIES SELL) Guest post by Gregory Ciatti  Stories are a very integral part of being persuasive. You’d think that as a guy that loves research and data, I’d be averse to storytelling as a whole. As a marketer though, I can’t be: those in sales and marketing have known for a long time that stories trump data when it comes to persuasion because stories are easier to understand and relate to. Are you incorporating stories into your copy? Are you utilizing them on your blog? WHY YOU NEED TO INCORPORATE STORYTELLING Storytelling works. But a lot of folks are averse to telling stories because they believe that “the facts” are the most persuasive pieces of content they can deliver. It’s not. How you say something is just as important as what you are saying. While we are all often resistant to the idea of being told what to do, we are very susceptible to agreeing with the “moral of the story” due to how it is presented to us. HOW STORIES AFFECT THE MIND The reason that stories work so well on us is that we are susceptible to getting “swept up” in both their message and in the manner of their telling. Quite literally, stories are able to transport our mind to another place, and in this place we may embrace things we’d likely scoff at in the “harsh, real world”. Think about this example: You’ll often see politicians create a “story” for their campaign, and focus a lot of their efforts speaking with the public in crafting and standing by these stories. Creating the story of “tough guy who is harsh on crime and supports states rights” is easier to understand than discussing the complexities of how the administration plans to actually tackle the crime rate. You see this being utilized every day on platforms as big as TED talks to speeches by world leaders. Instead of only discussing the “information”, they begin talks with phrases like, “Imagine if you will…” Stories help sell arguments of all types. HOW TO CREATE BETTER STORIES The #1 trait of a persuasive story is how “engaging” the story is. A study conducted by Green & Brock addresses just what makes a story engaging. 1.) Suspense Our brain just can’t “get over” suspenseful moments: it’s a relationship that just won’t die, we will always want to know what happens next! In fact, suspense works so well that the hotly debated Zeigarnik Effect would have you believe that it’s the best way to kill procrastination. Research in that area seems to point to humans being much more inclined to finish something that has already been started (researchers interrupted people doing “brain buster” tasks before they could complete them… nearly 90% of people went on to finish the task anyway, despite being told they could stop). Suspense in stories really allows you to create addictive content, as long as the suspense appears early enough...

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Surprises in the ‘Negative Space’

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Many of these have made the rounds, but on the heels of a recent blog post referencing surprise design elements in the ‘negative space,’ here are some playful logo examples:   CIRCUS OF MAGAZINES   Circus tent doubles as open magazine. FLIGHT FINDER   Mirrored ‘F’s’  create plane silhouette SPARTAN GOLF CLUB   Golfer’s swing creates Spartan helmet shape FOOD WRITERS GUILD   Writing and food come together with the spoon/pen nib ED’S ELECTRIC   The ‘E’ joins the electrical plug and socket ART PEAK   The pencil point doubles as a ‘peak.’ FED EX  The arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’ implies action BASKIN ROBBINS   (Thirty one) …derful flavors! NORTHWEST AIRLINES   The circle is a compass with the arrow pointing __________? PITTSBURGH ZOO & PPG AQUARIUM   A gorilla and lioness face each other in profile. MILWAUKEE BREWERS   The baseball glove is formed by an “M” and a “B.”   Be Sociable,...

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Food for Thought

Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Food for Thought

I’ve collected quotes since my teens, and soaked up graphic design ideas like a sponge for decades. These posters are the merging of those two streams. They are my sandbox and my therapy. For 8.5 x 11″ print resolution pdf versions, click on the images below. Sixteen other posters (so far) are available for download here. If you’re inspired to share them, feel free. With aloha from Kauai Design!       Be Sociable,...

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Evolution of a Logo

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Four incarnations of the Kauai Design logo over 13 years bring us to a clean, lean, spacious and minimalistic look. The series is shared here as an example of keeping what still works over time, while distilling the message to its essence.   See also John McWade’s recent post ‘Simplify’ for Before & After magazine. Be Sociable,...

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How Creativity Works

Posted by on Nov 30, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

How Creativity Works

In his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, author Jonah Lehrer takes us on a ride through the creative process. He shares research on innovation at both the individual level (in Part One: “Alone”) and the collective level (in Part Two: “Together”). Following are some findings from Part One that may surprise you. ON BEING STUMPED The author reminds us that every creative journey begins with a problem to be solved, and that before there can be a breakthrough, there must be a block. We tend to leave out this frustrating but essential part of the experience in our stories about creativity and jump to the happy endings.  When the aha! moment of insight finally arrives, it’s typically fully formed and seems surprisingly obvious. Thirty milliseconds before such a breakthrough, the brain generates a spike of high frequency gamma-wave activity, which is thought to be generated when neurons bind together in a new neural network. ON ALPHA WAVES AND BREAKTHROUGHS Research at Goldsmiths, University of London, has  shown that eight seconds before an insight breaks through to consciousness, the brain emits a steady rhythm of alpha waves from the right hemisphere. Alpha waves are associated with relaxing, unfocused activities such as daydreaming, meditating, and taking warm showers. When we’re emitting alpha waves, we’re more likely to be focused inward, connecting the dots of stored data that might lead to solutions. An outward focus may be necessary for analytical solutions, but it actually interferes with innovation by inhibiting the creative associations that generate insights. “Trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight.” Taking stimulants is known to sharpen one’s attention and external focus, but it simultaneously shifts attention away from the bubbling network of stray associations in the brain’s right hemisphere, making creative breakthroughs far less likely. It seems insights only arise when you’re not looking for them. In one study, eighty-six Harvard undergraduates were tested on their ability to ignore outside stimuli, a skill typically considered essential to productivity. But the students that had a tougher time ignoring distractions were seven times more likely to be rated as ‘eminent creative achievers.’ Another study at University of Memphis found that subjects with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) scored higher on measures of creativity (i.e. winning prizes at juried art shows or being honored at science fairs) than their “normal” counterparts. The conclusion? “The inability to focus helps insure a richer mixture of thoughts in the unconscious.” Our minds are very busy during the so-called absentminded state of daydreaming. When we aren’t engaged with the outside world, our relaxed, de-focused brains go exploring our inner databases. Right brain activity increases. There seems to be an elaborate electrical conversation between the front and back parts of the brain that isn’t there during other patterns of thought. In addition to being a prolific daydreamer, a successful inventor has to be attentive enough to capture the glimmers of insight generated by those daydreams. Alcohol induces its own state of mind-wandering or zoning out, but a solution...

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Graphic Designers on Graphic Design

Posted by on Oct 26, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Graphic Designers on Graphic Design

Selected observations from some leading American graphic designers, shared in interviews with Debbie Millman in her 2007 book, How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer.   NEVILLE BRODY:  A graphic designer is an opinion former.  All graphic designers hold high levels of responsibility in society. We take invisible ideas and make them tangible. That’s our job. We take news or information or emotions like “hope” or “turn left” or “buy this” or “be sexy” and give that tangible form. We make it real for people. • DEBBIE MILLMAN:  Design is one of the few disciplines that is a science as well as an art. Effective, meaningful design requires intellectual, rational rigor along with the ability to elicit emotions and beliefs. Thus, designers must balance both the logic and lyricism of humanity every time they design something. • DEBBIE MILLMAN:  There is one trait shared by each and every person in this group of designers [the twenty top graphic designers interviewed for How to Think  Like a Great Graphic Designer]: high levels of empathy. Their sensitivity has given them the ability to logically, poetically, and telegraphically transfer ideas from one mind to another. • BONNIE SIEGLER:  Graphic design allows me to use every part of my brain…As designers, we get to do the analysis and the problem-solving. We get to take a blank piece of paper and transform it into something else. Something magical. We get to work with interesting clients. We use our management skills and math skills. Everything. • EMILY OBERMAN:  I love it when we put our talents to good use, and when we get to work on something that changes how people think. I love it when we get to work on something that helps people. I love when we get to use our skills in order to help change the world. One other thing: I love that with every new project we undertake, we learn something. We learn something new every day. How lucky is that? • DEBBIE MILLMAN:  Do you feel that there is any objectivity in assessing design? JOHN MAEDA:  I think the one point of objectivity, as Paul Rand always said, is relevance. Not just relevance to message, but relevance to cultural timing. • PAUL SAHRE [on his process]:  I’m a firm believer in logic and creative thinking and being able to think your way through the process and arrive at a solution that makes sense and is going to be effective. It’s applied design. I think you have to operate with both of those things working—if not simultaneously—at least one letting the other play for a while. • CHIP KIDD [on his process]:  If I don’t have a clear sense of what I should do, I’m instantly filled with dread, which hangs over me like a thin, stinky fog until I either figure out a way to solve the problem or throw in the towel. I will say, though, that those ‘eureka’ moments—when it all comes together in your head and you realize the...

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Introversion & Creativity

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process | 2 comments

Introversion & Creativity

There are dozens of research findings and stories worth sharing from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain… Like the notion that temperament has as profound an impact on our lives as gender or race, and that where we fall on the introversion/extroversion continuum is the biggest contributor to our temperament. Like the fact that one third to one half of us are introverts. So if you’re not one, chances are you are raising, partnered with, managing, or otherwise engaged with one. Like the discovery that there is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. Like the finding that introverts, even as infants, show highly reactive alarm responses to novelty in fMRI brain scans. Like tracing the bias toward extroversion to the industrial revolution, when Americans flocked from farms to cities. Until then, people often lived their whole lives amongst the same neighbors, in rural, agricultural environments. They valued the quiet, thoughtful individual of character, who thought before speaking and had a rich inner life. In the fast-paced cities, there was competition for leadership and resources, and the social go-getter had an edge. Character and contemplation were devalued. Personality was “in.” It was an era when great salesmen were the role models and everyone wanted to know How to Win Friends and Influcnce People (by Dale Carnegie, 1937). I could go on. But to fit the parameters of this blog (allegedly about graphic design, marketing and the creative process), probably the most relevant angle on introversion is its relationship to creativity. I used to think that introversion and extroversion were about levels of sociability and assertiveness. But the terms, popularized by Carl Jung in 1921, are actually more about how much arousal a person is comfortable with. Introverts like less stimulation, are drawn to the inner world of thoughts and feelings, tend to work slowly and deliberately with high levels of concentration, and recharge with solitude. Extroverts like to crank up the novelty and are drawn to people and activity. They knock out tasks quickly, tend to make fast decisions, and recharge their batteries with external stimulation. Cain calls our attention to the trend toward work groups and teams in both corporations and schools. Walls have come down and personal space has shrunk as pods of individuals are required to work and learn “cooperatively.” One 5th grade teacher reported, “This style of teaching reflects the business community where people’s respect for others is based on their verbal abilities, not their originality or insight. You have to be someone who speaks well and calls attention to yourself. It’s an elitisim based on something other than merit.” Not everyone wants to be a group leader. Some people want to fit in harmoniously with the group. And the most creative people in both science and the arts often prefer to work independently in solitude. Do “The New Groupthink” practices and processes enhance creativity? Cain makes the case that most...

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A Creative Personality?

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process | 1 comment

A Creative Personality?

Is there such a thing? Last spring, Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen of BI Norwegian School of Management published a personality profile of creative people he found in his research with 481 subjects. ‘Creative’ was defined as the capacity to come up with ideas to serve a purpose. He identified seven traits common to performing artists and advertising students (the creative group) that were not prominent in lecturers and managers (the baseline group). These included: Associative orientation.  Imaginative, playful, have a wealth of ideas, ability to be committed, sliding transitions between fact and fiction. Need for originality.  Resists rules and conventions. Have a rebellious attitude due to a need to do things no one else does. Motivation.  Have a need to perform, goal-oriented, innovative attitude, stamina to tackle difficult issues. Ambition.  Have a need to be influential, attract attention and recognition. Flexibility.  Have the ability to see different aspects of issues and come up with optional solutions. Low emotional stability.  Have a tendency to experience negative emotions, greater fluctuations in moods and emotional state, failing self-confidence. Low sociability.  Have a tendency not to be very considerate, are obstinate and find faults and flaws in ideas and people. By far, the two strongest predictors of creativity, as measured by a 200 question survey, were associative orientation and flexibility. Martinsen links associative orientation to ingenuity and flexibility to insight. Flexibility also reflects the ability to re-frame a problem as a challenge or an opportunity. Having an ‘associative orientation’ means having an active imagination. “You can fluctuate between daydreaming and perceiving reality,” says Martinsen. “You’re playful and have an experimental attitude.” But you are also able to become deeply absorbed in your work. Mind maps and other brainstorming techniques encourage an unbridled run of loose and playful free association before exposing ideas to critical thinking. (See also Defining the Design Challenge) Associative orientation may involve connecting the dots in new ways, seeing new relationships (i.e. metaphors, visual puns), and opening to non-cognitive ways of knowing such as intuition, emotional feedback and visceral responses from the body. The other five traits describe emotional inclinations and motivational factors that influence creativity or spark an interest in creativity. Martinsen suggests that management training could benefit from more emphasis on visualizing, generating new ideas (or re-combining existing ones), and fantasizing. He also reports that a typically non-creative person can become much more so when his or her surroundings encourage rule-bending and free thought. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of  life’s coming attractions.”  -Albert Einstein “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”  -Dr. Seuss Reference:  The Creative Personality: A Synthesis and Development of the Creative Person Profile, Creativity Research Journal, Volume 23, Issue 3, 2011, 185-202, doi: 10.1080/10400419.2011.595656. Be Sociable,...

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The Right Time to Rebrand

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 1 comment

The Right Time to Rebrand

Editor’s note: I’m in the thick of a rebranding project for a client. Of the 8 Good Reasons to Rebrand (below) 5-6 might  apply to them. What about your organization?   By Mike Wicks  (previously published in Douglas magazine, Victoria BC  •  re-printed with author’s permission) When it comes to rebranding, there can be big risks and big rewards — and timing is everything. When a press release about the rebranding of Accent Inns hit my inbox recently, it made me think about the do’s and don’t of changing, or updating, your brand image. Many people are under the impression that you should never tinker with your brand for fear of losing customers who might no longer recognize the new you. Several years ago, I helped rebrand a town, a golf course, and a Chamber of Commerce, all successfully, so I thought I would share with you some rebranding tips. First, let’s remind ourselves what constitutes a brand. Essentially, a brand is the sum total of what people see and feel about us when they see our corporate image, our marketing materials, and when they interact with us. Budget or high-end? Friendly or formal? Like it or not, people have preconceived feelings — good, bad, or indifferent — about us based on our brand. Internally, a brand is the visual representation of our corporate culture, our philosophy, and the standards that form the basis of our brand image. When I rebranded the town of Golden, it was suffering from an image problem because people felt the downtown core was not attractive. However, Golden is special because it’s surrounded by some of the best outdoor recreation in North America, so out went “Town of Opportunity” and in came “Kicking Horse Country.” This helped prospective visitors focus on Golden as a place to experience outdoor adventure, not to walk along main street. GOOD REASONS TO REBRAND There are more good reasons to rebrand than bad ones, but the most important reason to rebrand is when your current brand is confusing, or worse, misleading your current or prospective customers. Rebranding is not something you do because you want to, it’s because your customers need or want it. Let’s take a look at Accent Inns: they thought their brand was working, but when they decided to renovate their inns and held focus groups to find out what potential customers really thought, they were shocked. Mandy Farmer, CEO, thought customers would immediately recognize that the inns were affordable but also high quality, eco-aware, socially responsible, locally owned, one of the best places to work, and above all else “cool.”  She was crushed to discover the focus group thought Accent Inns was an “American bottom-of-the-barrel budget motel line.” If any of you have ever stayed at an Accent Inns, you’ll know how very far from the truth this is. The misleading red, white, and blue logo was changed to softer blues and orange (to correspond to the B.C. flag) and its edges were rounded for...

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Stretching My Comfort Zone

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 3 comments

(Scroll down for a collection of “quotes, quips and words of wisdom” on Adversity) The quotes above, from The Designer Says, were standouts to me. They made me want to thank the clients who have pushed me out of my comfort zone into alien territory. The ones who have sent me scampering up all kinds of learning curves and challenged me as a designer. You know who you are. Since my 20’s I’ve had a personal philosophy about seeking out challenge, believing it would help prepare me for those challenges I did NOT seek. And I’d say it’s worked pretty well. I hitchhiked through Latin America for three months at 21. I went for a Master’s degree at 33. Post-divorce I moved from Austin, Texas to Napa Valley, California where I didn’t know a soul. At 40 I white water rafted and mountaineered through Oregon for two weeks with Outward Bound. At 42 I launched a graphic design business, and at 47 made the jump to Kauai. Though I am much less demanding of myself these days, I still don’t let myself get too comfortable. I still like a good challenge. Who would have thought graphic design could be one’s means of ‘pushing the envelope?’ I know it keeps me on my feet and stretching continuously. So thanks to you client visionaries who hold to your visions until I can meet you there. It’s collaboration at its best! COLLECTED “QUOTES, QUIPS AND WORDS OF WISDOM” on ADVERSITY You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity.  (Golda Meir) A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.  (Eleanor Roosevelt) Crisis doesn’t develop character, crisis reveals character.  (unknown) Life is trouble. Only death is not.  (Zorba) It’s only as bad as you make it.  (Benjamin Carey) Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.  (African proverb) He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity.  (Ben Johnson) The gem cannot be polished without friction.  (Chinese proverb) What does not kill me only makes me stronger.  (Friedrich Nietzsche) A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.  (Helen Keller) The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.  (unknown) If you face the thing you fear, the death of fear is certain.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.  (Anais Nin) Fears are the little darkrooms where negatives are developed.  (Michael Pritchard) Then the day came when the risk to remain in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  (Anais Nin) Adversity introduces a man to himself.  (Albert Einstein) There is no education like adversity.  (Benjamin Disraeli) If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence every one must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.  (Solon) One thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. (Haruki Murakami) Every adversity,...

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Brand Thinking

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Brand Thinking

Excerpts from Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, by Debbie Millman Debbie Millman is a design visionary who has shaped global brands like Pepsi, Gillette, Colgate, Campbell’s and Nestle. She has authored several other books (including How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer) and hosts a weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet,“Design Matters.” She is President Emeritus of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design, a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In her latest book, Millman interviews 22 thought leaders in the fields of marketing strategy, corporate identity, design, art, anthropology and related disciplines, extracting nuggets of insight from a veritable ‘who’s who’ of branding professionals. Their dialogues explore human nature in relationship with the material world, why we make the choices we do as consumers, and why we affiliate and identify with symbols. They examine the role that branding plays in society, politics, economics, psychology and technology and consider why, in this age of infinite choice, brand remains more essential than ever in advertising, marketing and public relations. Millman writes, “Ask anyone in the world what the definition of BRAND is and you will likely get a different answer every time. Why is that? Brand is a squishy word with a lot of associations and meanings.” Here’s a sampling of what her interviewees offered up as definitions and observations about branding in the 21st century: WALLY OLINS   Branding is a profound manifestation of the human condition. It is about belonging: belonging to a tribe, to a religion, to a family. Branding demonstrates that sense of belonging. It has this function for both the people who are part of the same group and also for the people who don’t belong…I need to belong. And when I belong, telegraphing this affiliation demonstrates loyalty, affection, and the durability of my relationship. It’s not cerebral at all. It’s visceral. We don’t even know we are doing it. The commercial, anthropological, and sociological branding process that professionals engage in now creates visceral distinctions to evoke immediate responses in people. GRANT MCCRACKEN   Branding is a process of meaning manufacture that begins with the biggest, boldest gestures of the corporation and works its way down to the tiniest gestures.   PHIL DUNCAN   A brand is something you have an unexplained, emotional connection to. A brand gives you a sense of familiarity. STANLEY HAINSWORTH   A brand is an entity that engenders an emotional connection with a consumer. Every brand has a story, whether it’s the founder’s story or the brand’s reason for being. Some brands have never told their story well, or have lost their story. CHERYL SWANSON   A brand is a product with a compelling story—a brand offers “quintessential qualities” for which the consumer believes there is absolutely no substitute. Brands are totems. They tell us stories about our place in culture—about where we are and where we’ve been. They also...

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A Visit to My Past Self

Posted by on Apr 6, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 2 comments

A Visit to My Past Self

(Including advice I would give her if I could) As I hit the 17-years-in-business marker, I got inspired to look back on how it all came to be. I wondered, who was that younger me that launched it? From journals I’ve kept since my 30’s, I could peek in on the thoughts and feelings and experiences my ‘past self’ was having while this graphic design business incubated and hatched. THE ANCIENT HISTORY My older sister and younger brother drew well as children, but my visual expression was through photography — from my first Brownie camera (age 8) to my Kodak Instamatic (age 12) to my Mamiya Sekor SLR (age 17). My eye for composition developed over the years and my friends, who groaned when I pulled out the camera, loved seeing the snapshots when the film was developed. My dad had a darkroom set-up and taught me the basics of photo processing. It was one of few things we shared, so pretty special. As yearbook photographer in high school I saw my  world through the viewfinder. I spent much of the 1980’s managing a do-it-yourself frame shop in Austin, Texas, immersed in art and working alongside artists. I learned about color, layout, the creative process and much more. (I’m really good with fractions for example. And estimating distance in inches, which, it turns out, is a transferrable skill. More than once I’ve won the baby shower prize for guessing the girth of the mama-to-be with a cut piece of string.) In the mid-80’s I started teaching aerobics on the side and soon found myself back in graduate school studying Health Promotion & Fitness. An internship for that degree took me to St. Helena, California (Napa Valley) where I led fitness and recreational activities, and later coordinated one of our live-in lifestyle change programs. I continued to shoot photos and collect other images and layouts that inspired me for cut-and-paste creative projects. When the personal computer came on the scene in the 90’s, I was an early adopter. NOW I could bring my skills in the visual arts together and do some serious creating! A huge array of digital images, type options and cool graphics programs were now at my fingertips. I began doing “desktop publishing” (DTP) jobs for my employer and fun projects for friends and family, honing my skills as I dove into learning everything I could about design. THEN, IN THREE WEEKS IN FEBRUARY 1996, MY JOURNAL ENTRIES WENT FROM:  Wed 2/7/1996.  Maybe I should start freelancing so I can get the toys I want and write them off on my taxes. I’ve collected tons of  images I’d like to play with. Been reading up on design and layout and researching printing services… TO Wed 2/28/1996.  I got my seller’s permit from the state and it’s official: I’m in business! Say it with style!  I learned how to scan images into digital files today and I set up my books on Quicken. Also got a PAID rubber stamp for...

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FAQ’s

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

FAQ’s

We don’t know what we don’t know, right? And being in the dark about a process or a discipline can keep us from taking advantage of its many benefits. So, if you’re considering an upgrade to your organization’s graphic identity or advertising strategy or packaging, here’s what others in your shoes have asked about how things work at Kauai Design. Q:  I don’t know where to start. How does this work? A:  Part of my job is to take the ‘overwhelm’ factor out of the process. I offer a free consultation to explore your needs and wants and discuss possible directions. Once the conversation gets started, juicy, creative ideas typically bubble up to inspire and feed the process. My 17 years of experience gives me a broad and deep perspective on solutions that you may not have even considered. Kauai Design has professional relationships with local printers, sign makers and publishers and can shepherd your job though the printing / fabrication process or prepare it for publication. To get started, just call me. Q:  I know exactly what I want. Can you help me bring my ideas to life? A:   I love working with clients who know what they want. Nobody knows your business and your clientele like you do, and you probably have ideas about what could take you to the next level. You can be as active in the creative process as you like, or just share your vision and turn me loose to flesh out your concept. When appropriate, we may invite an illustrator, photographer or web developer into the collaboration. Q:  What’s the process and what do you need from me? A:  I start by gathering all the information I can related to your objectives, the ‘look’ you’re after, and your positioning in the marketplace. If it feels like a fit, we move forward with a written project proposal, which includes a cost estimate, project timeline, scope of services and a list of any graphic or text files to be provided by you. A signed proposal and a 50% deposit gets you on the production calendar and off we go. I stay in close communication throughout the project, and you have multiple opportunities for input and feedback. Q:  How do you charge? A:  The initial consultation (up to 1/2 hour on the phone or 1 hour face-to-face) is free. You get an estimate in writing before we begin. Though I may quote a flat rate on a large or complex project, most smaller jobs are estimated at the hourly rate of $80. Along with the more tangible (and billable) design and production services provided, you are also likely to benefit from the ideas, experience, education, expertise, writing skills, contacts, design resources, and local market knowledge that I bring to the table. Q:  Why is professional graphic design important to my business?  A:  Your visual identity serves as the solid foundation on which to build your business and makes that all-important first impression. It communicates quality to your customers and generates trust and...

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What if…?

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

What if…?

(Includes 4 new poster designs) A running theme of this blog is the exploration of “the creative process” which usually refers to birthing new and original works and ideas, or re-combining old ones in new ways. But what if we also create the very circumstances of our lives? One prerequisite to harnessing this power might be having what the psychological literature calls an internal locus of control: the belief that we are in the driver’s seat in our lives. Another might be knowing that each of us is part of an intelligent field of energy that science is only beginning to understand. Quantum physicists are consistently observing phenomena at the sub-atomic level that defy our current “laws” of physics. We are made of the same stuff as those particles and waves and, at its most basic level, all matter is energy. What if we humans, by aligning our energy with our desires, can also create in ways that that defy our current understanding of how things work? What if the most challenging part is getting out of our own way? What if our thoughts, feelings and beliefs are the language through which we communicate with this creative field of energy? What if we get what we expect in life and attract the very things we think about and believe to be true? Would we let our minds run on their default programming, simply accepting the conditions and conditioning of the world around us?  Or might we intentionally focus our energies (consciousness) on choosing and imagining the things we want in our lives, and releasing our limiting beliefs? “Reality” is obviously not static, but constantly changing. What if “what is” is simply the result of our (individual and collective) thoughts, feelings and beliefs from the past? What if today’s thoughts, feelings and points of focus are creating our future realities? This line of inquiry has led me into the thick of the happiness and positivity research, which in turn has inspired previous blog posts and poster projects. Sages throughout history have tapped into the power of thought as a force of creation. Now quantum science is beginning to explore a realm that mystics and poets have embraced all along: a force that connects everything and gives us the power to influence how matter behaves. All that we are is a result of what we have thought. –Buddha As a man thinketh in his heart, so he becomes. –Proverbs Imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions. –Albert Einstein What you think you become. –Gandhi Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. –W. Clement Stone Whether you think you can or think you can’t do something, you’re right. –Henry Ford You create your own universe as you go along. –Winston Churchill Your world is a living expression of how you are using and have used your mind.  –Earl Nightingale We are what we think about all day long. –Ralph Waldo Emerson Every intention sets energy into motion whether you...

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The Art of Planting Ideas

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 1 comment

The Art of Planting Ideas

Guest post by Donnie Bryant As a marketer or copywriter, can you imagine anything more powerful than the ability to plant an idea directly into the minds of your prospects? An idea they think is their own? One that makes selling your product or service effortless? I remember when I first heard about the movie Inception, this thought came to mind. Inception, if it were possible, would be the ultimate tool for marketers (not to mention politicians, teachers, lawyers, etc.). But I couldn’t see any real, practical way for it to work in real life. After seeing the film and reading some of the commentary, I see that I was dead wrong. Not only is inception possible, but it’s happening every day. THE SCIENCE Dreams are places of … unreality. Dreams don’t have to be realistic, logical or even possible. That’s one of the reasons we like them and their daytime counterparts. To the human mind, dreams and Hollywood movies are pretty much identical. In his article for Wired, “The Neuroscience of Inception,” Jonah Lehrer explains that the processes going on in the brain while watching a movie are the same as the ones that taking place while dreaming. In other words, the movie theater is a “dreamshare” device, like the one used in the film to steal secrets and implant foreign ideas. The thing that needs to be noted is that during the movie-watching experience, while the visual cortex is working at peak levels, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) goes dormant. Why is that significant? The PFC is where the executive control of your brain is housed. “’Executive Control’ is the ability to guide thought and action in accordance with internal goals.” Can you think of a better time to introduce a new idea into someone’s mind than when this function is in hibernation? Rather than guiding your thoughts according to your own internal goals, the producer can theoretically guide your thought with external objectives of his own. Watching Inception may be the perfect opening to have inception performed on you. THE SUSPENSION Funny how Jayme compared marketing to theater with regard to the suspension of disbelief. When you’re selling something, the biggest hurdle you have to overcome is disbelief in one form or another. People are: skeptical (disbelief in you and/or your proposition) risk adverse (doubt about whether they’re making the right choice) and resistant to change (disbelief that they need to do something different than what they’re doing now) An effective marketing message or sales pitch gives the potential customer enough reason to suspend that disbelief and make a purchase. (People have a strong desire to believe in certain things, so they may be very willing to suspend their disbelief in some cases.) In theater, you voluntarily suspend disbelief so you can enjoy an experience that is fiction/fantasy. Without hesitation, you put your critical thinking cap on the shelf – for 90 minutes or so. The forces that work in theater can also add strength to your...

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Four Kinds of Creative

Posted by on Oct 1, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process | 2 comments

Four Kinds of Creative

The running themes of this blog (as well as the Kauai Design Facebook page) revolve around graphic design, marketing and the creative process. Lately the creative process has been the juiciest for me. So I was pleased to find an article that brings a diverse body of creativity research together under one (sort of) simple framework. In “The cognitive neuroscience of creativity,” author and neuroscientist Arne Dietrich, Ph.D. outlines four ways to be creative, each with its own unique circuitry in the brain. Until recently, neuroscientific explanations of the creative process were focused on differences in the brain’s left and right hemispheres. But Dietrich’s model goes much further. It proposes that creativity is, by definition, the ability to produce novel work. And that a creative idea can emerge from either the  emotional or cognitive  realm…and that processing of that information can be either spontaneous or deliberate. That gives us the four kinds of creative as described below: DELIBERATE AND EMOTIONAL processes are the breakthrough moments resulting from exploring one’s emotions, often the work of psychotherapy. The pre-frontal cortex can act as a search engine, deliberately pulling emotionally charged material from storage to piece together new insights. DELIBERATE AND COGNITIVE processes involve knowing your subject matter and systematically ‘connecting the dots’ to create something new. Thomas Edison is a classic example. While inventing the electric light bulb, he ran experiment after experiment and saw every unsuccessful effort as another step forward. He famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This type of creativity takes time and requires a good knowledge base. SPONTANEOUS AND EMOTIONAL flashes of insight are the stereotype of creative genius, where ideas are delivered as thunderbolts from heaven. This type of creativity is common among great artists and musicians and can be experienced as a powerful and mysterious revelation or a mystical event. SPONTANEOUS AND COGNITIVE processes also require knowledge of your subject matter, but the creative breakthrough happens when you are not even focused on the problem. Ideas and solutions come from outside conscious awareness with no effort on your part. This could happen in the shower, while daydreaming, exercising, or in the middle of the night. This is the process I call germinating, incubating or marinating (choose your metaphor) an idea: doing the groundwork, then letting the wisdom of the unconscious percolate insights up to conscious awareness. Isaac Newton ‘discovered’ gravity watching an apple fall from a tree. Albert Einstein theorized relativity outside of the lab, while imagining himself riding a light beam. My best design solutions often bubble up to the surface this way. It’s been documented that consciously focusing on a problem can interfere with solving it. Deliberate, rational thought filters our range of options to fit our preconceived mental models while also creating a bottleneck with its very limited capacity for storing information. If a solution isn’t immediately at hand, it may be beneficial to withdraw, and re-visit the issue from a different state of consciousness at a later time. Spontaneous insights are both qualitatively and quantitatively different....

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Visual Thinking: Coming Full Circle

Posted by on Aug 13, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process | 1 comment

The Phoenician alphabet dates back to about 1050 BC. About 500 years later, in Socrates’ time, an oral tradition was still firmly in place and the written word was still new technology. Books were looked upon with skepticism and Socrates himself noted these limitations: One could not customize one’s message in a book as a speaker could. Books were not interactive as was dialogue. One couldn’t take the conversation further by asking the presenter questions. But books were here to stay. With the printing press (1440 A.D.) came rapid advances in literacy, which led to a dominance of left brain strengths, values and leadership. (Language, along with logic and mathematics, is a left brain process.) By the end of the 20th century, reading, writing and analytic skills were exalted and heavily emphasized in the academic world. Over time, what had been direct eye-to-brain experience came to be translated from eye to words and then to the brain. Learning by formula and book often replaced learning by doing, by direct eye and hand experience. Visual thinking and sensory, hands-on learning were considered old-fashioned, primitive, non-professional—for laypersons or children. In engineering, the standard approach to understanding how things worked changed from using the mind’s eye and direct experience (a la Orville and Wilbur Wright or Steve Jobs) to using formulaic, analytic approaches. Applied, working knowledge of the material world and how things fit together was de-valued and gave way to academic, theoretical models. Numbers and words held more weight than intuitive undertanding, or the ability to see patterns, hold an integrated, holistic view, and think things through. Extreme emphasis on linear thought and specialization has left holes in our broader understanding. But Thomas West, author of Thinking Like Einstein, sees the pendulum swinging back. Starting around the year 2000, signs of a shift away from abstract numbers and formulas, back to our visual, non-verbal roots have been observed. And computer visualization technologies have been a major player. Visual models (previously in clay or other materials, now in computer generated 3-D graphics) can detect patterns and relationships that formulas cannot. Brain science suggests that creative achievement in the sciences often comes from visual/spatial reasoning, a type of intelligence that has been undervalued in the highly verbal and analytical left brain world. In an interesting trade-off, those who are particularly gifted in this area are significantly more likely to have dyslexia or other learning disabilities involving language, as did Einstein. These patterns run in families over generations, indicating a possible genetic thread. While dyslexics may be marginalized in the academic arena, in the business world, they may excel. They often have what it takes to envision, anticipate and conceive solutions better than sequential thinkers. Non-linear thinkers may have more ability to think ahead of the pack, and see from others’ point of view. Their inclusion in work groups can help prevent groupthink, the ‘eddies of thought’ that that stop forward movement in organizations. Visual thinkers often struggle with written information their whole lives, and develop skills for honing in...

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It’s the Journey

Posted by on Jun 6, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 4 comments

It’s the Journey

The most popular class at Harvard is a course in Happiness taught by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. His curriculum and his book, Happier, are based on the premise that both meaning and pleasure are required for us humans to be happy. Neither quality, in itself, is enough for lasting well-being. Consider which of these categories best describes how you spend your time: Are you a ‘rat racer’ driving yourself toward external rewards and future pleasures, at the expense of current happiness? Are you a ‘hedonist’ seeking current pleasures, with little regard for your larger purpose or future happiness? Are you a ‘nihilist,’ stuck in the past, in learned helplessness, hopelessness, and despair, having given up on finding happiness? Or are you one of the ‘happy’ ones, engaging in activities and practices that 1) are meaningful and pleasurable in the moment, and 2) pay off for both your present and future selves? Ben-Shahar, a recovering rat racer like me, challenges his readers to explore where they derive meaning and pleasure in both their work and personal lives and then to do more of that. At his recommendation I generated lists of activities that give me pleasure and meaning generally, then zeroed in on ways I might reap more of those rewards from my work in graphic design. PLEASURE Have fun Connect with clients in a collaborative process Enjoy creative breakthroughs and flashes of inspiration Learn new things, have ‘aha!’ moments Appreciate beauty in art and in nature Get lost in the focus and flow of the creative process Find just the right words to express an idea MEANING Connect with clients in a collaborative process Capture the essence of an organization and its offer Connect my clients with their clients (or audience) Provide communication solutions (in images and/or words) Learn and build skills continuously Collect ideas and images for future inspiration Develop design projects for my own self-expression Create one or more products for passive income potential Then, based on the above lists… NEW JOB DESCRIPTION Create for the fun of it, sharing what I love and what inspires me, with the world Connect in meaningful ways with clients, their organizations, their offerings, and their audiences Nurture partnerships, getting to know clients, sharing marketing possibilities with them, supporting their businesses and referring to them when I can Develop personal projects that take my skills in inspired directions and generate passive income opportunities Welcome outside challenges that stretch my abilities Stay in awe of the entrepreneurial spirit The process has given me ‘new eyes’ with which to view my world and has paved the way for more positive experiences. As I mentally measure the pleasure and meaning in my daily activities, my choices become more deliberate, more intentional. I get that I can construct my life with these building blocks of happiness at work and at play. And so can you! Since everything we want, from conditions to relationships to material manifestations, is about being happier, why not cut to the chase and go for...

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‘Love’ poster set

Posted by on Jun 6, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

‘Love’ poster set

(Poster play continued…) I’ve collected quotes since my teens, and soaked up graphic design ideas like a sponge for decades. These posters, and eight others from two earlier posts, are the merging of those two streams. For 8.5 x 11″ print resolution pdf versions, click on the thumbnails below. If you’re inspired to share them, feel free. With aloha from Kauai Design!     Be Sociable,...

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Grab Attention with Your Message

Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Grab Attention with Your Message

The old advertising acronym AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. To influence or persuade anyone of anything, we must first get their attention. Only then we can turn our energies toward arousing their interest, piquing desire and prompting action. It’s been reported that every year 65% more information is strewn out into the world.1  The business world, like the academic world, seems to have adopted a publish or perish mindset, posting massive amounts of content online everyday. (And yes, I joined in the fray 8+ years ago with this newsletter-turned-blog and more recently with my Facebook fan page.) With more information than ever competing for attention, why should anyone care about our input? To break through the clutter and noise, we can bump up the PUVV factor…making our message Personal, Unexpected, Visual, and Visceral.2  Otherwise we might as well be designing like nobody’s watching and writing like nobody’s reading. Because they probably aren’t. So how do you do that? Here are a few strategies drawn from the schools of design and copywriting, with a splash of brain science thrown in. Personal.   Create a personal hook. Call your reader out with relevant headlines, images, and concepts. How are you one of them? Invite them to spend time with you. Share a meaningful experience. Offer inside information. Write from your heart. Address shared needs and desires. Tell a story. Build comfort and trust. Unexpected.   Humor often springs from the unexpected. A surprising twist helps make a punchline (or anything else) memorable. Stay playful. Pique curiosity. Create gaps that the mind wants to close. Lead with an intriguing question, a surprising statistic, a shocking confession, a provocative quote, an unusual solution. Consider what might be ironic or counter-intuitive about your message. Visual.  Show, don’t tell. Paint a picture…one that’s worth a thousand words. Humans remember 85-90% of what they see, but less than 15% of what they hear.3 Some visuals are especially effective in attracting the eye and engaging the viewer, including big, bold and/or brightly colored elements, faces, motion (real and simulated), contrast in all of its forms, a clear focal point, especially when surrounded by negative space, a path that leads the eye along it, an incomplete image that the imagination can fill in, repetition of elements… Visceral.  Engage the senses, especially sight, sound, and scent. Arouse emotion. Speak to the primitive brain by tapping into gut feelings, instincts, primal memories, dreams, the wisdom of the body. Music is especially good for evoking visceral emotional responses. Certain scents can take us back in time, and are closely associated with memory in the brain. Buzzwords specific to your audience can kindle meaningful associations and feelings. With that said, if all this feels contrived to you, or as if you’re running a foot race against all the competing messages out there, temper it with this viewpoint expressed by my esteemed mentor, John Wade, of Before & After magazine: “As designers, I believe that ‘standing out’ is not our guiding light. Most companies don’t need to stand out. They simply need to...

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Notes to Myself

Posted by on Apr 4, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 2 comments

Notes to Myself

“Positive Psychology” didn’t exist when I was a Psych major in the 1970’s. Back then psychology was all about diagnoses and dysfunction. Now researchers are exploring happiness and thriving. I recently finished my eighth or ninth book on happiness. And though each author approaches the subject from a slightly different angle, all share the latest brain science on feeling good. My latest read, What Happy People Know, by Dan Baker, PhD, emphasizes how fear-based we humans are … how we are hard-wired for fear for the very survival of the species. It’s our default setting. Our reactive reptilian brain is the fight, flight or freeze center, and is quick to sense danger, real or imagined. The amygdala in the mammalian brain is our storehouse of fearful and hurtful memories that feed into these automatic, alarmist interpretations. These days our fear is not so much about saber toothed tigers, but mostly about 1) if we’re good enough or 2) if we have enough. Relate? According to Baker, our only hope of transcending the fear response is activating its antidote: love and appreciation. This requires challenging our involuntary, habitual fearful thoughts and actively re-wiring our mental circuitry by engaging the pre-frontal cortex, where intellect and spirit (and love) reside. “In the dance of love and fear, love must lead if we are to be happy.” “… During active appreciation, the threatening messages from your amygdala and the anxious instincts of your brainstem are cut off, suddenly and surely, from access to your brain’s neocortex, where they can fester, replicate themselves, and turn your stream of thoughts into a cold river of dread. It’s a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive.” “Appreciation is the highest, purest form of love. It is the type of love that can blossom even when it is not returned. It is the outward-bound, self-renewing form of love that has no dependence upon romantic attachment or family ties. People who truly appreciate feel the same about the object of their appreciation whether it is present or absent. They appreciate it even if it is, by objective standards, not worthy of their appreciation. Appreciation asks for nothing, and gives everything.” We all know the sensations. “… Time can stand still, or rush like a waterfall. Your senses can be heightened or obliterated. Creativity flows, heart rate slows, brain waves soften into rolling ripples, and an exquisite calm descends over your entire being. During active appreciation, your brain, heart, and endocrine system work in synchrony and heal in harmony.” Ahhhh. So what does any of this have to do with graphic design? Well, lately I’ve been choosing not to believe everything I think, especially fear-based thoughts … and I need plenty of reminders to catch myself and shift into the better feeling (and better functioning) place of love and appreciation. So I created some ‘notes to...

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Leveraging a Great Logo

Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Leveraging a Great Logo

I know that not everybody collects images they like for creative inspiration, but most graphic designers (and a fast-growing number of Pinterest members) do. I probably use my iPhone to capture appealing visuals for my ‘swipe’ file as much as anything else. Pictures, fonts, color palettes, and interesting layouts can serve as jumping off places for design projects. I’m a sponge for ideas and visual effects that might contribute to the creative process currently incubating in my head. And while I honor intellectual property rights, I agree with Kirby Ferguson that everything is a remix. Creativity rarely shows up as a bolt out of the blue. Most often it’s derived from the artful combination of existing elements in new ways. “Our system of law doesn’t acknowledge the derivative nature of creativity,” says Ferguson. “Instead, ideas are regarded as property, as unique and original lots with distinct boundaries. But ideas aren’t so tidy. They’re layered, they’re interwoven, they’re tangled.” Does intellectual property law interfere with the cross-pollination of creative ideas? “We live in an age with daunting problems,” continues Ferguson. “We need the best ideas possible, we need them now, we need them to spread fast.” (I highly recommend his thought-provoking video, Everything is a Remix Part 4 .) A future post perhaps…this one is about leveraging a great logo.  I was at a strip mall on Maui recently when I stopped in my tracks to appreciate (and snag a photo of) the cool mermaid logo on Pizza Paradiso’s glass door. I’m part fish myself, and have an affinity for mermaids, as well as good design. A moment later a server came out and asked me if I liked the logo, and if I would like a sticker. Sure! Now I’m not likely to display this sticker on my bumper or my guitar case (if I had one) but I did grab a take-out menu along with my sticker, and I do love Mediterranean food, which is pretty much unavailable in my neighborhood. So guess where I had dinner that night. It was excellent outreach to a prospective new customer and it worked. (The food is excellent too by the way.) My client, Hula Baby Biscotti, has a gorgeous logo featuring a vintage image of a hula girl by artist Melinda Morey. When they display the logo on their big banner at farmer’s markets, customers want to buy a banner! How much further and faster might word spread about this year-old company if stickers of their logo were circulating around Hawaii? Surfwear companies are leading edge here. Their stickers are everywhere because they are cool. Why not gourmet eateries, specialty food products and boutique stores with great logos too? If you find that your stickers are in demand, logo wear (and a whole other income stream) could be the next logical step! So what makes a logo great? These two examples obviously have beauties as their focal point and each seems to suggest a story…a sense of time and place and active engagement with the world. The...

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Break Up Your Text

Posted by on Jan 17, 2012 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 1 comment

Break Up Your Text

Your readers will love you for breaking up long blocks of text into manageable chunks of information, and you can make your pages more attractive and interesting in the process. White space, photos and illustrations are commonly used for this purpose. Other devices… Be Sociable,...

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The Creative Process Illustrated

Posted by on Oct 1, 2011 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Creative Process Illustrated

Review of W. Glenn Griffin & Deborah Morrison’s The Creative Process Illustrated (How Advertising’s Big Ideas Are Born) Griffin and Morrison take us backstage and introduce us to 36 successful ‘creatives,’ (creative directors, art directors and writers) and share their backgrounds. But the best part is getting into these folks’ heads as they unveil their processes for getting to the ‘Big Idea’… Be Sociable,...

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Defining the Design Challenge

Posted by on Jul 1, 2007 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Defining the Design Challenge

LIST MAKING.  According to Edward de Bono, author of multiple books on problem-solving, a good technique to get ideas flowing is to list all possible solutions to a problem. In the brainstorming phase, there are no wrong answers. Let your imagination go. A crazy, off-the-wall idea can be a springboard to a great idea… IDEA MAPPING.  Some of us can get those creative neurons firing best with a more visual, less linear process, such as idea mapping. This technique explores ideas graphically… Be Sociable,...

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Stoking the Creative Fires

Posted by on Oct 1, 2005 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Stoking the Creative Fires

Developing fresh, insightful approaches to communicating an organization’s message to its audience is one of the first challenges of a design project. It rarely comes as a thunder bolt of inspiration from the creativity gods. It most often results from thorough information gathering, multiple approaches, imaginative and resourceful problem-solving and plenty of fine-tuning.     Be Sociable,...

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Making Headlines

Posted by on Jul 1, 2004 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Marketing | 0 comments

Making Headlines

Be it a newsletter article or a print ad, an effective headline serves as bait and hook to grab attention and pull a reader into the rest of your story. With the ever-increasing level of information overload, you have only a few seconds to win a reader over. Both visual appeal and headline appeal are key. Be Sociable,...

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What Is Graphic Design?

Posted by on Jan 1, 2004 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Editor’s Note: This packed little essay by Jessica Helfand appeared in the premiere issue of The Graphics Grapevine in January 2004. Eight years later, it’s as relevant as ever. Graphic design is the most ubiquitous of all the arts. It responds to needs at once personal and public, embraces concerns both economic and ergonomic, and is informed by many disciplines including art and architecture, philososhy and ethics, literature and language, science and politics and performance. Be Sociable,...

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