The Graphics Grapevine

Since 2004, we’ve written and gathered dozens of articles on Graphic Design, Marketing, Copywriting, and the Creative Process in the The Graphics Grapevine quarterly ezine. Similar content is now being shared as single-topic blog posts on this site. Selected back articles from the Grapevine are also available here.

The Three C’s of Copywriting

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 1 comment

The Three C’s of Copywriting

Guest Post by Debra Jason As creative entrepreneurs and business owners, one of the most important tools you have in offering your programs, products or services is the copy you use to communicate your marketing message. (NOTE: To avoid repetition, I’ll refer to “programs, products or services” as “products” throughout this post). To ensure you create a magnetic message that resonates with your ideal client here are three C’s of copywriting to guide you along a successful path. I. CLARITY – 3 things you should get clear on BEFORE you begin to write. 1. Know your product. What is it physically and functionally? What is your goal with your product (i.e., sell more, gain name recognition, build your brand, etc.)? What’s the single strong benefit – the benefit that harnesses the greatest selling power? How will you tap into your prospects’ emotions and “knock their socks off?” To do this, you need to know what problem/challenge/issue your product solves for them. Are they: Stressed out about past due bills they can’t pay? Frustrated with their job, their boss, or co-workers? Frightened because they lost a job and can’t find a new one? 2. Know your audience. Understand the demographics (i.e., age, career, income, marital status, etc.), but don’t forget the psychographics such as: What are their lifestyles like? Is family important to them? Are they cramped for time? Do they use credit cards often? Do they prefer to dine out or stay at home and cook? What motivates your audience? What keeps them up at night? When you know the answers to questions like these you can then feel confident about offering a solution that your product delivers to make their lives easier. 3. What’s your message? How do you help your prospects/customers? What do they get or gain by using your product? Is there an obstacle or barrier that delays them from getting what they want? And, what are the benefits or results they gain from using yourproduct? When you answer these 4 questions, you’ll have the “bones” of your message. Then, you can review and fine tune (sometimes repeatedly) till you have a magnetic message that resonates with your audience. For instance, “I help heart-centered independent business professionals communicate their message in a way that captivates and converts their prospects into loyal, raving fans even if they have been struggling to transform their ideas into words in the past. SO THAT they can attract new clients, SO THAT they can have a better income, SO THAT they can create the freedom-based lifestyle they’ve been dream of… (Notice that the “SO THAT” portion can continue on with benefits/results). II. CONNECT – 3 things to do WHEN writing. 1. Begin with the concerns of your reader. Tell him/her “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). Highlight benefits not features. As a writer, create a picture in your mind of your ideal customer – their lifestyle, their wants/needs, their pains or frustrations. Then, connect with them by identifying with them, put yourself in their shoes and write. When you do, your words will resonate with your readers and convert them into buyers. 2. KISS your prospects (keep it simple sweetheart).Write as if your prospect is sitting across the table from you and you’re having a conversation. When you have a conversation you pause, create those pauses...

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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 community, is educational, and has the capacity to elicit spiritual revelations. Painting together in groups and painting live at musical events, these artists are allowing participants in on their creative process. Seeing and understanding that even the finest pieces of art have many moments when the artist isn’t satisfied or...

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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.”     –Larissa Varaday, Kauai Holistic Massage Be Sociable,...

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The Revenge of Analog

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Revenge of Analog

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter By David Sax Review by MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times, December 5, 2016 Editor’s Note: As one who designs almost exclusively for print, I appreciate the revival of analog ‘technologies.’ Author David Sax reports that the resurgence is not driven so much by the nostalgia of older generations. It’s digitally hard-wired-from-birth young adults embracing real life, low tech, tactile, hands-on experience. Read on. “Sooner or later, everything old is new again,” Stephen King once wrote — an observation that’s never been truer than today. Far from being dead, vinyl records sales rose to $416 million last year, the highest since 1988, and artists like the Black Keys, Lana Del Rey and Beck are eagerly embracing the format. Instant Polaroid-like cameras have caught on among millennials and their younger siblings. A new Pew survey shows that print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats. Old-school paper notebooks and erasable whiteboards are the go-to technology among many Silicon Valley types, and even typewriters are enjoying a renaissance in today’s post-Snowden, surveillance-conscious era. In his captivating new book, The Revenge of Analog, reporter David Sax provides an insightful and entertaining account of this phenomenon, creating a powerful counternarrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world. Mr. Sax argues that analog isn’t going anywhere, but is experiencing a bracing revival that is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex. “Analog experiences can provide us with the kind of real-world pleasures and rewards digital ones cannot, and sometimes analog simply outperforms digital as the best solution.” Pen and paper can give writers and designers a direct means of sketching out their ideas without the complicating biases of software, while whiteboards can bring engineers “out from behind their screens” and entice them “to take risks and share ideas with others.” “The choice we face isn’t between digital and analog,” Mr. Sax asserts. “That simplistic duality is actually the language that digital has conditioned us to: a false binary choice between 1 and 0, black and white, Samsung and Apple. The real world isn’t black or white. It is not even gray. Reality is multicolored, infinitely textured, and emotionally layered.” And it’s often analog — perhaps less efficient, less perfect, less speedy — which best captures those human imperfections, creating a tactile interface with the world. A growing number of artists have noticed that music made on old tape machines and vintage studio equipment sounds different — “more heartfelt, raw, and organic,” in Mr. Sax’s words — than music made with the latest, most sophisticated technology. Listeners, too, as the musician Jack White has observed, find that vinyl has a romance, a magic that doesn’t come with the click of a mouse: “With vinyl, you’re on your knees.” He continued: “You’re at the mercy of the needle. You watch the record spin and it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire. It’s hypnotic.”               Revenge of Analog author David Sax  (Photo: Christopher Farber)  In these pages, Mr. Sax takes us on a spirited tour of the resurgent analog universe. He takes us to United Record Pressing, a vinyl plant in Nashville that’s churning out 40,000 records a day, with a staff that’s tripled...

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Print Helps Protect Forests

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Print Helps Protect Forests

by Gerry Bonetto for Graphic Design USA, August 2016 There’s a very popular myth out there about the relationship between print on paper and forests. You may have even heard your clients say, “Cutting trees for paper threatens forests.” Lots of people think this. Many companies have even used this myth to motivate customers to switch from paper bills to electronic bills. But the reality is, it’s just not true. Here’s why.   THINK IN TERMS OF “TREE FARMS,” NOT “OLD GROWTH FORESTS”  In the U.S. today, trees are grown as a crop. As Bob Lindgren, President of Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California (PIASC) explains, “When we consume vegetables, whether that be wheat, corn, spinach or broccoli, that farmer is going to grow more wheat, corn, spinach and broccoli. In the same way, if we’re using paper by putting ink on that paper, this means that a tree farmer is going to grow more trees.” Strong wood markets, including the demand created by print, provide an incentive for private foresters to hold their land rather than sell it for other use. With over half of U.S. forestland being privately owned—and 62% of this private land owned by families and individuals—this financial incentive is vital.1 “By using print on paper,” adds Bob, “we are giving that tree farmer income so that they can manage, renew and take care of that forest in a very responsible manner.” MILLIONS OF TREES ARE PLANTED EVERY DAY In spite of the ongoing demand for wood-based products, there are actually more trees in the U.S. today than there were 100 years ago. According to the USDA Forest Service, four million trees are planted every day in the United States. Of this amount, the wood and paper products industry plants an average of 1.7 million trees daily.2 The people who believe that cutting trees for paper threatens forests don’t realize that our industry plants more trees than are used. For every tree that is cut down, three or four are planted. The obvious benefits are huge: cleaner air and less carbon footprint. The benefit is not only from a sustainability standpoint for our environment, but also sustainability for the mills. After all, if the mills are going to cut down trees and never replant, they would be going out of business. CONCLUSION The bottom line is, cutting trees for paper does not threaten forests. The real threat to forests is that people will stop using paper, thereby reducing the market for wood products and making it economically unviable for landowners to continue to grow trees. 1Two Sides North America, Print and Paper: The Facts 2Paper Because, Truth or Fiction?, accessed May 2016 CHOOSE PRINT is an educational campaign designed to promote the effectiveness of print and to reinforce the fact that print on paper is a recyclable and renewable and thus a sustainable environmental choice. Choose Print reports that: •  Only 33% of the fibers used to make paper comes from virgin trees; 33% comes from wood chips and scrap from sawmills, and 33% comes from recycled paper. •  Strong wood markets, including the demand created by print, provide an incentive for private foresters to hold their land rather than sell it for other use. •  There are more than 750 million acres of U.S. forestland (that’s...

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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 drain us of our natural energy. Negative ions are generated by waterfalls, oceans waves, and thunderstorms, and accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen, balance levels of seratonin (the chemical linked to mood and stress), and improve alertness and concentration. Taking A Natural Dip Not only does being near water increase our...

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Top Ten Reasons to Use Print

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Top Ten Reasons to Use Print

Guest post by Robert Campbell, Maui Printing Company. Given the rate at which advertisers and marketers have been jumping on electronic media bandwagons these days, it seems that print (still the most effective communication medium thus invented) has to justify itself. The Print Council’s recent “Why Print?” campaign of “Top Ten Ways Print Helps You Prosper” is a case in point. While there are certainly more than 10 reasons for advertisers and marketers to prefer print, we’ve taken a tip from the Print Council and present our own top 10 reasons to use print. 1.  Print Gets Delivered Studies have shown that even requested e-mail marketing is not delivered as much as one-fourth of the time by ISPs’ spam-blocking filters. Yet the Post Office—so-called “snail mail”—boasts 99% deliverability. Imagine: the marketing campaigns you have worked so hard on can actually be delivered! 2.  Print Generates Higher ROI Studies conducted by the Direct Marketing Association and the Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates have found that advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail marketing and sell $2,095 worth of goods per person. That’s an ROI of 13 to 1. And an RIT study found that 67% of respondents said they liked receiving printed mail about products from companies with whom they do business. 3.  Print Drives Other Media Studies have repeatedly found that customers who receive a printed catalog from a given retailer are nearly twice as likely to go to that retailer’s Web site and make a purchase. Print’s role in “multichannel marketing” is a crucial one. 4.  Print Is Credible Print takes time, skill and money to produce. This imparts a sense of importance and credibility to printed messages that electronic media lack. Anyone with a computer can send e-mail; it takes effort to produce a print mailing. 5.  Print Is User-Friendly No one has ever received an error message trying to read a catalog. No one has ever needed to consult a help file to figure out how to use a postcard. Print is the ultimate in user-friendliness. 6.  Print Is Permanent Batteries die, computer screens go black, e-mail gets deleted and disk drives fail. Electronic files are ephemeral, but print endures. 7.  Print Is Portable No one needs a special device or application to use print. Print never suffers from file or platform incompatibility. Flyers, catalogs and brochures are the ultimate in “grab and go” and can be consumed anywhere at any time. And when the power goes out, print will still work. 8.  Print Respects Privacy Print never interrupts someone’s dinner. “Do not call” lists have reduced the effectiveness of telemarketing, and government regulations have made “cold e-mailing” difficult. Print is the perfect medium to open the door to other media, introducing a potential caller or e-mailer. Customers can specify the best time to call, or indicate that they don’t mind receiving e-mail. This “respect for the customer” leads to a more meaningful relationship—and a sale. 9.  Print Is Personal Customized publications and personalized printing can give customers exactly what they’re looking for. Research has found that 66% of people surveyed read custom publications and 80% agree that custom publications contain “useful information.” And the average response rate for customized color direct mail campaigns is 21%, rising to a high of 75%. Customized, personalized printing is not...

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Six Writing Secrets You’re Born Knowing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Six Writing Secrets You’re Born Knowing

Guest post by John Forde, Copywriter’s Roundtable On my way to the AWAI Copywriting Bootcamp recently, I thought back on just HOW MANY things we’ve covered from that stage. One of the many things my frequent co-presenter, the great Jen Stevens, and I revealed are six “natural born” copywriting secrets. “Natural born” because, far as we could tell, these are the kinds of things you don’t really need to learn… because you know them from birth. What kinds of things? Well, it starts by simply acknowledging to yourself that persuading somebody in print, in video, in real life… is often just about having a keener understanding of what makes humans tick. People are complicated, of course. But we picked these six because seemed to get to the core of what a lot of what we — and you — do when writing copy. Without further ado, here’s the rundown… 1) “THE SPARKING MATCH” At the start the movie The Usual Suspects, Gabriel Byrne’s character touches a cigarette to a book of matches. They spark then flame across. He drops them onto a line of gunpowder and the flames race across a burning shipyard dock. The “natural born” insight? We’re programmed to use little details to help us sort out what’s going on. Which is why using them to tell big stories can help make those stories feel present and real. In copy, we call them “actualities.” And using them judiciously has an added bonus: they can also help fix other copy problems automatically. How so? It turns out that, to pick the most compelling details, you also have to think more clearly about the message you want to convey. 2) USE YOUR “SANTOKU” A Japanese “santoku” knife — you can buy one at any kitchen store — does three things well: It chops, dices, and minces. Imagine if you had a mental santoku you could use to chop, dice, and mince your copywriting projects down to a more manageable size. We know this instinctively, when we tackle all kinds of other projects one thing at a time. The secret many writers don’t reveal is that they often write in small pieces too, rather than in a linear way. 3) THE RIVER OF RELEVANCE While details have value, you still need to make sure it’s only the emotionally relevant details you use. What’s “emotional relevance?” It’s the way your prospect needs to feel to be open to your message. For babies, it’s pretty obvious that feelings trump logic. But the truth is, that natural directive never really goes away. It’s how we select what we’ll listen to and what we’ll ignore. That’s why your sales copy has to take those relevant emotions into consideration too. Don’t seek to MAKE a prospect feel. Look for — and return to — those details, metaphors, and stories that connect to emotions your reader is already likely to have. 4) SLAY THE BLOATED MONSTER William Zinsser warns about “bloated monsters that lie in ambush for the writer trying to put together a clean English sentence.” Time is the resource we cannot buy. It’s a lot to ask someone to spend that precious time on something that’s boring or confusing, no matter how good the prize that awaits. In writing, that’s just as true. Which is why...

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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. 11. Crop tightly and boldly for impact Actually I knew this already from my years of experience in photography and picture framing but it has been strongly reinforced over the years. See Cropping-in-the-Viewfinder.pdf 12. Capture images at high resolution For print purposes, 300 ppi (pixels per inch) is standard. I...

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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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