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Using Fonts: A Typographic Treasury

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 24, 2014

FontShop is one of many top notch resources for anyone purchasing typefaces, offering thousands of fonts from a variety of foundries as well as its house brand, FontFont. Many of the new releases are featured on FontShop’s blog. But anyone who assumes the blog is just another advertising medium should take a closer look. Selecting FontShop blog articles tagged with “Using Fonts” pulls up a stellar series of informative articles on typography, authored by letterer David Sudweeks. The article series has garnered praise from the likes of Erik Spiekermann.

Sudweeks had intended the series to cover the fundamentals of typography, and many of the articles handle basics, such as “Using Baseline Grids” and “Basic Kerning.” Sudweeks doesn’t refrain from digging deeply into the most mundane subject matter, and the result is a goldmine of information. For example, an article on using Search and Replace delves into GREP, that mysterious search option within the InDesign Find/Change dialogue box. (As it turns out, GREP – from a Unix term – permits one to search for a string of characters. Who knew?) Similarly, an article on “A Sense for Type Scale” was continued into a second article, which lead naturally into a two-part article on “Understanding Visual Hierarchy.”

Some articles cover more fun topics, such as “Wedding Invitation Typography,” or “Making your First Font.” Sudweeks also doesn’t limit himself to typography for print. Several articles deal with responsive typography, CSS, and @font-face. For those who think excellent typography crosses all media, a particularly wonderful article covers “Understanding Cascading Styles in Print and Web.”

 

Brought to our attention by @espiekermann.

Purge Yourself: Jealousy is Creative Poison

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 21, 2014

Jim ZubThe multi-talented artist, writer, and educator, Jim Zub, has written a cautionary article on the destructive power of jealousy. “Jealousy is Creative Poison” is targeted to new cartoonists and comic book creators, but the advice is relevant to anyone working in a creative field. Zub acknowledges that he is stating the obvious when he warns artists against measuring their success against that of others. While he recognizes that jealousy is unavoidable in a career in which one’s ego is wrapped in one’s creation, he exhorts creators to push past it.

Zub passes on three key pieces of advice: First, don’t let jealousy motivate creation, leading you to tear down the work of others. Second, don’t lash out when you feel as though you’re failing. And third, don’t focus on others’ success, but live in your present. Zub ends on a high note, reminding his readers that there is an extensive audience for good stories, good characters, and artists who persevere.

Zub’s website is well worth a visit to aspiring comic book authors and graphic novelists. He’s featured a series of articles covering everything from “How to Break into Comics” to “How to Find an Artist,” comic writing, creator-owned economics, communication, and comic promotion.

Jim Zub is an award winning cartoonist and writer living in Toronto, Canada. He is the writer of Samurai Jack, Makeshift Miracle, Skullkickers, and Pathfinder. His client list includes Disney, Warner Bros., Hasbro, and Mattel. When he isn’t writing comics and graphic novels, he’s the Program Coordinator for the animation program at Seneca College.

Photo used with permission.

Not so Much to Like: Facebook Page Reach Declines

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 20, 2014

Have you set up a Facebook page for your illustration or design business? Chances are this winter you’ve seen a large drop in the total reach of your page posts. On the Guild’s Facebook page alone, we’ve seen a drop in total reach of up to 60% for some posts. For the past six months, Facebook has been tweaking their News Feed algorithm to emphasize posts on links, and decrease the reach of posts with meme and spammy content. While there is some speculation that the move is an attempt to drive businesses to purchase ads on Facebook, the company states that it’s seeking to provide a higher quality, more meaningful news feed for its participants.

Purchasing ad space on Facebook is probably not the best use of a limited marketing budget for the average design or illustration shop. However, there still are a number of steps you can take to increase your Page’s exposure. Chad Whittman, founder of EdgeRank Checker, posted an article on The Moz Blog describing the results of an extensive case study comparing the organic reach of two Pages which posted different content. Whittman’s takeaway from the case study is that page administrators should focus on quality engagement rather than frequent calls to action, post frequently and at different times of the day, and study their page analytics to understand which posts and sources engage their followers.

Patrick Cuttica of Socialkaty has some additional insights into how pages can extend their reach. He points out that posts with multiple photos (a recent improvement Facebook recently added) have a much higher engagement rate than posts with only one photo. (Before posting your images to Facebook, beware of their Terms of Use, which according to ASMP permit the company to monetize them. Instead of your original artwork, you may prefer to post, for example, photos of events you’re participating in.)

In late January, Facebook announced two recent changes to the Newsfeed algorithm, “Story Bumping” and “Last Actor”. Story Bumping posts older stories to the top of a News Feed if readers are still engaging it, and Last Actor prioritizes posts from Pages of friends with whom a user has recently interacted. Cuttica urges Page administrators to take advantage of these changes by visiting old posts people have commented on and replying to them, and by linking back to an old post in a new post or by embedding the post in a blog or webpage.

From Croatia, with Love (and Inspiration): The Design Blog

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 18, 2014

Croatian designer Ena Baćanović  (aka Ruby Soho) made a splash when her “If I Wanted to Work for Free…” poster went viral in the summer of 2012. Few realized then that she is also the founder and curator of The Design Blog, a collection of inspirations and resources from around the globe. The Design Blog seeks to live up to its mantra, “Don’t Just Be a Designer  – Be a Good One” by featuring beautiful work and resources. The homepage features selected projects, elaborated upon with text and photographs from the creators.

The site also has recurring sections, which showcase work and projects across a range of disciplines on selected days of the week, such as Designer of the Week, Web Design Wednesdays, UI/UX of the Week, Featured Video, and Friday Freebies. (The moniker “of the Week” is a bit ambitious. Although posts for each section are frequent, they don’t seem to appear on a weekly basis – hardly surprising considering the breadth of disciplines which are covered.) An extensive list of resources lists typography resources and inspirational blogs.

The Design Blog is all the more impressive when one considers that Baćanović is only 23 years old. She’s both energetic and multi-faceted. In addition to running The Design Blog and working on her own projects, she’s the drummer in the female band Punchke.

Images @ Ena Baćanović. Used with permission.

The Online Harassment of Women, and One Artist’s Unique Response

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 13, 2014

This past year, the widespread abuse of women who are active online has been well documented. One artist, however, has found a unique way to own the harassment.  Lindsay Bottos, a fine arts and photography major at Maryland Institute College of Art, posts frank images of a number of subjects on her Tmblr account. Her self portraits almost exclusively attract some hateful comments. As Bottos writes, “The authority people feel they have to share their opinion on my appearance is something myself and many other girls online deal with daily.” Her response has been to take the comments and superimpose them on self portraits, which she’s collected into a project, “Anonymous.” The project photos render the comments powerless, accentuating their hostile stupidity, while the arch expression on Bottos’ face provides commentary.

For a number of women, though, online harassment goes beyond spiteful comments. A widely read article by Amanda Hess, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” was published in January in Pacific Standard. In the article, Hess, a writer for Slate, describes anonymous misogynistic attacks, culminating in threats of rape and beheading from one enraged cyberstalker. She lists several other well-documented cases of women being targeted for abuse, from feminist Caroline Criado-Perez, who affronted by suggesting that the Bank of England feature at least one woman other than the Queen on a banknote, to well-regarded technology writer Kathy Sierra, who had to put her career on temporary hiatus.

Sadly, women in technology and gaming have to deal with especially virulent attacks. Anita Sarkeesian, a gamer who started a Kickstarter Campaign to support her video project exploring the stereotypes of female characters in gaming, discovered doctored pornographic images of her posted online, as well as a web-based game which permitted players to virtually punch her. Zoe Quinn, an illustrator and game developer, twice submitted her game Depression Quest to Greenlight, the peer-review community for the online gaming platform Steam. Both times her submission generated a torrent of abuse directed towards her via social media and forums, as well as anonymous telephone calls which forced her to change her cell phone number. Both women succeeded in their ventures despite (and to an extent, because of publicity generated by) the harassment. Sarkeesian’s campaign raised more than five times the amount she originally requested, and Quinn’s game is now available on Steam.

Photo © Lindsay Bottos. Used with permission.

Photo © Linsday Bottos

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