What Reading Does for the Creative Mind

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

Despite the research, documents, and experts that recommend reading books as part of your daily routine, there are staggering statistics out there about how little people read nowadays.

  • 25% of adults will not read a single book this yearf0581e1b7edc85b9eb3b198eff5c8741
  • 33% of high school graduates never read another book for their entire life
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book after college
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year

When it comes to those of us in creative field, such as designers, writers, marketers, etc., the problem isn’t that we don’t read, it’s that we spend our time reading blogs, tweets, magazines, and other short form snippets. It is in our nature to want to consume a lot of information in order to stay up to date. But this does not work our brains the same way as a book. Reading a book forces us to ditch the distractions and focus. It’s this focus that acts as a catalyst for the many perks that come from reading books, not the least of which is an increase in creativity.

Exercise Your Brain! Mental fitness is equally as important as physical fitness, and like our bodies, our brains need exercise daily to stay fit. But instead of exercising our minds, we immerse ourselves in the internet, and then we wonder why we have such a hard time coming up with creative ideas. Reading just 20-30 minutes a day can significantly increase the strength of your mind and creativity.

Increase your Concentration! We live in the information age. A fast-paced world where we’re surrounded by gadgets feeding us words, data, links, status updates, etc. It is often TOO much to digest, our mind is overwhelmed and we don’t even know it! Pick up a book, concentrate. Allow your mind to focus on ONE thing and you’d be amazed at how much deeper you can consume and absorb in-depth information.

Release Stress and Worry! Research has shown that reading is by far one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. It allows the mind to concentrate and escape into a literary world eases the tensions in the rest of the body. A recent study showed that it takes about 6 minutes of reading to slow your heart rate and relax your mind.

Be a Better Communicator! Reading not only increases your knowledge about things, people, experiences, etc., but also your vocabulary, which in turn, can make you a better communicator. In the creative world, being a good communicator is essential to our work. Your vocabulary increases exponentially the more you read. Words nurture creativity and having more words at your disposal will help you communicate effectively.




“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss


source: TheCreativeMarket.com

[book review] Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

In an effort to keep my creative mind fueled, I always read books that challenge my creative processes and imagination. 

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-12-36-41-pmSteal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, a young, hungry artist and writer based out of Texas, is by far the best read I’ve experienced on creativity and pushing yourself to step outside of our norm.

Austin Kleon was asked to speak on creativity to college students in New York. He shaped his speech around the ten things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and the author dug deeper into his ideas and created this book. Along with his writings, “Show Your Work” and the “Steal Like An Artist Journal”, his perspective on the creative world and how we pour into it, is insightful to say the least.

His book was not only a quick and stimulating read, but is filled with humor, dynamic illustrations, fun exercises and examples that helps you think and explore your creativity. He explains the art of sharing ideas and the process behind the product created by other artists.

I wondered HOW I would pass along this immense amount advice into a single blog post. The purpose of sharing this with the world is to provoke thought among my creative peers.

Alike my newly found creative hero, Kleon, I’m sharing my sketched notes I jotted down along the way. ENJOY!


Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.

“Write the book you want to read. Make the movie you would watch. Create the art you want to admire.”

Find 3 creative héros, research them, learn about them, study their work and copy their work.

Manifesto: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, build the products you want to use and do the work you want to see done.

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we DO know is, that we do not get them from our laptops.”

Computers have robbed us of the feeling that we’re actually making things. Putting our hands on our work helps us to feel connected. Sketch more.

The computer is GREAT for editing ideas, and its really good for getting your ideas/work ready for publishing. But it brings out the uptight perfectionist in us. We start editing ideas before we even have them fully thought out. The delete button is RIGHT there. We have such easy access to it and hit it far too often.

“The work you do while you’re procrastinating, is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

Take the time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where its going to take you.

Geography is no longer our master. Find a place that feeds you — creatively, socially, spiritually and literally, with good food.

The greater the distance you are from the well-known (home), the greater the insight.

“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to leave the room.”

Be boring, its the only way to get stuff done. “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you can be violent and original in your work.”

Take care of yourself. The romantic image of the creative genius doing drugs and sleeping around is played out. Its for the superhuman and people that want to die young.

Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.

The trick is, find a day job that pays decently, doesn’t make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things on your own, spare time.

Get a calendar! It helps you plan work, gives your concrete goals and keeps you on track.

Marry well. A good partner keeps you grounded. It takes a lot for a person to be married to someone with a creative pursuit.

Creativity is subtraction. Choosing what to leave out and keeping what is important in art is the real challenge.

It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations means freedom.

The Perfect Fit for your Creative Talent

In my quest to find the perfect fit for the next career as I move to Dallas, I’ve been asking myself, what does a creative designer need in a company to be successful? A lot of people suggest to do freelance work, or start my own business, but I’m just not ready for that yet. More than that, I want to be a part of a creative movement that nurtures innovative design.

An ideal company is one that is the best at what they do. THE competition in the industry. A company that appreciates a relaxed atmosphere and creates a co-working space that lends to productivity. A company that values a FUN and memoffice-room-723x396orable experience for their employees every day. I want to work in flexible setting, where everyone is treated equal and as adults. Most importantly, I want the opportunity for growth and self-development. A company with a stable foundation and has plans for its future. One that hires only exceptional people, people who are smarter than them, disciplined and responsible people. They hire people who are enthusiastic about their products and future of the company. Those with self-starter minds that live a healthy and active lifestyle and take care of themselves, those that view their bodies and minds as their biggest investment. Lastly I want to work in a company with a culture and vision that EXCITES me and ignites my passion as a creative leader.

Finding the right place to take my talent has been tiresome, yet rewarding and refreshing. I’ve compiled 12 factors that should be considered before accepting a new job offer, just remember it isn’t ALL about the money. Finding pleasure in your job, puts perfection in your work.

12 Factors to Consider Before Accepting Your Next Job

1. It makes a positive difference. Choose a job that adds value to our world, that leaves it better than you found it, and genuinely helps other people.

2. You enjoy your co-workers. Given the fact that you will spend a large percentage of your day at work, be sure you enjoy the people around you. It is comforting to know that they support you, cheer for you, and work together as a team.

3. You feel appreciated and valued. A paycheck is nice, but that goes straight to the bank. On the other hand, appreciation is something you carry in your soul every day. This appreciation can be communicated through respect, unexpected gifts, or just an old-fashioned “thank-you.”

4. You are trusted. It’s nice to know that somebody isn’t always looking over your shoulder. And when you are given a task, you are given the freedom to complete it. If you’re in a leadership role, make sure your boss trusts you to make the best decisions and values your input.

5. It is something you love to do.  Make sure this job keeps you motivated by its very nature.

6. It fits your personality. Anyone who has ever taken a personality test knows we all have unique personalities that thrive in certain environments. Some enjoy working with people, others enjoy completing tasks. Some like making the decisions, others don’t. Find a job that fits your sweet spot.

7. It challenges you to grow. Look for a job that will make you better, as a matter of fact, the BEST at what you do. Whether through challenging assignments, educational opportunities, demanding excellence, or informal mentors, a job that forces you to grow beyond your current skill set will make you a better person and it, a better company.

8. The company’s values align with yours. At the end of the day, your integrity is what matters most. Don’t compromise it every time you walk into the workplace. If you are at a job that requires you to suspend your personal convictions, you don’t need to be—nor should you be.

9. A flexible, results-oriented culture. A culture of flexibility suggests a results-driven focus—one that is more interested in you successfully completing your job with excellence than clocking in a set amount of work hours during a specified time of the day.

10. It values family. You value your family. Your job should too.

11. It brings balance to life. Work is not so bad when you love it. But if you are not allowed to explore other endeavors (play/hobbies/family) because of its demands, it is not healthy for your soul, life, or body. Find a job that allows you to enjoy your life outside of work too.

12. It brings you satisfaction. The ability to look back at your day, your year, or your life with satisfaction is more valuable than any number of digits in the bank. Love your work and company and what it stands for.

Magazine Industry: Trends and Challenges

printvsdigitalHere is a little research for ya! I am personally NOT a data person, but I found this topic to be very interesting. I still hear people say “print is going to die”, and I have also heard, “with the technological advances, who needs print publications anymore?” I’ve always believed that a printed product serves as that tangible “friend” that you just can’t get from a digital form.

First Research analyzed 32 different data sources, representing 4.5 million privately held businesses and detailed magazine industry financial benchmarks.

Top Results Included:

  • The US magazine industry is concentrated with 50 companies accounting for 60% of total revenue.
  • Profitability relies heavily on “marketing expertise”.
  • General Interest magazines make up 65 % of revenue.
  • Most companies have outsourced printing due to lower expenses.
  • Digital subscriptions have grown 560% since 2011.
  • Consumer magazine market expected to shrink up to 2017 internationally.
  • Total US consumer spending increased 1.6%, which drives magazine sales.
  • Total US revenue for periodical publishers increased 1.8% (includes magazine industry).
  • ­­Magazines aren’t a “growth industry” but they will remain relevant.

Industry Trends:

  • Magazine companies are revamping their websites to optimize for mobile devices and social aspects and include more multimedia content.
  • Websites are being updated regularly to remain as up-to-date as possible
  • More magazine publishers might need to allocate more resources to a website redesign specific for mobile and social media users.
  • Multimedia companies are growing
  • Changes in the distribution system
  • Digital editions of magazines as downloadable files rather than websites

They found that the top industry drivers were energy prices, Technology innovation and government regulation.

The identified industry challenges were that publications were dependent on advertising sales for revenue, there has been a decrease in paid circulation sales in the past decade, there is little room to negotiate price due to the consolidation of distributors, retailers, ad agencies and suppliers, theres a huge competition with free Internet sources, and the postal rates are steadily increasing.

All of this research to conclude that the magazine industry is managing to remain relevant and purposeful through the technological challenges and advances in society by finding new distribution channels and better predicting the direction that it must go in the digital world. The industry continues to face multiple challenges, but is skillfully shifting towards the production of digital publications and finding new ways to better integrate within social media, while still sustaining a large part of their print publication sales.

Branding: The Office of Economic Vitality

This branding project hit my desk one morning with a pretty tight deadline. I love creating identities, but this one was tough. The challenge here was to brand one of Leon County’s newly established offices with a simple and clean color palette while also sending a clear message of what the office aims to accomplish: Business Growth and Development

Business growth and development essentially means developing and implementing growth opportunities within and between organizations. In my brainstorming, I wanted something that was informative and represented the services, but sleek and sexy.

The Office of Economic Vitality’s new logo outlines a key with a skyline silhoutte. This represents that the office has the answers to business growth and is the key to the success of your business. The EV inside the head of the key brings the name back into mind and gives the key a sharp look. The  sans serif font choice adds a clean and sleek look to the text heavy logo. The amount of text is required here because we needed to fully represent each entity that make up the office.

Creative Business Card Designs

Great business cards communicate a whole lot of information — both directly and indirectly — about the people and companies they represent. The average person thinks of a business card stating the standard name/address/e-mail/phone data (does anyone use fax anymore?) information. But as a designer, we know creative business card designs convey personality, philosophy, attitude and brand. Along with interesting printing or production techniques, a business card can leave a lasting impression on your company. Here are  few things to consider when designing your next business card.


Sleek and Shapely

Business cards which are not rectangular in shape or have designs cut in them are made through a technique called die-cutting. The process is simple but will cost a bit more than regularly shaped cards. The process is kind of like a hole puncher one would use on paper to go in ringed binder. A template is made of the required shape which is used for cutting.  Similarly, card exteriors could be cut in any shape as well. This technique are attractive to the eye and are much more dynamic.



Letterpress Option

5a0dd5dac0d7228666aede3a89998befThe letterpress printing technique gives an elegant look to the business card. This is done by pressing the paper through an inked raised surface, this gives the business card color and depth. The letterpress business card combine the craftsmanship of traditional letterpress with the modern ease of digital printing.





Lift with 3D PrintingLift-it-with-3D

Using an embossing technique in printing gives your business card a three dimensional effect. There is a certain die used similar to die-cutting, one for pressing the paper, which gives three dimensional, lifted look.




11-Liverpool-Foil-Business-Cards-aFoil Stamping, Transparent Prints

You have the option of giving more grace to your business card by applying foil to desired areas. The foil has a shiny look and could be used in cards which have plain solid color. With foil stamping, you get an irresistible focus point, and a unique effect that you simply can’t achieve with metallic inks.










The Vintage Revival

The Vintage Revival stemmed from a series of themed events that was promoted with vintage design elements. The month of events ranged from retreats to fitness to barbecues. It was important that the events were obviously a part of the same effort, but also catered to the individuality of the events.

Why has vintage design become so popular? What elements should be considered when designing for a vintage theme? How difficult is it to make something vintage, but feel modern as well?  What vintage trends should I consider including? These were questions I took into account before putting the designs together.

Based on my research, this is what I found:

Badges and Circles

The badge concept lies at the very heart of most vintage designs. Designers typically shoot for a nice, simple shape that can be stamped anywhere and on anything. Circles are by far the most popular shape for these badges, but you’ll also find plenty of hexagons, shields and diamonds.

Handrawn Vibes

The hipster movement embraces all things handmade, therefore vintage designs have a sketchy or hand drawn look that fits really well into this aesthetic. The artistic talent in this category is really impressive. Though vintage collections tend to be quite masculine in appearance, so it’s nice to see designs that push back just a bit on this trend and add complex floral arrangements and beautiful, muted colors.


As we look back at early to mid 20th century design, we see simple designs without gradients, feathered shadows, or three-dimensional  renders, but they still make bold visual statements. The main icons that are used are hammers, axes, wrenches, and factories. Our tech savvy generation is drawn to visuals that remind us of the industrial revolution.

Featuring Nature

A lot of vintage design treatments feature animals like deer, moose, elk, etc. If it has antlers, it’s in. This lends to the overall outdoorsy trend in vintage designs (featuring mountains, trees, tents, etc.). Also, nautical themes are extremely popular, such as anchors, fish, and ropes.

A PhotoLogo

When we look back at how vintage logos were displayed ten years ago, we would typically see a solid background or maybe a gradient. The bright, colorful and complex Internet logos of the time looked too busy for anything else. In today’s age of design, our monotone, hipster logos are very simple. But look fantastic when simply overlaid on top of a great photograph.

Simple Line Art

Design trends change how we create vintage graphics. Now that flat design is trending, vintage design often feature thin lines and simplified illustrations.

With all of this in mind, I developed a series of promotional fliers that consistently represented the theme, while appealing to the modern eye. Vintage design trends are continuously developing. Take inspiration from different designs, color choices and create something beautiful.


Exploring Color Theory

Choosing colors for a design is both highly subjective but also highly scientific. Most designers search for a color palette that looks nice or will make their client happy. However, its much more than that. The most effective color choices go beyond the personal preference. Colors have an ability to influence mood, emotions, and perceptions; take on a variety of meaning; and consciously and subconsciously attract attention.

For us designers and marketers, the challenge is in balancing these roles that color plays to create an attractive and effective design. The basic understanding of color theory is very important. Traditional color theory can help you understand which colors might work well together in your design. Using colors in a design involves a lot more than choosing two or three hues and applying them equally in parts in your layout. Effectively applying color to a design project has to do with balance — and the more colors you use, the more complicated it is to achieve balance. Simplify your choices.

Try splitting your color choices into dominant and accent colors. The dominant color being the most visible and most frequently used in your design, while one or more accent colors will complement and balance out that main color.

A well-known rule of thumb for using a basic, three-color palette in a design is known as the 60-30-10 rule. Your dominant color will account for 60% of the color in the design, while two accent colors use up the remaining 30% and 10%. A good analogy for understanding how this works is picturing a man’s suit: the suit jacket and pants account for 60% of the color in the outfit; the shirt accounts for 30%; and the tie offers a small pop of color at 10% — creating a balanced, polished appearance. Using different shades and tints (or lighter and darker versions of a chosen hue) is another effective way to keep your color palette simple and balanced.

Color choice can really do a lot for your design, so use it to your advantage.

Below is an info graphic that helps a little with color coordination.


2014 Annual Report Design…

Leon County’s Annual Report is by far one of the most imperative documents for the organization that informs the public of Leon County’s overall performance over the past year… And I get to design it. Unfortunately, there will not be a lot of new design elements to be introduced this year because the frame work will need to remain the same as the previous year. So I am searching for ways to make this document fresh and new, while keeping the overall frame work.

I am researching ways to report results and display overall teamwork through placement of photos and design elements. I want this to look modern and fun, while still relaying important facts and research. Often these two concepts don’t go well together and the overall design leans more to one end of the spectrum. I’m looking to balance this equation with my design.

Here are a few snapshots of the research I’ve done to draw inspiration:

CANVA – Amazingly simple graphic design…

I’m always searching for sites that offer inspiration, first and foremost, but also easy access to ideas and design elements. A co-worker of mine stumbled upon Canva.com. Canva is an easy to use online design tool that allows people who aren’t graphic designers, design beautiful designs for just about any occasion.

Canva offers layouts for invitations, posters, Facebook covers, Twitter covers, google pages and tons of other design elements. For me, I use Canva to draw inspiration or if I am designing something quick and simple for Leon County’ social media pages. Canva certainly deosn’t perform as well as some of the other design programs I’ve used, but it is quick and easy and you don’t have to be a designer or know to use the site!

Check Canva.com out and create simple, yet beautiful designs.

Below are some designs that can be created on Canva.com.