While technology advances have impacted the use of printed materials, print is still vital when marketing your business. The key is to stand out from your competition. By using paper textures, color choices and creative folding, your company won’t get lost in the crowd.

One of my favorite ways to create an impact is to use an unusual fold to attract attention. A simple design can be enhanced by using a different and unusual fold to make a compelling, unique and memorable piece that won’t get tossed aside without a glance.

Die cuts are another way to wow potential customers. Used effectively they create an element of surprise, enticing your audience to look further to see your message.

Creative use of ink and varnishes can add depth and texture. Images can seem to pop from the page, or in other cases create a soft, subtle tone.

Of course, the most important thing to consider is good, clean design. Typography, use of color and white space! The most expensive paper and printing can’t compete with good design.

You have a new or existing business and you need more customers. With all the software available, many companies are producing their own logos, flyers, brochures and direct mail pieces. Even websites can be created using templates. To save money, you put something together, run off some copies on your printer and you think you are all set to market your business. But branding is important. It is the face of your company.

Think how swiftly and strongly a design experience shapes our opinion of that brand, company or store, for good or bad. For instance, we know quickly when a website is bad. And we associate that feeling of frustration, or worse, disappointment with that brand.  Adam Swann, Forbes

People do form an impression of your company by your logo, signage, brochures and website. In the long run, unprofessional looking materials will devalue your organization. Many companies are realizing that design is important and it is relevant to success.

To read a recent article on this subject  http://www.forbes.com/sites/gyro/2012/05/03/welcome-to-the-era-of-design/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

I recently stumbled upon a website that brought me back to my earliest days as a designer: www.forgottenartsupplies.com. I spent some time looking at the tools we once used. It got me thinking that one of the best things about being a designer is we are always learning new things. Whether it’s learning about a new client’s business, or keeping up with ever-changing technology, there is always something new to explore.

When I started out, we used pens and border tape to create borders. Type was specified and ordered from a type house where a typesetter spent their days just setting type. We used wax or rubber cement to paste up the galleys of type onto boards called mechanicals. I remember having to cut lines of type to create a runaround so the text would run around an image. Sometimes I would be looking for a single line of text, only to find it stuck to my sleeve or on the bottom of my shoe.

Along came the Macintosh computer and things quickly changed. It gave me so much more control over my designs and allowed more time for concept. A lot less time is spent on production. Files are sent over the internet instead of having to pick up or deliver or use FedEx. Web design has opened a new type of work for designers, along with animation and video production. Mobile devices have created a demand for app design, epubs and games. It is an exciting time to be a designer!

Color is the spice of design (said Jack Bredenfoerder, director of BV Color Strategy, in a recent webinar) It is so true! Color evokes emotion, creates a mood, influences purchasing and opinions, and much more. Colors work together to place more emphasis on certain areas of a document or web page and to direct the viewer’s eye to the most important information.

Basic Information About Color Modes


When you are looking at the screen of a computer or mobile device, you are viewing color in RGB, which is an additive color model, using red, green, and blue light to produce the colors you see. These colors may not only appear to look different on separate devices but also on the same computer using different browsers.


CMYK is referred to as four-color process. CMYK, a subtractive model, makes up the color spectrum in print. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key. The K stands for key because the other plates (cyan, magenta and yellow) are aligned with the key of the black plate. The different color inks are actually small patterns of the primary colored and black dots that the eye sees as the intended colors. This works by masking the colors on a lighter or white background. The ink reduces the light that would otherwise be reflected.

PMS or Spot Colors

The Pantone Matching System was developed in 1963 to identify, match and create colors for the graphic arts industry as a standardized color reproduction system. Pantone colors are identified by numbers (eg PMS-186) The Pantone Color Matching System has been expanded to accommodate digital technology. PMS colors are used as “spot” colors in printing, usually in cases when printing four colors does not fit the budget. Many businesses have one or more PMS colors in their logo as their corporate identity. In that case, they may print in CMYK and add the brand’s PMS color or colors to the job. This is necessary since the CMYK equivalent is often inconsistent with the closest PMS color.

Color Inconsistencies

A client prints out a pdf proof and is concerned it looks different than on screen. First of all, on screen they are viewing it in RGB. On top of that, when using desktop printers, the colors will print out differently than the final product produced by a commercial printer. The only way to be sure of accurate color is by looking at the press proof provided by the printer.

Another consideration is the paper. Uncoated sheets may produce slightly muted or darker colors due to dot gain. The paper absorbs a bit more of the ink, where on a coated sheet, the ink lays on top of the sheet, producing brighter colors.

Digital or Print?

You may think “it’s comparing apples to oranges” but the two work well together. With digital media growing increasingly more popular, many businesses are questioning the value of printed marketing materials. While a website is essential for marketing your business, printed materials such as brochures, media kits, business cards, letterhead and in some cases, signage are an important component of your marketing strategy.

Advantages of Print

There are a number of ways that print has a clear advantage. Many aren’t necessarily costly. Using unusual folds or diecuts, a printed piece is a real attention grabber. Good design on quality paper combined with processes such as letterpress, foil stamping or varnishing will create a huge wow factor. Print offers a tactile experience that no website or electronic publication (e-pub) can provide.

Isn’t printing expensive?

Businesses are always seeking ways to cut costs and you may think printing is expensive. You may need to print small quantities, and in the past that was not cost-effective. Digital printing has changed all that. It is an economical option to traditional offset printing and has really made an impact in the printing industry. In many cases you will not notice much, if any, difference between digital and offset printing.

Advantages of Electronic Media

Often, the quickest way to find information is by visiting a website. Digital publications are engaging, many offer interactive features. Smart phones and tablets are compact, portable and provide instant access. Information can be changed at lightning speed.

Which is better for the environment?

A common misconception is that printing is more damaging to the environment but that is open for debate. Two studies from Germany found that electronic newspapers can actually have a greater environmental impact than print newspapers. This is due to the energy required to make content available 24/7 on electronic devices, as well as the energy consumption of the required devices, not to mention discarded batteries clogging up landfills. Printing has become much more environmentally responsible. Printers who are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified use sustainable paper products. In order to to use any of the FSC trademarks on printed pieces including the FSC logo, the product must have flowed through the FSC “chain-of-custody” from the FSC-certified forest, to a paper manufacturer, merchant, and finally printer who have FSC chain-of-custody certification.To learn more about FSC Certified paper visit their website: http://www.fscus.org/paper/

Another interesting article on this subject:


Why you need both

Your brand is your identity. To have a strong presence, all of your printed and electronic media should have a consistent look. Everything relating to your business should reflect your brand, so it is easily recognizable to your existing and potential customers. This is called brand awareness.

Typography is an art.

Typography creates an identity, evokes a mood and conveys a message. It is sometimes used by itself as a design element. A designer will carefully select a typeface or typefaces when creating a design, taking into consideration the type of business it is for, the message and the intended audience. All text, especially body copy, must be readable! The most beautiful design is not at all effective if it is difficult or impossible to read. The message will be lost. This goes for digital publications and websites, as well.

Type and printed matter not only communicate information to us, but they also influence decisions we make on a daily basis. Whether we realize it or not, type and the way it appears affects which CD and book cover catches our eye, which detergent might make the whites whiter, which movie might be the scariest or most romantic. — from Type Rules by Ilene Strizver

Once a typeface is chosen, the designer will format the text. Typography is used to guide the reader through the publication or web page, using fonts and formatting to draw attention to the most important information. Subtle adjusting will make a world of difference when designing publications. Good typography is essential for a professional image, whatever the message or medium!

Typeface or font?

Confused about the difference? Many people are. A font is a single style of a typeface (eg Times italics or Arial bold) where a typeface is the collection of the same style (eg Times, Arial).

Interested in learning more about type?

Some good sites for more information about type and typography are:





Welcome to my new website. This is my first blog, so I am brand new at this!  I thought I would start with a basic overview of what graphic design is and why it is important.

What is graphic design?
Graphic design is everywhere. It’s the web page you visit, the package you select at the store, the magazine or e-publication you are reading, along with television commercials, billboards, t shirts, and any kind of visual, printed or digital. An excerpt in the American Institute of Graphic Arts’s (AIGA) Career Guide ©1993 reads: Graphic design is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas… graphic design informs, persuades, organizes, stimulates, locates, identifies, attracts attention and provides pleasure.

Why is graphic design important?
Graphic design affects choices we all make every day. With today’s technology, we are bombarded daily with visual stimuli. Good design will draw you in, engage you, help you easily find information, a product or a service.

How will working with a graphic designer help your business?
A professional graphic designer is a valuable asset who can help you effectively market your business. Although most companies possess a strong knowledge about their business, they often do not know the best way to communicate the message. A graphic designer will work with you to understand your business, construct the message and present it in a way to engage your audience.

Graphic designers are:
• Problem solvers
• Skilled at organizing information
• Experts at presenting information in a visual form
• The link between the client and the audience


Thanks for visiting! Please check back for future blogs and linked articles.