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Becoming a Professional Creative

If you are considering on becoming a creative professional, you should make an important decision: whether you will admire it or do it. The difference? I always admired great footballers all over the world. But to be a professional soccer player would have meant committing to that lifestyle, including intense training, enduring difficult challenges, and challenging myself physically and mentally. But I decided not to and I'm ok with that. I'm a big fan. I read about it. I follow it. I love to coach my kids and watch lots of games. I don't do it. I admire it. Decide whether you will be a hobbyist or a professional. Here's a good example. My wife makes amazing cakes. My grandmother gave her a family recipe and some awesome secret methods that result in beautiful and scrumptious cakes. Every time she makes a cake for some event, she's asked to make another one. Inevitably, people comment, "You should go into business!." However, making cakes isn't her passion. It's a hobby that she loves. And if she made it into a business, she'd probably end up hating it. Instead, she takes the comment as a compliment and keeps making cakes for fun. Remember that you have you are faced with deciding whether it's something you love to do (leisure) or something you will do to pay the bills (work). Be mindful of whether you want to turn your hobby into a career. If your answers are "admire it" or "hobbyist," then enjoy it as such. If your answers are "do it" and "professional", please read on. 1. Know what it takes. What is good design? What are the principles? Who is a good designer? Why are they good? What is good code? What are the standards? 2. Start from scratch. A good cook starts from scratch. So does a good website designer. Learn at least a basic working knowledge of html, css, typography, and grid-system design. 3. Give yourself assignments. You are at an awesome time in your career where you can do anything. So do it. Build a website for someone who needs it and tell them you need a guinea pig. Tell them you'll do it for free as long as you have zero restrictions. Non-profits are usually great for this sort of thing. Then, pretend they are your best client. Blow them out of the water with brilliant ideas. Use illustration, stop-motion, ink in liquid, paper or hand puppets to execute and solve their problems. 4. Get out of your comfort zone. In order to be inspired, I have purchased books, dvds, and downloads from Japan, the UK, Italy, and other places around the globe. I've covered a wide span of subjects, including architecture, interior design, urban art, fabric, and fashion. It's important to also find non-computer methods to solve problems. 5. Politely bow to the greats, but don't worship them. These great designers are your peers. Read about their methods. Respect their work. Then go create your own unique style. There's no problem with establishing a network of colleagues -- follow them on Flickr, stalk them on Twitter -- whatever. But there's way too many people right now who worship people on the web, steal their ideas, copy their work, and devalue the industry. 6. Be great at something. You've heard the old saying, "It's better to be great at one thing than good at a lot of things." It's true. At the beginning, you'd be smart to learn a little about everything. But eventually, be great at something. Design or front-end development, back-end development, or user interface design. It took me 8 years, but I finally figured out I was pulled in too many directions. Now, I focus a majority of my time on interactive design and brand management. 7. Ignore trends. It's fine to check out nice sites every once in a while, especially to recognize standards and user interaction. But the longer you look at other sites, the more likely that your sites will look a lot like them. Take them for what they are, then throw them out before you design. Someone, somewhere started that trend by doing it different than everyone else. (See #5) 8. Remember to solve the problem. It's usually not "just a website" for most. Often times, people are sinking a lot of money into the investment and would like to see some kind of return. So they push their own goals, needs and desires onto the project. But remember to solve the problem for which real people are using the website. A good solution gracefully balances all aspects. 9. Avoid templates. Most of them are not good. They'll give you bad habits and more headaches than you would've imagined. 10. Give great attention to detail. I can't tell you how many times I've huddled around a computer talking about whether a pixel or an extra click matters. If you want to make great websites, it does. 11. Take advantage of content management systems. BUT understand what they do first. A CMS is a great way to get tools that you couldn't program yourself. But don't think for a minute that you've solved the client's problem simply by installing one. (See #8) 12. Build your own portfolio site. This is your personal place to experiment. Don't feel like you have to represent yourself as a "company" or show a bunch of sites. But this is one place where you can blog, install things you wouldn't want to try out on other people's sites, and try out new visual concepts. So now what do you think? Is becoming a full-time creative the right path for you? When you're making the decision, remember that becoming a creative requires a lot of effort, so you shouldn't make the decision lightly. This isn't like deciding whether or not to mow your own yard. See you online.

The Importance of Being Offline

Designers tend to stay online for a long time during the day, sometimes more than a third of the day, and that can get us really, really tired. Not only that, but our productivity will fall like a meteor. The solution may be outside the office... it may be offline! Taking a time off during your day is something really important to recharge your batteries after a long and sometimes stressfull work process. There are plenty things for you to do that will refresh your mind for the day. Perhaps catching a movie in your local movie theater. Watching a cool movie will definetely pump your brain juices and give you some sweet ideas for designs. For example, after watching Iron Man, Fabio wrote an awesome tutorial on how to do Iron Man's View Interface. That was only one tutorial made by one person after watching a single movie. Could you guys imagine what could be done if many designers started working after a cool movie? Also you could go to the theaters and watching a cool play. There are really fantastic plays out there waiting for you to assist. Comedies, tragedies, and all kinds of cool stuff. For instance, watching Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet might inspire you to do a cool Valentine's day piece. Music is good way to inspire you. Go to concerts! Depending where you live, big music stars might visit your city and deliver great concerts. You should really catch those. If they don't go to your city, there gotta be local bands that will do just the trick. The important thing is being in touch with music and all the visual appeals like the light setups, the scenario, and all that. Muse Another good place to go are museums. You don't have to be in another city to go to the museum... many times there are good ones in our own cities which we've never visited. Look for all the cool ones, like technology, arts and archeologic ones. These are great sources of inspiration, because in someway you get a "retro" feeling, of what was cool centuries ago. And don't forget, retro is cool! ;p And also, a good walk outside might just do the trick. Getting fresh air into your lungs and getting in touch with people is a good way to get the daily stress out of your system. Go for a run, for a walk in the park. There, you might catch some cool sightings such as the sunset, birds flying, and more. Enjoy the nature! Also, pay attention to details, such as your city's architecture. I've said that before, but inspiration is everywhere. Actually, I really think that inspiration is not an external thing, but something that lies inside us, waiting for something to trigger its way out. And virtually anything can trigger this escape... a movie, a play, a walk in the park. It's up to you how you'll get your batteries charged! And now a little quote for you guys: "Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

Design Tips: Educating Clients to say Yes

Design is all about providing the best solution for a problem to a target audience. That's at least the simple way to describe what we do right? Well, some times it can't be harder to make people (and for that I mean clients) understand that and approve a design based in goals and not in a personal opinion based on taste. Even though we can manage to make the client approve a design, the worst thing is when after they approved they decide that the design is not good anymore and it will be necessary to change a little thing or to add that other thing, and in the end what we got was a Frankenstein design. So what can we do? Paul Boag, a famous web designer and host of one of the coolest web design podcasts out there, Boagworld, did a great presentation on that subject on the last Future of Web Design Conference and he has some tips for us on how to make clients understand our work. The keynote was called "Educating Clients to Say Yes", and he talks about how to make clients understand what we do, and some tips on how can we make they approve our work. I highly recommend you to check that out right now. Also Paul Boag is behind a nice web service called GetSignOff that is exactly about that, getting your design approved. You may present your site designs, manage feedback and also organize multiple versions of your designs in a clear way: Do you struggle to get design sign off? You may produce the best website designs ever, but getting sign off is always painful. Presenting designs to distant clients and managing their feedback is challenging. GetSignOff provides a mechanism for presenting your site designs, managing feedback and organizing multiple versions of a design. The service is really nice and simple, you create a client and upload your design with the explanation of your approach to it, also you can add notes directly to the design. Then you send to the client a link to a page where he can see that and leave comments. Once you have the client's feedback you can revise the design and send it a new version. For more information visit the GetSignOff website, they have really good videos showing how it works and give it a try. I think the best way to make clients understand what you do and respect you is showing that you are really professional. You have a very organized system to present and deliver your work, and the most important: you have documentation of the work you have done. Sneak Peak at from Paul Boag on Vimeo.

All About Photoshop

What's up, guys? This weekend we had an awesome article brought by Fabiano, with lots of great links, inspiration and all that. And to start the week very well, what about some Photoshop articles and videos to get you all set up? ;) 101 Photoshop Tips in 5 Minutes This got to be a World Record. Deke managed to teach us 101 photoshop tips in just 5 minutes... It's true that he can get a little bit cheesy in this video, but still it's really great to see his joy doing this. Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone loves to save time, and here's about every existing Photoshop keyboard shortcut. I knew a lot of those, but I didn't know that there were so many friggin' shortcuts. I gotta memorize those! :D Photoshop Battle What about a little chat about Photoshop? Well, during the FOWD in London, we got to see some cool presentations, and this cool Photoshop Battle between men and women. Lots of fun and inspiration. :) Photoshop Battle - FOWD London 2008 from Future of Web Design on Vimeo.

How to Make Good Design Decisions

When it comes to design, working a piece itself is not the complete process. There are lots of planning, researching and a little bit more planning. And it's always good to know what other people say about that process. Dan Saffer found a good way to go. About a year and a half ago, when I first started thinking about the material that would eventually become UX Intensive: Interaction Design, I wondered what it was that helped designers make those leaps of faith, the great guesses, that we have to make on projects. So I came up with this talk, How to Make Good Design Decisions. -Dan Saffer | View | Upload your own

Giving your design a retro style

My last Pixelmator tutorial was inspired by the DVNO clip, which was full of design inspiration from the 80’s. But where does this inspiration come from? How can you give your work that retro feeling? The first thing to do is finding references, images that represent those years. These images will give us an idea of the colors, the typography style, and the graphic elements that were mostly used in that period of time. In my case I chose the video-game influence in that decade. In the early 1980s, the first generation of computer graphics in arcade games produced the popular Space Invaders arcade game (first released in 1978), followed by Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Frogger. Towards the end of the decade, home video game consoles began to outstrip the arcade game. The Japanese Famicom was released to the American public as the Nintendo Entertainment System (also known as the NES) in 1985 and renewed public interest in video games following a brief decline caused by the Video Game Crash of 1983. Wikipedia For my Pixelmator tutorial for example, I've used some of these ideas like the perspective grid and the color palette using red, green, and blue with a dark background. Besides that, it was inspired by the DVNO clip which is full of 80's design. Now if we take a look at the James White’s Atari design, we will see, again, where some of the elements came from and why his work gives us the feeling of the Atari’s era. So the question is where can we find these images and references? Fortunately for us we, there are such sites as Flickr, Youtube, Wikipedia, where we can learn more about that time in history and check some pictures of products, designs, and videos that were produced on those days. Below I list some images I used for reference to my Pixelmator tutorial. More References Colourlovers - 80's colors. Atari Game Manuals Atari Game Catalog, 1981 Old School Activision Video Game Cartridge Catalog Winter/Spring 1984

Drawing an Awesome Vintage Leaf Font

We don't get to see much of how to make cool fonts from scratch but at Sam Alfano's there's a whole section about it! Pretty cool site, pretty cool tips, like this one. Most of us love vintage stuff. From pictures to movie posters and colors. But how about a cool vintage leaf font? Sure! Too bad we don't get to use fonts like this very often. I would be nice! Anyways, check out some images of the process, and remember, to read the process, the full article, visit Sam Alfano's website. He's got it all! ;) Author: Paulo Antunes | If you want to write an article and have it published here send it via email to abduzeedo[at]

Slogan, you really should use one.

When I visit a site for the very first time, at first I just wanna know what does that company do. Making your visitor look for what your site is meant for, what it sells ou what kind of service you pay is a great step to make him go away before you can even blink once. And that's why you should use slogans, short frases, that explain the main purpose of your site or even instigate the visitor to get to know more about it. Here we'll show you some slogan use references in sites headers. Strong frases, big fonts, straight to the visitors' eyes and some time with some kind of humor. Isn't it good to find something before you even think of looking for it? Author: Fabiano Meneghetti | If you want to write an article and have it published here send it via email to abduzeedo[at]

Icon Design Explained (Quickly)

Jon and Leigh Hicks from Hicksdesign bring us a cool, quick slide show explanation of how to do design a icon. And if you don't know them, they actually designed the Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbid logos. These dudes are really good. | View | Upload your own

How to improve your Photoshop Skills

There's nothing better than to play with the tool if you want to learn it. Bert Monroy always mentions that on his podcasts and I truly agree with him. I think the best way to learn is trying to recreate images and effects we like. Here I list my 10 tips to improve your skills in Photoshop, but they can be applied to other tools as well. Besides of that leave a comment with tips and links that you think will help us to improve our Photoshop Skills as well. 1 - Start with something I know this might sound obvious but you need to have something like some drawings, sketches, or an image rather than just a white page. Otherwise you will end up doing the same effects every time you try do design something. Get inspiration from sites like Flickr, there are some very good photoshop groups. Or just look for inspiration on the web. Below are some inspirational links. 2007 inspiration 10 Photoshop Masters Masters of Illustration - Smashingmagazine 12 Invaluable Sites for Web Design and Design Inspiration 2007 Graphic Design Inspiration 2 - Don't be dissappointed Don't be dissappointed when your image or effect is not turning out the way you want, keep working. That happens with me all the time. When I first start designing, usually I get frustrated that my design is not becoming exactly what I had in mind. However it turns out that after I have all elements in my design it's easier to make it look the way I want.  3 - Try to recreate the effects you like. Every time I find an image that has an effect I like I save it and try to create that effect in Photoshop. The Fire effect I did trying to reproduce an Nike ad, and the gold effect when I saw a Jewelry Ad as well. 4 - Read tutorials before start doing your design. We usually go straight to Photoshop and try to figure out how to do the effect, it's nice but we can save a lot of time if we get some clues or ways to do that before we start the Photoshop work. There are very good sites where you can learn how to create all sorts of effects from gold text to glowing effects. veerle 100 Photoshop Tutorials 5 - Learn how to use Masks. I know this might sound odd but there are a lot of people that don't understand how to use Masks. So stop deleting parts of your image and start masking them. There's a very cool video that shows us how to learn Masks 6 - Play around with filters You can do all kinds of effects with them from blur to lighting effects. The most fascinating thing is if you mix some filter you always get a new result, like the Render Clouds. 7 - Spend some time learning the Layer Styles Layer Style is one of the most useful features in Photoshop. You can create amazing text effects without applying any filter or even touching the font. 8 - Brush Engine To be honest I had never payed much attention to this feature until 6 months ago when I was creating a falling star. After that moment I simply cant stop using it. You can create sparks, stars, clouds, and unlimited number of shapes. You can make your brush random or uniform, with different colors and opacity, and I could go on and on because the possibilities are endless Very good video explaining how the Brush Engine works Photoshop Brushes - 9 - Listen and watch podcasts I think podcasts are an excellent way to learn Photoshop. The Pixel Perfect with Bert Monroy is definitely a must see podcast if you want to learn Photoshop and Illustrator. List of Photoshop Podcasts Adobe Photoshop Quicktips - Video Podcast 10 - Share what you have learned with everybody I think when we learn something there's nothing wrong in sharing our skills. Besides of the fact that you can help others, you can promote your work and even get money from writing tutorials. pays you for each tutorial you write and then publish it if selected. Your Design Forums PSDTUTS - They pay you for tutorials Flickr Deviantart