Category Archives: graphic design

Spec Work Sites and the Golden Ratio

logoidolThe graphic design market is gaining momentum via social media and blogs. It seems the current way to introduce myself into it is to chime in about spec work online — or as I call it, the logo contest model — as used on sites like CrowdSpring and 99Designs, as opposed to RFQ sites like Elance and Guru. So here goes.

The first thing I’ve decided is not to lose sleep over the existence of such sites, or bother with movements that protest them. They serve a niche, and as a businessman who likes the Golden Rule, I know there are expenses I’ll have for which I’ll wish there was a crowdsourcing portal, so I can compare bids. Like the TV commercial says, “When ______s compete, you win.”

“Yeah,” you might say, “but spec work is wrong.” It depends.   Continue reading



airsafetycardAs I enter Week 12 of my unemployment (or as I suppose I should prefer to call it, my “underemployment”), I’m grappling with the frustration of Job Hunting 2.0.

Here’s how it works: You find a listing through any of the services — thus far, Monster and Dice (symbolism alone keeping me away from CareerBuilder, owned by Gannett). You respond to it, cut-and-paste the text version of your résumé (already meticulously laid-out as a PDF but not uploadable or attachable), cut-and-paste individual lines from it yet again into their online application form, then hit the submit button.

And that’s the last you see of it. No rejection, no confirmation, not so much as a howdy-doo. Oh, with one exception: there was a job the employer had pulled, which generated a manual reply (yet still appeared on the list; go figure).   Continue reading

R.I.P., 2000-2008

tombstoneWhen a woman miscarries, they sometimes give the mother-to-have-been a funeral for the fetus. Amputees often have ceremonies for their dead limb. Is it possible that I need a parting ceremony for a period of my life? Eight productive years spent languishing? Am I in a grieving period for the prime of my career?

The period in question started in the year 2000, at a company that was just getting the idea to circle the wagons. The eight or nine small-town newspapers in Westchester and Rockland Counties, NY, bought throughout the 20th century by Gannett (of USA Today fame), were now one regional entity: The Journal News. A year later, they hired me for the art unit in their marketing department.

Till then, what I’d been doing for a living, clients would call temping, but we temps always call agency freelancing. It was one such assignment that The Journal News made permanent. I’d hopscotch between Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT, meeting new people in different shops, seeing and comparing different workflows, and overhearing the button-down communication of scrappy small companies.

Gannett was by far the biggest corporation I had ever worked for. And knowing full well what a hoary tradition a newspaper is necessarily saddled with, I took my cubicle with trepidation, suspecting that I was now a cog in a monstrously vast gearbox.   Continue reading

What Is a Logo?

Nothing would give me a bigger kick than for this to become an authoritative and highly Dugg pillar-post, telling one and all once and for all how to design a killer logo. I’ll be happy enough to cull together the things I’ve learned in 25 years of the pursuit, for you to compare with your own experience or recall should you ever get to similar crossroads in your craft.

I’m assembling this as I depart a job where I was not at liberty to use all these rules as often as they applied. And now, as a freelance designer, I am. I have this folder of a few dozen logo designs, called “my way”. When I’d get frustrated over a logo I thought was designed badly but had to use for my job, I’d take a shot at it myself after hours. I’ll show them in future posts on this blog, which will slowly morph into a design blog, I guess.

The above logos were for my former company’s credit card auto-renew subscription program. They went with the first one, but after a while decided (wisely) not to bother with a logo at all.

Let’s begin.  Continue reading