Z Blog

Most kids will be giving out Valentine’s Day cards to their classmates this year. But who wants to give out the same store-bought cards as everyone else, right? If you want something different that no one else will have, head over to Green & Gorgeous to download a free printable Valentine’s Day card template designed by yours truly.

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But what makes these cards so darn special? Well, these are no ordinary Valentine cards. With a few minutes of elbow grease, you can turn them into interactive scratch-off cards to keep the recipient guessing about what their gift/prize/candy will be.

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GET THE FREE DOWNLOAD AND TUTORIAL ⇒

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Picture this:

A customer walks into a beauty salon and approaches a group of 5 hairstylists at their stations. She hits them with an “amazing” offer: She will give each of them the opportunity to style her hair. However, she will only pay for the hairstyle that she likes most. In addition, she will take pictures of all the styles created by all the stylists — even if they were not chosen — and retain exclusive rights to those styles, so they’ll never be able to use them on another customer.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Believe it or not, graphic designers get pitches like this every day. We are asked to participate in design “contests” wherein we spend hours of our time crafting designs, then submit them along with hundreds — if not thousands — of other designers in hopes that our design will be chosen. Why? Because only the winning designer is paid for his or her work. In addition, many design contest sites stipulate that designers give up any rights to the designs they submit, meaning that either the hosting site or the client keeps rights to Every. Single. Concept. So they can later use or resell “losing” concepts without paying the designers a dime.

Again, I say, sounds ridiculous, right?

I will fess up: When I was a young designer who didn’t know better, I participated in my fair share of these contests. My inexperience led me to believe that entering them was a great way to develop my portfolio. I was wrong. I won a couple of contests here and there, but for the most part I spent hours and hours doing work for no compensation. My time would have been better spent offering pro-bono design services to a nonprofit organization, and I likely would have wound up with much more impressive portfolio pieces to show for it.

The problem with crowdsourced design is that it undervalues the work of professional designers. But if you’re a client, I realize this might sound like a great deal.  When the lure of $200 for a single winner can draw in hundreds of entries, clients can easily be tempted by the idea that they can get tons of designs for very little investment.

However, I’m a firm believer in the old adage that “you get what you pay for.” How many working, professional designers do you think are participating in these contests? The short answer? Very few, if any. These contests are most likely to be attractive to young, inexperienced designers — like I once was — who don’t yet know the real value of their talent. That means that the quality of the designs is often far less than what a client would have gotten had they paid a single designer the same amount of money to come up with thoughtful, well-reasoned concepts. So while you might think you’re saving money on the front end, what you’re really doing is setting yourself up for a potentially costly redesign in a short order.

How do I know? Because I’ve seen it happen. In fact, I’ve done redesigns for clients who ran a design contest, only to later regret the wasted time and money.

Given this experience, I am a fervent supporter of the Anti Spec movement. If you are a designer, you should be, too. Simply put, good designers know what our time, creativity and expertise are worth. We take our jobs very seriously and do our best to deliver excellence every time. We are professionals who want to be treated as such. We spend a lot of energy carefully crafting our portfolios, fully expecting that evidence of our past work will be good enough to convince clients of our worth.

Learn what you can do to put a permanent end to spec work.

As a designer, I’ve become quite the student of typography. I also tend to go through phases when I’ll find myself returning to the same font for project after project. Right now, there are a couple I tend to favor, but I just purchased a new font with which I am itching to experiment: Kurry. (aff)

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This font was designed by Bangkok-based type foundry Cadson Demak. At its core, it’s a simple sans serif. But the curvy, quirky details really make it stand out. It features straight lines that end in sweeping strokes and beautiful ligatures that connect characters for a truly unique look. The OpenType font includes dozens of alternates, including keywords such as WITH, OF and BY.

My mind is swimming with the possibilities. This would make a beautiful base for an identity system, and, lucky for me, it is also available as a web font via MyFonts.com. (aff)

Welcome to the brand new Hibiscus Creative site. The last few months have been incredibly busy, filled with challenging and rewarding projects. As a result, it’s rare that I find time to update the portfolio, or do any in-house work at all. I’ve been meaning to redesign the site for a while, to add some functionality. Once I got started, I decided to go all the way in and start basically from scratch.

So the site has gone from this…

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..to this

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Not that there was anything wrong with the original design. In fact, I was pretty much in love with it. It’s just that several years have gone by since I initially built the site, and Hibiscus Creative had outgrown it. Not the design, but the site functionality. Plus, I really wanted to start with fresh code rather than try to undo things I had done before.

The biggest changes:

  • Pages have been condensed and rewritten to include only the most important information and reduce the need to click through multiple pages
  • A custom post type allows us to separate portfolio entries from blog posts
  • Directly related to this ^^, is what you’re reading right now, the new blog!

I spend a lot of time reading about design, learning new skills, and bookmarking inspiration. I also seem find myself explaining the same things to clients over and over again. Instead, I’ll start cataloging some of that here in hopes of answering questions about design, offering inspiration, and allowing me to clear my brain of some of the jumbled thoughts that frequently live there.

I can’t promise this will happen on a daily, or even weekly, basis, since the actual work of designing is still what pays the bills around here. But I’ll do my best to share with you regularly in this space.

So take a moment, look at what I’ve added to the portfolio — now known as “our work” in the navigation menu — read about the design process, and ponder our services.

Let me know of you have any questions in the comments section below, or contact Hibiscus now to get a quote for your project.