As a graphic designer this stuff is exciting. Printing in general is pretty amazing, but when you do letterpress and spot color printing it’s a really awesome handcrafted process. The amount of time and attention to detail is profound. Like a fine tailored suit or pair of Italian shoes the production quality is something personal, sturdy and reliable.

The majority of my freelance work is interactive design and UI/UX. I jump at the chance to do more printed work because I feel as if you are not as confined to usability and screen sizes. You can focus on the design message and have endless options for printing processes, die cutting, materials, etc. The amount of different collateral and all the vast mediums you get to design for is really challenging and fun. Think about it, logo design, menus, labels, signage, stickers, pencils, and products. Maybe how the frosted window in the storefront can look and feel like part of the brand, but is printed in an entirely different process.

I happened to be going through my favorite videos on YouTube and had saved this to watch again. Got inspired and felt I should share. 

I did my wedding invites with Mama’s Sauce and they did a knockout job and exactly what they promised. Joey was great and we were very happy with the results.

One of my main challenges not being around printing presses a whole lot is choosing the right pantone color. Picking pantone colors is an art. Every project I stare at my screen and designs created and back to the books to try and get the color that I want when the printing is complete.  On this particular project I was doing a yellow/gold color and black. So I researched and talked to a designer friend and decided on 7405U for a gold/yellow. When they arrived I noticed that .5 lines on white paper were very faint and probably should of gone with a heavier line weight or darker yellow. I’m excited to learn more about the various processes and keep doing more print work so I can understand and design with better results. 

2 Color Screen Print, 7x9 in.
Paper: French Speckle-Tone Starch White 140
Printed at Mama’s Sauce

You can see the complete wedding invites here

Freelance Pro TIP #002 - Get PAID!!!!

The most important part of freelancing is the big reward when you are finally finished with the late nights, client meetings, notes, revisions, etc.. The glorious day when you open the mailbox and see an envelope with a handwritten letter addressed to you. You open it and cha ching!!! All that work has paid off and you can now go cash your check. 

But wait, it’s not always that easy. I have heard excuses from; “it was sent out weeks ago”, “I thought that was all included before”, or something as crazy as “I didn’t hear back from my client so I don’t think I can pay for this”. All kinds of excuses as to why you haven’t been paid yet.

So as simple as this may seem, having an online invoicing tool will help you get an edge up on getting paid quicker. First off, they can now use a credit card if need be. It’s instant and within minutes they can fulfill the invoice online and you have your cash. This is great if you require final payment before delivery files. They have no excuse to not plug in their CC info and have you deliver the files. 

Now some of the processing systems do take a day or so do clear the payment, so keep that in mind. You never know when someone is sneaky, cancels payment or some other trick.

I recently started using www.wepay.com. In minutes I have an account set up and I am already sending invoices to clients. There are plenty of services like this out there, but I enjoy the design and ease of wepay. I’m in no way affiliated with them. You can use whatever app you want and here are some others to look at. 

https://www.zoho.com/invoice/

http://invoiceable.co/

http://www.freshbooks.com/

http://www.blinksale.com/

And just remember that if you have a client you have done work for and agreed upon a certain wage and have delivered on your deal… and they give you a hard time; there are 4 simple words to tell them.  F U PAY ME.

Freelance Pro TIP #001

If you receive an email and the body reads something like…

"Hi, how much for a logo?"

Run the other way! 

There’s people you want to work with and then there’s nightmare projects. That is the start of the bad dream. If someone doesn’t show respect to introduce themselves and explain a bit about what they’re trying to achieve, they aren’t serious about commissioning you for work. 

Clients & Freelance Graphic Design

I’ve been freelancing for 5 years and this formula has been very comfortable and profitable for me. Here’s a bit of advice for new freelancers. 

Retainers

I prefer to be on retainer with one client/agency 20 or so hours a week. That covers your paper bills/expenses. The other 20 hrs a week you can choose good clients with cool projects. A retainer client is one which usually want to have you “on call” throughout the week/month/year as if you are part time. You’re an extension of their team. This will happen when you deliver good work for people and they typically want you full time. But remember, you set out to freelance and carve your own path. Talk with them about an ongoing, slightly discounted, monthly rate that works for both of you and what the expectations will be. Typically it will be a flat price for a certain amount of hours per week/month.

I also prefer working with agencies or other creative studios because:

1. Bigger budgets

2. Bigger (not always better) projects and clients

3. There’s less educating you have to do.

Smaller client’s “may” require more hand-holding and could have widely varied expectations.  They are typically less knowledgable about hiring creative services and the process. And rightfully so, they don’t do this every day.

My keys to success have been:

1. Do great work and clients will want to keep you.

2. Be available (be a hero, come through when clients are in tight situations and need your help.)

3. Don’t promise a deadline you can’t keep.

4. Always deliver on time or re-manage their expectations ahead of time. 

5. Be up front and aware of your time and scheduling. If you can’t make it happen don’t take it on.

6. Get 50% deposit up front from all new clients!!! No exceptions.

7. Don’t stop chasing down money owed to you. If possible get the remaining 50% before delivering final assets.

 

Make your own way! 

Best of luck.

Bottom line, whenever I get frustrated with a job or discouraged because of some stupid design notes or changes I just watch an interview with Aaron and it reminds me why I freelance and what makes it so great. We all have challenges with client’s and opinions, but in the end you make art for a living and that’s not so bad…

Let’s not get it twisted. Fixing type so it looks right is a matter of using your best judgement and “eye fucking” type to get the perfect amount of space and readability out of text. Working in the web it’s very difficult to get programmers and developers to adjust the kerning and tracking, but it’s doable and well worth the extra time. Good type can make or break a design. It’s the difference between ahhh and blahhh.

Let’s not get it twisted. Fixing type so it looks right is a matter of using your best judgement and “eye fucking” type to get the perfect amount of space and readability out of text. Working in the web it’s very difficult to get programmers and developers to adjust the kerning and tracking, but it’s doable and well worth the extra time. Good type can make or break a design. It’s the difference between ahhh and blahhh.

Brand Studio does some killer work! Beautifully crafted and well designed websites. Check out their minimalist UI and UX, strategy, client list and interactive goodness.

Brand Studio does some killer work! Beautifully crafted and well designed websites. Check out their minimalist UI and UX, strategy, client list and interactive goodness.

One of my favorite designers Robert Lindstrom - Design Chapel shows how important spacing, kerning and tracking of type is and what a difference it makes. This is the difference between mediocre design and extraordinary design.

One of my favorite designers Robert Lindstrom - Design Chapel shows how important spacing, kerning and tracking of type is and what a difference it makes. This is the difference between mediocre design and extraordinary design.

Photoshop Step and Repeat

Cool little trick that after 10 years of Photoshop I never knew existed. Step and Repeat. Similar to Adobe Illustrator. The shortcut uses 4 keys which is kind of obnoxious, but still works great. Thought I would share with you all.

Fab.com Pop-Up Shop: Armed Notebook Set of ThreeFab.comFor the one on your list who wields words with the utmost care, especially the most dangerous ones: this collection of three Armed Notebooks. Each notebook converts a symbol of violence into a tool for peace—and has a tough PVC cover. This set includes one Grenade (pages have light gray plaid patterns to make sketches and notes more organized), one Knife (pages have lines with slightly bigger spacing and a blank bottom portion to allow visual experiments) and one Revolver (pages are blank).

Fab.com Pop-Up Shop: Armed Notebook Set of Three
Fab.com
For the one on your list who wields words with the utmost care, especially the most dangerous ones: this collection of three Armed Notebooks. Each notebook converts a symbol of violence into a tool for peace—and has a tough PVC cover. This set includes one Grenade (pages have light gray plaid patterns to make sketches and notes more organized), one Knife (pages have lines with slightly bigger spacing and a blank bottom portion to allow visual experiments) and one Revolver (pages are blank).