Oooh, look who’s back. The proper side of me.

http://pantherqueen.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/feather-duster/

Famous Last Words

“I’ve got an idea.”

For years (and years and years) now, my brain and my mouth have not yet reached an understanding to filter what gets created and what falls from my lips.

I’m supposed to think this stuff out before I talk about it, but that never happens. Maybe it’s my way of holding myself accountable, but it’s more like a hope for other people getting excited for me.

My most recent ideaventure was to start an invitation company. This means something along the lines of taking advantage of my talents in the design genre, and try to make cash from it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve done work for people for free.

A website here, a flyer there, a logo every so often. When I create these things, I get lost in the little world that the high of the creation process turns into, and begin to really enjoy what’s going on. It might take me an hour to find the perfect font for just one letter, but ….fonts! You guys!! It’s habit-forming, and I love it.

As much as I love lining things up so the edges are JUST right, that same OCD will drive me more than a little insane if the design lines up on one side but not on the other, or the fill (for some unknown reason) isn’t coming out in the exact same texture in my head.

I wouldn’t trade that love for any other.

After doing this sort of thing (usually for free) for close to 15 years, it dawned on me the other day that I’m in a good place to pimp my skills. People walk in here all the time that will absolutely need invitations, flyers, announcements, thank-you’s, et cetera. There’s nothing stopping me from putting up my own business cards – except that they haven’t been created yet, but whatever.

So that’s where I’m at with things. It doesn’t feel too much like a conflict of interest, because it’s not like this is a design house, or a print shop, so cross your fingers. I’m not sure where to post all that up online, because I *do* need to have a portfolio, but hey.

It’ll work out, right? Right.

Revisiting joie de vivre

After the dust finally settled on our move, we started unpacking – both physically and mentally. One of the boxes in the back of my mind was on the Vintage shelf, where I store my love for many things vintage, retro, antique and timeless.

My love affair with all of that was rekindled when we ended up purchasing a Craftsman style 1940’s home. Spiders in the sink? Ants on the floor? Sticking windows? Creaky noises? It all bothers me much less than it would have two months ago, and I am smitten. The thought of having a cute little tiled kitchen to cook in… comfortable reading corners… tiny cups of tea… solid glass doorknobs… it’s just too much Wonderful for me, and has to have an outlet.

I’m lucky enough to have a large amount of creative freedom at work, and after redoing the general design on the brochures, my thoughts turned to revamping our website. My design preferences for flourishes, fine lines, parchment, typography – it all began to show through in my mock-ups.

There is quite an abundance of vintage stuff online, so I’d like to take a moment and share some of my inspiration, the most recent of which can be blamed on Anthony Bourdain. That’s right, Tony, I said it – this is your fault! His Disappearing Manhattan episode showcased “Marlow & Sons”, a classic French restaurant in Brooklyn, which spoke to me immediately. All his shows (and books, and general presence) inspire me, that one was just the most recent memory and appealed to my art side as well as my foodie side.

While the thought of chicken liver paté doesn’t currently spark my appetite – the ambiance definitely struck a chord. The decor! The menus! The flourishes!! It was just lovely. View their site here: Marlow And Sons

Other interesting sites of the moment are as follows:
Vintages
Tongue In Cheek
Vintage Indie Wedding Guide
Royal Steamline

50 refreshing business card designs

50 refreshing business card designs. Just passing along the daily dose of self-loathing that might inspire some of you.

http://www.graphicfetish.com/50-refreshing-business-card-designs/

Jesus Vs the Dinos – link exchange

Starting you off with a balanced breakfast of 100 Links to Inspire Your Designs, courtesy of Mashable.com.

In other news: a tuatara!

Also, some folks at a church said they saw the face of Jesus in a seat cushion. Uh, that looks more like a Golem to me, but whatever works, I guess.

Bookmarks and coffee

Cereal.
Coffee.

At work, consuming both, and taking a moment to myself before heading into the plethora of tasks ahead of me. Though I enjoy my Sundays off – allowing myself to overindulge on laziness, cuddling, and day-long brunch – being in the office isn’t bad either. It’s usually quiet enough to get real work done and consider a Plan Of Action for various projects. That doesn’t mean I want to spend all my Sundays here, it means that the rare times I have to come into the office aren’t completely horrendous.

Plus I get Monday & Tuesday off.

iGoogle is my homepage here, and one of my favorite widgets is the “Most Recent Public Bookmarks” provided by del.icio.us. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) it tosses up a great one, and today was no exception.

Here it is.

Booooooom.com gives you 17 Creative Websites To Bookmark (Unless You Are Dumb).

Just like it says – unless you are dumb. Mimes are excluded in this case.

I skimmed the list, got about a page deep into Meathaus and immediately closed my browser because it was causing me to go into Artsy Mind Convulsions. A quick scan of the other sites proved much of the same.

Give yourself some awesome – GO TO THESE SITES.

Anyway, back to Cup 2 of coffee, and using my destruct-o rays on the disaster that is my inbox. Happy Sunday, kids.

The Struggles of a New Year

Over the past few months I’ve been working on my company’s website. Essentially what they had going on was the same content (and layout) they’d had for the past six years, and in those six years there were only a handful of changes made. The webmaster had built a somewhat user-friendly access portal that allowed the employees here to make very minor changes when necessary (mostly consisting of changing some text on the main page), but for the most part all other updates would be done by him. If they needed new pricing online, they’d send him that and he’d put it up. It was an easy & convenient solution for everyone and really required no effort on their part.

After writing, re-re-revising and finally deleting most of a large pseudo-rant, I’ll just go on with saying that I am relearning web design and development.

To make a long story short, it’s like discovering Internet2. It’s the same feeling as when I first figured out not just how to upload photos in 1996; but why I was doing it and what the difference was between live and local links.

In college my focus was on design for the multimedia world, something that was just coming into being when we finished up in 2001. Our class finished with less than 20 students – mostly guinea pigs for this new Web Design & Multimedia program. We learned the basics of developing websites; JavaScript, Flash, Dreamweaver, Director, those were all in there, but nobody considered us pioneer developers by any means. I suppose we were digital artists more than anything – not saying coders today don’t make works of art in their own right, but it’s different. The majority of us came out of non-digital graphic design backgrounds and moved over to the multimedia sector where we tried to incorporate both worlds.

Skip past a lot of failed website attempts, most made with image maps and crazy Photoshoppery, and step to the world out there today. I don’t think CSS was something we even talked about conversationally during my two year tenure, which might explain where I’m at.

So now we’re at that point where I still love illustration and typography and good design, but am now trying to self-instruct myself on the industry standards for design (and do things the easy way as well). It’s a good pain, much the way an intermediate workout feels when you haven’t moved off the couch all winter. Mostly it’s frustrating because the people I’m asking for help are advanced to the point where it’s difficult to tutor me. It’s not that they can’t, but explaining your second nature to someone isn’t the easiest task in the world. I liken this to trying to teach someone to drive that’s never seen a car before.

Now for some linkage, and don’t laugh if it seems outdated. We all have to start somewhere, even if it’s for the second time.

http://www.csszengarden.com/
http://www.cssnewbie.com/
http://delicious.com/popular/css
http://elementiks.com/web_resources.php
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/01/14/web-design-trends-for-2009/

To me, this feels as if I’m on the fringe of some giant inside joke. Here is my state of mind at the moment:
-I know if I like a site aesthetically when it shows up on my screen
-A lot of the sites I like aesthetically are made with CSS
-I know that not all browsers are created equal, but there are things you can do to make it so the users don’t notice
-I know you have to design for EVERYONE, even when you don’t want to
-Designing with SEO in mind is a good thing
-My main tools for building a site are Dreamweaver & Photoshop. I’ve got DW CS4 at work and DW8 at home, which makes for interesting results because you build differently.

My biggest hurdle right now is being able to build without fully understanding the process behind it. I can snag bits and pieces of other code and edit them somewhat (ex: if I need a photo gallery to work a certain way, I’ll find a template or tutorial to help me achieve results), but I can’t build things from scratch yet.

That ‘yet’ is a huge deal for me. It’s not enough that I get ‘square block goes into square space’, but I need to know why. So…

A) Do any of you novice designers have similar problems?
B) What tools/sites/resources are you using to help get through your hurdles?