The Best Design Advice I Can Give. The Rule of Abandonment.

Art Elements, How to be a Designer
The Rule of Abandonment.

Have you ever been shopping for just the right piece of clothing, electronic, house, apartment (anything, really) and had that feeling of, “YES! This is exactly what I want. Perfect. Completely perfect,” without a shadow of a doubt? This is the same feeling you want as you are designing- a gut-wrenching , “YES! Feels perfect.”

If you are pushing around design elements like unwanted food on a plate, you’ve got to immediately abandon those design elements and work to find that immediate “YES” feeling.

The Rule of Abandonment. I coined this terminology years ago and truly live by it as a design principle. The longer you prolong the removal of bad design pieces, the more lost you may become in finding the right design solution.

When you force design elements that don’t mesh, refusing to let go, the final outcome will feel just that way- forced and incohesive.

Will this rule work for just about anyone? Probably not. You must be creatively inclined to have innate feelings on color, balance, and style, but how will you know unless you give it a try?

Vectors and Pixels… Explained

I am going to try and make this technical jargon easy to understand quickly and painlessly! What is the different between vector and pixel… what does it all mean?

Vector Vs. Pixel

Note the difference! Smooth lines on the left, grid lines on the right

I answer this question several times a week. If my clients want to know this, I am sure countless others do, too.

Vector is a type of graphic file that is made up of a series of lines, points curves and shapes.

Why are vectors great? They can be resized infinitely, from itty bitty to billboard size and beyond. If you zoom in 300 times, the lines will still be crisp and clean.

Close up of vector image

Vector files can be in the file format of .AI file or .EPS created in Adobe Illustrator when pertaining to logo design, but may also be in the form of CGM, SVG, RS-274X, and more when using other programs. Of course, Illustrator is my cup of tea and tool of the trade!

For more vector-specific information, Wikipedia has a detailed description that reads a bit dry (*cough, cough*) for sure, but is informative.

Raster (pixel-based) files are a series of pixels, or small dots in a grid. (You may also see this word in the form of “rasterized.”)

Pixel files can come in the form of JPG, TIFF, RAW, GIF, BMP, PNG as well as a variety of others. The higher an image resolution is, the closer these little dots are together (yielding a higher quality image.)

Close up of pixel grid

I tend to most often use JPG and PNG for graphic design projects- print and web. PNG and TIFF are both wonderful because they allow for transparent backgrounds. JPG does not.

Why are pixels great? You can save a graphic file to a specific size and keep the file size down. This can help images load more quickly online.

Why are pixels not great? Once you size a pixel image down, you lose quality. You cannot make a small pixel image larger.

Are there other specific file types you want to know about? (i.e. 3D Vector Formats, other 2D Vector formats, Types of Rasters) Wikipedia’s Image File Format Article will do just the trick!

The Best Design Advice I Can Give

Coco Chanel, Fashion Icon

Remove clutter. Allow the eye to breathe.

The  essence of an often-quoted bit of advice from Coco Channel can also be applied as a design theory,

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”

Now, apply this to other forms of creative design. Whatever design elements you are pushing about, try removing one, or two. Add white space. It almost always brings clarity. This theory can be used in graphic design, interior design and beyond.

When too many design elements compete, your design loses professionalism, direction, and organization.

Remove clutter. Allow the eye to breathe. So simple!

Random Q & A with Meredith

Meredith Locklear, Owner of Jack and Molly Creative

In an effort to make myself more available and transparent (which is quite tough for me… I don’t particularly like the spotlight!) here is a Q&A session about none other than… me.

How do you spend your days?
-Being the best mom I can to my energetic and imaginative 6 year old son, Jackson.
-Writing and responding to tons and tons and tons of emails!
-Trying not to drink too much coffee (but often failing miserably).
-Squeezing all of creativity out of my brain like a sponge.

What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?
I wish I had the know-how or desire to be a person on a schedule. By nature, I stray from routine. I like to mix it up, go to bed when I feel like it, work out when the mood strikes me, work 4 hours one day and 12 the next, eat a balanced breakfast or none at all. I thrive on variety but life sometimes demands consistency.

What is one of your favorite quotes?
“The life of a designer is a life of fight: fight against the ugliness.” – Massimo Vignelli

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
Salvador Dalí. I’d love to see him in his studio in Spain, painting like a mad man. I’d love to see the genius at work and the passion behind his alternate worlds he created in paint.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Recently, I had the most delicious sushi and lobster at the Ritz in Grand Cayman Island. I remember sitting at the dinner table and thinking, “Next week, when I’m back on the grind, I am going to wish I was back here with my crème brûlée and Chardonnay.”

If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would it be?
A tropical bird, no doubt. I’d love to live where it’s warm and by the sea and spend time in the clouds.

Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.
To a visual person, yes. To someone not visually inclined? Maybe not. Maybe they only see a blue square? But to me, I’d see 4 equal sides, hues of aqua and green, impasto paint, shadowing, reflections of light…

The best part of waking up is?
Ahhh… a big smile and a hug from my sleepy, crazy bed-head son!

Composing Email Signatures (That Aren’t Annoying!)

Writing Email Signatures that aren't annoying

My clients often ask about custom email signatures. Here is a great, brief article that will help you build the perfect signature without annoying your recipients! Tips like how to include images in such a way that they aren’t email attachments, avoiding compositions that may read as spam & more…

It’s just the little bit of text at the bottom of your messages, but your email signature can make a big impact. However, creating an email signature that will look great in all the various email clients is rough. Some clients will resize images, some won’t. Some will force hard line breaks, some won’t. So how do you create an email signature that will look stellar to everyone who sees it?

Text is safest.
If you can avoid using images, do. Are they pretty? Yes. Do they work in all email clients? No. Your best chance for creating a universal formatting for your signature is to use text only. However, if that’s not an option…

Edit all images to be the exact size you want.
Keep them small to prevent old email clients from blowing your logo or other images way out of proportion. Another good tip for images is…

Use absolute URLs for images.
For universal support, be sure to always use the http://, and don’t use shortened urls. This could set off the spam filters!

Don’t go overboard.
Chances are if you’re already communicating with this person, they already have information for reaching you, so why bulk up your email signature with three phone numbers, five social media links, an inspiring quote, and your entire CV? Keep your signature to a minimum. A single phone number, one email address, and one to two social media contacts should be more than enough.

Consider all caps, bolding, an italics to help set separate your information
If you want your name to really stand out, bold it and make it uppercase. This will help create visual variety in your signature while staying compatible.

Use spacers to separate content while using fewer lines.
An upright pipe (|) or a bullet (•) work nicely. You can set the spacers to be a lighter grey color so they’re not as prominent, but still effectively separate your content.

Use inline styling.
It’s definitely counter-intuitive to web designers, but if you’re going to use CSS in your email signature, make sure it is ALL inline to ensure compatibility.

Don’t set any text to white.
It will set off the spam filters!

Use a nosend=”1″ attribute for images
This will keep your images from showing up as attachments in an email. Just add it to the image tag like so: <img src=”” nosend=”1″ alt=”lunaweb logo” border=”0″ width=”21″ height=”17″ />. This will only work if you are composing your emails in HTML, though.

Hopefully this will help you create awesome email signatures! Just remember simple is good when it comes to email, so don’t over-think it.

Check out the original article at Lunaweb. It was so good, no need to rewrite! These tips are great and worth applying to your own email signature.