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Thoughts About Work + Business + All things Design Related

A fantastic video from Intel.com/visuallife of branding guru Michael Wolff talking about his process and approach to working in the world of visual design.

Emotion is the Most Important Component in Graphic Design
– Michael Wolff

Both inspiring and educational. Prepare to be captivated by his knowledge, experience and inquisitiveness.

I just started using this really cool To Do list website this week called TeuxDeux (cute clever and totally free)

And so far I’m loving it! Super easy to set up, manage and track all the items you need to plan for on a weekly or monthly basis.

Bonus : they have a handy-dandy iPhone App too!


I prefer my news, facts or any other kind of educational related material for that matter, visually, if possible.

This morning I stumbled across Toby Ng’s series The World of 100 and was instantly captivated by his simple yet lovely illustrations. The World of 100 depicts demographic statistics of our world’s population – including topics such as money, religion, and sexual orientation – presented in a fashion that’s appealing, visually memorable and easy to comprehend. A brilliant representation of the world we live in.

Toby Ng : The World of 100

Absolutely brilliant idea! A ‘snapshot’ of the world in one day.

Filmmaker Kevin Macdonald received around 81,000 clips submitted by various participants throughout the world (roughly 140 countries.) The clips depict people partaking in daily activities on one single day – Saturday July 24, 2010. The editors reviewed over 4,500 hours of footage and painstakingly cut it down to a 90 minute film. Life in a Day is expected to release in the US and UK this month. I can’t wait to see this lovely concept in its entirety…

A lovely video clip explaining the process Pantone goes through when choosing new colors for their line.

Its their responsibility to focus on leading the way in the consumer / design / commerical world – not only producing color the market wants now, but proposing what the future may look and feel like as well. Also suuuuuper happy to see a little Jonathan Adler bit – yay!

If you’re like me – your head gets all foggy, your thinker clams up, your eyes glaze over and you’re tempted to stick your fingers in your ears and hum something similar to mmm bop.

Yes, desperate times = desperate measures at any mention of the word : taxes. Ugh. Major ugh. Something us righties just aren’t highly knowledgable or experienced in : that left brained stuff. Or well-practiced. Okay… maybe its just me. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why its such a daunting, word filled, multiple forms, I-have-to-remember-how-to-multiple-and-divide-using %’s  process. And this year was particularly painful. I was responsible for not only me, but I got married AND started a business last year. Triple whammy. So – I began by trying to do everything the old fashioned way, via pen / pencil on the forms you can easily search for and download from the IRS. I thought this way I just might learn to understand it all. Well… long story short, after entering many blah blah’s here from line blah blah blah there on form blah – well : I gave up. Sorta. I decided to just go my usual route and use H&R Block. The online version. Which still kinda sorta had me doing taxes myself, but in a much easier to understand format. I’d only been in business from November 1st of last year – so I wasn’t too worried about my business taxes – yet. It was actually a great experience. Oooookay a ‘great + taxes’ combo is stretching it BUT I can say it was healthy learning. Specifically ‘what’s a business expense’ and learning how to properly categorize and report such items. Also – note to me, start tracking my mileage!

One other quick little helper I’ll give you all, if you do go the H&R Block route like I did. DO NOT ‘upgrade’ and pay for the additional premium filing service they offer. The little promo states that you’ll get extra help for small-business related items. I think the ‘extra’ help was one or two additional pages in the business expenses category. Nothing worth the extra $50 or so. In my opinion.

Now, just a couple days ago… after trying to estimate what I think I’m gonna make this year (which is a real reality check in itself, yikes) in order to pay my very first quarterly tax payment installment (which is another post entirely) I’m on a mission to find professional assistance… stat.

Soooo… its been a total of 5 months (plus change) since I embarked on this solo adventure. Talk about an adjustment period that I am still very much trying to adjust to.

Its been quite a challenge learning to wear ALL the hats one must wear when owning their own business. Freelancing is in short, not easy. Well, that’s my verdict at present. There’s a lot to learn AND a load of responsibilities to take on. Sales, book keeping, project management, marketing, client relations, budgeting, etc etc etc – all in my court now. And these are not duties I’d prefer to be doing… I’m not exactly ‘built’ for them. A non-left brainer you could say. My experience for 8+ years has been mostly sitting behind the scenes, creating / producing… creating / producing; while an entire team of people (each gifted in their specific area of employment) helped to run and manage the company. And as most designers, or any long-term employees who have taken this plunge will note – you now (and hopefully only in the very very beginning) spend roughly 10-15% of your time actually doing what you are most experienced and gifted at doing. The rest of your time is spent performing unfortunate obligatory tasks from (in my case, a rusty and dusty version of) the left side of your brain. In the words of cartoon Cathy – ack!

But wait – there IS help for us new to this solo scene…
As daunting as learning to start, run and manage my own business has been, I can say that there have been a boat load of people who’ve helped point me in the right direction – as well as fantastic resources both locally, online and at my public library.

I had a million questions when I first started. This list from designm.ag helped answer quite a few, as well as shed some light on the freelance world and put this newly chosen lifestyle into perspective.

My So-Called Freelance LifeAn invaluable book, that I highly suggest you read prior to jumping in with both feet, is My So-Called Freelance Life – How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman. She’s a brilliant writer, not to mention hilarious. Having gone through the same process, Michelle’s packed this book with everything you need to know about getting your business started and then maintaining it successfully. Even if you’re tinkering with the thought to venture out solo style – I highly highly recommend this read.

On a local level, check to see if there are any small business development centers (SBDC’s) in your area. In my experience they provide educational resources, training, networking and overall support for us newbies. Often times their services are incredibly affordable or free. If you’re living in western Colorado be sure to look into the Business Incubator Center for help.

I also stumbled across this great list of resources at sba.gov.

Also be sure to get to your local library stat and ask if they have a small business resources center. Mesa County Public Library has a little ‘kiosk’ dedicated to such information, including a handy reference card that lists websites, databases, books and periodicals – including call numbers and all. How cool is that.

Knowing there are tons of tools, resources and very very helpful people out there – eases the stress just a bit. Thousands of people have gone through this process, with success too. So I suppose there’s some hope in that, and now its just a matter of trudging through all these daunting left brained tasks one by one.