I am starting 2013 with a clean slate and some exciting opportunities on the horizon for my fledgling design studio. We are up and running part-time, but there is still SO much to be done!
In the months ahead, I’ll build the website and create documents and templates to guide clients through projects. Most recently, I’ve worked with my lawyer(/husband) to establish a contract stating terms under which to operate.
While it’s tempting to start a business thinking all jobs go according to plan, years as a designer have taught me creative projects end all the time, often for reasons having nothing to do with the work itself. Without a signed agreement, design vendors have no recourse to be compensated for an incomplete project.
But contracts work both ways. I want my clients to always feel they receive the full value of what they pay for my work. Just as I want to know when feedback will come and how I will be compensated, with a contract, I spell out exactly what I’ll deliver and when to expect it so there are no surprises for the client. We come to a project on equal footing, having established expectations in advance.
When building my contract, I considered my company culture and how ideally prefer to work. I listed my acceptable terms and policies, then used a few resources to align with standard practices and round out my document. (Designers: I highly recommend the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines the AIGA Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services as a starting point to develop a contract that works for you!)
It’s important to me to start each project with an open mind and heart – ready to get to the business of making great design. Knowing both parties are protected lets you build client relationships from a mutual understanding and respect, so you can grow and prosper together.
In today’s fast-paced social environment, I am constantly capturing images for inspiration, work, promotion and blogging. At home, I use a Canon SLR and dutifully color correct and resize images in Photoshop before posting. But when life gets busy, I also have an iPhone equipped multiple camera apps providing a range of editing features to ensure my shots come out clean and ready for the web.
I use the usual suspects: Instagram, Camera+ and Adobe’s Photoshop PS Express, but a few more are in heavy rotation for creative shots. My favorites are:
VSCO Cam – VSCO Cam is my favorite app the year. There are great effects, editing features and control, but the interface is streamlined with absolutely no unnecessary features, making it intuitive and simple to use. It also includes a color temperature function which many phone apps do not. ($0.99) Pro-tip: Their blog is a pretty good read, too!
Wood Camera – A great app for when you get tired of Instagram’s filters – plus Wood Camera has textures and intensity control as well. My favorite feature is that if you are shooting your pictures inside the Wood Camera app, you can select from preset “lenses” to give different effects, and preview live in the viewfinder. ($0.99)
Pic Stitch – Very handy app for putting multiple photos together in a collage format.
Flixel – It’s gimmicky and I hardly ever use this one, but I love that I can create animated gifs on the go from my phone.
Now with all these great tools at hand 24-7, the hardest part is finding the inspiration. But isn’t it always?
The past year has been incredible. I launched on the road to accomplish goals I’ve waited years to achieve, and things so far are going well. I view each new year as a fresh start, and in light of all I have going on, this year I tried a few things to prepare.
First, I wrote a “Dear Future Me” letter – a letter to myself a year from now, looking back on the progress I hope to make between now and then. I got the idea from Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach, and loved the exercise so much I think I may do it every year. It’s a quiet, personal way to spend time reflecting on your goals and encouraging yourself.
Second, I picked a phrase for the year. When 2012 began, I needed to believe good things were coming, and my mantra for the year became, “The best is yet to come,” which helped me focus on the positive when I felt frustrated along the way.
This year, I know there are going to be lots of long nights and hurdles as I begin to grow my new company and I’ll need to call on every ounce of my determnation. This year my phrase will be, “I shall either find a way, or make a way.” It’s what I’ll mutter to myself in those deep-breath moments in the challenges ahead, and hopefully by the next Auld Lang Syne, I’ll know I’m capable of more than I ever dreamed possible.
I made you a New Year’s gift! Click the link below to download a freebie desktop wallpaper of the quote image above. I hope it will inspire you through tough spots to create beautiful things in 2013!
>> download the wallpaper (on the image page, right click, or ctrl click on a Mac)
Happy New Year!
A Toast for the End of a Year
Here’s to 2012, with love and gratitude: A year in which I made wonderful new friends and cheered on my old ones, laughed with my husband, bonded with my family, posted too many pictures of my dog, held down a day job, started a business, threw a couple parties, took some classes, developed new creative collaborations, rebranded this blog, contributed to a successful run of Shop Class, organized my home, embraced community building, made two full websites, ate dessert every day, had ample freelance work, burned the candle at both ends, pushed my limits and now am skidding sideways into 2013 – ready for more. CHEERS!
A Wish for the Year to Come
May you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. May you meet your goals head on, and wherever you meet a challenge, persevere. May you sleep in a little, indulge in tasty treats, and laugh until it hurts. May you find inspiration in things, people and causes you love. May you find the balance you seek and adventure more than you anticipate. Happy New Year!
Happy holidays, friends! I’ve FINALLY finished the blog move and rebrand. I’m still finding a few glitches here and there, so please let me know if you spot anything that isn’t working.
After a few months away from writing, I couldn’t let the holidays pass without including my favorite post of every year, my annual Holiday Gift Wrap Roundup.
Like many designers, I love pretty paper and enjoy fussing over gifts to make them feel truly special. This year, I chose neutral metallic papers, accented with floral picks nabbed at the last RVA Craft Swap.
How about you? Did you wrap any special packages this holiday season?
I have no qualms admitting I’m a southern girl, and frequently say my ma’ams, sirs and y’alls. So behold the 2012 Elleby Design Studio holiday card, sent to all my design studio clients this December!
I wish you all a warm and happy holiday season, and look forward to meeting more of you in 2013!
It happened to me last night at Shop Class listening to Patience Salgado, my hometown’s own Kindness Girl, talk about how she discovered her purpose in life to be a “Kindness Worker.” And you can’t help but immediately love Patience. She’s real and gentle and beautiful and so very funny – and then she opens her mouth and wisdom comes humbly tumbling out.
What exactly is a Kindness Worker? Patience is a mother of four, a blogger, writer, birth photographer, and an instigator of large-scale happiness mayhem. Through her blog and Guerilla Goodness website, she organizes public projects to bring kindness to those who need it. Like playing ding-dong ditch, leaving flowers and gifts on doorsteps only to “ring and run.” Like leaving love notes thanking garbage men all across the country. Like anonymously writing encouraging notes in sidewalk chalk to ease the nerves of students walking the plank to the first day of school. And like last night at Shop Class, when we launched the latest project: a gigantic, manic, city-wide game of kindness tag, called Tag, You’re It RVA.
Each of the 40 Shop Class attendees left with a few gift tags. In the days and weeks to come, we’ll use those tags to make small acts of kindness in the community: flowers and chocolate on a doorstep or paying for someone’s coffee, leaving with the kindness a numbered gift tag driving back to the project’s Facebook page. Just as in the game of tag, the recipient of the kindness is becomes “IT!” and must then pass both the kindness and the tag to someone else. As more people get tagged, more tags will be handed out around the city and downloadable online. We can track the progress and journey of each tag as they loop back and forth through our city spreading kindness like wildfire.
The acts of kindness will be small and grand and known and anonymous. Some will be planned and some spontaneous and serious and snarky and ridiculous and wonderful. Just imagine those small individual acts are like the flapping butterfly wing that causes a typhoon on the other side of the world.
Talk about creative inspiration! Best. Idea. Ever. Thanks, Kindness Girl!
Happy Friday, friends! It’s time for another Nice To Meet You Link Up!
This time, link up participants were asked to each answer the same question with six photos:
I am cheating a little, showing 6 photos of one thing I made this week.
I’m a designer by trade, and spend a lot of time working with typography. I’ve always known I wanted to learn more about the history of printed type, and the past two weeks I’ve been doing just that.
I signed up for my very first letterpress class at the Visual Arts Center in Richmond. My teacher is the knowledgeable and patient Jason Taylor of Thousand Pound Press – and I’ve learned quite a lot from him already. I’m really enjoying getting ink on my hands and painstakingly arranging rows of lead and wood type to compose designs. The workshop smells deliciously of pigment and paper, and I could spend HOURS poring over the drawers and cases of letterforms and decorative flourishes.
Letterpress is no joke, y’all. Maybe I’m spoiled by having ultimate control over my type on a computer screen, but painstakingly adjusting the spacing between every letter by hand in a type tray is hard work! Having to be so conscious of every decision makes you connect to a design in a completely different way than I am accustomed to on a computer. Every decision is considered and intentional, rather than playful and improvisational on a screen.
This week I made my very first hand-typeset letterpress poster, of one of my favorite phrases. It may not be impressive or lovely – I have a LONG way to go and much to learn, but the learning this process is already making me think about my work differently, and opening my imagination for new projects.
And I’m a little proud for getting outside my comfort zone and trying something completely new. At some point, you have to go from always wishing you knew how to do something, to actually trying it out. So here’s to new adventures – the best is yet to come.
Now it’s your turn. If you have a blog and would like to join the linkup, here’s how it works:
- Post about the same topic: “What do you like to do at home?” with several original images
- Include our button and a link back to this page using this code in your post
- If you don’t have a blog but want to participate, answer with a list below or make a Pinterest board
and share the link in the comments
- Follow at least 4 of the other host’s blogs
- There are PRIZES, Y’all.
The Link Up Participants:
Lauren @ Elleby Design
Erika @ Foxtrot Press
Ashley @ Bricks & Baubles
Lindsay @ Shrimp Salad Circus
Lianne @ A Content Housewife
Jeanette @ Artchoo
Ashley @ She Makes A Home
Suzannah @ Adventures in Dressmaking
Sentrell @ Suite Seven
Dani @ The Future Reynolds
Jenny @ House Full of Pretty
Haeley @ Design Improvised
Eva @ Build House Home
Elleby Design Studio will be the business entity through which I’ll run my freelance design and branding work, my soon-to-be Etsy store and whatever other fun creative ventures I take on.
I’ve been wishing, waiting and wanting to take the leap to become a business owner for the past 4 years, so I woke up this morning smiling and energized to begin a long-anticipated phase in my career.
And it’s a great thing to feel energized, because I have SO much more to do. Every day for the next few weeks I’ll be filing paperwork, setting up accounts and starting work on a new website. There’s a long way to go to a formal launch next year. But somehow, all those steps feel easy like busywork now that I know this thing I’ve been dreaming about for so long is about to be REAL.
I don’t know how it will look in a year, or two or five. I know it will continue to be my side project for the foreseeable future. I have a plan, I know the kind of work I want to do and the things I want to make and the type of clients I want to seek out. For now, that’s a great start. I am joyful knowing there’s something out in the world that I made and I own, and I can be proud of and excited for.
I look forward to sharing more of my design work, and my journey as a business owner with you all. Today’s a really good Monday in my book. Hope you’re all having one, too!