I had decided that I would try to sketch and fill a whole Field Notes pocket book on the trip, and it turned out to be the best idea! I sketched our experiences every day as they happened and got a lot of good practice and fun designs to use.Read More
With all the technology, access to great design ideas and computers at our fingertips - it's easy to cave to the urge of going it alone. I applaud all the DIY you can get away with. When it comes to your business logo and branding, do you have the design knowledge it takes to come up with something original that stands the test of time?
I've come up with 5 reasons why I have the skills to get it done, son.
Reason 1 - Passion
I spent a lot of time in school in my 20's learning how to use my ADHD to my advantage creatively. All jokes aside, I have invested both time and money becoming an expert at graphic design. I have a deep passion for making things really awesome. I cringe at horrible fonts while driving, comment on every new sign on our small town main street, and basically live my life observing design all around us.
I spend my "down time" pursuing other creative hobbies like letterpress printing, screen printing, book making and collaging. I live a life dedicated to making things beautiful around me. When a person hires me to do their logo design, I apply this same passion to find the right solution.
Reason 2 - Education
I thought about not putting this one in there, because sometimes it seems elitist or braggy. In all honesty it's an expense I will live with the rest of my life. Art school. I went to one of the best. This reason isn't enough on its own, because plenty of people went to school for something and totally suck at it.
I went to school for graphic design, and spent about 8 years studying things like Cultural Semiotics and History of Graphic Design to get the foundation I have. At art school, you aren't always just drawing naked people and sipping latte's. I mean maybe some art schools. I spent time learning skills off the computer that help me come up with better, more creative solutions than other people. I spent 60% of my time researching concepts and ideas, which is the true basis of all design. Information. It's just a bonus that growing up I spent all my time organizing boxes of crayons and doing all the art I could get my hands on....
So when you hire me you get a total package - artist, researcher, designer and (sometimes) business counselor. The education from the last ten years working for others and being in business for myself has provided an additional education. Meeting business owners and learning about their unique businesses has provided me with insight to so many different industries. I have worked with people in automotive, entertainment & events, food service, art & cultural institutions, small businesses of all kinds, government agencies, schools, colleges & universities and more.
Reason 3 - Research
The word research is an umbrella term for a few different things. I research your competition, design trends of the industry, the meaning behind your name, the website design that is best for you... Research gets me to solutions. I research what most people don't want to spend time looking into. The work I do upfront has almost nothing to do with art, and yet it provides the connections I need to make the work I do sing.
Reason 4 - Practice
I've had the pleasure of practicing art for my whole life. I've focused on designing things for the last 12. I've made a thousand logos probably, sketched a million doodles, had a trillion ideas. I practice this every. single. day. What takes you 6 hours (designing a flyer, for instance) probably takes me 1. I have tools, expensive tools, and I know how to use them. My tools are on and off the computer.
It takes practice to think creatively. My brain is trained to go there on command. Haha. Okay not on command because let's be real, creativity can be like a fickle cat sometimes. Practicing every day makes me primed for production.
Things I practice every day: the internet, drawing, composition, creative thinking, software mastery, research, seeking inspiration to feed the creative beast, coffee drinking, blogging, social media marketing, business stuff like invoices, fine art things like block printing... It varies day to day but you get the idea.
Reason 5 - Tools
The obvious tools like computer, software, pens, pencils, tracing paper - whatever you imagine a graphic designers tools to be, I use those. I also use things that aren't as obvious. I've used coffee grounds to stain a paper background. I have hand water colored bouquets of flowers. I've carved my design into a linoleum block to get a textured design instead of buying one on adobe stock.
I spent the last month making books, printing prints, carving blocks, letterpressing book covers, drawing every place I've ever visited... This feeds the creative beast and opens me up to tools that someone who lives on a computer is never exposed to. I use things in a new way to create the feelings that attract people. I use all the tools available to me to achieve something totally lovable and original.
The idea here, is that I live, eat and breathe design. It's always a good idea to hire people that are invested in what they do, that is why I hire a plumber to fix my toilet, a lawyer to fix my legal life, an accountant to fix my accounting... I don't have time or desire to learn the ins and outs of any of those things! I'll leave it to them, the same way people should leave designing to designers.
You need a logo, I need something to work on - let's get in touch!
In early December I decided I had to print a vintage Happy Holidays plate I got from eBay. So my boyfriend and I headed out to the presses and set out to print greeting cards in a garage in 20° weather.
The presses live in my friends garage. So we let the Chandler and Price warm up with the motor for about 15 minutes while it spread ink. I pre-cut my cards, so we just went for it. My friend PK also assisted a few prints, as Josh hand turned the fly wheel. Our motor is WAY too fast for our beginner hands, so we are just taking it easy doing some hand turning. Makes sense for winter, really.
We printed about 100 cards total, and it was super fun despite Michigan being pretty wintery this year. I used French Paper Co. paper, they are a Michigan company that has been in business for over 100 years, and I just like supporting Michigan peeps.
Looking for some letterpress? Let's make something!
It's the season of giving, so I made this little calendar available to download for free. It has some original Charmellow artwork about traveling on it to inspire you the whole year through.
Tell your friends! Happy Holidays!
Michigan is stout with natural resources and regions that grow perfect beer ingredients. The Great Lakes Hop & Barley Conference, put on by Michigan State University each year, brings together those resources, farmers, brewers and scientists. Erin Lizotte, one of the organizers and educators for MSU Extension in Cadillac, approached me to tackle a new logo for them. I was invited to come to the conference in 2017 and analyze their existing branding and how the conference flows. I attended lectures, dinners and more lectures. I learned a lot about the farming aspect of craft beer and gained a totally new level of appreciation for our region's beer especially.
The GLHBC needed a newer, brighter, more attractive logo that targeted their audience more directly. The logo they were working with was a bit dainty for the mostly male audience. They wanted the new logo to speak to the science of the beer industry, and the connections people make while they are at the conference. It needed to be strong, and to also work with the MSU logo.
The process started with a pinterest board after multiple discussions about the direction they needed to go. The audience drove the visual research - farmers, brewers, equipment manufacturers - all needed to be reached. From the board, the organizers I worked with chose colors and a general direction that included a farmer. I took that and made the first round of logo options. They chose the early versions of the direction you see displayed here. The icons in the logo kit make up the elements of the conference by representing Michigan, water, beer, hop & barley, farmers and the geometric shape becomes the every growing connections throughout the industry. They got a full set of files and variations, as well as a detailed branding guide to help them effectively use the new graphic design.
The results I will report back on, as the next conference happens in Spring of 2018. It was amazing to work with their dedicated team to make something bold and new for them. I'm excited to see how they use it and how it transforms their conference.
Let's make something together! Get in touch!
12 Ways We Can Work Together
I do a lot of different projects for a wide range of businesses and people. Things like logos, websites and merch are common. I love learning new things and taking on challenging projects. Here are 12 ways we could work together. Got an idea? Let’s chat!
New Website (or an update!)
Maybe you have never heard of websites or maybe you need an update to a site you’ve had for 10 years. Either way there is usually something I can do to help get you current on the internet. I like to make new sites in Square Space or Wordpress for the ease of handing it off to the client.
I have a lot of experience making posters and other event advertising collateral. Print, social media, websites and merch are some of the things I’ve designed for events, musicians, and city governments alike. I can design you a poster, or we can work together to come up with an entire campaign strategy.
Pitching a new event or idea can be stressful, and making a good impression is imperative. Having a well designed pitch deck can be the boost you need in a presentation. I can provide a print or digital deck experience, you provide the content.
Sometimes what we do is more complicated than a simple tagline and needs a good explanation to really sell it. A well written e-book designed with simple to follow formatting can help you seal the deal. A designer can make sure your content sticks with whomever reads it by creating interesting page designs.
Picture this: you’ve got pages of great stats and info in a Word doc. Are you sleeping yet? Jazz up those little info snacks with some icons and pie charts for more impact. I can make your info come alive with original illustrations, icons and other fun design elements.
Logos are a major investment for any company, and its best to get it right! My process involves getting to know you and getting to know what you do. I become your biggest fan and your logo becomes my personal mission.
Letterpress Business Cards
I own some big huge antique presses and can make your business card a unique experience. We can pick paper and get a plate made of your logo. It could be printed in gold. Just saying.
Illustration & Lettering
Hand drawn style isn’t for everyone, but it does lend character to whatever it’s used for. If you are looking for illustration, you probably have an idea. Share it with me. I’ll draw you something magical. Also, I like lettering enough to dedicate a couple sentences here. Need a hand drawn logo for your band? Just say so. Need some fancy script for a chalkboard? Let’s do this.
Editorial & Publication Design
I have a considerable amount of experience in this department. Do you need a visitors guide? I used to design official visitors guides for over 25 US cities and states. Updating your official state map? I can handle the task. From brochures, to catalogs, to editorial design — I have the skills to get it done for you.
I have a ton of actual food service experience (bartending & serving), and happen to love great food and cocktails. Those experiences make me an expert at menu design. Making menus organized and creative is one of my favorite things. A well designed menu can elevate the experience for the customer and increase sales!
Screen Printed Posters
Screen printing adds character to design that digital and offset printing doesn’t have. My studio can handle 2 color prints and up to 11 x 17 poster size.
Between the antique printing presses and my fine art handmade book making skills - I can make the invitations of your dreams. Let’s make those letterpress invites and hand sewn program booklets you always dreamed of. It’s your day after all...
There are countless other ways we can work together to help your business, band, conference or festival. I want to make great experiences for customers everywhere using my design and art skills. If you like what you've seen and read, let's connect!
Art Inspired by the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in Colorado
This year has been pretty crazy for Charmellow. I saved some printing presses from the scrap yard in the spring and have been on a mission of rediscovering my printmaking love ever since. The presses are out in Hoxeyville, 15 miles or so west of Cadillac. They are in a friends garage, covered, along with the rest of the shop. I will do a post about the equipment soon!
Anyway the presses in general have inspired me to start hunting for vintage blocks, carving my own linoleum blocks and lots of experimentation at home. I wrote a nice long list of my favorite places I've visited in the world so far and plan on making prints and plates out of them somehow.
The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado is high on the list of favorite places. I went there one summer when I lived in Denver, while attending a music fest near by. It left a huge happy impression on my heart. In my search for what I love I remembered I loved this place SO MUCH. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga and it just came together to make this.
The stupa is the only one of its kind in Northern America. It stands 108 feet tall, and has an 18 ft. tall golden buddha in the temple. Its nestled in between a couple of small ranges, and you can feel the energy of the place as soon as you park your car. I loved exploring the park area and hike to the stupa, and the temple was awe inspiring. I hope to go back and visit soon, and take them a print!
The first edition of final prints are in blues, gold, red and white. I am thinking up a color scheme to go on some new green paper I have. They will be available on this site soon, and at select stores around the Cadillac area.
5 Things to Ask A Designer on a Free Consult Call
Hiring a graphic designer can start to feel like uncharted territory if you have never worked with one. There are things like price and timing that are maybe obvious questions, but you may think, how do I ask about design services without knowing much about it? You may want to know you can trust them, you want to make sure they are credible and maybe make sure you understand what happens during a logo design process.
Here are five questions you can ask your designer that will get you talking the same language.
1. Have you ever designed for my type of company before?
This question will help get the ball rolling and hopefully open up the conversation for you to explain about your company. It might not matter if they haven’t done specific design for your industry yet. For me, it's part of the process to hear as much about your business as possible. I draw inspiration from the niches of your business.
2. How long have you been designing, what is your design experience?
It's always good to ask a designer what their experience is. This is important to feel someone out if they are experienced enough to give you what you are looking for. You can get more specific with the question as you know more about your project. If you are looking for a poster design, and you want it to be an original illustration, you need to ask if the designer can provide that type of service. I do illustration and could offer that service, but its a specific thing you need to ask me for.
3. How much does the graphic design I want cost? Is there an estimate and contract process?
Lets address the first question.
Graphic design is a broad term for many specialized services. So you should expect the cost of a logo to differ from the cost of a 24 page e-booklet. Their purposes, timelines and files are totally different. Graphic design by a professional is a service like any other. The graphic designer is charged with finding a unique solution to your specific problem. I am well trained for a wide range of services, and they all start from a basis of $75 per hour. I also offer project pricing for larger projects.
Second question, is there an estimate and contract? You should ask this because if there isn't a process in place, they might not be the designer you are looking for. In short, an estimate makes sure you are on the same page for deliverables, pricing and timelines. A contract protects both of you in the rare time that a project relationship goes south.
4. What is the timeline for this kind of project?
Every project is different. A small website could take 2 weeks or three months. There are outside variables always, feedback gets held up on one side or the other. Still, get an idea of a timeline. This also lets you know how busy your designer already is, because they will likely have to work you into their schedule.
5. Will I need to prepare anything?
So you’ve worked out a bunch of the fine details, but where does the content for a website or e-book come from? The designer makes the words and images look gorgeous on the page. If you are working on a website, the words and images are typically supplied by you, the client. You’ve had photos taken professionally or are working on it, and you’ve had someone work on copy (because you’re way too busy for that!). If it's a logo project, you may not need to supply anything but feedback. But definitely no matter the project, be prepared to take an active role in the creation of your project!
It's always a good idea to be prepared, and if you find yourself more prepared than the designer on the other end of the phone - you may want to run the other way. Here are a few more tips to making sure you are a perfect client before you get on the phone.
- Check out the designers website and dig into their projects. You may love what you see and you may also find that their style isn’t a good match. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a designer's site should be full of nice ones.
- If you want an idea of their customer service style, check out their social media. If they are responsive and nice you may find a winner. If they never answer any Facebook posts or Instagram comments, it may be an indication of how they will interact with you.
- Go on Pinterest and start collecting what you like. Its never a bad idea to show a designer what you like or dislike. Never expect a designer to copy anything you’ve found, it's likely protected by an artist's copyright. Pinterest can offer some visuals to talk about, but it shouldn’t go further than an idea sparker!
If you found this helpful and are ready to start your project today, use my contact form and let's get started!
What are your experiences as a freelancer or client? What would your 5 questions be? Comment below!