Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Photo Card Design Challenge

is designing templates for cards and announcements to celebrate events I won't be attending. As a graphic designer, there's a message – or a mood – I need to create on the page.  And the style needs to fit the person who chooses it.  So, to create a super-cute card template that highlights a birthday party or celebration I won’t be attending – well, talk about a challenge!
is to imagine a particular party theme or event and pretend that it’s my kid, my friend or family member I’m throwing the event for. Then I can begin researching imagery for that theme.

“What card would I design for my best friend's baby shower invitation?”
“What would I do for my boss’s son’s high school graduation announcement?”
“What would I do for my 40th birthday invitation (ahhhhh!)?”

The creative juices start to flow. Once I’m inspired, I begin to put the pieces together, one by one. They always come together, and it's always a nice surprise.

that make up a custom photo card are three-fold:
1. Theme: I choose a background texture or fun imagery like a stocking for Christmas or beach ball for summertime fun.
2. Photograph: This is a bit of a mystery to me since I haven't seen the customer who'll choose the design. So I find an image I like that best matches the theme I’ve created.
3. Content: Sometimes I add a clever header that goes with the theme; otherwise all the words can be customized.

is the most important thing when I design a card! The size, the shape, how the theme elements work with the photo area. It’s the customer whom we create something special for – not me. It’s their photo, their content that really makes that card special. The design I create should enhance the picture, not clash against it.

all these elements together, and I usually (and modestly) come up with a winning design. It’s great to have a creative outlet like to “let my hair down” and design a card that someone will someday order and enjoy. If I’m lucky, they’ll order it on a magnet. Magnet cards have a fridge life of seven years. Crazy, huh? Just look at your fridge – how long has some of that stuff been up there? You might be surprised. . . or well, maybe not.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Graduation Announcements Made Easy

My son's school planned to purchase graduation announcements from the same vendor they'd used for previous classes. The previous vendor gave the school a higher bid than last year and required they send the order in sooner than expected.  

What? In this economy?

Being somewhat connected to (okay, I own it), I asked for a custom announcement, which the elves took delight in whipping up. I sent samples to the school that they could touch, see and feel. Soon after, we heard from the person in charge at the school. "WOW – thanks! Those are awesome!" read her email message. The school then sent notice to the parents of all seniors, and the orders started rolling in.

By the time graduation rolled around, most of the seniors had ordered their announcements from, and the school even asked us to produce graduation programs for the actual event.

True story. Better, less expensive, and custom. The elves did well!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Beach is Back!

Ah. . . in less than two weeks I will be lying on a white blanket of sand, soaking in the sun, salty breeze, and the bliss that comes with not being at work. Not that I don’t have a spectacular job, mind you. I work at a great place, and they don’t even have to pay me to say that. (Thankfully, they still do!)

Ben, our creative director, will beat me to the beach by one week. He’s always doing that, beating me to the beach. But he’s native to the Gulf Coast, so I guess he’s got that advantage. He’s from the Mississippi stretch, so I’ll give him that one. (Goodness knows Mississippi needs an advantage.)

The Gulf Coast has taken some hard hits. Katrina chewed up the soles of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The rabid hurricane took the lives of 1,800 people, the homes of 75,000 more, and a big bite out of the Gulf Coast economy. The beaches, hotels, restaurants were wrecked. With nowhere to stay, people still came to help.

After a few years, people were coming back to the beach just for fun. But that still helped. Our vacation dollars helped get the struggling coastal towns back on their feet.

Then came the Gulf Oil spill last year, perhaps the worst spill in history. It dumped about five million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf. The oil washed up on the beaches, bathing wildlife and coastline in brown goo. 

Nobody wanted to eat the seafood. A friend of mine in Mobile lost his restaurant because of it. In October my mom and I went down to the Panhandle. Workers were still cleaning up oil when we got there, but by the end of the week, the beaches were clean. At least from a distance.

This year the beach has been revitalized. The sand and water are pristine, and I can already hear the waves calling to me. I’m glad to do my part to support the maritime merchants and coastline industry. The beach is back, and I am back to it! (And when I return, I will get back to making fun of Ben.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another school year, another narrow escape

Once again the school year has drawn to a merciful close. Ah, saved by the bell once again. I don’t think we could’ve lasted many more rounds hitting the ol’ books; as my earlier blog has revealed, studying has never exactly been my son’s forté. But he made it through the ninth grade, I’m proud to say, and it was a nail-biter till the end. We owe a lot to Memorial Day for finally showing up and calling the match.

Summer’s just heating up, but for me and my house,
the real sweating is over.

In adult world, most of us work 12 months a year, minus time off for the occasional vacation. Still, when school gets out for summer, I feel like I get out too. I get to sleep late, but even better, I don’t have to keep up with all those homework assignments.

Yes, I know, I shouldn’t have to keep up with those. My son is old enough to drive a car; he should be able to keep up with his own schoolwork. I hear you. Most parents don’t bum rush their kids’ schoolwork like I do. They don’t remind them when their projects are due, or what chapters their tests will cover.

But they probably don’t need to. My son has classic ADHD. I’m told it can actually be an asset later on, but for now, it doesn’t help so much getting through high school.

It’s a delicate balance for the mom of a kid with ADHD. 

I want my son to stand on his own, but I realize he has a predisposition that makes it harder for him to do so. It’s not his fault. I don’t want to do too much for him, but I don’t want to do too little either. Advice is mixed. Some say let him fail on his own; he’ll learn responsibility, and the tough value of consequences. But he’s already a year older than other kids in his grade. Do I want to see him fall further behind, for the sake of “a lesson” that might not teach him anything? And would this “lesson” be more important than the ones they’re teaching him in school? Shouldn’t I want to help him learn those lessons, as much as any other?

I realize, of course, my son could do better than he’s doing. Homework, for example, is more important than video games. Completing assignments, and actually handing them to the teacher, is also more helpful than cramming them in the bottom of his backpack and finding them a month (or a year) later.

These are things we’re working on. He gets more practiced each round. But going the distance will mean cracking a lot more books come fall. For us the glory of each passing school year has been, well, passing. In the meantime, I’m grading his progress on a curve. After all, love covers a multitude of bad grades.