Copyright or Copy wrong?

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery, especially when it comes to copying your creative work. Forget all the bad examples big business has shown by copying their competitors, making slight changes and calling it innovation! This only dilutes what could be a marketplace with an abundant stream of ideas.

Lazy Mind Copy Idea written on a scrabble tile coaster.

Copyright is something that concerns all artists and designers.  Whilst influence is natural plagiarism is far more calculated. Did you know that the practice of copying work and making slight changes is known as ‘Derivative Works’ and that only the original copyright owner has the right to make them? Continue reading

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Etsy UK Captain’s Summit 2016

This month I took part in the 3rd Etsy UK Captain’s Summit in Cambridge with Lottie from SimplyCharlotteB. The Summit was an opportunity to share help and advice on team issues like how the Etsy Made Local Christmas markets went, while catching up with friends and partaking in tea and cake. Lots of tea and cake!

Etsy Admin organised the event around the theme of the Great British Bake Off!  I have to say a big thank you for all the effort that went into making it a really great weekend. I was very happy that I didn’t need any of my emergency food. Big big-ups to Francesca, Ajeet, Sarah & Susannah for looking after everyone so well and for the constant supply of tea and cookies. Continue reading

A Designer's Toolkit Banner

Discovering ‘My Toolkit’

I’ve read a few posts lately about ‘What’s in Your Toolkit?’ I honestly thought I knew what was in mine. As a graphic designer you instantly think your software and your hardware. This week I realised there is much more to it than that. There’s obviously your medium but the one that surprised me was masking tape.

It’s definitely something that I considered to be more at home in my Dad’s toolkit.  I didn’t realise how much I rely on it until I ran out this week.  It got me thinking about all the other essentials that I take for granted – until I either can’t find them or they have run out.

Toolkit - Tea, tape, Etsy pencil & craft knife.

Toolkit – Tea, tape, Etsy pencil & craft knife.

Luckily I have collected a lot of pencils from various places so breaking one won’t result in me turning my studio upside down looking for a sharpener.

The focus on sharing or knowing the contents of your toolkit has really made me realise that this is an area I need to work on. If I put them together in a toolbox (minus my computer and software of course) completing work will involve far less hunting and gathering and result in a more fluid workflow.

I’d love to hear if you have the same issues with hunting for tools, or if you were surprised by how much you rely on basic items to get your work finished……. be it caffeine, tape or music. What’s missing from your toolkit?

Are we putting design before readability?

Your first consideration when designing for print is readability or your content won’t reach it’s market. Why spend all that time preparing your text if people are going to struggle to read it? The design style should not overshadow the content otherwise you might as well scrap the text all together.

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I was told last year by a recruitment company that there is a shortfall in people with ‘Design for Print skills’. After the fall the print industry took during the most recent recession I can’t say I’m surprised.  I didn’t think about this any further until today.

Continue reading

Improving Product Photography

This week Etsy Resolution got me thinking about my photos as some of them don’t do the products justice. If you’ve ever had to photograph printed designs you’ll know the problems I’ve been having. The aim is to make the media and the design look as crisp as possible but both can look pixelated when photographed.

The results can look anything but professional.  Any attempts to correct it can make them look bleached which in turn reduces the quality of the digital design.  One tip I have experimented with this weekend comes from Lyndsey James of Photocraft.  She told to me that if you struggle to achieve a perfect white background then why not go for a comfortable grey.  This is ideal for my white stickers on a white backing sheet.

Here are the results of my experiments using some 1 inch circle stickers that I made for Victoria from Destai Designs on Etsy.   By not having to make the background a crisp white colour I can ensure the digital design has the right amount of contrast.  Keeping the brightness down means the white stickers show up against the white backing sheet.

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It looks like I have a lot more listings to work on now.  Do you have trouble photographing any of your listings?

Recycled Rustic Kraft Cards

Visual Communication & Instagram

Are you a Visual Communicator? Back in the 90’s you studied Vis Comm to become a graphic designer. Nowadays it’s a skill that all people in the creative industries need to learn to share their work and signpost their selling platforms.

My favourite platform for visual communication right now is Instagram. It’s a great place to tell a story using photographs alone.  People on Instagram love a WIP otherwise known as a ‘Work In Progress’. It’s the fly on the wall view into the work space of many talented designers and the journey that takes you to the finished product that really appeals to people. Continue reading

Rethinking my ToDo List

Do you love a ToDo List and the satisfaction you get when you cross an accomplishment off the list?  I like writing them in pencil in case I have to change something, then I can rub it out and replace it later.  I picked this up from my Dad who would write estimates using the pencil he would stash behind his ear.

So far this all works well for me.  The problem starts when I have lots of different things to do especially ones with different timescales.   I never know where to put them.  The small list that I write on the back of a recycled envelope evolves to look like this…..
Shopping list

I started to think that having more of a structure to my ToDo list might help me actually get more done.  I looked into apps but was worried I would lose the reward of crossing off my task and would feel less compelled to clear my list.

I tried writing everything in the Notes app on my phone but would forget to look.  I even resorted to this for a while……..

Phone reminder using a posit note

I got a few funny looks and the posit note fell off plenty of times and went missing.

At this point my partner told me about an app called Clear.  You can group your tasks into folders enabling you to designate some of those immovable entries to a more long-term folder. You give the folder a name and then create an individual list for each of your new categories.

Clear app

My favourite features

  • Swipe right if you need to remove an entry
  • Swipe left and you will cross off a completed task
  • Your task will dim and drop to the bottom of the list
  • You get to marvel at how much you’ve done

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  • You can even set an alarm to remind you to check or update your list
  • Alarms can be seen on your lock screen and notifications list
  • You can customise the look of your lists by selecting an overall theme

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  • Haha best of all if you try and set the alarm for a time in the past you get this great film reference to Back to The Future!

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It’s great for organising your Etsy shop, your bills, going away or pretty much anything you need a list for.  I do still use the back of a recycled envelope for the supermarket as there are still some places I don’t like to get my phone out.

You can get Clear on iOS, Mac, Android & Windows.

Is there an app or particular system that works for you?  Do you find the traditional pen and paper method works best?