I'm a creative director at Laughing Samurai. I bark orders. Sometimes people listen. Sometimes they don't. When they play nice, I pay with pizza. And sometimes with Nachos. Hell, sometimes even Beer. Wanna work with me? Let's do this.

The ULTIMATE designer’s guide to using Typekit

Get ready to embark on a splendorous journey. A journey to a world that includes matching typography on both print and web, without having to resort to Verdana or Helvetica. Now there is nothing wrong with either of those fonts, but on this particular journey, you’ll encounter multiple weights, faces and type families. It’s a journey that is sure to bring more awesome to every web project. The journey of topic here is non other than TYPEKIT. Read More »

Properly using and distributing Typekit fonts on print files

Typekit Rocks!

Since the latest release of the Adobe Creative Cloud, designers a plenty have rejoiced at the fact that, since the purchase of Typekit by Adobe, they can now take advantage of the font libraries available for use under the Typekit fonts license. Being able to use and package Typekit fonts on print files, fonts which were originally only available for websites, means you can now use the same fonts on print and online, and preserve branding consistency across mediums and platforms.

Of course, these same rejoicing designers consequently poop their pants when they realize they can’t collect the fonts for output, since these are subscribed to fonts as opposed to the downloaded files that we are all accustomed to. What do you do? There are several workarounds to using and distributing Typekit fonts in print files: Read More »

Typography in logo design

Typography in logo design

Anyone can take a nicely illustrated graphic, plop the latest and greatest font on it and call it a logo. It takes a responsible and smart designer to understand that a logo is much more than that. Simply typing out a name in a font and adjusting the kerning won’t do either. You need to get in there and get your hands dirty. The following are a few things to consider when designing your next logo: Read More »

Learn how to interpret feedback as if your job depended on it… because it does.

Make the logo bigger. Make the logo smaller. Increase the font by half a point. Make it pop. It doesn’t do it for me. I don’t know what I want, but I will once I see it.

We’ve all heard it at least once. Feedback from someone that either doesn’t know how to give feedback, or from someone that has no clue what goes on in design. The availability of desktop publishing and design software, both good and bad, has led to many people thinking that by learning how to use the software they are, in turn, learning how to design. We know thats not necessarily true, right? I mean, we do know that there are other things to learn before one can attempt to design anything. Things like Typography, spatial relationships and negative space, concept development, creative ideation, color theory… even simpler things like learning how to draw, are all crucial to becoming a good designer. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
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Haters gonna hate!

Don't be a jackass. Learn how to properly critique.

As creatives we are compelled to critique. It’s basically hardwired in our brains. Is it because, as creatives, we have an innate need to be heard? Is it because we believe things can always be done better? Who knows. At least I don’t. What I do know is that some creatives tend to go for the jugular when it comes to offering criticism on someone’s work. Maybe out of jealousy. Maybe because we feel we could have done it better. Whatever the case, I feel that negative feedback is not a critique. Not only is it destructive to the person receiving it (no matter how much they “ignore” it), but it doesn’t help the creative and personal growth of the person dishing it out.
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Convert outlined text to live text. No re-typing required.

Let’s say you have this multi-column Adobe Illustrator file, and you need to get some text from it. So, you open the file, only to realize… IT’S ALL OUTLINED.

OK… Don’t freak out! You won’t have to re-type all that text. I can show you how to re-text outlined text. It’s quite simple actually.

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Design a portfolio that will land you the job.

Sumo's challenge each other in the ring. I challenge you to improve your portfolio every day.

So you’re ready to hit the pavement running looking for a graphic designer job, but do you know how your design portfolio is going to stand up? A good resume will always make a great impression, but the reality is your portfolio is probably going to be reviewed first. With a portfolio that is designed to win jobs, you’re increasing your chances of getting your foot in the door for an interview.
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The case for originality.

Lets face it. Design is borrowing. You can cry rules of balance and negative space all you want, but at the end of the day, it really is just borrowing. We take inspiration from one thing, and apply some of it to another. A very high level copy/paste if you will. Now, don’t pull your hair out Sally, let me explain.

Ideas are created from our experiences. The kid who dropped his churro in front of you. The dirty joke you got from that “inner circle” chain mail you “love”. The way the sun reflects on that flash drive sitting on your desk. All these random and seemingly disconnected stimuli gather in your brain for this super trippy electro-chemical fertility dance that somehow, by some act of what I can only describe as pure wizardry, birth an idea.

But there is a fine line between inspiration, and straight copying. And spare me the whole “ultimate form of flattery” crap. It ain’t flattering to see your design plastered all over a brand, especially when the lint in your pocket isn’t hanging out with a roll of cash. Being copied sucks. As creatives, we’ve got to have the common sense to know the difference between copying and drawing inspiration from something existing. Copying for the sake of riding the coat-tails of an idea that was highly successful is as smart as jumping on a trampoline – seems like a great idea until you’re flying head first to the ground from 15 feet in the air. I mean, how many “Got Milk?” inspired campaigns, (see Brand Strategy: Does it pay to be original?), or “iThings” can we really take until we realize “What the fuck!?”.

Get inspired. Go create. Be original.

Design a winning resume.

As a creative director, a ton of resumes fly across my desk, some are awesome and some are OK, but then there is the vast majority that are straight up bad. If you are applying for a design job, your resume is your foot in the door. This thing needs to have fireworks and horns playing as the person opens it. Now, I don’t mean you need to go all crazy like the business card dude on YouTube, but do keep in mind that this is the decisive moment between getting and not getting the interview.

Your resume needs to not only make sense, but it needs to be designed for good legibility. The goal here is to have the reader go through the whole thing, or at least be able to skim the major points.

The following are a few tips to take into consideration when designing your resume. I will not go into detail as far as the content of your resume, but I do know that it has to make sense, and it needs to be succinct and relevant to the interviewer. For example, don’t put a Telemarketing Phone Attendant position if you are applying for a Graphic Design position.
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Creativity will happen. Or not.

Creativity has a mind of its own. You can try to harness it by following rituals and lighting some incense, but at the end of the day, creative thought will come when it wants to. I don’t know what sparks it for me. Maybe someone has figured this out. It happens sometimes at the perfect moment, sometimes in situations that are soon followed by an awkward moment, and sometimes a little too late to make a difference.

I do know this. Never force creativity, because it will come back and kick you in the nuts. I laugh when clients ask me “how soon before you have something?” My answer is usually something along the lines of a vague time or an “I don’t know”. The “I don’t know” is rarely well received. I try never to force creativity. I will not say I’ve never tried to. Some things have come out of these. These forced ideas are usually the rejected ones. I do think that it is good practice to let all your ideas out, no matter how bad they are. If you let out the bad ideas, they make way for the good ideas. And thats what we all want, don’t we? That one good idea?

The smart thing to do is to get into a habit. For me it is turning on some music and getting knee deep into whatever problem I’m trying to solve. And by knee deep I mean research. Get so immersed in the subject matter and do so much research that eventually the solutions start surfacing, and as they do, I write them down.

Of course, some ideas don’t arrive as easy. Some problems are so tough that even brainstorming sessions don’t do much for them but waste a whole teams time. It’s that one problem you can’t figure out how to solve. That one problem that keeps you up at night. The one that makes your stomach fill with anxiety to the point where you can’t eat. The one that makes everyone become irritating, even your cute kid trying to cuddle. Get off of me! Why are you all so happy and jolly? I cant figure this thing out, can’t you see? What the fuck are you looking at? Then it happens. The moment every creative person looks for. It’s like that eight hundred pound silverback has stopped pummeling your stomach. Creative nirvana. You find the idea. An idea so grand, you can’t wait to tap that keg and call your colleagues at 3 a.m. The ONE (cue the choir of angels).

Okay, maybe it’s not that spiritual.

Remember that creativity should never be forced. Find a creative habit that works best for you, and capitalize on it. Budget yourself a reasonable amount of time to get the ideas you need, being mindful of your deadlines, and let creativity happen. It will come thru. It always does.