July 21, 2016

October 29, 2014

5 lessons learned at the 2014 Brand New Conference

Filed under: Branding,Creativity — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

2014 Brand New Cnference in chicago

I recently attended the Brand New Conference in Chicago, a 2-day event that focuses on corporate and brand identity.

In addition to having the best lanyards and stage set-up ever (see above), the conference shared branding wisdom from designers from around the world. In fact, the conference itself was a perfect example of branding at work.

5 lessons learned

  1. Use all of your experiences as influence for your work. (Lance Wyman)
  2. Craft is still important in design. (discussed by most of the speakers)
  3. Use your environment as inspiration. (Sebastian Padilla)
  4. Strategy and brand positioning are the foundation for design solutions. (Sol Sender)
  5. Use your skills to make an impact. (Justin Ahrens)

Heading to a conference soon? Read my tips for designing the perfect conference experience.

June 5, 2014

Book review: Issue 21 of UPPERCASE Magazine

Filed under: Book review — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am
UPPERCASE 21 and my patterns

Issue 21 of UPPERCASE and a pattern I recently printed

OK, a few things: UPPERCASE is technically a magazine, not a book. However, I believe the quality of content and creativity in each issue qualifies it as a book. Second, I haven’t even read the whole issue yet. But I saw that the new issue is underway, so I wanted to make sure people could get their hands on this one!

UPPERCASE is an amazing magazine, full of design and art inspiration (not to mention created and published by a small staff). Having just taken a screenprinting on fabric class that developed my obsession for patterns, Issue 21 and its included Surface Pattern Design Guide made it a must-buy.


If you are a pattern lover, hurry and get this issue now!

Buying info | Issue 21 of UPPERCASE, Spring 2014


January 15, 2013

Featured Project: Ralyn Shoe Care rebranding

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 11:55 am

Justin Blair & Company’s Ralyn Shoe Care had a problem: the line didn’t have a unified look or branding. I worked with them to rebrand Ralyn and position it as a complete shoe care program from a company that values quality and experience.


  • Creating a brand that appeals to the customer (shoe care stores, department stores) as well as the end user
  • Integrating the branding into multiple packaging types and orientations
  • Working with multiple vendors with varying artwork requirements
  • Designing for multiple color spaces and achieving color match on myriad substrate types, ranging from aerosol cans to paper boxes
  • Creating innovative solutions for budgetary restrictions

Our solutions

We developed new packaging designs that unified the brand and emphasized the company’s shoe care experience. Each category was color-coded (i.e. leather care, suede care) for the end user’s benefit.

We also created a brand standards manual to assure brand unity when Justin Blair & Company is developing future products.

How did we do?

Overall, the product line has experienced a large increase in interest and sales, with some customers purchasing products they’ve never bought before. In fact, the Ralyn Suede Care Kit (shown above at right) experienced a huge jump in sales, with 2-week totals exceeding the previous year’s totals.

October 5, 2012

Blogging mamas

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business,Social Media — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:23 am

In my recent research on blogging, I’ve discovered that many bloggers are also moms. This surprised and delighted me. It’s nice to feel like you have a connection with people you follow online.

Some of the blogging gals already had children when they started their blog, while others started their blogging careers while pregnant or after their first child. Now before you start thinking: they have it so easy, not having a “job” to go to every day. Many of the bloggers, I found out, work full-time on their blogs and care for their children, which isn’t an easy task.

Blogging, like other freelance careers, offers the flexibility to work on your own schedule—which is perfect for moms. But is also means long hours and hard work, which requires a a lot of planning and balance when you have a family. Now, I don’t plan to become a full-time blogger but I really admire the ones who are. Give them a shoutout next time you are on their blog!

A few of my favorite blogging mamas

A Cup of Jo

Oh Joy!

Mom Inc. Daily

Making it Lovely

More blogging mamas…

Speaking of blogging mamas, Babble just released their list of Top 50 Design Blogs for Mom (including many of my faves!)


Who are your favorite blogging mamas?

October 6, 2011

The evolution of graphic design tools #thankyousteve

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 5:40 pm

The evolution of graphic design tools: circa 1991-1994. (photos from Wikipedia)

My first experience with an Apple Macintosh computer was as a design student at Columbia College Chicago in the early-90s.

Computers had just started to break into the design industry. Having a love of fine art, I was initially opposed to abandoning my craft for the beige plastic box (“Me, use a computer? Never!”) However, once I realized how much easier—and dare I say fun!—it was to complete my design assignments on the Mac rather than using rubdown type, letrafilm, rapidograph pens and the dreaded stat machine (youngsters, click the links if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I was sold.

In those days, most students didn’t have a computer at home (so expensive!) so I was lucky to attend a school that believed in staying up-to-date with technology. When I arrived at Columbia College in 1991, they had a handful of Mac Classics. By the time I graduated, there was a room full of fancy Mac Quadras, complete with scanners, Zip drives and color laser printers. How quickly times were changing! And how much faster we could get our homework done! Many nights were spent in the design lab, working away on a Mac and printing and assembling design projects.

So as I type away on my Mac keyboard, I thank you Steve Jobs for allowing me to be a part of the evolution of design technology.

July 21, 2011

Lessons learned: thoughts on the HOW Design Conference #HOWLive

Filed under: Creativity,Small Business — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 9:28 am

HOW Design Conference in Chicago

Last month, I attended my very first HOW Design Conference in Chicago. It seems crazy that I waited so long, seeing as I started my design business over ten years ago. But since it was in my hometown, I made the time and effort. Now, being seven months pregnant at the time, it was a bit of a challenge and I did have to make some concessions (going home early, no cocktails) but it was well worth it.

In addition to catching up with friends and colleagues and making new connections, I walked away with a wealth of knowledge—and a new outlook on my business.

Lessons learned at the HOW Design Conference

  1. Go to more design conferences: it wasn’t long before I realized the benefits of being around like-minded creatives and how that could inspire my own work.
  2. Read more books: many of the speakers mentioned useful books—and the onsite HOW Bookstore was a great source of inspiration. I walked away with books on photography (Photo Idea Index) and web design (Above the Fold)—and recently picked up a copy of a book I had been eyeing at the conference (Made to Stick).
  3. Incorporate what I love into my business: Peleg Top‘s session, The Creative Side of Running a Business, made me realize how personal interests can be used to enrich your business. Actually, several of the speakers mentioned this concept which really resonated with me. (see #4 and #5 below)
  4. Focus on a creative obsession: Armit Vit‘s session Turning Your Creative Obsessions into Opportunities was one of the most inspiring. As someone who always has several “creative obsessions,” I realized how focusing on one (or at least just a few) can lead to business opportunities.
    One of my current creative obsession: photographing automatic sprinklers in my neighborhood. See the flickr set in-progress here.
  5. Incorporate personal interests into my work: Stephen Doyle‘s session, Where Ideas Come from and Where They Go, was a great example of this. He has successfully integrated both his remarkable paper sculptures and other personal interests into client and professional projects.
  6. Ask for advice: after taking a fantastic workshop on making and selling products by Heather Lins of Heather Lins Home, I realized the importance of asking for advice. Having your questions answered by someone who has been through it successfully can boost your confidence and encourage new ways of thinking.
  7. Tell a story: whether it’s for a client or your own business, it’s important to tell a story and be authentic.

Did you attend the HOW Design Conference in Chicago? What were your top takeaways?

June 28, 2011

Designing the perfect conference experience

Filed under: Small Business,Tipsheet — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 12:26 pm

Going to an industry conference can be overwhelming. So many sessions to choose from, people to network with, resources to learn about—not to mention socializing with industry friends and colleagues. Whew.

After attending my very first HOW Design Conference in Chicago this weekend, I’ve decided to share a few ways I discovered to make attending a conference more manageable and rewarding.

How to design your conference experience

  1. Scenes from the HOW Design Conference in Chicago

    Create your schedule: decide in advance which sessions you want to attend (as well as vendor tables) and mark your calendar or onsite agenda—this way, you won’t miss out on anything. Unless you forget to look at your calendar, which I tend to do! (see question #3)

  2. Pack your supplies: bring lots of business cards, plus a notebook and pens. A small pouch to store collected business cards is handy (thanks to my friend Grace for that idea!) as well as a water bottle.
  3. Make a list of people to meet: amid the myriad attendees, you may forget who you wanted to catch up with. I like to make a list in Evernote so I can update on the fly.
  4. Refer to your agenda often: it’s easy to get off-track and miss sessions or other activities while you’re wandering or networking. Also a good idea is to set alarms on your mobile calendar.
  5. Get out of your comfort zone: introduce yourself to a person you’ve been wanting to meet: a speaker, someone you follow on twitter, etc.
  6. Collaborate with others: put yourself in situations where you can bounce ideas off others, i.e. speaker lunches, roundtable sessions. Often it’s easier for an outsider to give you a new perspective.
  7. Be open to new ideas: listen to other people’s opinions, take a session you may not ordinarily choose.
  8. Talk to as many people as possible: you never know where that next great idea (or resource) will come from.
  9. Take lots of notes: I like to create a margin in my notebook where I keep a running “to do list” or list of action items (which makes #13 much easier!)
  10. Don’t burn out: take frequent breaks, drink lots of water—and if necessary, duck out of a session (inconspicuously, of course) that is draining your energy.
  11. Keep a “follow-up” list: make a list of people to follow-up with post-conference—include notes to jog your memory (after several days, it’s easy to forget!) Again, I use Evernote for this task.
  12. Keep in touch: follow up with the valuable connections you make: email about something you spoke about, add them to your newsletter, or just say hi.
  13. Give yourself time to decompress: wait a bit before you dive into all the information you collected. It gives your body and mind time to relax—plus it firms up ideas swimming in your head.
  14. Make a post-conference “To Do list”: go through your notes and create a “To Do List”: a list of action items that you can focus on based on what you learned.

How do you make the most of a conference? Leave a comment!

April 6, 2011

See one of our designs in The Big Book of Packaging!

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , — lidia @ 4:30 pm

Yesterday, I received my copies of The Big Book of Packaging, featuring one of my packaging design projects.

Featured in the book is product packaging and a POP display we designed for Justin Blair & Company‘s  line of foot comfort products. (Read more about the project)

Produced by Crescent Hill Books and published by HarperCollins Publishers, the book features hundreds of fine examples of packaging design—not to mention a rockin’ binding with exposed book boards (fellow bookbinding geeks will appreciate this). A great reference for designers and marketers alike.

Thanks to Crescent Hill and HarperCollins for the opportunity to be a part of this exciting new book!

March 16, 2011

How to rock your business card

Filed under: Design & Art,Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 9:38 am

some of my favorite biz cards

Recently, there was a segment on CBS News about the importance of business cards. It got me thinking: what makes a business card effective?

I host networking events, so I see a lot of business cards (not to mention designing quite a few for my own clients). I’ve noticed that some of them just naturally stand out from the others. So, what makes a business card rise to the top of the stack?

Qualities of an effective business card

  1. It’s unique and memorable. Whether expressed through format (size, shape, folds), paper stock (heavy, textured, plastic, wood) or design, a memorable business card will stay in your recipient’s mind—and on their desk.
  2. The contact info is clear and complete. Ever received a card without an address or URL? It’s frustrating—and makes you less likely to keep that company in mind. Make sure your business card includes the basics: name, address, phone/fax number, email, URL. Then consider adding “extras”: twitter username, blog URL, hours of operation, product offerings
  3. It expresses your business. Incorporate an aspect of your business or personality into the card: if you’re a home builder, print your card on wood. If you sell a product, include a photo of it. Remember: this little piece of paper is selling for you long after you’ve walked away—so make the space count.
  4. It doesn’t overwhelm the recipient. Nowadays, many of us wear multiple hats—but don’t cram everything onto a 2″ x 3-1/2″ card. Consider creating a second business card for your ancillary business offerings.
  5. It’s well-designed and thought-out. A good business card—just like a good business—is not thrown together quickly, but thoughtfully considered, planned and executed. Need help? Talk to a graphic designer experienced with branding and identity (and I just happen to know one!)

View the CBS news segment “The Business of Designing Business Cards” here.

Seen examples of effective business cards? Thoughts about business cards in general? Share them in the comments!

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