Accomplished Graphic Designers Expand Into the Digital Media Market

The definition of graphic design is expanding as new technologies grow. Skilled graphic designers solve visual communication problems or troubles. Proficient in design, drawing, color, typography, production, and rendering methods, off-set printing, as well as common software used in the graphic-design market such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are necessary. With the development in new media, a comprehension about photography, and time-based and interactive media including film, video, and computer multimedia also are of great importance to keep abreast of technology. Although graphic-designers find solutions primarily for print, advertisements, annual reports, packaging, business stationery, brochures, flyers, catalogues, logos, and just about anything you can think of to help businesses stand out, their design “eye” is also used in electronic media sources such as video and audio recordings, multimedia presentations, slide presentations, CD-ROM and website content.

Determining the social and cultural norms of a specific audience helps graphic artists efficiently construct visual solutions. They need to identify the communication’s issue, then collect and examine information related to the issue, and finally crank out numerous approaches to solve the problem. Effective graphic design is perceived as understandable, appropriate, and useful. We see graphic design everywhere in our daily lives in magazines, newspapers, and books, in hand made work, on painted canvas, expressed through photography, or in pure text. The work of graphic artists and its impression has been around for many years.

While in art school, students take graphic and design courses aimed at both print and multimedia design. It is in the best interest of graphic artists to be introduced to both areas, because many designers work in the visual development of web design. If artists want to remain competitive, graphic / web designers must keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies. In the constantly changing field of graphic design, there are website designers who also are graphic designers and vice versa. However, there are other artists who have decided to specialize only in print related graphic design or only in web site design and its development with a concentration on the technical side of web site building.

It’s fascinating to note that currently many people associate graphic artists only with the print medium. But the times are changing. Even though website designers are not able to exist without the web, and graphic artists really don’t need the web to practice their profession, there are numerous artists involved in the visual creation of websites. Within just the commercial art field there are discussions among artists about the differences between graphic and web designers. Many feel that website design is a sub category of graphic-design.

However, website designers have to take into consideration content design and usability, user experience, and other functional criteria which all relate to the particular features of the Web medium. Website designers need more skills beyond those of traditional graphic artists, whereas the conventional graphic designer continues to find answers to communication problems by deciding on color, font, and images. The conventional graphics job may call for branding such as logo design that showcase a particular idea or identity to be used in a business enterprise’s advertising and other marketing strategies, or almost anything you can think of to enable a group stand out, or it may require constructing posters, signs, brochures, books, or incredible images in the digital media.

Discerning graphic artists do become knowledgeable about the wants for elegant web design while working closely with the web developers, who will turn their visual web designs into the code which enables them to be displayed on the Internet. For the artists who also welcome the technical side of web site creation, they may end up either exchanging their graphic artists’ role for website designer hats or just using both simultaneously!

The Best Graphic Design Laptops

If you’re a graphic designer, then you might be wondering what the best laptop for graphic design is. This is a question that can be easily answered when you take a look at the laptops hardware, rather than the software installed. The hardware will influence how well the laptop performs when running software programs.

Plenty of people tend to choose either Apple or Dell when it comes to notebooks, due to strong brand awareness. They usually employ a lot of marketing strategies which make it clear that you won’t ever regret choosing one of their products. These two brands are known pretty much anywhere you look as the top manufacturers for all things laptop related.

If we’re talking about laptops for graphic design, then we shouldn’t ignore these two brands either since their products usually integrate the best in the tech world, and the models they bring out on a regular basis will have the latest processor model, along with more RAM than the previous model and a better graphics card.

Let’s take a look at a few of the things that actually matter for graphic designers:

Screen Size and Resolution

When you choose a laptop, make sure you understand this spec. The screen resolution if the amount of actual pixels the laptop can output on the screen, and it won’t necessarily have to do with the actual screen size itself. There are certain ultra-portable laptop models with small screens but high resolutions. This doesn’t mean you should settle for a small screen laptop for your design work. A 13 inch laptop might be attractive at first sight, and it might bring a lot of portability to the table, but it gets rather difficult to do any editing on such a small screen.

Your aim should be at a laptop which carries a screen that’s at least 15.4 inches in diagonal screen size. Also, the pixel density, or DPI should be high. There are new laptop models which can output Full HD resolutions even on a standard 15.4inch screen.

Before you buy the thing, make sure you test it out. This means doing an actual resolution test and see which resolution works best for you. These newer notebooks are capable of decent resolutions and it would be wise to take your time and go through them.

You should open up several programs, like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator and see how the overall layout of the software fits into the screen, how large the editing space really is and if the edited image is sharp enough for you to work with. After several tries, you should come to a point where you find a laptop that’s just perfect for the work you intend to do.

If there’s a laptop you might like, like one of those MacBook Air which are rather small both in resolution output and the screen size itself, it’s a good idea to get a monitor which you can use to extend the current laptop desktop, so you can store all the toolbars and dockers on your laptop screen and do the editing work on the big monitor where you can see it better.

System memory or RAM

The system memory is another crucial factor to look for when you’re picking a laptop for graphic design work. Graphic design programs tend to use a lot of RAM and that can lead to poor system performance if the laptop is not prepared for such a task. The more RAM your laptop has, the better it will run in the grand scheme of things. A lot of RAM means the added ability to run several design programs at once and easily switch between them. The amount of system memory installed will also impact pretty much anything else you might be running on your computer, from movies, games, browsing or actual office work.

Now I know a lot of graphic designers and they tend to run a lot of programs all at once. Of course, their computers are configured with a ton of system memory which makes it easier for the computer to handle running Photoshop, Illustrator and other vector graphic design programs all at once. The thing to remember here is that the amount of system memory directly impacts overall system performance.

Your aim should be in the 4GB range minimum, and that’s just for starters. If you’re on a budget, this is your starting point and you should plan to add more memory modules in the future.

If you want to heavily multitask and run several programs aside from the graphic design ones, you should think about laptops with about 8GB of RAM installed. Several laptops available in the current market allow you to purchase the standard model, with about 4GB of RAM but they include the possibility of adding more via the open memory slots available.

Now if you go for an Apple laptop, you might want to take into account the extra charge you might come across if you intend to upgrade your current model with more RAM. Some vendors do this, and they charge extra if you want to upgrade your laptop. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you should try to get the RAM modules online and install them yourself, rather than pay extra for really easy screwdriver work.

Laptop CPU – Central Processing Unit – Processor

The CPU, or processor in the laptop is the part that makes all the calculations. It’s an essential piece of vector based design programs, where there are a lot of parameters to take into account. A decent CPU should be another thing on your list of things which make up the best laptop for graphic design.

There are several possible choices to be made here. A good starting point is to aim for laptops carrying at least a dual-core processor. This will allow you to run applications a lot better so you won’t suffer from system halts or sloppy operation.

If you opt for a laptop with a quad-core processor, you should have no trouble running pretty much any graphic design program out there.

Just remember – more cores means better laptop performance.

Graphics or Video Card

If you truly want the best laptop for graphic design, you will most likely never choose one which comes with an integrated graphics card. This is because integrated GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) uses the available RAM to output the image on the screen, whereas a dedicated graphics card has its own RAM, or VRAM.

You can lose a lot of RAM if your laptop has an integrated GPU, and system memory is very important in graphic design laptops.

Such systems will run slower since they will split up the available RAM for running the actual programs and the integrated graphics card. This should be another item on your list – get a laptop which has a dedicated graphics card.

Now if you were a gamer, you would be concerned with the type of graphics card installed, since this is an important aspect in gaming laptops. But since the laptop will be used for graphic design work, a mid-range video card will do just fine. If your work implies doing 3D graphics work as well, then a high-end graphics card is needed as well.

Current laptops in this niche have good graphics cards with about 1-2GB of dedicated memory. These are good for both graphics design and a bit of gaming as well when you’re not in the mood for work.

If you do intend to play a lot of games, or start doing 3D modelling and renders, then you should take a look at Alienware laptops or the Republic of Gamers series from Asus, since these are configured to play the latest games at the highest possible visual settings.

Laptops for graphic design will carry a dedicated graphics card which has its own memory or VRAM.

Portability – This is what you sacrifice

If you think you’ll be buying a very portable laptop then you might be mistaken.

The best laptops for graphic design have a lot of powerful components installed and this might make it a bit hard for the laptop battery to last more than a couple of hours. You sacrifice portability for performance when you choose a laptop for this type of work, but it’s well worth it.

In conclusion

The best laptops for graphic design are configured with a decent-sized screen which allows a good native resolution so you can fit in all those toolbars, dockers and still have enough screen left for the image that’s being edited. Also, there’s a hefty amount of RAM installed, a dedicated graphics card and at least a dual-core processor, if not a quad-core.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Bad Graphic Design: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Business!

An advertisement for food that takes away your appetite. A commercial that leaves you wondering what the product actually is, and how you can avoid it. Whether it’s a billboard, a television commercial or a magazine advertisement, we’ve all seen bad ads and wondered, ‘What was that company thinking?!’ Yep, a graphic design disaster strikes again!

It’s true; nothing leads to bad advertising or wastes your marketing dollars faster than a graphic design disaster. From big corporations to small businesses, everyone has made a graphic design mistake. Big corporations, however, have big bucks to spend on advertising, so the huge chunk of change that a large company just blew on an ineffective Super Bowl ad doesn’t hurt their bottom line the way an advertising mistake can hurt a small business.

If you’ve never worked with a graphic design team before, or had a bad experience in the past (I’ve heard horror stories of small businesses being ignored or mistreated by large design firms), the world of graphic design may seem mysterious, complex and even a bit confusing. A professional sign or graphic shop is experienced in turning your ideas into reality, and understand every step in the graphic design process. I’m here to debunk the mysteries, answer some common questions, and ensure your small business gets the biggest bang for your advertising buck! Read on for the ‘seven deadly sins’ of graphic design, and learn how to avoid these common pitfalls.

Sin #1: Graphic design doesn’t matter.

I beg to differ. The goal of every marketing initiative is to clearly communicate your message. Good design is at the root of this communication. A good design visually implements your marketing strategy; poor design does not. Good design establishes your brand’s legitimacy; bad design undermines it. Even the most creative and innovative marketing idea will fall short if you fail to properly execute the design. Whether it’s driving sales, promoting a product or defining a brand, graphic design has a clear business purpose and a specific goal to accomplish.

Fundamentally, good graphic design should: (1) improve your image and strengthen your brand, (2) make your business stand out from your competitors’ and (3) convincingly sell your messages to customers with a strong emotional appeal. The best designs stimulate an emotional, subconscious reaction in the viewer. And this all adds up to one thing: a better small business.

Sin #2: Cheap designers are just as good as expensive designers.

You get what you pay for. This old adage is especially true in graphic design. Think of graphic design not as an expense, but as an investment in your company’s future. Would you hire your next-door neighbor to do your business taxes? Unless he’s a certified accountant, the answer is probably no. The same goes for graphic design.

If you aren’t a graphic designer, don’t try to create your own logo – and don’t hire a friend without design experience to do it either. Leave the logo and marketing materials to a professional design team. There is a fine line between getting the biggest bang for you buck and looking cheap. When you choose to advertise your small business, whether it’s with vehicle wraps or window perforations, your goal is to cut costs, not quality. From color disasters to font fiascos, don’t gamble your business’s brand away on sub-par design. Whatever your graphic needs, avoid a branding catastrophe and go with the professionals.

Sin #3: Learning the lingo is a waste of time.

In reality, learning some basic design lingo can go a long way to helping you understand the process and getting you the biggest bang for your buck. From vector images to pre-flight approval, graphic design terminology is unique, and I know it can be a bit confusing to someone not familiar with it. When we first started in the design business, we didn’t know all the right terms either! Below I’ve listed some common terms that will help you better understand the design process – and ensure you get the best end product.

Vector images – A vector image is one made from basic geometric shapes, such as rectangles, lines, circles, ellipses and polygons. Since a vector image is created from shapes, it does not use pixels, thus when the image is enlarged, the same high quality resolution is maintained. Vector images are important because they allow for easy manipulation during the design process. If you have a logo or an image, be sure to give us the file in vector format. We can also convert some graphic files to vector format, although this is a chargeable service.

Color matching – If you have already printed a logo or other advertising collateral, you will likely want to match the color of your existing material to your vehicle wrap or window lettering. In order to ensure an accurate color match, bring us a sample in person. Because color can vary from computer to computer based on a monitor, the only way to ensure an accurate color match is to view a sample in person. Understand how important color matching is for your brand, and make sure to get it right the first time.

Pre-flight – When a design is in its final stages prior to printing, it is in ‘pre-flight.’ That means a production team does a final check to confirm colors and dimensions are correct before printing. Once an image goes to pre-flight check, no major design edits can be made (otherwise, you’ll need to start over from the drafting process).

Sin #4: I never plan ahead.

The key to a successful design job is planning. If you have a great idea, tell it! A good design company will help you take your idea from concept to completion. The best way to do this is to go to the shop, view samples, and talk to them in person. If you want a custom vehicle wrap job, be sure to bring in your car. This way they can get accurate measurements and get a feel for what you want. We use computer templates as a starting point for every vehicle wrap, but specific measurements allow us to customize the templates and ensure the design will fit just right.

Sin #5: I need my rush job ASAP.

Custom work takes time. Every design team will do their best to accommodate your schedule, especially in the event of a last minute rush job. Deadlines change and ‘I need it next week’ suddenly becomes ‘I needed it yesterday.’ Keep in mind that a design shop can (unfortunately) only do so much. Your rush job still needs to be squeezed in to the regular production schedule. Quality work takes time, and rushed jobs tend to look like they were rushed.

Sin #6: I proof my work when I feel like it – whether that’s today or next week.

Prompt proofing speeds up the design process. A good design company will work with you on edits and revisions as many times as you need, but keep in mind that proofing and changes take time. I always tell customers to allow 2-5 days for proofing and review. This may seem like a long time, but I’ve learned from experience that the change process can move slowly.

So what can be done to speed this up? The design proofing process will go much faster if the customer gets back in a timely fashion. I know you’re busy, but when you get a proof, take a few minutes to review it right away. Try not to wait a day or two – by the time you send changes and the design shop gets back to you, a few days will have already passed.

Sin #7: There’s no need to pay for quality materials.

Cut costs, not quality. Vehicle advertising and window graphics are two cost-effective marketing techniques that generate thousands of impressions and are a great return on your investment. However, poorly designed, printed and applied graphics look cheap – and reflect poorly on your brand. Use professional lamination for outdoor signage to protect and seal your graphics from sun, dirt and the elements. This will keep your colors fresh and preserve the ink, ensuring your graphics remain vibrant. Finally, make sure the lamination is done by a machine that presses a clear layer of vinyl on top of the graphic. The alternative process, using liquid lamination that is painted on by hand, may cost less, but it is an inferior process that looks cheap and easily fades and peels. A reputable shop will have a lamination press. Ask to be shown the machine so that you know you’re dealing with a reputable shop!

And when you’re ready to take off the graphics or change out your look, don’t remove them yourself. Improper removal can damage your car. Bring your vehicle into a shop to take care of everything. They have the right tools to make removal easy and safe.