For a graphic designer faced with the decision of getting things printed, dealing with print houses can seem like a daunting task. There are so many to choose from and tons of things to take into account, when selecting a good one.

What should you look for in a printer?

1. Request Samples. If you've never used the company before or seen their work elsewhere, request samples of their printing. This is fairly common and shouldn't cost you anything. Nearly every day I get sample printing, papers or packaging in the mail from companies that are competing for my business, and you should too!

2. Check the weight. Make sure the printing will be done on a nice weight paper. Not to heavy and not too light for the job. If you are getting business cards printed, you don't want a lightweight card that will be easily crumpled. Instead, you want a sturdy card stock that will stick with your customer for at least a couple of years.

3. Color matching. Does your printer have a disclaimer on their color matching? If they do, be wary. Printing in color is a tricky process, so be sure your printer will back up their products. If their ink comes out the wrong color, you and your clients should NOT be left holding the bag!

4. Logos. Some printers, especially the cheap ones, give you a cheaper rate if you allow them to print their logo on the backside of your piece. Depending on your client, your job, or your budget, this may or may not be an option for you. But, it should be a question you ask as you are getting quotes and selecting printers!

5. Finishes. Ask whether or not your printed pieces will have an UV coating on them, a gloss or other finish. This addition will drastically change the way your final print turns out, so you need to be ready for anything!

My favorite printer?

I love They are fast and affordable for excellent quality.


Day24_PaiselyBookmarksThis bookmark features a free brush I found at my FAVORITE brush site, The brush set contains approximately 12 brushes with different paisley patterns. They are great for nice layering effects!  Download tonight's bookmark here.

Smashing Magazine issued a challenge to designers for the new year, and I’m on board! I tried to decide what type of design I’d want to do and could stretch my boundaries as a designer. So in answer to this Challenge, I will be designing and posting a new Bookmark design each day on this blog. The Designs will link to a downloadable PDF that you can feel free to download, print out and share as desired.


Many young designers are totally overwhelmed when they find themselves thrown into a project with InDesign. Even designers that are very competent and advanced in Photoshop skill tremble in fear when faced with a basic catalog layout or brochure project where InDesign is the software needed to perform the task.

Recently, one such designer approached me with such a project. In InDesign as with any of the Adobe software, there is a right and wrong way to do things. Learning the “Ins” and “Outs” of the software is essential to advancing your skill level and rate of efficiency with any project.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: The more you know your software the better your designs will be. Think for a moment, as a designer you can only be as good as your software knowledge. As with anything else, learning the software is best achieved with practice. At the same time, as you learn you want to ensure that you are learning “best practice” by listening to the experts and learning what they already know.

To that end, I’ve compiled a list of both free and paid subscription InDesign training that is top of the line. In fact a lot of these are courses and resources, I’ve personally taken or read, etc to further my own expertise in InDesign.

I hope you find something here that will help you as much as they have me!


Getting your work noticed and bursting through the door of opportunity is one of the biggest challenges for student designers. With that in mind, In Search of Design is proud to announce that the Student Identity Package Design Competition has officially began.  Online entry will be available before the day is over!

In the meantime, read the entry details and check out the awesome prizes being offered. If you are in school ANYWHERE. . . you're eligible to enter. Show us your creativity!

All the information you need to enter can be found here! Good luck!


As a designer, I'm always learning, new, faster and better ways to do something! One of my most recent discoveries: creating a 5 second contact sheet using Adobe Bridge and InDesign.  The functionality may have been around for a while, but it wasn't until reading "Adobe Master Apprentice" that I suddenly stumbled acrross this incredible feature.

Here's how it works:

  1. Instead of having to place the images you wish to sample in InDesign in order to print them, simply collect the images into a folder on your machine.
  2. Open that folder in Bridge.
  3. If you're using CS3 go to the "Tools" menu and select "InDesign".
  4. Select the option for "contact sheet"
  5. Choose the number of rows and columns you want (this will adjust the size of the images)
  6. Watch InDesign do the work for you, automated!


I hope this tip will save you tons of time! Enjoy!


The Outline view of my first successful attempt with the Mesh Tool in Illustrator CS4. As I'm learning and playing with the mesh tool in Illustrator, I've stumbled upon a few tips/tricks that I wish I had Day16_Lillyrealized when I started.

1. Work WITH the Grid. When you first create your simple shape and begin to use the mesh tool to establish your grid lines, be sure to work WITH the grid. Don't fight it and Don't try to work against it. Now, as I was learning a friend kept saying this to me, "Work with the Grid" "Work with the Grid". Unfortunately, what they didnt know was because the initial shape I had selected (a maple leaf) had such a unique outer shape, the grid was automatically SUPER complex and confusing. In order to work WITH the grid, be sure to start out with a SIMPLE shape as you're beginning. 

2. Avoid images with lots of details. While you're learning and playing with this tool, be sure to avoid images that contain lots of super details and a wide range of colors. Initially the first flower I attempted was a Tulip. Well, if you're familiar with Tulips, you know that they have multiple petals and can range in several colors within one flower. That didn't work out so well for me. As I get better, I'm sure I'll be able to move into more detailed images, but be careful what you start out with so that you can get a clear grasp on the function of the tool.

3. Soft blends vs. Hard lines. Another significant tip that my friend pointed out as I began learning this illustration technique was to watch the handle bars on my blending points within the mesh grid. (If you're working with this tool you'll understand what I mean).

In order to get a hard blend line, the handle bars should overlap for crisp edges. However, if you're wanting the colors to softly blend into each other, then you will need to simply pull the handle bars back and keep them shorter and separate from each other. I'm sure as I get more experienced and learn more about the tool myself, I will have more tips and techniques. If you are profecient with the Mesh Tool I'd love to hear your feedback! For now, I hope you enjoy today's bookmark:

My first really successful use of the Mesh Tool to create an illustration. Enjoy! You can download your bookmark here.



I'm a firm believer in learning by example. Whether positive or negative. That being the case, I love to look at successful logos. Not to steal ideas, but to learn from the strategies and execution of an idea.

Recently, Interbrand, a international brand consultancy specializing in brand services and activities, including: analytics, brand engagement and brand strategy. Last week, they announced the top 100 global brands. I'll have to admit I was a little surprised at who did and who did not make the list.





Recently, I observed a friendly debate between colleagues discussing the pros and cons of creating a business card that relied on die cuts, embossing or spot UV coatings. Is a business card really a good investment? Will it make the difference between being thrown away and being treasured?

My opinion? It’s up to the designer and the client. While there are definitely budget constraints that should be taken into effect I do believe that money spent on designing a dynamic business card is well invested.



Day40_TexasMapComing to you from the big 'ol state of Texas. =P Download it here. Smashing Magazine issued a challenge to designers for the new year, and I’m on board! I tried to decide what type of design I’d want to do and could stretch my boundaries as a designer. So in answer to this Challenge, I will be designing and posting a new Bookmark design each day on this blog. The Designs will link to a downloadable file that you can feel free to download, print out and share as desired.


With the holiday season in full swing, it seems that everything has sped up to a frantic pace. My client's jobs have been no exception. While most of them maintain a great attitude actually getting work produced is often a huge struggle during this time of year. From emails that don't get returned to phone calls and increased traffic while commuting to meetings, it all but makes you want to throw in the towel and close the office doors for the season. So what can you do to help deal with the added stress of balancing your work, your clients and the holidays?

I've recently been reading a great book written by a Creativity Coach that I am honored to know, Romney Nesbitt. In her book, "Secrets of a Creativity Coach" Romney shares some of the tricks and tips she's found to staying 'centered' as you deal with the stress of this time of year, or busy work days etc.



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