The Blog

Totally Memphis Interview

Check out the Totally Memphis website for their interview of yours truly. A very special thanks goes out to Irina McGuire for such a great article and all her hard work on the Totally Memphis website. Make sure you visit the site for the latest scoop on what’s happening in and around Memphis!

Here are a few questions from her interview:

What is your background in the creative industry?

I graduated from Harding University with degrees in Interactive Media and graphic design. I’ve worked as an Associate Designer for Perdue Creative for the last four years and am now pursuing a career as a freelance designer. I have earned two gold Addy Awards and five silver Addy Awards for my work at Perdue Creative.

Has there been a particular project or client you found to be the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career was developing the campaign for PGAMA to educate people on how printing more can actually help grow trees. The campaign was launched in Washington DC and included smaller items, such as lapel pins and shirts, as well as larger transit ads. A website was also developed as the major source of informing the public about the campaign:

Where do you see the future for design professionals?

Design is a dialogue. It’s a unique conversation that happens between the artist and the observer. As technology continues to develop, the manner in which this conversation takes place will change significantly. The goal for future design professionals will be to help construct the language that allows us to interpret and perceive our world.

What kind of successes have you had in recent years? Have there been any moments where you thought of pursuing another career?

(For successes, read first answer regarding Addy Awards)
Like many designers, I’ve had moments in my career when opportunities (such as moving to a foreign country to teach English) seemed more enticing than working in a stuffy cubicle. However, I have always had an innate desire to create. I receive an enormous sense of satisfaction upon completion of a job well-done for a client. It’s what keeps my pen to the sketchbook.

Who or what were your influences in design as you grew up and went through design education?

I was influenced heavily by David Carson, Saul Bass, Ellen Lupton and Jason Santa Maria. Much of my influence at an early age came through album art and band posters. I credit my love of natural, earthy materials to summers spent in New Mexico admiring art and architecture.

What advice would you offer to someone who is looking to become a graphic designer?

My advice for someone who is looking to become a graphic designer is to always keep yourself open to new experiences that can help shape you and your work. Push yourself and continually develop your talents as a designer. Be open to constructive criticism and, above all else, do good work that will help meet your clients’ needs.

What’s your alter ego?

My alter ego would probably be a member of a British rock band.

Any other talents?

Identifying plants and insects. Rooting out new music and sharing it with friends.

Shoot Your Print

I admit, the title of this post may be a bit misleading. Let me start by saying I do not advise anyone to drag their beloved printed work out behind the shed to put out of its misery. On the contrary, you’ve worked hard on those projects and it’s time to show them off!

It’s true, photographing your printed samples can be a daunting task. Just the mere thought of selecting the right items can make a designer start to feel faint. Soon other questions arise and before long you’re feeling downright discouraged. How will I afford a studio? Do I need top-dollar lighting equipment? I had many of these same concerns when I set out to photograph my portfolio. Soon, I turned to the sage every person seeking good advice consults… Google. Before long I came across a wonderful article by Computer Arts titled “Shoot print work for your portfolio.” By following a few of these tips I saved literally hundreds of dollars not to mention countless hours of time.

Here are a few things you might want to consider when shooting your printed pieces:

  1. Style – How do you want your photos to appear? Images shot from above provide a formal style while juxtaposed pieces can give a more avant-garde feel.
  2. Backdrop – Infinite backdrops can be purchased from your local camera store ($40 per/roll). You can also create the appearance of a wall by purchasing colored sheets of paper from an art store and taping to two adjoining surfaces (see photo above).
  3. Lighting – Borrow a basic 2-3 piece light kit or purchase one as I did for $109 at Wolf Camera ( Remember to adjust your camera’s white balance settings to match the lighting you choose.
  4. Tripod – Borrow or purchase a heavy-duty tripod. The one I purchased from Wolf Camera converts to a monopod, has clipping leg braces, level and two quick-release plates for $59 (
  5. Shoot – Create a shot list of all the work you plan to photograph. You may want to group pieces according to a low/high shot angle to keep lighting consistent. Play with your camera’s settings, tripod and lighting to create different styles for your photos.
  6. Edit – Edit photos using photo-editing software such as Photoshop. Try to color-correct your photos to maintain a uniform tone throughout your portfolio. Keep in mind that most viewers will see your entire body of work as a collection so be consistent!


Weaving Your Web – Content

One of my favorite design articles of all time comes from a HOW Magazine piece titled “Rock Your Website” by Lisa Baggerman Hazen. It’s full of  solid advice to help novices and pros alike assess their web-related goals. For instance, at some point in your career you may have asked yourself if it was necessary for an individual to even have a website. Those days are long gone. Today the question isn’t whether or not a site is needed but how you plan to use it (assuming you do have one, of course). In context of self-promotion, your website is the most important and effective tool you possess. Ask yourself when was the last time you updated your website’s presence?

Simply having a website is no longer enough. It must be a dynamic destination that acts as a bold advocate on behalf of your design business. — Lisa Baggerman Hazen

The “set it and forget it” philosophy for website (mis)management is a thing of the past. It’s time to adapt, people. Darwin’s rules are applicable in this survival of the fittest struggle to maintain a dynamic web presence. Generating new content is one way of adding dynamic presence and also attributes value to your website. Keeping content fresh and relevant often translates into positive equity for online visitors. The first step in staying current is to develop a solid content strategy. Developing a content strategy is nothing more than deciding what kinds of content you plan to keep on your site. By making content the main priority, you help inform both navigation and design.

Think of your website as an extension of your personal brand—a handshake—to those whom you have yet to meet. What does your website say about you? Is it clean and concise or clunky and confusing? Be sure to consider your audience and their perspective as you begin to weave your website. Over time, developing content  can even give you the opportunity to position yourself as a leader in your field. With a little work you too can refine your website’s content structure and be well on your way to a great website that is an important asset to you and/or your business.