What I’ve Learned About Commitment, Consistency, & Time

Time is the most precious resource. I have friends who have full time positions but also pursue passion projects and other purposeful endeavors after work. So, they know the power of time management. I am far from a master of time but I have learned the power of scheduling time to work on my designs, videos and blogs. You’ve heard a million times that we all have the same 24 hours each day. It’s an immutable fact. But sometimes we get trapped by the idea of having to do everything in that 24 hour period. That trap causes you to think, if you don’t accomplish everything on your 35 task long to-do list, you’re a failure. That fear of failure can keep you from attempting anything at all. Start with one 30 minute period and one task to complete.

Start.

“Without commitment…”

Doing weekly blogs and weekly videos first requires commitment. The commitment is the state of being dedicated to a cause or activity. It’s the initial determination. Denzel Washington, in his acceptance speech at the 2017 NAACP Image Awards, stated that “Without commitment, you’ll never start.” You have to first discover within you what you want to do. Preferably what you want to deposit into the world for the benefit of others. I knew I wanted to do more. I knew I wanted to give more than just what I did at work and for freelance clients. I wanted to share as a way to help people understand design and give insight into the world of graphic design, branding and content creation. I also wanted to practice my craft and get better in as many phases of creativity as possible. It’s important to maximize the potential I have and inspire others to do the same. The better I get at designing and communicating, the better help I can be to others in all aspects of my creative life.

“Without consistency…”

Consistency is not easy. Multiple times I’ve done the 100 Day Project, where I designed a logo every single day for 100 days. I committed to the project and wanted to see it through. But, somewhere in the middle of the project, I hit a wall where I realized just how much I’ve committed too. Consistency is about showing up every day. The improvement and desires I expressed in the previous section are only achieved with consistent, purposeful practice. It doesn’t have to be perfect each time. Denzel Washington says, “Without consistency, you’ll never finish.” We all have to power through those “I don’t feel like it” days. We are responsible for the kind, quality and amount of good work we do. There are more people than you think counting on, appreciating and benefiting from your consistency – “your showing up moments.”

One hour of focused time on one task, building something you’re passionate about, is better than no time spent at all. Commit to your purpose. Consistently work towards being better at it.

Life would be easier if I were to just go to work and go home. But much less fulfilling. Take and use the time you have to deposit as much of your gifts and talent as possible into the world.

Keep working. Keep striving.

~b.

Bonus: Denzel Washington’s 2017 NAACP Acceptance Speech

How To Put Together A Website Project Plan

Over the past few years, I’ve put together website project plans for National Councils and committees that details our path to a successful website build and launch. I worked on the designs for the current Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma national websites. Through those experiences, I have discovered a process that works well for me. Creating a plan and presenting that plan is important to do before starting any massive project. It is especially crucial when working with multiple people. The general 5 steps that I typically lay out are the following: setup/strategy, content gathering, design, testing/approval, and launch.

Setup/Strategy

First and foremost, it is paramount that everyone involved know the purpose of the website and the target audience. None of the remaining steps can even begin until everyone is on the same page. Here is where the north star is established. The particulars will need to be discussed. What content will the user need to be able to access? What content is of highest priority? We need to create and agree on an initial sitemap. The sitemap establishes the hierarchy within a website. This helps in creating the menu and information structure. Speaking of structure, I usually suggest setting up a Content Management System (like WordPress, for example) at this stage.

Content Gathering

Once we are all on the same page, we can begin gathering content. You know what you want to display on the site. Now, it’s time to get all that information. Making content gathering its own stage allows you to do inventory and double check the accuracy of the information. It’s much easier to correct any mistakes here before getting lost in the fully designed website. Also, content doesn’t just refer to the information but also any visual assets that need to be gathered or created.

Design

This is where we finally populate the site when all the content that has been collected. We’ve set the table. Now, it’s time to put the food on it. You’ll be designing the website with the sitemap in mind as the structure and populating it with the content collected. Obviously, outside of launch, this is my favorite stage. It is here where the aesthetics and functionality are put together to create something great.

Test/Approval

After everything has been designed, it’s at this stage we test everything. We’ll need to click all the links, make sure everything works properly, and make sure nothing crucial is missing. At this point, we may show additional parties the website to see if it works as it should. At this stage, it’s often necessary to get fresh eyes on the site. You’ll want some people who haven’t been looking at this project for months to give it a look. It might be good to get a sample of your target audience to see if it works for the user you had in mind.

Launch

We have finally arrived! This starts the official countdown to releasing this thing into the wild for the world to see. For the Kappa Kappa Psi national website & the Tau Beta Sigma national website projects, this is where we transferred our work from development to the live server. Once we confirmed everything was working to our liking, we took off the countdown/dev splash pages and went live!

The best way to lay out this process is to work backwards from the desired launch date. Give each stage more than enough time to be completed. It’s always better to finish early than to be scrambling late. Laying the entire plan, with dates attached to each, is great for tracking progress and accountability. Plan, prepare, and present like a professional.

~b.

How To Create A Logo For Super Bowl 52 Like The Logos of Old

Last year, I talked about my dislike for the decision the NFL made to standardize the Super Bowl logo. I was a big fan of the personality shown in the old logos. So, I decided to start a design series in anticipation of the then-upcoming Super Bowl 50. I continued that with my Super Bowl 51 design. This year, after much struggle and many deleted concepts, I arrived at my version of the Super Bowl 52 logo.

Super Bowl 52 will be held at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So, the very first thought I had was to try to incorporate the unique shape of the stadium architecture in the logo design. Deciding how to incorporate the shape proved more difficult than anticipated. I mistakenly tried to jump right into Adobe Illustrator and play. After failure and frustration were achieved in vector form, I took a step back and decided to go to pencil and paper. Sometimes you have to just stop and start over instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole – especially, when you’ve created an obscene amount of layers with no solution in sight.

Wikipedia
So much failure in vector form.

Once I recalibrated and created a new concept on paper, I felt a lot better about the possibilities. In 2018, I’ve pledged to do more pencil and paper work – not just for rough ideas, but drawing full concepts before opening Illustrator. With the Super Bowl 52 concept, I finished my idea and then analyzed it. I drew guides on the drawing, which helped me see how I would want to construct this on the computer. It is important to determine as much as possible before opening Illustrator. The drawing, with guides for construction, proportions, and angles, helped give me clarity before assembling the vectors.

The hardest part of designing these Super Bowl logos – actually, logos in general – is achieving something I feel like could even stand in the same room as those that have come before. I’m not comparing myself to other designers, positively or negatively. It’s about the work. It’s about creating something that has a worthwhile polish that will appreciated and accomplish the goal. I was constantly looking at the Super Bowl logos that have come before, while reviewing what I had done for 52. I arrived at something I felt comfortable enough showing to the public.

~b.

Creating A Logo To Recognize Outstanding Student Musicians

Few things excite me more in my position at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters than getting an e-mail asking me to design a new logo for a Fraternity or Sorority program or initiative. My love of designing logos is well documented at this point. So how do you think I responded to a request to re-design the Kappa Kappa Psi awards page with 10+ new logos?

Continue reading “Creating A Logo To Recognize Outstanding Student Musicians”

How To Create A Graphic Design Video Show With A Cool Name

In 2018, I embark on a new creative journey. Towards the end of 2017, I decided I wanted to produce more video content on a consistent basis. I began working on a new video series to premiere in 2018 called “Run The Layers”. Run The Layers is a show created because I thought it was a cool name and I love Adobe Illustrator (+ the entire Adobe Creative Cloud) and making logos. The purpose behind the show is to take the viewer on a journey on how designs are created. I want to break down all the layers, figurative and literal, within pieces of graphic design.

Continue reading “How To Create A Graphic Design Video Show With A Cool Name”

How To Get Clients To Trust The Process

I’ve written about the process I take my freelance clients through. In this post, I want to discuss my thoughts on how to get those clients to trust the process. The first step in doing this may surprise you.

Choose The Right Clients

“Serious Inquiries Only”

There is a reason you see this when people post their business contact information.

Be selective about who you work with. Once you accept the opportunity to work with someone, that client and that project is your responsibility. In my field, I like to only work with people who understand the value and importance of design. I also love working with people whose projects will bring some positivity into the world, whether through a service or product. Take the time prior to accepting a job to evaluate how well you and the potential client fit with one another. Evaluate how well you can accomplish what is necessary for the project. Be thorough in determining what they need and establish yourself as a teammate and not a tool. Some people are simply looking for technicians while others want to invest in a specialist to join their team for a time.

Keep The Focus On Their Goals

Never take for granted their decision to reach out to you for help. Appreciate every opportunity you have to serve someone else. While appreciating, make sure you are digging. You build trust by digging deeper into their backstory and the backstory of the project. The more they can tell you are personally invested in their success, the more they trust in you as a teammate. You must be invested in their vision beyond the mere monetary transaction. As a graphic designer, I’m not chasing money. I’m chasing purpose. I feel these skills I’ve been blessed with have a purpose attached. My purpose is tied to helping others more efficiently fulfill their purpose through the visual medium. The overall goal and purpose of the project should inform every decision.

Explain The Process & Reasoning

Do your due diligence in “on-boarding” your client. Take the time to explain the process and make them feel welcomed. Just as you need to feel like a teammate so do they. Throughout the process, explain your design decisions with clarity. Also, be open to critique. Try what they may want to see before rejecting their input. Showing is always better than telling. Give options and explain why, in your professional opinion, you would go with one over another.   Be the professional and take responsibility for your part in getting the project from idea to tangible reality.

Deliver

At the end of the day, you need to deliver. A satisfied client will become an ambassador for you. They will go forth and tell the world of how great you are. Others will be listening and come to you with confidence and excitement. Word-of-mouth references are the best. Potential clients will come ready to trust your process after seeing how well it worked out for their friend or colleague. The equity you have built with your client will go a long way in bringing in new ones. Your positive reputation grows with each successful project – putting you in a better position to serve in the future.

~b.