Renee’s Dish on Design
Returning to the Points internship program for the third time felt refreshing. It was good to be back, but also invigorating to see what lay before me. Greeted with new and familiar faces, assigned to new and familiar projects, I experienced the comfort of the known and the excitement of the unknown all at the same time. I eased into the first few days, working on projects for clients that I have previously designed work. Toward the end of the week, however, I was faced with a unique task. The assignment: to create a map of the office. It seemed simple at first, but once I got started designing the map, I realized that it required way more attention to detail. Not only am I finding this to be a stimulating project, but it is also helping me to get to know the new office and where everyone sits. Although I just started laying out the design for the map, I can already tell that this will be a project that I am going to be very proud to have created. It is definitely different from the flyers that I normally design, but I am excited and ready for the challenge.
Every day in the design room always leads to a new lesson. I am constantly learning something new about graphic design and can see my skills in Illustrator noticeably growing. It is a great experience being able to work with and learn from two very skilled designers, Karen and Sara. This week, however, we all got the chance to learn something new and a little outside our design world. The three of us learned everything there is to know about the new Canon printer the office recently received. The man who installed the printer came in and thoroughly explained everything in full detail. First, we started off with color matching by test printing Pantone colors on Illustrator to see if it matches our pre-existing color samples. For example, we tested the color number 270 which is supposed to be a light purple, but when we printed it, it came out a darker color. We realized we had to slightly lighten colors on Illustrator by a few points to achieve the color we wanted on paper. This was a great learning experience for me because I never realized how essential color matching is. As designers, we have to pay attention to how a color prints. Our clients choose specific colors to represent their company identities. If we design their materials with the wrong colors, it would break the consistency of their overall look. That was a fascinating discovery for me, but the learning didn’t stop there! We also learned about the controls of the printer and how to calibrate it. Overall, I feel like this was a very helpful experience, and it will be important for me to remember this information for the future.
Last summer when I started interning here, I mostly worked with the design department and never ventured out to other areas of the office. This year, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the other interns and apply my design skills elsewhere. For instance, we have all been working together on a group project to plan the grand opening event for Points Group. We are each assigned a different part of the event to help plan. This week, I had a meeting with Melissa, who is also a graphic designer but at Points is working with the website development team. Together, we collaborated on mood board designs for the event. We presented two themes to the rest of the design department (one is continuing with the chalkboard theme that has been a design look for Points in the past, and the other is inspired by “The Green,” consisting of leaf decorations) and put together two art boards for each theme which included color palettes, textures and invitation ideas.
Now, here’s the twist: I never designed a mood board before! So prior to meeting with Melissa, I prepped with Karen and Sara, the other graphic designers. They showed me examples of ones they created in the past which inspired me to come up with a few new concepts.
Collaboration really proved to be key. Although I can’t tell you which design theme we’re using, I can tell you that being able to design a theme for the grand opening was definitely an exciting experience. I cannot wait to design the event invitation next!
Organization is key in a workspace if you want to boost creativity, concentration and productivity. This week I learned the importance of preventing unnecessary clutter in the office. I always enjoyed figuring out new ways to keep areas clean and organized so when I was assigned to arrange the print material in an more orderly, tidy way, I was very excited to take on the task. In the past, everything was stored in boxes, which made it hard to access and locate each item. To make things more simple and clean, I decided to group the items into different categories (such as brochures, business cards, flyers) and within each group they would be organized alphabetically by client names (such as Advanced Neurosurgery Associates, Brielle Orthopedics, Digestive Healthcare Center, etc.). So I started creating portfolios in binders showcasing unique items from each client. Then the extras that did not fit in the binders I arranged into labeled files. Once I got rid of all the boxes it not only gave the storage area a cleaner look but it also helped to clear up more space for storing other material. I may not be completely finished organizing all the print material yet but our workspace in the design room is already looking a lot less cluttered. In addition, this new organization system will be helpful for everyone in the future because it will be easier to find samples from each client.
After brainstorming ideas for the grand opening, we finally decided on a theme: chalkboards and growth. That enabled me to design the save the date and invitation. I began by researching different printing possibilities for the invitation, such as the style of paper. With the theme in mind, I laid out a chalkboard background and drew leaves (resembling growth) in a chalk brushstroke, so it looks like they are drawn on a chalkboard. For the title, I applied the same look by drawing with the chalk brush tool spelling out “save the date” in cursive. Because the save the date will be sent by email, I do not have restrictions on dimensions so I played around with the size making it square. The invitation will be printed for snail mail, so I created a standard 4 x 6 card, ensuring it is larger than the save the date. On the invite, I included the same illustrations of leaves but arranged them in a different pattern. In addition, I wrote out the title again in the chalk brush tool. By applying the same illustrations and style, one can see that these two design pieces belong together and that the theme is consistent. The overall process reminded me how much I enjoy designing invitations. With the various ways to approach the project, the creative juices really flow. At the end of the day, I was satisfied with my approach, proud of what I designed and eager to present my creations.
Since last summer, I feel that I have grown a lot as a designer. I am much more confident in my work and faster with my creations. Thinking creatively also comes more easily to me. Many of the things I learn here, I apply to school or personal design projects. For example, I learned new shortcuts and different design techniques on Illustrator and Photoshop.
Here are some of the very useful shortcuts I learned so far:
Shortcut to Masking an Image: Select both the placed image and the shape you want the image on top and use the keyboard shortcut “Command+7” to create the clipping mask. I learned this from Karen, my design mentor, last year and since then, I use it all the time at school with projects and still today at work.
Align or Distribute Relative to an Artboard: Choose “Align to Artboard” in the Align control bar. Select “Align to” button and select “Align to Artboard.” After that, any objects that you select will be aligned with the center of the currently active artboard. I recently learned this from Karen, and it is very helpful in accurately centering objects instead of centering things by eye.
Creating Swatches: To create a color swatch, select an object with the color you want and from the Color panel drag the color to the Swatches panel. From this, you can also drag colors from outline to fill or click the keyboard shortcut “Shift+X.” I learned about dragging colors across the panel from Sara, another designer I work with, which is a very helpful shortcut when applying a color to several objects.
Free Transform Tool Shortcut: Select an object or objects you want to scale and click the keyboard shortcut “E.” This is helpful when scaling multiple items together like a title and images. I learned this last summer from Karen and continue to use it to this day.
Hand Tool Shortcut: Hold down the spacebar to use the hand tool. I learned about this shortcut this week, and it is very useful when wanting to move quickly across the page.
Starting from scratch on a project is tricky yet exciting. Staring at a blank canvas can be intimidating at first, but I figured that it is always good to start by pasting in your content and any ideas or inspiration you have into your workspace. This way you know what your design needs and what type of look you are going for. These past few weeks I have been working on the PG Florham Park grand opening invitation and save the date. Although I love designing and working on invitations, I never knew how much work it would be to create one. I started off with a rough draft of both the invite and save the date and then sent it out for review. After receiving feedback from a few people, I created another set of options which I then showed to the design director for more feedback. By this point, I realized the process of creating invites was not going to be quick or easy because after this I would again have to design another draft for review and continue to get feedback until everyone is satisfied. For situations like this, as a designer, I feel that it is important to be patient. It can be aggravating sometimes when you spend many hours on one design for it to be scratched and have to start over again. However, the good part is that every step of the way I am learning more, and at this point I have several different invitation designs that I can use for my portfolio!
This week, I recorded my last video blog session. (It is crazy how fast my internship here is going!) Although I was not the biggest fan of video blogging because I am camera shy, I am glad that I went through the experience and got out of my comfort zone! Actually, one of the best parts of working here this summer was getting out of my comfort zone. The first week, we did a scavenger hunt, which helped me to socialize and get to know everyone in the office. (That’s something I would have never done in the past.) It was fun asking people crazy questions, and getting to know weird and unique facts about each person in the office. The next week, I wrote my first blog, which I was also nervous about. Now, I look forward to writing down my thoughts on the day.
Working with the design department these past two months, I faced great challenges that made me think outside the box. Sometimes, I struggled or got aggravated with a design, but at the end of every project, I was proud of what I created and how much I pushed myself. Some of the more challenging designs were the ones where I started from scratch, such as the map of the office, the innovation fundamentals poster, the grand opening save the date and invitation, and more recently, an exercise guide booklet. The best part of designing these items was seeing the final pieces printed on nice paper and my hard work come to life.
With only a week left of my internship, I have been keeping busy with many design projects. I am sad to leave but happy to know that I can always return in the winter. Every time I come back, I learn more about design and marketing. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to work with and learn from such talented coworkers.
In honor of my last week, I wanted to take the time to write about some of the great things I learned this summer…
Blogging: From writing about my week to recording a video confession about my day, I definitely now feel that I know how to keep a blog. As a designer, I am not used to participating in something like this, but I am happy I had the opportunity to learn about it.
Creating a mood board: I created my first mood board this summer for the grand opening event, which I learned is a board that consists of fonts, colors, textures, design samples and photographs that all relate to a mood/theme of a company or an event.
File organization: I was charged with organizing print and digital materials. I re-organized all the printed design material into folders and boxes where I figured out a system to sort and label them. On the computer, we have a design server where all the files are organized by client name and project. Each file is named with a date. Both of these organization systems inspired me to want to organize my own artwork at home.
Printing: From learning about our new printer to researching estimates for printing, this summer I realized the importance of printing options. One of my first blogs, I wrote about how much I learned about calibrating and color matching which I found very interesting. I also had to research printing options for the Innovation poster that needed to become a large wall decal. It was tricky finding a good website that was not too expensive but also printed material well.
Communication: It is always important to remember to stay in contact with the people in charge of the project. For example, it’s helpful to find out information from the project manager what kind of look the client wants, so I can successfully create the design.