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For your creative inspiration:

The chances are, if you live in a city or built up urban area, you’ve seen graffiti around your neighborhood — it might even be those horrible tags that people spray paint everywhere or it might be something that’s a little more inspirational and vivid.

In earlier times graffiti was employed by the Romans as a symbol of expression and opinions against their kings. In the modern world, street graffiti is a common technique of personal expression, whether its clever and humorous or an eyesore on personal property.

In this collection, originally gathered by Alex Wain and written up for for, the following are from talented artists who incorporate their work and its creative elements into various environmental situations. Please let us know which are your favorites?

Original Source

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

25 Websites with Stunning Big Background Photos
35 Amazing Ads Created in Photoshop
55 Business Card Designs for Your Creative Inspiration (With Tutorials)
40 Creative Brochure Designs For Your Inspiration

40 VERY Cool Examples of Concept Art
So You Think Your Brochure is Unique?
30 Creative Examples of Poster Designs Using Typography

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter





Standing out from the huge, and always increasing, numbers of businesses can be a very daunting task. If you are having a difficult time finding enough work to keep you busy you may want to consider focusing on local clients. There are a few significant reasons to consider this:

  1. You’ll have fewer competitors in search engines and in the marketplace by focusing in on this target market.
  2. Clients often prefer to work with someone local.
  3. Developing your reputation and building referral business can be easier by targeting your specific area.

Although it is not a strategy that every business needs to follow, localizing the business has produced positive results for many. If you find yourself struggling to land enough clients to stay busy take a look at the tips in this article to see if localizing is something that you would like to do.

If you would like to get more business from local clients and build your business around this target market, here is a look at some things that you can do to make this happen.

How to Successfully Localize Your Design Business

List your Company with Google Places

If you haven’t done this, you’re missing out, especially if you live in a smaller city, one where there isn’t a lot of your kind of business. My largest client came to me through my Google Places listing, and yours can too.

Decide on Keywords to Target

Before your webmaster can effectively optimize your website for local search you will need to gather some data about the habits of people who are doing the searching.

There are tons of different keyword research tools out there, some are free and some are not. For basic research you don’t need anything more than the free Google AdWords Keywords Tool.

Simply enter a few phrases that you think people might use when searching, and then compare the results. So you might try a list of phrases like Santa Clarita graphic designer, graphic designers in Santa Clarita, web designers in Santa Clarita, Santa Clarita websites, and so on.

When you pull up the results be sure to check the “exact” box and uncheck the “broad” box under “Match Types”. This will show you how many people are searching for the exact phrases as opposed to phrases that contain your keywords.

When you have the exact match results you’ll probably see one or two phrases that get a lot more searches (you’ll want to pay the most attention to the “Local Monthly Searches” column) than the others. These keywords/phrases will give you the biggest impact if you’re able to reach the top of the rankings.

If you want to do some research to see how tough the competition will be for specific keywords and phrases you can install the SEO for Firefox add on from SEO Book. This add on will show you a lot of relevant details on the pages in the search engine results, most importantly the number of inbound links, PR, and domain age. This will help you to get an idea of whether a particular phrases will be easier or more difficult to rank for than another.

Optimize Your Pages for the Localized Keywords

Once you have decided what keyword or phrase you want to specifically target, you will need to have your webmaster optimize your site accordingly. The most significant factor is your page titles, so be sure that you are using the exact phrase in the title of your homepage, and maybe some other pages that you would like to use for driving new business.

In addition to the page titles, other basic on-page SEO would include using your targeted phrase in heading tags, in the body of the page, and in alt tags if appropriate. You don’t need to go overboard with it, make sure it is still natural for your visitors.

Build Links with the Appropriate Anchor Text

While page titles are the most important on-page factor for SEO, links are the most important off-page factor. If you want to rank at the top of Google for your targeted phrase you should build some links from quality sites with anchor text that includes your targeted phrase. Again, you want to keep this natural and relevant for visitors, but try to get keywords in the anchor text when appropriate.

List Your Address and Phone Number on Your Site

Having your address and phone number listed on your website can help in a few ways. First, it helps to show your visitors that your are an actual local company/designer. Even though your page may come up in a local search you still could be located anywhere. For local clients, seeing an address and a phone number can be re-assuring and it may make the difference between being contacted and not being contacted.

Also, by listing your address and phone number on the site you’ll make it easier for Google to know where you are located, increasing the chances of ranking well for a local search.

Get Listed in Online Business Directories

You’ll have an even better chance for attracting visitors from local searches if your business is listed not just in Google Places, but also in directories like Yahoo! Local,, and Manta. Even if your portfolio site is ranking well for local searches, directory listings can give you additional presence in the search engine results. Google often likes to show local results like maps and business listings very high in certain types of searches.

Consider Localized PPC Campaigns

If you have an advertising budget, even a small one, pay-per-click ads may be a good choice. With PPC programs like Google AdWords you can set it to show your ads only in your local area, which will ensure that your advertising money is being spent on the audience that you want to target. Also, you can bid on searches that include words of cities, or regions that you want to target.

Another great benefit of PPC campaigns is that you can turn them on and off whenever you like. So once your campaign is set up you can run it while you are looking for new clients, and when you’re too busy to take new clients you can pause the ad. Then it can be re-started whenever you are ready. You also have full control over the maximum amount that you want to spend, and it can be effective even with small budgets.

Write a Newspaper Article

Many designers take advantage of the opportunity for exposure by writing articles for design blogs, but there are also opportunities to write for print publications like a local newspaper. Many newspapers are open to publishing articles from professionals who are willing to write articles that may be helpful to readers. For example, you could write an article about e-commerce, online marketing, or some other topic that would be of interest to local business owners.

The article won’t be a blatant advertisement for yourself or your services, but it will help to get exposure to the audience that you’re targeting and you’ll probably be able to list your business and your website address or email address.

Network Offline

Since designers spend so much time online we tend to forget about networking opportunities that don’t involve the internet. Local chambers of commerce, professional associations, other groups, and conferences all present valuable opportunities to get to know other professionals in your local area. Many of these people would be able to benefit from your services, and others may have contacts with people who could be potential clients. While there are plenty of networking opportunities online, meeting face-to-face makes it easier to build stronger connections.

Lead a Seminar

I know of a few designers who have had excellent results with giving free seminars. You could contact your local chamber of commerce and offer to lead a seminar on a topic related to doing business online and you will have the opportunity to meet and build the trust of a highly targeted audience. While running the seminar will certainly take some work, if you’re able to demonstrate your experience and expertise it is likely that you will get some new clients out of it.

There are plenty of topics that you could choose from, ideally you would want it to be something that targets the type of clients that you are looking for (for example, small business owners). It should cover a subject that you know very well, and it should be a broad enough topic that it will be of interest to a lot of people. Working with a chamber of commerce is helpful because they will typically take care of the promotion by sharing it with their members.

Post a Classified on Craigslist

Millions of people use Craigslist to search for all kinds of things, including service providers. It’s quick and easy to create a simple classified ad to promote your services and you can have it listed for the specific city that you want to target. I’ve been surprised by how many designers I have talked to that get business from Craigslist. The clients you find may not have the highest budgets, but it can be worth your time, especially if you’re just getting started with your local marketing.

Offer Services to a Well-Respected Local Organization

One of the best ways to attract clients in your local area is to do work for other local clients. It can help by leading to referrals, and potential clients also like to see what you have done for businesses and organizations that they know.

Well-known organizations are great clients for this purpose because they will be well-connected and other local business owners will be familiar with them when they see the work you have done. Non-profits are a good target because so many of them are in need of good design services and because they tend to be well-known and respected in the community.

The work that you do for these local businesses or organizations can be paid or volunteer, depending on the situation. If it’s an organization that you would like to support it may be worth your time to offer your services at a discount or for free in order to get the benefits of having it in your portfolio and having them as a reference. Of course, this depends on your own situation.

Showcase Local Clients in Your Portfolio

Be sure that your portfolio includes work that you have done for local clients (assuming that you are happy with the quality of that work). Clients often feel a stronger connection when they see the work that you have done for other businesses and organizations that they know, and it helps to show that you have a proven track record in the local area.

Showcase Case Studies and/or Testimonials from Local Clients

In addition to simply displaying the work that you have done for these local clients, presenting case studies that detail the results of the project and testimonials can be especially powerful. These case studies of other local businesses will resonate with your potential clients more than a case study of some random business half way across the world. Anything that you can do to show that you have had success with local clients can help to encourage other local businesses and organizations to hire you.

Partner with Local Service Providers

Through your local networking you will meet people in a variety of different industries. You may be able to develop stronger relationships with some of these people that could involve formal or informal partnerships. For example, you may find a local accountant that has a number of business clients that could benefit from your services. Or you may partner with someone who runs a local printing shop that has customers in need of help from a designer. You won’t be able to make these kinds of connections without getting involved in local networking.

What’s Your Experience?

Have you tried to focus on local clients? If so, what have you found to be the most productive methods of finding those local clients?

Original Source

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

The Top 20 Networking Tips!
The Secret Source of Never-Ending Customers and Clients
How to Stay Out of Spam Filters AND Run a Successful Email Marketing Campaign
How To Get More Business by Using a QR Code on Your Business Card
5 Reasons Why Your Website Needs a Content Managed System
What Nobody Tells Beginners…

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter


Today, it’s more important than ever to promote your company on, especially if you’d like to increase your Google rankings.

And, it’s easier than ever to create a company introduction video. You can do it yourself using the video camera feature that’s probably included with your computer, or if you feel uncomfortable about that, there are many students as well as professionals who are happy to work with you.

However, if you want the best deal price-wise, you should be well prepared before walking into the studio.

— What is your message?
— What are the 2 or 3 main points you’d like to get across?
— Do you have good visuals to help break up the presentation?

Here’s a simple example of a video I did for my company. It was shot and edited by Alex Bleecker in Santa Clarita for the astounding amount of $25.00 (Since he had recently graduated, I tried to offer more, but he refused. His rates have since gone up, but even so, he’s still a bargain).


When I entered the studio, I knew exactly what I was going to say. I planned to use quotes from some of my clients stating the results they’d achieved working with me. I also had a complete selection of my best work, which I laid out on a table in the studio, so my video wouldn’t just be a talking head.

Sure, I might have done better than this, but I could also have spent a LOT more money.

The major benefit of posting a YouTube video is because of YouTube’s close relationship with Google. In fact YouTube is owned by Google.

Bottom line, when you do this and include written content, key words, and links to your site, you can count on the fact that your Google page ranking will increase… and isn’t that what it’s really all about?

What are your thoughts?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

Design Your Email Newsletters with Pizazz
Using Social Media to Position Yourself as The Go To Expert
How to Get More Business by Using a QR Code on Your Business Cards
How to Stay Out of Spam Filters AND Run a Successful Email Marketing Campaign
4 Time-Saving Ways to Generate More Online Sales via Email
The Secret Source of Never-Ending Customers and Clients
How to Successfully Localize Your Business
Use Google+ And Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




A lot of freelancers seem to be getting excited about international clients these days. But you can create a niche for yourself as someone local — a freelancer just down the street who is happy to meet in person with clients. For those prospective clients who want to make sure that they get a chance to get to know who they’re working with, working with a local freelancer can be worth a premium over working with someone who is only accessible online.

But if you’re going to promote yourself as the local solution, there are some facts that you need to know about.

The Always On Call Problem

Some clients are bad about considering you’re always on call — but when you’re in a different time zone, you at least get a reprieve when they have to go to bed. When you’re just around the corner, it can be easier for a client to be constantly asking for more. Of course, this isn’t just a problem for local freelancers, though it is certainly worse.

After all, if a client halfway around the planet has your address, it’s unlikely that he’ll just show up one day. I’ve had local clients who have wanted to see where I work, had a question and were ‘in the area’, and otherwise wind up on my front stoop.

For local freelancers, it’s even more important than usual to lay down boundaries with clients. That can include:

  • Setting office hours when you’re available to your clients.
  • Making it clear that you only meet in person at locations other than your home.
  • Using a P.O. box as your mailing address.

It’s okay to act a little paranoid in terms of keeping your personal life and professional life separate. Even if your clients are all located within a few miles, you may not know all that much about them.

Word of Mouth and Gossip

If you’re looking for local clients, word of mouth is your most valuable marketing method. Sure, you’ve got more opportunities for networking, but the type of client that actively seeks out local freelancers often does it because he wants to know more about the reputation of the people he’s working with.

People will talk about how you approach specific issues, making at least some of them into opportunities to shine.

Your reputation is incredibly important and you have to take care of it. You need to make sure to deal with any problem that comes up — you can’t afford to just ignore issues. Even if the situation isn’t your fault, it’s your problem. People will talk about how you approach specific issues, making at least some of them into opportunities to shine.

You also need to pay attention to what you say about other companies in the area. I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with gossip: I try to only say nice things about the people in the freelancing community in my area, but I’ve been known to warn other freelancers off of prospective clients known for problems in the past. That sort of thing often gets back to such clients and you have to decide if a small firestorm is worth whatever you want to say. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s better to just keep your mouth shut.

Local Can Trump International

There are benefits to being local, but you have to sell them. With freelance marketplaces driving rates lower than a local freelancer can usually offer them, you have to step up your marketing. You need to make it clear to clients that paying $150 an hour, rather than $1.50 an hour, is actually a good deal. Here are a few of the points you can make with prospective clients:

  • You can minimize communication issues, because you share both a language and a culture.
  • You can actually come into the office, which can be useful in anything from getting to know product lines better for writing sales copy to checking the print quality for graphic design projects.
  • You can offer references from companies and individuals that prospective clients recognize, if not actually know.

Dig deeper, though: find the unique qualities that make your local work stand out. With the right marketing, clients will understand the value of working with someone who is just down the street.

A Word About Setting Your Fees

Whether you bill your work by the project or on an hourly basis, you should be aware of a couple of basic principles:

  • Your hourly rate should be set at 4 to 5 times what you hope to end up with. This is because you need to cover overhead, insurance, software, hardware, and other non-billables.
  • Set an intention to bill a minimum of 4 to 6 hours each working day.
  • If you are hiring vendors and are responsible for paying them, be sure to include a 25% markup to cover your risk.
  • Invest 20 to 25% of your time marketing your services to new prospects.

If you do these simple things, you’re bound to succeed.

Written by Thursday Bram and Will Sherwood.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

How to Get More Business by Using a QR Code on Your Business Cards
How to Successfully Localize Your Business
How To Increase Your Google Search Results Using YouTube.
Use Google+ And Improve Your Search Engine Rankings
What Nobody Tells Beginners…

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




So your boss steals your best brainstorms. (We should all be so lucky.) Plus, should an MBA work for rupees?

Q: My boss takes credit for my ideas. How can I set the record straight without seeming petty?

A: Be thankful that your boss is stealing your ideas, because the best way to make your boss love you is to make him or her feel smart.

I say this because I’ve stolen ideas. I’d be in the car or the shower, and I’d have an idea for my company that had to be implemented immediately, so I’d grab a pen and start writing notes to myself. I’d get to the office and announce the new plans. Everyone would nod in agreement, affirming my brilliance. Afterward, in private, my best employee would say to me, “You took my idea again. I told it to you yesterday, remember?” It’s not as though I intentionally stole them. I was always shocked to hear they were not my own. And it’s not like I thought I contributed all the good ideas. I didn’t keep count. I knew we were both very important to the company. But I never understood the point of her making sure I knew it was her idea. You couldn’t say I didn’t appreciate her. After I cashed out of the first company I started, I hired her at my next company. I gave her glowing evaluations and solid raises. Everyone knew she was the person I depended on the most. What else could she have wanted?

Credit for ideas is overrated anyway. In most cases, one’s job is not to sit in an office and think up ideas. On your resume, you list projects completed, money saved, sales achieved — not your brilliant ideas. In today’s market, the phrase “I’m an ideas guy” carries about as much weight as a stack of dotcom stock options.

And listen: Don’t go over your boss’s head. Your boss’s boss does not care about your stolen ideas. If your boss stinks at her job, your boss’s boss will figure it out without any help from you. If your boss is good at her job, she will not be fired upon your whining. Think of it as selflessly donating some ideas in exchange for a good relationship with your boss.

Q: I’ll be graduating from a top MBA program soon, and obviously I’m battling a very tough job market. I’ve been offered a job in India with a top multinational. The salary, paid in rupees, is only equal to about $30,000 a year, but I have no other offers as yet. What should I do?

A: Paid in rupees, eh? It really is tough out there for B-schoolers. But despite the seemingly paltry salary — enough to live well by local standards — I’d say go for it. International experience always looks good on a resume, and few people have it. Once you’re back in the States, you’ll be worth more to the company because of it. In my opinion, that beats holding out for a domestic job that may or may not appear.

I have just one reservation. Not everyone is cut out for work abroad, so before you sign on, take a good look in the mirror. Research shows that the three most important factors for success are a strong sense of self (because you’ll be cut off from your old network of friends), the motivation to fit into a foreign culture, and having a mentor who can show you exactly how to do that. (This research is not my own, I hasten to add, but comes from Joyce S. Osland, a professor of organizational behavior at San Jose State University. Who am I to take credit for someone else’s ideas?)

Written by Penelope Trunk.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

The Top 20 Networking Tips!
The Secret Source of Never-Ending Customers and Clients
Help! My Cubemate Sings Show Tunes
The Fine Art of Sucking Up
What Nobody Tells Beginners…

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




In conceptual photography, the photographer is trying to convey a message or concept through abstract symbolism in the form of drawings, paintings, quick sketches, sculptures, miniatures, and all types of art that defines the object or attempts to explain the meaning.

In this post you’ll find examples of remarkable concept art created by various talented artists. All images are linked to pages of the authors. Enjoy!

1. Ganesh

Meet Ganesh the god of beginnings and a patron of arts shown in a beautiful drawing by Francis.


2. Life Tree

This art is from Yume.


3. Hope

Klaudia Beautiful concept art.


4. Nether world

This piece of artwork is from jesse van.


5. Dark and Light


6. Dream Devourer

Dream Devourer by Tarzan will give you nightmares! Great colors and concept make this a truly original work with a unique style!


7. Last Month of winter


8. Facing Mortality

Photomontage and digital painting


9. And if the world ends

There is something simple and very innocent about it that is conveyed beautifully.


10. Black Balloon


11. Garden of Zen


12. 9th Wonder

The City of The Skies Only those who seek it will find it.


13. The Survivor

This artwork is from Ketut Manik.


14. Protector


15. Paoay Church

Paoay Church by Cloudmine design, Amazing details in the architecture and scenery, really captures the mood and is very inspirational GDA work.


16. The Witcher

The Witcher artworks I did for the first game few years ago_Bartek Gawel.


17. Merry Christmas


18. Thunder Snow


19. Abyss


20. The Journey

A mercenary protected a Caravan a crossing through a desert,this is a dangerous journey.


21. The Green Throne

The Art from Kekai kotaki.


22. Demon Rising


23. Fruit Dealer

Overcome with joy and inspiration after watching GSL1 Champion Cool (aka Fruit Dealer) battle his way to the top, the StarCraft II team would like to introduce some new concept art for the zerg race based on his tactics_Bizzard Entertainment.


24. The Second Coming


25. The Monkey King

A take on the Monkey King…..I have been looking at this for too long now, been playing with it on and off for a few weeks…I dont like it already but I have to move on now….I hope you guys see something in it_Sun Dragon.


26. Tree Man And Boy


27. Creative Work by Sarolta


28. Freedom

This one started as a textile study. But I went further and got the idea to picture my good dream, when no electricity cable holds me back.Made in PS7 and with genius tablet.It was about 4-5 days that’s about 30-35 hours_Zsuzsa Tasi.


29. Shanty Town


30. John Carter


31. Amber Citadel

A matte painting of a massive citadel, and a jolly commission for Eduardo- for the design of a web page for the local wargamer/role-player community.


32. Soul Hunter

It’s concept sketch of Soul hunter for “Dreams about M-0-Nero”.


33. Chinese Monastery Concept

I’ve chosen a Chinese/Tibetan monastery in the mountains as topic for our internal concept art training at Meduzarts_Netgra.


34. Xuan Yuan

A poster for a online game (MMORPG, called “Xuan Yuan”), done in 2008.


35. Jump Hero

This painting is created for Midway Game, One of action concept paintings. Each characters have special power, and this guy can jump really high.


36. The House of Cards

This painting is created for LGW, the Looking Glass Wars and Hatter. Art Directed by the author, Frank beddor. He is simply amazing guy. He is olympic gold medal sportman and actor, writer, flilm producer. He produced There’s Something About Mary and Wicked_Hatter.


37. War in Paris


38. Air Force One Midway

This is the cover of Hatter M, comics.


39. Ride


40. Let Dreams Come

Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.


Hope you are entertained with this showcase! (Original Source)

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

A Showcase of Amazing Graffiti Art
25 Websites with Stunning Big Background Photos
Showcase of Creative Magazine Covers
45 Fun and Creative Examples of Print Advertising
35 Amazing Ads Created in Photoshop
55 Business Card Designs for Your Creative Inspiration (With Tutorials)
40 VERY Cool Examples of Concept Art

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




PS: A little subterfuge is the key to harmony.

Q: The guy in the next cubicle wears headphones and sings to his music — today it’s the Chicago soundtrack. I’ve asked him to stop, but he always starts up again.

A: The number of things a cubicle neighbor can do to ruin your life runs to infinity. Most of those things you need to ignore. For example, clipping fingernails in public is disgusting, but you don’t need to complain — when you walk by the clipper’s cube, just step over that mountain of keratin.

But long-term exposure to small, annoying things makes them large, intolerable things. Singing with headphones, on a regular basis, is one of them. Since tapping your co-worker on the shoulder didn’t do the trick, perhaps he doesn’t know when he’s singing. So next time he belts out “When You’re Good to Mama,” you may have to take advantage of the fact that people wearing headphones cannot hear themselves. Tell him that clients who come through the office have been saying he sounds like he has Tourette’s syndrome. That should do the trick. If it doesn’t, start clipping your toenails.

Q: My boss told me that he won’t hire someone we just interviewed because she’s gay. Should I confront him about this? Should I report him to human resources?

A: Your boss is a bigot, an unfit leader, and a direct cause of the moral demise of corporate America. But you probably suspected that. What you really want to know is whether to take up this cause.

It’s important to let your boss know that he’s wrong to discriminate against gays, but you do risk ticking him off badly enough that your days will be numbered. So if you decide to go talk to him about it, keep the conversation short and calm. On the other hand, I’ve always thought the best way to improve a situation is to get power within the system and then use that power to change things. Do a great job working for your boss, get his job, and then run an affirmative action program for lesbians.

Some people will say, “I can’t compromise my values by keeping my outrage to myself.” Just remember that you get only a few times in your career to be so outraged that you make a scene and quit. Use those scenes wisely. The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board surveyed workers in the 1980s and found that 69 percent of them had seen someone do something illegal and let it slide. I’d like to think that’s because people don’t want to lose their jobs over something relatively small.

It also seems that the legal route may bring little satisfaction to those hoping to reform corporate America. Kimberly Miller, a Chicago labor lawyer, points out that “in some states, discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation isn’t illegal per se. And often, instead of instigating change, you merely open yourself up to libel and criminal charges.” Nonetheless, Miller recommends that employees bring all aspects of discrimination based on sexual orientation to the attention of the HR department. “Most employee handbooks I have worked on specifically ban this behavior,” she says. You should immediately make a record of what happened and note the names of other witnesses.

I asked Miller if she thought people might lose their jobs from assiduous reporting of discrimination practices. “Yes,” she said, “but some people will hold morality higher than employment.”

True, you need to be able to live with yourself. But just as true, if living with yourself means you can’t hold down a job, you’ll starve.

By Penelope Trunk.

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How to Get Women on Exercise Bikes
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Motel 6 Takes a Road Trip Through Time
So You Think Your Girlfriend’s Fingernails Are Cool?
Hey, That Was My Idea!
The Fine Art of Sucking Up
What Nobody Tells Beginners…

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




Search engine optimization changes all the time, which makes it imperative for you to get acquainted with these new trends on Google+.

Google+ Search Engine Rankings

Google+, the social network launched by the world’s most popular search engine, is playing an important role in website search engine positioning. In fact, the social network is already affecting SEO techniques.

You can use Google+ and improve your search engine rankings in a number of different ways. The following are several important tips that will help you make the most out of this social media marketing option.

Increase the Number of Google+ Followers

Google+ membership affects search engine results that internet users are seeing. People that are members of the social network and that are logged in will get specific results for a certain keyword. The results that people who are yet to create a Google+ account will get are very different.

Try to increase the number of people that are part of your Google+ network. Sharing links to your website there and getting others to +1 these links is going to affect your website’s search engine positioning.

Your followers are also likely to view your website among the top search engine results for a specific keyword. This is precisely what search engine optimization is trying to achieve. Expanding your network is an important part of using Google+ to improve search engine rankings.

The Importance of +1 for Optimization

Your search engine optimization strategy should include encouragement for readers and followers to +1 your content. The importance of this activity was mentioned as soon as Google+ was launched.

The easiest way to encourage this form of social sharing is to add a Google +1 button to every page on your website. People who like the content and are willing to share it will just have to click the button without even leaving your website or blog.

Google +1 information is already appearing in the search engine results. This form of optimization is having a psychological aspect, as well, because people are more likely to try the websites that other users have viewed and recommended.

Google+ Pages for Businesses and SEO

Google+ business pages are very important for the optimization of your corporate website and for its search engine positioning.

A number of big corporations have already created their Google+ pages. The first important aspect of having a Google+ page is that it will appear in search engine results for a specific keyword or a company name.

Google users are given another very important option that is called Direct Connect. Having a + mark typed before the search term itself will take the search engine user directly to the company’s Google+ page. These innovative search characteristics affect a company’s online visibility and the optimization of its website or blog.

Claiming Authorship of Your Pages

Google+ comes with another very important feature in terms of search engine optimization – it allows you to claim the authorship of all the articles and pieces of content appearing on your website and written by you.

Claiming your authorship is a relatively simple task. You will simply have to format the URLs of articles in a specific way. As a result, your name and photo will appear next to each result that appears through Google searches.


Claiming the authorship is connected to another important advantage. Google+ users will be capable of adding you to their network directly through the search engine results. This will be an easy and efficient way to expand your own network.

It is also important to directly connect your website to your Google+ profile. The connection happens through the usage of a simple piece of code. Alternatively, you can add a Google+ badge to each of your pages, which will make it easier for people to approve of your website and to become part of your Google+ network.

All of these simple steps are going to be efficient when you are using Google+ to improve search engine rankings. Working on a complete profile and discovering the numerous ways to connect it to your website or blog will affect your search engine positioning. You should also make it easier for your readers to +1 your content and to help you in achieving a better search engine ranking for your pages.

Original Source

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

The Top 20 Networking Tips!
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Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




In today’s digital age, an email marketing campaign is necessary to every business model, equivalent to — if not more important than — a social media strategy and your company website’s mobile compatibility. It’s an evolved version of direct mailing and cold calling, but despite the many email marketing management options available, the concept still remains an unsuccessful mystery to many small business owners.

no spam

But some entrepreneurs figured out the formula. Their emails collect clicks, replies and forwards, and spark action among potential customers and loyal clients. And they aren’t adding any kind of external expert to their payroll in order to do so.

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out what their secrets are regarding email marketing:

“How can business owners create a distinctive email marketing campaign that doesn’t get lost in the inbox clutter?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Timing Is Everything!

“We recently rebranded our email newsletter as a nightly “Study Break” for our female college student audience, timing it to hit inboxes when the need for a fun distraction is at an all-time high. This, along with our strategy of sticking to a specific theme for each day of the week, allows us to establish our emails as a consistent part of our readers’ daily routine.” ~ Annie Wang, Her Campus Media

2. Provide Additional Value

“Too many businesses fill their newsletters with nothing but regurgitated blog content and entreaties to buy. Ask yourself how you can use your email campaign to provide added value to your clients, at no extra cost. When they’re shown you have something of value to share, they’ll be more willing to pay for even more.” ~ Steph AuteriWord Nerd Pro

3. Keep It Short

“One huge mistake that businesses make is sending long emails full of news that doesn’t interest subscribers. To keep subscribers hooked, it’s crucial to send short emails that only contain interesting content.” ~ Ben Lang, EpicLaunch

4. Ditch the Bells and Whistles

“Consider sending plain text emails to your list — the kind you would type to a friend, free of graphics and other distractions. Simple text emails are surprisingly effective, as recipients feel you’re writing directly to them rather than blindly firing off a fancy newsletter in their direction. If you personalize the message with a “Hi, ____” at the beginning, you’ll get even more engagement.” ~ Amanda Aitken, The Girl’s Guide to Web Design

5. Equip With a Strong Headline

“I know it’s simple advice that you probably hear all of the time, but it is really that important. My email campaigns that have strong headlines (i.e. witty, intriguing, straight to the point, or features a celebrity name) have much better end conversion rates.” ~ Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers

6. Is It Mobile-Friendly?

“We’ve found that many of our customers read emails on their smartphones, so fancy images and layouts made the emails unreadable. When we switched to a text-based, mobile-friendly format, we nearly doubled our click-through rate.” ~ Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh, Inc.

7. Be Positive, Practical and Personal

“Focus on being positive, practical and personal. This approach makes your email marketing into something that recipients really value receiving. By taking this approach, I have subscribers regularly sending me thank you emails and even thank you cards for my email marketing.” ~ Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

8. Match the Marketing

“The great thing about email is that you can track nearly every action, and that should tell you what kind of messages to send to your clients and prospects. If someone responds to a certain type of message, segment your list so they get more of those messages. Make sure you segment your prospects from buyers so they get different messaging. It’s all about market-to-message match!” ~ Greg Rollett, The ProductPros

9. Two-Way Street

“Too many newsletters are only updates about your business and the focus is only on you. Share something with them and get personal. Share a cool app you came across that they might benefit from. If you have a blog, then do a post where they can contribute to it and give their input. The more you involve your audience, the more they will want to read every newsletter you send — and it’s more fun.” ~ Ashley Bodi, Business Beware

10. Write Infrequently!

“Asking a customer to read an email is a more personal ask, and thus has a higher barrier. Also, very few companies have enough interesting news to send a weekly email. For daily and weekly communication, use Facebook and Twitter. If you reserve your newsletter for only big news and send it monthly, you will have more useful things to say and your customer will be more interested in reading.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

11. Tag Your Subject Line

“One of the easiest ways is to ‘tag’ your subject line so your readers will start looking out for your message. For example, [underground] [maverick] are ones we use for different lists. Of course, you still have to include some reason for people to read and click, but they have to recognize you first.” ~ Yanik Silver,

12. Share Your Story

“Don’t create just another marketing newsletter; your customers already get 3,203 of those. Instead, share your real story with your customers. Write in a personable voice, as if you’re just writing to a really good friend of yours. Be honest and don’t try to sound formal. Make it a narrative that draws your readers in.” ~ Tim Jahn, Entrepreneurs Unpluggd

In Internet Marketing
Thanks to Small Biz Trends

No Spam Photo via Shutterstock

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

The Top 20 Networking Tips!
The Secret Source of Never-Ending Customers and Clients
How to Stay Out of Spam Filters AND Run a Successful Email Marketing Campaign
How To Get More Business by Using a QR Code on Your Business Card
5 Reasons Why Your Website Needs a Content Managed System

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




Social Media Marketing is the ultimate equalizer for businesses. Social Media levels the playing field between small and large companies. It used to be that the company with the most advertising dollars sold the most products. Why? Because they were able to spend a lot of money on traditional advertising to reach their target audience. Small companies were at a huge disadvantage in terms of being able to reach that same audience. Now, Social Media Marketing has changed all of that.

How to Use Social Media to Engage Customers, Not Shout at Them

Social Media provides all companies with a new marketing channel for reaching their customers. The cost of executing Social Media Marketing tactics is almost $0 for companies. An almost zero cost of entry for companies and an almost unlimited geographic reach, small companies around the world can now compete with their large competitors for market share within their industry.

Social Media is a Tool for Business Owners to Market Your Products & Services

Social Media is a great tool for business owners who want to reach and engage more customers. That said, Social Media is just that, a tool. Just like any other tool, simply using the tool does not mean you’re going to be successful. It’s how you use the tool that separates those who succeed in the trade and those who fail. Social Media Marketing is no different.

Think about hammering a nail. The hammer and nail are the tools for which you’re using to build something. Someone takes time to set goals for what he wants to build, plan out how to use his hammer and nails to achieve his goal, and then goes about using his hammer and nails in the best, most effective way possible, will ultimately build a better “something” than someone has the same goal, but simply picks up the hammer and nail and starts pounding away.

4 Steps to a Successful Social Media Marketing Campaign

Social Media Marketing can be an amazing tool for all businesses, but especially for small companies looking to compete with larger organizations for market share within an industry. That said, as we’ve discussed above, just because you use Social Media doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful. The companies, both large and small, who are successful in their Social Media Marketing efforts all follow a very similar philosophy when it comes to using Social Media to reach and engage their customers. This approach can be broken down into 4 main steps:

  1. Setting Goals – Success is determined long before a single tweet is sent, Facebook post is made, etc. Success comes to those businesses who take time to set goals for any Social Media Marketing Campaigns that they want to run.
  2. Planning – In order to give yourself the best opportunity to achieve your goals you must spend time planning your strategy. I always say with anything you do, spend two-thirds of the time planning and one-third executing and you will usually have more success than those who don’t abide to these guidelines.
  3. Using Social Media Effectively – Once you’ve taken time to set goals, and develop your strategy, it’s time to actually start using Social Media to achieve your goals. Too many times companies use Social Media as just another advertising channel. I assure you, this is not what Social Media is. Success comes to those who understand that Social Media is about engaging your customers and prospects in conversations about your brand, industry, products and services, and anything else that might pertain to the goals that you’re trying to achieve.
  4. Learning & Evolving – Social Media is new and always evolving. Businesses must do the same if they want to continue to be successful in using Social Media Marketing to reach and engage their customers.

The companies that follow these four steps will have a much higher chance at success than those who simply use Social Media as just another shout box.

The Biggest Mistake Businesses Make When Using Social Media

The biggest mistake that I see business owners making when it comes to using Social Media Marketing to reach and engage their customers is using the tools as just another channel for shouting their message as loudly and most obtrusively as possible. It used to be that you could simply plaster your commercials or ads in front of customers and products would move off of the shelves. The age is long gone. Customers want to feel like you can meet their needs on a personal level. They want to know that you care about them. They want to talk with you. Social Media Marketing is the ultimate tool to give customers and prospects what they want. Unfortunately, most businesses are still stuck in the old paradigm.

When was the last time you were on Facebook or Twitter and you saw the same company come up in your news feed the “biggest sale of the year” message, send out a tweet about their new products, or send you yet another email coupon? I’m guessing you can probably remember because it most likely happened to most of you very recently. The biggest mistake companies make when it comes to using Social Media Marketing is that they want to use old advertising strategies in these new marketing channels. What they are learning the hard way is that it just doesn’t work.

Use Social Media Marketing to Engage Customers in Your Brand

instantShift - Use Social Media Marketing to Engage Customers in Your Brand

In order to be successful using Social Media Marketing for your business you must understand that a paradigm shift in how customers want to interact with companies has occurred. It used to be that we put our favorite classic American companies on a pedestal. Whatever they said in their TV ad, Radio Spots, and Magazine Spreads we believed. It’s all that we needed to know about the company that makes the products that we use. Today, that’s not enough. We want to have input on the products that our favorite companies make, we want to learn more about the materials that were used to make the products that we purchase, and we want to know that you know we exist. Knowing that this new paradigm is fully in play will help companies understand how to use Social Media Marketing as a tool to grow your business.

Five to ten years ago this new paradigm couldn’t have existed. It couldn’t have existed because there wouldn’t have been the technology to support it. With the advent of the internet and tools like Social Media, businesses are now more connected to their customers than ever before. This increased closeness between company and consumer has changed what consumers demand from the companies that they purchase products and services from. Consumers EXPECT that your company has a presence on Social Media. Not only do they expect that, but they expect that they can actually use those tools to communicate with you or a representative of your company. They want to use those tools to consumer information about your company, industry, products and services. If you want to be successful with Social Media Marketing, it’s your job to use the tools to provide those things to your customers and prospects. Not only must you provide them with the information, but you must do it in a way that’s not perceived to be too sales-focused.

Sell to Customers through Social Media with Education

In my experience, companies who have been most successful using social media to increase sales are the ones who stick to a few guiding principles:

  1. Be educational with your message – Consumers who are interested in your products or services will naturally want to learn more about your company, industry, products and services. It’s your job to provide them with the information they want, when they want it, and to serve it up in a way that’s not too promotional, but looked at as educational. This provides educational value to consumers and when they are ready to make a purchase, they will buy products and services from companies that took the time to educate them.
  2. Make it fun – If you’re going to use education as your way of providing company, industry, product, and service information to your customers, then you must make learning fun. Did you just produce a new product video that you want to get out? Come up with a contest that requires consumers to watch it and weigh in with their thoughts. Then get the community to start talking about everyone’s comments. Using fun ways to get your information out will do wonders for your sales.
  3. Be available – Customers want to talk with you. Consumers expect to be able to talk to companies. Many times these conversations lead to sales. If you’re not using Social Media to talk with your customers, you’re not using Social Media effectively.
  4. Mix Selling Messaging In – Don’t confuse the information above with me saying “don’t use Social Media to sell”. You have to use Social Media to sell or you won’t be able to achieve your goals. I’m simply saying, don’t use Social Media to sell the same way a used car salesmen would do so. Mix your selling messages in with your educational messages. Become an expert in the soft sell. These are the strategies that work with Social Media Marketing.

Use Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Business

instantShift - Use Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Business

Social Media Marketing can be an extremely effective way to reach your target audience, educate them about your company, industry, products and services, and sell more stuff. The trick is knowing that Social Media is merely a tool and that consumers expect more from you than they’ve ever done in the past. Knowing this will allow you to use Social Media for engaging your customers, not shouting at them. Knowing this will help you take a step back before jumping into Social Media so that you have time to set goals and plan for how you will achieve those goals. Knowing this will allow you to finally compete with some of those large companies that can’t evolve their business as quickly as you can to adapt to this new paradigm. Knowing this will allow you to use Social Media Marketing to grow your business.

Written by Ryan Taft (Thanks to InstantShift)

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

The Top 20 Networking Tips!
Social Media Etiquette
Social Networks: How to Keep Up Like a Pro
How to Successfully Localize Your Business

Presented here for your education, inspiration and enjoyment by:

Will Sherwood
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group: Graphic Design & Website Design
Santa Clarita and Los Angeles, California, USA

Professional links:
Graphic Design/Web Design | Color Printing | YouTube Introduction

Social media links:
LinkedIn | Facebook Design | Facebook Printing | Twitter




Success Secrets from David Lai:

  • The most important thing, no matter what area you choose to specialize in is, “Do good work.”
  • Find people you admire, that are smarter and know more than you, and you’re off to a great start.
  • Challenge yourself. Our field is still young, and that means there’s tons of opportunity to do things people have never imagined.

Early beginnings:

I didn’t go to design school. When I was in high school I had a real interest in design and art and started out by doing icon design. I did it more as a hobby, and really got into it when I realized there’s an application for this sort of thing.

I remember one company that had a really horrible set of interface icons. I designed a new set for them, and being young and naive I just sent them to the company and said, “Hey, these are better! You guys should use them.”

And they actually did. And you know I did it for no money. Next time around, the company came back to me, and paid me to do more work for them. So that was my first entry into design.

That led me to writing a book about icons, while I was still in high school. A friend of mine said, “Hey a lot of other people want to know how you do this.” And I thought, “Okay.”

At first I thought I’d just write something short, something that you could give out to people for user groups and situations like that. But a friend suggested, “Hey, you should submit this to a publisher.”

I did, and the publisher loved the idea. So we created a book called “Icons for the Masses.” It was an avenue of understanding for the icon and interface worlds

At that point, my parents were fairly typical, saying: “We’re not going to pay for you to go to school if you go to art school.” That was fine in the sense that they convinced me to get a liberal arts education.

They said, “if you want to go to design school you can always do that afterwards.” So I entered college as a biology major. And it wasn’t that I didn’t like science, it was that I realized in the end there’s a career that comes with that. Unfortunately it wasn’t something that was interesting to me.

So throughout college I found myself trying to design things on the side, whether it was for a school poster or just anything. I would jump at the chance to do something and get it out there and see how people responded to it. And I was pretty bad back then, I think. (Chuckling)

I learned a lot by doing that. I learned what was good and bad, just by doing. Fortunately it was an easy environment, because in college nobody cares, or at least nobody knows good design per se, at least where I was, since it wasn’t a design school.

In college I wrote another book called “Photoshop Type Magic.” I wrote the book because I wanted to teach myself Photoshop. The concept was, “Why don’t I write a book as if I was the person who would use it?” The whole idea was to create a recipe book where you’d go through, step-by-step, and end up with this result.

At the time, most of the Photoshop books had this magical end result and you didn’t know how they got there. It was like, you start with this and all of a sudden your type looks like wood. And they had skipped steps 1-20!

So, I learned layers and masking and things like that by actually understanding how the application actually works. It was a step-by-recipe book, similar to a cookbook, but for the digital creative realm.

The book did really, really well and became a bestseller. I think it led to the whole “magic” series. It’s still out there. I didn’t write the other books, but I created the concept. Now there’s Flash Web Magic and Illustrator Type Magic and there’s all these books that came out as a result of that. All I did was uncover the niche that a lot of people were hungry for. Learning something by doing it, that was my philosophy.

First job for a major firm:

While I was still in college, while in my junior year in Japan, I sent out my portfolio to a lot of different places and was given the opportunity to work with Clement Mok in San Francisco.

It was a great opportunity to learn from someone I admired and who was doing some amazing cutting edge work. His company was one of the few companies that were doing websites for big companies at the time. He had left Apple Computer and was already on his own.

I was there right there when they were transitioning from Clement Mok designs to Studio Archetype. It was when the company was shifting into new media. We were doing Nintendo 64 packaging, and at the same time we were doing Nintendo’s website.

It was one of my first big breaks in the sense I got a chance to throw my design ideas in the ring, so to speak, and since the client really liked my design, I got a chance to design That was really exciting and gave me some validation that I could work in this industry.

After working there, I went to a small design shop here in Santa Monica called cow. C-O-W, like the animal. That was probably well over 10 years ago. They were one of the first innovators. They were doing some great work in CD-ROM and touch screen, and obviously the web too.

That was an interesting time. There was a transition from more contained interactive media where it was on a disk but not really networked and shifting to something more internet based and open to anyone. That’s where I learned a lot, about interactive design as well. I think they were great conceptual thinkers.

I met my future business partner, Hiro Niwa, at cow as well. He was the first lead designer they had ever hired. He had spent pretty much, up to that point, his whole career at cow.

He was ready to go off on his own and that’s when we decided. I got a call from the Getty museum to come and pitch them, and invited Hiro. Long story short, we won that project and they became our first client.

So that’s how we got started and it’s been 10 years now. It’s happened quite quickly.

Acquiring new business at first:

I’ve always had a passion for design, but I also think I have a passion for business. I think I love both.

For some designers, the business side’s a burden. They really don’t enjoy it. And I’d probably say, Hiro, my partner, is more like that kind of person. He’s not so interested. He knows what’s happening on the business side, but it isn’t his passion per se. I think his passion is clearly in design.

For me, I sort of split down the middle. I love both. I love being involved in both. I knew, even in college, that I wanted to run a studio, my own studio one day, hopefully.

I was really naïve and ambitious back then in thinking, “Maybe I’ll do this straight out of college.” I remember cold-calling clients out of my dorm room (chuckling). And I think that it could have worked. I think the problem was I felt like I needed more experience and I wanted to work with people who were a lot better than me.

And I did just that. That’s what gave me the experience and credibility to go out on our own.

When we started, Hiro and I had a reputation from work we had done previously. Hiro had done a project for Mercedes Benz for the E-class timeline and it was a CD-ROM piece. I think it won like 9 or 10 awards. It was really a well-recognized piece back in its day.

As an interface it’s still relevant. To me, that’s really the test, whether it’s a timeless design.

Our reputation helped us get word of mouth for clients. Our second client was NEC Design in Tokyo. Within our first year we grew quickly from 2 people to probably 10. And we were doing work for the Smithsonian, for National Geographic.

The Smithsonian called us, and not the other way around. But, I think it was both because of people who had known our work or maybe referred us. We weren’t really cold-calling to be honest.

Our awards drew the attention of the big companies. The awards we won for the Smithsonian work, prompted National Geographic to call us. And believe it or not, they called us the day after the CA annual came out. They said, “Hey, we saw your work in Communication Arts. We never call anyone unless we see them there.” So that was really nice.

Our philosophy is, “Do good work and everything else happens.” I think that was the case with National Geographic. And it’s always been our focus. If you focus on doing good quality work, the rest will happen, as opposed to going about it the other way.

We started out wanting to work for diverse clients. We didn’t just randomly choose whoever knocked on the door. We were selective about who we worked with because we wanted to create a place where we’d want to work, but also do the kind of work we’d enjoy. It wasn’t just to pay bills. It was to do work that we felt was rewarding or challenging, or gave us the chance to be innovative.

So we followed the rule of: “Do great work, quality work, work that gets you excited, and you will get more of that.”

David’s thoughts on new business development:

Believe it or not, we have no new business development program in place. We don’t have a Director of New Business or anything like that.

But a lot of clients who’ve knocked on our door are clients who seem to have been following our work. It’s been really exciting.

Last year, Nordstrom and even MoMA called us and said, “We’ve been following your work for a couple of years.” It was exciting to hear that, because we had no idea. It’s nice to know there are people out there watching us and seeing what we’re doing. Hearing that fuels us and keeps us going.

Favorite Accomplishments:

We work with interesting groups. Last year, we worked with SCI-Arc. Right now we’re working with Otis. We just did a project for the Broad Art Foundation. At the same time we’ll do a project for Callaway Golf, or Toyota or WIRED and so that diversity of work is one of the things that we’re really proud of, just because we’ve kept true to that idea of not just doing the same thing over and over again.

We have a passion for doing R&D work here, too. Back in the early 2000 era (chuckling) we did a project called, ‘Hello Code’. It’s still up there actually. I remember we showed it at a conference. I think it was Flash Forward in San Francisco. It was really exciting for us because we didn’t show any commercial work. It was just conceptual thinking, some interface design, some ideas. And we did it mainly to inspire people to do more of this, to push our medium.

I think I’m really proud of that because for us, that was trying to get our industry to move forward and to not just doing the same old thing and copying what other people do.

Today we’re building a multi-touch table in the studio. It’s not quite perfect but we’re doing it for ourselves. There’s no client paying us to do it. We’re trying to figure out the hardware, and we’re trying to create software for it. I think there’s something really exciting about learning things on your own. That’s really important for us in terms of saying that’s an accomplishment: to keep learning new things. If there’s anything I’m proud of, that’s one thing that we’re really excited about here.

David’s thoughts on the keys to success:

It’s definitely passion for what we do, and the fact that we care. I personally work on all our projects in some capacity, whether it’s conceptualizing, brainstorming, art directing, whatever it is. I look at every piece of work that comes out through the studio, but not as a dictator who says, “you gotta do this,” but more so out of caring for the work. I think if you lose that, and you don’t care anymore and it’s just good enough, I don’t think you’re going to be as successful.

Passion for design translates into doing better work, and the clients realize and can see that. There may be people who view work as work, but this is our life. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to build a place that can create things that we can be excited about and at the same time accomplish what our clients need them to do. They’re not pieces of art, just for us. We’re actually trying to create things that work for our clients.

You need to believe in your ideas though, because though we’re not “yes” men, at the same time we do listen to our clients.

It’s that delicate balance that you can bring your knowledge to the table and they can bring their knowledge to the table and if you work together, hopefully you’ve got a synergy and you create something that you couldn’t have created by yourself or visa-versa. That’s really important. And for us, this philosophy creates successful projects.

Also, you definitely need to have determination, the ability to keep going and to not give up. It’s not just talent. It’s not just about having the best designers on the planet. They must be people who can work together as a team, and people who can get up after they fall down. You may make some mistakes, or you may have some projects that you thought would be amazing and didn’t quite turn out the way you wanted, but you’ve got to be able to learn from that and keep going.

Thoughts on doing things differently:

It’s always different when you look at things in hindsight, I think.

The answer is probably yes and no. (Chuckling) I say “yes,” because there’s definitely things that you wish you may have done a little differently. I think “no” because you may not have ended up here if you had done those things.

It’s so hard to go back and say, “What if I had done this” and “What if I hadn’t done this.” We have a policy here. If you give something 110%, and you really feel like you gave it your all, whether it’s on a project or a pitch or whatever it is and you don’t win, or the client didn’t love it, we say, “That’s OK.”

In essence, you have to go through life with no regrets. And that’s how we approach our work. That’s how we approach the clients that we work with too. We want clients that challenge us and want to be challenged by us.

If you never take a shot at the goal, you’ve already lost the game. So our philosophy is, “Take a shot at the goal and do your best, not just half-assed. And even if you don’t score, that’s okay.”

Thoughts on business advisors:

We do have advisors or consultants that we work with, but they were out of business necessity. Our attorney is a business advisor in a way because there are things that we need to watch out for with our agreements and so forth. We saw that as important because if they were done right, we could avoid problems. That’s the whole point of a contract, to keep you out of court, so you don’t get into trouble.

There’s also a financial advisor that we work with and have worked with for many, many years now as well in a similar capacity. I’m not an accountant. I didn’t go to business school. So for me to try to understand things that go into the nitty-gritty of accounting and so forth would be counterproductive.

It’s been the amazing to have a sounding board and a more objective outside party give you their thoughts.

David’s thoughts on seminars and workshops:

I’ve gone to several conferences. Sometimes I’ll go to lectures or when a certain person is speaking that I really admire. I definitely think those are great outlets to expand your thinking whether it’s on business or design as well as other topics.

Tips for people just starting out:

Our industry is so broad. There are so many different things you can do within it. There’s the design side. There’s the strategy and account side. There’s the technology side. Depending on your area of interest, I think I would give different pieces of advice. Depending on your skill set, and depending upon your passion and interest, there are different areas where you can achieve success.

On getting good clients:

The most important thing is, “Do good work.” Quality over quantity is the key. If you did one amazing piece of work, that’s all you need. You don’t need to do ten so-so projects. Nobody’s going to care, because at best you’re just a follower. Somebody will say, “Oh, your work just looks like everyone else’s. It doesn’t stand out.” Then you become a commodity and you become like every one else.

The way you get great clients is by doing great work. If you do something, even just one project that’s really innovative and interesting, more good work will follow.

Additional advice to someone just starting out:

The field is still young. We saw the first web browsers in the early 1990’s. It hasn’t been that long. There’s so much potential, in this medium. If anything it’s a huge opportunity for somebody to jump in there and do something new and push the medium.

Challenge yourself. It’s still early and that means there’s tons of opportunity to do things people have never imagined. That’s what excites me about this medium. I’m in this everyday and I still can’t keep up with it all. It’s definitely going to be different in five years. I guarantee it. And that’s exciting.

For anyone starting out in the field, realize you don’t have to know everything. It’s OK. Just jump in and keep learning. If you do that, at the end of the day you’ll have some ability to impact that evolution of the medium.

Who would have imagined we’d have multi-touch phones like the iPhone five years ago? So in five more years, who knows what there will be?

Find people you admire, that are smarter and know more than you, and you’re off to a great start. Just by putting yourself in that position you’re going to learn from those people.

Toughest Challenge:

One of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do is resigning a client, especially one that is paying most of our bills. One day I quickly realized I wasn’t happy coming to work and nor was my team. As soon as this client referred to us as a “vendor,” I knew we were going to be in trouble. They didn’t trust us and at the same time there was what we called “indecision by committee.” There wasn’t a visionary to help drive the project forward.

We realized that at the end of the day, it was best to resign this account and quite scary not knowing how we were going to pay the bills. In the end, it was the right decision, we landed amazing clients after that and found that we were once again smiling on our way into work.

On the importance of staying in balance:

Whenever I get a chance I love to go cycling. It’s great to do something where you can just get away and think, whether it’s going for a swim or going for a bike ride.

The other thing that I really, really like doing is traveling. My wife is Japanese so we go back to Tokyo every year. And every time I go back it’s always a new experience. Wherever you go, whether it’s a city that’s an hour away or New York City, it doesn’t really matter. It’s exciting not just for design inspiration, but because you’ll see a different culture or a different world. For me, it’s a great relief to go somewhere new and experience something new. It’s about throwing yourself into a new place and a new experience. I really enjoy doing that.

Also, I enjoy doing anything that gives me a chance to stop thinking about work. Even so, solutions to questions I’ve posed tend to seep into my awareness without my knowing it. While at the same time, I’m just enjoying the view and having a great time.

About David:

David is the CEO, Creative Director of Hello Design, an interaction design studio which he co-founded in Los Angeles in 1999.

Clients include Sony, USA Network, Yahoo!, General Mills, National Geographic, Oakley, Toyota and Nike. A graduate from Cornell University, David has won numerous awards for his work including a Cannes Cyber Lion, One Show Pencil, ADC Merit, and a Flash Film Festival award. His designs have also been featured in Communication Arts, HOW Design, I.D., Critique, eDesign and Print Magazine.

As a faculty member at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, David taught and lectured on web design. He was also on the Advisory Board of the AIGA Los Angeles.

Interview by Will Sherwood, MA, MSP
CEO/Chief Creative Officer
The Sherwood Group, Graphic Design / Web Design

24402 Vista Ridge Drive
Santa Clarita, CA 91355

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