A Re-evaluation of Purpose

In The WoodsI have been on an unintentional self-imposed break from my blogging in the past few weeks. My usual excuse is that I just got too busy with work and life.  This time was different.  This time my break came from world event overload.  On more than one occasion I have been described as “overly sensitive”.  At this point in my life I guess I should agree, but I don’t think that my reaction to horrific brutality should be considered “overly sensitive”.

What the soul sickening events have produced is a questioning of purpose. With all the millions of blogs out in the world and all the much smarter people doing much more to counter act the evil, disease and injustice with their words, does my time spent on this keyboard amount to anything more than a waste of my time?  To my readers, I apologize if I have wasted your time.

In my career of over 25 years now I have often questioned the validity of what I do. Am I just making a product or service pretty?  Is there any real long term value in the constant promoting of products or services? Am I just contributing to the materialism that eats away at our environment and financial security?  Ok, so I am also an over thinker, but maybe something that takes up a huge portion of your limited lifespan needs to be examined occasionally.

Here are the conclusions I have come to at this point.

  1. To my customers, I hope I have always given you a product that you are happy with and that has served its purpose well.  Whether it be a logo for your new business or envelopes to send your invoices out in, my wish is that it contributes to the health and growth of your business that in turn contributes to the health and growth of your life and all the employees of your company.  If at any time you feel that I am not doing my best for you, please let me know.  Don’t just disappear and go to someone else.  In most cases you have become a friend over the years and I value honest evaluation from you.
  2. As one tiny entity on this planet, I recognize that most world problems are infinitely complicated and I do not have the knowledge to accurately spout my opinions.  Most of my opinions are gut reactions to what I hear through often slanted media and the limitations of my own culture.  To the best of my abilities I will keep my opinions to myself.
  3. I will not keep my time, talents and money to myself.   As much as possible I will use them to improve life on this planet if only in my tiny corner of the world.  I doubt I can do anything to stop the horrible things humans do to each other, the creatures that live with us or the planet we live on, but maybe I can, in some small way, improve the life of another human or animal and clean up a patch of earth.
  4. I will not plaster words on this site just to have content.  In the past I have tried to follow a schedule of posting that eventually results in a rush to put something on my blogs that has very little substance.  From now on I will take my time and do my best to put words worth reading on here.  There will not be a set schedule.  Life is too short to read or write meaningless words.

If you have made it to this point in this blog, thank you for your patience. I would love to hear from you if you also struggle with everything we are bombarded with and how you deal with it in your life and work.

Wishing for you, blessings and peace.

Christel

Advertisements

Clients and sketchbooks

This is part three and four of my thinking through this article.  Most of what is discussed in the article should be common sense in the design field, but often things get lost in the rush of deadlines and the pursuit of recognition.  It’s good to revisit the basics every now and then.

Pleasing Clients First: After 25 years of being a designer I have to admit to having created some crappy pieces over the years.  Not because I wanted to or lacked creativity, but because to meet the client’s needs the design failed in the beauty contest.  The client required elements to be in the piece that, in spite of my best efforts, just didn’t look good.   But, the client was happy and the design served its purpose.  I work with small businesses who have limited budgets and often the kitchen sink has to go into a design.

When I was right out of school I would complain about the crazy things I was having to include and how they ruined the aesthetics of the design.  Twenty-five years later, I have learned to be grateful for the clients who trust me to provide them with good work and I do my best to make every job the best I can within the parameters of their needs.  You don’t stay in this business if you don’t learn to put the client first.

You can please yourself with your personal work or your own marketing pieces.  Fortunately,  I often don’t have time to make my own marketing materials, much less make them perfect.  I say “fortunately” because at this point in my career I am the busiest I have ever been and feel very blessed to be so.  Live through a couple of recessions and you will know what I mean.

This leads into the next section, Sketchbooks:  When I was in design school we were required to do 100 sketches for each major project.  If you have time, try it.  If you do it a few times you will begin to see a pattern to your creative rollercoaster.  I will have to write more on that later.

Studies are finding that writing in long hand on paper may be better at helping students learn than typing notes on a computer.  I suspect a paper and pencil may do the same for a designer.   I ALWAYS start with my sketchbook.  It may only be two or three ideas, but I can’t seem to get the creative juices flowing by starting on the computer.   What is even more helpful is that I keep my sketchbooks full of ideas and find that if I’m stuck on a problem I can often go back thru my sketches and get new inspiration from them.  Something that did not work for one project will work for a new one.

If you were to look in my sketchbook you might not have any idea of what I have scribbled there.  It’s almost like I have a personal code.  I can tell you the details of every scribble even though they have no real form to them.  Some of my sketches go back 20 years and still I know what my thought process was at that moment.  I find that terribly fascinating considering I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday.  There is just something about the connection between your hand, the paper and your brain that works like nothing else.

It’s time for me to get to work.  Have a great day.

 

Improving my appearance

As a designer I have been pretty embarrassed by the state of my website/blog. To be honest, it has been here for the purpose of just letting people know that I’m here and still doing business. When I suddenly found myself self-employed again I had to rush through several steps to get the business up and going. This poor thing has been one of them.

Since I am stubborn, frugal and curious, I have put off improving on my site until I had the worst of the kinks worked out of the business and could do the design myself. Little did I know how involved this would be.

First, I am still trying to find a theme that really works for me. If you check back here occasionally you might see several different ones as I tweak the overall look. Second, I have never learned code or web design and am finally starting to work on that. My curious self wanted to see what was involved and wanted my brain to not get old and grumpy. I do not want to hear myself say “I’m too old to learn that now”. Ok, maybe I won’t take up snowboarding at this point in life, but I’m still capable of teaching my brain new tricks.

The stubborn part comes into play because I want to fix things myself and not have to wait for someone else to do it when I want it done. The frugal me doesn’t want to pay for something I can do myself. If electricity or plumbing is involved I will pay the experts, but to add a widget or slideshow to my website, I will learn to do it myself.

So my plan is to concentrate on cleaning up my online act and making it prettier and friendlier. And, by George, to get some posts and photos of my work on here on a regular basis. Check back to see how things are going. I’m pretty curious to see it myself.

And now…back to my regularly scheduled life

May has been one VERY busy month.
Our garden is planted and coming up.

Garden 1

My daughter’s wedding was May 10th.

Wedding 1wedding 2

And I ran and finished by first 5K.

5K

Somehow I managed to even get in some work.  I have not had time to photograph any of it lately but my plan is to show you what I have been up to in my next post.

June is usually busy and it includes my annual “vacation” mission trip with our church youth group but it should be in the “normal” range of life.

Where have I been all this time?

Just a quick note to say that I’m still alive and well and very, very busy.

I have been spending as much spare time as possible with learning new skills and new design tricks. My poor brain is on overload.

After May 10th (my daughter’s wedding) I hope to be able to focus on updating this site and adding several new pieces of work for you to look at. Time just goes by too fast to keep up with everything.

I’m having a blast stretching my brain connections or whatever causes us to learn new things.

I promise to come back here soon and show you what I have been up to.

It’s Already Here!

www.gardenridge.com
http://www.gardenridge.com

Sunday afternoon I went with my daughter and her roommates to Garden Ridge.  This is what we walked into as we entered the door.  It’s AUGUST!  I won’t even get started on my opinion of the commercialization of Christmas right now.  If I do, I won’t have anything to write about in November.

As I’m standing there with the ladies waiting for them to decide in which direction to start their quest, I realized that I kinda sorta liked those big bright Christmas trees.  Which color would I pick and what would I decorate it with?  Pink is out because I just don’t do pink.  Purple is my favorite color, but I’m drawn to the gold one. Then again, the bright blue one is very fun. Red, no. Black or white would be very elegant, but I don’t think elegant would fit me right now.

Forever, I have had the traditional faux pine tree decorated with traditional and handmade-by-the-kids ornaments.  I’m not really a very traditional girl but I fake it pretty well when necessary.  These trees are calling out to my wild child side.  It’s doubtful that I will spend $99 for one of these big guys, but I’m thinking a little purple tree decorated with white and teal ornaments just might find it’s way into my bedroom this year.  The kids will have their traditional tree and Mom will have a funky little tree that will make me smile through the holiday spending frenzy and maybe on into the gloom and doom of January and February.

I will let you know what happens in a few months.  Hum, maybe the blue one…

August is coming.

July.  Every year.  Slowest business month.

As long as I have been in the design/print/advertising business (longer than I care to admit) July is always sssssllllllooooowwww.  It’s worse than December.

So, what do I do with all that down time?  I work!!  “But you just said that July is very slow for business” you say.  July is when I re-evaluate everything.  What do I need to change with my marketing? How is that darn profit/loss sheet looking?  What do I need to learn or update for the coming year? How the heck am I going to get all this filing caught up??!!  Sometimes I even re-evaluate whether or not to keep going with this business.  July is my thinking month.  So, what am I thinking this July?

I’m thinking that starting in August my work hours are going to get longer.  Why?  Because in mid-August both my kids are leaving home.  One to her first apartment and the other is off to his first year of college.  So why does that change my work hours?  Because for the first time in TWENTY YEARS I can actually concentrate on my business.

It was right before my daughter was born that I first became self-employed.  I wanted the flexibility to be with her as much as possible.  Since then my career choices have always been based on trying to balance being available to my kids with actually being able to keep them fed!  It has NOT been easy and it has NOT always been the most lucrative choice, but I DO NOT regret one single moment that I spent with them.

I was once offered a very attractive position with a company.  Salary was very good, benefits were great, experience earned would have been beautiful on the resume, but it took me four interviews to be offered the position and each interviewer added more and more overtime hours to the job.  My guess is that I would be looking back now regretting the time away from my kids as well as the fact that last I heard most of the company had been laid off during the recession.

It’s hard to tell exactly how things will go with them, but at the moment it looks like the crazy self-employed rollercoaster has paid off with two really good young adults taking their place in the world.  NO REGRETS here.  Heavens, that feels good to say after many, many sleepless nights and creative budgets, second guesses and PRAYERS!

You should be seeing more visits from me, more Facebook and blog posts, more design and artwork (more on that later).  If you don’t…then I might just be taking a little time to enjoy my empty nest.  🙂

I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: ‘Checkout Time is 18 years.’

Erma Bombeck

Spring Cleaning

In my never ending attempt to organize my time to be able to make regular posts here and on Facebook I have been cleaning out again.  This time it is more my emails, subscriptions and calendar that have been getting scrubbed.  For Facebook, I am attempting to only check it once a day.  Yesterday I didn’t look at it at all.  This morning I took a quick peak, sent some Happy Birthday’s and realized I didn’t miss much.

I like keeping up with what my friends are doing, but I don’t have to check on them every hour.  Heck, I don’t even check on my kids as often as I have been checking Facebook.  Seems like it had just become a habit to fill a few down minutes.  I’m thinking I could find a better use for that time.

Speaking of time, there is a huge work list waiting on me today so I better go design some stuff and print some others.

Wishing you a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend.

Is it March already???

photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day and to stay ahead for once, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

I’ve been busy getting your work done, so I have let this get pushed to the side.  Thank you for keeping me busy.  Sometimes hours have gone by before I realize that it’s 9 pm and I need to stop before my fingers fuse to the keyboard.

Spring is almost here and I am so happy to see it.  I don’t do winter well.  The photo is of one of my pansies.

For those of you who haven’t placed any orders yet this year I am using a new accounting system so the invoices I email you will look different.  My right brain needed something simplier and more automated than my old spreadsheet system.

Don’t forget that I also sell promotional items (mugs, pens, anything you can possibly think of to put your logo on).  The plan is to start having a weekly featured product on my Facebook page to give you some new ideas.

Speaking of my Facebook page, I would appreciate it if you would like it.  I am running behind on posts there too, but have plans to fix that.

Go to http://www.facebook.com/BTSPrintDesign

Hopefully I won’t let months go by before I do this again, but just in case….

Happy Spring, Happy Easter, Happy Memorial Day, Happy July 4th  🙂

Christel