As a designer, it’s always important to have a bank of design resources to pull from. You’ll need to use them when your well of inspiration is running dry, when you’re looking to learn a new technique or program, or when you’re just looking to stay up to speed in the design world.
Where can you find these things? Look no further: I have compiled some of my favorite resources across many platforms for your viewing pleasure and (hopefully) unending learning.
- Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield—A really quick read that highlights typographers, type foundries, type crimes, and yes, even Comic Sans, chapter-by-chapter. A great combination of information and humor!
- How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman— A series of interviews with famous designers who lend tips to young designers starting out in the industry.
- Graphic Style Lab: Develop Your Own Style with 50 Hands-On Exercises by Steven Heller—A really fun instructional book with fifty “assignments” relating to different design movements that help you establish or further develop your personal style.
- Graphic Design Thinking by Ellen Lupton—A great resource on how to improve your design process and how to think through problems to reach the best solution.
- Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory—Eye candy! A beautiful examples of hand lettering from designers like Jessica Hische, Marian Bantjes, and Louise Fili.
- Graphic Design: A New History by Stephen J. Eskilson—A complete history of design that shows the evolution of different movements, styles, and inventions ranging from the Gutenberg Bible to Swiss Style.
- Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML by Eric T Freeman—The cheesiest, easiest way to break into the world of web design.
- Adventures in Design with Mark Brickey and Billy Bauman—A no-filter, hilarious podcast talking about the print side of design, gig-posters, and what it’s like to work for yourself.
- Design Matters with Debbie Millman—A podcast about design and an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with different designers.
- pinterest.com—Used cautiously (there is just as much bad design on Pinterest as there is good), Pinterest can be a great place to find inspiration and learning tools to integrate into your own design.
- behance.net—This site showcases work from designers all across the world in many different fields.
- instagram.com—A good way to get a healthy dose of design in your newsfeed (Follow Louise Fili, you won’t regret it).
- twitter.com—Are you on Twitter? Get on Twitter. Follow everyone.
- dribbble.com—Another great show and tell site for designers.
- AIGA.org—The American Institute of Graphic Arts’ site is full of design tips, professional work, and job postings.
- howdesign.com—It’s easy to spend hours exploring this site. It’s full of inspiration, articles, and beautiful work.
- typography-daily.com—Home of unending typography!
- creativebloq.com—Similar to howdesign, this site is full of design articles that you will spend far too much time browsing.
- fastcodesign.com—From the infographic of the day to free typefaces, fastcodesign won’t let you down.
- thedieline.com—This site displays beautiful examples of packaging design.
- photoshoptutorials.ws—The importance of this site lies in the Photoshop knowledge you can gain by completing different tutorials, not how ugly the design of some projects actually are.
- lynda.com—An online education company that offers thousands of video courses in basically anything you could imagine.
- skillshare.com—A “learning community for creators” similar to Lynda, it’s a fantastic place to learn new things and share your knowledge, too!
Want to spread the design love? Share your favorite sites, books, or any other resources with us!
Here at Black Lake Studio, we’re always striving to improve our own website. Not only does it help us communicate our own story better, it also allows us to try things out and sharpen our skills so we can build better websites for our clients. To that end, we’re excited to launch a new Black Lake website. Here are some of the outstanding features:
- An eye-catching new look
- A new process page that explains how Black Lake can help you think strategically so you can communicate effectively
- A detailed discover page that walks you through our discovery process step by step
- A revamped and expanded portfolio page with case studies that highlight our work with entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and thought leaders
- A development and fundraising page that showcases our work with nonprofits
- A new websites page that allows you to browse our diverse web portfolio
- A new publishing page with details on the books in our portfolio, including sample spreads
Let us know what you think!
When we craft brands and design assets for clients, we are always thinking about strategy and communication as well as aesthetics. Form and function work together to create the best experience for users, no matter the medium or industry.
Audio Scripture Ministries (ASM) is one such client that we had the pleasure of working with. Among the assets we built for them was a new website. Not only did we build the site with user experience and interface in mind, we looked further to meet industry-related requirements—namely, Charity Navigator.
Charity Navigator is an organization that rates nonprofit organizations based on their financial health and accountability and transparency, with a maximum rating of four stars after averaging the scores of the two categories. Many people check Charity Navigator scores and reports to determine if their donation is going to a good organization and being used properly. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to continue giving; if they don’t, they may well take their donation elsewhere.
We noticed this lack and brought it to ASM’s attention. We then added all of this information in the spring during our rebrand and redesign of the website. As a result, we have helped ASM bring their three-star rating up to a four-star rating. They now have a 100.00 rating in the accountability and transparency category. Paired with their already excellent financial health score, this pushed them up to a four-star overall rating.
Whatever type of client we have, including nonprofits, we are always looking to meet and exceed industry standards so they can put their best foot forward. Our collaborative workflow and strategic process allows us to create solutions that help capture our client’s vision and apply it in an intentional, business-minded way.
See ASM’s Charity Navigator Report: www.charitynavigator.org
Visit ASM’s website: www.asmtoday.org
Last Thursday, the Black Lake staff attended Holland Rescue Mission’s Annual Event, a community banquet they held at their campus on US 31. The night was billed as a historic occasion for the mission, and the announcement they gave was kept under tight wraps in the lead-up to the banquet.
But we here at Black Lake were privileged to know what was going on ahead of time, because we worked closely with HRM’s leaders to develop the new campaign theme. Our team collaborated with the mission to write the campaign message, and our designers created beautiful graphics to communicate that message. We were proud to see the banners, slides, and print materials we designed put to good use, and we were excited to help the HRM team reveal their campaign to the community. Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch!
So, what is HRM’s big announcement? Holland Rescue Mission has always innovated to meet the changing needs of the homeless and less fortunate with excellent, Christ-centered programs, and now they’re taking the next step in this direction. Darryl Bartlett, HRM’s executive director, revealed a new campaign to transform the campus on US31 into the Gateway Center, an on-the-job training and business campus that will serve as an attractive gateway into Holland.
HRM’s Gateway Center will give students the opportunity to move from the margins of society to fully participating citizenship, and it will allow the community to interact with the mission in a variety of new and exciting ways. Darryl was able to point around the banquet space and show the audience where the retail floor, cafe, production floor, and more will be located. This campus with a cause will also include administrative offices, a modern worship center, classrooms, and other business enterprises that will serve as a connecting point for citizens and companies, compassion and commerce.
Darryl had one more exciting announcement to share that night: thanks to several generous donors, HRM has already raised $3.1 million of its $7.5 million goal for the Gateway Center campaign. Even better, there is a 2:1 matching fund that multiplies the effectiveness of every donation the campaign receives.
Want to know more about HRM’s Gateway Center? Go to hrmgatewaycenter.org and pledge your support if you’d like to help build a more excellent community for everyone on the Lakeshore.
Things around here have been pretty hectic lately. Having a big deadline rapidly approaching, we at Black Lake have been kicking it into overdrive to create some pretty fantastic work!
With that, it can sometimes be a daunting task to work at such a high speed with little margin for error. What I find inspiring (or at least a good way to stay pumped up) is music. Though incredibly diverse, here are some tracks that frequent my playlists and help keep me on my game!
1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
2. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
3. The Final Countdown – Europe
4. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People
5. Off To The Races – Lana Del Rey
6. The Run And Go – Twenty-One Pilots
7. This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
8. Lose Yourself – Eminem
9. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
10. Stronger – Kanye West
What songs inspire you to get the job done?
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A few short months ago, you could find me locked in my room with my laptop in tow, floating among cans of Monster energy drink and Starbucks cups, dreaming of when my senior year would come to an end. Since then, I have successfully landed a position here at Black Lake Studio, where my caffeine addiction, as well as my use of under-eye concealer and dry shampoo, has greatly decreased. It turns out that hard work really does pay off.
I am very proud of the time and energy I put into my college career and how it has panned out for me. With that, I especially feel very fortunate to have gotten a position at Black Lake, where I can apply and expand upon my education while growing as a designer. So far, I’ve been diving into the world of WordPress and also learning the ways of Black Lake’s process, which has been very valuable to me. One thing I found especially useful was participating in a mind mapping session, where I could better grasp our process and how we interface with clients at the discovery stage.
Making the transition from a design student to a professional has been many things for me: wonderful, slightly intimidating, relieving, and mostly, bittersweet. There are many aspects of school that I will miss, but I’m very thankful to have found that it is possible to have a bedtime earlier than 2:00 a.m., that work doesn’t always come home with you, and that a healthy diet is actually possible! I look forward to my future as a designer and could not be happier to have started my first “big girl job” at such a great studio.
You don’t stop learning about your chosen field when you graduate from college. If you do, you’ll fall far behind and will quickly cease to be an asset to the company that hired you when you were “full of potential.” Part of being a designer is being able to keep up with trends and technology, and expanding your knowledge beyond what you learned in school.
Of course, much of this is done on the fly when there are clients to satisfy and deadlines to meet. Since I started here at Black Lake Studio, I have greatly increased my knowledge of WordPress, brand strategy, and many other aspects of design.
Most recently, I learned how to do a manual multisite WordPress install… in less than eight hours. I had to work with a third party to get multiple sites live for a client, and the guy on the phone said, “You should really do a multisite install, it will be faster and take up much less server space.” I thought to myself, “Alright, I’ll give it a go.”
After much frustration, and learning that I should have waited until after the DNS records were updated, I successfully completed a multisite install and brought both sites live. Upon learning this new skill, I saw how I could apply it to the development of sites under our own server for the future.
I also had to battle with Microsoft Excel for Mac recently. It’s laughable how designers can navigate many Adobe products with ease, but when you present them with a Microsoft product that they haven’t touched since several versions ago, they get completely lost. For this particular project, we had to make sure the client would be able to make their own on-brand pie charts in the future without needing us to make one in Illustrator every time. After once again mastering the creation of a pie chart (which took longer than I would like to admit), I went on to learn how to create a custom theme (which had to be done in Powerpoint for some reason) and apply it to the charts. Not bad for a day’s work, if I do say so myself.
While learning new things can be difficult (especially outside the safety of college and professors that always seem to have the answer), it can be very rewarding. Ultimately, it will help you stay current as a designer and not fall behind. I look forward to learning more things in the future as I move forward in my career. Bring it on, Adobe Digital Publishing Solution!