One of the things I enjoy most in the world is printmaking. It's an opportunity to meld my artistic aspirations, crafting and design. Woodcut is a particularly wonderful medium which I learned to do at the elbow of Martin Mazorra at Parsons. I'm really never happier than when I'm carving blocks.
I just finished a particularly technically challenging project, Ampersand 1. I won't go into detail about why this project was so tough. Suffice it to say that the right ink, the right paper, the right tools really help make a project go better in the end. Once I had those things set up properly, the final printing process went incredibly smoothly, even the registration (how the layers line up) was easy in the end.
The final prints of this run are now up on my site for sale at $45 each including shipping within the US. I hope you'll take a look and consider supporting my art. Thanks!
One of the more annoying things about designing is the pesky clients. Nah, not really. Well, maybe some of the time. But the most demanding client I've ever had is, well, me. I'm hypercritical. Nothing is ever quite perfect enough. I want what I want, but I can't always articulate it in a way that makes designer-me understand the project. You know that client? Yeah, that's me.
About a month ago, I realized I was out of the cute, one-off, brown ink on waste paper business cards I'd printed for myself when I got my first printing press last year. So I needed new cards! But what would they look like? Well, they should be very well-designed, show how talented I am, but also give a potential client an idea of how quirky and fun I am. And I wanted them to be professionally printed, but I wanted them to be on super-thick stock and I wanted painted edges on the cards.
And I really liked all the weird cards on the google. But really they had to be "normal" enough to fit in a card carrier since I really like the carrier I already have. And money was no object, except that it kind of was. I wasn't going to pay $5 a card. Right? Yeah.
So I sat down to design. And I hammered away at it for a couple of hours and got nowhere. Because the design just wasn't coming together. So I decided maybe getting out of my pjs (working for yourself in a home studio is AWESOME but a topic for another post) might give me enough time away from my sketchbook to jump start my brain.
I'm in the shower less than 30 seconds when I remember: I already designed really nice business cards for myself as my final project at Parsons! That match my resume. That show I'm classy and capable and quirky and fun. Duh! After I got back down to the studio, I pulled them up, did a final tweak and taDA! Off to the printer. Where all of my ridiculous desires were met. They came in yesterday. What do you think?
One of my specialties is logo design. I have a lot of training and experience in it, and it's a very satisfying way to collaborate with a business owner. As I'm currently working on one, it occurred to me to post about some of my process in doing the work.
I get a lot of questions about what I charge for a logo. Really, there's no one answer for that. I don't like to work hourly. I feel that can add costs for my client that they don't anticipate, and it also shortchanges me if my training makes it so I can shortcut a lot of things doing the work that much more quickly. If you think that's unfair of me, think about it this way: I've been designing for over a decade at this point, and I spent tens of thousands of dollars and innumerable hours learning how to do this quicker and better. If I can design your logo in a tenth the time that you can, I deserve to be paid for that ability at a rate that is reasonable given my skill and training.
But I digress. I prefer to work with my client within their budget. So, if a client has an interesting to me project but doesn't have much budget, I'll probably take on the project anyway. It might take me longer as I'll need to fit it in around my other, more well-paying work, just to get the bills paid, but I'll give it the same attention and effort as any client's work gets. This holistic approach allows me to do work for a wider variety of clients and keep things fresher.
I also do some barter and energy-exchange. For example, I'm currently working on a logo for a jewelry designer. She has a piece I like in her inventory, so we're trading for some of my fee. If I work with a photographer, I might barter for some product photography. You get the idea. I generally won't barter more than half of my fee, but it's a way to make a project fit into someone's budget.
One of my clients is The Fool's Dog, a company which builds apps for tarot decks on iOS and other platforms. I work with the art in whatever deck I'm contracted to build menus for, picking elements, isolating them, and then combining them to make menuing which accentuates the deck and represents it for their customers. It's fun work, for the most part, though some can be very precise and minute work. I've included a couple of these decks in my portfolio as I find them nicely representative of my Photoshop capabilities.
I am currently working on one which I can't show you right now, but I thought I'd toss one I've done recently which isn't in my portfolio into this blog just for fun. It was a deck that I found particularly interesting. A big challenge is that tarot cards are inherently vertical things, whereas a iOS device can be turned either horizontal or vertical. I must design for both aspects. So you see here the horizontal iPad design above and the vertical one below. Like I said, interesting project. There are a lot of boring technical specs that go into this kind of design, but I won't go into them here so as to spare you.
I've been busy making more mockups. There are now three good ones on the Mockup page on this site available for sale for just 99 cents, each. I'll post more as I finish them. I'm trying for at least five a week. But this begs the question, how do I get the word out about these? Do I wait a couple of weeks and then do a press release? Do I buy some advertising? Do I contact my professors and such at Parsons and tell them about it? Maybe all of the above?
It's a fun process, building digital products. And they have the advantage of not needing to be shipped anywhere. And I don't have to keep inventory of them. Cool stuff. What else should I design? Maybe I should be linking each of these posts to my FB and Twitter feeds. OK, time to figure that out...
Although I have been working as a designer for over a decade, I recently decided to go to school to fill in the blanks in my education. After much deliberation, I applied to Parsons School of Design at the New School in NYC. I chose it because I could take most of my classes online (really, I could have done them all online if I'd wanted to) and just commute up to NYC, about 90 minutes away at the best of times, once a week. This was a great choice for me. I got a great education and was able to add dozens of pieces to my portfolio across a wide spectrum of work types. I now know so much more about typography, layout and the tools designers use regularly. If you are thinking of doing something like this, I recommend it unreservedly.
Anyway, all this to say that my diploma arrived yesterday in the mail. I officially graduated on January 30th with honors (which means I got really good grades, too). I'm thrilled! Squee!
I'm planning to feature at least one mockup each week. I have a goal of creating one each day that I have time to sit at my computer and do them, so if I get busy, I have some in my pocket to post about later. So do check out the store section of this site if you don't see what you're wanting here on the blog. For now, I'll be listing all of my mockups at a very affordable 99 cents apiece. That's so cheap it's not worth your time to figure out how to make them and find the source materials, right?
Okay, so this week's mockup is an iPhone 7. The setting is super-outdoorsy and has an autumnal or wintertime feel. This would be great for any apps that are for hikers, weather apps, walking apps, nature and science apps, and what-have-you. Click on the image to be redirected to the order screen.
Hi! This is my first post in what I hope will become a regular series. I'm going to start things off with an iPad mockup that's free for you to download that will give you an idea of what my future work, which I'll charge for, will be like. So enjoy the freebie. This is something I whipped up this morning. The base photo is my daughter sitting on our couch with a blanket in her lap holding an iPad.
I've edited it to include a smart layer which you can click on to insert your own art, removing the basic screen shot that's on there. Future mockups will vary from my own photography made so you can edit the images to stock photography I have the rights to sell.
This one you can use for personal use only, no professional use unless you get my permission first (I'm pretty easy-going, but I don't like the ask for forgiveness thing). So use it for school projects or to figure out how to do this. I promise it's as easy as downloading the file below and clicking on the
"[Double click to change]" layer. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
Cat Castells is a graphic artist and designer living in Hunterdon County, NJ. A Parsons graduate, she is a freelancer who works for others and develops her own products as well. This blog was started out of a desire to help out fellow graphic designers who might be looking to do some mockups.