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whiteangel
Aug 18, 2005, 11:48 AM
I am not sure if this is the correct place to post, but here goes...

I have a degree in software engineering, and am now finishing up the thesis for my masters in 'Computational methods and imaging in medicine'. Basically just a course that combines computer science and medicine. My supervisor is currently trying to find funding for me to do a phd in medical imaging, but as I am writing my thesis now I find it awfully boring and not fun at all. I am totally bored of my research project as well.

So I am back to square one about what I want to do in life. I can always be a software engineering, do a phd and try to do research in some big drug companies, or I could do something that I always am intrigued and interested in but never had a chance to learn or try, and that is graphics design!

I love computers and technology stuff. I spend the time I should be researching my thesis scouring the net for wallpapers, and themes and everything else. I try to make my own simple wallpapers with photoshop from the simple tutorials I found on the web. But I really really really wish to be able to create my own work, and I don't know how ! I don't know how do people make those beautiful icons, those beautiful drawings that don't seem to be hand drawn. You must also know that I can't really draw ... :( I can copy .... but I can't draw my own cartoon characters.... or maybe I never sat down to do it as I always felt I should spend my time on my work....however inefficiently I do my work..

So erm... to cut a long story short, I want to try my hand in graphics and I wish to know where to start. Hopefully I may be good enough one day to do it for a living, or I could just do it for fun and do something not so fun for money.

How did you guys learn how to draw and make those nice wallpapers, icons and pictures? Can you please please please enlighten me, and solve this mystery of my life. I always felt that people who could do those things are from a different planet from me...... and I am not stupid I think...

Please tell me how to get started..... please please please

thank you very much in advance ! :D
( you can also suggest what I should do next in life.... go work as an IT consultant, software engineer or go into research and hopefully save lives from my research... all of which don't seem to be super fun to me just things that I can do)



whiteangel
Aug 19, 2005, 07:23 AM
anyone with good books to recommend? online tutorials? short courses in the UK, manchester area?

Thanks in advance! :)

Really want to look into this after my thesis is handed in.

CanadaRAM
Aug 19, 2005, 07:44 AM
OK, this is a really brutal opinion that is completely uninformed about youand your personal situation.

If you don't have a natural aptitude for drawing, if you don't 'intuitively' know that certain arrangement of objects are more pleasing to the eye (do you spontaneously rearrange place settings at tables, furniture, pictures on walls?), if your childhood wasn't filled with a compulsive need to draw or paint or sculpt, if you have no background in art, if you have never cut a magazine apart in order to rearange the advertisements so that they 'work' better... give it up.

Graphic design is an art form, not a technical skill. Yes, you can take a 2 year course in design, and learn the rules. But the courses cannot teach the "eye" for design. It's NOT like programming, where the logical process leads to a 'best' solution. Many of my clients are graphic designers, and teachers in design schools. They will tell me privately that 1/4 to 1/2 of their students will never have a career in design because although they passed all of the course requirements, they just don't have 'it' - the visual sensibility and creativity to make a compelling communication concept out of their imagination. Schools are cranking out 'designers' by the 1000's. Many of them will starve - because the choices are freelancing (which you don't eat until you pound the pavement and sell your services to clients) or working as a worker bee in an agency or newspaper for $12 - 16 an hour. A minority of them will be good enough to eventually make a name for themselves as a senior graphic designer.

I know, I have had the computer skills for 17 years, I can make Photoshop sing and dance, I teach the programs, and I would never, never describe myself as a designer. I am a technician, not an artist.

If you have the visual flair, the aptitude and a burning desire to create, if you are willing to get the education, build a portfolio of work, and promote your services to potential clients and employers relentlessly to get work, work well under high responsibility and short deadlines, with often unreasonable customers, have an ego that's big enough to know you can do it, and humble enough to accept that 80% of your best ideas are going to get rejected, can survive 18 hour days then weeks at a time with no income, then graphic design can be very rewarding.

Badradio
Aug 19, 2005, 07:54 AM
You should check out the Arts room at Deansgate Waterstones. They have a lot of good design books. Magma on Oldham Street too. That could inspire you to create something of your own, or turn you off the idea when you see how good some of the pros really are.
Are you sure you want to turn your back on your studies/research? Seems like maybe a year off could give you a new perspective on a valuable and respected career. And graphics/web design can be a great way of spending your spare time, instead of trying to get a start in a VERY crowded marketplace.

superninjagoat
Aug 19, 2005, 08:58 AM
Stick with your education. Finish it. It may feel like drudgery now, but you've jumped through a lot of hoops so far. Why not finish what you started. Especially before jumping down a completely different — some would say opposing — career path.

That said, graphic design doesn't have to be completely out for you. Once you're pulling in income with your new degree, or in your spare time before then, invest in several industry-standard design programs. Start with Illustrator and Photoshop and master them. Them move on to InDesign or Quark Xpress if you're more interested in print work, HTML, Javascript, CSS and Flash if Web design's your thing. Buy Lightwave if you're feeling brave.

Get the basic concepts from the software manuals — not some book you get from Book-A-Million. Read the entire manual (or online help files), cover to cover. Make it your bathroom reading. Even if you don't have the skills to pull a technique off, know that it is possible.

In the meantime, start experimenting. Create things. Rip off other people's ideas. (R&D in design stands for "Rip-off and Duplicate".) Shamelessly copy. Then start putting different ideas together into your own "thing." After you've been doing this in a vacuum for a while, start posting you best work to established *fill-in-name-of-program-here* forums asking for honest feedback. You will get brutal responses. Make corrections as requested, based on the best suggestions. Don't get mad at their response, just keep posting updates.

After a year or so (if you've not been turned off by 100,000 critics), you'll realize that you have the beginnings of a style and a small bag of tricks that you can pull off consistently.

Now it's time to start mining the Web for tutorials and bookstores for tips and tricks books. Before, these things were useless to you because you didn't know the programs and didn't know what you would do with them had you known them in the first place. Now, they can help you save time or tighten you individual style.

I'm not too fond of formal graphic design schools for a non-designer. As posted above, you can learn the "rules," but that doesn't guarantee that you'll actually be able to design once you get out. That's because, while you shouldn't break the rules, they seldom apply. I know that sounds contradictory, but any designer knows exactly what I mean. The trick of good design is knowing when to enforce the rules, when to let them slide, and, most importantly, when to spank them with impunity.

The best way to learn this is through interaction with other designers and by listening carefully to ordinary people's reaction to you work.

Remember, graphic design is not about art. It's about communication. No matter how artfully done an artist's work is, it's not good graphic communication unless the intended audience "gets" it quickly and completely.

For me, as a newspaper designer (thankfully getting well over $16 per hour), that means I do almost zero avant-guard design. My audience wouldn't understand. But for a designer that does, say, rock posters, out-there design is a matter of course.

So, that's the final component to being a graphic designer. Communication. Once you have your own style, skills to pull that style off, and a feeling of the rules to guide you, you reach the watershed of graphic design. Does it work? Unfortunately, you're not going to get to the place where you (or you critics) can make that determination for at least a couple of years — and that's if your diligent in your efforts.

So, don't quit your day job. You're almost there, at least in context with the total scope of your life. If graphic design is really your thing, it will be there for you when you're ready. And, really, it's quite rewarding, at least for me.

But if it turns out not to be your thing, wouldn't it suck to have lost the momentum you've already gathered on your current path?

Hope this helps. s.n.goat


EDIT: On second thought, I thought I'd point out that graphic design is a discipline every bit as complex as your current one. If I posted asking how I, as a graphic journalist, could pick up some tips and tricks on Web sites or in a few seminars that would allow me to write cool programs like Photoshop and do back ends for Web sites, what would you tell me? Then I added that I couldn't write a good geometric proof, but I could follow the logic when it was presented to me.

Most likely that there is a lot more to application design that I was aware of.

It sounds like you're looking at some photoshop work and saying to yourself, "I could do that. And possibly get paid. @%$&, that sounds so much easier than what I'm doing right now. I should try that."

iGav
Aug 19, 2005, 08:59 AM
Graphic design is an art form, not a technical skill.

Sorry but I'm going to have to totally disagree with you there. Design is very much a technical skill.

Blue Velvet
Aug 19, 2005, 09:06 AM
Sorry but I'm going to have to totally disagree with you there. Design is very much a technical skill.


The 'art' side also needs the technical skill, discipline and training to create something, otherwise you don't know how to get from idea to final product.

Much like if I picked up a violin and tried knocking out Shostakovich's Violin Concerto in A minor.

superninjagoat
Aug 19, 2005, 09:17 AM
The 'art' side also needs the technical skill, discipline and training to create something, otherwise you don't know how to get from idea to final product.

Much like if I picked up a violin and tried knocking out Shostakovich's Violin Concerto in A minor.

I agree. My analogy is with language.

Grammar = Basic rules of design
Vocabulary = Skill
Style = Art
Story craft = Fine art

You have to know grammar and vocabulary to even think about being a good communicator. But you won't be very effective unless you develop your own style and learn how to craft your words into interesting, captivating thoughts.

FlamDrag
Aug 19, 2005, 11:00 AM
My suggestion is similar to that of the NinjaGoat.

There are a lot of design snobs out there (myself included) who are going to tell you that you are not going to photoshop your way into being a good designer. That's true.

But don't let yourself get caught up in the never-ending debate about what is design, what isn't design, art or not art, skill or talent, trade or career. It's all fruitless. If you let yourself get caught up in that you'll kill yourself.

However, what I got out of your post is that you want to learn how to do cool stuff with graphics programs. That career path is different and known stateside as pre-press or production positions. These are the careers that most 2 year schools end up doing. On the whole Design Snobs tend to look down on these "photoshop monkeys" or "pixel pushers" because a vast majority of them can't create a solid design to save their life. However, they can (and frequently do) take a concept and make it look exactly like the designer wanted. There are tons of folks who derive their satisfaction from that aspect of the art / design / advertising field. From what I read, THAT is what seems really cool to you. And honestly, who cares if it's design?

Good news: you can learn a lot of that from books, online tutorials and a lot of hard work and experimentation with the programs.

Bad News: The software is cripplingly expensive.

Advice:
1. Get a job in your current field of expertise. It's got to pay more than design anyway.

2. Download all the trial versions of software you can. Don't download them all at once because you'll never get around to playing with all of them in the same 30 days.

3. Decide which one of those programs you really love using and helps produce the stuff you love. (Photoshop, Maya, other 3d program, video, flash, whatever)

4. Insanity check. If after doing this for about two months you don't find yourself mentally checking out of your current job and thinking all day and night about what cool project you can work on when you get home, then you should consider ending this portion of your life. If every single day, you can't wait to go home and create something new, continue to step 5.

5. Pick one or two of your favorite programs and purchase full versions of them.

6. Become an absolute master of these two programs.

7. Make sure that you FINISH projects down to every last detail. That seperates the wheat from the chaff in the design world. Details. If you're hating the details, then stop. This is not for you.

8. Once you have built 3-4 things that you're really proud of, put up a web site and begin posting on design forums for critique. Get a box of tissue b/c this part will not be fun. Ignore the praise. Seek out the critics. Take their crits to heart and make your work better. If having people point out every flaw in your work defeats you, then stop now. This is not for you.

9. After about a year of this, you should have a pretty good idea if you really have the passion for it or not. THEN decide if a career change is for you. It's possible to do this type of work 'on the side' and bring in extra cash etc.

10. Expand your program base by one. Master this third program and continue. There's a lot more work out there for masters of certain programs than there is for mediocre users of all 10.

whiteangel
Aug 19, 2005, 12:52 PM
Wow ! I am very very thankful for all your replies! Based on everything that I've read, I think that you guys are right, I shouldn't stop what I am doing and try to go into another field that I honestly know nothing about. I do know that it is every bit as complex as whatever I am doing.

What my mentality on graphics is that I always thought that it was something cool to be able to do, something I envied about other people. I will take all your advice and try experimenting with either photoshop or illustrator ( I think I will go with Illustrator first as I want to draw things and make my own cutesy characters ). I seriously do not think that thinking of new ideas everyday is an easy job, in fact I think that it is much harder than coding. I do not think that I am capable of such a task as yet, but maybe just maybe a few years down the road I can have my own comic or portfolio of stuff that I like. Even if I don't make a cent out of it, even if I have to use my future hard earned money to buy the tools required for it, if I can produce things that make me happy I think it is well worth it. :p

I was also thinking that the basic skills that I pick up from learning graphics could maybe also help with my job in future, lets say I end up having to set up a website, I could try my hand at doing the graphics for the site myself and get a great sense of satisfaction out of it if it turns out nice.

So another question, somehow I got the idea that if I want to draw things on the computer I should use Illustrator, and if I can do that well then I can go on to photoshop to make them look nicer. Am I getting the correct gist here? As sometimes I get the impression that people draw with photoshop instead... I get very confused what this two programs do. So if I want to try drawing cute characters for my own pleasure and experimentation, then color them and make them into nice wallpapers, which program do I start off with first?

As I am supposed to be rushing my thesis now, I can't go and check out Waterstones just yet, but rest assured that is the first thing I do the moment I hand the dreaded thesis in.

Another question :o if I want to draw things, is it easier to use the circles and tools provided in the program and try to make a drawing based on circles and rectangles (something I feel is quite hard), or is it easier to draw them on paper and scan them in/trace them with a table ?

Another thing... for those with tablets as I don't have one, if you trace something, and lets say the ear of the bear is dented, can I correct it using the program easily and make it into a nice perfect curve?

I hope that you can understand that all this is really out of interest, whether I make money out of it doesn't matter, I can always get a job in what I am doing right now and just do this in my free time. I hope one day i get good enough to set up my own site as suggested by FlamDrag.


Ooo can't wait to finish my thesis and get started with this ! :D

Once again, thank you all so so much for your advice. You made me realize that it is not practical to think I can go and take a course and get into graphics design. Saved me from a big career mistake!

Oh and I never thought that it was easy to do and wanted to be paid doing it. I just thought it will be rewarding and satisfying (and fun!) than what I am most probably going to end up doing..... developing systems for clients and maintaining software... or staring at matlab looking at the grey levels of mr images of the prostate.

superninjagoat
Aug 19, 2005, 01:30 PM
Wow ! I am very very thankful for all your replies! Based on everything that I've read, I think that you guys are right, I shouldn't stop what I am doing and try to go into another field that I honestly know nothing about. I do know that it is every bit as complex as whatever I am doing.

I'm glad that you are continuing your thesis. Sorry for the harsh tone in the edit in my previous post. In my head, it didn't sound so … mean.

What my mentality on graphics is that I always thought that it was something cool to be able to do, something I envied about other people. I will take all your advice and try experimenting with either photoshop or illustrator ( I think I will go with Illustrator first as I want to draw things and make my own cutesy characters ). I seriously do not think that thinking of new ideas everyday is an easy job, in fact I think that it is much harder than coding. I do not think that I am capable of such a task as yet, but maybe just maybe a few years down the road I can have my own comic or portfolio of stuff that I like. Even if I don't make a cent out of it, even if I have to use my future hard earned money to buy the tools required for it, if I can produce things that make me happy I think it is well worth it. :p

See above comment. Again, sorry :o . I think this sounds much more reasonable. And it sounds like you're looking at the enjoyment angle. That's good, 'cause it's fun.

I was also thinking that the basic skills that I pick up from learning graphics could maybe also help with my job in future, lets say I end up having to set up a website, I could try my hand at doing the graphics for the site myself and get a great sense of satisfaction out of it if it turns out nice.

So another question, somehow I got the idea that if I want to draw things on the computer I should use Illustrator, and if I can do that well then I can go on to photoshop to make them look nicer. Am I getting the correct gist here? As sometimes I get the impression that people draw with photoshop instead... I get very confused what this two programs do. So if I want to try drawing cute characters for my own pleasure and experimentation, then color them and make them into nice wallpapers, which program do I start off with first?

Google "raster vector art" (no quotes). This will give you a lot of your answers as to which programs do which types of art. In general, raster (photoshop) is best for continuous-tone images like photographs and paintings. Vector (illustrator) is resolution independent and more scaleable, and is better suited to crisp artwork, diagrams and logos. There are many exceptions, and the current versions of the programs blur the lines more than a little bit.

As I am supposed to be rushing my thesis now, I can't go and check out Waterstones just yet, but rest assured that is the first thing I do the moment I hand the dreaded thesis in.

Another question :o if I want to draw things, is it easier to use the circles and tools provided in the program and try to make a drawing based on circles and rectangles (something I feel is quite hard), or is it easier to draw them on paper and scan them in/trace them with a table ?

Only rarely should you be combining circle and squares to create organic shapes. I typically draw from scratch right in the program, but you can trace over scanned images with the pen tool and make them look great. Not sure about the table thing you're talking about.

Another thing... for those with tablets as I don't have one, if you trace something, and lets say the ear of the bear is dented, can I correct it using the program easily and make it into a nice perfect curve?

Short answer: yes, you can do what you're asking in Photoshop and Illustrator. But I'd learn the pen tool first. It's the most important skill in graphic design.

I hope that you can understand that all this is really out of interest, whether I make money out of it doesn't matter, I can always get a job in what I am doing right now and just do this in my free time. I hope one day i get good enough to set up my own site as suggested by FlamDrag.


Ooo can't wait to finish my thesis and get started with this ! :D

Once again, thank you all so so much for your advice. You made me realize that it is not practical to think I can go and take a course and get into graphics design. Saved me from a big career mistake!

Oh and I never thought that it was easy to do and wanted to be paid doing it. I just thought it will be rewarding and satisfying (and fun!) than what I am most probably going to end up doing..... developing systems for clients and maintaining software... or staring at matlab looking at the grey levels of mr images of the prostate.

The prostate thing could be cool. :) Seriously though, if you got some photoshop and illustrator skills and combined them with you knowledge of programming, you could have a kick @$$ small business. Mom and pop stores eat that stuff up. If you could give them a cool site that helps them integrate their inventory, pricing, shopping and business functions, you could make a killing.

jayscheuerle
Aug 19, 2005, 01:47 PM
Interesting thoughtful responses...

Good designers and illustrators have an innate talent that can't be learned, but in this age of computer design programs and clip art, there are plenty of talentless designers making a living selling their work to people and companies that have no idea what good design is. Besides, the ability to market yourself will get you much further than talent alone. It wasn't so long ago that it was programmers designing web-sites; until design friendly programs like Dreamweaver and GoLive came about.

In the U.S., we have the misconception that good design is subjective, as in "If I like it, then it's good to me". That school of thought has given us the Pontiac Aztek, Windows of any version, and just about any mp3 player out there other than the iPod. If you've ever been to Europe or Japan, you'd note that good design can be applied to anything, not just cars, coffee makers, and the Michael Graves section at Target.

Many people go into design because they see it as fun and easy, which it can be, but it's not always fun and easy to make a living out of it. Competition for the good paying jobs is fierce and there are plenty of talented designers who end up working in other fields. If design is your calling, you have a good eye and are willing to fight against mediocrity, then dive in full hilt and take some business classes along the way. An alternative is to finish your education and design as a hobby, building a modest portfolio from inexpensive work you've done for friends and yourself, making a little cash on the side.

Whatever you do, good luck! - j

CanadaRAM
Aug 19, 2005, 02:02 PM
Sorry but I'm going to have to totally disagree with you there. Design is very much a technical skill.
Absolutely; design requires a high degree of technical skill.

Good design also requires much more than merely technical skill.

Otherwise, you end up with extremely well-technically-produced bad design. Or as others have put it, "polishing a turd"

Edit-- OK, I see another side -- if you are working in an agency and the art director comes up with all the concepts, and lays out instructions for the production people to execute in the software, then the production person needs to be very good technically but doesn't need the conceptual imagination or the creative flair. But I wouldn't call them a graphic designer. I'd call them a technician working in the graphic field.

Lau
Aug 19, 2005, 02:02 PM
An alternative is to finish your education and design as a hobby, building a modest portfolio from inexpensive work you've done for friends and yourself, making a little cash on the side.

This sounds like a good idea to me. I have known people who start off pretty clueless, but because they have that 'spark' and do a lot of hard work in their own time, they are now some of the most talented people I know. But then there's others who work hard, but just don't have it. And there's others who are too lazy, talent or otherwise.

I say teach yourself some skills, and start designing some of your own stuff, and your commitment and progress will tell you how 'good' you are, and whether you should pursue it further. You might be amazed how much you can learn in a short while. And you're right about thinking it will be useful for web design - even if you end up hiring a logo designer for a really professional site, you'll still know whether what he or she is doing is good or not, because you understand it. If you have to work with people, it's good to know their skill. Same reason it's handy for graphic designers to know a little bit of web design, even if it's just to tell if someone's done good work for you.

Oh, and read loads about graphics. Even if it means going to Borders or similar and treating it like a library. This is something I excel at :D

But if you enjoy it, keep on enjoying it, whether you're any good or not. It always makes me sad when people say "I'm so unartistic, so I don't do art even though I enjoy it" or similar about music, etc, because there's nothing wrong with doing it badly! If it's a hobby, just enjoy it, you don't have to be fantastic.

whiteangel
Aug 19, 2005, 02:11 PM
I'm glad that you are continuing your thesis. Sorry for the harsh tone in the edit in my previous post. In my head, it didn't sound so … mean.



See above comment. Again, sorry :o . I think this sounds much more reasonable. And it sounds like you're looking at the enjoyment angle. That's good, 'cause it's fun.



Google "raster vector art" (no quotes). This will give you a lot of your answers as to which programs do which types of art. In general, raster (photoshop) is best for continuous-tone images like photographs and paintings. Vector (illustrator) is resolution independent and more scaleable, and is better suited to crisp artwork, diagrams and logos. There are many exceptions, and the current versions of the programs blur the lines more than a little bit.



Only rarely should you be combining circle and squares to create organic shapes. I typically draw from scratch right in the program, but you can trace over scanned images with the pen tool and make them look great. Not sure about the table thing you're talking about.



Short answer: yes, you can do what you're asking in Photoshop and Illustrator. But I'd learn the pen tool first. It's the most important skill in graphic design.



The prostate thing could be cool. :) Seriously though, if you got some photoshop and illustrator skills and combined them with you knowledge of programming, you could have a kick @$$ small business. Mom and pop stores eat that stuff up. If you could give them a cool site that helps them integrate their inventory, pricing, shopping and business functions, you could make a killing.
Thanks alot for all that valuable information. And 'table' was a spelling error I meant a tablet. If it is easier to trace with a tablet and then fill in the colours.
Wow I definitely want to start with vector graphics I think, so I can make them big and small as I like. I also checked them up on google, so now I know what formats to save them in. I also went to check out the pen tool, I think it is hard to use it to trace ( I can see that needs alot of patience), but I can also see how I can use it to draw simple things, although my cat's head looked fat on one side and thin on the other. So just more practice should do it ! This is so fun and interesting !

I never knew what the pen tool was, I kept thinking it as the brush tool ... couldn't understand how people drew freehand with a mouse ... now I learn something new ! :D

iGav
Aug 19, 2005, 02:26 PM
I'd call them a technician working in the graphic field.

They're called Mac Monkey's. ;) or as I call them Work Placements. hahahaha. :p

whiteangel
Aug 19, 2005, 02:31 PM
They're called Mac Monkey's. ;) or as I call them Work Placements. hahahaha. :p

Is that the guy referred to as the 'Mac guy' in the apprentice by Sir Alan Sugar?
;)
hehehe wonder why they call them mac guys.... I don't think that guy was using a mac though .... :confused:

iGav
Aug 19, 2005, 02:33 PM
If it is easier to trace with a tablet and then fill in the colours.

Yep, much easier. ;)

The whole notion of a designer using a mouse just ain't right. :eek: :p

jayscheuerle
Aug 19, 2005, 02:36 PM
...if you are working in an agency and the art director comes up with all the concepts, and lays out instructions for the production people to execute in the software, then the production person needs to be very good technically but doesn't need the conceptual imagination or the creative flair.

They still need a good sense of balance and placement if you want the piece to be "finished".

I work in a recruitment ad agency on the creative end. The production department is where our work goes to die a slow, unnuanced death; graphics are squashed and stretched, custom kerning is lost, and the sense of a design "working" goes right out the window... It pays the bills. :rolleyes:

superninjagoat
Aug 19, 2005, 02:45 PM
Thanks alot for all that valuable information. And 'table' was a spelling error I meant a tablet. If it is easier to trace with a tablet and then fill in the colours.
Wow I definitely want to start with vector graphics I think, so I can make them big and small as I like. I also checked them up on google, so now I know what formats to save them in. I also went to check out the pen tool, I think it is hard to use it to trace ( I can see that needs alot of patience), but I can also see how I can use it to draw simple things, although my cat's head looked fat on one side and thin on the other. So just more practice should do it ! This is so fun and interesting !

I never knew what the pen tool was, I kept thinking it as the brush tool ... couldn't understand how people drew freehand with a mouse ... now I learn something new ! :D

Glad to help. I love the pen, and it moves (relatively easily) across most graphics programs and platforms. One thing I try to remember when drawing with the pen is that the drar-bar-line-thingie that you use to draw curves with is always tangent to the curve you are creating. The further you drag this line from the center point on the line, the stronger the curve becomes. As you look at tutorials on the pen tool, keep this in mind.

Also, try to draw shapes with as few points as possible. Using the pen tool is like an exercise in fuzzy calculus. Except more zen.

As practice, use the brush tool to draw random curvy lines in PS. Then use the pen tool to trace them as precisely as possible and with as few points as possible.

Also, look into the paths pallet. You can have multiple paths going at the same time.

Once you get Illustrator, you'll have lots more options.

iGav
Aug 19, 2005, 02:45 PM
Is that the guy referred to as the 'Mac guy' in the apprentice by Sir Alan Sugar? :

I didn't watch it. :o

Basically they're the chumps that know how the software functions and that's about it. Mac Monkeys are more of a print design phenomena, you don't really get them outside of that.

Back in the day, they used to be known as Mac Operators, but that sounded far to fancy for doing nothing other than knowing which buttons to click. :p

dornoforpyros
Aug 19, 2005, 04:06 PM
Yeah I've gotta agree with most of what's been said here. I'm very much at the bottom of the graphic design heap right now, it's such a competative field and making a name for yourself is hard. I've been out of school for just over a year now and I still don't think I've got even a solid footing career wise.
Yeah I've got a job but I also spent 5 months firing off resumes. Eventually I ended up re-locating to accept a job.

whiteangel
Aug 19, 2005, 04:20 PM
Yep, much easier. ;)

The whole notion of a designer using a mouse just ain't right. :eek: :p

So what tool in illustrator do I use to trace with the tablet? Brush tool or the pen tool?

Also is it easier to draw straight from the tablet as opposed to using the pen tool with a mouse?

(I like getting to use new fancy gadgets :o )

Blue Velvet
Aug 19, 2005, 04:22 PM
The whole notion of a designer using a mouse just ain't right. :eek: :p

I know I'm just a bear with a little brain but I just can't imagine laying out a publication in QuarkXpress with a tablet, somehow.

whiteangel
Aug 19, 2005, 04:24 PM
Seems to me like the graphics industry is very tough, I guess there isn't many fields nowadays that aren't tough right ;)

I'll just do it for fun then and hopefully be able to get to a stage where I can share my work with everyone. :D

And for Illustrator, how much better is CS2 as compared to CS ? Is it A LOT better and will make it easier for me to learn? Or will it not matter to me at all since I won't need all the pro stuff, just simple tools to get simple things done.

sambo.
Aug 19, 2005, 08:49 PM
OK, this is a really brutal opinion that is completely uninformed about youand your personal situation.

If you don't have a natural aptitude for drawing, if you don't 'intuitively' know that certain arrangement of objects are more pleasing to the eye (do you spontaneously rearrange place settings at tables, furniture, pictures on walls?), if your childhood wasn't filled with a compulsive need to draw or paint or sculpt, if you have no background in art, if you have never cut a magazine apart in order to rearange the advertisements so that they 'work' better... give it up.

Graphic design is an art form, not a technical skill. Yes, you can take a 2 year course in design, and learn the rules. But the courses cannot teach the "eye" for design. It's NOT like programming, where the logical process leads to a 'best' solution. Many of my clients are graphic designers, and teachers in design schools. They will tell me privately that 1/4 to 1/2 of their students will never have a career in design because although they passed all of the course requirements, they just don't have 'it' - the visual sensibility and creativity to make a compelling communication concept out of their imagination. Schools are cranking out 'designers' by the 1000's. Many of them will starve - because the choices are freelancing (which you don't eat until you pound the pavement and sell your services to clients) or working as a worker bee in an agency or newspaper for $12 - 16 an hour. A minority of them will be good enough to eventually make a name for themselves as a senior graphic designer.

I know, I have had the computer skills for 17 years, I can make Photoshop sing and dance, I teach the programs, and I would never, never describe myself as a designer. I am a technician, not an artist.

If you have the visual flair, the aptitude and a burning desire to create, if you are willing to get the education, build a portfolio of work, and promote your services to potential clients and employers relentlessly to get work, work well under high responsibility and short deadlines, with often unreasonable customers, have an ego that's big enough to know you can do it, and humble enough to accept that 80% of your best ideas are going to get rejected, can survive 18 hour days then weeks at a time with no income, then graphic design can be very rewarding.


errr, this guy is VERY, VERY right.

i'm a photographer, have been for 13 years now. i meet a LOT of "photographers" with degrees (?) from uni who still can't take a picture. i told my last cadet to chuck the idea and retrain as something else (this after she had finished her cadetship, and hey, she ASKED my opinion, i just gave it) as she just didn't have "it" (Henri Cartier-Bresson described "it" for a photographer as "The Decisive Moment"). she went and retrained as a web-designer and is now powering along, she can add perfectly useable pictures to her range of services.

and thats what i think you should do.

realize that in the "creative" sphere (photographers, graphic artists, etc etc) the ONLY qualification that counts is YOUR PORTFOLIO. as a photographer, when interviewing for photographers, i couldn't care less about your degree or your masters (and i have met people with a MASTERS Degree in Photography who take pictures i would expect any intelligent 14 year-old to be able to come up with) or the nice reference your year 11 Art Teacher wrote you. I want to SEE, YOUR pictures. thats it, nothing else really counts expect that you have decent personal hygeine and don't suffer from Tourettes Syndrome.

finish your degree FIRST. but definatly play with the graphics programs and learn them. FYI: any self respecting designer uses Adobe Pro products. it's the image that counts, so learn the tools in the apps.

freelancing is TOUGH. you eat or starve by your work and how YOU promote yourself.

on tat note, i find that i "enjoy" my photography a lot less having done so much dross work for so many dimwit clients. the photography i still enjoy is the stuff i do basically for myself. same with my graphic design work :) oh yeah, i multi-skilled too :)

web design: the more solid programming you can offer back-end-wise, the more you have to offer potential clients.

All the successful designers/creative types I know (and i'll include myself here, but i'm still learning the web-end stuff) have embraced the "new" technology (ok, so when I did MY cadetship, it was B&W prints in the darkbox ("room" is too grand a suffix) at the back of the office.) and learnt as many different areas. if you only know photoshop, welcome to the wonderful world (pit?) of "Production", where ones brain will turn to mush.

for todays UberDesigner, crack design skills, lightning keyboard speed & "that (wo)man is on drugs!" creativity are a given, to stand out, you need great web/backend skills to and a wide variety of experience.

sorry if thats a bit disjointed, but only my $0.02 :D

sambo.
Aug 19, 2005, 08:55 PM
Sorry but I'm going to have to totally disagree with you there. Design is very much a technical skill.

this guy is right. it's a question of being able to walk before you can run. learning the tools and how they work is very technical. only once you have mastered the basic techniques can you begin to accuratly apply your artistic vision.

as an aside (and i'm a 'tographer originally) amazing how many BA (Photography) :mad: graduates have absolutely :eek: NO CONCEPT :eek: of the technical aspects of photography. if you don't know how to use the tools of your trade, how can you hope to build, for example, a pergola? (to mix metaphores). if you don't know how to use something, how can you use it?

dornoforpyros
Aug 19, 2005, 09:05 PM
I often wonder just what people learn in 4 your graphic art degrees, because I've met more than a few who seem to be lacking the basics...

iGav
Aug 20, 2005, 06:48 AM
So what tool in illustrator do I use to trace with the tablet? Brush tool or the pen tool?

Brush if you want the natural, more organic look.

Also is it easier to draw straight from the tablet as opposed to using the pen tool with a mouse?

ooooooooooohhhhhhh yeessssssssss, much easier.

The pen also allows far quicker navigation of the OS and it's functions as well.

I know I'm just a bear with a little brain but I just can't imagine laying out a publication in QuarkXpress with a tablet, somehow.

First thing Monday Blue, you're going to slap down a P/O on your bosses desk for a spanking new Wacom A4 Intuos3. ;)

Trust the iGav... TRUST THE iGav! ;) :D

cleanup
Aug 20, 2005, 08:32 AM
Sorry, I can't imagine doing layout or vector with a pen, either. I rarely use my Wacom, because I do mostly vector art.

I realize that I probably have no future in graphics design. I can't really draw, but I do have a good eye for layout, design, colours, etc. But so many other people already do. This is probably just a hobby.

Meh. I'll figure something out. :(

Blue Velvet
Aug 20, 2005, 08:49 AM
First thing Monday Blue, you're going to slap down a P/O on your bosses desk for a spanking new Wacom A4 Intuos3. ;)

Trust the iGav... TRUST THE iGav! ;) :D


Well, it may have to wait until I'm back at work at the end of Sept. ;) :)

<little spirals in my eyes>
I trust the iGav!

iGav
Aug 20, 2005, 10:23 AM
I can't really draw(

Neither can I ;) you don't need to be able to draw to be a designer, common misconception.

but I do have a good eye for layout, design, colours, etc

Sounds like a designer to me. ;)

iGav
Aug 20, 2005, 10:25 AM
Well, it may have to wait until I'm back at work at the end of Sept. ;) :)

Sod that Blue, email a P/O to your boss on Monday, asking them to have it delivered to your home address so that you can 'practice' for when you go back to work. ;) :D

superninjagoat
Aug 22, 2005, 08:28 AM
I know I'm just a bear with a little brain but I just can't imagine laying out a publication in QuarkXpress with a tablet, somehow.

I'm mokstly a mouse man, but for freehand-style things and painting, I do use a tablet. Cool thing is, I'm left-handed, but mouse right-handed. I frequently find myself with a pen in one hand and mouse in the other. I also know all my modifier keys both left and right handed.

It's kinda' weird. When I'm in Xpress, I find I have the mouse in my hand. But when I'm pushing points in Lightwave, the pen is magically there. I honestly don't know when I switch, most of the time.

whiteangel
Aug 23, 2005, 05:52 AM
Thanks alot !

I am thinking of getting a tablet to play with, something basic, and simple.

I now the brand to go for is Wacom, do I need the latest graphire3, or will graphire2 be equally good? And should I go for the 4X5 or the 6X8 ?

Thanks once again for your kind advice :D

superninjagoat
Aug 23, 2005, 08:13 AM
Thanks alot !

I am thinking of getting a tablet to play with, something basic, and simple.

I now the brand to go for is Wacom, do I need the latest graphire3, or will graphire2 be equally good? And should I go for the 4X5 or the 6X8 ?

Thanks once again for your kind advice :D

2 or 3 is fine. 6x8 is rather important, imho.

marek_tyler
Oct 13, 2005, 12:58 PM
Hello,
My name is Marek Tyler and I have recently moved to Victoria. I love creating marketing opportunities for art.

I want to make a living as a creative internet marketing designer. I don't know what that means, I just know that my unique skill's are understanding strong creative ideas and platforms, making sure that the right people are aware of the project.

I want to go to school to learn the ABC's of design.

Please contact me at anytime with advice, opportunity, or can point me in the right direction.

Yours,
Marek

If you have the visual flair, the aptitude and a burning desire to create, if you are willing to get the education, build a portfolio of work, and promote your services to potential clients and employers relentlessly to get work, work well under high responsibility and short deadlines, with often unreasonable customers, have an ego that's big enough to know you can do it, and humble enough to accept that 80% of your best ideas are going to get rejected, can survive 18 hour days then weeks at a time with no income, then graphic design can be very rewarding.[/QUOTE]

narco
Oct 13, 2005, 08:14 PM
OK, this is a really brutal opinion that is completely uninformed about youand your personal situation.

If you don't have a natural aptitude for drawing, if you don't 'intuitively' know that certain arrangement of objects are more pleasing to the eye (do you spontaneously rearrange place settings at tables, furniture, pictures on walls?), if your childhood wasn't filled with a compulsive need to draw or paint or sculpt, if you have no background in art, if you have never cut a magazine apart in order to rearange the advertisements so that they 'work' better... give it up.

I agree. When I used to interview potential artists, the first thing I asked is if they had a background in drawing/painting/photography/etc. The ones who did had a better chance, whereas the ones who didn't but had a good education took care of the more technical aspects.

I was lucky to have skipped art school and learned everything on site. This is the best way to learn the technical side and actually make money, instead of spending thousands on an art school.

You can still work in the field and not really have an art background. I believe they are called pre-press people.

Fishes,
narco.

Plymouthbreezer
Oct 13, 2005, 10:00 PM
Yikes! All this "design" stuff scares me (not really), as I plan on going to school for architecture - a field which requires much technical skill, but also a feel for "good design." While I'm no Picasso, I do have en "eye" for good design, and can always pick out those who do and don't have the talent. I see so many kids even in my school alone who want to go to art school, but their work looks like crap. Obviously, they won't make it. But yeah, even graphic design requires this talent, as well as the precision and skill with programs such as PS and Illustrator. Currently, my skills on the technical end of this (like actually using PS) are terrible, but hey, I have a few years to get better with 'em! After all, mastering the computer programs is in fact something you learn - unlike the natural instinct you need for the design end of the spectrum.

But definitely an exciting field.

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 01:35 AM
OK, this is a really brutal opinion that is completely uninformed about youand your personal situation.

If you don't have a natural aptitude for drawing, if you don't 'intuitively' know that certain arrangement of objects are more pleasing to the eye (do you spontaneously rearrange place settings at tables, furniture, pictures on walls?), if your childhood wasn't filled with a compulsive need to draw or paint or sculpt, if you have no background in art, if you have never cut a magazine apart in order to rearange the advertisements so that they 'work' better... give it up.

Graphic design is an art form, not a technical skill. Yes, you can take a 2 year course in design, and learn the rules. But the courses cannot teach the "eye" for design. It's NOT like programming, where the logical process leads to a 'best' solution. Many of my clients are graphic designers, and teachers in design schools. They will tell me privately that 1/4 to 1/2 of their students will never have a career in design because although they passed all of the course requirements, they just don't have 'it' - the visual sensibility and creativity to make a compelling communication concept out of their imagination. Schools are cranking out 'designers' by the 1000's. Many of them will starve - because the choices are freelancing (which you don't eat until you pound the pavement and sell your services to clients) or working as a worker bee in an agency or newspaper for $12 - 16 an hour. A minority of them will be good enough to eventually make a name for themselves as a senior graphic designer.

I know, I have had the computer skills for 17 years, I can make Photoshop sing and dance, I teach the programs, and I would never, never describe myself as a designer. I am a technician, not an artist.

If you have the visual flair, the aptitude and a burning desire to create, if you are willing to get the education, build a portfolio of work, and promote your services to potential clients and employers relentlessly to get work, work well under high responsibility and short deadlines, with often unreasonable customers, have an ego that's big enough to know you can do it, and humble enough to accept that 80% of your best ideas are going to get rejected, can survive 18 hour days then weeks at a time with no income, then graphic design can be very rewarding.



Exactly.

Design is visual problem solving. It is a visual thinking skill more than a technical skill. Technical skills are only a means to an end. Torn paper and canyons are just as valid as design tools as Photoshop or Maya are. I have been a Graphic Designer for 25 years. If you have an endless passion to create, visualize and problem solve, you are more than half way there.



http://www.atdesignla.com/

p0intblank
Oct 14, 2005, 01:35 AM
I actually just began to get some clients and design logos for them. This is the first time I am making money with this so I'm pretty excited. The more clients, the better! I want to build up my portfolio so I can eventually create myself a Web site to promote my business even further.

As for having skills, I have to admit: I am not very good at drawing. I do however have a very good eye for designs. I am more a computer artist than an actual "on paper" artist. I understand sketching is required, but this is the technical era we are in now. Amazing things can be done with a computer, so art industry has really come a long way and how we treat art. I consider myself very familiar with Adobe Photoshop. I have been using it for more than a few years now and know the ins and outs of the application. I've been using Illustrator a lot lately to design logos, so I am still learning that application. I'm loving it so far. I do find myself drawing better in Illustrator than I do on actual paper. Working on the computer also gives me more confidence in my work, as I enjoy working on the computer (I am practically on most of the day everyday). But yeah, to be successful in the graphic design field, follow these steps:

- practice, pracitce, practice!
- have a lot of confidence in yourself
- don't think you cannot do something; try it out and see if it works!
- accept other people's advice and suggestions; don't be offended if someone doesn't like your work
- if you are stuck for ideas, just start to mess around on the canvas (whether it is digital or not, the rule still stands) and see what you get
- look around at other people's works; get ideas and use them! (but only to a certain extent, you don't want to "copy" anyone)
- and again, PRACTICE! even if it means just tracing cartoon characters in Illustrator, everything you do will have an effect on your future.

And most important of all, just have fun. :D Don't start out too big. For instance I have about three clients right now (one is finishing up, that's why I say "about"). Don't get too caught up in the drama of designing for someone else. If they don't like your design(s) at first, then ask what they would like to be different! Take advice and listen. Two of my clients went back and forth with me about making changes. I obviously didn't mind as I get paid for this kind of work. It's what graphic designers do. Your work won't always be accepted by your client. You sometimes have to keep working at it. And just believe in yourself. There are some rude people out there who may say things that will really get to you. Don't let anyone do that. Believe in yourself and keep trying.

I hope all that came together well. It's 2:35 AM over here, so I'm kind of tired. :D If anyone has any questions about starting out in the graphic design business, feel free to drop me a PM or e-mail!

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 02:32 AM
Sorry but I'm going to have to totally disagree with you there. Design is very much a technical skill.

No way. Design is visual problem solving. You can design with lipstick on a cocktail napkin. Technical skills are tools that aid design, not design itself.

Blue Velvet
Oct 14, 2005, 02:41 AM
No way. Design is visual problem solving. You can design with lipstick on a cocktail napkin. Technical skills are tools that aid design, not design itself.


Yes, but the limitations of the brief and technical skills are inherent in the design process. You cannot tease them apart from the creative process.

Working within that envelope is a crucial part of the discipline. Otherwise, you're an artist...

steebu
Oct 14, 2005, 03:09 AM
wow... a lot of you guys are really down on design... are you all really THAT insecure about more fresh talent getting in the field?

MontyZ
Oct 14, 2005, 03:52 AM
.

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 05:21 AM
Yes, but the limitations of the brief and technical skills are inherent in the design process. You cannot tease them apart from the creative process.

Working within that envelope is a crucial part of the discipline. Otherwise, you're an artist...



I started in Graphic Design long before computers came into the picture. My design tools back then were a pencil and a tracing pad. Design done before the age of computers is ever bit as valid as design done today. The thought process is the core of design, then and now.

I'm not against technical skills at all and I do believe they are very important tools of a designer. I live in lots a very technical programs. It's just when I see many posts describing design as a long list of computer programs and technical skills or calling design a purely technical skill, I just have to wonder if a very large point has been missed here...

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 05:22 AM
Isn't that just doodling?


Not if you are making money at it :D

Blue Velvet
Oct 14, 2005, 05:32 AM
I started in Graphic Design long before computers came into the picture...

Likewise, and I agree with you to a point.

But in order to arrive at your destination, you have to be aware of the technical processes, timescales, budgetary limitations and the client's desires o that you are working within defined parameters.

You know as well as I do that there is no such thing as a metaphorical 'blank canvas' to start from...

iGav
Oct 14, 2005, 07:50 AM
or calling design a purely technical skill,

Just to clarify, I NEVER said that is was PURELY a technical skill. ;)

But to put my original statement in it's original context, I think it is both valid and correct, you are obviously free to differ. :)

I considered CanadaRAM's original comment that graphic design is an art form and not a technical skill as not only an incorrect statement, but also one that I felt was dismissive of the amount of technical knowledge that is required to be a designer, and offered a different opinion. (credit to CanadaRAM he spent the time to further clarify his initial comments :)).

The very foundation of design as a discipline, is that of a technical one (think about it ;)). It's governed by a set of rules. And a knowledge of those rules is (usually) required to create effective or what some call good design (a saying I don't particularly like myself). Design itself and as a discipline, encompasses so much more than the ability to sit down and draw something, even then... that physical process is a technical one.

As Blue has said, you cannot separate the conceptual from the execution, without one, it is incredulous to consider oneself as a designer.

iGav
Oct 14, 2005, 08:02 AM
wow... a lot of you guys are really down on design... are you all really THAT insecure about more fresh talent getting in the field?

You know, I was thinking something very, very similar... *shakes head*

Sometimes people make it sound like such... such a dull and uninspired sandal wearing profession. :(

Blue Velvet
Oct 14, 2005, 08:32 AM
...Sometimes people make it sound like such... such a dull and uninspired sandal wearing profession. :(

Glances down and checks feet...

But lets be honest, not all work is a license to be that massively creative. Right at this very minute, I'm laying out a report on the Freedom of Information Act... it has an annoying number of tables and charts.

But it has two-colour text and a CMYK cover... w00t. :rolleyes:

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 12:13 PM
Likewise, and I agree with you to a point.

But in order to arrive at your destination, you have to be aware of the technical processes, timescales, budgetary limitations and the client's desires o that you are working within defined parameters.

You know as well as I do that there is no such thing as a metaphorical 'blank canvas' to start from...


Of course. I spend most of my day in Photoshop and Maya. Photoshop can get somewhat technical, Maya on the other hand requires one to shallow a mountain of technical data before you can even get started. But I always start the design process by visualizing in my head what I'm after before I start working on a computer. Don't you? Sure, the road map changes as you work, design is not a linear process, some of my best design work has been by pure accident. Computers on the other hand are quite linear.

We are talking about the same thing, just slightly different POVs. ;)

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 12:48 PM
Just to clarify, I NEVER said that is was PURELY a technical skill. ;)

But to put my original statement in it's original context, I think it is both valid and correct, you are obviously free to differ. :)

I considered CanadaRAM's original comment that graphic design is an art form and not a technical skill as not only an incorrect statement, but also one that I felt was dismissive of the amount of technical knowledge that is required to be a designer, and offered a different opinion. (credit to CanadaRAM he spent the time to further clarify his initial comments :)).

The very foundation of design as a discipline, is that of a technical one (think about it ;)). It's governed by a set of rules. And a knowledge of those rules is (usually) required to create effective or what some call good design (a saying I don't particularly like myself). Design itself and as a discipline, encompasses so much more than the ability to sit down and draw something, even then... that physical process is a technical one.

As Blue has said, you cannot separate the conceptual from the execution, without one, it is incredulous to consider oneself as a designer.




I think of design as an art form first and a technical skill second. You can have a complete understanding of every graphics program on the market and still not have a first clue to what design is about. My design process starts with visualizing it in my head without the aid of any technology. Yes, it's a discipline but not a technical one. To my POV that's the center of design. Everything else is execution. But in the end all that matters is what you come with, not how you got there, agreed?
;)

vixapphire
Oct 14, 2005, 01:38 PM
maybe just maybe a few years down the road I can have my own comic or portfolio of stuff that I like. Even if I don't make a cent out of it, even if I have to use my future hard earned money to buy the tools required for it, if I can produce things that make me happy I think it is well worth it. :p

I hope that you can understand that all this is really out of interest, whether I make money out of it doesn't matter, I can always get a job in what I am doing right now and just do this in my free time. I hope one day i get good enough to set up my own site as suggested by FlamDrag.
.

That sounds like a good plan. Personally, after playing in bands for years and having a little career as a freelance recording engineer/producer, I was hating life as a lawyer -- dullsville incorporated! So I used the income from that gig to buy some choice gear, a computer, etc. and spent all my spare time learning how to use it, and made some great productions along the way. It's great to create when it's not about the money; the thing is to enforce self-discipline with time deadlines etc. so that you don't become one of those hobbyists who's got all the tools but never finishes anything! It's tempting, once you start working the day gig, to come home and vegetate out of exhaustion. In my experience, when I force myself to put 5-8 hours a day on the studio rig after a full workday, I end up more energized and overall happier than if I had sat back and watched TV or read a book.

Besides, having a side-pursuit as involved as graphic design will make you a far more interesting person :D

vixapphire
Oct 14, 2005, 01:43 PM
I think of design as an art form first and a technical skill second. You can have a complete understanding of every graphics program on the market and still not have a first clue to what design is about. My design process starts with visualizing it in my head without the aid of any technology. Yes, it's a discipline but not a technical one. To my POV that's the center of design. Everything else is execution. But in the end all that matters is what you come with, not how you got there, agreed?
;)

I think about it in terms of 1980's hair-band guitarists. Lots of dudes had the technical chops to play circles around Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Clapton combined. Couldn't write songs, arrangements, and/or solo's like theirs, though. Just as one can be a musician without being much of an "artist", one can be a "designer" without having much of a natural knack in the "art" side of the art/techique side of the equation. But you are right about the result being all that matters in the final analysis. Barbra Streisand doesn't write her own material, but that doesn't make her any less of a great singer, does it? :)

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 01:53 PM
Even if I don't make a cent out of it, even if I have to use my future hard earned money to buy the tools required for it, if I can produce things that make me happy I think it is well worth it. :p


That's the most important thing.

ATD
Oct 14, 2005, 02:05 PM
Barbra Streisand doesn't write her own material, but that doesn't make her any less of a great singer, does it? :)

Just as a side note I designed one of her album covers years ago. :eek:

MontyZ
Oct 14, 2005, 06:41 PM
.

iGav
Oct 15, 2005, 06:10 AM
I'm not quite sure, but, it appears this thread is debating whether Design requires more artistic talent or technical ability. Is that right?

I think some are, I'm not.

If so, it requires both to be a good Designer: talent and technical ability.

Bing! exactly... you cannot separate the two, without one, you're not a designer. Simple really.

ATD
Oct 15, 2005, 11:15 AM
I think some are, I'm not.



Bing! exactly... you cannot separate the two, without one, you're not a designer. Simple really.


Years ago I used to freelance for a man named Saul Bass, ever hear of him? I would put his technical ability at about 0, he could draw, that's about it. He did not touch a computer, even until his dying day. No one in his company used computers. Are you saying he was not a designer? There are many top designers today that are NOT technical people. They are idea people, ones who visualize and design in their heads. Ones with little to no tech ability. It is the idea people that end up on the top of the game, not tech people. Simple really.

Dane D.
Oct 15, 2005, 11:41 AM
To coin a popular phrase, buy yourself Adobe CS Suite and jump right in. The beauty of the software permits endless creations. I learn something new everyday, in all the Adobe software. Find what you like and bring it together your own way. I assuming you are using a Mac, that's a step in the right direction. The Mac lets you put your ideas into motion effortlessly. Adobe user since 1992. Also avoid MS Word for your files; pre-press people hate them, they don't RIP or take too long to RIP. Use a Pro level program such as QuarkXPress or InDesign, no PageMaker please. Learn to respect the end-user and you should be O.K.

iGav
Oct 15, 2005, 01:11 PM
Years ago I used to freelance for a man named Saul Bass, ever hear of him? I would put his technical ability at about 0, he could draw, that's about it. He did not touch a computer, even until his dying day. No one in his company used computers. Are you saying he was not a designer?

I also never suggested that technical skills start and end with a mouse. :rolleyes:

MontyZ
Oct 15, 2005, 04:59 PM
.

ATD
Oct 15, 2005, 09:02 PM
Yes, I know who Saul Bass is. However, I would not consider his technical ability to be Zero. Computers are not what we mean by technical ability. Drawing is a technical ability (doing it well is an artistic/creative ability). Setting metal type, creating artboards and mockups, producing blueprints -- this is what we mean by technical ability before the age of computers in design. These technologies might be old, but they require someone with a certain level of technical knowledge to turn an idea into a physical, printed piece, whether you use a computer or an Xacto knife and a pasteboard.


I have seen writers elevated to Design Director/Creative Director positions many times. Most of them are hands off as far as design but I worked with a few that will layout ads with a few chicken scratches on a piece of paper. We may not call them designers but don't tell them that. :D Yes, designers should technical skills and a vast majority do. Do all of them? No. Some make up for it with creative skills and often could care less how an ad is produced. As much as both of us believe a designer SHOULD have good technical skills, some succeed without them.

I do believe Saul was a highly skilled man. You are right, I should not say that. After all, he talked many Fortune 500 companies into trusting his vision and got paid millions to create a their logos. If that's a technical skill, he was a zen master. I don't believe I ever saw him with a can of Spray Mount or Hot Type in his hand though. :D

I was CD at one time (like I see you are) but give it up. I didn't like that most of my time spend in meetings, phone calls, memos, managing people, press proofs, photo shoots with almost no time left to create. I felt like a Designer who did everything but design. I love the technical/execution/hands-on/creation to much to let it go. Less money but I'm happy.

MontyZ
Oct 16, 2005, 12:12 AM
.

steveedge
Nov 3, 2005, 09:44 AM
First, newer software like PS2 is almost always "better" (meaning you can do more with it because it has more features) than older software.
I was technically better with PS4 than I am with newer versions because these days new versions come out very quickly and we/I have to re learn the interface, learn the new features, etc..and do it quickly while still getting my work done.
This is true with all applications and computing in general.

A lot of very good points have been made in the above post. The only thing I can add of benefit is my "personal experience" in the design business.
I am self taught and I freelance fulltime. I worked my way from designing a pathetic band web site about 8 years ago, up to a point where I sometimes make a decent living and woohooo... one of my graphics was featured in the September issue of Layers magazine (a magazine for graphic designers), which doesn't mean much except that the other "designers" featured there were doing work for companies like Apple, and Nike....at least it's something :)
If you asked what I do for a living, I would tell you I am a graphic designer for web and print & an artist & musician.
However, I spend about 5% of my time "designing" graphics, print ad's audio, and the rest of the time I spend on task like updating text on websites, converting huge files to small ones, renaming files, begging for files, troubleshooting server problems, explaining to clients why it is not a good idea to put full length videos on the front page of their website, etc....

I enjoy what I do and am not complaining. My point is, as a designer, I am working for people who sometimes have a vision of what they want and sometimes rely on my vision. It is my job to make them happy in either case, and hopefully end up with a "good design". Can it be a bad design if the client is happy ? Well, yes, but sometimes there is not much one can do about that. :)
If they are happy, I get paid, and hopefully they give me more work to do, or tell someone they know that I made them happy, which also leads to more work.
I may think that the final product I produce for a client is not my best work, often, my "design" ends up being not my design at all.
If a client tells me to use a really ugly unreadable font on a print ad. I can try to change their mind by pointing out that it is hard to read, but in the end, if they want the ugly font, if they LOVE that font, and I can not change their mind, then that is what they get.

Several post above this one mention how much competition there is for work. This is true. There may be designers out there in situations where all they have to worry about is if the design is "good" or not, but since designers work FOR someone generally, I am thinking those jobs are few and far between.

I generally get a call from a client who wants a print ad. yesterday. " I ask, how much time do I have ?" he/she laughs...."well, I need it NOW"....

Anyway, You can certainly start off by just playing with graphics and it may lead to some work, or possibly full time work..eventually, that's the way I did it.

good luck, :)

Seasought
Nov 15, 2005, 12:24 PM
This might be delving too much into 'tricks of the trade' that most would be more inclined to keep secret but, do any of you have any suggestions concerning finding work?

This isn't necessarily just for design work either, could relate to writing or something else that is on a contract-basis. Websites, directories, etc?

Rhobes
Nov 16, 2005, 02:41 AM
Very good thread, enjoyed it.....;)

ATD
Nov 16, 2005, 12:12 PM
This might be delving too much into 'tricks of the trade' that most would be more inclined to keep secret but, do any of you have any suggestions concerning finding work?

This isn't necessarily just for design work either, could relate to writing or something else that is on a contract-basis. Websites, directories, etc?



I would say that there are no real secrets to this. Just a never ending refinement of your artistic and technical skills following by promoting/networking yourself as often and in as many ways as you can. If you love what you do this will not feel like a job.

I once asked a Account Exec how he picked up so much work from a large company. He said it was simple, if client asked him to come over and talk about a job, he would show up hours early and hang around. He would often run into people from other divisions of the company who would start asking him if he could help them on other projects. Many times he would walk away with five projects instead of one. Just a simple matter of networking.

Seasought
Nov 16, 2005, 01:18 PM
I would say that there are no real secrets to this. Just a never ending refinement of your artistic and technical skills following by promoting/networking yourself as often and in as many ways as you can. If you love what you do this will not feel like a job.

I once asked a Account Exec how he picked up so much work from a large company. He said it was simple, if client asked him to come over and talk about a job, he would show up hours early and hang around. He would often run into people from other divisions of the company who would start asking him if he could help them on other projects. Many times he would walk away with five projects instead of one. Just a simple matter of networking.

Thanks.

eclipse
Nov 18, 2005, 09:59 PM
Hi Whiteangel,
If I was starting from the beginning, I'd just buy CS2 outright and stay in this forum and the Adobe forums. CS2 has everything you need for starters... all design covered. Just do it!

Manuals verses Video tutorials
Also, I love learning by www.vtc.com - CD-Rom tutorials might cost a bit, but hey... that's how I learn. If you are a programmer you are probably going to deal with manuals... I find them infuriating!

"Click on the x button to do y" ... but what's the x button? Where is it! Show me!!!?

Wheras the video tutorials it's like having the pro sit next to you and walk you through it. But hey, if you are good with manuals, go for it! Also, they tend to come with the software (or at least the online help does anyway).

Design as a career
My wife started drawing as a kid and didn’t stop. She can sketch a face, and it actually looks something like that person! She HAD to do art, or go insane. Nothing else worked for her. She is left handed… many designers seem to be.

Graphic design at first sounded boring to her… all graphs and stuff. Now, she knows she has hit the right market.

Even though she was so gifted, at University she still worked 24 hours occasionally! It hasn’t stopped.

Even though she was so good, she did 12 to 18 hours a day “paid work experience” basically having only the train fare and lunches covered by her “salary”. This was just to get her foot in the door!

She has done a 40 hour shift! Most people are tired after a 40 hour week! My wife went to work one day and did not come home until the 2nd morning. A job for Telstra Australia HAD to get out, and that’s what they demand. This career is one of the most cut-throat, time consuming, soul consuming things there is. Look out!

But hey, after a while it might click with you. Become a mac monkey, then read about design everywhere you can, buy the latest Graphis books, and voila!

eclipse
Nov 18, 2005, 10:05 PM
I've just raved about my wife being very visual, yeah?

She's not very language based. is there somewhere I can learn the actual terminology for design styles? I know some basics... like Agit Prop...

Does it matter? My wife Joy makes a good living doing design, we are not loaded at all and are probably going to lose the house after peak oil hits and the mortgage interest rates go through the roof :( but hey? I'll just do a George Castanza and move back in with my parents ... only this time with Joy and my 2 kids! :eek:

But back on topic... design language... Joy says stuff to clients like "This is the corporate look" or "I made this one appealing to the youth market" ... generally the client supplies it to us in the brief, right? "We want this design to say how fabulously hip we are" and they are selling dental floss, right? Maybe the language doesn't matter... but then again, clients love it when you can "bluff" them into loving the design you have done for them.

We tend to do work with fairly regular catalogue clients....

www.lanksheardesign.com (I'm still learning web design OK?)

... so we don't have to do much in the way of "selling" to our existing clients. But what if we did? What if we were going for a new client, and they were the verbal pitch deal? What if they said, "Now what's the philosophy behind this piece?"

skirklan
Dec 8, 2005, 01:14 PM
You would be a perfect fit for a small inhouse graphics department--at a medical products manufacturer. Work on learning the ins and outs of design before you strike out for a full time job, though. Aside from developing an aesthetic sense, knowledge of typefaces and the basic elements of design; your design work must communicate the message.

When I was in art school, some cretin teacher pulled me aside and said, "I'm going to save you some time. You just don't have what it takes to make a living in art." He is currently shoveling horse dung at the local race track and I am having a wonderful career as a designer. This taught me an important lesson: Never judge a person's potential by their current skill set. There are books out there that say, "The world has enough bad designers, so if you don't have what it takes, get out." It made me so mad, I wrote my own book to encourage people and remind them, "if you want it bad, then get it. You can do it." The quickest way to put down creativity is stand by the sidelines saying it can't be done.

Good luck.
SDK

eclipse
Dec 10, 2005, 03:55 PM
Cool Susan.
That gives me some encouragement as a newbie to design.
However, I'm also a House-Dad / Business Manager... and currently am trying to save western civilization from peak oil ;) .
Anyway, kids are home for our longest period of school holidays, the summer Christmas break... and so Quark CD-Rom tutorials and flipping through Graphis may take a back seat.....:confused:

cgmpowers
Dec 11, 2005, 08:58 AM
I absolutely agree!! I took wanted to change my career. I studied networking and tech support and that's what I did for a while. I hated it as I hated fixing Windows/NT problems and the likes.

That was ages ago. I then a handful of things until I started dabbling in Web Design. I soon found that any idiot can make a web page but only an artist could make it look great. I decided to go back to school and "take an art class or two."...

Three and a half years later, I found myself totally completing the associates program for Graphic Design. I really liked it and found out I was good. It took me longer because I didn't start out with a gameplan and just muddled through with it until half way through I discovered I was not too bad at this.

I took computer classes like Quark/InDesign, Photoshop (I, II & III), Illustrator, and Web Classes (again). However the MOST useful classes were the Design, Graphic Design, Graphic Production, Drawing for Graphics, Drawing & Figure Drawing classes. Those made me a designer, they took my natural ability and honed it to make me better.

Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark are just tools. I can do without them!! If you don't have the concepts and fundamentails of design & typography done, it doesn't matter what applications are on your hard drive--you wont be successful or profitable.

There is a difference between those who CAN design and those who just have a desire to toy around with Illustrator because they own the application and think they can crap out art.

That's solid advice from me, and others...

Don't do it half-assed, it not only hurts you as a designer (by not having some formal training or education) but it also causes OUR industry to suffer because ammatures are out there doing it cheaper but putting out crap.

Christopher Powers


OK, this is a really brutal opinion that is completely uninformed about youand your personal situation.

If you don't have a natural aptitude for drawing, if you don't 'intuitively' know that certain arrangement of objects are more pleasing to the eye (do you spontaneously rearrange place settings at tables, furniture, pictures on walls?), if your childhood wasn't filled with a compulsive need to draw or paint or sculpt, if you have no background in art, if you have never cut a magazine apart in order to rearange the advertisements so that they 'work' better... give it up.

Graphic design is an art form, not a technical skill. Yes, you can take a 2 year course in design, and learn the rules. But the courses cannot teach the "eye" for design. It's NOT like programming, where the logical process leads to a 'best' solution. Many of my clients are graphic designers, and teachers in design schools. They will tell me privately that 1/4 to 1/2 of their students will never have a career in design because although they passed all of the course requirements, they just don't have 'it' - the visual sensibility and creativity to make a compelling communication concept out of their imagination. Schools are cranking out 'designers' by the 1000's. Many of them will starve - because the choices are freelancing (which you don't eat until you pound the pavement and sell your services to clients) or working as a worker bee in an agency or newspaper for $12 - 16 an hour. A minority of them will be good enough to eventually make a name for themselves as a senior graphic designer.

I know, I have had the computer skills for 17 years, I can make Photoshop sing and dance, I teach the programs, and I would never, never describe myself as a designer. I am a technician, not an artist.

If you have the visual flair, the aptitude and a burning desire to create, if you are willing to get the education, build a portfolio of work, and promote your services to potential clients and employers relentlessly to get work, work well under high responsibility and short deadlines, with often unreasonable customers, have an ego that's big enough to know you can do it, and humble enough to accept that 80% of your best ideas are going to get rejected, can survive 18 hour days then weeks at a time with no income, then graphic design can be very rewarding.

skirklan
Dec 19, 2005, 11:17 AM
This might be delving too much into 'tricks of the trade' that most would be more inclined to keep secret but, do any of you have any suggestions concerning finding work?

The secret to having a lot of work is making a lot of contacts. The dreaded cold call is key. Set time aside each week, no matter how much or how little work you have, and email, telephone or show your portfolio to complete and utter strangers. How can you break down your aversion to this? Design is, after all, a solitary pursuit. The secret is to remind yourself that you're not selling widgets; what you do is unique, specific to you (your style) and a valuable service your potential client will probably need but will be unable to find unless you make the call. Present yourself as a new spice for his spice rack, so to speak. I've got 2 chapters on this: Capturing Repeat Customers and Identifying and Targetting Your Market Online.

Afterall, variety is the spice of life. :eek: I can't resist a good cliche.
Good luck,

freeny
Dec 19, 2005, 12:10 PM
I have been in the graphics field for almost 13 years and when I saw this thread pop up in the forums I was like, "Oh great here we go again, someone wants to be an artist" and everyone is going to say a bunch of crap like "Follow your dreams" and "go to art school". I must say this thread has certainly been the oppostite. This is probably the most accurate set of statements I have found on this subject. Some brutally honest and some more on the lines of what I expected.

The truth is that I dont know your skills or your work. I dont know if you can draw for ****** or not. my suggestion is to take from this thread what you want, try it for a year or so. If its not working out and you arent having any success then you might not have what it takes and you should take the hint. This field is BRUTALLY COMPETATIVE! If your driven, keep trying. just dont get down on yourself if you fail. everyone is good at somthing. perhaps you are a genious brain surgeon and just dont know it yet. Heck, maybe I'm a genious brain surgeon and I just dont get it yet???:rolleyes:

eclipse
Dec 19, 2005, 02:47 PM
Yes, that's probably true... some brutal honesty would go down well in this field. However, some designers take a few years to shake out their skills and shake off the junk.

I'm just starting, in between kids home on Australian summer school holidays, and various other responsibilities, I'm meant to be learning Quark. Why? My wife is the designer.

I have the luxury of being her "young apprentice" (too much Star Wars lately.) So even if I suck, I can just be a "Mac Monkey" one day and help our little firm earn some extra money. And I tell you, that would be a nice break after the rubbish we've been through the last few years with Leukaemia and all.:(

freeny
Dec 19, 2005, 04:09 PM
And I tell you, that would be a nice break after the rubbish we've been through the last few years with Leukaemia and all.:(
DUDE!:eek: Good luck with that....

What type do you have?

I'm now wishing you a complete recovery.

eclipse
Dec 19, 2005, 04:56 PM
Hey, I wish it had been mine!
It was far, far worse, it was my 5 year old son's!
But he seems to have full remission and a great prognosis.

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~toobusy/index.htm

I guess all I was saying is that there have been a few distractions! ;)

But I really hope to get my head around Quark and at least help my wife with some of the typesetting. Also, I've got a left of field approach to life and a creative side with word associations... and quite often help my wife brainstorm a new concept. But she's the visual genius!

see www.lanksheardesign.com for masterpieces by the master, my wife.
But the website interactivity is my fault. :o

ATD
Dec 19, 2005, 05:09 PM
The secret to having a lot of work is making a lot of contacts. The dreaded cold call is key. Set time aside each week, no matter how much or how little work you have, and email, telephone or show your portfolio to complete and utter strangers. How can you break down your aversion to this? Design is, after all, a solitary pursuit. The secret is to remind yourself that you're not selling widgets; what you do is unique, specific to you (your style) and a valuable service your potential client will probably need but will be unable to find unless you make the call. Present yourself as a new spice for his spice rack, so to speak. I've got 2 chapters on this: Capturing Repeat Customers and Identifying and Targetting Your Market Online.

Afterall, variety is the spice of life. :eek: I can't resist a good cliche.
Good luck,



Yes, but I have a slightly different take on this. I spend very little if any time doing cold calls. Instead I look to a few clients that have a endless volume of new product that needs advertising. While I don't cold call much anymore I do service these clients no matter how insane the request is. Last week I did 5, back to back, 18 hours days on a project to hit a deadline. You do have to deliver high quality work on time, if you do, they will come back.

I tend to shy away from start up companies because I find I get stuck in the same trap over and over again. They have no money, they don't understand what they are asking for and you end up eating a lot of hours due to their lack of understanding on what they agreed to (like the ones who are calling you every half an hour to change something but don't feel that these are revisions even after they signed off on the design phase a long time ago). Then once you have made these clients happy they don't need you anymore and you are back to cold calling again. A few of them go under and you get stuck with unpaid invoices.

Yes, the trick is to get to that point. You will have to do a lot of cold calls and networking at first. What I'm suggesting is to also spend time positioning your long term goals and move in that direction. Given experience, contacts, strong portfolio and a vision of your long term goals you can start spending less time chasing work and more time creating it.
:)

ATD
Dec 19, 2005, 05:19 PM
Hey, I wish it had been mine!
It was far, far worse, it was my 5 year old son's!
But he seems to have full remission and a great prognosis.




I'm a dad and I could only imagine how that feels. I wish you and your family good health. My wife has been in bad health for many years (7) but she is finally getting better.

eclipse
Dec 19, 2005, 05:25 PM
We do quality work and our clients just keep coming back.
Also, being in church work... we find that our clients are organically subdividing and starting up new ministries which need their own logo, newsletter, posters etc... so we keep getting more clients from the subdivision of existing clients.

But I agree that cold calling can suck. New clients then have to be "educated" to the design process...
* what is a reasonable expectation,
* no you can't make a correction after it's gone to print
* no your typo is not my responsibility
* we accept stuff in this format but not that format, yadda yadda
* we don't usually have clients sit with us when we work, because we expect an adequate enough brief for us to submit 3 or 4 ideas to them via email
* we charge X amount per job, and don't really quote on a per hour basis
* we don't work weekends after our boy nearly died last year, and value family time... SO DON'T CALL 10 PM SUNDAY NIGHT EXPECTING SOMETHING MONDAY MORNING!!! :mad: :mad: :mad:
(That was a client we DUMPED they became so annoying!)

Has anyone had to dump clients before? What were the reasons?
How many clients have you dumped?

We far prefer regular clients and strong client relationships. We go to the end of year Christmas party of the main client, Matthias Media, who provides about 40% of our work.

eclipse
Dec 19, 2005, 05:39 PM
Thanks all for expressions of sympathy.
There is nothing that can drive you as manic as seeing your innocent child in pain.

.... I was about to go into detail of that pain, but realized it's probably not appropriate. We are discussing starting in design here. Sorry for the sidetrack.

Anyway, he's home, he's due to stop his 2 year chemo course on Australia day in January next year, and so we are counting down the weeks until he's finally free of chemo.:D :D :D

And I am counting down the weeks until both my kids head back to school & preschool, and I can start my design training again. :eek:

ATD
Dec 19, 2005, 06:05 PM
SO DON'T CALL 10 PM SUNDAY NIGHT EXPECTING SOMETHING MONDAY MORNING!!!


I do weekend work all the time and charge accordingly. I get many calls on late Friday for work due Monday morning. I understand in your case, you do have to draw a line. Full agreement on everything else.

eclipse
Dec 19, 2005, 06:08 PM
Cool. Each to his own.
My wife was burning out, and life & death matters make parental regret syndrome kick in. EG: "I should have spent more time with him... why do I work so hard...?" (Ummm, because we wanted this nice home and we are massively over-mortgaged and Chevron have just basically confirmed "peak oil" — the end of cheap oil.)

ATD
Dec 19, 2005, 06:21 PM
Cool. Each to his own.
My wife was burning out, and life & death matters make parental regret syndrome kick in. EG: "I should have spent more time with him... why do I work so hard...?" (Ummm, because we wanted this nice home and we are massively over-mortgaged and Chevron have just basically confirmed "peak oil" — the end of cheap oil.)

Last year 2/3 of my income went to medical bills. My only choice was to work my ass off to keep from getting swallowed alive. I do understand where you are coming from in a small sense, it's a hell of a balancing act between family and work. Sorry to get so off topic.

technicolor
Dec 27, 2005, 11:16 PM
go to school for it
if you already have some sort of natural ability to visually problem solve
im sick of photoshop hacks posing as graphic designers tho

Sam/B
Jan 1, 2006, 08:59 AM
Hey, I wish it had been mine!
It was far, far worse, it was my 5 year old son's!
But he seems to have full remission and a great prognosis.

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~toobusy/index.htm

I guess all I was saying is that there have been a few distractions! ;)

But I really hope to get my head around Quark and at least help my wife with some of the typesetting. Also, I've got a left of field approach to life and a creative side with word associations... and quite often help my wife brainstorm a new concept. But she's the visual genius!

see www.lanksheardesign.com for masterpieces by the master, my wife.
But the website interactivity is my fault. :o

eclipse you have some really nice examples in that pdf file on the website if you can get those up on the website as html that will help advertise yourself and your wife much better. I'm sure theirs an export as html feature in acrobat somewhere if not it would be pretty easy to start a web project in quark import the pages into that for a very basic website. Or even just take screenshots of the pages in that pdf upload all of those. Anything to get out of having to download a pdf file. If you can aswell I would suggest having all your content and layout centred in the page (on the website I mean). That's a good way to design something that looks semi-professional in on every monitor res.

I'm not sure how much I could contribute to the original question but one quote that's stuck with mr in which i've found I can apply to a lot of things I do (which include working on and building my motorbikes and my paintings) is this

"creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, art is knowing which ones to keep"

I think this coulld probaby apply quite nicely to some of the things mentioned in this thread in regard to starting out and learning about design. Really good thread by the way, i've read it word for word.

Take care
sam

eclipse
Jan 1, 2006, 05:02 PM
Thanks for that. I'm currently learning Quark (with kids home from school and the "Silly Season" and all — Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all), but one day a major website upgrade is coming!

Also, did you check out my eclipsenow.org site? It's VERY messy (don't look at the code or you will cry, I don't use code I use GoLive and constant re-editing has made a mess of the code apparently) but even though my headlines are not quite right and some type is not consistent throughout, just the nice photoshop montage for the Masthead Banner across the top makes it really kick! A simple Masthead can add a lot to a site!