Artisan Blog

Tips for Developing Your Design Portfolio

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 425th issue of our weekly a.blog.

When seeking to fill a creative role, hiring managers often request a portfolio that shows the body of work a designer has successfully compiled over the years. However, if you are beginning your creative career or looking to break into a new vertical within creative, you may have to think of news ways to add relevant samples to your portfolio.

It may seem like a Catch-22: the only way to gain experience is to already have it.

Here are several options to develop your design portfolio further, gain more experience or try a new vertical:

Ask Friends & Family

Look within your network. Ask your friends and family for referrals to other small businesses and colleagues. Who do they know who can benefit from your creative expertise and may not have the resources to go to a design firm or agency?

Explore Personal Projects

Have you ever wanted to re-brand a favorite product? Have you ever said, I would love to work for that brand? How would you tackle an assignment if you were to land a project with a favorite company? Here’s your opportunity to take creative license and give your favorite brand a new look! (Note: Make sure you are clear in your portfolio that this was a personal project or add a special section for exploratory work to your portfolio.) 

Consider Non-Profit work

Accepting pro bono work for a non-profit or for a cause you are passionate about is a good way to build experience in a new vertical. Many nonprofits and community organizations need the skills and savvy of creative professionals to get their message out, although they may not have the budget to do so. This creates ample opportunities to take on exciting and challenging projects that look great on your resume, in your portfolio and give you an opportunity to strengthen your community.

This also enables you to try out different ideas, discover what type of work you enjoy, and hone your unique voice and vision. Because of the unique marketing challenges they face, nonprofit organizations provide creative professionals the opportunity to develop some truly remarkable and memorable projects.

As a creative professional, you have the power to change the way people think. If you want to harness that power for good, pro bono work for a non-profit may give you the opportunity to do just that.

As a job seeker, you have heard many times about the importance of a personal brand or a meaningful story that ties together your work. By taking on pro bono or passion project opportunities, you can explore the issues that matter to you.

How to Get Started

Opportunities for pro bono creative work are everywhere, look around and ask. Contact organizations you admire and, if they are receptive, pitch your ideas to them directly. Or, you can go through the Taproot Foundation, which helps creatives and nonprofits find each other. (It's like Artisan Creative, for the nonprofit world.)

And, of course, we are here to help you define your goals, build your skills, gain clarity on your mission, and seek out all sorts of professional opportunities. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Building Your Network

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 423rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

To build a network, you want to be simultaneously interested in the people around you, the things they do and need, and the ideas that drive them. Great minds are, in fact, very interested in other people!

Here are some guiding principles to help you build a new network—or expand an existing one—of people who can help you along your personal and professional journey.

Set Your Intention

Before you set out to do anything, put some thought into what you're looking for in creating new connections. Set a clear intention, and use that intention to guide your behavior.

Make sure your goals are realistic, attainable, and thoughtful. Start with a goal that's easy to hit and build from there. For example, if you're attending a conference with the goal of learning something new, add an additional goal of meeting 2-3 new people within your industry during your time there.

Setting the right intention will guide all of your actions when building your network.

Do Your Research

Part of setting your intention is determining who you want to add to your network. Perhaps there's a specific company you want to work for or a specific person you'd like to call on for advice. What types of professionals do you envision as your mentors and collaborators?

With your intention established, begin your research. Where do these people congregate to share their ideas and experiences? Are they online on Linkedin groups or do they meet in person at Meetups or industry conferences? What are they passionate about and where do they access information that matters to them? Where do your own skills and interests intersect with their values and needs?

Most importantly, what specific discussions and content would potentially help the people in your network?

Add Value

Reciprocity is the principle that governs all professional relationships. You can only expect others to treat you with as much respect as you offer. Approach all networking as an opportunity to help others.

Determine the issues that challenge others in your wider network and devise creative ways to solve them. Instead of asking for favors, pitch ideas as possible solutions. Offer value without expecting anything in return, and over time you will become someone that others will want to add to their network too!

It's essential that your desire to help be genuine. Too many eager networkers try too hard to seem helpful when they're really out for themselves. This erodes both trust and patience and discourages people from willing to partner with you.

Be a Connector

If you follow these principles, you will meet more people than you are able to help on your own. As this happens, introduce them to other people in your network who are better positioned to help and may have the skills you lack.

By making effective introductions, author James Altucher has built a network that includes leaders in technology, business, and the arts, many of whom he has interviewed on his successful podcast. He describes his method as becoming a “super-connector.”

To preserve the value of your relationships, follow the rules behind another Altucher concept, "Permission Networking." That is, don't introduce two people unless you've cleared it with both of them and you know it will add value to both of their lives and careers.

Enjoy Yourself

Building a network should be an extension of your own work and life as well as add value for everyone involved. It doesn't have to involve activities that you aren't comfortable doing.

If you don't attend networking events, you can just as easily use these principles to build relationships by networking online. Author Derek Coburn jokes that "networking events are the nightclubs of the professional world"—they can be useful and fun, but they're not for everyone — and says that  "Networking 3.0" happens online.

You'll have an easier time building a network if you're in your element, doing what you do best, stretching yourself, and helping others in a way that also works for you.

Use Your Resources

You can achieve explosive growth in your networking efforts if you plug into large and existing networks, such as the one we've spent years building here at Artisan Creative. Connect with us to discover how we can all help each other thrive.

The Art of Marketing Your Skills

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you're looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.

As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.

Own Your Own Niche

Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can't be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.

For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have an expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.

Think Like a Storyteller

Even if you're not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you've probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.

When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the "mono-myth" of "The Hero's Journey." Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.

Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.

Start looking for the "Hero's Journey" structure, and you'll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?

Be Candid

A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.

Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, "We're #2, so we try harder."

Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.

Continue Learning

When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.

Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade.  Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.

Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.

Represent Yourself

As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to "under promise and over deliver."

If you make promises you can't keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren't qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.

A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or  Behance.

When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.

Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!

 


14 Design Apps We Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 412th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Most designers try out dozens of apps before they find the ones that best suit their work habits and enhance their creativity. When love takes root between a designer and an app, it’s the beginning of a long, fruitful, and sometimes passionate relationship.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we like to share fourteen design-related apps that we can’t live without (and wouldn’t want to).

AutoDesk Sketchbook

One of the most versatile and popular drawing apps, Sketchbook includes a collection of tools that would cost hundreds in the three dimensional world!

Behance

Adobe’s portfolio showcase has become an important hub for the design community and one of the first places to spot UI trends.

Pixelmator

Pixelmator is basically a scaled-down version of Photoshop and is one of the most robust and useful free design apps around.

Pages

This simple and stylish word processing app is designed by Apple and comes with fancy templates and features. Despite significant changes between versions, Pages retains its passionate following.

Canva

Canva has become enormously popular as a means for marketing mavens and other non-designers to create eye-catching collateral of their own. With some practice, only a pro will know the difference.

Phonto

Even if you’re not a visual artist, Phonto can hone your creativity by adding cool captions to photos on the fly.

Coolors

Whether you’re new to color theory or your cat is named Pantone, this simple mix-and-match palette generator provides a quick shot of inspiration for design and branding projects.

UX Companion

This educational app provides enough definitions, examples, and in-depth resources to make anyone conversant in User Experience ideas, with a fittingly inviting and intuitive interface.

Glitch Lab

If you want to digitally garble, mangle, or otherwise mess up your photos, this is one of the most powerful toolkits for that. Join the pop art vanguard, use it for inspiration, or just have some fun between projects.

Pixite Complete

For a scant eight bucks, this suite packs six popular photo-editing apps and plenty of stylish effects to facilitate counter intuitive combinations.

Font Candy

This fashionable photo-editing app is built for quick captioning and creates assets that are ready to travel on social media.

Marvel App

Marvel is a soup-to-nuts Swiss Army knife for designing mobile apps on mobile devices.

Exify

When your iPhone photography habit is more than just a hobby, Exify has a full set of features to help you manifest your visions.

Coffitivity

While not functionally a design app, Coffitivity’s portable coffee-shop ambience will perk up your inner creative, even when you’re stuck in the office.

Tips for Reviewing a Design Portfolio

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 408th issue of our weekly a.blog.

When reviewing a design portfolio, it may seem easy to spot a good portfolio, however when you start to study the details to truly understand how the work was created, the layers can become quite complex.

We asked our team of specialized creative recruiters to share their insight on how to successfully review a design portfolio. Their feedback is below.

Site Navigation

How easy is it to navigate the site? When finding your way around a portfolio (assuming it’s a personal portfolio site and not a Behance or Dribbble) think about how you are navigating through each page. What is your user experience? Do you have to click many links just to get the samples? Does the designer show consistency through the layout of their projects?

Thinking Process

What is the thought process behind the presented work? We love when designers break down a project and show various components of a piece, instead of just the final result. Case studies are a great way to see the design thinking behind the work. For example,  if you’re reviewing a portfolio for a branding designer look for logo explorations, type treatments, color applications, identity systems as well as the final product. If it’s a UX portfolio it’s helpful to see UX research, user personas and prototypes so you can see the methodology behind the final product and understand what design problem was solved. Designers are problem solvers by nature and should treat their portfolio in the same manner.

Project Involvement

Clarity on project involvement is crucial to knowing whether the skills listed on a resume match the work presented. Each project should give a clear indication of the designer’s involvement. If there is no mention of project involvement and you choose to progress to an interview ensure that you find out what their involvement was in each project.  More tips on the interview process can be found on our blog How to Hire Creatives.

Aesthetics

Art is subjective—be clear about the visual aesthetic or branding your team is looking for. A graphic designer with a highly illustrative, whimsical visual aesthetic and a graphic designer with a very corporate look may both list the same exact design skills on their resume—however their visuals will be vastly different. 

We hope these tips alleviate some challenges in navigating design portfolios. If you need expert help to help build your dream team please contact us the Artisan Creative a.team!


A Freelancer’s Guide to Expert Client Communication

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 407th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Any freelancer will know that running your own business requires a broad set of skills and the ability to wear many hats. In addition to doing your job well, you have to manage clients, invoices, new business development and a whole host of other responsibilities. To be a successful freelancer involves satisfied clients with repeat business. With this in mind, how do you please clients and how does good communication affect your business?

Establishing good communication from the start is the pathway to successful projects. By keeping an open dialogue, building rapport and ensuring mutual understanding, clients will want to continue working with you. Revisions and misunderstandings are lessened, which means everyone involved will be satisfied with the outcome.

Listening vs. Talking

Initial stages are all about the client and their needs. Most often clients are coming to you because they have a problem and they need you to solve it. This is your opportunity to listen by giving the client ample time to speak and express their vision.

Project Intake

Managing new clients can be tricky and if you’re busy or feeling stressed it’s easy to miss the all-important details. Create a standard project intake form with key questions to ask each client. Your methodical approach towards taking on a new assignment will be noticed and ensures that you’ll never forget to ask a crucial question.

A Consultative Approach

Clients are hiring you because of your expertise and they’re trusting that you will do what is best for their business. They value your input, so be confident, speak up and offer advice when it’s needed.

Never Assume

The quickest way to a misunderstanding is by making assumptions. If you’re unsure, get clarification. The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” rings true here.

Put It In Writing

If you are taking lots of calls with your clients, always follow up and summarize what you discussed. Whether it’s revisions, project scopes or fees, send a confirmation via email so everyone is on the same page. Better yet, create a project scope form, and a change order form to manage deliverables and edits.

Response Time

As a rule of thumb, aim to respond to a client within 24 hours. Set expectations and deliver to those standards. Unless you’re on instant messaging such as Skype or Slack, clients will appreciate knowing they can expect your response within a set time allocation. If you’re unable to keep to a 24-hour timeframe, let the client know your schedule and that they are a priority. Ask clients for their schedules so you’ll know when to expect feedback and revisions too.

With a few minor processes added to your freelance workflow, you can minimize misunderstandings, enhance productivity and align communication. Focusing on client satisfaction will ensure you are always successful.

What additional experiences can you share with other freelancers?

 

 


Integrating Action Into Your Goal Setting Process

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.   We hope you enjoy the 406th issue of our weekly a.blog.

You’ve set your goals, created your vision board and have gathered all the momentum and excitement you can muster to get everything accomplished right now…. so how do you keep your determination going to see your goals come to fruition?

Once you set your broader vision for the year, the next step is to break down each goal into actionable steps. Otherwise,  just the thought of how to get started can rapidly become overwhelming.

Below are 5 tips to help integrate action into your goal setting process.

1. Work with the end goal in mind.

What action steps are needed to happen daily or weekly in order for the goal to be accomplished? For example, if your goal is to learn a new language, the actionable steps may be:

  • research online classes or sign-up for physical classes
  • download the Duolingo app
  • study
  • join a meet-up/group

2. Be Specific: Add a timeline or date for accomplishing each step.

For example:

  • research and sign up for onlineor physical classes by 1/15/17
  • download the Duolingo app by 1/5/17
  • study 1 hour per day ( or 7 hours per week) at 4 pm each day
  • research meet-up/groups by 1/10/17, join a group by 2/1/17

3. Protect the time on your calendar.

It’s easy for urgent matters to take over what is important. Schedule time for the important items, otherwise the weeks will fly by with little attention to the steps needed to attain your goals. Make an appointment with yourself and set a reminder!

4. Get an accountability partner.

Share your goals with friends and co-workers. Ask one of them to be your accountability partner and plan a monthly check in with them.

5. Celebrate your wins along the way.

Be proud of your accomplishments—no matter how small… as long as they are on the right path to help you accomplish your goals, then it’s worth a celebration.

An action plan and timeline for accomplishing each step will put you on the right path to accomplish your goals

Please share any tips on how you set goals and develop plans for accomplishing them.

Visual Goal Setting

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 405th issue of our weekly a.blog.

As part of our annual goal setting, each member of the Artisan Creative a.team creates a vision board and presents it at our first meeting of the new year. Our boards are a collection of short and long term goals that include both personal and professional aspirations.

Presenting it to the team develops accountability and enables the group to learn more about each team member’s ambitions, hopes and dreams. Some people set a theme for their board/year—others use inspirational quotes. What they all have in common is the shared use of imagery that inspires, tells a story and conveys a message to create a powerful visualization tool.

In addition to sharing our visions and goals with the group at the onset of our new year, we review our boards mid-year, and also share a recap at our year-end meeting. This sense of accountability and the revisiting of our goals helps keep us on track. This activity in one of our strongest team-building exercises, as it stays “evergreen”.

Here are 5 tips to create your great vision board and get 2017 off to a good start!

  1. Select words and images that inspire and are true to your core values.
  2. Create positivity and inspiration. Have fun…imagine the integrated life/work you want to build out.
  3. Create an integrated board where elements from both your personal and professional aspirations are represented.
  4. Keep the board where you can re-visit it daily—read the inspirational messages out loud— and often!
  5. Share your hopes and dreams with others. Having an accountability partner will help you get closer to achieving your goals.

Tools needed:

  • A large poster board to give you plenty of space to visualize your year, yet small enough to hang on your wall. We use the 22 x28 size available from Staples.
  • A good pair of scissors and a strong glue stick!Make sure you invest in good glue so the pictures stay on all year long.
  • Variety of magazines to look through to find those inspiring words and pictures. 
  • (Optional) Markers/stickers to write or embellish your board.
  • Patience and Creativity!

Although electronic versions such as Pinterest also work, going old-school where you physically search for and cut out imagery and words from a magazine and decide where to place them is in itself an opportunity to reflect and plan via a very tangible exercise.

What is your goal setting process?

Happy New Year!



Our Favorite Apps of 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 404th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our constant use of apps has greatly impacted how we complete tasks, stay in touch with our network and run our business. The variety of iOS and Android apps available and our reliance upon them increases exponentially year over year. For 2017, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 222.9 million, with the number of worldwide users forecasted to exceed a staggering 2 billion users.

Smartphones graduated from being a tool for texting and calling, to serve as an access point for managing a wide array of crucial life and work events, from job applications to house hunting, banking and healthcare.

At Artisan Creative, staying connected with our a.team and to the outside world is vital to our day to day interactions. With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to share the apps our team felt they couldn’t live without. We’ve included everything from meditation, time management and those all-important delivery services.

Headspace

An app that makes “meditation made simple.” Headspace is your personal brain trainer that allows you to take a time out anytime, anyplace and anywhere. They already have 5 million users and you can tailor your meditation to fit with your lifestyle and schedule. It’s surprising how much calmer you feel after a 10-minute time out.

Be Focused


The Pomodoro Technique used in this app is a simple time management process that tells you to take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes. After you’ve worked four consecutive pomodoros, you’re rewarded with a longer break. Frequent breaks coupled with periods of focused attention on tasks enable you to do more and work smarter.

1Password

Protecting your identity online is every internet user’s concern. 1Password consolidates all your passwords and keeps them safe with strong encryption. It also creates difficult passwords for every site that requires a login. It integrates with desktop and mobile, meaning you never need to remember or worry about your passwords and personal information again.

Wunderlist

A cloud-based and collaborative task management app that allows you to edit, share and collaborate on your to-do list. It also sends you notifications which is handy if you are forgetful.

Slack


Slack is our go-to team communication tool. We use the desktop version every day and as we’re often running to meetings, the mobile version means we can be communicative with the team while we’re on the go.

Venmo


Owned by PayPal, Venmo is the easy way to send money to friends and family. We wouldn’t recommend sending large sums of money through the app, however, it’s a quick and painless way to split lunches, cab fares or send birthday money.

Postmates

Choosing our favorite delivery app was a tough decision for the team. Postmates comes out on top thanks to its ability to choose whether you have groceries, takeout or personal items delivered to your door in less than an hour. A new level of laziness or absolute convenience? Try it out and let us know.

Do you use any of the apps that made our list or do you have any you’d recommend to our team? Let us know in the comments below.

 



How to Hire Creatives

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

 

Hiring qualified talent for creative roles (digital, marketing, UX or design) is an art unto itself.

In addition to reviewing resumes and looking for specific skills or years of experience, reviewing a portfolio and understanding the nuances in a creative’s work requires a unique talent. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Here are 3 tips to consider when looking to hire creative talent and evaluating portfolios.

1. Concept or Execution

Are you looking for a conceptual creative or one who is more executional? A conceptual talent ideates, pushes the creative boundaries, comes up with new ideas, new campaigns and a way to challenge the status quo. This person may or may not have hands-on skills— as they concept and ideate, someone else may actually sit behind a computer to bring it to life and take it to the finish line.

An executional candidate is someone who is very hands-on still. They know all the design programs well, can take the big picture idea and apply it to a variety of formats and deliverables. They’re able to read between the lines, interpret the big idea and execute it across multiple media and channels.

In some instances, one person can have both strengths—or they may favor one over the other. Who do you need on your team?

2. Your Brand

When looking at a resume and comparing two design talent, both may have similar proficiency with design programs, both may have the same years of experience and both may seem like the ideal candidate…on paper. When reviewing creative talent, a portfolio must accompany the resume, and in many cases it holds more weight than the resume.

When you review portfolio links, you may notice one designer’s aesthetic is bright, colorful, fun and illustrative, while the other candidate is minimalistic and corporate with a clean UI design aesthetic.

Both are beautiful, which aesthetic fits best within your company brand?

3. The Portfolio and to How Navigate it

When reviewing a portfolio, it can be difficult to get the full picture. Designers often work in collaboration with others: art directors, illustrators, copywriters, production artists, developers and many other talented teammates

How can you best tell who was involved in the work you are reviewing?

If the information isn't clearly defined in the sample, ask for clarification to help you get the full picture.

Do you need help hiring creative talent? Connect with us.


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