Artisan Blog

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.

5 Morning Habits of Productive People

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


 

No matter your sleeping habits or natural rhythms, we all have a starting routine to our day. However, one of the things that makes successful and productive people the way they are is how they handle their morning routine. Here are our tips on how you can go from chaos to clarity in the morning, and lead yourself into a productive and creative day.

1. Think. Whether it’s meditating, journaling or simply being still, take a few minutes to think about your day. Clearing your head before the day starts is a great way to help you stay productive throughout the day. Focus on being present and what’s happening right now, not what’s going to happen in the later morning or afternoon or evening. If it helps, use an app to guide you through a morning meditation. Some will even help you focus on a particular area, such as reducing anxiety or improving creativity.

2. Exercise. Getting in even seven minutes of exercise and a few minutes of stretching can go a long way towards improving your physical energy. If you have time, getting in a full workout before the work day begins means you’ll be able to focus on work and do other things with your evening. Even if you don’t have time for a full workout, just the act of moving your body first thing in the morning means you’re using it in a meaningful way, which is in and of itself productive.

3. Eat healthy. Starting the day off with a healthy breakfast is a surefire way to give your body the fuel it needs to get through the day. It’s also a way to continue focusing on your morning and make sure that you get a moment to eat, especially if you have a busy day. Try blending greens together in a smoothie for something quick, or focus on healthier fare like greens, lean protein, and complex carbs.

4. Focus. Instead of looking to your to-do task for the day and stressing out over it, take this moment to look ahead. What do you want to achieve? By knowing what’s coming up, you’ll be able to map out your to-dos for today more easily. For example, if tomorrow is a big deadline for a project, you can plan ahead so your work day helps you get done anything you need to help reach that deadline.

5. Don’t Plug-in! Instead of immediately checking social media profiles or emails, try to resist the urge to “plug in”. Use this time to focus to set priorities or learn--like reading a chapter in a book, or learning a new language, or doing something creative--anything to help prep for the day. This will help you stay focused instead of worrying about what’s coming based on an email sent.

~Nadia Osman for Artisan Creative


How to Make the Most of Brainstorming Sessions

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Collaboration is key for creative teams. Here ere are a few tips to maximize your productivity in group brainstorming sessions:
  • Define a goal before the meeting. Send out an agenda in advance to let team members mull over the purpose of the session so they have time to come in with a few good ideas.
  • Set ground rules. If all ideas are good or you’re going for a “blue sky” atmosphere, let everyone know that so they feel confident to share. Whatever your ground rules are, state them at the top so everyone understands, and feel free to chime in if the rules are being broken. 
  • Encourage openness. Sometimes, brainstorming sessions fail because team members feel pressured to conform to certain ideas on the spot. Set a tone of non-judgement and invite all ideas to be voiced in a comfortable setting.
  • Don’t discuss or problem solve ideas. Set this as one your ground rules. Problem solving will hamper the creative free flow of ideas and eat away at the timelines. Capture all concepts first and then explore further.
  • Assign a facilitator or scribe. This person can capture all the ideas on the board. They will be facilitating and not part of the brainstorming itself and can ensures all team voices are heard equally. They can helps the group on track, take notes, assign follow up and next steps.
  • Set timetables. Give everyone thirty seconds and go around the table and capture one word ideas or one phrase ideas. Go around the room as often as possible to capture as many ideas as possible within your set time parameters.
  • Get creative. If your group needs help to get started, play improv games, doodle, stand and walk while pitching, or create mood boards to help the team get out of their heads. Encourage everyone to offer their own ways of busting out of a creative rut, and apply it to the group dynamic.
  • Don’t decide on the spot. Plan for reflection time for the team to think and react to the ideas they heard, then ask them to share their top choices. If scheduling a second meeting is not possible, then take a 10 minute-break. Allow the team to stretch their legs, get some fresh air and reflect, and then come back together to discuss decision and executing on the chosen ideas.
What are some of your tips for making the most out of a brainstorming session?

Artisan Creative is celebrating our 20th year staffing and recruiting Creative, Digital and Marketing roles. Please visit Roles We Place for a complete listing of our expertise.

Click here if you are looking to hire. Click here if you are looking for work.

For information on hiring best practices, interview tips and industry news, please join our social networks on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

15 Ways to Jumpstart Your Creative Process Now

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


As a creative professional, it’s your job to create. But sometimes, that creative spark you’re known for just won’t ignite. Here are 15 ways you can jumpstart your creativity, right now and later:

Right Now:

  • Go for a walk. Physical movement can get your brain going in a way that staring at the wall cannot. If you meditate, consider a walking meditation to clear your head space. 
  • Listen to music. Whether it’s classics you love, something new, or even ambient noise, fire up a playlist. It’s about getting in the right mood to free your mind and get ideas flowing.
  • Read something new. The Internet has a seemingly endless supply of content that goes beyond cat videos or Buzzfeed quizzes. Give yourself a time limit and go down a creative wormhole by searching designers, writers, and other artists you admire. (Our Pinterest page is full of illustrations and designs that inspire us!)
  • Change colors. Blue activates a “promotion focus” and helps enhances performance on creative tasks, according to this study. Change your desktop background picture, or study nature-drive photos of blue oceans, skies, and so on.
  • Doodle. Even if you draw for a living, bust out a pen and paper and draw. Don’t think. If you prefer to free write instead, do that. Or play a game on your phone, or use your desk supplies as wannabe Legos. Enjoy the physical sensation of touch, and let the mind wander.
On the Weekends:

  • Turn off your brain. Watch a silly movie, an uplifting documentary, or some crazy reality TV to give your brain the break it deserves. 
  • Keep a journal. Even if you don’t write in it religiously, having a journal (or a sketchbook) is a great way to express your inner thoughts and feelings. Something you jot down as a half thought could become the start of something big!
  • Do the dishes. Tasks like sweeping, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn allow your subconscious to do its thing and not think too hard so new ideas can enter. 
  • Make a list. Sometimes the simple act of writing it all out can free up brain space. Write down everything you think you need to do -- and be specific! If you’re preoccupied with redecorating your bedroom, list out each item and its task (go to the store, choose paint color, buy paint, etc)
  • Go outside your comfort zone. Branch out. Have lunch with a different friend. Try a new form of exercise. Read a book you wouldn’t normally buy. Plan a trip to a museum. Head to the beach if you’re a “mountain” person. It might be your next source of inspiration.
In General:

  • Exercise! Release those endorphins and help boost your creativity.
  • Don’t try to be perfect. The more you focus on trying to make something perfect, the more likely you’ll drive yourself crazy. Allow yourself to be messy, unpolished, and well...unperfect. You can always edit or change something later. Just try to go with the creative flow!
  • Silence your critic. Your inner critic -- the voice that tells you “this isn’t good enough” -- is just as bad as perfectionism. Color outside the lines and tell that negative voice inside of you to be quiet until you’re finished drawing. 
  • Reverse think. If you’re struggling with a specific problem, go at it from another angle. Try reversing your assumptions about the issue at hand, and see what ideas pop up from that. Getting to the point where you can effectively describe a problem’s contradictions will get you on your way to solving it. 
  • Look for connections. Combine something you’re thinking of with something that inspires you. Through idea generation exercises, force unrelated ideas to fit, and see if anything sticks.
  • Carve out time for you. To the best of your ability, think ahead and carve out some “me” time at the office. It doesn’t have to be long (it could be as short as 15 minutes), but it does have to be time for you to breathe and be, without worrying about meetings, emails, or busywork.
How to do recharge and reboot your creative process? Share your tips and tricks with us on our Facebook page!

5 Ways to Unblock Creative Blocks

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

For creative professionals, creative blocks are not just a moment of unproductivity. They can be frustrating, maddening stretches of time, potentially affecting deadlines and deliverables.  As a creative you can’t afford to run out of ideas!  It can happen to anyone!  However, not all hope is lost. Here are five ways to help jumpstart your creativity again:

  1. Stick to a routine. If your schedule has been off recently, it might be keeping your brain too busy to let creative thoughts flow naturally. Commit to at least one routine thing, such as waking up at the same time every morning, meditating for 15 minutes a day, or cleaning up your work space.  A cluttered desk can lead to a cluttered mind.  You’ll be surprised what great idea might pop into your brain when you’re concentrating on mundane, uncreative tasks instead.

  2. Go for a walk. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away -- literally. Take a walk around the building, in the park, by the beach, or wherever you like. Don’t think too hard about anything when you do. Put headphones on and listen to your favorite music or some podcasts. Let whatever thoughts you want enter your head without judgment. And if you can’t get outside, just step away from your desk and give yourself a break.

  3. Stay motivated. Inspiration comes from all kinds of sources. Look beyond your own work and colleagues into other creative work. Listen to new bands or rediscover old ones. Study fashion, photography, art pieces, and film. Go beyond your comfort zone and seek out completely new artistry.  Look at illustrations, design, branding, packaging, typography and more from a variety of industries. Let nature inspire you. What strikes you as interesting? What gives you that “eureka!” moment?

  4. Keep a swipe file. Austin Kleon talks about having a “swipe” file at the ready so you can “steal” ideas, or jot down new ones. It doesn’t matter if it’s a physical notebook or a digital one, so long as it’s something you can access easily and carry all your ideas in one place. Designers and illustrators might want to consider carrying a sketchbook so they can sketch out ideas instead of just making a note of them.

  5. Explore all options. You may be looking at a problem from a familiar perspective. Don’t make assumptions or let your inner critic stop you from coming up with another approach. Look at the issue from every angle. Train yourself not to run away from ideas that may not seem to fit right away. Instead, see if there’s a way to turn it into something. It’s not about getting a square peg into a round hole -- it’s about shifting your concept of pegs and holes altogether.

How do you get past creative blocks? Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, and share how you overcome blocks to find the best solutions to your creative needs.


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