Create a Creative Workspace

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018|

Living things don’t exist in isolation – we are who we are through complex interactions with our environments. This means building strong relationships with colleagues and coworkers. We can also pay more mindful attention to the details of our physical surroundings. This can help us bring our workspaces into harmony with our projects, our values, and our personalities.

Whether you work from home or have a desk/cubicle in a larger office, these tips can help you spruce up your space, which can help you become happier, more productive, and more creative.

Shed a Little Light

The light you work under sets the tone for what you think and what you accomplish. It can have a powerful effect on your psychological and ocular health. If you can, invest in a stylish lamp you love. If you love to work with your hands and you know a bit about electronics, you can even try making your own.

Know Your Ergonomics

We did not evolve to sit at desks all day. But with a basic understanding of the principles of ergonomics, you can make your work much easier on your health, and feel better as well. Understand what you need from a chair, how to place your equipment, and how to sit. You’ll feel better, accomplish more, and preserve your long-term health.

Keep Your Vision in Sight

Keeping your vision board prominently placed in your workspace can help you stay cognizant of your larger goals and mission. When you’re in danger of getting lost in the details, your vision board can realign your mind with a larger perspective. Whatever you’re working on, the big picture is only a glance away.

Add a Splash of Color

In every culture, colors have deep symbolic significance. According to color theory, the right combinations of colors can inspire new ideas and perspectives. In your space, experiment with colors to find your ideal aesthetic and psychological balance. You don’t need to turn your office screaming neon pink; minor accents can be enough to alter your brain chemistry and enhance your insights.

Go Green

When we strengthen our relationships with nature, we put ourselves in touch with the rhythms of the earth and the essence of life. Bringing plants into your workspace (even just a modest succulent) can freshen your perspective. Taking care of a plant also provides a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, a valuable reminder that what you pay attention to always matters in this complex web of existence.

Work Within the Code

When we innovate within the rules, we become, as Proust writes, “like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines.” If your employer has rules governing how you can decorate your space, this can drive you to be more creative, not less. Go through the rulebook in detail, and figure out fresh ways to let your personality shine within the structure. This can inspire you and those around you to look at established guidelines with a fresh perspective.

At Artisan Creative, we support all aspects of your career, because we believe the best work can only be done in the right environment. Contact us today to learn more.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 490th issue of our blog.

 

 

The Power of Mental Representations

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018|

As a child, you were an adept and effortless daydreamer, immersing yourself in your imaginary experiences with the dedication and enthusiasm of a film director. The richness of your inner experiences could rival that of real life. The skills associated with making mental representations of imaginary experiences tends to fade with age, and if you deliberately cultivate them, they can help you make more mindful and deliberate decisions to change the course of your career.

In a piece for Aeon, the philosophy professor Armin W. Schultz ponders what evolutionary purposes our mental representations might serve. Inner movies, he writes, “allow the organism to reason about what the right thing to do is. Very often, organisms that rely on a system of reflexes to manage their interactions with the world have to cope with much redundancy. Many perceptions of the world call for the same behavioral response, and many behavioral responses to the world are variations on a theme.” If you can learn to think outside the restrictions of your unconscious reflexes, you can open new possibilities your reptilian brain didn’t know you had.

Here are a few ways to use these skills to your professional advantage.

Make a Mental Movie

“Let’s say you are offered a new job in a different city, and you need to figure out whether to accept it,” Arvin writes. “How are you going to do this? Most likely, you will think about what the job offer means to you: what will the new city be like? How fulfilling will the new job be? What about the pay and other benefits? How does all of this compare with where you live and work now? It’s not trivial, in the end, you’ll manage to make up your mind.”

Experience, in your mind, the details of a typical day on the job, how your life and mindset will shift because of it, and what your work and your achievements will mean to you, intellectually and emotionally.

Running elaborate mental simulations of possible future experiences – taking it three-dimensional – can give your gut more information to work with. Sometimes, you may end up “going with your gut” in the end, even after all the rumination. Which is still a good exercise to have gone through.

Try Different Models

There is much wisdom to be found in consciously adopting certain intellectual frameworks, and then shopping around until you find one that is particularly useful to you.

When working through a difficult decision, experiment with a range of possible scenarios, based on different variables. You can then make a more wholly informed decision, and prepare yourself for different realities that may present themselves.

Try different sensory modalities, as well. If you are not a visual thinker and you are more comfortable focusing on sounds and feelings, try hearing or feeling your way through a decision. You may get some fresh insight just from imagining the physical sensations walking through your new office space.

Don’t Mistake the Map for the Territory

Our mental representations never square precisely with reality. For difficult questions about your career, sometimes the most powerful answer is “I don’t know.” Then actively seek out “to know”.

When you work with mental representations, acknowledge that your thinking is biased by factors both conscious and unconscious. Do plenty of research and always keep your mind open to new information. Mental representations empower us to anticipate change, including change we never could have expected.

With the rise of AR and VR technologies, we may soon be able to work with simulations that are even more rich and useful. Be prepared to keep dreaming bigger and better.

At Artisan Creative, we love to share all the tools that can empower you to have the career and the life you want. 

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 484th issue of our a.blog.  Get in touch today to continue the conversation.

 

Creating Inspiring Presentations

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018|

In a good presentation, you are presenting useful and important ideas. In a great presentation, you are inviting your audience to join in, creating engagement and interaction.

There are various techniques that will help you set the stage for a more effective presentation. In short, best practices are a) understand how human thought and behavior work, and b) take concrete measures to let these things work for your presentation, rather than against it.

But what should your presentation be? What should the content consist of? And how should it convey its core ideas to its audience?

Know Your Big Ideas

Before you begin to structure your presentation, you should distill it down to a few important ideas. If you can’t break it down into a few core concepts, then it probably lacks a coherent message. Applying more thought and effort to the central thesis of your presentation will give it the beating heart that it needs to come alive.

Script It Out

Write out everything you plan to say, more or less verbatim.

First, create a rough draft. Although it may not be great, yet, you need to start somewhere, and your rough draft is that place. (Creativity coach Beth Lapides refers to the first draft as, “something to put a coffee ring on.” That’s all it needs to be.)

Then, edit, with vigor and ruthlessness. You can nitpick and fuss over your precise choice of words, to ensure your language is as economical and compelling as it can be.

This process can sometimes take a good amount of time. When you know your presentation is strong, it can be wise to quit while you’re ahead. Some presentations that sing on the 16th draft can turn flat on the 23rd. With time and experience, you will get better at knowing when your presentation is as good as it needs to be.

Create Your World

This is the step that often separates a great presentation from a good one.

Now that you know exactly what you want to say, translate those words and ideas into pictures, sounds, and feelings.

Then… forget the words.

Think of your presentation not as a static inventory of words and sentences you want to say, but as a three-dimensional word composed of pictures, sounds, and feelings. When you rehearse your presentation, practice living in this world. Keep practicing until you are comfortable and familiar with this world, able to explain your surroundings to others. (Comedian Greg Dean has a “rehearsal process” you can borrow.)

When it’s time to present, think of it as an opportunity to invite your guests into your world and show them around.

If you are not comfortable public speaking or presenting to a large group there are great resources to utilize to get you comfortable. Toastmasters is an international resource with chapters in many cities

When you live in the world you want to explain, you will have a far more powerful ability to transmit your ideas – and their emotional impact – to others.

At Artisan Creative, we believe in taking your work to the next level. Because if you’re reading this, you’re obviously ready to go “from good to great,” as a creative professional. Contact us today to take the next step.

We hope you enjoy the 474th issue of our a.blog.

Films that Inspire Creativity

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018|

Whatever your creative field may be, you can enrich your work when you lose yourself in a great film, be inspired and, uncover new ideas.

If you want to broaden your own creative palate, or simply try on a different way of looking at the human condition, here are eleven films we recommend for creative inspiration. Our list is a mix of classics and documentaries, with a focus on magnificent visual sensibilities and rich cultural context. Some are specifically about design, but all should give any creative professional something to think about.

Objectified (2009)

This feature-length documentary explores the way people interact with objects. It’s considered essential viewing by many interaction designers, product designers, and others in similar fields.

Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

Based on the academic work of Thom Andersen, this highly innovative documentary examines the city of Los Angeles as a prominent but often neglected character in film, and its complex cultural relationship with the entertainment industry.

Persona (1966)

One of the best-known works of Ingmar Bergman, and one of the most analyzed films of all time, this tapestry of metaphors raises fascinating questions about identity, duality, and how we relate to each other. It’s also widely recognized as one of the most visually stunning films of its time.

Sunrise (1927)

This monochromatic tale of one man’s psychic battles is noted for its beautiful sets and lightning, sweeping camerawork, and pioneering visual storytelling and allegory.

Vertigo (1958)

This thriller combines Alfred Hitchcock’s understated visual style with philosophical musings and the symbolism of Freudian psychoanalysis, making it one of his most imaginative and creatively stimulating films.

Minimalism (2015)

After suffering from a panic attack on air, TV news anchor Dan Harris began practicing mindfulness meditation and undertook a quest to simplify his mind and his life. This film asks its viewers to consider how they might do more with less.

Marwencol (2010)

This documentary visits the world of Mark Hogancamp, a genuine “outsider artist” who copes with his trauma by constructing a tiny town in his backyard. It’s a fascinating exploration of the relationship between suffering and creativity, and the alchemy of turning pain into art.

American Movie (1999)

American Movie follows a low-budget horror filmmaker in small-town Wisconsin. Mark Borchardt and his group of charismatic and creative misfits provide a rousing case study in making the most of the resources you have, putting your heart and soul into your work, and overcoming all obstacles to ship your dream project.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

A wild and controversial romp with the street artist Banksy, this prankish documentary raises mind-bending questions about authenticity, artistic ethics, and what happens when provocative mischief, astute social commentary, and consensus reality collide.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Many designers admire Wes Anderson for his unique, storybook aesthetic sensibility and his deft use of symmetry. Moonrise Kingdom captures his sparkling characterization and microscopic attention to detail.

Helvetica (2007)

One of the best-known documentaries about advertising, Helvetica looks at the aesthetic and influence of the 20th Century’s most ubiquitous typeface, and what its enduring popularity says about our shared visual culture.

Bonus: Netflix Abstract: The Art of Design. Episodic documentary covering a variety of creatives from a stage designer, to a graphic designer, shoe designer and much more.

Try one you haven’t seen yet, let us know what you think, and let us know what other galvanizing movies you would add to the list.

At Artisan Creative, we believe great creative inspiration is priceless. Contact us today to talk about how we can help you take your creative work to the next level.

We hope you enjoy the 473rd issue of our a.blog.

Maximizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018|

If you are looking for work, considering a change, or have any interest in industry networking, we all know that a profile on LinkedIn, the top social media network for professionals is the place to go. Potential employers and recruiters may find it unusual if you aren’t on the site in today’s highly competitive job market. It only takes a few minutes to launch your profile, and with a bit more time and effort, you can make your LinkedIn profile a powerful tool for advancing your career and achieving your goals.

Here are a few tips to help maximize the potential of your LinkedIn presence, build your network online and offline, and gain access to opportunities that others might miss.

Complete Your Profile

Only 51% of LinkedIn users have fully completed their profiles, and LinkedIn’s search algorithm strongly favors those who have. Take the extra time to flesh out and optimize all areas of your profile, including education and work history as well as volunteer roles and interests, to gain a significant advantage in your job search.

Be Real and Be Specific

When writing descriptions for yourself and your previous roles, eliminate fuzzy buzzwords and replace them with metrics, achievements, and real-life examples of what you’ve accomplished. Your headline should be succinct, and your profile should communicate a clear idea of who you are, what you can do, and what you value in your work. Be true to yourself, and you will stand out from the crowd. And, of course, always keep it positive – highlight what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. Your profile should reflect well on you and on those who have given you their trust and invested in your career.

Use Multimedia

Media presentations add detail and credibility to your profile. If you have design portfolio samples, slide decks, videos, articles, or other files that showcase your work your expertise and your overall approach to business, be sure to include them where they best fit.

Connect Strategically

Profiles with 300+ connections get more attention and appear more substantial, so endeavor to build a robust network. When you reach that threshold, be more judicious about whom you add, to ensure that your feed remains useful and that your virtual network reflects your real life. When you request a connection, send a personalized message to let the recipient know why you value their work, their trust, and their time. Make sure your network is focused on those with some leverage in your industry. At a glance, it should give you credibility with anyone you might want to work with in the future.

Participate in Groups

LinkedIn Groups can be a useful way    to monitor trends and participate in discussions, and they have some less obvious perks as well. For example, when you join a LinkedIn Group, you can privately message any other member. This can afford opportunities to connect with people who are passionate about the same things as you but may be harder to reach through traditional channels.

Update Regularly

Every few months, inspect your LinkedIn profile from top to bottom, and update anything that’s out of date or that could simply use a polish. Take the opportunity to improve your profile on a regular basis, not just when you’re looking for work. Over time, you will build a much stronger presence than the vast majority of users. And, you may be surprised at the opportunities you discover through LinkedIn.

At Artisan Creative, we help top creative professionals get the most out of their careers. Contact us today, and we’ll help you master digital networking and take your work to the next level.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 470th issue of our a.blog

 

How to Build a Design Portfolio

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018|

“It’s easier to get a job when you have a job.”

There is some ring of truth to this cliche. If you’re a designer starting out – perhaps you’re a fresh graduate, or you’re changing careers – this can seem frustrating and paradoxical. Most high-status job openings are available only to those with years of experience. If you must have experience to get experience, how does anyone ever get started?

Fortunately, it is easy to build an impressive design portfolio with no professional experience whatsoever. Even if you’ve never had a paying client, you can do remarkable work and showcase it in a manner that will open doors.

Think Like a Designer

Before you create an online portfolio or get an account on Dribbble or Behance, rethink your entire life story, from the perspective of your identity as a designer.

“If you’ve ever solved a problem, then you have design experience,” says Jason Early, a designer, entrepreneur, teacher, mentor, and author of the career guide Getting Hired. “You just need to reframe how you present it. The design process is used to address a challenge. Any challenge. And showing how you worked through the process to address that challenge can be a portfolio piece. Show your work. Just like in grade school math class, showing how you got to a solution shows how you think through a challenge. And that is what a portfolio is. A collection of examples showing how you reached a solution.”

Say “Yes”

As you move forward in your career, you will learn to say “no” to opportunities that don’t serve you. However, in your early days as a designer, you must err on the side of taking on more work and saying “yes” to as many different projects as you can. Then, follow the green lights.

Look for pro bono projects for nonprofit and charity organizations you support. (Taproot Foundation, a clearinghouse for pro bono creative work, is one place to start.) If you have acquaintances who perform or promote shows, offer to design graphics and fliers for them in exchange for free admission (or beer and pizza). Seek out any opportunity to show up and create something.

If you’re passionate about the early work that goes into your portfolio, you will likely find opportunities to do more work like it, for more generous compensation.

Make All the Things

Keep solving problems, embracing fresh challenges, flexing different muscles, and adding work to your portfolio. At first, you may be frustrated that your own work isn’t up to the standards of the successful designers you admire. This means you’re right on schedule.

Work through the “taste gap,” push through the resistance, and keep showing up. The only way to do great work is to do lots of work. As you consistently generate more new samples, you can continuously update your portfolio to showcase better and better examples of what you’re capable of.

Find the Others

You are one of many people building a creative career. It may scare you to think you have millions of skilled and hungry competitors. But you can shift your thinking and instead see the creative people around you as potential collaborators, eager to work and grow together. Being independent doesn’t mean being alone.

Attend networking events and reach out to those who have complementary skills. Then, work together on projects that showcase and challenge you both.

For instance, if you are a designer, join forces with a like-minded copywriter. You may build a fruitful long-term partnership, like copywriter Jeff Gooodby and art director Rich Silverstein, with a joint brand that combines your talents. At the least, you will build your professional network, enrich your thinking through cooperation and mutual respect, and do work together that you wouldn’t and couldn’t do alone.

At Artisan Creative, we have years of experience helping new and experienced designers build their portfolios, their networks, and their careers. Contact us today to learn more and get started.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 466th issue of our a.blog.

Job Skills for the Future

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018|

The World Economic Forum recently released its report on “The Future of Jobs.” The results have important implications for job seekers, hiring managers, and anyone else who wants to build professional skills that will be relevant into the decade ahead.

The section “10 Skills You Will Need to Thrive in 2020” is particularly relevant. People management, emotional intelligence, negotiation, and other “soft skills” deemed essential in previous years still rank high on the list. However, creativity, critical thinking, and keen judgment are now ranked higher than before, suggesting the increasingly utility of mental flexibility, brainstorming, and other related skills. Traits that have been traditionally associated with artists, designers, developers, strategists, and other “intellectuals” or “creative types” are now considered vital for anyone who wants to build a sustainable career and flourish into the future.

Let’s look at the WEF’s top five skills to cultivate in anticipation of the year 2020.

1. Complex Problem Solving

Automation and artificial intelligence are poised to eliminate many jobs in administration, production, and other areas tasked with solving simple, routine problems. This will leave humans to focus on larger, systemic, global challenges, which will demand higher-level thinking and the ability to adapt, reframe, and psychologically challenge ourselves.

2. Critical Thinking

Rather than placing blind trust in traditional sources of authority, the future demands that we become more open-minded with a certain degree of skepticism, thinking many steps ahead of our current challenges and distractions. We can hone our critical thinking skills by controlling our information diets, taking charge of our mindsets, and learning from experience.

3. Creativity

Creativity has never been the exclusive province of playwrights, classical composers, and aesthetes. Rather, creativity is a muscle that we all need to exercise. Find out how to best defy your fears and make every day a storytelling adventure. Then apply creative thinking to all of your personal and professional decisions, to be ready to pose radical solutions for the serious problems we’re tackling as a species.

4. People Management

Just as the inspired artistic genius is no longer a useful model for creativity, so the solitary crank or bully is no longer an effective role model for professional success. Relating to others, practicing compassion, and understanding what makes people tick is increasingly required of us all. The individual is no longer the dominant paradigm for understanding the human experience – it’s being replaced by the network. What’s more, building strong relationships with others is its own reward.

5. Coordinating with Others

Interdependence and interconnectedness are the important values of the future. As a new array of stimuli distracts us, making it harder to coordinate efforts and to meaningfully connect, much power will accrue to those who appreciate the practical challenges of team and relationship-building, and devise ever better ways to do it.

At Artisan Creative, we know that today’s future is tomorrow’s present, and we pride ourselves on thinking ahead. Be prepared – contact us today.  We hope you’ve enjoyed our 466th blog.

Project Management Triangle

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018|

 

“Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick two.”

This is a summation of the Project Management Triangle, a framework for project scoping and resource allocation that has been in use since the 1950s, and has long been embraced by freelance software developers in particular.

The basic idea is that an emphasis on any one or two corners of the triangle requires constraints in the third. What we emphasize shows the world who we are and what we value. Project managers, hiring managers, and creative professionals must determine what areas are most important, and realize the value of compromise in some areas to achieve excellence in others.

If you are filling a role or scoping a project, or you want to make sure your clients understand your constraints and give you appropriate support, the Project Management Triangle is a useful model for negotiating fairly and setting appropriate expectations.

In any profession, it is useful to keep these rules in mind:

If you want work done at high quality, with a quick turnaround, it may be expensive.

Time is perhaps the most precious resource of all. The work that goes into completing complex projects on tight turnarounds doesn’t begin when you sign the contract – it requires years of study, experience, and preparation on the part of those who complete the assignment. Under such demands, you will need to work with the best, and you can expect them to charge what they’re worth.

If you want your work done quickly, and you have a tight budget, it may not be of top quality.

If you make harsh demands and don’t pay well, you may run the risk of being “penny wise and pound foolish,” or sacrificing big returns in the future for small savings now. You can offset this by shifting from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. If you don’t have a lot of money, what other sorts of value can you offer talent to get them excited about your projects and build strong, ongoing relationships based on collective appreciation? To set the stage for great work, establish realistic expectations based on mutual respect.

If you want to build something of high quality at low cost, it may take a long time.

As Billie Holiday sings, “The difficult, I’ll do right now. The impossible may take a little while.” If you have high expectations and a low budget, your most crucial virtues are patience and persistence. Your success depends on building long-term relationships with passionate professionals who care about your project and have the expertise to get it done.

Every project is different. That’s why we use flexible mental models to determine how we can best accomplish our goals. For instance, under the “lean startup” framework, we would not gauge “fast,” “cheap,” or “good” in the same way as we would in a typical corporate setting. However, for most projects, the Project Management Triangle provides the most useful values system for determining the scope and setting expectations.

If you’re hiring skilled and qualified professionals for your project, or you’re an ambitious creative in search of the perfect challenge, contact Artisan Creative today. Leverage our decades of business experience to build relationships that lead to mutual flourishing.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 464th issue of our a.blog.

 

Networking Opportunities in March

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018|

As a freelancer, you may work independently, but that doesn’t mean you have to work alone. There are numerous networks and communities, both online and in real life, that can help you find connection, inspiration, and support.

Despite its reputation for impersonal sprawl, Los Angeles boasts a particularly strong design community. LA designers gather at large, recurring events held by AIGA, Creative Mornings, and others, and they can also be found at smaller meetups around the city.

The organizers of the Los Angeles User Experience Meetup group track design-related gatherings on the west side, downtown, online, and all around greater Los Angeles. They provided us with a curated list of five great events for LA designers to check out in March 2018. If you’re looking for designer camaraderie in LA, here are five places to find it.

Breakfast Panel: Diversity

When: Monday, March 5, 8:00 AM

Where: General Assembly, 150 2nd St., Santa Monica

Why: In the worlds of design and tech, issues of race, gender, and fair treatment in the workplace have never been more salient. Over breakfast, a panel of women and an audience of industry insiders will hash things out and chew on the big questions.

Product Management: Live Chat

When: Tuesday, March 6, 11:15 AM

Where: Online – register at the link

Why: This is an open-ended “ask me anything” session with Liliya McLean, lead product manager with the iconic home goods brand Home Depot. If you’re curious about product management or the product management community in Los Angeles, this is an ideal, low-pressure opportunity to assuage your curiosity and get involved. Registration includes an invitation to the highly active Product Management Los Angeles Slack community.

Tech Fair LA

When: Thursday, March 8, 10:00 AM

Where: Magic Box, 1933 South Broadway, Los Angeles

Why: Whether or not you’re looking for work, attending events geared toward job-seekers gives you an opportunity to see what’s out there, hone your networking skills, and get a sense of the market and community around the Los Angeles tech sector. This enormous job fair is more like a party than most, with demos, hack-a-thons, DJs, food trucks, and a fun, festive atmosphere.

Creating Reality AR/VR Hackathon

When: Monday, March 12 – Thursday, March 15

Where: Ronald Tutor Hall, 3710 McClintock Avenue, Los Angeles

Why: In the entertainment capital of the world, from Silicon Beach to the Hollywood Hills, the rise of virtual and augmented reality has been a subject of intense commercial and creative interest. This week-long series of workshops and team projects promises a full immersion in the technology, the community, and the field of VR/AR.

DTLA Community Hack Night at Nordstrom Rack/HauteLook

When: Tuesday, March 13, 7:00 PM

Where: The BLOC Office Tower, 700 South Flower Street, Los Angeles

Why: Creative people often bond best when they have something to work on together, preferably a project that’s ambitious, immersive, and fun. Girl Develop It Los Angeles hosts this hands-on skill-building session for designers, developers, and passionate makers of all stripes. It’s a safe environment for experimentation, and for curious techies and aesthetes of all descriptions.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that the essence of professional success is about more than money – it’s about building a strong network, doing interesting things, and leading a fascinating life. We keep our eyes open for all sorts of growth and enrichment opportunities for creative professionals, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and beyond. Contact us today to learn more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 463rd issue of our a.blog.

 

14 Collaboration Apps We Love

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018|

If your team is still using the email inbox as an organizational tool and yelling over cubicles, it’s time for you to explore some of the brilliantly useful collaboration, chat, and project management apps that are available.

Since the rise of Basecamp in the 2000s, an array of such apps has appeared, with different user interfaces, internal logic, pros, and cons. Some are focused on internal communication, while others have better document-sharing and time-management features. If you’re new to collaboration, chat, and project management apps, we suggest trying a few different ones to see which one proves most effective for your projects and your team.

In celebration of February 14th, Valentine’s Day, here are 14 apps we love because they drive collaboration. Since our Artisan Creative a.team works virtually, we rely on many of the apps below to communicate, collaborate and connect.

Basecamp

It was one of the first project management programs, and it’s still one of the simplest, with to-dos, discussions, and file-sharing capabilities that are easy to master.

Slack

This team chat app is beloved for a reason. It works well for organizing discussions, whether among groups or one-on-one. While it lacks some of the more sophisticated project-management capabilities found elsewhere, it gets things done, and it’s fun.  Slack has made our virtual team communication organized, efficient and easy.

Asana

Asana is gaining popularity for its focus on results. It works well for tracking projects, assignments, time, and contributions from team members.

Trello

Trello’s “boards” provide an engaging and friendly UI. It takes some effort to master, but it’s easy on the eyes, and it’s changed the way some teams tackle their projects.  A recent favorite, we use Trello for everything these days! From communicating about our open jobs to onboarding and training new hires, we love Trello.

Wunderlist

Microsoft acquired this German-designed task-management app and planned to sunset it, much to the chagrin of its unusually devoted user base. Despite protests, it may be absorbed by Microsoft To-Do in 2018, so give it a whirl while you can.

Discord

This voice and text chat platform, designed for gamers, is so robust and functional that it’s drawn a cult following among startups and professionals, too. It lacks strong project-management capabilities but can be used in conjunction with other programs by off-site teams who rely heavily on responsivity.

Airtable

Popular among publishers and heavy spreadsheet users, Airtable’s internal logic takes some getting used to. When you get to know it, it’s a charming and versatile suite of project-management tools with a colorful personality, with particularly strong versioning and backup capabilities.

Calendly

Calendly makes meeting planning easy! Gone are the days of emailing back and forth to schedule time for a conversation or a meeting.   Calendly integrates with our Google calendar to make life, and conversation scheduling easy!

Smartsheet

For seasoned spreadsheet-wranglers, the Smartsheet UI may look familiar. It’s a humble and practical program, comfortable for heavy Excel users, increasingly useful for those who spend time getting to know it.

LiquidPlanner

Sophisticated, expensive, and a bit intimidating, LiquidPlanner works well for larger teams with a lot of moving parts. If you’re ambitious or you’re outgrowing your current programs, give it a look.

Sharepoint

Part of the MS Office Suite, Sharepoint is popular among teams using Windows. It integrates with the chat app Yammer, and allows easy content management and collaboration across organizations.

Teamwork

With project management, chat, and an easy mobile experience under one roof, Teamwork is popular among creative and web development teams. If you enjoy the free trial, you can do an impressive amount of work using Teamwork tools.

Taskworld

This highly visual and goal-oriented project management app is popular among users of Apple products. Founded by billionaire jewelry magnate Fred Mouawad, its eccentric personality has won it a devoted cult following.

Google Drive

What started as the world’s most successful search engine has created an impressive array of products that integrate brilliantly. Between Gmail, Docs, Hangouts, and Calendars, many teams have found that they work best using nothing but Google apps, especially since the vast majority of web users have some familiarity with Google-brand UX.

As creative staffing leaders, we work with some of the most forward-thinking talent and clients in the business, which makes us experts on how professionals and teams choose their tools, manage their work, and collaborate more effectively. Contact Artisan Creative today and share your favorite app.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 461st issue of our a.blog!