Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tips To Success: Time Management

Time management is by far one of the most important traits for a student, freelance designer, or any other profession in which you have to do 500 things at one time. Why are so many people bad at it? How can we improve our time management? Throughout this post, you will also see a few comic strips regarding the topic. I found them humorous. So, before we begin:

I like to think that I manage my time extremely well. I think others can agree, but I'm obviously not perfect. Nobody is. So, what traits can lead to a person being good at time management? I promise it isn't buying a 36 hour wrist watch! With this post, I will attempt to let you in on some of my secrets and what I try to keep in mind when scheduling.

1. Do not write a check your butt can't cash!

Yeah, that's a lame saying, but true. Don't take on too much work! This can be very stressful and lead to a lot of problems. If you have other projects you are working on, this could affect the quality and time spent on those. You also have to consider your health. Staying up all night to finish that extra website you took on can be bad for you. A good night's rest is critical for your health, mood, and productivity.

2. Use your resources.

I'll use myself as an example for this one. Yahoo is a really great service. I use it for a lot of different things. "What?" you say "There are other things Yahoo does besides organize my email!" Of course! Just like Google, Yahoo is working hard to give you a plethora of free resources.

One of those being the Yahoo calendar. I use this thing to keep track of mostly everything I do, from meetings to deadlines to vacations to more meetings. The wonderful thing about this is that I can set reminders. One reminder send me an email and the other sends me a text. How cool is that! This is just one of the many kinds of resources that are free to use.

3. Small tasks, better results.

You heard! Don't mark on your calendar that you're going to finish that newly signed website at the end of the week. Give yourself time! Time to research, plan, prepare, design, develop, test, revise, test again and launch. There is always time. And if your client says there isn't and wants that website finished, from start to end, in one week, then that may not be the best project to be on anyways.

4. Write it down!

When you're in a meeting or get a quick idea about something you have to do, instead of making a mental note, jot it down somewhere. Your arm, hand, or shoe is always a good place if you're out of paper. Then, once you get back to your computer, type it in to your free calendar resource (see bullet number 1). How are you going to remember everything you have to do unless you have some form of tracking the tasks? Unless you're a master mind, it may be pretty tough.

5. Always have a plan.

You know how your elementary school used to have frequent fire and tornado drills? Well, this is sort of like that. Instead of running into a project blind, know how you're going to approach it. Figure out the time it will take you to complete each task and how many tasks you have to finish. Sort out the deadlines, schedule meetings, and leave yourself some room to breathe. You won't be working 24 hours a day, so don't fill your schedule like you can!

If this post was helpful, leave a comment. If you have any additional advice for others, leave that in your comment to. I feel a series coming on, so stay tuned for more Tips To Success!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Pixar Touch: Book Review

This past winter, while I was in Singapore for SIGGRAPH Asia, I bought a book called "The Pixar Touch" by David A. Price. It is an extremely detailed history of the company of Pixar, how it came to be, explaining the perseverance of a talented and determined group of individuals. From chapter 1-11, I was consumed by the story. Even though it took me a while to finish, when I started reading, I never wanted to stop.

This would be the reason that this book is my absolute favorite out of all the books I've read thus far. For me, the inspiration alone was worth the read. When I finished this book, all I could think about was the company I wanted to start and how I should go about setting the tracks for it to take off, like Pixar.

I learned about the backgrounds of the major players who really made Pixar what it is, from Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, Brad Bird, Pete Doctor, to Andrew Stanton. These accomplished men will always and forever be complete inspiration and motivation for me. It's absolutely crazy how many hours and how much effort was put into the making of this company.

The organization of the book is great because it starts from the very beginning and ends as far as the book could go (considering when it was released: 2008). David Price chose to start the book with a quote from John Lasseter, which I believe is spot on:
Character animation isn't the fact that an object looks like a character or has a face and hands. Character animation is when an object mover like it is alive, when it moves like it is thinking and all of its movements are generated by its own thought processes... It is the thinking that gives the illusion of life. It is the life that gives meaning to the expression. As {Antoine de} Saint-Exepery wrote, "It's not the eyes, but the glance - not the lips, but the smile."
That quote alone tells so much about his character and the mindset of Pixar in general. I encourage anyone who is at all devoted to animation, the world of computer graphics, or just starting their own company to read this book and take every word in because it will truly inspire you to become something even more than you imagined.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why I am a Graphic Artist

I came across a post a while back that really spoke to me. It was written by a designer and listed all of the reasons that person loved being a graphic designer. Even reading through lists like that, it helped me to realize just how much I too love this industry, although it's still somewhat new to me. Here are my reasons. What are yours?

1. You can learn on your own.

I'm not a doctor, and I never plan on being one. But, let's pretend I wanted to become one. Well, there is no way that I could go on the Internet, watch a bunch tutorials and be ready to perform open heart surgery. That's the beauty of computer graphics! You can go online, find tips and tricks, read, and learn just about anything you can possibly think of. On top of that, it's all FREE!

Now, don't get me wrong, school is great and I think it's very important to go to school for graphic arts. But, if you really think you can succeed, you really don't have to because in the end, your portfolio (and your personality) is all that matters. The reason we go to school is to learn from your teachers and get critiques from them and your peers.

2. Let those creative juices flow!

Not only can we learn this stuff on our own for super cheap, but we can really enjoy what we do. This is not mathematics, accounting, or any boring desk job for that matter. Every day, I can wake up with ideas from my dreams or the previous day and sketch, design, model, animate, or write about that idea. How? Because I can! Even designing a website or sketching up an illustration, you can put so much creativity and imagination into it from all aspects of art. There are no limitations to your imagination in this field!

Having a great job within graphic design doesn't mean you don't make money, you can still make a great living. Many creative professionals make really good money and love waking up to go to work. How many people can say that? To me, that alone makes money irrelevant to me. Money is no substitute for happiness.

3. Self employment, or as we call it, "freelance."

Let's go back to my doctor analogy. If I were a doctor, there is absolutely no chance that I could offer my services on the side! Yes, I could offer advice to your sick kid, but I'm not going to invite you to my house and fix your broken leg for a discounted fee. That would be funny though.

A lot of graphic artists never have to leave their house to go to work. Instead they freelance and work for themselves. Since there is so much work in this industry you can make a great living off of just freelance work, in the comfort of your home. I'm becoming even more of a believer in that considering the amount of freelance work I've been getting lately.

4. The community.

I'm going to say that this is one of my main reasons for the passion I have for computer graphics. The people you meet in this industry are wonderful, down to earth, creative, funny, and more than willing to help. What other industries can you think of where the pros generously tell you every secret they know regarding their profession? Not many I assume.

There are endless online communities for graphic artists and each has a special focus or main purpose. Many of those involve making their members better, more informed, passionate, or just networking. I can't stress how important the community is to me. But, I can say that I will pay it forward. Some of the greatest people you will ever meet are out there and you don't even know it yet. Get involved!

5. Start your own studio!

This has been my dream for a while now. We discussed the freelance world of computer graphics already. What if you could take that career one step further? You can!

If you have the right personality, connections, passion, and perseverance, you may just decide to start your own company. Why work for someone else when you can work for yourself? Although this is a lot more work, the reward has to be exponential. Once you have the right contacts and a good team of people to work with you, starting your own studio may be just the thing to fulfill your lifelong dream!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vintage Design Examples: 1950-1960

Just today I was reading through my usual blog lists and came across an interesting gallery on 1950's and 1960's color and design. Although random, I thought it was really helpful seeing what older illustrations looked like back then and the way they designed. Instead of just stealing all the images from that post, I took the liberty of venturing out and researching this era myself. It's always nice finding things out on your own.

Notice the choice of color and layout. I'd actually like to try my hand at designing a poster in a style similar to these. Maybe you will?

Well, if you do, link your design in a comment on this post. Also, if you have any suggestions on other unique eras of graphic design or a favorite, make sure to let me know. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Color Series: Green

Growth, harmony, freshness, fertility, nature, safety, and money. These are some of the words that are most commonly associated with the color green.

This post continues the highly regarded color series I have started. If you are just now joining, you should go read about red and orange. Here I will offer suggestions for color pallets and how to use the featured color on the post. Suggestions through comments are most welcome, plus requests for the next color study is encouraged.

The color green has great healing power. Why do you think your dentist's walls are all green? The reason is because it is the most restful color for the human eye. This means that the color of those walls evoke a specific response in you either calming you down or making you even more uncomfortable. I highly doubt there is one good dentist who has red walls.

Green also suggests stability and endurance, indicating growth and even hope. Growth could be traced to the color of our money: green. Obviously this color is used to promote safety. We don't run through an intersection when the light turns red now do we? When the light turns green, that tells us the intersection is safe to drive through, assuming a drunk driver isn't running the light.

Here are some really nice green based color pallets that you are free to use. And if you do use these as a base for one of your future designs, please make sure to post a link to it in the comment section for all to see!

Dark Green: is associated with ambition, greed, and jealousy.
Yellow-Green: can indicate sickness, cowardice, discord, and jealousy.
Aqua: is associated with emotional healing and protection.
Olive Green: is the traditional color of peace.

Do you have theories about the color green you have discovered that I didn't include in this? Any ideas on how to make the next Color Series post even better?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pixar's UP Grants Girl Her One Last Wish

A truly touching story comes from one of the animation big dogs and my personal favorite of the lot: Pixar. Not the happiest story, but very moving, nonetheless. Colby Curtin is no ordinary girl. She’s got a rare disease taking over her body, vascular cancer. Ever since she saw the trailer for Pixar’s Up, she’d been excited to see the sky high adventures of Carl and Russell. But as circumstances would have it, she never got to do so in theaters because of scheduling issues and her deteriorating health condition.

Colby said that she did not want to pass away before she saw the new Pixar movie. (I probably would have said the same thing.) One of her family members frantically called Pixar and luckily found someone who could help! The Pixarian flew down to her house with a DVD of the movie and a bag full of Up goodies one day later. The family enjoyed the movie (and their last moments with Colby) that day.

After the movie was over, the girl was asked if she enjoyed it. She was in so much pain all she could do was nod "yes." 7 hours later she passed away, but she died with her final wish granted.

This really is a beautiful story that I highly encourage you to pass along. It shows that Pixar is much more than just an animation studio, they are passionate individuals who are extremely down to earth. I'm also not just saying that because of this story, but because I've read a lot about the company and how they run things.

This also highlights the wonderful design environment in which many of us have the privilege of working in every day, the amazing people you meet, and the good deeds they do for others. This is the main reason I am so passionate about the computer graphics industry and why that passion will never die, but rather only continue to grow!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back to the States with Zach Morris

As you may have figured, I'm back from the wonderful country of Poland! After a month of teaching, exploring, drinking, and adventure, it's time to get back into the swing of things. That means work!

The blog posts will continue as usual, bringing you the greatest information, my work, the most beautiful pieces of art, design, and animation from the pros, and best of all: FREE giveaways! Since the BoldHeart Blog is now a sponsored blog of UPrinting.com, I have the chance to give away tons of free stuff! Make sure to keep checking back for contests, giveaways, designs, and any other amazing/cool/interesting things I find on my day to day endeavors on the interwebs.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and join the Facebook group!

On a side note, Chestees showed me this video today that I thought was hilarious. This will explain the title of this blog post, "Back to the States with Zach Morris." I'm sorry, but I will completely admit that I was and still am in love with Saved By The Bell! I know you are too. Don't even try to deny it!

Enjoy the video and look forward to some summer activity from you friend at BoldHeart!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Best of Poland 2009

Over the course of a month, I took well over 500 pictures. Granted all are from Poland, many are from different cities within. This post serves as a favorite pictures kind of post, since I took so many pictures on my trip.

But, how could I pass up an opportunity to win $250 for my best photo? Well, as you can see with this post, I haven't passed it up and I sure as heck need the money! Who's hosting the contest you ask? Our good friends over at UPrinting! I'm sure you could have guessed though. UPrinting.com is a leading online provider of business cards, color brochures and mailing postcards. I recently held a poster giveaway where 2 readers easily won free poster printing! Make sure to check it out and stay tuned for the next giveaway!

On with the pictures! The first listed is my favorite of the bunch, but what follows are just some extra eye candy for your enjoyment. You didn't come all the way out here just to see one picture now did you? So, I'll start you off with my favorite picture of the summer so far:

There are no fun captions to describe this picture because it really isn't a fun photo. Rather, this was taken at Aushwitz on the train tracks that took so many people on their last train ride. The flowers, candle, depth of the track, and lighting all work together to bring out a hopeful, but sad sort of feeling. It was really powerful standing on those tracks.

Here are the rest of the photos I think were the best from my trip. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Poznan, Poland 2009 (Week 1)

As another week has slowly passed, more festivities bring themselves to us. We've been able to see quite a bit of the city, and countryside, even struggling through our living situation, which is 45 minutes away from the center of the city. This is also where we teach, so every day is a hefty commute. The internet isn't too hot here either. I guess you could say that it's the opposite of high speed. I'm lucky to be writing this blog actually. The pictures took about an hour to upload!

More pictures you say? Ok, I'll get on with it! So, I was talking about the middle of the city in my last post called the "rynek," which means market square. Here are some more pictures from the lively part of town. It always seems like there are things going on, kids chasing pigeons, creepy statues coming to life, and balloons for all!

I haven't shown you where we teach yet, so I guess it's about time. Not that it's anything special, but here are a few pictures of students and the building we are in. The school initials are WSKIZ and that's the way it will stay because there is no chance in hell I can pronounce the real name. Oh, and if you're wondering what is on that student's head, it's a pair of headphones with fake apples attached to the side. How creative.

What do we do in our free time? We cook out, play cards, have strawberry fights, sit on the computer, sleep, and play chess. I bet I lost you at strawberry fights! Long story short, there was a strawberry war. I'm sure that helped paint the picture. Maybe the photos below will. This cookout was a success and to say the least, we were all about five pounds heavier after the meal!

To end a pretty busy week, we were taken out to tour the countryside by the mayor of that city, which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of. Either way, it was very interesting actually finding out he was in fact their mayor halfway through the day during some casual conversation between us and our translator, who by the way looks like Misha Barton (Marissa from The OC)!

To sum it up, the experience was amazing and that day was probably one of my favorites of the entire trip. We took a hike through a beautiful park and played soccer against a bunch of 10 year old Polish children after. We were on the girls team! Dinner finally came and we ate at this amazing hotel, deserted in the middle of nowhere. After that, we ended up at a sort of carnival where we had a special table reserved for us and to make a weird story even more weird, I ended up with some old guys baseball cap because I looked at recycled batteries.