TIPS

The humble business card

Your business cards matter!

Business cards is an important introduction of you and your business to your potential new client. It is part of your marketing arsenal and careful consideration should be taken when deciding on your business card. It is important to invest in quality business card design and printing. Here are some guidelines to consider when deciding on your design and printing of your card:

1. Design for Your Audience
Every brand is different. Know your target audience in order to create a card that will communicate to them effectively.

2. Information Overload
It is not necessary to include every single bit of information of your business on business card. Chances are that you will be losing the potential client’s attention. Only insert the most important information like Name, title, business name, phone, email, website and logo. Bullet point of services or short description will be sufficient.

3. Keep it simple
Too fancy and too small font can make your card difficult to read. If you want to add spice to your card rather add interesting finishing or let your logo be the design element that draws the attention.

4. Get Them Professionally printed
It is easy to print your card on your home printer, but cheap can cost you! DIY business cards might not make the first impression you want. Homemade cards handed to a corporate will send the wrong message.

Rather FISH for a professional and reliable printing company to have them printed.

How to set up a die cut for print in Indesign

So you’ve designed a box or a sticker or something similar that will need die cutting. We’re here to help. So basically you need to provide your printer with a PDF that is both usable art but also clearly indicates where the box or sticker needs to be cut after printing.

For this explanation I am going to use a round sticker as an example. Something like a license disk sticker.

Create your document
Remember that if you want a 90mm x 90mm sticker result you’ll have to setup your document to 91mm x 91mm in order to make sure your cut line falls within the constraints of the page. I also add a 2mm or 3mm bleed to my document in Indesign to make sure I have enough ink coverage for the cutting process

how to setup a sticker for print

Define your cut area on a top layer
cut line

Draw your cut line on this layer, and make sure that it is set to:

  • a 0.25pt line
  • the line colour must be a Spot Colour
  • Name the spot colour “CutContour”
  • Set the Line to “Overprint Stroke” in the attributes tab

spot colour on overprint

overprint stroke

Design your sticker
Design on a new layer below the “Cut Line” layer.
Lock the “Cut Line Layer”

layers
Make sure that any design elements that bleeds off the page are extended to the bleed line.

bleed

Check your final design

  • Make sure all printing colour are CMYK [if you are printing CMYK]
    • If you are printing Pantone colours make sure they are correct and set to Spot.
  • Make sure your images are set to CMYK.
  • Don’t use PNG images when printing, only JPG, PSD, TIFF or PSD images.

bleed final

Export your Design to PDF

  • Make sure to include crop and bleed – don’t include colour bars and other registration marks.
  • Make sure to export as PDF/X-1a

export to pdf

Check your PDF

When you open the PDF in Acrobat Pro DC and go to Output Preview, you should see all your process colour plates and Pantone Plates [if you have Pantone colours] – But you should also see the Spot colour you named as “CutContour” onder Spot plates.

If you hide the “CutContour” plate by unticking the check box, the line should disappear from your design and you should NOT see a white line where the cut line used to be. Then you know your artwork is correct.

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no line

Inspiration and Perspiration

Inspiration and Perspiration
by Jim Stovall
 
As the author of almost 40 books, seven of which have been turned into movies, I am often asked where I find the inspiration for the stories.  While I would never discount the importance of ideas that occur to me or any other creative person, I would have to admit that the process of creating any artistic endeavor is simply hard work.
 
We’ve all heard the stories or legends about great writers, artists, poets, or other creative individuals that go to their proverbial mountaintops and come back with a masterpiece fully formed.  Every great writer I have ever spoken with confirms that they spend a lot of time agonizing as they stare at a blank page.  Ernest Hemingway stated sarcastically, “Writing is easy.  All you do is open up a vein and bleed.”
 
The creative process is difficult and takes a toll on the person attempting to birth something worthy of an audience.  The great painter Jean Renaud painted every day, and when his arthritis became so advanced that he could not hold a brush, he tied paintbrushes to his hands.  The legendary composer, Joseph Hayden, rose every day at dawn to write music.  When he was unable to come up with anything, he did the rosary until he was able to find a melody to write.  Leo Tolstoy wrote War and Peace seven times.  Only those who have read this voluminous work of literature can truly appreciate that feat.  Sir Isaac Newton, when working on a theory, was said to “keep the problem constantly before his mind.”  This is a trait that all successful artists and creative people embrace.  They simply will not let the idea go away, and they are committed to subduing an idea before it subdues them. 
 
Many aspiring writers, composers, artists, and others somehow mistakenly believe that there is an inspirational force that will descend upon them, making it possible for them to effortlessly bring forth an enduring masterpiece.  Like anything else in life, once you know the true facts, you can count the cost and determine whether or not you want to pay the price.
 
I have been a successful athlete, investor, and entrepreneur, pursuing many endeavors, but I can honestly say that writing is one of the most difficult and rewarding things I have ever done.  I do not like the process of writing, but I love the process of having written.  Writing has been one of the greatest challenges and greatest gifts in my life.  I hope you will make the commitment to pursue the passion in your life, and you just might change the world.
 
As you go through your day today, look for creative genius at the end of a lot of hard work.
 
Today’s the day!
 
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.

Top 5 favorite business books

We all know that reading is one of the great ways in which we can expand our minds.  If there is a person out there who has nothing left to learn, I would really like to meet him/her. We can however also learn by doing, failing and redoing.  The process of learning from experience will, and should always form part of our journeys. It just seems to me that by reading, we can attempt to avoid some of the tedious trial and error processes and save a little bit of time.

Here are 5 books I can definitely recommend, especially if you are someone starting, building or managing a business:

  • Mastery – Robert Greene
    • Robert Greene has made an extensive study of what it takes to master a certain skill or field of study.  An important lesson I’ve learnt from this book is that our brains are designed to master something it enjoys doing over a long period of time.  It is great to hear from an expert, that with a lot of patience and focus, anyone with a normal brain can attain the power of the genius mind.
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
    • Napoleon Hill has written several great books. I must admit that this is the only one I’ve read so far, but his “Laws of Success” is on top of my reading list.  If you are looking for tools to help you develop a “wealth mindset” this is a must read.
  • The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    • No, this is not the one about the woman who daydreams about being a pirouetting bird…It’s about how random, unpredictable events can shape the world and our lives. Mr. Taleb gives us some ideas on how we can try and get into the path of the ones that can benefit us and make ourselves more robust against the ones that can harm us.  This is an excellent read for those who want to have a better grip on reality.
  • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
    • We all know that the human brain is one of the most complex and mysterious products of the universe we live in.  Daniel Kahneman explores the relationship between the logical, conscious, decision-making part and the intuitive, sub-conscious parts of our brain.  Extremely interesting and informative and goes well with ideas from the other books on this list. If you are in the business of communicating to mass audiences (like marketing and advertising), this is one you can’t miss.
  • How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie
    • This book has been around for a long time, but is just as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.  We all know the importance of good relationships. Mr. Carnegie will give you some ideas on how to deal with and lead people in the most effective way. Some really handy advice, especially if you are building or running a business.

These are just some of the books that have had an impact on me personally.  Not just on how I approach building a business, but also on the way I experience the world and life.  We can never stop learning.

What are some of the books that had an impact on your life?

Hearing the Written Word

Hearing the Written Word
by Jim Stovall
 
For thousands of years, humans have shared their thoughts, ideas, advice, and deepest secrets with one another by writing them down.  Our earliest evidence of this is the many examples of picture writing left on cave walls around the world.  Then, humans discovered they could write on papyrus, and eventually wood was processed into paper much like what we know today between the covers of a book. 
 
In the middle of the 15th century, one of the greatest and most impactful inventions the world has ever known came into being when Gutenberg built a printing press.  This brought the written word and all of its potential for education, socialization, and inspiration to the masses.  Books which had been rare treasures, made individually by hand, were now mass produced and became commonplace for working-class people everywhere. 
 
Gutenberg’s printed books became the standard for the next five centuries until an incredible breakthrough changed the state-of-the-art.  Somewhere in the mid-20th century, audiobooks were born.  First, they were available on vinyl albums, then tapes, followed by CDs, and now audiobooks can be delivered via a simple digital download which would have seemed like a miracle to Gutenberg. 
 
As the author of well over 30 books and as someone who has written this weekly syndicated column in newspapers, magazines, and online publications around the world for two decades, it’s embarrassing to admit to you, my readers, that when I could read with my eyes as you are reading these words, I don’t know that I ever read a whole book cover to cover.  Throughout my school days and as a young adult, reading was not a priority so I did as little of it as possible in order to just get by.  Then after losing my sight in my late 20s, I discovered audiobooks, and my whole world changed. 
 
I worked with the manufacturer that developed the first variable-speed tape player, and I began consuming audiobooks at several times their normal speed.  This has enabled me to read a book a day for more than 25 years.  Becoming a reader enabled me to become a writer and then a columnist.  I’ve enjoyed experiencing six of my books being made into major motion pictures with several more of my novels slated for the silver screen. 
 
As someone who writes books I can’t read that are turned into movies I can’t watch, I realize that audiobooks have become my lifeline to the world; and not just our world today, but the world of William Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens, Dante, and countless others. 
 
For obvious reasons, I insist on having all of my books released by my publisher as audiobooks in addition to the print versions.  For the last several years, my audiobooks have been produced by a talented voiceover artist and recording engineer named Rich Germaine.  You can check out Rich’s work on my titles and others at: 
 
There is simply no excuse for not becoming a reader.  Whether you use your eyes or your ears, the world awaits.
 
As you go through your day today, commit to being a reader whether you choose to see it or hear it. 
 
Today’s the day!
 
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.

Pulp Non-fiction

Pulp Non-fiction

Just by reading this, you are silently and secretly admitting to yourself something that you probably would not share out loud. But don’t be ashamed. You’re safe here. There are more of us and we welcome you with open… well… pages. Yes, we are the paper nerds! We write on it, we draw on it, we print on it, we make art with it and we want to know everything about it. We like it so much; we don’t just write ON it, we write ABOUT it.

Here are my 5 favorite tid-bits about paper:

  1. “Over the centuries, paper has been made from a wide variety of materials – wood pulp, rice, water plants, cotton and even old clothes! But no matter what you use to make paper – you need “fiber.” Today’s paper fiber comes mainly from two sources: pulpwood logs and recycled paper products. In fact, much of the paper we use every day is a blend of new and recycled fiber.” (http://www.idahoforests.org/paprmake.htm)
  1. It’s remarkable how a normal piece of paper, worth almost nothing on it’s own, can, with just a few scribbles from the right pen connected to the right hand, be turned into something worth millions. This is exactly what happened when a piece of paper with William Shakespeare’s signature on it was once sold for $5 million. One of the most expensive pieces of paper ever! (http://history-facts.top5.com/the-top-5-most-valuable-pieces-of-paper/?page=2)
  1. There are different ways to turn woodchips into pulp for the production of paper. It can either be done mechanically or chemically. Mechanical pulping is customarily used in the production of weaker paper like for example those used for newspapers. Chemical pulping, also known as “kraft” is used in the process of making all the other, stronger types of paper. (http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-do-you-make-paper-from-a-tree/)
  1. Recycling one ton of paper saves the lives of approximately 17 trees. (http://paperproject.org/paperfacts.html)
  1. Around the year 105 A.D, a Chinese man named Ts’ai Lun experimented with tree bark, hemp, rags and fishnets as material to be used in the production of paper. He received high praise from the Emperor for his abilities. It took many years for “wood” paper to become global and mainstream, but this was the start of modern paper.(http://www.silk-road.com/artl/papermaking.shtml)

There are off course many… many more interesting facts about paper, but I only had time to write about these. I have to go do something else now.

Illustrator vs Photoshop

Illustrator vs Photoshop

When lawyers get together around the water cooler, they discuss the stupidity of criminals and joke about judges. Doctors talk about the newest innovations in bedpan technology and joke about the male nurses. Graphic designers, well, we contemplate serious issues. We argue over which software is the best tool for the making of pictures. Is it Photoshop… or is it Illustrator? And yes, we never joke… about anything.

Let’s compare apples with pears then.

Photoshop is for:

  • Digital painting
    • If you have the skills, Photoshop is a great tool for creating art. It’s a great digital substitute for real paint on a physical canvas. With Photoshop, the art supplies are unlimited. Unlimited colors, canvass space (nearly unlimited), brushes, etc. If you HAVE to, you can achieve similar results in Illustrator. It’s just way easier to do this in Photoshop.
  • Photo editing
    • Obviously, if you are a photographer, Photoshop is probably your photo-editing tool of choice.
  • Photo manipulation
    • Making Donald Trump look like Adolf Hitler is not something you do in any other software than Photoshop.

Illustrator is for:

  • Vector illustration
    • One of the main differences is that with Photoshop, when you create an image, you can’t scale it larger without losing some of the quality. With Illustrator, you can scale it perpetually without having to worry about quality.
  • Multiple art boards/canvasses
    • Although, in Photoshop, you can do something similar with multiple layers, Illustrator’s multiple art board function adds another dimension. Multiple art boards are extremely useful when you need to duplicate certain elements from an artwork across many “frames”. Also, when you want to create a large artwork for something like a billboard that has to be printed in sections. This function of Illustrator makes it a much less tedious operation.
  • Text wraps
    • Photoshop does not come with a text wrap feature, mainly because it is built for photo editing, like I mentioned before. You can fake a text wrap in Photoshop, but why would you click 100 times in Photoshop if you could achieve the same, even better results in Illustrator with just a couple of clicks? Why? Don’t you have a deadline?

These are just a couple of differences between the two design tools. Enough to illustrate that Photoshop is better for the manipulation of bitmap images like photographs and digital paintings while Illustrator is much better for creating scalable vector art and designs. So really, there is no need to compare the two. Let’s just stop doing that…

 

‘Cause I’m leavin’…on a jet plane!

When the spaceship leaves Earth to go colonize another planet, should it take a bunch of graphic designers with it, or just leave them all here to rot?

Most of us are aware of efforts being made by scientists to discover other habitable planets.  Some are even starting to plan missions to colonize Mars.  Why are we, as a species, doing this?  Yes, because we can.  If we can successfully populate our solar system, future generations might even be able to explore and populate the galaxy and beyond.  If we can, we should.  Additionally, we know the types of professions that will probably be first on board:  Scientists, doctors, engineers, builders, etc.  I fully agree, that vocations like these are the foundations of society, but I also want to believe that they will need the mind of a graphic designer on that ship, and on that world and in the gene pool that will populate future generations of that planet.

This is why:

  1. Sarcasm.
    A world without the sarcastic talents of the graphic designers’ mind is a world that should not exist.  If no-one is aware of their social mistakes, if no-one is made to laugh at themselves, pretty soon, the new “society” will start collapsing on itself from the overbearing weight of over-courteousness.  Sarcasm is one of the key driving forces behind cultural development, and most graphic designers have mastered the “art”…
  2. Lateral thinking.
    Well-trained graphic designers are extremely well adjusted to “thinking outside of the box”.  From day one, we encounter surprise, unforeseen problems with software, hardware, strange requests, unrealistic expectations and unworkable timelines.  We are well practiced in the art of finding that solution that will fix the problem in the least amount of time. Most graphic designers have the ability to sum up all the available options and view the problem from a totally different angle.  On Mars (or wherever) we will be saving lives with that skill.

  3. Pressure.
    Many, if not all graphic design projects, are, or will eventually, turn into an emergency. All of what we do can be seen as pieces of art. Usually, a piece of art requires calm patience to develop into a poetic form of communication. But, in the world of commercial art, there is never enough time, and the pressure is always on.  As designers, we quickly figure out that panic slows you down and if you channel the pressure right, it gets the best out of you. This fact of the design-life develops an ability in us that makes us “pressure wizards”.  What would a new world be without wizards?
  4. Awareness and observation skills.
    Any graphic designer worth his or her salt has a keen eye for those details that usually goes unseen by the rest.  Where little girls are made of sugar and spice, we are made of Obsessive Compulsive Behavior Disorder.  If something is half a millimeter out of place, we will notice it.  This is an attribute that can come in extremely handy on a space mission where the small details can mean the difference between breathing oxygen and your face exploding in the vacuum of nothingness.
  5. Imagination.
    How will a newly colonized planet progress toward complete stability without the wild imaginations of graphic designers?  Imagination is not just an essential ingredient for much needed entertainment, but is also useful in foreseeing future stumbling blocks and potentially fatal obstacles.  If we can envision it, the scientists and engineers can start developing preventative measures.  Imagination is the main source of a graphic designers’ super powers.

One day, maybe soon, the world will need some saving, and when that day comes, hopefully, we – the designers of Planet Earth, will get a chance to state our case to help save humanity.

8 Really interesting records in the printing world!

Don’t we all just LOVE a good ’10 facts about…” “ Top 5 …” type of post?

I do! So here is my take on it — enjoy!!

  1. The largest poster ever printed was a movie promo poster for the Bollywood movie “Boss”. Printed on seemed® mesh extra, the poster consisted of 36 panels and measured 58.87m x 54.94m. Wow!
  2. The largest book ever produced measures 5m x 8.06m and weighs ±1500kg. The 429 page book was the effort of 50 people and is entitled ‘This the Prophet Mohamed.”
  3. Scientists have created a colour photo so small, only fleas will be able to appreciate it’s wonder. The picture of three clown-fish frolicking in a sea anemone measures just 80 µm x 115 µm for a total area of 0.0092 square mm.
  4. In Schaan, Liechtenstein, it took less that an hour to print a postage stamp. This doesn’t sound too impressive, but when we take into consideration that this includes the time it took to vote on the stamps’ design, do the pre-production and get the final product done – I must tip my hat to them.
  5. The world’s smallest book is a 22 page Japanese book containing pictures of flowers.
    This book is only 0.74mm x 0.75mm. Those were some tiny flowers…
  6. The longest novel ever written is a book called Artamène/Cyrus the Great by Geroges (not a typo – that’s his name) de Scudéry. With an astounding 2.1 million words, this 13 095 page novel will have you glued to the couch for… well a while!
  7. On 14 September 1987, the Sunday issue of the New York Times hit the streets with a thump. The issue contained 1 612 pages and weighed 5.4kg. To date the heaviest single issue newspaper ever printed. Think of the poor newspaper-delivery-people…
  8. Colour is going to be even more of a focus point in 2017. Can you guess the most popular colour of all time? According to a survey conducted by Dulux Paints, 42% of males and 30% of females have the same favourite colour… blue! Another interesting and weird finding is that both men and women increasingly dislike the colour orange as they get older. 🙁

So there you have it!

Interesting right? Told you so!

Production Guide

So, nothing is set in stone. But there are some ways of making your printing experience a bit easier. We know they don’t always teach you much about print-production at uni/college – probably because it is better finding out what and what not directly from your printers. We try and make things a bit easier, so we’ve created this easy guide to help you do your setup.