Candeo Creative : Blog


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Improving Your Skills While Improving Your Creativity

Have you ever felt like you were spinning your wheels with the same routines and practices? When you’re  a designer, maintaining creativity is crucial. I often feel deflated if I’m not creating new things and improving my skills, so it is important for me to push through moments of “creative block.” There are a few things that I’ve learned to help me escape from the mental treadmill and continue being productive.

Study Other Designer’s Work and Ideas

Consider Jim Jarmusch’s quote when dealing with creativity, originality

and how you should feel about using others’ work as inspiration:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination …  Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it.”

To be truly original is next to impossible. All things are largely inspired by what has been done before, and because of this, looking at as many examples as possible should be encouraged as long as it is used to push the ideas forward and take them to a new place not originally done by the artist/author/designer/etc. Here are a few websites to browse when searching for inspiration: Behance, Dribbble and Designspiration.

Find your weaknesses

Another way to push your creativity is to discover areas where you are lacking. During my last semester in college, I grouped all of my work so I could see it as a whole. I realized that I was almost exclusively using sans-serif typefaces.

typefont

There were also a few colors that I was using more than I had realized as well as a few that I used far less than I expected. I used this information to make a conscious effort to play with serif fonts, avoid the colors I’d overused and design from a different perspective.

Try a different design style

Use illustrations. Use photography. Use only typefaces that have been abstracted to the point that they appear as shapes instead of words or letters. Try a very rigid, blocky and modern style on one project, then try a very organic and flowing style on the next project.

The more styles you are versed in, the stronger your overall skillset will become. Knowing that you’ve accomplished a look and feel in the past can be beneficial when you have a client that is looking for something specific. Don’t be a one-trick pony!


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Photoshop Trick: Black And White With Pops Of Color!

There are times when you just need to quickly edit a photo or graphic but don’t know where to start. In this short blog, I will go over how to turn images black and white, as well as turn images black and white with areas in color.

Making a color image black and white:

There are two different kinds of black and white transformations within Photoshop, destructive and nondestructive. Destructive black and white images, means turning the image black and white where you basically write over the existing color. This method causes you to lose the existing color of the image. Nondestructive means transforming the photo to black and white, but you do not lose the color incase you need to return it to that state.

Destructive:

Open your photo in Photoshop.

photoshop

Go to image > Mode > Grayscale

grayscal

After you click Grayscale it is going to ask you, “Discard color information?” Click yes. This is where you lose the color of the photo and can’t get it back unless you start over. Once you click yes, this is what you should have:

grayscale

If you want to make the photo slightly brighter or have a little more contrast: Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. If you are satisfied with your image go to File > Save.

Nondestructive black and white photo with selections of color:

Using this method you can have a black and white photo with pops of color. This is a very popular technique with many ways to achieve it  in Photoshop. Here is the simplest way for you to get the effect:

Open your color photo in Photoshop. To the right of your entire Photoshop window, go to your layers panel and right click on the “background” layer. Choose the “duplicate layer” option to create a second layer of the same image. Once you have that created and have that layer selected, click Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation.

hue saturation

Drag the Saturation down to -100 or all the way to the left. Click OK.

saturation

You should now have two layers, one with a colored image and one with the image in black and white. While on the black and white image layer, use the eraser tool to erase the section of black and white that you want to be colored.

eraser

To increase or decrease the size of the erasing tool use the bracket keys on your Mac keyboard. *[ ]*

When you have completed this, your image should look similar to this:

orange flower

Stay tuned for more Photoshop tricks!


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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Brainstorming Session Part 2

candeo creative team think room

How do you take your team’s brainstorming session from a rain drizzle to hurricane? Check out part one of how to get the most out of your brainstorming session!

Keep an Open Mind and Atmosphere

Not every team member needs to be a creative genius to be a part of a team brainstorming session. All forms of thinking should be welcome, as long as nobody is stagnating the creativity level. Don’t invite company heavyweights who might inhibit expression or dominate the flow of ideas. Like I mentioned earlier, it is important for everyone to feel comfortable in a brainstorming session. Each team member needs to be open minded. If there is someone who makes you feel judged or makes your ideas feel inferior, maybe it is best if they are left out. Brainstorming sessions need to be kept as positive as possible. If someone has a great idea, tell them! Giving compliments to teammates when they are deserved reassures team members of their value and it also ensures a positive environment.

Client Awareness

Make sure everybody participating is on the same page. Start your meeting with the creative brief as well as consumer and industry insights. I think this information is put to best practice when all team members have had the time to brainstorm and prepare on their own time before collaborating in a group setting. Make sure this information is available before the group brainstorming session begins and reiterated at the start. It is important that everybody on the team has an understanding of the client, the industry and the target market. Make sure you have a clear objective to guide your brainstorming session.

Give It Time

Don’t make the campaign concrete until the team has had a day or two to think through the details. Sometimes it takes a while to process everything that the team has discussed. My best ideas come right before bed as I am trying to fall asleep. Sometimes it’s better to sit on an idea instead of forcing it right away.

Take Note

Write down all of your ideas from the brainstorming session. There are many ways to go about this. You can assign one of the team members to take notes as ideas come. As the team member who is in charge of taking these ideas and putting them into practice, I prefer seeing people’s ideas from their own standpoint. We have different ways of doing this at Candeo Creative. Sometimes we will give each member a dry erase marker to write down all of their ideas on a separate window. Then we collaborate and talk through each idea to formulate the strongest concepts on a separate window. We will then take pictures of each individual thought process as well as the collaborated window with the marked up recipe for a successful campaign. We also utilize our chalkboard wall. We generally start with a main idea and have team members write out their thoughts and ideas that support it as it is brought up in our strategic conversation. Both tactics are good ways to visually see the evolution of ideas and it allows for team members to build off of each other.

No Idea Is Too Crazy

My team members will probably vouch that I have proposed some pretty outlandish and crazy ideas in my time; some of them work very well and some of them are ultimately too over the top. But the reason that some of these seemingly outrageous ideas work is because another team member may be able to build off of that concept and tame it down in a way I would have never thought of. Don’t ever be afraid to say something seemingly too crazy. In my experience, some of the best ideas are conceived from kookiest concepts.

If you are a member of a creative team, this is often the most enjoyable aspect of the job. It allows for creativity to grow in ways that can be much more difficult individually.

How does your team tackle the creative process?


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Your Brain On Music: Why Bosses Should Allow Headphones At Work

music comicMusic in the Workplace

If you ask people why they listen to music, you might get answers like: “It helps me escape my current situation,” “It makes me happy,” “I feel more energized or productive,” etc. With responses like that, it’s not surprising that most people listen to music while they clean the house, exercise or sleep. But how many of us listen to tunes while we’re working? I don’t mean on the radio; I mean music from our own playlists with headphones to cover outside noise.

At my first journalism job out of college, I worked as a copy editor at a local newspaper. My boss recommended I bring my iPod and headphones to work every day. I was baffled. Had I heard him correctly? Did he seriously recommend I bring in a device of distraction that was normally restricted in the classroom and looked down upon in public?

It was his belief that music stimulates the brain. And he’s not wrong.

I was thrilled to have a leader who allowed me the concentration I didn’t realize I would need while working in a room full of people. The typical atmosphere of a newsroom involves people talking on the phone, asking each other editing questions, cracking jokes, turning up breaking news stories on TV, listening to the crackling static of the police scanner, etc. Since that job, I have shared this information with all of my bosses. Most leaders agree with my first boss and also allow their employees to listen to music for focusing purposes.

Music doesn’t just enhance concentration, it also brings out creativity, and with a career in writing, music devices are important to income!

There are many other benefits to listening to music.

music note paper clipMusic Go-Tos

Now that you know music helps productivity, let’s discuss what types of music work for certain situations. For example, if you are editing, lyrical pieces might be more disruptive than helpful. When editing or writing technical pieces, my go-to music is strictly instrumental. It is still inspirational, but not cluttered with words.

Film scores are energizing and boost my creative wild side. One of my favorite pieces is the Alice in Wonderland theme song by Danny Elfman (from the Tim Burton movie). It does have lyrics, so I tend to avoid it when I’m editing, but purposely play it (sometimes on repeat) for writing assignments. I’m actually listening to it as I write this! :) Some of my other favorites are Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Slumdog Millionaire, The Lion King on Broadway and Across the Universe.

I also like listening to powerful classical pieces or theater musicals, such as Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera, for meeting deadlines. I get type-happy and punch my computer keys in a stream of consciousness-style until I run out of ideas when these songs play. Even if the writing starts out subpar at first, I can switch to instrumental-only later for editing.

When I’m writing fiction, I listen to different genres of music depending on the type of story I’m writing. Naturally, darker stories tend to draw me to listen to dark music, such as heavy metal or modern rock; lighter stories require folk or oldies; action stories need classic rock or film scores; thought-provoking, literary stories push me in the direction of concept albums like Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

For those of you who don’t find music helpful at work, but are interested in trying sound-related motivators for other reasons, visit Soundrown. It is a website where you can find white noises: blowing fans, rainstorms, rushing water, TV static, nature sounds, etc. There are also handy phone apps, such as the iPhone’s Sleep Pillow app for sounds and combinations you can create to make your environment as comforting and creative as you need. There are many other great options for free music like Pandora, Spotify (my personal favorite, even though it makes my computer slow) or SoundCloud.

Genre and Personality

While headphones are great for jobs that require concentration, not all of us have the luxury of working in an office setting. Some of us work in factories, build houses, educate children, buss tables, etc. So how can you listen to music in a classroom setting or at a machine? And if you find time to listen, what do you listen to?

Obviously I do not recommend dangling headphone cords around a machine for the sake of drowning out background noise, nor do I think teachers should plug their ear holes and ignore a classroom full of children to get a little peace and quiet. But there is always the option of listening to music during breaks, whether you leave your work site or not. Utilize music to get you motivated for the next part of your shift.

A perk to not working in an office setting is you can listen to any type of music that fits your personality — lyrics or not. Studies show that your favorite genre of music is based off your personality. Does your personality match your favorite music genre?

What music do you listen to at work?

music genre and personality


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What Makes A Great Workplace?

office cubicles We’ve all worked jobs that we couldn’t wait to get away from. Food service, retail, seasonal work, etc. These jobs may have given us a paycheck, but there’s a reason why we left. As we progress through life and finish our schooling, we hopefully move into more professional jobs. Most likely, our past jobs didn’t have the essentials of a great work environment:

Open communication—Having open communication is essential in the work place. In a professional environment where everyone is busy and has conflicting schedules, it is important that everyone is on the same page. Communicating with others in the workplace will also help build relationships, which is great for employees and the business!

Meetings— When everyone is busy, objectives and tasks can be forgotten or get pushed to the side. Meetings can help keep everyone on track and should have clearly defined objectives. Reviewing objectives with the whole office, department or one-on-one will help keep everyone’s eyes on the prize. Office-wide, departmental or one-on-one meetings are all effective. They can vary in duration, but it’s about the quality of the meeting, not the time spent in the meeting. Employees who have a

Everyone knows his/hers role—The first two points lead to everyone knowing his/her role. If people are not communication and meetings run off track,, employees’ roles need to be clearly defined. When individuals in the office understand the tasks they should be performing, everything will run smoother.

Team chemistry— Getting your co-workers together for lunch, dinner, drinks, a movie, grilling out or anything else where everyone can interact and have a good time are great for team morale! Activities help everyone get to know each other a little better and it helps everyone to get along better.

Feng shui—The office design can play a role in company morale. If everyone in the office has his/her own cubicle, which is closed off from others, it can be hard to openly communicate, I can only imagine that it’s not too fun to be stuck in a cube all day. It’s beneficial for the company when employees can get up and talk with each other, shoot some garbage can baskets, putt on an office putting green and do other quirky things to get their minds off of work for a few minutes. Getting away and getting your mind off things can also help you be more productive.

When you spend 40 plus hours of your week in your workplace, you want it to be somewhere you enjoy! Try to find an environment that offers these things and you’ll be a happy employee!

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