“From Concept to Completion,” Hunter-McMain Delivers Over Twenty Years of Design to Quilts, Inc.

Quilts IncQuilts, Inc. has been a valued client of Hunter-McMain, Inc. and it’s small division, Cheep Cheep Postcards™, since 1991. Hunter-McMain has served the advertising and graphic design needs of a wide variety of businesses in the Houston community since 1989, but our relationship with Quilts, Inc. is unique. With the growth of our two companies has come expanding opportunities for advancement and collaboration. Now, we are delighted to announce that our Cheep Cheep Websites™ division is designing a new website for Quilts as well! We anticipate being ready to unveil the new website design before the new year.

This month, in addition to developing the new website, the designers at Hunter-McMain, Inc. and The Cheeps are busily preparing advertising materials for Houston’s annual International Quilts Shows, which will take place October 24-November 1 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The International Quilt Festival is the largest convention held in Houston each year, as well as the largest annual quilt show in the world.

Hunter-McMain and The Cheeps are dedicated to providing creative advertising and graphic design services for many long-term clients, but we have an especially long and fruitful relationship with Quilts, Inc. According to Hunter-McMain’s founder and CEO Jeanne Parker, “Although we’ve been doing work for Quilts for over twenty years, each year is just as exciting as the last! They started with just one show, and now they’ve expanded to multiple shows in major cities. They’ve grown and we’ve grown with them.”

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In anticipation of the upcoming Quilts Shows, Hunter-McMain is giving away free tickets to the annual Houston Quilt Festival (Oct.24-26) to the first 10 people to like and share this article on social media! Be sure to tag us in your share on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, and message us for details on where to pick up your tickets! (must be in the Houston area to be eligible)

Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Everything You Need to Know

Creating the perfect ad campaign for your business can be tough, which is why it’s so important to have a great graphic designer in your corner. Of course, we know that sometimes working with a designer can be hard, too! Maybe you don’t quite know what you’re looking for in a design, or you have ideas, but you and your designer are not speaking the same language.

Don’t worry! We can help. Last month we gave a detailed breakdown of the top 10 things that every designer hates—and how to avoid misunderstandings and stress when building your perfect ad, logo, or website!

If you haven’t had the chance to read the full series, don’t worry! We’ve gathered up the whole list right here. Now is a perfect time to get up-to-date on the things your designer hates—plus how to avoid common snafus, and keep your design process running smoothly!

10) Too Much Text

No!                Yes! Images courtesy of  http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com (left)  and  http://popurls.com (right)
                          No!                                                                                       Yes!
Images courtesy of http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com (left) and http://popurls.com (right)

Ads with too much text can be stressful to read, hard to design, and not very pretty. Keep it clean and simple, and your designer will be happy—plus, your eye-catching ad will attract new customers who can see how savvy you are!

9) “Borrowed” Images 

Image courtesy of thevisualcommunicationguy.com
Image courtesy of thevisualcommunicationguy.com

While it is sometimes ok to borrow an image from another website if proper credit is given (as above), many images are copyrighted, and there are complicated rules for when it can be used and when it can’t. Instead of copying something you like online, work with your designer to create something unique for your business.

8) Read the Rate Card

This is the rate card we gave to clients who were placing ads in the 2014 Quilts Buyers’ Guide, a publication we design for Quilts, Inc.
This is the rate card we gave to clients who were placing ads in the 2014 Quilts Buyers’ Guide, a publication we design for Quilts, Inc.

What in the world is a rate card? Basically, it tells you everything you need to know to place an ad in a given publication—and it’s different for every single one! We broke down the basics of where to find the rate card and how to use it to keep your process running smoothly. Check it out!

7) You say, “Let’s use something fun, like Comic Sans!”

Image courtesy of imaginaryanomaly.wordpress.com
Image courtesy of imaginaryanomaly.wordpress.com

All we have to say about that is: Noooooooooo! Your designer can certainly, absolutely, unequivocally find you a better font that is classy, smart, and unique to you. Let us! Pretty please?

6) Embed Your Fonts

Do what now? This is basically a term for a simple process by which your fonts are included as part of a document you send your designer—so they can see those fonts, even if they don’t have them on their computer already. Follow the link for helpful tips on what “embedding fonts” even means, why it matters, and how to do it! Easy!

5) Color: “Why won’t it print like it looks on my screen?”

The Pantone Color Guide. The book depicts roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.
The Pantone Color Guide shows roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.

Simple! Sort of. Actually it’s a little complicated. If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty, we explained it all in the original post. Suffice to say, it will look different from screen to page, so make sure to request a color proof, and use the delightful Pantone color guide shown above to help predict how your ad will look printed.

4) Low-Resolution Images

Image courtesy of stackoverflow.com
Image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Resolution is another one that takes some time to fully explain, but the basic principle is this: send your designer the biggest image possible. This will allow it to be printed larger without blurring. If you’re not sure if it’s big enough, ask your designer! Or, check out the longer article to learn how to identify high- or low-resolution images, and make sure the pictures in your ad are crystal clear!

3) Last-Minute Changes

stop-the-press 2

Allow me to repeat myself: Nooooooooo! Alterations that a client thinks are “quick” may or may not be, and your designer may have to work overtime to get that ad to print by the deadline. Missing the deadline can mean big hassle and even extra fees from a printer if the process is delayed! If you schedule plenty of buffer for your design process, you’ll ensure that last-minute changes are never necessary, and keep your designer (and your wallet) happy.

2) “My last designer was terrible! She wouldn’t give me the design files!”

Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because most designers won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of www.amandavyne.com.
Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because most designers won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of http://www.amandavyne.com.

In general, the client owns the final ad, but not the working design files or various component parts of the ad. This can vary in different situations—we get more specific about that here. Making sure your agreement is crystal clear at the outset can prevent misunderstandings down the road!

1) You say, “Give me something….different/Unique/Special”

Pardon us while we freak out. Image courtesy of www.warcom.com.au
Pardon us while we freak out. Image courtesy of http://www.warcom.com.au

This kind of request is a little too vague, and it puts a lot of pressure on a designer to guess what you might love. We always want to give our clients what they want—but first we have to know what that is. Make sure you know what you’re looking for, or be ready to trust your designer to come up with something awesome! Specific thoughts about color and style can point your designer in the right direction, and examples can be helpful, too!

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If you want to learn about our collaboration and design skills firsthand, get more information here or call us at 713-627-1177 to set up your free consultation!

Cool Off in August With “Vintage Mint”

Images courtesy of http://www.hawaiikawaii.net/. (Left) Color Marketing Group’s August Color Alert (center), and http://www.polyvore.com/ (right)
Images courtesy of http://www.hawaiikawaii.net/ (left) Color Marketing Group’s August Color Alert (center), and http://www.polyvore.com/ (right).

August in Houston is always hot, and this year, it’s record-breaking! Cool off a little with this month’s spotlight color, “Vintage Mint.” We’re loving this light, refreshing shade of green for everything from ads, to accessories…to cocktails.

There's nothing like a classic mint julep! Image courtesy of https://cocktailvultures.files.wordpress.com
There’s nothing like a classic mint julep! Image courtesy of https://cocktailvultures.files.wordpress.com

Plus, we don’t like to brag (too much), but as you can see from our blog’s color palette, we liked “vintage mint” before it was cool (pun intended)!

If this cute dude can figure out how to rock vintage mint, you can, too! Then you’ll be as cute as he is! Image courtesy of CMG.
If this cute dude can rock vintage mint, you can, too! Then you’ll be as cute as he is! Image courtesy of CMG.

According to the experts at Color Marketing Group (CMG):

“Vintage Mint has its roots in mid-century design…[but with] a distinctly modern edge… Always fresh, but now a bit daring, this new version has the energy to take on fashion, graphics, industrial design and transportation. Its daring has brought diversity, as it takes on unexpected roles in menswear, accent furnishings, and kitchen appliances.

Take a cool, fresh breath, with Vintage Mint.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Take a cue from the experts and incorporate vintage mint as a fun, fresh addition to your next ad or postcard.

The Number 1 Thing Designers Hate

Welcome back! We’ve covered a lot in this series, and we’re almost finished! We’ve come a long way together, and now it’s time to reveal the number 1 thing designers hate. Drumroll please…

1) You say, “Give me something….Different/Unique/Special!”

Image courtesy of www.warcom.com.au
Image courtesy of http://www.warcom.com.au

“I want it to be different, but I’m not sure how.”

“I love what you’re doing, but could it be more…artsy?”

“I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

Here you have it: a designer’s worst nightmare. It can be difficult to satisfy a client who speaks in vague concepts, but has little idea about what kind of visual they’re looking for. A request like, “give me something unique,” can be fun for a designer, because it gives a lot of opportunity for creativity! But it can be frustrating, too, because it puts a lot of pressure on a designer to guess what you will love.

Buzzwords that evoke feelings like “family,” “futuristic,” and “fun,” are common in marketing, but they’re also not very specific. Graphic designers are more visually oriented, and they’re looking for more visual descriptions like “use shades of blue,” or “line drawing,” or “photographs of puppies.”

Here you go! This is a photo of a puppy with shades of blue and line drawing! What could be better?
Here you go! This is a photo of a puppy with shades of blue and line drawing! What could be better?

Often clients do have something in mind—they just don’t know how to describe it. That’s when they may default to vague descriptors (like “unique”) and then be disappointed with what we come up with. If you know what you want but have a difficult time describing it, it’s great to bring examples of what you like to share with your designer (but try to avoid #9). Just be ready to say what you like and don’t like about each example.

For instance, a client for a new website might send a list of links to the designer and say, “I like the layout in this one, but I want less text,” and “I like the color scheme here, but mine should be brighter and the pages on this site are too cluttered.” From that, a designer can start to glean the aesthetic you’re looking for, and what kinds of things won’t work for you.

If you really have no idea what you want, that’s ok, too! Trust your designer to create something unique for you—they’ll be thrilled to do it. Then you can tweak it together, until you have exactly the right design for your company!

Related Articles

Top 10 Things Designers Hate Number 2, or: The Great File Caper

We hope you’re as excited as we are to be getting to the top 2 on this list! We’ve covered rate cards, too much text, and all kinds of great stuff about fonts. We’re now approaching the two most difficult problems that designers encounter with clients—but never fear! We’ve got the scoop on how to avoid these snafus and keep your process running smoothly. The number 2 thing designers hate is when a client says…

2) “My last designer was terrible! She wouldn’t give me the design files!”

Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because we won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of www.amandavyne.com.
Uh-oh! When we hear those words we know there’s trouble a-brewing—because we won’t give you those files, either. Image courtesy of http://www.amandavyne.com.

Occasionally, a client may believe that he is buying not just a logo or ad, but also all the ad’s component parts and the right to make changes at will. The client may ask the designer to create the artwork in Microsoft Word, or simply to share the InDesign or Quark files so it is easier for the client to make adjustments himself.

This is generally not something a designer will do. In most design contracts, clients own the final artwork, but not the “working files” or drafts. While a designer will be happy to collaborate with a client on making changes until the final design is satisfactory to both parties, the majority of designers will not allow a client the right to make changes to a completed design.

There are many reasons for this! First is professional pride: designers want to prevent their painstakingly crafted artwork from being altered. A client is not likely to know as much about composition, fonts, or graphics as a trained graphic designer, and that can lead to oddly stretched or pixelated images and strangely composed ads. We have our reputations to think about, after all!

Maintaining ownership of working files is also good business sense: if a client believes that he or she can simply re-adjust the same ad over and over, then why go back to the designer for a fresh new ad campaign? (of course, wouldn’t you rather have a shiny new design?!) In addition, there are some potential licensing issues. Most images are copyrighted.  If a client gives a designer a photo for their ad, then the photo continues to belong to the client. But if a designer acquires fonts or images elsewhere, then they have the right to sell the final product, but they may not have the legal right to sell you the individual parts.

Understanding what you are (and are not) buying from a designer is an important part of maintaining a positive working relationship. Many conflicts between designer and client can be avoided if ownership and the process are discussed beforehand! Then everyone knows what to expect, and you’re all happy…just like this puppy in a bucket!

Image courtesy of justcuteanimals.com.
Image courtesy of justcuteanimals.com.

Related Articles

Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 4

So far in this series, we’ve covered too much text, reading the rate card, and talked extensively about fonts. The latest designer pet peeve ties in to a similar issue to the one we ran into in post number 5—just because it looks good on your computer screen does not mean that it will look good printed. The number 4 thing designers hate is:

4) Low-Resolution Images

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of stackoverflow.com
Artfully pixelated image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Resolution in digital images is measured in something called “dpi” or “dots per inch.” The standard dpi for something you want printed relatively large is 300 dpi or more. That means there are, quite literally, 300 little dots of color in each inch of the image. On your computer screen, these dots are called “pixels.”

Often, clients will send us an image that they pulled from Google or Facebook, without paying much attention to the image’s size. Then, they’ll ask us to “blow it up” or “make it bigger.” The problem is, while we can stretch something to be much larger on a computer screen, this does not increase the number of pixels in the image—it simply makes the pixels (or dots) larger. This stretched image may look fine on the computer screen, but when it gets printed there’s a good chance that a smallish image will come out grainy and unclear. And no one wants that!

If you’re using stock photography in your ad, it’s often better to let your designer source the images for you. We’ll know what to look for to make sure the image will come out nice and clear in printing. Then you also avoid issues of “borrowed” images that we covered in Things Designers Hate Number 9.

If you are searching for images for yourself, keep an eye on the number of pixels in the image. Google image search shows the size of images in number of total pixels. If an image is 300×300 pixels, then that image will be 1×1” at 300 dpi when printed. If you enlarge that image to greater than 1×1” when printing it, it will come out blurry.

This sad puppy is 1600x900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3x3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10x6. Image courtesy of Google.com.
As you can see circled in red on the right, this sad puppy is 1600×900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3×3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10×6. Image courtesy of Google.com.

You can use this information as a rule of thumb when searching for images online. Say you want to use an image that will eventually be printed in a magazine on a standard 8.5×11” page. You would need the image to be at least 2550×3300 pixels to get a resolution of 300dpi.

Finally, clients will sometimes copy all of the images they want to use, paste them into a Word document, and send that document to us. Please, for the love of that adorable puppy up there, do not do this! Pasting images into a Word document can lead to re-sizing in order to fit the image on the page, and can cause compatibility issues between computers with different generations of Microsoft Office, or between Macs and PCs. Always save your images separately and attach them directly to the email. They can be saved as a JPEG, PDF, TIF, or PNG file, but they must be saved at high resolution, at the size you want it printed or larger. That way it will arrive in your designer’s inbox the same way you sent it: nice and big!

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 7

Welcome back to our blog series, “Top 10 Things Designers Hate!” If you haven’t already, definitely go check out our previous posts in this series, about “borrowed” images, rate cards, and ads with too much text! Today’s post will cover another topic that is near and dear to the hearts of many designers: Fonts.

Specifically,

7) You say, “Let’s use something fun, like Comic Sans!”

One of the most important things to know about design is that Comic Sans is not your friend. Nor are Papyrus, Times New Roman, or any other over-used fonts that can be found in Microsoft Word.

This is a good example of a poor font choice. The font is cutesy and fun, but the Harley-Davidson Riding Club should seem cool and tough! Image courtesy of  bonfx.com.
This is a good example of a poor font choice. The font is cutesy and fun, but the Harley-Davidson Riding Club should seem cool and tough! Image courtesy of bonfx.com.

Designers see fonts like this as a “lazy” design choice. Since they are so frequently used, they are perceived as all-purpose fonts. That means they are not going to provide that specific, individualized tone that you’re hoping to achieve with your ad. There are even websites devoted to pointing out bad uses of popular fonts.

Not that we don't love the funny papers! Image courtesy of listpod.net.
Image courtesy of listpod.net.

Your designer likely has a stockpile of hundreds of fonts that aren’t immediately recognizable by the average person. They will certainly have something with the feel you’re looking for, but with the added advantage that clients will not recognize it. That means that they’ll think of the font as unique, and associate it with your business—instead of with the Sunday funny-papers.

A great font can help send the message that you want to send, and tell your story, visually. Instead of asking for a specific font you already know about, try focusing on a general look and tone that you want for your ad! It may help to bring in examples of ads you like, and explain what about them works for you. With that information, your designer will be able to generate a design (with a font) that is perfect for you and your business.

This Kodak ad makes great use of typography! By using a font that evokes an old typewriter, they emphasize the comparison they’re making between pictures and words. Image courtesy of 1stwebdesigner.com.
This Kodak ad makes great use of typography! By using a font that evokes an old typewriter, they emphasize the comparison they’re making between pictures and words. Image courtesy of 1stwebdesigner.com.

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 8

Welcome back! To recap: last week, we talked about “borrowed” images, and before that we covered ads with too much text! Today we’re covering number eight on our list:

“Please, Read the Rate Card!”

Ah, do you hear that? Off in the distance? you can just make out the troubled cry of many a frustrated designer.

What’s a “Rate Card,” you ask? And why should I read it?

A Rate Card is a document provided to you by the publication in which you will be placing an ad. The Rate Card contains all the information that you need about placing your ad in a publication: prices, deadlines, size requirements, and in what format your ad should be sent to us (i.e., .pdf, .cps, or .tif). Often, the Rate Card will look something like this:

This is the rate card we gave to clients who were placing ads in the 2014 Quilts Buyers’ Guide. As you can see, the card shows ad sizes, costs, for both black and white and color ads, and deadlines.
This is the rate card we gave to clients who were placing ads in the 2014 Quilts Buyers Guide. As you can see, the card shows ad sizes, costs, for both black and white and color ads, and deadlines.

The publication where you’ll be placing your ad will always give you one of these—please read it! While working on a publication like the Quilts Buyers Guide, which contains many ads placed by different companies, designers can spend a surprisingly large amount of time fielding emails and phone calls with information about sizes, deadlines, and prices—in other words, information that can be easily found on the Rate Card.

Your designer will be happy to help you out if you have questions or difficulties with your ad! But if you check the Rate Card first, you will help ensure that the conversations with your designer are focused on more important and difficult questions than “when is this due?” For example: you want a flying squirrel in the ad? Sure, why not!

Thanks for reading your Rate Card!

 

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate #9: “Borrowed” Images

Welcome back to the top 10 Things Designers Hate-and how to avoid them! Last time, we looked at ads with too much text! Today we’re looking at:

9) “Borrowed” Images

You found this picture online that would be perfect for your ad! We agree that it is really nice! The only problem is, it doesn’t belong to you. Most images online are created, and therefore owned, by someone else. There are exceptions to this rule, but it can be tricky!

Look, a handy flow chart! Image courtesy of thevisualcommunicationguy.com
Look, a handy flow chart! Image courtesy of thevisualcommunicationguy.com

In most cases it is best to assume that taking an image straight from the web and using it in your ad will infringe on copyright, and is therefore illegal. When you can, try to use images that you own, like photographs of your business or the products you sell. You can also work with your designer to generate a graphic or find a (public domain) image for you!

If there’s something you found online that you just can’t live without, it is sometimes possible to reach out to the owner and try to pay for its use. But if you want something that really stands out and says “you” to your clients, it’s generally better to use something unique.

This issue sometimes leads to the instruction, “I want it to look just like this other ad, but don’t copy it! The same; but not too much!” We want you to have what you want—but designers are artists, and they won’t be happy to copy other artists’ work. Plus, copying another business’s ad concept can get you into hot water with websites like this one, which pokes fun at “copycat” ads.

Instead, figure out what it is that you like about the image you want copied—is it the colors? The use of certain techniques like line-drawing? Talk to your designer about how to incorporate these elements into a brand-new design that will be specific to your business!

This Jeep ad is a great example of a unique, creative ad that uses images belonging to the company! It also sticks with our #10 rule: minimize text! Image courtesy of www.hongkiat.com.
This Land Rover ad is a great example of a unique, creative ad that uses images belonging to the company! It also sticks with our #10 rule: minimize text! Image courtesy of http://www.hongkiat.com.

Elsewhere on the Web:

Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 10

Creating the perfect ad campaign for your business can be tough. You know what you want: an ad that stands out and lets potential clients in on the secret of what you already know—that you’re perfect for their needs! But how to go about making that ad a reality? Well, that’s a little more difficult. After all, you’re a businessperson, not a designer! It’s not your job to make the ad!

Unfortunately, without the right resources and vocabulary to talk about your design dreams, working with graphic designers can be frustrating—for them and for you!

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be exploring the top ten things that drive designers up a wall! Plus, we’ll be providing some tips on how to avoid these issues, and keep your advertising process simple and smooth. First up:

10) Too Much Text

Talk about too much text! There's so much going on in this ad that I don't know what to look at first. Not only am I not  going to read ALL of it, I probably won't read any of it. Image courtesy of http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com
Talk about too much text! There’s so much going on in this ad that I don’t know what to look at first. Not only am I not going to read ALL of it, I probably won’t read any of it. Image courtesy of http://adsulikeit.blogspot.com

You have a lot to say. There’s so much you want people to know about your business!

But sometimes, less is more. Your designer wants nothing more than to make you a beautiful, expressive ad, and cluttering up a pretty image with a bunch of information is usually not the way to achieve that end. Most of the time, minimizing text will maximize impact. Your clients don’t have to learn every single thing about your business in one ad—just enough to get them interested!

Instead of cramming every detail about your company into one ad, try to focus on generating a few simple, impactful phrases. Be sure that your ads easily lead to more information, whether that’s a web address or a phone number.

This ad by Bissel is a great example of Advertising that Works! The image is clean but expressive, and there's a minimum of text. Image courtesy of http://popurls.com
This ad by Bissel is a great example of Advertising that Works! The image is clean but expressive, and there’s a minimum of text. Image courtesy of http://popurls.com

Check out our Pinterest for examples of some beautiful ad designs that really work! And of course, be sure to check back with us later this week for number 9 on our list of “Top 10 Things Designers Hate.”