I went under the coffee table, took my mom’s lipstick, and I drew under the coffee table. Like any good artist, I signed my name, but I was an only child at the time, so when my mom found it, like a good Irishman, I tried to deny it. That’s a little bit about the craziness that’s my family.
Good morning. I’m going to talk to you. I know it’s a little early and you’re going to have to listen to me drone on about design for awhile. Trust me, we’ll have some fun while we’re doing this.
I get asked a lot: What do we do at the design office? What is it you do? What is a graphic designers’ day like? I’ll tell you all about that, and I’ll give you some examples, but first I’ll tell you a story.
This is my buddy CJ. CJ and I grew up together; we’ve known each other since we’re 5-years-old. We both like superheroes, we both like science fiction, we have fun together, we draw and paint. Like most kids, we had a normal childhood. Some days were better than others, but the days we went to school wasn’t so good. CJ grew up and started a band, and he was playing music. He had a little thin . . .
Business Growth Innovators Member: A keytar.
Ed: One of those ties from the ’80s, the keyboard ties. Then he eventually opened up an ad agency in New York. He’s been working there for awhile, and he’s been doing his passion. We talked a couple of weeks ago, and I said, “Over the time together, I’ve moved to California. I’ve been here; I started working at the Simpsons, as a background artist a couple of years ago.” Overtime, we both really developed and headed in the directions that we wanted to go.
What we do at the design office is we make things. We create work; we show people what you do. We get your stories out there. We design, we don’t decorate. There’s a big difference. I’ll let some samples of some stuff that we’ve worked on. The difference is we sit down and we solve your problems. We sit down with you and we’ll say, “You want to attach a target audience.
Who are you going to go and reach with this story and how can we help you get there? What are the type we can use, the color treatments, the way that it’s placed on the page?”
Everything sends a message to your audience. I’ve seen people that have come to me before where they’ve been like, “We got these business cards off of Vista Print for $10,” and it looks like $10 of crap; it’s crooked, it’s off page, it just looks really bad. The one thing that I do insist on with everybody, my students, it’s an automatic F; and if I see it anywhere is Comic Sans. If I see Comic Sans I freak out. Don’t ever ask a designer to set anything in Comic Sans because we will go insane.
Business Growth Innovators Member: It’s a font.
Ed: It’s good for kindergarten teachers and it’s good for small kids, but if I get a memo again from a college Vice President that’s in Comic Sans, I’m going to smack him. That’s what we do; we get your message out there. Everything; the type choices, the colors, the way we place things on the page, sends messages to everybody.
We’re going to tell your story and we’re going to do it in a different way. We’re going to get you noticed. We just did some cards for Birk. We kept his original flavor to the cards, but we upgraded it a little bit.
If you noticed his card going around today, they look similar, there’s a remembrance and there’s a quality to them that harkens back to his old card, but yet, still takes him in a new direction. Story is the fundamental part of what we do in this role. That’s how we communicate, it’s how we engage with each other, it’s how we learn. We learn by telling stories, we learn by engaging with each other. That’s how we remember.
Let’s test it out. What was my friend’s name?
Business Growth Innovators Member: CJ.
Ed: CJ. How long have we known each other?
Business Growth Innovators Member: Since you’re 5-years-old.
Ed: What was my first job in California?
Business Growth Innovators Member: Simpsons.
Ed: You guys were paying attention. That’s what we do, we get you remembered. Typically, people don’t remember my side of the story because there isn’t a real story attached to it; it’s just a string of facts. People tend to remember CJ’s story because there’s a background to it. I want to find out from you when we work with you, what is your story? What is it that you want to tell people? How do you want to get your messages out? What is it that’s important to you? You have a story and it’s very important. It’s what your business is about, it’s the reason you got into doing your business, it’s the whole purpose of everything.
We’re everywhere. You can find me on Twitter @secona, it’s an old website. I’ve had the website for like . . . I bought a 15- year domain name. I figured, why keep paying for new domain names. We’re on Facebook, Behance, Yelp, you name it; I’m everywhere, only because I feel lke if you don’t have those presences, people question, “Why aren’t you on Facebook? Why aren’t you on Yelp?” I don’t get any business from those, but people look for that. It’s a real weird thing.
How much time do I got?
Business Growth Innovators Member: What’s BE?
Ed: Behance. It’s a website where you can put up your portfolio work and people can go. There’s a professional side and there’s a student side. Students can join Behance for free, and then recruiters will go through and look at their website and their work, and then they comment them, they can hire them for jobs, or they can do whatever else that they need for them to do. Any other questions?
Business Growth Innovators Member: I heard that you teach. Where do you teach?
Ed: I teach at Cypress and I teach at Golden West College. I teach graphic design; 3 classes at each school. One’s a portfolio class, one’s a magazine design class, and one’s a book design class. My thing is, I . . . one of the interesting things about being a designer is you have to . . . Sean, Shelly, and Shelia can all attest this, you have to be virgin and whore for everybody, because somebody will come to you and they’re like, “Can you do my website? Can you do my motion graphics? Can you do my fill-in-the-blank? Can you do Premiere? Can you do this, and can you do this for $5?” We are not the cheapest on the block, but I’m also not the most expensive.
The other thing that I really pride myself on, and I hear this from a lot of people, is, “I’m coming to you because my designer disappeared on me.” There was a company that I worked with in Florida called [inaudible: 07:09]. They are a big advertising agency for the travel industry, and the reason that they called me, from Miami to LA, was because they had gone through 6 graphic designers that gave them really crappy logos, but disappeared after the deposit.
They’re like, ” We’re really tired of that. We want people to stay with us.” I always tell everybody, “Don’t judge the design industry by a few people like that.” It’s one of those areas where everybody thinks you can come in and make easy money, and you just sit around doing nothing all day. That’s not the truth, actually. I was up very late nights working on this presentation. Lots of stress.
I really pride myself on quality, on getting things done right, and making sure you get what you want the first time. We want to tell your story. It’s not my business cards; it’s not my look- and-feel. My look-and-feel is deliberate; I have a very retro classic look. The reason I did that was because I didn’t want people to think I’m just a guy sitting in his shorts in a garage working on his laptop.
I wanted to give a feeling to people that when they look at everything, the company’s been around for awhile, it’s been established there’s a history there. Everything I put into my work is deliberate to build on that story, that it’s not just me sitting in my garage. I at one point, even tinkered with the idea of should I put 2nd Floor, 2nd Floor; just because that adds to the cache. Any other questions?
Business Growth Innovators Member: Is all your work print or do you go into other things?
Ed: Yes, good question. Mostly print. I like publication because I’m one of those people that is really old-school. I still draw by hand; I still set type, and all of those things. I can do web design, I can do very basic Word Press templates. I don’t like doing that. Sean can be more than happy to take that.
Business Growth Innovators Member: Can you create a video?
Ed: Yes. My background originally was, years ago, I studied film and animation, so I have that to bring on top of the graphic design. I’ve done motion titles and all that kind of stuff. Yes? One last question. Anything that I purchase, or that I do for you, will be original artwork. For example if we use a stock photo in your piece, or if I use one of Shelly’s photos, we have permission to use that stuff.
I don’t use anything that’s just found on the web. I don’t use anything that will put the client in a bad position. Also, I won’t copyright it for you, I won’t trademark it for you, I don’t do any of that stuff; but I don’t put you in a position where 3 years from now, Getty is going to come back to you and say, “We need $8 million dollars because you used this image inappropriately.”
Business Growth Innovators Member: That does happen.
Ed: It does. That’s an actual story.