Colour, Fonts and Typography

This image is from Fair Child Art School

The triangle of design elements that are most commonly used are colour, fonts and typography. All three are crucial for a successful design, and when picked carefully they make a wonderful harmony. Here is a definition of all three according to Oxford dictionary:

Colour - “The property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light”

Font - “A set of type of one particular face and size”

Typography - “ The style and appearance of printed matter. The art or procedure of arranging type or processing data and printing from it.”

Some mistakes new business owners make when starting to build their brand, is that they look at these elements as separate entities. They pick purple because that is their favourite colour, pick comic sans for their font because it looks “fun” and often ignore the art of typography. This is where the designer comes to the rescue! They can help you through the process of building your brand, with all these elements in mind. Every designer has their own style, and way of working, so do some research first to find the designer that will fit your needs.

When I start building a brand, I ask the client to give me 3 adjectives that best describes the company or product. This helps me get a better feeling for what they are looking for. If a car repair shop says “Fast, Friendly and Professional” that gives me a sense of the font that would best suit them. Let’s do an example:

*These logos were made up for the learning purpose of this blog* 

So if “Otto’s Car Repair” shop gave me the adjectives of fast, friendly and professional, which logo best represents those words? The font on the left does not speak to any of those words. The colour selection is poor, the font is not legible from a distance and there is nothing there to like about the typography. With the logo on the right, the colour green was selected carefully. In our society today green represents “Go” or “Fast”. The font choice is legible, clean and professional. Which one would you take your car in for repairs?

Your logo is typically the first thing your clients see, and they make a first impression. Then after they get past the logo they begin to learn about your brand. Some clients may never show up to the logo on the left, even though it is the best repair shop in town. People tend to naturally judge a book by it’s cover. It’s a human instinct! I find this is a common occurrence especially with shopping for wine. If you’re standing in front of a shelf of wine, looking for something to bring to a classy party, you will most likely be making your choice based on the label. 

Let’s do another example, this time with two existing products:

These two wine labels speak different personalities. The Sandbanks label on the left to me says sunsets by the beach by the choice of colour, but it kind of ends there. I do enjoy this wine, but the label is certainly not eye candy by any means. It’s simple, you can read what is it and pick it up off the shelf quickly. The Guilty Men label on the right catches your eye with it’s stark contrast of black text on white. Once the eye is caught by that, it carries up into the grey font above it. Now without realizing it you’ve spent twice as long reading that label, and you’ve been given a hint to the brand itself. To me, Sandbanks appear to be a cheaper wine, due to lack of creativity in the design. But, they are actually the same price - $15. So which one would you take home to try?

In conclusion, when you are looking to brand your company, or possibly re-brand, take the time to listen to the suggestions from your designer. You may be too close to the project or perhaps the adjectives don’t match up with the current ideals of your business. The designer should help you move forward, and create the best logo for you and your company. Best of luck!

Constructing the Perfect Creative Battlestation

All through college I imagined my perfect future studio as I worked out of my cramped bedroom. I had paint brushes lined up on my bed, and my work up on an easel in the middle of the room. My carpets collected paint as did my clothing, but as a starving art student it was expected. The studio that I imagined was in a loft of an old factory with oversized windows for lots of natural light. Old hardwood floors that creaked with every step. A standing computer desk for emails (for my 1000’s of clients of course), research and references. A desk for drawing/painting as well as an easel set up for oversized canvases. A big comfy couch to take a break and have a cup of tea…

But of course that was all, but a dream.

Not every city has old factories for rent, and if they do, I’m sure it’s not cheap! So in order to create the perfect creative battlestation I have put together a few tips and tricks to help. It may not be the factory loft you imagined, but it will still be your designated creative space that you love.

Find a room or section of the house that is quiet

This is key. It doesn’t matter if you live by yourself or you live with 5 kids, you need to find that space where you can essentially “shut everything out”. An office or a spare bedroom with a door would be ideal, but work with what you’ve got of course. If working in the open concept of your finished basement isn’t working, there are other options like renting a desk in shared office spaces. Having a designated spot in the house where you work without getting interrupted will help you be for efficient and to keep the creative juices flowing.

Know yourself and how you like to work

This is also crucial. If you love to start work at 6:00 AM, then perhaps putting a computer in the brightest room of the house might not be a good idea for the glare. Or if you love to listen to music loudly while you paint, your family would probably appreciate it if you didn’t paint until 3:00 AM in the morning. So the better you know yourself and your work patterns, it becomes much easier to start designing your studio/office. For example, if you are a graphic designer you won’t need as much space as a large oil painter may need. So plan accordingly!

Give yourself a budget and work within it

Purchasing a desk, a chair, an easel, printer, office supplies, paint supplies, and other various furniture can all add up and become very expensive. If you were to pick one item to splurge on, I would highly recommend picking the chair. You will be spending almost 8 hours of your day sitting, and you certainly don’t want to be spending that time on a stool. Your back will thank you, trust me. So will your wallet! Saving your money will help your business grow in the future.

Put everything together give it a monthly trial

When I set up my office for the first time, 3 weeks in I couldn’t stand it anymore. I thought maybe I would have to move down to the basement or maybe take up a section of the living room. But instead I sat down in the middle of the office and picked out what was working and what wasn’t. I spend the rest of that Sunday afternoon reorganizing everything to improve the flow. Things like changing the location of the printer, switching drawers from being files to pens and even changing which way I was facing the window. After that, I’ve loved my office ever since. So don’t feel like you’ve failed if you don’t like your office after all your hard work. Give it a second chance and try reorganizing.

Enjoy your new creative battlestation…now get to work!

A Throwback U-turn

It’s been a while since I have written an entry in my blog, but I did spend most of my time pondering what to write. I recalled an older entry that I did about a year and a half ago, and I couldn’t help but laugh at it. My life has changed so drastically since this time, and I wanted you to read it.


“I have been working my full time job for about 6 months now, and I love it. I work with some great people, and I couldn’t be happier. This job not what every “Sheridan illustrator” would want coming out of school, and I’m sure some of my peers would look at this job as going backwards in my career. I would have to disagree with them.

Working in a structured environment, it has taken me a few months to readjust my personal life and work life to get comfortable. Of course in this time of adjustment, I didn’t do any personal work. That’s the truth. Barely even a doodle. But now that I’ve gotten into the swing of things, I’ve gotten my personal work back on track. With the experience of working with people on an everyday basis at work, and more knowledge of how a business is run, I couldn’t wait to get back into freelancing. I started to pull everything together and collected a couple clients. Some who knew me, but I finally got a client who was a stranger to me. It’s a step right? It feels good.

I know that Sheridan prepared us to be freelancers…but they also taught us to only be freelancers. Sure, they spoke of the other jobs that existed, like comic book artists, video game designers and art directors, but those were only for the elite. We were supposed to get our money by sitting on a dock with a fishing pole inside the water of work hoping for a bite. The further into these teachings I got, the more uncomfortable I grew. I wanted financial independence. I wanted a house, and maybe even a family. Of course there are Illustrators out there that are very successful and have been fortunate to have all of these things due to their work. But as much as I loved to draw, the reality hit me that maybe this won’t get me to all of my goals in life. Getting back to my point, having the full-time job designing is pretty great, and it allows me to illustrate on the side. I just needed to adjust my definition of “success”, and it is different for everyone.”


In the present day, I have left the 9-5 cubicle world and I am now freelancing from home. I had some major personal life changes like getting married and moving into a small town. Now that I have been a freelancer for just under 8 months, I can safely say that I love what I do. Starting out is difficult, as I’m sure some freelancers may expect to make the same salary they did at a 9-5. But you’ve got to work your way up there, and it’s all on you. You are the accountant, sales person, marketer, designer and CEO of your own company. Back when I wrote this blog, I certainly enjoyed the steady paycheck. However, when I saw my peers from Sheridan creating work everyday, either for themselves or clients, I was jealous. 

Now, my 2 years in the cubicle farm was not wasted. I learned valuable business lessons from fantastic mentors. I sat in meetings, I observed many pitches, and I even helped plan events. My title at that job was a Graphic Specialist, but that was maybe 40% of my job. I am grateful for that company in giving me a chance and allowing me to gain the confidence that schooling and co-ops could not provide. 

The look back into how I processed thoughts, how I drew and how I made decisions is a huge part of my life. I love to sift through old pieces and sketchbooks. It helps to ground me, and lets me make sure that I remember my roots. I know I bashed Sheridan in my throwback post, complaining about the teaching style. As I look back now, freelancing is not for the weak. Sheridan just wanted to make sure that you can freelance. Anyone can work a 9-5 job and make money. But it takes someone with the passion and drive to freelance and make just as much money as everyone else. Even if they are still in their pajamas while doing it.

Stay passionate, stay grounded!

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