I could use some help…seriously

Bob Borson —  October 21, 2010 — 21 Comments

I am going to put my massive appropriately sized ego to the side and ask for some help. Not the kind of help that requires loved ones to sneak up on me and tell me how I am ruining their lives, that has already happened would never happen. No, the type of help I would like to receive is graphic in nature (insert easy joke here).

Since I have been at the helm here at Life of an Architect, I have cobbled together various graphics to suit my needs without spending any real time or deep, thoughtful consideration on how they looked. My only objectives were:

  • Can I do it with limited time, and
  • Can I do it with limited software knowledge

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and you can see for yourself the type of end product I have created with limited time and knowledge; not terrible but not very good either. I would love to take the time to develop really amazing graphics for my site – my needs are simple enough. The breakdown:

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Item #1 Site Banner
size = currently 960 pixels x 250 pixels

Considerations – the 960 needs to be maintained, I really do want the banner to stretch across the entire width of the site. The 250 is flexible but if you go much taller, it will push the current post content off the screen. It should also incorporate the site title (Life of an Architect) and the tag line (what it’s like to work with and be an architect)

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Item #2 Site Icon
Size = varies (scalable)

This logo came into existent because I did some sketches and these were the characters I drew into the sketch. I had a lot of people comment that they should take a more prominent role on my site – so viola! This is the logo that I use on my Facebook Fan page and it is the logo that I would use for smart phone icons, the login page for my site and anything else I felt appropriate. If you look at the top banner of my site, you can see that it is present there as well.

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Item #3 Specialty Topic Graphic
Size = 550 pixels wide x +/- 200 pixels tall

This entire post has come into existence from this sketch – sad really. I am about to start doing book reviews and I wanted a graphic to introduce the theme of book reviews. So I generated this sketch during one of the presentations I was enjoying at the convention I just attended. The concept was to have the site title along the top, I’m calling this feature  - you can probably guess it… that’s right – ‘Book Report’. The title was going to be in block letters with book text below but since I didn’t want the text to actually be something you read, it was either going to be something that represented text or I was going to graphically cut up and jumble slots of text so it would be recognizable as book text but wasn’t actually anything legible. Genius! (not really). But I drew this up and then I had this conversation:

Me: Look at that …. Whoooeee! that could be something!

Inner Me: It’s not that great really AND it was your first attempt, you never get anything right on the first attempt.

Me: Yes I do, how would you know anyways?

Inner Me: Really?! Are we going to have this conversation again. See, I am your conscious and I am not ruled by emotions or external stimuli. In short, I protect you from you. I want a raise…

Me: There will be no raise and if you don’t play ball, I’ll start talking to my subconscious  because I am 1/4 Cherokee Indian and we can do that type of thing. And you know our subconscious is down for whatever – he likes to party!

Inner Me: Okay … but you don’t have the software knowledge to do this … or the software for that matter. When do you think you are going to find the time? Please … ask for help

Me: I can totally do this – I drive to work and I can put the laptop on the passenger seat, that’s like 8 minutes each way …

Inner Me:

Me: …Hmmm ……… wass that?

Inner Me:

Me: … whatever

I have never been able to defeat myself in a battle of wits – I’m too damn clever! I know every move I’m going to make so, I need some help and here is what’s in it for you (get ready … it’s totally awesome)

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A big ‘Thank You‘!! Yeah! Totally awesome prize fo sho’. Okay, so uhm, .. yeah, that would actually suck if that was it. So despite this site getting like a trazillion readers a week, I’m not made of money. So in addition to that super-awesome ‘Thank You’, I would also include: a spotlight post on my site featuring none other than you, and I will give you one of these -

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Ta-Dahhh! Sweet!

The Lytegem Lamp was designed by Michael Lax  in 1965 has recently been reintroduced by Lightolier. The lamp is simple, elegant and classic in its design – or in other words, awesome. The base is weighted for tabletop use or it can be wall mounted with a included bracket. The telescopic rod extends from 6.5″ to 15″and the head swivels 360 degrees. The lamps brightness can be adjusted easily with a switch on the base. I have one of these in my possession and while I’m not giving it away, I’ll get one for you as a token of my appreciation. I know it’s not much but you also get my thanks – don’t forget about that…

Hopefully someone will feel compelled to come to my aid and during the process, I will post the initial designs from everyone who submits anything that’s not vulgar (take a pass on that thank you) and we’ll see what everyone thinks. I wrote a post a while back on the power of effective graphics and included some examples that an AIA Dallas Associate member generated. (I hope he still reads this blog…)

Thanks for everyone’s continued support, I really do appreciate it – even if you don’t want to help me out on this and become famous – knowing that I’ll slide into a funk and write depressing posts on linoleum and grab bars.

Your call.

Cheers.

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  • Danielle G

    If you go to this blog: [kevin & amanda] http://www.kevinandamanda.com/ She will create a font for you from your handwriting! Even your doodles and stuff!!! Maybe that could help?

  • http://twitter.com/TheKozmicWitch The Kozmic Witch

    Not bad, but If you are going to use your “blog name” as your header, I will recommend to choose a typeface very carefully, it will be what will determinate the look of your blog. A font can express more of what we think ;)
    In my In my opinion, the font that you have now it is too thick and it really doesn’t express (a life of an architect) and maybe you don’t need the silhouettes instead of “i”. (remember, keep it simple!)
    Let me share some really good links that may help you to choose a good typograhy.
    http://justcreativedesign.com/2008/03/02/30-best-font-downloads-for-designers/
    http://typographica.org/2009/features/our-favorite-typefaces-of-2008/
    This one it’s great: http://t.co/RxTk3VF

    However, this is just my opinion. Another thing that you may need to be carefull is asking to everyone what they think about your design. You will end up with several opinions that will confuse you. If i were you i will start with a brainstorm of what you want from your header and go from there through a design process. Again, keep it simple ;)

    • Anonymous

      You are right on all items -

      Part of what’s happening here is a little gamesmanship. I want people to be
      involved, feel involved and to become part of the conversation. In some
      regards, the worse something is the better it is for building thought,
      conversation and community. Since I have been designing and communicating
      on things that are designed for a while now, I am pretty comfortable with
      how I take other people’s advice, that might have been different 15 years
      ago. The other nice consideration is for the next week or so, my blog is
      not so precious that I can have some things in place that aren’t at their
      best – knowing that it won’t stay that way.

      I think what graphic designers do is a pretty significant skill and I won’t
      let someone who doesn’t know what their doing come in and mess things up
      permanently but I am willing to let people have a little fun with it.

      On the links you sent, does it work to where you pick a font and then buy
      it?

      Bob

      ps – thanks for communicating, hopefully it’s clear that I do like to hear
      from people – they typically have something worth listening to -

      • http://twitter.com/TheKozmicWitch The Kozmic Witch

        Bob,
        Oh I totally understand, I don’t mean to sound like “it has to be in that way” (english it’s not my first language and i am still learning it) I am just sharing my point of view. :)
        Regarding the links, some of them offer free downloads, of course there are other which don’t.
        BTW The header that you have now works so much better! it is nice, I like the font!
        I think the problem was the render you had before. Now everything have its own space.
        Now if you allow me to say, it would look even better if you move your social buttons maybe on top of your side bar? In that way doesn’t interfere with the header. Maybe give it a try? :)

        • sarahmharper

          like the new layout better and again agree with TKW: move the social networking buttons. also, check into http://www.dafont.com for some awesome and free typefaces. i like the sans serif line (but i also have a “thing” for times new roman, so there’s that). much to choose from with a lot of different personality. i think, with some updated typeface, you could be golden.

          btw, i design business cards on the side. i would send you a design, but i think you are close as is.

          • sarahmharper

            oh, one more thing: i like syntax. a lot. i would put your tagline in parentheses. but that’s just me.

  • Rich

    …Without CAD I’m useless…I married a graphic artist to hide my shame…And She hides her shame of being a past stock broker by becoming a graphic artist…So what I’m saying Bob is there is no shame in what you are asking for compared to other people’s shame.

    BTW – I like your site just the way it is. Sometimes…No, all the time, the content is more important than the cover.

    • Anonymous

      That’s funny Rich –

      If I felt shame at all I would be in serious trouble (with the stuff that comes out of my mouth – yikes!)

      I used to rock Photoshop but that was 10 years ago and that skill set has left me. So far, there has been a really interesting turnout and I’ve seen some fun stuff so far. See if your wife would be interested in submitting something. I am going to feature everything that gets submitted.

      Cheers and thanks for the nice comments.

  • Hollie Holcombe

    Oh what a neat challenge. What’s the deadline? :)

    • Anonymous

      there no deadline – I’m not in a terrible rush. You don’t have to submit something for everything either. I would imagine it’s more of a big idea concept type thing so submit whatever you want.

      I think this is going to be a lot of fun!

  • Dare Munro

    Bob – check your email. :)

  • http://SLS-Construction.com SLS Construction

    Bob, Bob, Bob – they say that recognizing that you have a problem is a good step, but in this case I think you have missed the real issue – Dude, your talking & arguing with yourself…

    Oops I’m sorry, can you hold on for a sec…

    Ahh, never mind, my inner self just reminded me I do it to…

    In all seriousness, I would love to help you out, but I simply don’t have the software… and knowing that I will probably regret saying this… I have to agree with Alexandra. The graphics you use helps make this site fun and entertaining in a good way, unlike the fun & entertaining plans I have gotten from other architects before…

    • Anonymous

      Ha! So you’re a funny guy…who knew?

      This is just another example of what I know and what I can do and trying to find a balance. Instead of killing myself over it, maybe some other people can have fun with it and show others what they are capable of producing. I do it because I’m a giver really … it’s a win-win situation!

      unless their terrible … Oohhhh, hadn’t really thought about that :(

  • http://twitter.com/TheKozmicWitch The Kozmic Witch

    Interesting post. On my experience (I designed a logo and a website for the company i work for http://scholz-arch.com) helped me to reach one conclusion: Leave graphic design to graphic designers. Even our professions are so related, graphic design it is a different world, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes that we commit as an architects, to think we can do graphic design. (sometimes we can but we need some good knowledge of how things work)

    For instance, if you look at the header of your blog, you really don’t need a render there, that is what’s making the header to look too tight. You have too much things on there. ;)

    With the help of a graphic designer friend, I designed my blog (about architecture as well). Unfortunately right now I am experiencing some problems and it is not online, hope it will work today or tomorrow. Mine it is minimalist, If you want to take a look later on, this is the link: http://paulamontes.com/blog

    I hope you get what you want out of this… good luck on your new design.

    • Anonymous

      The Kozmic Witch – I like that.

      I will check out your blog repeatedly until it is up and running. I did a lot of graphic design 12 years ago but those were gentler days. Who knows, I love the idea of letting people do what they do best. At least it will be fun

      • http://sharper-aia-leedap.tumblr.com/ sarahmharper

        i’m with TKW – i think you could lose the rendering at the top, keep your cool architect-y drinking friends, and reposition (and maybe reformat the text & tagline) to produce a niiiiiiiiiiice, new, fresh facelift.

  • http://katrinasos.wordpress.com/ KatrinaSOS

    Could you provide more details about the third item? Also, do you have photographs that you would like incorporated in your banner?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Katrina -

      I don’t have any photographs already in mind … I suppose I could try and track something down. One of my challenges is that this is not my companies blog and since I don’t moonlight, I don’t have pictures of “my” work. I had always envisioned that when I did redo some of these graphic pieces, they would be more stylized word pieces. I guess that’s the challenging part – I haven’t solved it so I don’t know how to guide you.

      I did design the Japanese Playhouse on my own (that’s charity and I don’t consider it moonlighting) and I did take all the photos so if there was something there you wanted to sort through, that would work. You could also work with the photos from here – http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/modern-cabana/

      Also, everything that in the category labeled “My House” is fair game –
      http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/tag/my-house/
      there are a lot of sketches and plan type drawings that you can take and re-interpret.

      Finally, if you had an idea about something and wanted a piece of custom work, just let me know and I will see if I can’t make it for you to use.

      Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/Alexandrafunfit Alexandra Williams

    I can’t draw at all and am not remotely graphically clever, but I do like the very top design. And the book report sketch (masterpiece?) is pretty fun. I love all the pictures you do on the site, so does that count for paying attention? Maybe something with the CASA playhouse. That thing was super cool. Gotta run. My attention span just ran away.

  • Steve

    HMMM. I am a graphic designer that has had the “pleasure” of working for an architecture firm. I might be able to help out. I am in Dallas.

    • Anonymous

      sounds encouraging …