Wednesday, November 20, 2013

4 Mistakes Graphic Designers Make

The world of graphic design is great and artistic but not every graphic designer seems to have it nailed down. Just like any industry, there are certain unwritten "rules" one must obey or risk being frowned upon by fellow graphic designers. As a Chicago graphic design firm, we know all about these rules and hope to inform you of them as well.

Don't worry if this blog sounds pretentious, this little one can do to get around that. Just buckle up and enjoy the ride, my friend.
  1. The first unwritten rule is to not use Publisher. Using Adobe Creative Suite can be expensive but you know what, there is a reason they are; these programs are good and perhaps the best ones used by graphic designers. Using Publisher is not the way to go to avoid the high costs of Adobe.  With these programs, your products will come out the best. 
  2. The second unwritten rule is to have widows on your products. No, we don't mean women who have lost their husbands; we mean those single words that hang out on their own. Why is this bad? It just looks tacky and shows lack of creativity as well as falling to an old fad. Give the word a few friends and post something else with it. 
  3. Low resolution images. Wow, this is one of the biggest and worst unwritten rules to break. Images from the internet have a dpi of 72 while images in print have a dpi of 300. When using a 72 dpi image, the gaps that exist are filled with color and the image comes out fuzzy. 
  4. Not enough color. Yes, black and white whatever can look good but to do it for every stinkin' project you do is not only overkill but shows lack of design skill. Use that color! You will see more pleased consumers by using that color. 
If you are in need of graphic design work, then contact Integraphix - a Chicago graphic design firm who has 24 years of experience in the field. In addition to graphic design, Integraphix can offer web design, internet marketing, and more. Contact us for a free evaluation. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is It Time to Hire a Graphic Designer?

Let's go through a hypothetical scenario: your company has decided to go with a new logo, perhaps new branding altogether. You are the lead chair in the marketing department, or just the lead chair in the search committee, and have been assigned the task of creating this new logo/branding scheme.

Well, naturally, you would think of finding someone who can create a few designs for you. This is when you would want to hire a graphic designer but are you sure it's worth it?

Graphic designers can save you a lot of time and money. If you are not artistic and no one in your office is up for the challenge, it would actually be more responsible of your business to spend the money on a graphic designer than to try and do it themselves. A graphic designer knows how to design, it's in their name. So, they will be able to get the job done the right way and in far less time it would take you to do the job. If you hire the graphic designer, that enables you to be free to do your actual business work instead of trying to spread yourself too thin, if you aren't already. Hiring a graphic design firm will cost you less in the long run.

A graphic design company will also help you achieve a look that is better than what you can imagine; you will have a better logo and branding scheme than your competition. When you have someone who is gifted in art, they are able to custom create marketing materials and logos for your company that will wow you, especially if you are not artistic.

A graphic designer will also help you keep an objective eye on your designs. If you are the one creating all your designs, then you are more likely to like the look of them since you created them. However, a graphic designer will be another person to analyze the work. The designer will help you remain objective on the designs; the designer has done work for lots of other companies and they have no emotional attachment to your company. This might sound a bit cruel but it's honesty; having that objective eye reviewing what needs to be done and the possible solutions will help you more than you possibly realize.

All in all, a graphic designer would be a wise investment if you are considering hiring one for your marketing needs. If you are looking for one, then hire Integraphix - a Chicago graphic design firm

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tips to Become a Better Graphic Designer

The graphic design business is constantly changing and it can be hard for beginners to understand just what it takes to become better at being a graphic designer. It's more than just knowing how to draw or being creative, it takes research and knowledge that sometimes is not known to a graphic designer if they do not study what other designers do.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help expand your knowledge of graphic design and understand new perspectives. First things first, reading this blog will help. BEH-DUH-TINCE. But we will help you stay informed via blogs and social media.

Here are several tips for graphic designers:

  1. Collect what you like. If you find a design on something that looks awesome and makes you think, "Wow, how can I do something like this?" Take the item home and put it in some sort of filing system for you to find later. Now, if it is illegal to take the item home, such as theft, then take a picture of it with your fancy camera phone and keep it that way. This is a popular thing for people to do no matter what industry they are in. I know a buddy who is in marketing and when he sees a great marketing idea, he collects something that he is able to refer to later when he is looking for some sort of inspiration. Taking lots of photos of things you like is a fantastic way to keep memories of the designs you think are fantastic. 
  2. Be a reader. Read up on graphic design; find respectable sources of information on the subject such as magazines, books, articles, blogs, websites, anything. Other people will be publishing their ideas in some way or another and you can learn from their successes or their mistakes. The same buddy I mentioned who is in marketing follows quite a few blogs and social media platforms of renowned marketers. The tips they put on their blogs and social media are concise and helpful; the same concept applies to graphic designers. The great ones will be putting their knowledge out there for the masses to enjoy and learn from, you can be one of those people. 
  3. While we are on the topic of design blogs, you can start one yourself. Blog your ideas and your insights and see how people interact with you. Perhaps your wisdom will reach someone who needs it and perhaps the interactions you have will those who read and comment on your blog will give you good insight and ideas. 
  4. Let your creativity run freely and without constraint. You will often find that clients say what to do for a design of websites, logos, print material, etc. So, what you can do is create things for fun. Create websites, print materials, logos, etc for any reason when you have the time to do so. This helps keep the graphic design side of things more fun and help your creativity flourish. This is also a great way to implement the things you learn without pressure of it going perfectly. After all, practice makes perfect. 
  5. Refine and refine. You have old projects that you finished but does that mean they can't be improved any more? Try refining projects that you have done in the past and see if you can't make them any better. 
  6. Take in your surroundings. When you're in a place, especially one that you have never been to before, look at the designs around you and just soak it in. Malls and cities are great for this since there is so much graphic design around you wherever you look. Chances are, you will feel very inspired about new designs when you leave there. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Photoshop Techniques - Using Actions

As a Chicago Marketing Company, the designers at Integraphix are avid users of the Adobe Creative Suite. For print projects and web projects, our designers in Chicago often use Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and InDesign on a daily basis. With so much experience using these programs, our creative agency has become very proficient working with design software.

Have you ever needed to modify a mass amount of images at one time? Take for instance you are creating an online gallery for a web design you created. To make your gallery look clean and professional you definitely want all of your images to be the same size. If you have many images this may seem like a very long process. Luckily, there is a solution for modifying multiple different images fast and efficiently. Actions are a 1 step editing process in Photoshop that allows you to preform multiple different actions with one click.  Actions can be extremely useful time-savers when you find yourself performing the same steps over and over again.

Creating Actions:
Photoshop actions are very easy to create and use. An action is simply formatting that has been recorded and can be used on any other Photoshop Document. To record you own action, open the “Actions” palette and hit the new action button. The new action button is the button second from the right side of the bottom of the actions palette.

You will need to designate a name for your action and also a function key. If you set an action with the function key: “F5” every time you are in Photoshop and click the F5 key, the action will automatically take place.

Once the action has been created you can record all of the formatting you would like to take place in the action. You can record unlimited amount of changes including size changes, text adds or edits, color changes, file saving and more! Once you have finished carrying out all of the desired steps, hit the “Stop” button in the action palette.

Installing Actions:
As a Chicago Marketing Company the Integraphix designers love to share design techniques and ideas with other designers. There are many Photoshop actions that are available to be purchased and downloaded. There are multiple ways you can install Photoshop actions. According to our expert graphic designers, the easiest way to download actions is to drag the downloaded files in the “Actions” folder contained within the “Presets” folder in your Photoshop application folder.  If this technique doesn’t work for you, you can always click on the little arrow on the right of the actions menu and click on “Load Actions”. This option will allow you to navigate to any actions on your computer and load them into Photoshop instantly.

Do you use Photoshop actions? Share your favorite Photoshop actions with our Chicago Marketing Company and leave us a comment!! We would love to hear your feedback. For more tips and tricks on Graphic Design - Visit our website: and Contact Us!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Design Strategies

*Picture in original design mock-up courtesy of iStockphoto*

As a design firm in Chicago, we rely on a variety of strategies to create successful design pieces. When our graphic designers take on a new graphic design project, one of the first questions asked is, “Who are we targeting with this piece?” Whether you are designing for certain groups or a demographic, designers always have the intent to grab their viewer’s attention by making sure their design is appealing to the group it will serve. A main goal throughout all of our projects is to capture the viewer’s attention at first glance.

Just recently we designed a mailer for one of our clients that featured a striking man with an odd facial expression. While they did not end up going with this design, we all found the image to be strong and felt it would make people take a second look.  What was the reason behind this design decision? Think about how much mail you receive daily.  Think about how much of that mail you simply throw away without even really looking at it?  As a marketing and graphic design company, we strive to create design pieces that are not simply disregarded. If you received this mailer in your pile of mail, would you stop to read it?  Would you throw it away?  Would you at least be curious enough to read it?

There are many different strategies graphic designers utilize when creating design pieces:  

Evoke emotion(s): Most powerful designs evoke emotions from those who see it.  Depending on what the piece is about, think about what kind of emotion you are looking to evoke from your design and figure out what you can implement to help you achieve that feeling.  Some of the best pieces we have seen are the ones that know how to capture an emotion perfectly. 

Create confusion: If you want to capture your viewer’s attention, try creating some confusion through your graphic design piece.  Designs utilizing unfamiliar objects or mismatched imagery will guarantee a second look. If the imagery is unusual or challenging it may require your viewers to pay attention in order to understand it. Don’t get too cryptic otherwise viewers will simply discard your graphic design if the design just doesn’t make sense.

The element of surprise: As demonstrated in our mailer for one of our clients, images with unusual or surprising visuals will grab the attention of your viewers. Images that go against what is expected by your viewers will make them want to know more.

If you enjoyed these tips and the attention-grabbing mailer shared, leave comments below. Interested in our services? Contact us to have a custom created mailer for your company or small business.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

5 Free Applications for Graphic Designers

We are a graphic design firm in love with all sorts of programs, gadgets and apps, that is for sure.  If you are anything like our graphic designers, you must love different types of software and apps that give you, as a graphic designer, multiple virtual capabilities. Since our graphic designers are avid Mac users, we decided to share a top list of FREE Mac apps useful for all graphic designers. As a creative agency we use the Adobe Creative Suite daily, but sometimes we like to explore different options. With the Adobe Creative Suite going for nearly $2,000 you may be looking for some more cost effective options and lucky for those of you that are graphic designers, there are many free applications available to be downloaded that have similar features to the professional software like Adobe Photoshop.

If you are a graphic designer looking to create logo designs, our graphic designers highly recommend that you download the free Mac application called Inkspace. Inkspace is an alternative to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw as it has the tools available to create vector graphics. The application has great capabilities for being a free software. The program allows you to do everything involved with creating vector graphics even tracing, XML editing and path operations. The software also supports standard SVG format and XML and CSS standards just like the professional software in its class.

If you’re looking for a quick application to manipulate colors in a photo, you might want to check out Colorate. Just like the other applications we’re talking about in this blog, Colorate is a free application for graphic designers. It allows designers with creative minds to add and create a color palette to each of your photos. Whether you’re blending the existing palette, creating your own custom pallet or creating a totally randomized palette, you can definitely have fun editing your images using Colorate.

The free Mac application Image Tricks has dozens of cool filters that we, as a Chicago graphic design firm, love to mess with. Not only does this application have so many different capabilities with filters, it also allows graphic designers to apply filters to over 20 different image file types!

One of the most popular free photo editing software’s available is GIMP. The name ‘GIMP’ stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. Not only is it a very useful tool for graphic designers, but the program is highly supported and is frequently updated compared to most free software applications. GIMP is often times related and compared to Adobe Photoshop. The application can make photo retouching, color correction, image sizing, image composition, etc. a very simple task. There are also plugins, extensions and filters available for download for advanced users looking for more capabilities.

If you are a graphic designer looking to expand your knowledge on design, try DAZ studio. DAZ studio can be a lot of fun if you’re a graphic designer looking to learn about 3D models and creations. DAZ allows you to create realistic 3D models such as people, animals and objects. DAZ Studio is one of the easiest 3D animation tools and is a great program for those who would like to teach themselves how to use it. 

Have a great free app we didn't mention here that you want to tell us about?  Feel free to leave us a comment below or contact us.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Graphic Designer's New Year's Resolution

Now that it’s almost the New Year, it’s time to set some new goals. Are you a graphic designer hoping to advance in the graphic design industry? If so our very own team members have been there before.  Getting your foot in the door to the business of a graphic design company may seem intimidating, but make it your 2013 resolution to make a big impression. As a Chicago graphic design company our very own graphic designers have been in your shoes before and can help guide you in the right direction.  If your New Year’s resolution is to advance in the graphic design industry, check out the following tips from our very own graphic designers:


As graphic designers in Chicago we are active participants in graphic design conferences and professional events. Networking is a great way to meet new people and build professional relationships. You have the potential to meet anyone from fellow graphic designers to web developers or business owners to copywriters. Before visiting any event, always plan ahead. Be prepared to socialize. Make sure your portfolio and business cards are something you can’t wait to show off. Going to networking events can definitely be intimidating especially as a burgeoning graphic designer. Prepare yourself by keeping these tips in mind:
  • When talking to others show interest in what they are talking about. Ask questions, use eye contact and be friendly. Show courtesy for others and thank them for their time.
  • When talking about yourself, don’t brag or try to oversell yourself. Tell don’t sell. Keep the conversation casual, you’re all there for the same reasons. Don’t forget to share your business card with whoever you talk to.
  •  Look the part. Be prepared ahead of time. Figure out ahead of time exactly where the event is located and whether you need to dress casual or formal and always dress the part.

Start a Blog

Broadcast your portfolio on the web and start a blog. Never underestimate the power of blogging. Social media and blogging can help establish your online identity and be the voice behind your name. As a socialmedia company and search engine optimization company, we take blog writing very seriously as we know the power it holds for search engine optimization factors alone. A blog is a great opportunity to advance in the graphic design industry and show what you can do as a blossoming graphic designer.

Seek Advice

Share your portfolio with someone and ask for their professional advice. Constructive criticism is a great tool. There may be errors that only another pair of eyes can spot. When asking for advice, seek criticism, not praise. The soul purpose in sharing your portfolio with someone is to help you improve it.

Find a Mentor
Someone who is experienced in the graphic design business should become your best friend. Turn to someone who has been in your shoes before that can help guide you throughout your journey. As a graphic design firm in Chicago, we love when we receive emails or phone calls from students or young professionals who ask questions or want to interview us. There is always something new to learn and we’re always willing to share what we know.

As a Chicago marketing company with over 25 years of experience, we are here to help you successfully complete your New Year’s resolution. If you ever hit a bump in the road, or just need advice, feel free to contact us