Tag: Designer

Is it ever okay to use a template for design

When a lot of creatives read this blog title I imagine a combination of fear, disgust and anger will be running through their veins at the suggestion of such a thing but in all honesty, even though I am a designer and creator of branding there is a place to using templates. In this blog post, I discuss several places when and where it is okay to use a template for design of a new digital presence. Continue “Is it ever okay to use a template for design”

Warning! Devalue designers and creatives at your business peril

I am regular subscriber to several marketing email newsletter from various sorts and one caught my eye. It discussed how businesses fail and half of the points raised relate to the creative industries I am in. In this post I will discuss with you why every business owner shouldn’t see designers as expensive commodities but as creative geniuses that can add real monetary value ( with examples) to your corporation and prodigious intrigue to your potential business leads.

The three creative parts of your business that if not invested in will doom your business to fail

By refusing to pay a designer for a professional logo, they looked amateurish. People don’t trust amateurs.

Before even developing an online presence, website and marketing collateral, probably the number one key element of a brand is its logo.

Without a professionally designed logo that has taken time to develop and evolve by a consummate creative professional you ARE damaging your business. Sure, you can ask your friends kid to have a go, they learn that kind of stuff at school or why not employ someone on the infamous bidding websites like freelance and get someone in India to do it for a cut of the cost a western creative would cost, they look good enough… don’t they?

The best creative professionals will have been trained in the arts by other creatives with many years expereince and taught to think differently than an average person. Everything in a creatives mind is thought about on a deeper level than just whether you like something or not. To a creative everything has a story, a meaning and a message that needs to be communicated with the medium they know best.

A great creative will know that particular symbolism will have strong influence in your business industry as will the colours and composition of your logo.

You really should value the work of the creative not as an expensive commodity but as a product enhancing necessity.

I ask you, consider three brands right now and what comes into your mind? McDonalds? Apple? Nike? Do you see a description of these companies in your minds eye or their logo when you read the above text? That is the power of the corporate logo, we are visual creatures and a logo is the heart in your business monster, without a well designed one your monetary blood simply won’t flow as easily.


By refusing to pay for a professional looking website, they lost sales leads and looked like amateurs.

Every brand or company whether providing a service or product needs a website. I don’t care whether you are an app developer, an alternative therapist or a builder and ‘things simply aren’t done that way in your industry to generate leads’ because basically that is a load of old hat!

Most people now ‘google it’ to find products or services

google it business

Most customers and businesses now look online or ‘google’ it to find what it is they need to solve their problem and if you aren’t online targeting these people then you are missing the opportunity to be found and make sales.

Not only this but your website should be generating new content weekly, if not daily so you can share it on social media ON EVERY PLATFORM. A lot of social media organisers may disagree with me and that is fair enough as some social media platforms are used more by different target markets than others but it is in my belief if you generate content and then share it everywhere you are allowing your potential customers a chance to find YOUR BUSINESS regardless of gender, creed, colour or class which surely is a good thing if not just for increasing brand awareness.

Websites are a business asset

Owning a website can seem expensive but again THATS A LOAD OF RUBBISH!!! A website is NOT expensive, the designer might charge you, for example, $2000 to set it up with a domain name, hosting, a designed UI, navigational structure that works, code it with html, css, php, add graphics and functionality, include social media AND show you how easy it is to add new content to the site without worrying you will mess up the design, look and feel of the site and NOT NEEDING TO KNOW ANY CODE!

A website might sound scary but it shouldn’t be, a website designer can sit down with you for a small fee to just show you that a website can be the best and most enjoyable part of your business to manage and you will never look back once you own it.

Website adds value to your customers but also to your business valuation

Plus it really DOES ADD REAL MONETARY VALUE to your business. My website, only 10 months old is worth around $7000…as I designed it myself I had no initial outgoing in terms of design but even if I had paid $2000 for a months work to develop a good website I would still have made made a $5000 increase in my initial investment.

(If you are interested to see what your website is worth type into google ‘what is my website worth’ into google)

By refusing to hire a copywriter for their marketing, their response rates were 100′s of percent lower than they would have been.

As a dyslexic man copy writing is not the skill I write home about ( dya see what i did!? Huh! Huh!? 😀 ) but I still see it as a creative and highly skilled talent. The right words really are the write words and these guys know how to communicate your product verbally like a master word ninja.

Work with a copywriter to get the content ‘write’

Of course, YOU SHOULD EXPLAIN YOUR BUSINESS AND WRITE THE CONTENT FOR YOUR WEBSITE but you should also consult a copywriter to ensure the words you are using are not too complex for your market. It is really important you get your message across in a simplified manner, the best website will give the visitor the information they want and need without having to think too hard. I think the key message is to explain things like you were speaking to your grandma, another words simple words, simple comparisons and simple call to actions.


Wow, now I understand why creatives are so important, what should I do?
The answer of course, is as easy and  hard.
The hard part is that creative skills cost money. Designers just like you need to make a living and they have worked hard on developing their skills to be able to understand all the elements to make your business excellent.

Example of a website design cost and breakdown

It may seem  that they charge the earth but if you break down what they are adding into your business then it is actually a cheap service in relative terms. For example lets use the website example again; I suggested that a website designer charges you £2000 for a website that takes a month to make. Wo! You think that is so expensive!

But let me break it down for you : –

That designer is going to spend 40 hours a week on your website, they are going to create a photoshop mockup, design navigational systems, create a backup incase of emergency, improve your website security, improve your web speed performance, help gain a basic seo score for your intial pages, they will design a UI optimised for your customers experience, they then have to create all the graphics and marketing messages, they then have to code it in html, and css as well as possibly php, java, ajax, j-query and other languages that takes a long time to learn. They then will get your approval before making changes you want to happen and they may even show you how to update it and provide you with a user guide too if you are lucky.

Good design takes time


Now imagine how long all that takes? Yep a long time and they have a vast array of skills that is hard to find in just one person so you are likely paying for a web coding developer and a graphic designer.
You don’t care if your designer gets food on the table you just want an affordable design that brings new customers into your business don’t you.
Its okay, you can be honest, we all live our life to try and make it better for ourselves first and then if we help people along the way make their life better then that’s a great feeling too. So how is £2000 a great fee for something when you are waiting for customers to arrive at your door?

Breaking down the cost

A website should stay in vogue and technological style for at least two years so lets break the $2000 down.
$2000 divided by 24 months equals $83.33 per month. If your product is around $50 and you sell an extra 10 products due to your website you are gaining an extra $416.67 you weren’t before having the site ( i’ve included the monthly cost of the site) improving your business turnover.
So my final message is this give your business the resources it needs. As a business person learn the difference between a cost and and investment… not on a surface level, on a deep level. Think about the ultimate cost of starving your business of what it needs.

Just as importantly, you need to start asking yourself why you’re not investing where your business needs it. If your answer is “to save money and avoid risk”, I urge you to reconsider.

In the 21st century your business is more likely to fail without an online presence and there are so many ways you can market yourself digitally at a much cheaper rate than the old 20th century ways. I hope I have helped you see the importance of the creative industry to business progression. How important do you think trained creative people are to your business and how do you improve your business through creativity? Please comment in the box below

So you want to be a designer

I want to be a designer

Being a designer can be one of the most rewarding professions available to you (if your main talents are creative) but getting your first fully paid professional design job can be difficult particularly in this economy. It is a highly competitive market with thousands of new design graduates graduating every summer, opportunity to step into the creative industries is becoming more & more difficult. In this blog post I discuss what you will need to secure that dream vocation combined with my own search for a job in the creative industries.

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Most people find their passion when they are a child. Francis Xavier once said “give me a child untill he is 7 and I will give you the man” meaning that you will know what that child is likely to succeed well in by that age. What did you enjoy when you were just a toddler? Do you remember? I remember I used to draw,paint lots, design my own computer games, create my own paranormal magazine with membership & I was always on the computer! My passion was art, design & computing and it still is.

Go back to your childhood, find what it is you love and continue to develop that passion!

Skill Progression

designer, design, becoming a designer, skills

With time comes new technology, new technology means as a designer you must be willing to and wanting to learn about the latest trends, fashion & tools for creation. If you decide to stop learning and just happy to deal with the skills you have within 5 years you will be outmoded by the other designers that are constantly improving themselves. Don’t loose the race, keep practicing and keep learning.

One way to do this is use youtube for free photoshop tutorials, stumbleupon for the latest news in your industry, websites like www.photoshop.com for free tutorials or do a google search for the thing it is you are wanting to learn. The internet is a haven for everything you have EVER wanted to know if you search hard enough.


Again if you are serious about becoming a designer buy a domain name, hosting plan & start making content for the web. Also sign up to creative social media such as creativpool , behance, dribble, deviantart & flickr. Getting your work out to the masses is important…

Time Management

What do you do with your time? Do you spend more time watching tv than progressing your skills? Do you go out drinking three days out of seven? Could that time be used better? Everyone has a choice how they use their time but if you are serious about becoming a top designer , or a top anything in the industry you have chosen to enter you will have to reassess your time usage and see if you can use it in other ways. With the job market so competitive drinking with friends will keep good friends but they wont necessarily help you with job opportunities unless you are fortunate enough to have friends that are in the same industry as you.

Do another job but keep practicing

cocktail, part-time job, earn whilst you grow

Its okay if you are doing something totally irrelevant to your dream vocation of a design job, we all need to live.

My first job I was 18 in 2001 & i was working as a sales assistant in Burton Menswear, then I did bar work as a cocktail barman, I then tried plumbing, labouring, painting and decorating for years whilst practicing to become an architect, RNID Typetalk Operator ( so deaf people can use phones), a photo lab technician & eventually…when i was 28 in mar 2012 I finally landed my first creative job I had seeked since 2008…but it wasn’t in my hometown.

To make sure you don’t loose your passion that you had as a child, be focused & allocate time to your hobby when you are free so advancing your skills and knowledge base will continue to increase. One day you will have the portfolio to show to potential employees.

Do a degree or don’t do a degree?

This is something that many designers wonder. The benefits to degrees are you are learning from highly experienced designers with a lot of knowledge, you are learning how to research properly, you are showing potential employees your ability to commit to something with some intellect and you will have an aim such as design briefs to where you are designing to keep you motivated.

If degrees are good value for money is still in question. I think if you are really talented, with a strong portfolio and you have confidence ( not arrogance) you don’t need a degree.

Create things for friends and family

Be warned, although this seems like a good idea it can be frustrating, very frustrating and the only benefit to you is that you will increase your portfolio..thats not going to put food on the table.

I would recommend you advertise yourself on fiver.com or freelancer.com and at least get a small fee for your time whilst you build your portfolio up as friends are unlikely to pay you..or at least not what you would expect to receive for your skill and time.

Hit a brick wall, hit it back..or alternatively ..go around it

I graduated from Architecture in June 2008 when architecture and banking had taken a huge hit due to consumer confidence around the world. Such an effect that there was a 3000% reduction in part 1 positions ( the first stage to learning the practice of architecture ). This was very hard hitting and devastating especially when you put a lot of money and time into progressing your career and educational cv.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, yes you feel low and like you are being wasted but push yourself on, im sure there is another avenue for you. I tried teaching but that was not for me, i never wanted to work for government and it is just isn’t rewarding especially when you have pursued a career as a creative for so long before. The good thing about that course is that it opened up my eyes to IT as a creative avenue. Two paths were wrong for me but both gave me skills and experience to becoming a branding/graphics/web designer today.

Take it on the chin

Naturally, most creatives are very in touch with their emotions, that is what makes great artists great but learning to control your emotions when dealing with others opinions is important because not everyone will be a fan of your work so you need to get used to criticism. Criticism isn’t bad, it is how we designer’s make things better just as long as it doesn’t become personal then it can only make you a stronger professional.

Hardest truth for anyone pursuing a career dream

sunset, sunrise, adventure, move on, time to move way

How important is success to you compared to being close to friends, family and your home town?

The truth is your perfect job opportunity may not be where you have lived all your life and gained friends, life experience & comfort and for me…it wasn’t.

It was only after my most severe breakdown that I realized that I HAD TO leave my hometown as there was no opportunity and i was prepared to go ANYWHERE in the world ( I even began learning spanish & traveled to South America alone to work out if it was the place for me). You too need to adapt that attitude if you are serious about following your dream vocation, get you suitcase, pack your easel, paintbrushes & pens & get travelling! Remember, travel broadens the mind and being creative, that can’t be bad!

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Any other suggestions to how to become a designer please comment below


A week without Facebook

Pretty much ever since Facebook was invented I feel as though it has been the third arm I never had, a tool that now probably seems it is an integrated part of our life, checking on status of friends, looking at inspiring photographs & playing games. Now I am exploring more social media platforms I am wondering just how important Facebook is to me as a creative professional, sometimes i feel as though I waste too much of my time on Facebook when I should be spending time blogging, spreading posts on Reddit or Stumbleupon or maybe just creating some entirely new art away from the digital arena?

Being disconnected from the Matrix

Video : Interesting the Blue Pill keeps you in a state of not knowing..

The experiment has begun! My Facebook is now deactivated and I am going to see how my life is going to be effected. I will be reporting daily about the experience, what I am missing or what I am gaining from the fact I will no longer be using the king of social platforms. Will it be an eye opener or will it feel like I am missing an important part of my life? Only time will tell…

Living a semi-normal life

Trying to live a non facebook life will be interesting, it may be sad to admit but when I wake up the first thing I would do is check my facebook news feed for the latest bit of interesting facts. Surely this can’t be healthy and thus one of the reasons I am conducting the experiment.

Sign up to the rss feed

If you are interested to see how I cope for a week without Facebook and what I discover please subscribe to my blog at the bottom of the page to the right. I hope you enjoy following my anti-facebook journey.

Logo Design Inspiration

Sometimes, just like writers, we visual designers get creative blocks and we need a wee bit of inspiration to get our sparks flying. No matter how much you try it just doesn’t come to you. In this blog I plan to give you three locations to get logo design inspiration from.

The first website I have stumbled across is : –


logo pond

Logopond is a place for designers of logos to show a little bit of what they can do and their particular style amongst others. I am not on this yet but you bet, I’ll be on here shortly!

Visit Logpond for logo design inspiration

 Salford Challenge

salford challenge

Salford Challenge is a website where two designers go head to head design a new brand then other designers vote for the one they think has the x factor. These guys have some really great design skills that are worth a viewing every now and then.

Visit Salford Challenge Site

The Great Outdoors


Sometimes we are over thinking things and a simple break and stroll in a park will put the sparks back in your mind. Relaxing and having fun is all a part of being creative. Don’t stress man! Reeeelaaaax.


As i find more locations to find inspiration for logos I will add more posts regarding this. Best of luck in finding that genuis idea.

Life Drawing Examples & Experience from JA Wilson Design

Drawing someone you have never met

At the age of 20, as many creatives do, I undertook an art foundation BTEC which gave a taste into a fair few of the arts. Graphic design, illustration, 3d design, textile design & fine art where the main subject matters we got a taste of but regardless of the subject a student decided to undertake we were compulsory made to do some life drawing. When I first heard I would be drawing a life model ( or a nude ) whom I had never met it was quite a bizarre thought. Would it be a man, would it be a woman? Would they be old, would they be young? Would they be attractive or not?

life drawing, jawilson, jawilsondesign, jawilson artist

ample buzzoms

The very first life drawing I did was a woman roughly around 30 with ample sized breasts. The first time I saw the woman unrobe I thought this was a bonus of becoming an artist..but then..the more I got into the drawing of her the less it was a naked woman and the more it became just another object to convey artistically on paper.

life drawing, life drawing by jawilsondesign

high praise

My first life drawing I did actually got high praise from my tutors. I had a very difficult angle to draw ( not shown here ) as I was at the head of her so had to draw the perspective in so she didn’t look like she was floating. I was quite happy with what I had achieved with the charcoal and chalk on A0 paper. It was actually a really fun experience.

life drawing, life drawing by jawilsondesign

people have character

The next time I did a life drawing it was a large woman around 70 years old …o_0. Not good! Just as well I started imagining the person as an object rather than a naked person. It wasn’t quite the enjoyable expereince as before but she did have character which is why i suppose they choose an older person for us to draw, plus it doesn’t have any connection to anything else we might be interested in at the age the most of us where.

life drawing by jawilsondesign

various media experimentations

I tried testing different medias and different tools for each time I did a life drawing and the more I did it the more I enhanced my drawing skills and creativity. I do miss life drawing and it has been nearly a full decade since I last did any sort of life drawing which means it is long overdue. These are just a few of the life drawing examples I have done.

life drawing by JAWilsonDesign

life drawing in charcoal and chalk by jawilsondesign

life drawing using long stick and ink by JAWilsonDesign

life drawing in charcoal and chalk by jawilsondesign

life drawing in 60 seconds by jawilsondesign

If you would like to know any more about these pieces of work then please do not hesitate to contact me.

JA Wilson Designer & Artist

Artist : JA Wilson

Location: United Kingdom


Social Media

  • Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/jawilsondesign/
  • Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/jawilsondesign
  • Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/jawilsondesign


So what is your background?

Education :

As a young person I was always drawing, painting and creating cartoons, designing games and playing video games, a typical 1980s kid! Creative lesson were always my favorite at school ( as well as sport ) and I even won a creative writing trophy when i was 10 for my ability at using my imagination. Pursuing the art foundation and then studying an architectural degree, I dreamed of creating large artistically designed buildings but unfortunately graduated in may 2008 when the recession started.


I have exhibited my work in Knowsley Open Art Exhibition, Liverpool One Shopping District & other areas of Liverpool. This was me starting to take my art work seriously. I also entered paintings into the John Moores Painting Prize, probably one of the most highly sought after prizes by any artist.


What is your favourite medium?

I enjoy working and experimenting with any medium but my favourites are currently acrylic paint, ink,charcoal and chalk as well as Photoshop.

Do you have a common theme to your work?


Architecture & Banking took the biggest hits at first (as usually happens in any economic recession) and so few job opportunities in the industry were available. This was the start of a very difficult and dark time for me in my life. Things went from bad to worse as I attempted tutoring but was unfortunate enough to meet some very nasty people in the industry that were basically bullies, plus the influence of government also made it a very restrictive profession creatively, it was hell on earth to me, another profession i felt i was failing at.


Not only this but my partner at the time was not very supportive towards me and was pressuring me all the time about bringing money into the house. Eventually, 3 years later when i was the lowest i had ever been in my entire life, she left me… on boxing day.


Deep depression & finding path again

As stated earlier combined with the feeling of uselessness, being so far in debt. the pressure of my past partner to find work and the relationship failing, I became very low and didn’t know how to get out of feeling in this very dark abyss.


My paintings depict my experiences of this difficult time, the challenges i still face, dreams i have had, coming out of the depression/suicidal thinking and how being close to death can help you rethink life and to value certain things differently.

What inspires you?

My art work is based on my experiences of life through the ups and downs, the dreams i had and the battle to regain my sanity.

Do any other artists or designers influence how you work, if so who and how?

I like the work of Jackson Pollock due to the emotional connection he seems to have with his work and I am also inspired by Salvador Dali for his surrealist type of painting and the theme of dreams.

Is your work available to purchase?

At the moment it isn’t available to purchase but I hope in the near future to make it available. If you are interested in any of my work, please feel free to contact me.