With more and more of us back in the office instead of working remotely, everyday work-related stress is beginning to creep back up to the pre-COVID-19 levels. Not to mention the economic changes and increased financial concerns that translate to pressure at work!
According to The American Institute of Stress:
A Walk in the Woods, no not the Bill Bryson book or the Robert Redford movie, an actual walk through the woods. For me this has always been the best way to clear my mind. A simple one-hour walk in nature after a stressful day is always a calming, stress-reducing way to improve your mood. Featured in this Time Magazine article, the Japanese call it Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing), opening your mind to all 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. That last one might sound strange, but I have a few secret trails that lead me to mulberries and a wild raspberry patch 😁)
As a graphic designer, a walk in the woods provides an added benefit – inspiration! I find it around every bend, and every twist and turn in the path. From the brightly colored flowers to the cool water cascading across the rocks, inspiration is all around. Listening to the breeze rustle the leaves in the trees, the sound of a stream splashing by, I turn my head up to follow the colorful birds and other critters chasing and playing through the treetops. The smell of evergreens, the crisp, cooling autumn air erases away the stress and takes me to another, more serene headspace. After a peaceful, leisurely walk, I return home rejuvenated and feel the weight on my shoulders has been lifted, and according to sleep.org., this makes for a better, deeper, more restful night’s sleep. So, turn off your phone, put on some comfortable shoes, and hit the trails!
A happy side effect of my love of nature is the scenic Wisconsin photography seen here, all of which I took within one hour of the Madison area. In most cases I just find a comfortable, secluded spot and watch everything happening around me, and the photos just present themselves.
Some great Madison-area hiking trails:
Picnic Point Marsh Loop
Cherokee Marsh Loop
Edgewood College Nature Trail
Capital Springs State Recreation Area
Todd Duane, a Madison native, is a Madison College graduate with a degree in Graphic Design. Todd started at Econoprint/Powderkeg in 2001 as a part-time Graphic Designer and part-time Proofreader in the design department. Now an award-winning Senior Creative Designer, Todd’s knowledge and attention to detail has earned the respect of many high-profile clients. In his free time, Todd enjoys photography, hiking, reading, movies, and discovering new disc golf courses throughout the state and beyond. Visit his design portfolio at tzone.myportfolio.com or follow him on Instagram as he travels the wilderness seeking new and exciting places! www.instagram.com/tzone007/
What is dpi, and why does it matter in the print world?
DPI (dots per inch) is used to describe the resolution number of dots per inch in a printed piece, the higher the number, the more info (dots) are stuffed into a 1-inch area, creating a more vibrant and visually pleasing printed photo. Conversely, fewer dots per inch results in a more blocky/choppy printed photo. See samples.
The goal is to use images with 300 dpi for all printed pieces. There can be exceptions, including photos used in large format displays, pop-up banners, and tradeshow booths. In these cases, the imagery is viewed from more than an arm’s length away, and the pixilation (choppiness) isn’t as noticeable.
So, how can you tell the dpi of your photos? There are a few tricks you can do on your home or office PC/Mac to check the dpi of each photo you plan to use in a printed piece.
So, now that you know the pixel size of your photo, use this formula to determine the size of your photo at the desired 300 dpi size:
Pixels ÷ 300 = the inches your photo will print at 300 dpi:
Example 3219 ÷ 300 = 10.73” & 4024 ÷ 300 = 13.41”
photo can print up to 10.73” wide x 13.41” tall and still look great!
This isn’t an unbreakable rule, as some photos will look good enough at only 200 dpi, but it gives you a guideline how the final print quality of a photo will look in your next brochure, flyer or poster.
You are ready to WOW your clients with a sparkly new brochure, and you are primed to take the industry by storm. Now you just need to show all your potential clients why they should choose you over your competitors. Easier said than done. Spend all the money in the world on fancy papers and gold-foiled emblems, but the content is what gets results and sells your services.
Where to Start
Keep it short and to the point.
Create Engaging Body Copy
Target your content to your specific audience. Mistakes are often made by trying to paint with too broad of a brush. You only have a limited time to catch their interest, so you need to create content that is direct and on point.
Write from a reader’s point of view, not a business owner. Think of questions that your current clients ask you on a regular basis, and answer them in your text. Also, when listing bullet points, think of them more as customer benefits instead of listing a bunch of services that may not be clear to the end user.
A good balance of words and images is preferred and keeps the reader from skipping large blocks of type.
Great photography is not only beautiful and engaging, but it can tell your story, make a great impression, or push a potential client in your direction or to a competitor.
Infographics are another great way to create impact by breaking up long blocks of text and statistical numbers with something colorful, beautiful, and engaging. According to Forbes Magazine, “visual information—when presented clearly—trumped textual information by tenfold, and the study revealed that 90 percent of all information we remember was based on visual impact.” Provide your designer with statistics, sales numbers, production timelines, etc. and let them create something beautiful and eye-catching.
Think about utilizing whitespace (negative space). There is no better way to draw attention to something than the minimalist approach of using whitespace. It’s better than bolding, adding a drop shadow, or the ever-popular starburst! Your eyes are naturally drawn to the singled out area of the page, and it’s easier on the eyes when whitespace is used in body copy vs. forcing large amounts of text into tight areas. The following examples show text at the same size, but Sample 1 has a nice, readable laid-back feel, while Sample 2 has more of a hurried, frantic style.
Map Out Your Content
We will use the good old, tried and true, trifold brochure as an example, but the same principles apply to most layouts.
Panel 1 (cover of brochure when folded) The cover should have impact, and be an attention grabber. It should never be laden with text and information. The most effective designs will simply include a company logo, some imagery, possibly a tagline, and if so inclined, minimal contact info (website and phone).
Panel 2 (the first page seen when opening the brochure) Panel 2 is maybe the second most important panel of the brochure. It usually includes a summary of your business, a snapshot if you will of what you have to offer to the client.
Panels 3–5 (inside panels) This is where the meat and potatoes of your information usually goes. Oftentimes photos, graphics, or varying backgrounds are used to divide the space and keep it interesting.
Panel 6 (back of brochure when folded) Panel 6 is most often used for contact information and a call to action. End your message with a purpose (schedule an appointment, sign up for, act quickly to take advantage of…). A call to action could also work well at the bottom of panel 5, a natural ending point to the information on the inside.
Brochures can be an important part of your marketing strategy. Think of them as a portable sales rep, something to convey your message, or a representation of your company after an introductory meeting with a client.
Your information in the right hands can be a powerful tool for your success!
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