Image Image Image Image Image
Scroll to Top

To Top


Through this website and blog it is my hope to offer news bits about current graphic design challenges (my own and others) as well as fine art news. To continue with the theme of my new book, "Graphic Design Exposed," this blog will expose the development of graphic design and fine art projects. From time to time I will invite guests to blog here in order to keep the news and views fresh and informative.
Please click on the orange and white envelope icon to receive email updates.

Sharing my passion for communications design

On 22, Mar 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman


Guest, Susan Cooper, with Hackman art card, “Palm Tree Seeds”

Thursday, March 17, I was honored to be the guest speaker at a luncheon hosted by the Boca Raton Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. During the talk I traced my career in industrial design, painting, illustration, graphic design and as author of Graphic Design Exposed (Amazon $9.99). I stressed the importance of good communication design and offered guests many tips for creating their own outstanding communications materials on the web and in print. It was a great pleasure to speak on a subject about which I am so passionate. Please contact me if you would like me to speak to your organization.

“All our members and guests at the luncheon enjoyed your discussion and the information was relatable to all of us. I thought you were one of our best speakers all season,” Carol White NLAPW board member

The National League of American Pen Women was founded in 1897 to promote the development of creative women in the arts. Members include newspaper and magazine writers, screenplay and book authors, sculptors and painters in all media, photographers, public relations and advertising experts, musicians and composers. The Boca Raton Branch routinely reaches out to the community with writing programs and contests, as well as public art shows.

Me with NLAPW member, Dayle Hertsik

Me with NLAPW member, Dayle Hertsik

Pin It

Fringed All-Stars Worn by a Real Star

On 01, Mar 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

Nina Lares performing with Dave Schultz at Honey Del Ray 20160219

Thanks to photographer Sandy Schwartz for this great photo of Nina

When Trina Slade Burks told me that the Converse All-Star high tops I embellished with fringe, had sold at the Art Synergy/Continuum auction to benefit Faith’s Place, I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when I met Nina Lares, the shoes’ new owner. How could I not feel exhilarated? This recent California transplant has an awesome singing voice, an effervescent personality and a great love for the arts. I had an opportunity to hear her sing last Friday evening at Honey in Delray Beach, performing with a group of California musicians led by Dave Schulz, a former band member of the GooGoo Dolls.

Nina’s Jazz Ensemble performed regularly in the Los Angeles area. She is also a makeup artist and along with hairstylist/musician Alfonso Afanador, founded The Factory Hair & Makeup Studio in her former hometown. Named “Best Of” in several of Pasadena’s publications, The Factory is home to both an art gallery & DJ booth – furthering the unique location’s magnetism and chic ambiance.

Welcome to Palm Beach County, Nina!


My 4 tips for completing projects on time

On 09, Feb 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I like to submit completed projects on time or in advance of their deadline. Truth be told; if a client needs something ASAP, I will do everything within my ability to complete the work on short notice. However, I do try to avoid the frantic round-the-clock-all-nighter project mode of work. Below are some steps I take to complete projects on schedule. Although I’ve described the tasks as being part of a graphic design marketing or visual communications project, the steps can apply to nearly any project.

business-project-timeline-01ONE: Review the entire scope of the project with the client.

 TWO: Develop a timeline by breaking the project into phases and setting a deadline for each.

  1. In addition to setting a deadline when all work must be complete, I ask the client what a reasonable amount of time might be for them to review each phase. I include their review time and turnarounds on modifications of the work in the timeline.
  2. If certain tasks are dependent upon the work of others, I take into account this possible extra time.
  3. I determine two phases during the project development where I compare project components’ compatibility with the final output requirements. This might involve communicating with outside vendors such as a printer; a production company for trade show or; an online source where I might want to check placement, browser compatibility and loading time. Checking for compatibility, running a test or trial or submitting a rough concept to those involved in the projects’ production will eliminate last minute unpleasant

THREE: Allow ample time for proof reading. Ask someone who has not yet reviewed the project to look at it for content and clarity. Those involved most closely with the project might consider a piece of information common knowledge or after revising it too many times, may skip over necessary edits, such as an incorrect URL or missing phone number. Having an outsider, or member of the target market group review the communications piece will make the end product more successful.

FOUR: Be vigilant about adhering to the timeline. Check often to be certain that all involved are keeping up with the planned goals and their individual timelines for each phase. Troubleshoot, as needed.

Do you have tips for completing projects on schedule without entering the panic mode near the finish line? If so, please comment.

Pin It

Commissioned painting is a recognition gift

On 29, Dec 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

It’s always a wonderful occurrence when I am able to use my fine art skills for clients with whom I’ve been providing graphic design and vice versa. I am happy to share with you a recently completed watercolor painting. The painting was commissioned by Palm Healthcare Foundation in recognition of Mark W. Cook’s significant contribution to the work of Palm Healthcare Foundation and the Mollie Wilmot Center.

Mollie Wilmot Center painting

Pin It

Sea Gull Paintings

On 01, Dec 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I would like to introduce two of my newest artworks; “Gulls Conversation” and “Orange Feet.” I chose this subject matter because I enjoy the graphic quality of the birds’ markings against the background of their environment.

I enjoy exploring visual intersections; observing the edges of things where the light meets the dark, where the natural meets the human-made, where the old meets the new, land meets water.

During the recent few years, my concentration has been the development of textural techniques with 2-D media to better express the qualities of the subject matter. The recent works use many techniques to depict and express the mood of the birds in relation to their environment. The process is an integral part of the product. I work freely, incorporating materials and tools that satisfy the mood and spirit of the painting. For these pieces, I used traditional watercolors, gesso, acrylic paint, thai unryu paper, mat board scrapers, sponges, button thread, a stiff bristled oil painting brush, traditional watercolor brushes, my fingers, a toothbrush, and spray water bottle.

Gulls orange Feet inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach. Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22" x 15"; $750

Gulls Orange Feet inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach.
Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22″ x 15″; $750

Gulls-Conversation inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach. Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22" x 15"; $750

Gulls-Conversation inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach.
Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22″ x 15″; $750


Pin It

Communicating with caregivers and parents

On 17, Nov 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

Upon completion of the preschool project (November 10 post) I wondered how a school principal at a public elementary and middle school might handle the challenges of communicating with a large, diverse, and very busy parent and caregiver population. I asked Teresa (Tere) Stoupas, Principal of the Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach.

Part of the school’s mission states, “We seek to empower a diverse range of scholars, artists, and leaders through a unique and rigorous academic and music education.”

CH: Parents are very busy. How often do you, the principal, or administration communicate with families and caregivers?

TS: We use several methods of communication, for example: weekly email blasts to parents and community, monthly e-newsletters, back-pack messages, call out to home/cell phones, Twitter and marquee messages.

CH: About what topics does the school need to communicate with parents and caregivers? Policy changes? Days-off?

TS: School events, policies, calendar, testing, community activities, deadlines, and many subjects.

CH: Do teachers send communications home everyday?

TS: There is a home/school folder in K-2 and a student agenda (composition book) in 3-7.  Notes and information from teachers go home in these ways.

CH: What format (media) is the most effective communications tool? Paper notes, text message twitter, facebook, phone robo calls?

TS: A combination of many formats are used to reach out to as many families as possible.  Paper messages are also translated into Spanish and Creole as well so that we can get information out to parents who need language translations.

CH: Has the school found any creative ways such as backpack tags or SMS in communicating with parents and caregivers?

TS: We have occasionally used QR codes on materials if that counts!!

CH: Is there anything that you might want to add as a suggestion for optimal parent/school communication?

TS: I recommend that school staff communicate their ideas to each other.  Sometimes teachers find new ways to communicate that can ‘catch fire’ on a campus and is quickly shared across grade levels….this is what happened with Shutterfly at our school.

I also recommend a Twitter account for all administrators/teachers.  I have a large PLN (personal learning network) that helps me see what other schools and districts are doing.  I have hundreds of educators that I learn from which help me keep an open mind and awareness of new opportunities to better connect with parents and community.

CH: I’d like to thank Tere for sharing her knowledge and time. If you would like to follow Tere on Twitter she can be found @stoupasteresa.


An example of digital information that is sent via email to parents or used by Tere via Twitter

An example of digital information that is sent via email to parents or used by Tere via Twitter

Pin It

Illustrate Your Resume

On 22, Sep 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I recently worked with an enormously talented arts-education integration specialist and photo-journalist, Jean Hart Howard. She asked if I could add some interest to her resume. The resume was robust. It was filled with lists and descriptions of Jean’s credentials, experience, exhibits and awards. However, the text heavy resume prevented the reader from grasping her high level of creative energy and expertise.

We worked together to select photos  from her arts integration teaching classes to create a grid in the center of the resume that showed the work of her students. Text  was edited and headings were bolded and colored to match elements from the featured artworks.

Visual elements add more interest and “personality” to a resume or one page business information sheet.

Below are a couple of links to previously published articles about this topic:

  1. on my blog:
  2. A very comprehensive article that I wrote for The Rickie Report:


Pin It

Steve Blackwood, In Three Simultaneous Exhibits in Palm Beach County

On 15, Sep 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

poppyA few weeks a go The Rickie Report asked me to complete an article about internationally acclaimed sculptor, Steve Blackwood. I always enjoy working with Rickie but this time I was particuarly excited about the request to write an article. I had recently returned from the “Reimagined” exhibit at the Delray Center for the Arts at Old School Square. I found much of the work captivating and was thrilled to learn that I now had an opportunity to speak directly with Steve Blackwood, one of the artists whose work I admired.

My focus was on Steve’s process. I have a background in industrial design and currently work as a graphic designer and fine artist. I appreciate that in order to produce the mixed-media, sculptural pieces Steve must combine numerous materials, forms, and finishes.  For many of his smaller pieces, Steve works with found objects. The smaller scale permits him to experiment with the elements’ position and relationships until the assemblages look just right. The larger pieces are planned more carefully because of the time and cost involved with experimenting. Many sketches are begun in Photoshop which allows Blackwood to simulate how parts will come together. Sometimes Steve uses ebay and etsy to get parts for projects. When the items in his imagination cannot be found, he calls upon other artists and craftspersons to fabricate items.

Please visit The Rickie Report to read the entire article: Steve Blackwood, Internationally Acclaimed Sculptor, In Three Simultaneous Exhibits in Palm Beach County


Pin It

Has your organization fallen into the tagline trap?

On 25, Aug 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

This blog article is a cautionary tale about adding taglines to logos.

A graphic designer (sometimes me!) will design the perfect logo for an organization. The logo will be a clean, concise visual communication piece that clearly brands the organization or company. But then, some of the powers that be at the organization feel that a tagline is necessary. The graphic designer is asked to add a tagline, URL or CEO’s name to the logo in a permanent “lock-up.” This means that the logo will always appear “locked” with the tagline or requested text. The impact of the clean, concise visual brand image becomes diluted and lost.

Sometimes the tagline and CEO’s nteamworks-example-reduceBame really are necessary. Sometimes, not. Consider developing a guide that defines the circumstances under which a lock-up will be used. Some considerations include, the overall size of the logo in the layout, type of media, or duration of use of the communications piece. The additional parameters will assist in making the most visually strategic decisions.


Pin It

Is a rainbow the promise of good things?

On 18, Aug 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I always feel sad on the first day of school. The long sunshine and freedom filled days of summer suit me better than any other time of year. Even now, as an empty-nester, I still feel a little sad as autumn approaches and days grow shorter.

Nearly every time that I have dropped one of my precious children off at a location that caused me sadness or anxiety; first day of school, sleep away camp, or college, I would look up into the sky and see a rainbow. I always felt that it was a sign that things would work out well.

Today is the first day of school for Palm Beach County school children. As I took an early morning walk with my greyhound, I enjoyed two rainbows in the sky. One was the largest I’ve ever seen and the other smaller. I hope there are parents who enjoyed the show…or maybe it was just for me and my first day back in the studio after vacation.


Pin It