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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.

Fear Not, Social Media Can Be Your Friend!

On 21, Aug 2012 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

Guest blogger, Marlene Passell

Guest blogger, Marlene Passell

By Guest Blogger, Marlene Passell

As a freelancer working with a variety of businesses and nonprofits, I find the thing they have in common is a fear or lack of information about social media.  The result? They are missing out on great opportunities to engage their clients and find new ones.

The biggest fear seems to be that social media is time consuming and many can’t see the benefits they may reap from it. Just remember that social media should be just one tool in a well-stocked toolbox – that it is a great way to get suggestions and input from customers and potential ones and a virtually free method to get word out about your services, what makes you unique and why your business or nonprofit stands out above others with similar missions.

All of you should have a website and include as many links as possible, even within the site, from one page to information on another.  And, whenever possible, put up a two- or three-minute video of a how-to or a testimonial from satisfied customers.  This increases your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which means you move up to the top of the heap on search engines such as Google.  In plain terms, if you’re in the business of selling a product or service and someone puts it in as a search term, you’ll move up to the top of the list.

Then use social media such as Facebook or Twitter to announce what’s new or what you do or what people are saying on your website and link them back to it. Set your business or organization up as an expert in your field by offering how-to tips about your product or service – that’s one of the best ways to get people clicking over to your site.  You’ll find that a few hours of updating a week will increase your visibility and you can get creative and have fun doing it.

Guest blogger Marlene Passell is a journalist and owner of Media and Communications Management Services.

Getting Ready for a Photo Shoot

On 06, Aug 2012 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

In my book, Graphic Design Exposed, I discuss hiring and working with a professional photographer in order to gain optimal results.

On Wednesday I’ll be working Red Morgan, a professional photographer. We’ll spend the day with Michael Gillis, Executive Director at Lifeskills South Florida, a residential mental health facility.

The key to making most of the time that we have together is preparation and communication. I thought that I would share some steps I’ll take to make the day a success. The planning begins well in advance with a phone call from Michael during which we discuss the kind of photos we’ll need for upcoming projects. I take notes, list priority photos, and which shots will include people. Then I begin working on a chart (see below). I email the chart to Red Morgan. We discuss the weather, time of sunrise and the direction that the building is facing. I add some notes to the chart and share it with Red and Michael.

Notice on the chart, that our top priority photos are scheduled for the afternoon. That is because we will need to take advantage of the morning sun’s position in the sky for as many of the outdoor photos as possible. We asked anyone who will be included in a photo to wear soft solid colors or small prints, no solid black or white. They also need to bring a change of clothes (most importantly a shirt) in case what they are wearing does not work in the scene.

If you are planning to hire a photographer for your company the list below will help you during the shoot.
– Wear running shoes.
– Have a step ladder, cleaning supplies and face powder on hand.
– Offer assistance to the photographer with handling equipment.
– Look for any flaws in a scene that might render the photo unusable. This might include sprinkler run off, leaves on a walkway, a trash can, etc.
– Take tight photos as well as ones with some background. Take vertical and horizontal photos of the same subject matter. This way you will have the most flexibility when it comes to using the photo in designs later on.
Have Fun!

photo shoot preparation chart

photo shoot preparation chart

Lifeskills South Florida

Lifeskills South Florida iconic Key West style architectural image

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Standing while working

On 31, Jul 2012 | 2 Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

After a back injury in 2008 and surgery that worsened my situation, I began to search for ways to remain productive in my studio without compromising my back. A therapist friend visited my studio and assisted me in adjusting all the components in my workplace for maximum comfort. There was still no improvement.

Friends sent me information about standing desks. Although I was accustomed to standing while painting, I could not imagine standing while doing graphic design work.

In late 2010, I began meeting twice a week with Anna, a pilates and yoga instructor. She determined that my back muscles were weak. “Using good posture and standing more throughout the day will strengthen your muscles and assist you in feeling better,” she told me. I read the article, “Is Sitting Lethal” in the New York Times and finally decided to give it a try. I noticed a huge improvement in the health of my back, increased energy and a clarity of thought.

It’s mid-2012 now. Standing-while-working is the norm for me with walking and sitting breaks every-so-often. My dog Callie enjoys wrapping herself around my feet for a portion of each day.

The two Levenger leather chairs in my studio are for sale. Would you like to purchase them?

Callie at my feet

Callie at my feet

office chairs for sale

Levenger leather office chairs for sale

The One-Pager

On 25, Jul 2012 | One Comment | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

A favorite design challenge of mine is the one-pager. It is an opportunity to define what a business or organization is all about in a restricted space. A well laid out, uncluttered approach is always best. Large photos, headers and areas of white space assist the reader in absorbing the information.

I recently had the opportunity to work with a close friend, Penny Levy, to produce a one pager for her nutrition analysis practice. The elements with which we worked were a salad bar photo, contact information, molecular symbols, list of services, portrait photo, certifications and work statement.

What do you think of our results? If you are working on a one page design and would like a critique please I would be happy to offer suggestions. contact me and I’ll tell you how to send me the file.

Penny Levy Nutrition Analysis one page design

Penny Levy Nutrition Analysis one page design

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Logo Design for Madre Verde

On 20, May 2012 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

Madre Verde’s founder, Elizabeth Ortman wished to have a logo that encompassed her deep spiritualism, love of nature and of yoga. Elizabeth told me that she envisioned a mother cradling the earth. Sharing Elizabeth’s spirituality, and love for nature and yoga, I leapt into action. Many images came to mind while working on the logo. I like the circular movement of Picasso’s old man and guitar, the foot position of the Sarnath Buddha and the yin yang symbol. Elizabeth always wears her long hair in two braids. I tried to capture the braid in the logo without adding too much detail.

Sarnath Buddha influence for Madre Verde logo

Sarnath Buddha influence for Madre Verde logo

Picasso's Old Man With Guitar

Picasso's Old Man With Guitar influence for Madre Verde logo

final Madre Verde logo

Madre Verde logo

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Baskets made from plastic supermarket bags

On 03, Jan 2012 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

This is a new craft I learned during my recent trip to Israel, where the shops all use colorful thin plastic bags. Bad for the environment great

plarn crocheted baskets

plarn crocheted baskets

for making plarn projects. I think these can be considered 100% post consumer content.

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Brochure for Grier Summer

On 18, Jul 2011 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

Grier Summer ( needed a new brochure for the camp program. The brochure was designed as a quick overview of all the Grier Summer offerings. It has the ability to function as a stand-alone piece or as a carrier for a CD that describes the camp programs in greater detail. Helen, director of Grier Summer offered me the creative freedom to create this lovely die-cut piece. Thanks Helen.

Grier Summer brochure and DVD carrier

Grier Summer brochure and DVD carrier

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The Motivated Child Banner Designs

On 31, May 2010 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

These three banner designs for the Motivated Child are meant to form a continuous display for conferences and trade shows. Jaylene Garau developed the Motivated Child program with busy families in mind. Her hope is that The Motivated Child will enrich the lives of families who use it and motivate children to do and to be their best.

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Card design for Clark and McCarthy Engineers

On 31, May 2010 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

Clark and McCarthy engineers requested a design for a dual-purpose card. They asked that I design an announcement of their new business partnership and include a message of holiday greetings.

Clark and McCarthy Engineers

Card Design for Clark and McCarthy Engineers

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Greyhound Pets of America

On 02, Oct 2009 | No Comments | In Design | By Caren Hackman



This is a brochure I designed to promote adoption of retired greyhounds.