10 Tips for Writing Content

  1. Research Research Research. immerse yourself in your client’s brand, mission, products, services, and consumers. Get inside their heads.
  2. Adopt and/or develop your client’s voice. Assess their public-facing personality. Is it formal and professional?  Is it personal, engaging, friendly, or even humorous?  If they want to change their persona, work with them to craft a new voice.
  3. Create a visual hierarchy. Communicate key point(s) visually using typographic design elements (typeface, color, scale, placement, among others).
  4. Keep it simple. Simplicity isn’t easy. But you don’t want too many competing design or text elements on a web page, flyer, brochure, or advertisement.  Invite the audience to focus on and engage with what is most important about the message.
  5. Think like a poet. Carefully craft your language to be lean and expressive, without a single unnecessary word. To get in the mood, read haiku.
  6. Zoom in/Zoom out. Zoom in on the details and elements of a piece, and periodically zoom out and evaluate whether the elements work together as a whole. 
  7. Tell the story. Pay attention to the narrative arc of the design and copy. Every graphic, photo, and text element should contribute to the story your client wants to tell.
  8. Craft an informative title. The title or heading of a piece is the single most important opportunity to provide information about what the work is about.  A single, well-chosen word or phrase in a title does the heavy lifting involved in inviting reader engagement.
  9. Select meaningful photos and graphics. Stock photographs and graphics are ubiquitous, but resist the urge to use them without careful consideration of how they add to the message.
  10. Never stop learning. Stay current on industry trends, market research, usability, and professional discussions about marketing and design.  Professional societies, social media groups, professional/academic research and theory, all stimulate and reinforce your professional instincts.

Poetry Book Cover: Nowhere All At Once


Grace Bauer selected one of my collages for the cover of her book of poems, Nowhere All At Once.   From  the  book  jacket:

Grace Bauer’s poems in Nowhere All At Once do everything all at once and quite successfully — mixing a tender sense of human and worldly presence with a lush instinct for sound, a compact flow of narrative, the perfect weight of wry humor, and an acutely attentive vigilance to all surroundings… Bauer’s balancing perspectives help “illuminate a greater regard” about everything mysterious and wondrous we are living.”  Naomi Shihab Nye

The 1000th Collage

As I began thinking about my final collage, I set out to do a couple of things: one was to use my good stuff (the ephemera I’m hesitant to use):  Asian-themed tissue paper, dots with squiggles that look like cyborg bats from a children’s book, part of a vintage letter with sublime handwriting, and a postage stamp of a cat that looks like my beloved Tomtom.  So here it is:

The 1000 Collage

I didn’t notice until it was finished, scanned, and posted to my blog site that the stamp had the number 1000 printed on it. There’s often a bit synchronicity in collage, but this was borderline spooky.

Collage Time-Lapse Video

As I neared the completion of the 1000 collages project, I was inspired by my new iPhone’s time-lapse movie app and made a video demonstrating the construction of two collages. It’s not going to make me a YouTube star, but looking at it now, I find how I was messing around with composition interesting.  It’s not something I think about as I’m doing it; it’s more an intuitive process.

1000 Collages Inspiration

I was first inspired to create a daily collage by reading an article in Somerset Studio magazine about Randel Plowman’s “A Collage a Day” blog. About a year into the 1000 Collages project, I bought Plowman’s The Collage Workbook: How to Get Started and Stay Inspired.  The book stayed on my studio table for the next two years.

The book includes the basics of collage making: tools, materials, design basics, and techniques.  But for me, the most useful and fun section of the book is Plowman’s “50 Creativity Exercises.”  There were plenty of days over the course of three years when I didn’t feel like making a collage.  On those days, there was always at least one exercise that could move me.  I used one of my favorites, “Typography,” so often I dedicated one of my galleries (Text Effects) to the results.  And even if I didn’t feel like reading, there was plenty of eye candy for inspiration.