What I Do
At its heart, the function of design is to communicate. Design in business plays a powerful role in the creation of marketing materials. Usually in tandem with persuasive copy, the design of an effective piece supports and guides your audience of prospects, leads, and customers into an emotional reaction to your product or service and its perceived value.
Done well, design for marketing is much more than just pretty—it is effective, because it yields results. Those results are often measurable: number of leads generated or number of sales closed or total amount of revenue collected. That means design for marketing is never “design for design's sake”; it has a job to do.
And that's what I do—communicate effectively to a business' audience (either online or in print) using visual tools of color, images, and typography, and employing such elements as balance, shape, emphasis, and harmony to achieve that goal.
I use industry-standard design and graphics software packages, especially Adobe Creative Suite modules (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, etc.). Currently I work in a PC environment because of my programming background, but I have also worked on Macs and am comfortable working in either environment.
First, schedule a FREE consultation session with me. When you decide to move forward to the next step, the following processes will get underway. Each project is different, so the steps listed below are generalizations:
Getting Started/Gathering Information
Whether your project is for a print piece or for online media, an analysis of the scope of your project begins with gathering information. I use a worksheet of questions I ask to determine your goals and audience for the project. We cover your market and its demographics, your competition, your message, your timeline, and your budget. I ask you for examples of past projects to discuss what worked and what didn't. I learn about your corporate image and what sets you apart.
I do use an Agreement/Estimate document which specifies the scope, timeline, and deliverables of the project and gives you billing options, based on our information gathering session. Work begins when I receive this signed Agreement and first payment.
I begin with research and brainstorming. Then I create a basic block layout that gives you an approximation of the relationships of information on the finished piece. This is a concept layout model only, submitted via PDF format, and after you've seen this early draft, I'll move on to specific colors, images, and typography.
Draft Refined and First Submittal
Using feedback from the Layout Review, a complete draft is developed and submitted for further review. Whether you've asked me to write the copy or you provide me with your own, this is your opportunity to see the copy in place. The piece may be considered final at this point, but two revisions are included in my fee, so this step may be repeated.
Discussion may reveal the need for refinement. If so, requested alterations (within scope) will be executed and another draft submitted for review.
Final Design Approval
When the final design is approved, print-ready files and graphics will be delivered for print projects by email or CD, while a CD backup will be sent to you for online media projects. Original artwork, if requested, is delivered upon payment of the final invoice.
Each project is somewhat different and consequently my fees vary a bit as well. I do not work on “spec.” In determining my fee for your project, I take into account the amount of research, concepting, designing, and format involved, the overall complexity, and the time frame requested for completion. Additionally, I have a price range for each category of project. Your project will be priced within that range, depending on the factors above, or if it is a "package" of services completed together. I'll be happy to send you my Fee Schedule upon request.
I set my fees according to industry standards as documented by the Graphic Artists Guild and The Writer’s Market. In general I charge a flat fee per project, rather than by the hour. This reduces any anxiety you may have about how long I'm taking on a project or time spent doing research. Two revisions are included in the quoted estimate, and are good for 30 days past the first submittal.
For larger projects, I usually charge one third to one half of my fee up front, and the remainder upon completion. The first payment is non-refundable and considered a kill-fee should you cancel the project part-way through. I also offer discounts for paying the entire fee upfront, and maintenance plans for ongoing website updates. Fees are payable by checks drawn on U.S. funds or by PayPal.
If I find a designer who charges less, can you match them?
No. Design is not a commodity, such as rice or beans. There is little differentiation between bushels of either. Complex items or services, however, have many levels of quality, and those with higher quality cost more.
Can you start right away?
Perhaps, but my focus is on current clients, and I never accept more than two or three projects at any one time.
How long will the project take to complete?
It depends on the scope of the project. Some projects may take a week or two, or even less, while others may take months. We'll discuss your scheduling needs upfront.
What do you mean by print-ready files and graphics?
For print projects, I submit graphics files that are ready for taking to the printer. That may mean PDF files, or it may mean artwork in JPG format. If you need artwork in other formats, please let me know.
Do you do printing, too?
No, but I can recommend printers or print brokers for your project. And I'm always available to provide advice when dealing with a printer—the questions to ask and ways to save on printing costs.
Do you provide domain name and web hosting services?
Pen and Brush Communications is neither a Domain Name Registrar nor Web Host, but I do provide selection information to help you set up an account with a service provider.
You're in a different part of the world from me. Can we still work together?
Of course. The use of electronic communication these days no longer makes distance a problem. For example, although I'm located in Minnesota USA, I've done work for a client on the East Coast USA and also a client in Italy. All we had to do was pay attention to differing time zones.