Monday, March 2, 2015

Working with a designer

As a multi-media artist and designer I put together a series of tips in order to address some of the most common issues that come up when making and creating promotional materials for an event, organization, business or service from the perspective of a designer. 

These little tidbits are part of a series:

How to work with a designer!

When you’re working with a designer it’s important to let them know what you want.
“I would like a brochure/ flyer or poster for my business”. If you’re not sure, tell them you’re not sure but at least let them know WHY you want it. “I want a _____ I can hand out so customers know what I offer/ provide and how or where to find me”. Or “I want something I can put up on facebook to make a fb event.”
Most times, a designer will provide you with their recommendations and let you know what they need from you, *how long it will take them and the cost.
*How long it will take a designer actually depends on YOU and whether or not you have all the information they need. Which brings me to…

About 90% of people will ask me to design websites or lay-out their posters and booklets BUT have no content for me to put on it. They don’t understand if I don’t have the images and text I need I can’t do anything! Let me stress this very important point again! If YOU don’t give me the images and text I need I can’t do anything! I can’t just “do what I do” no matter how much you “trust my judgment”… if I have absolutely nothing to put on whatever it is you want me to design. 

You would not go to a restaurant and expect the chef to know what you want and if someone asked you what you wanted your answer would never be “Just do whatever it is you do & I will love it I’m sure”  So I have no idea why you would answer your designer in the same manner. The chef needs to know what you want in order to provide it for you and a designer needs to have content, YOUR content, in order to provide you with whatever it is you’re asking for.

I know it sounds silly but being a magic, mind reading prophet became part of my job description. It’s true, ask any designer. We are expected to know what goes on your event poster without being told. We’re supposed to be able to look into your mind and find out who, what, when, where, why and for how much or we’re expected to look into the future and see what’s happening, when and where or we’re expected to perform magic and just make the content appear from nowhere. But it doesn’t work that way. Every delay in any project I have been involved in has always been a result of NOT having or not being given appropriate content!
So, if you don’t know what content we need here’s my little formula. Content should include:
a.     TEXT!
Text that answers the w5 (who, what, when, where, why) of what you want to market. Who are you? What are you doing? When is it happening? When are you open? Where can I find your products or services? Why do I need this? And how much is it going to cost me or how can I find out more information?
b.     Images/graphics you have the rights to reproduce and/ or print.
I do not like it when people steal… ehem… “borrow” and “use without my permission” something of my design with the intent to reproduce not for the original audience or in the manner of my choosing, so please do not ask me to do that to someone else. If you don’t have photos, take some. Use your smart phone if you have to just make sure the picture is clear and not blurry. We can edit and crop.
c.     Text should be proof read and edited PRIOR to handing it over to the designer. Unless you notify us before-hand, most designers will not know your content has not been edited and has spelling mistakes. In fact on most occasions we don’t even read what we’re given until the very end at final job… PRINTING. Why? Because our job is to LAY-OUT and design the text and images/ graphics you gave us in a way that’s appealing to a certain audience. We’re checking out balance, flow, color theory, typography, appeal, visibility and asking ourselves: does this stand out? Would it catch my attention? Where do my eyes go when I first see this? Then where? We’re comparing it to other materials we’ve designed or what others have designed for the same audience.
d.     Please understand, not having this, will result in delays in the final product!
Not having this to your designer in the beginning of the project or upon request by your designer is not a reflection of their abilities as a designer but in yours as a project manager. If you tell us you’ve noticed errors in the text and are editing the text, we stop production. Why? Because the simplest changes sometimes have the most impact on our designs. Changing 20 words to 5… makes a huge difference in the lay-out. The bigger the changes to your edits… the longer it’s going to take, because in most cases it’s not a simple copy and paste or drag and drop.
e.     Be realistic & consistent with the final product.
The smaller the final product the less content you should have and vice versa.
I was once given about 3-4 paragraphs of text and 1 logo and asked to make a 5 page website and I have a designer friend who was given 11 pages on 8.5 x 11 paper, double sided and asked to put it on a single panel CD cover. Like WTF? Seriously people? But guess what! We did! How? we’re magic and that’s part of our job description now-a-days! 
f.      Include ADDRESS & CITY for any materials that are going to be distributed online!! One of my biggest pet peeves is when a poster on facebook says “Event starts at 7 pm at Building X” as if I am supposed to just KNOW where that is. Is it in my city? Or even my province? The poster may be on an event page somewhere, but when a friend of a friend of the husband of the original post has only shared the event poster and not the event… how am I supposed to JUST KNOW?  If I have to go out of my way to find out more information for your event unless its something I really want to see or go to… you already lost me as a customer.
g.     Include all relevant information in your content.
It wastes my time if I have to stop designing to look up or find/ create content you probably have and should have given me.
If you receive an email from us, please respond in a timely manner. Enough said!

3.     Review the draft and suggest your edits in a timely manner.
We understand you’re busy and you have other things to do but do you understand I do too? If you want this project finished and ready to send to the printers Friday so you can have it by Monday’s morning meeting and we send you the first draft Tuesday don’t message me any time after 3 pm on Friday IN A FENZY expecting me to drop everything to meet your deadline that we could have met, had you just reviewed it when I originally sent it to you! You don’t want to work weekends? Guess what! Neither do i! Especially if I met my deadline and haven’t heard from you in regards to the edits. When you ask me to “change this one little thing” it’s going to take me a lot longer than 2 minutes. I am a professional. I have to once again review the layout of said changes, in the same manner mentioned in paragraph 2 c.

4.     Get a second person to review the final draft
Have someone else look at it. Both you and I have looked at it to death, a fresh set of eyes will notice something we haven’t, guaranteed!

5.     Acknowledge your designer when and where appropriate
There’s no harm in showing some appreciation to the people whose business it is to make your business look good.  So if you’re going to post your final product on social media, be sure to “tag” and/ or acknowledge those who helped you- including a photographer or graphics designer and if you are on linked in… “endorse” their skills and “recommend” their services. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

My Vision Wheel

I was told as a child to be careful what I put out to the universe because once we put it out there... it's out there and once its out there, the universe has a way of making things happen (or not happen).

In the beginning:
When I was in my early-to-pre-teens I had a very vivid dream and I wrote it down.

I didn't want to forget any of it so I could tell my gramma everything the next time I saw her. When I finally saw her and showed her the paper I wrote my dream on she shook her head at me and told me to be careful what I put on paper. She said once it's on paper it's on there forever! Erasing it wouldn't change the fact that I already wrote it & I would never be able to fully erase it even if I tried. Nor could I control where it goes or who sees it after it's written.

She went on to tell me about our connection as beings within the universe and the power we have, as Indigenous people, because of our spiritual connections with the universe. Specifically our minds.
"Our mind is a powerful gift. The power of the mind and the power to understand it and how to use it is one of our greatest strengths. Its what makes us- as beings, different from all the other creatures on the planet", she said. Therefore, I needed to be careful because I was not only putting it out to the universe through my thoughts or words but doing it more permanently in the written form. Adding, when *Syilx people drew what was in our minds we were "making it so", because when we drew what was in our minds it was done in ocre on a rock face and it was done for a reason.
*Syilx people are the original peoples in the unceded traditional territory of the Okanagan Valley and is in BC's southern interior. 

Today, whether we're doing it with pen/ paper or keyboard and screen... my gramma was right! Once we write down what's in our minds, it's done and can't be undone! So when I choose to write my thoughts on pen and paper or using my keyboard and screen I am very careful about what I put out there.

The origin:
As I got older, I noticed people intentionally writing things down and putting it out to the universe- as 5 year plans or vision boards,etc... I was seeing people apply this teaching I was warned about in good ways for their lives. Something I still needed to learn. Many years later I took a life skills class and for one of my assignments I had to write down my first five-year plan. So I wrote my first five-year plan and finished everything on it three years later.

This showed me my gramma was right! BUT it also showed me that putting my ideas on paper was a good idea. This also allowed me to see how Indigenous concepts and world views when compared to similar westernized concepts can prove our methodologies are practical, biological or scientific and aren't just legends and stories or make believe. From then on, I would journal my ideas.

Seeing my ideas on paper somehow makes it real. Makes them possible and reachable. I began using my "book of ideas" as a place to put down (as a list) what I wanted to do and how I needed to make it happen.

After awhile, I needed something more. Writing it down as a list wasn't enough! I needed to SEE IT! As an Indigenous woman and a visual learner, I needed to be able to see what I was working towards, so I stopped writing my ideas and started searching for ways to write my ideas and projects in a way that made it easier for me to visualize.

My Vision Wheel:
Sometime last year, while doing research for a project, I came across a diagram that reminded me of a medicine wheel even though it wasn't one. It was just a pie chart. One I've seen 1000s of times so idk why this particular time it reminded me of a medicine wheel? But in the centre of this pie chart circle was another circle and written on that inner circle was the word PROJECT.

Written in the pieces of the pie were words like "brainstorm, make a plan, find your resources, attain funding... and underneath those words was a description. It was like a brainstorming bubble or mind map... with a purpose. Instantly my brain started to click... so I grabbed my sketch book and drew a circle and drew another circle inside it and made my own segments.

I tried writing within the pieces of the pie chart but about 20 circles later I needed to figure a new way to do it because I couldn't get my writing to stay within the segments. I looked at the paper and assessed its size (8.5" x 14") and had an idea.

In place of drawing a circle I made a small square in the centre of the page.
I then drew lines from the corners of the small square both horizontally and vertically making 3 rows of 3 equal sized squares dividing the paper to look like a number sign (#).

I still wasn't satisfied yet!

To me, it didn't look much like the wheel anymore and I needed more segments for me to make a one year plan. So after looking at my paper, I drew lines from each of the corners diagonally until the lines reached the inner square, dividing my page into 13 segments.

There! I had it! Now I was done. 12 segments + 1 focal point.
I could make my one year plan!

But, in case I wasn't sure how I wanted to use this, I made about 5 or 6 of these papers because I knew I was going to make mistakes.

How to Use it:
On the inner square I wrote things I wanted to accomplish in the next 12 months and colored it in separating it from the other segments creating a focal point!

So within each of my segments I wrote down each of the months of the year.

Let's say I wanted to lose 60 lbs, start saving money so i could go somewhere by plane, I wanted to apply for funding for one of my personal projects and I wanted to attend an event that would help me professionally.

In each month I would write what I need to do to make the things I wanted possible.

Example: For EVERY month I wrote:
1. lose 5 lbs (5lbs a month x 12 months = 60 lbs)
Reduce fast food, take lunch to work, drink equal amounts of water as I do coffee
(Example: if I drink 2 cups of coffee I need to drink 2 cups of water) or what ever would help me lose a minimum of 5 lbs a month.

2. put $25 every week into my savings account ($25/ week x 52 weeks = $1300) to save for my vacation.

For my other Goals:
3. I would look up the application deadline for a grant I wanted to apply for (example April 1) & the submission deadline (example: June 30) for the event in October.
- In MARCH I would put "write proposal & submit by March 15"
- In June i would write "submit project for event" &
- In October I would write, Attend Event.

Lets say I needed to finish writing a script to apply for funding...
In January and February I would put "Write every Weds." or "Write a minimum of 3 pages every Wednesday" if I wanted to be more specific.

When I am done I can "see" these goals I set out for myself in a visual wheel that allows me to focus on the big picture (the goal in the centre of the page) or a chance to look at my steps/ segments to see what I still need to do to make it happen.

I tape this piece of paper right above my light switch in my bedroom so every time I walked out of my room I would see my plan right in front of me as I left for the day.

Altering the Wheel:
This wheel doesn't have to be used as a calendar.

Do it however you need to- to make your steps (segments) so it works for you. Use either the circle or the square vision wheel and put what ever you want inside the segments as steps to make your "want" a goal.

This is your vision, your vision wheel! You can add as many spokes as you need or remove them if you don't need that many steps! Do what works for you in a way that works.

If you wanted to write a book, advance professionally, meet someone, make new friends, lose weight.... anything your heart desires can go inside this wheel... Just remember anything you want to focus on goes in the centre and the pieces of the pie are what you need to do or can do to to make your vision a plan!

 So what are you waiting for? Use this wheel to write down your ideas to make it a plan! Put it out to the universe and don't just watch it happen, make it happen!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Social Media Identity Update:

Being an individual who is actively pursuing my craft, I have set up an identity for myself on social media sites... that is until a series of events has caused me to lose some, but not all, of my social media identity "dust dancer productions."

It first started with a work email that I no longer had access to after the job ended, but thankfully I also had set up some sites with a hotmail account that I had for longer then any of my children have been alive (and my oldest is 19 btw).

This past summer, I replied to an ad on a common website that posts ads and I was accessing my email from a public wifi zone that somehow managed to kick me out of my hotmail account and not allow me to log back in on all platforms except my iphone. For some reason, I was still able to receive emails sent to the email address I used to own but was no longer able to send emails... Even though I could see what (whoever managed to take over my email) messages they were sending to everyone in my contacts lists asking them to click on links that inevitably inconvenienced them. 

Now I consider my self a techie, but am in NO WAY even close to hacker status or IT department because I am a different kind of techie. I may not know everything but I'm no newbie on a PC or Mac and can confidently say I do know a few things about a few things but that's about it.

So back to my point, using social media platforms I would frequently post tips and tricks to protecting yourself online based on what I knew a technician of sorts. So when my email was hacked and people who know I do not send them links telling them to look at this, unless i want them to look at this.... all clicked the links and looked at whatever it was someone else was sending them. 

Shortly after, I lost my blogspot... and my twitter accounts... and was able to switch emails on the few social sites i still had left to protect myself. I was no longer able to reset passwords or make changes without being able to access my email notifications on email addresses I no longer have access to so some of them i JUST HAVE TO 'LET GO'. lol. I also no longer have access to website domains dustdancer[dot]com or dustdancerproductions[dot]com after losing them after not renewing them the  day after they expired. 

So, for the time being... until I can figure out how I can retrieve my old sites... or decide whether its something I really want to do... I am going to have no social media identity... but a few social media identities. 

So I have facebook: or
and you can find me on and 

I also have and now 

So to sum everything up, I am in the process of re-introducing myself back into the digital realm of social media and while some platforms have gone unused and not really updated I know that in order to maintain a brand for myself, I need to stick to one name!

While I need to determine the direction I am going with my social media identity, my corporate identity is coming into question... and I ask myself, is it time to change names? 

~*~ Victoria ~*~

google plus everything!?!

Well, after after switching jobs and losing the email attached to my blog back in 2011, I finally decided to attempt to reactivate my blog instead of trying to find a new one or start a new one. As you can tell I have done so, successfully!

Now, this was a much harder task than it needed to be. In fact, I find everything is much harder than it has to be, even if it has been simplified to be user friendly... but its only not so simple IF you've been online and using social media for more than 2 or 3 years and before everything merged under Google plus everything! And yes, I know its called google plus... but to me, its google plus everything, because it is google plus everything!

Anyways, to recover my blog, was more than me saying... hey its victoria, and I changed jobs and emails and want my blog back! But at the same time, I am glad no one else was able to say they were Victoria and take my blog (but will add... who would want a blog with less than 5 posts and no followers? so i was safe).  I do know some of my fellow bloggers who's been blogging since back in those early days who have managed to keep and maintain their blogs and now have hundreds of posts and mine still has less than 5! Wow! i feel the need to catch up. I have soo much to say and so much for writer's block (my last post in 2011).

*Flashback... When I first started going online, we would sign into our yahoo accounts and go to a chatroom and could join in the conversation. BUT it wasn't instantanious like it is now! Back then, we'd have time to go upstairs, start the coffee pot, wait for it to brew and come back down to scroll through the chatroom and find our comment and wait another 5-10 minutes to see who responded and YES! we'd be ecstatic when we saw someone respond to our posts!

Since then, I am now in my 30s, my email has since changed at least 10 times, chatrooms have since disappeared for the most part and we have gone from hI5, bebo, myspace and how many other social media sites of yesterday until the world found our favorites in Facebook, twitter, blogger, linkedin, instagram, pinterest... and blah, blah, blah...

Somewhere in this mix, everything got connected so now... since i had that yahoo account, hotmail account, this work email, that work email, and each of these were used to connect to the latest social media sites of that time when they ALL merged am left with what? besides no desire to connect them for fear of losing them to cyberspace.  I know one day I must somehow safely transfer everything to ONE email... and can only wonder how long is it going to be before I lose any of the other social media sites not linked through an email attached to google plus everything but ones I no longer have access to. sigh.

Sorry google, I am an avid google user, but for the above reasons, dislike the fact all these sites are all connected and hope just because i blogged about it on one of the google plus everything sites that i don't lose them all! *fingersCrossed.

So in my attempt, I've decided to regain control of my blog that was only JUST started before it was lost after i switched jobs and now I get to start blogging the 50 million things i've wanted to blog about since 2011!!

But enough of that for now, it's time to move on! I too am now connected to google plus everything and so is my blog!

copied and posted from my original blog dustdancerproductions[at]blogspot[dot]com on July 7, 2014 that I no longer have access to. 

Writer's Block

Has to admit, that i fully intended to keep a daily digital diary of thoughts, vents, announcements and other random tidbits of information which allows an inside peak into the inner workings of my mind. But... when it came time to write, usually the wee hours of the morning before i go to bed, my mind would go blank!

as it is right now, so now i am thinking... i'm a person who has soo much to say, so much on my mind, why is it that i have nothing to write? i know some things i want to write, and when i go to write it am uncertain of whether or not its what i do want to write... and then i decide that i don't even know what it is i want to say with this blog... do i want to keep this as personal as i've been making it? oh well, im thinking too much and writing a bunch of non-sensical blurbs just so i can say i wrote in my digital diary.

So with that, i'm going to end this pointless rant, finish these lil baggies of dried mangoes and apricots my daughter left before she went camping today and maybe polish off those carrots n dip too as i try to fall asleep watching clash of the titans!

so good night dear diary!

~*~ Victoria  ~*~

copied and pasted from my first blog dustdancerproduction[dot]blogspot[dot]com on Monday March 10, 2011 that I no longer have 

Mind Reading Techies?

Now I know I speak for every technologically inclined career person when i say... scream... or ask... Since WHEN did mind reading or prophet become an essential part of my job description? As a techie, and having other friends who work in all areas of the technical teams- whether its the IT guy, the compmuter guy, the Graphics Girl or the Webmaster... we all share the same grievances. WE ARE NOT MIND READERS nor are we PROPHETS. We can't look into your mind and "just do what we do" when we aren't given any other information on what it is that you want done! Seriously!

You want us to fix a computer? well, leaving it on our desk with no name, no note describing a possible problem or why its on our desk tell us nothing EXCEPT... we have a computer on our desk that doesn't belong to us! Is it a present? can we tear this apart and use it for parts? would you like us to fix it? and if so? who are you and what have you done to this machine... cuz 99 our of 100 times, its from  something you 'clicked' or 'deleted' that caused the problem. So give us a break... what happened?

You want us to design you a poster or web page... SWEET! What do you want on it? Please provide us with the proper Who, What, When, Where and Why of what's going on the poster or page... and pictures... PLEASE give us pictures. As trained graphics artists and web designers we know we don't like it when people STEAL our graphics, images or designs... so don't ask us to do that to another artist! It does something to us... something baaaaaaaad!

and lastly- to say, just do what you do... doesn't cover it! Cuz ya wanna know what I wanna do when someone tells me that? I wanna copy a picture from one of their many profiles, throw it into photoshop and turn them into the devil- cuz THAT'S what i do!... don't want me to do that? then how bout we save us the hassle and bad feelings that doing that may cause and u just TELL ME what you want me to do and what you want on it! Cuz I can't read your mind and i can't look into the future to know what's going to happen when and where nor do I want to make this stuff up...

There! I said it. For ALL of us!

~*~ Victoria ~*~

copied and pasted from my first blog entry on Monday February 14, 2014, 2011 on dustdancerproductions[dot]blogspot[dot]com that i no longer have access to!