Being a Graphic Designer is all I wanted from the age of 14, once the reality of not being a professional sportsman was accepted (it never really has). To be honest, I had no real idea what that meant, but it seemed cool and well paid. In recent years I have questioned that devotion. Despite a 25 year career doing something I love, events of recent years challenged me in ways I never expected. Forcing me to question why I do what I do.
Thankfully, due to the support of those closest to me, I found a path. I changed my relationship with what I do. I took a different approach to work, accepting a role in doing something completely different, in a very different environment. This entirely positive experience has empowered me and reset my perspective. It also created a whole new set of friends.
My relationship with Graphic Design has survived I am glad to say. But my relationship with it has also changed. I continue to freelance for selected clients as I always have. Doing this part-time has set me free once again to love what I do.
Finding my love of all things graphic
At the heart of this reconnection is an inner desire to set free graphics from within free of commercial constraints (but perhaps influenced by them).
At my lowest point, I produced my first piece of graphic art entitled Thoughts. It helped me remember who I was and to make sense of the jumble the brain can make of the world around us. Is it good? Does it matter? The answers really aren’t that important.
So in this strange time of Covid-19, I have produced my second piece, Boxed in. We can all feel boxed in at times, even when it may seem to others to be very different! Covid-19 has trapped us all in very different ways since it arrived, some good, some bad. But we will survive and find a way, just as I have.
Getting there eventually for ac4designs, is better than not at all!
So ac4designs failed to write that news update for July and now the summer in Sidmouth (what there was of it) is fading away. The lesson however is not to let past failings get in the way of future success. Making it happen eventually is better than not making it happen at all. It’s just not as good as making it happen now, but that remains something that we can control.
Busy, busy in July and August
Actually it is not that I have been idle far from it! Work for LTP in developing an online marketing strategy has keep ac4designs busy, busy! An email campaign database management and template delivery system has been established. The system used is Campaign Monitor and a number of test campaigns have already been run. The next key objective is to complete training to allow in house campaign delivery to be completed. This will allow branded message delivery without the need to for external resource. This has provided LTP with a cost effective and direct means of delivering key messages to various customer segments.
Analysis is vital in developing your website. Integration of Google Analytics in January 2012 to the LTP website is now delivering valuable data. This is now being used to drive adjustments to improve the current site. Content has been adjusted and results are currently being reviewed before further development. There is still much to do but adjustments since July have seen a 15-20% increase in traffic! The LTP mission didn’t stop there. A branded Twitter account @LTP_UK was also established. The focus is twofold. Connecting and sharing with tile and natural stone sellers, fitters and suppliers as well as architects and industry related individuals. 300 plus followers gained inside 2 months shows much potential. This will be supported by the LTP_UK_Technical blog. Created to deliver LTP’s extensive experience gained over 25 years. The blog will deliver product updates and case studies that deal with issues relating to natural stone and tiles in relation to staining, protecting, and renovating. Finally the LTP branded Facebook page has also been established and this will be developed in coming months.
And of course there was also the normal label updates and print advertising!
There was also time to assist Dorringtons with another own brand label. This time it was for coffee as they continue to develop the range of additional products that they offer. I was particularly pleased to be able to offer advice that allowed a far superior label solution to be produced, without a significant cost increase.
And for ac4designs…
The backdrop to all this has been some major planning and rethinking for ac4designs. A full-time business launch based in Devon is planned for January 2013. The plans are obviously highly top secret but major adjustments to the business offer are well underway. So keep an eye out for some big changes. A new website is under development along with some exciting ideas for engaging with you all out there. From January of next year ac4designs plans to make your boat go faster than you ever thought possible! This will become clear in time, promise.
Social Media the wettest June on record and the arrival of Christmas!
June was spent dodging the rain and helping a major client tackle their social media and online marketing approach. LTP, based in Wellington, Somerset have recognised the need to embrace an online marketing strategy. Work is ongoing to adjust their approach to their website and content creation and the set up of wordpress (ltptechnical) and tumbler blogs are just the start. Mean time they are jumping on board the social media train with Twitter (@LTP_UK) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/LTP.UK) and I’ll report on the progress at the end of July.
And then Christmas arrived early!
June also saw the arrival of Christmas for ac4designs as work to complete Christmas Pudding label designs was completed for my favourite bakers Dorringtons. An example of the label design is shown to the right. This continues then work to develop Dorringtons own label brand offerings featured previously. Once production is complete I can feature a full review and an image of the completed package.
New time saving software, Yippeeee!
FunctionFox is currently under trail as part of the ac4designs business development plan and I am pleased to report it looks jus fantastic. This software is just so easy to use and will provide superb levels of project management and time recording. No more handwritten time sheets and full analysis of projects. The handy stop start time clock function app for my iphone is just so cool.
A slow start ends positively with lots of graphic design and branding
April has been a positive month in many respects for ac4designs. A slow start to the month has been followed by much graphic design and branding over the last two weeks. The MBLS identity has now been fully delivered along with the Dorringtons Gift Range designs. Check out the MBLS work in my portfolio and look out for an update once the Dorringtons designs are ready to go live. Great to hear that the launch of LTP in China went so well and that my input with exhibition graphics played its part.
Nice to meet you
Time spent this month planning and networking have been really useful. Many thanks to Julie Bramble for a great EC meeting this month. It was great to meet and share ideas with friendly and like minded people. Also enjoyed a quick visit to The Taste of the West Show at Westpoint outside Exeter catching up with an old friend Paul Stokes from Bristol Labels and making a few new ones. Nice to chat with New Century Design and Vale Labels. Hope the rest of the show went well!
The end of the month seems to be coming with a bit of a rush with lots of graphic design and branding projects. Really excited about the identity development work in progress for Fascial Stretch Therapy UK and so pleased to be helping launch a new product range for Broadale (watch this space). Also very much looking forward to getting stuck into jam and chutney labels for Dorringtons over the next week. Looks like it might be an exciting May!
Really pleased to be able to let the world know I have now completed Adobe Certified Advanced training in Adobe InDesign CS5 with Certitec. I enjoyed a good couple of days last week with Jon Bessant going over some of the more in depth aspects of this powerful software . The two day course certainly reenforced my extensive knowledge confirming I am already well versed in most of the more complex tools. It also delivered some additional insight as did Jon.
All thats left now is to get booked up to complete the expert exam preparation and take the expert exam to become a certified expert later in the year.