Small businesses are the backbone of America’s economy, but taking the step towards going it on your own can be daunting. In this month’s round up of the best content on the Web, we’ve winnowed out the hucksters and quick-fix marketing gurus, to leave you with some solid advice from smart people about how to get started, keep things running smoothly, and get the word out. And, as is our wont, we’ve included some of the cooler art and design related imagery we’ve encountered this month towards the end. We hope you find some actionable insights here. Enjoy!
- The 5 Principles that All Online Bootstrapped Businesses Should Swear By – The Internet offers so many bootstrapping opportunities that it almost seems foolish for the majority of us to try anything else.
- How to keep your small business financially adaptable – Staying adaptable – easy to scale up or down along with your fortunes – makes survival more likely, and at least minimises loss if things don’t work out. Continue reading “The Monthly Miscellany: Small Business Startup and Marketing – Best of October 2012” »
The economy is still struggling and many people have found themselves without employment over the last few years. Those who have lost their jobs often decide that it’s the perfect time to make a life-change and strike out on their own in business. There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had from running your own business. It’s incredibly fulfilling to take an idea you developed yourself and turn it into a force in the world that also brings in a great income.
However, starting a new business is not as straightforward as it might be, and there are many pitfalls that, if not avoided, will set the new entrepreneur up for a bumpy journey. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of people who will take advantage of inexperienced business people and sell them advice that is next to worthless. Business owners need information and guidance, but they also need to be very skeptical about whose guidance they take. To that end we’re going to get you started with 10 of the best online resources for small businesses and startups.
Inc. is one of the foremost publications offering advice for small businesses. They cover a range of topics from getting started, finance, leadership, and marketing: all with clear, jargon-free language that won’t have you reaching for the dictionary.
The NFIB is an organization that advocates on behalf of small business owners. Its website has a very useful member directory and community groups where business owners can compare notes (requires registration). There are also plenty of articles dealing with a range of issues that are likely to arise for small business owners. Continue reading “10 Essential Online Resources for Small Businesses” »
As the evenings draw in and the leaves begin to turn, one of the best nights of the year for kids is on the horizon. Halloween, which will be here at the end of the month, is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with our children. To that end we’re going to share with you some of our favorite printable activities and projects from around the web. We hope you find them as much fun as we do, and that they’ll help you create a the perfect spooky atmosphere for Halloween fun.
Not much is quite such fun as a family baking together, and these cupcakes come with the added bonus of a free printable headstone topper.
These quick-to-make invitations, with included free printable templates, set the perfect tone for Halloween parties Continue reading “Top Ten Printable Halloween Projects” »
We all like to express our individuality through the clothes we wear, and one of the quickest and least expensive ways to create unique and original clothing is using an ordinary inkjet printer. The techniques we are about to discuss work brilliantly for making personalized t-shirts, but there’s no reason that you can’t apply the same ideas to decorating other items of clothing.
There are a couple of techniques that are frequently used to print designs onto fabric: the freezer paper method, and using transfer paper. We’ve found that the latter method is more reliable and results in images that last longer, so that’s what we’re going to focus on here, but we’ll give a brief explanation of the freezer paper printing method for those of you who want to try it out.
Whichever method you choose, you’re going to need a design. You can use any graphics applications you like to create the design. If you haven’t got the appropriate software, take a look at this list of great online art applications to get you started.
Freezer Paper Method
This method allows you to print directly onto the fabric, without using any transfer medium. That sounds cool, but the ink in your printer isn’t really designed to work on fabric, and it probably isn’t waterproof, so, if you go this route, your designs may fade and run in the wash.
The problem with printing directly onto fabric is that it isn’t stiff enough to hold its shape as it goes through a printer. It will twist and bunch up. You’re probably familiar with how annoying a paper jam in your printer is; a fabric jam is worse. Freezer paper, used in the kitchen, is a thin paper with a waxy substance on one side. If the waxy side is pressed onto fabric with a hot iron it will adhere to the surface, making the fabric hold its shape as it goes through the printer. When you’re done, the freezer paper can be peeled away. Continue reading “Printing on Fabric” »
Just a few years ago, much of our computing activity was carried out on desktop and laptop computers. In recent years, the computer industry has undergone a radical transformation. We are now more likely to grab an iPad or Nexus 7 for casual tasks. Printing from such devices is less necessary than from larger computers, because they are portable; documents come with you. But, there are plenty of occasions where it is convenient to send documents to print directly from mobile devices. Printing tickets, photos, receipts, presentations and PDFs should not involve having to email them to our ourselves before printing them from a desktop or laptop. The obvious solution would be to plug your printer into your mobile device via its USB port, but that won’t work; the USB ports on most mobile devices aren’t smart enough to do that. Today we’re going to look at a few methods that make printing from mobile a breeze. Continue reading “Printing from Tablets and Smartphones” »
The Internet is full of great resources for people who love to create and print beautiful things. This week we’ve collated the best design and printing resources of recent weeks for your enjoyment. Have fun!
Art and Design Inspiration
- 37+ Beautiful Typography Designs in Print Advertisements - Advertisements can be a great source of inspiration especially when it comes to Typography.
- The Ultimate Guide to Designing with Black - Black can overpower your designs, but using it effectively is an essential part of creating great work.
- 30 Enjoyable Out Of Bounds Photos - Some great out-of-bound effects achieved with imaginative editing.
- Print Inspiration from 55 Splendid Brochure Designs - I know some of you sometimes end in a point where you feel you have no inspiration but here are 55 brochure design examples to draw inspiration from them. To be a professional, you must learn from the professionals.
- Photoshop vintage effect - Letting photos shine by adding some subtle effects is something you learn to do by trial and error. Some photos will work perfectly for certain effects and others won’t, but it’s something we creatives love to experiment with. One of the more popular effects is creating some kind of a vintage color effect.
- Found Things - Rich in apparent retro-style, there’s no stripped back Helveticapseudomodernism. There is, on the other hand, page after page after page of hand-crafted beauty
- 5 Places to Download Free and Cheap Images to Use on Your Blog - Some great resources for finding images to use in documents or the web.
- Hydro-Fold by Christophe Guberan - This inkjet printer has been adapted by Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne student Christophe Guberan to print patterns that contort pieces of paper into specific 3D forms.
- Wait, We Still Like Paper! - When Walter Benjamin penned The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, he bemoaned the loss of authenticity and aura in mass-produced printed works. What he couldn’t foresee was the rise of digital reproduction and how that would give letterpress-printed works an aura of their own.
- 300+ Free Textures For Your Design Work - Textures are something that every graphic designer and digital artist knows how to put to good use. Usually used as a background to merge with the overall design and complement the look and feel of the art design, textures add a little something extra, a little oomph, a little wow factor
- Design Nerds Flash Cards - Now design geek-hipster-interwebbers can teach their kids their ABC’s with more culture-relevant examples.
- Call to Action in Print Design – Print design is not all about colours and graphics. With the fierce competition in the market, more than ever before, a call to action in print design is needed.
- Good Print Design Inspiration That Must Be Seen - Good print design inspiration is not easy to find but when you do, be sure to bookmark it. Take this article, for example; you have here really neat posters, typography examples, identity packages, invitations, a package design print and even a really cool letterpress business card.
- 26 Creative Typography Graphic Designs and Illustrations for your inspiration - Typography is one of the most fascinating elements of graphic design. If it’s web design, album art, posters, or any other type of graphic design, typographical inspiration can be a great resource for designers. Here we have added 22 most beautiful examples of creative typography designs for your inspiration.
- Why do People Care about Design? - There are always two sides to every argument. The argument of design is the same – one side states that a book should not be judged by its cover while the other states that unless the cover is attractive, no one will pick it up to read it.
It’s about the time when many of you will be heading back to college after the summer, or enrolling for the first time. One of the least enjoyable parts of college is learning the proper format for your papers. It’s a tedious process, and no one really wants to wade through the dry-as-dust pages of the APA or MLA style guides. So, for those of you who inevitably put off this important but insipid aspect of education, we’ve prepared a quick cheat sheet that hits the main points you need to keep in mind when you’re getting your magnum opus ready for printing. Be aware, the advice below is based on the standard requirements for the MLA and APA methods of formatting academic papers; your professors may well have their own idiosyncratic approaches and you’ll lose out if you don’t stick to them. Use what follows as a reminder rather than a strict set of rules.
Applicable to All Styles
Don’t be fancy with either your page layout or font choices. You won’t win praise for elaborate design (unless you’re a design student, naturally). Stick to the following:
- Use white A4 paper.
- Use black ink (no colors).
- Use the Times New Roman typeface or a similar serif.
- Set your font at a size of 12pt.
- Set your margins at 1 inch.
- Use double spacing of the text throughout (this lets graders write between the lines).
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the basic concepts behind inkjet printing can be applied to many areas outside of document printing. You’ll already be familiar with the concept of 3D printing, where small amounts of material are laid down in layers to form three dimensional objects. This technology is already available for consumers to buy, and many hobbyist 3D printing kits are on the market. In a recent development, scientists in Glasgow, Scotland have devised a method that, in the future, will allow drugs to be printed in the same way.
Pharmaceuticals, especially for those with chronic illnesses who require regular repeat prescriptions, are expensive. Much of that expense comes as a result of having to maintain an expensive infrastructure, including laboratories and factories. Additionally, it is impossible to produce the exact dosages and mixture of ingredients that patients require in a mass production environment. If, in the future, patients were able to download prescriptions from their doctors via the Internet, with specially tailored dosages and mixtures of drugs, there would be a revolutionary change in both the cost and convenience of obtaining medication. Imagine being able to wake up in the morning, instruct your computer to produce your heart pills for the day, and have them waiting for you after you shower.
Web applications have come a long way in recent years. With the introduction of HTML5 (in addition to existing Flash technologies) the complexity and feature-richness of online applications has come on leaps and bounds. Just a few years ago the idea of doing a quick photo touch-up or drawing online was unthinkable, but now we have a plethora of available services to choose from. There are numerous advantages to using web-based applications. They tend to be less heavy on resources than their desk-bound cousins and they are cross-platform, meaning they can be accessed from any of your devices that are capable of running a browser. This week we’re going to look at 8 applications or resources that you can employ in your artistic endeavors.
Some of these use cutting-edge HTML5, so you’ll need a recent version of Chrome or Firefox to take full advantage.
Pixlr from Autodesk is a suite of three different applications with varied levels of complexity and functionality. The Advanced editor is a fully featured image editor, where you can create and edit pictures using many of the usual tools you’d expect to find in a comparable desktop product. The other applications are intended mainly for photo-editing. Pixlr Express allows the application of filters, enhancements, touch-ups stickers, borders and labels to photographs. Pixlr-o-matic is the little brother of Pixlr Express and has a fun and simple to use interface for applying Instagram-like filters to your photos.
In the last final entry of our short series on fonts, we’re going to have a look at an aspect of typography that most people are likely to have practical use for at some point: font combinations. Whether you are printing a memo, a label, an essay, or any other document, choosing the right combinations of fonts can make the difference between an aesthetically pleasing read and an eye-watering mish-mash.
Combining the right fonts can be tricky, there are many thousands of fonts out there to choose from. There are, however, a number of principles that you can apply which will almost always result in visually pleasing combinations. Keep in mind, these principles are not rules by which you must abide under penalty of being arrested by the font police. Choosing fonts for a document is an art, it takes a delicate discernment of the overall appearance of the page, but, you won’t go far wrong if you stick to these basic guidelines.