Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Font mania

I am a font junkie. Imelda Marcos had her shoes, I have my fonts. There is no such thing as too many typefaces. But having lots and lots of fonts doesn't mean fonts don't come with rules. Like everything else in design, there's a way to use them properly and a way to abuse them too.

Zazzle does provide a number of different fonts, and I do use them on occasion but perhaps not as often as others do. I pretty much only use Zazzle's fonts for designs where customers will be inputting their own text. I'll use Zazzle fonts on the inside of cards as an example. But other than that, I prefer to use my own fonts, even if my font is identical to one of Zazzle's. Why? Because when I'm using my own font in my own design software, I have much more power to get that font the way I want.

Let's take a logo I just designed for a friend. I used two different typefaces, Scriptina and Myriad Pro. If I had those fonts in Zazzle, I'd be forced to use them as is, at the weight and spacing they come in. That logo would look like this.
Now let's look at that logo again, this time with changes. I made the Q bigger, distorted it some, and overlaied it so it fit better with the rest of the word. I added a lot of character spacing to the words "English Springer Spaniel, to give it dramatic emphasis. The difference is what makes this a logo, rather than just a collection of items on the page.

You too can make fonts work for you. The first thing to decide, when you're doing a piece for sale at Zazzle that will involve fonts, is the message you are trying to convey. Do you want to be bold? Angry? Sweet? Soft? Lovely? Elegant? Persuasive? Traditional? Modern? Funky? If you have artwork, your font also needs to match your artwork. Putting a super-elegant script font with a modern, funky piece of artwork is likely to be jarring to the viewer. It won't match.

Don't get carried away either. With very few exceptions, you should not use more than one or two typefaces per item. Too many typefaces quickly starts to look junky and unplanned, and I bet most of you don't want that to happen. One trick some of us use is to work with typefaces that have a good number of weights and styles. Myriad Pro is one of my real "go-to" fonts, because it's readable at very small sizes, it can carry body text or titles, and it has light, regular, semi-bold, bold, and black faces in book, italic, and condensed. If I had to live my life with only one or two fonts (oh, the torture...), Myriad Pro would be one.

Serif vs Sans Serif
Some of you probably don't even really know what Serif and Sans-Serif means, so let me give you a quick definition. Serif fonts have serifs. What are serifs? Serifs are the little "feet" on letters. So serif fonts have feet. Those little feet help lead the eye from letter to letter and generally make text more readable. That's why you'll find the text in every novel you buy in some sort of serif font. The most used (and overused, and tired, and please do not ever use it) serif font is Times Roman.

Sans Serif fonts are fonts without feet. Sans means without in French, so it's pretty logical. Sans Serif fonts make great header fonts, but also are good to use at very small sizes because they tend to maintain their weight through the stroke, unlike serif fonts that often get thinner and fatter, thus fade out at tiny sizes. Arial is today's most common Sans Serif font and again, should be avoided in artistic design for that very reason; it's tired.

In addition there are, of course, many other font types. Decorative fonts, script fonts, display fonts, hybrid fonts (which combine elements of both serif and sans serif, a good one is Trebuchet, which this blog is using).

I could write books about fonts, but I won't. It's already been done. The purpose of this post is to try to get you to think about fonts as design elements and use them appropriately. If possible, it's far better to create your design's fonts in programs such as Illustrator or Photoshop where you have unlimited ability to manipulate them rather than just relying on Zazzle's fonts. Meanwhile, start thinking about the best way to incorporate text into your design, and your design into text. The right choice, manipulated the right way, is the difference between okay designs and dynamic designs that sell.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Adding a Twitter Feed

I've finally explored Twitter feed. I think if you have a twitter page, twitter feed could be a great way to bring new customers to your Zazzle store. But like everything, use it responsibly!

Here's how to set it up.

First, you have to have a Twitter page.

Next, go to Twitter Feed and sign up there. You'll need to add your twitter page first, before anything else. Then once it confirms your twitter page, you can add feeds. Just click"Create New Feed."

Once you click "Create New Feed," you'll need to name your feed, and you'll need to give Twitter a valid RSS feed URL. What is that? It's a special link that Twitter needs to automatically post your entries to Twitter. You can get your RSS feed URL by going to your main store site and looking for, then clicking on, the little orange box with the white arcs in it. It will probably be in the same box as your site URL. That will pop up a different address that you can then paste into twitter feed. Be sure to check it.

If you want, you can customize the feed to add other information, but basically, you're done. They've also got a great help feature if you get confused.

But now let's talk about whether you should use Twitter feed. And whether you should depends on how often you load designs, and how many unique designs you load vs not so unique. I tend to use a modified form of the Quick Create feature, loading maybe 5-15 different products in each of my designs at once. If I chose to do a twitter feed from my main Zazzle page, it would pop up a tweet for each of those products. Now me, I think that's too much noise and way too much like spamming. So instead, what I've elected to do is add this blog, and I will also select one particular product from each of my new designs and individually tweet it. You can either just click the "Twitter" link on the product page, or click "Share This." I prefer the latter, it seems to work faster and allows me to hand describe my product in my tweet.

Good luck, don't spam, but if you have a blog, or if you mostly produce individual items, twitter feed can be a great way to automatically get your stuff out there!

And....she's back!

I'm so sorry to have been gone so long. It's been sort of a crazy month or so. I have only seldom been able to work on my store, in fact this is one of very few new designs I've done. I've been working on a couple of book designs for Clean Run, which is mahvellous, dahlink, because it brings in big bucks. But I've missed the pure creativity of designing things just for myself (well, and for all the people I hope will buy them.

I was thrilled that Zazzle decided to not do shipping last month, let's hope they restructure the whole shipping package; right now their shipping is far too high! But thanks to their promotion, I had one of my biggest months ever in spite of not being able to give the store the attention it deserves.

I had a giggle over this design. For those of you not into dog obedience it may not make much sense. But anyone who has ever tossed an obedience dumbbell for a dog to fetch and had it go careering all over the place (into the next ring, behind you or even, in one case, hanging in a light fixture) will get this one! And this is one shirt I actually did a front and back design for. Front shown here, but there's another dumbbell on the back too. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's that time of year

June is almost here, and our local Farmer's Market has been cooking along since April. But only now is the really good stuff starting to come in. Last week I bought a quart of strawberries so sublime that they lasted less than 24 hours. And yep, I ate every single one myself. Asparagus is fazing out. I haven't seen peas yet, but maybe I missed them with all the trialling I was doing in April.

I can't always afford to eat local and organic but when I can, I do. The food is better. It tastes better and it's better for you. Luckily our local farmer's market is large and diverse. There are products for palates from around the world, and to sell at our market the farmer must be local (within a certain mile radius of my town) and must have produced the product for sale. No importing, even from neighboring states. The Sustainable agriculture design won a Today's Best award at Zazzle!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bags are back!

Woo hoo! Finally!

Bags have been out of stock for months and months. They're back now, which means I know have to get busy putting designs on bags, which is sort of a PITA. Anybody who says doing a POD is easy is wrong. It's a lot of constant work, but well worth it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Robertson coat of arms

My newest design, for my family. I actually had to really put this together. There are many sites on the web that offer to sell you jpgs of coats of arms, but a) they're jpgs and b) none of the nicest quality ones in terms of graphic integrity actually depicted the Robertson coat of arms correctly. The fist holding the crown was missing, and that's an important part of the COA. One depicted the fist and crown, but the boars were tiny. So I thought to heck with it, and came up with my own.

Here's where having a clipart library with images which can be used for anything comes in handy. I had bought one oh, about 10 years ago. And quite a bit of the art in it is cheesy. But it happened to have a huge section on COAs. So I was able to meld together the main piece (the shield with helmet and cloth swirls) with a fist and crown, and a boar's head. I'm quite happy with the result and though it uses some ready-made graphic design elements, it's original too because I am the one who pulled the pieces together (redrawing several of them for good vector lines).

Does the Cafepress migration impact your sales?

One of my new flower designs. No sales yet, but I think there's hope!

Reading the Zazzle forums, it seems that some people are thinking the Great Cafepress Migration (wherein Cafepress pissed off an unholy crapload of artists with its new royalty system so they abandoned ship and came to Zazzle) is costing them sales. And indeed, Zazzle has loads and loads of new artists these days.

But let's be realistic. Those artists were already in the market, just at a different address. It's not a huge influx of new, but rather just a lateral move. And I still think overall it enhances Zazzle and helps us all. Zazzle is becoming THE place to be for designers. Vh1 and Hallmark have joined the Zazzle ranks meaning the Zazzle address is going to be attracting more and more hits overall.

But it's true that the more designers who use PODs, the harder it will be to get individual voices heard. I launched my new shop trying to appeal to a wider, non-dog audience and I love what I'm doing over there, but realize that though I'm appealing to a wider audience, I'm also now competing with many more shops doing similar things. I have yet to get a sale off of my new merchandise, but I feel like I will, sooner or later!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Launching a new store

I've finally decided to split my work into two galleries. My main gallery is of course dedicated to dog designs, but I also have a lot of plant/floral designs as well as other things that just don't fit well into a site devoted to dog things. So welcome DDGrafix! Yep, just almost exactly the same name I already have, in fact the logo is the same. But this gallery will have holiday items, plant/floral items, etc. Nothing dog related.

Hope you enjoy!

Featured artist and design

plaisir aquatique mousepad

Today I found yet another outstanding artist, Creations Aimelle. She has gorgeous photos and photography. I was especially taken with this mousepad with it's stunning blues and greens accented by the hot orange of the koi.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New designs

A couple of new designs. The "Chewing is for Amateurs" is something that popped out of my mouth this past weekend at an agility trial as my old gal Viva was sucking down treats. Real Men run Agility is a shirt for the guys who are brave enough to step into what is a predominantly woman's sport in the U.S. The weird thing is, I have no idea why it's dominated by women. In Europe, there are just as many men as women running dogs in agility but here women outnumber men by a huge amount.

But guys, there's nothing more sexy than somebody willing to get out there and laugh at himself and his dog. And playing silly games with your dog? Big turn on.

Featured artist and design

With some rather draconian changes over on Cafepress, we're getting a big influx of new designers over on Zazzle. That's exciting for all of us, because the more overall traffic that is driven to Zazzle, the better it is for everyone. My design and site this week is a newcomer to Zazzle, Retropolis Travel Bureau. Be sure to check his overall front page layout, which is a superb example of using html to highlight the feel and theme of his work without overwhelming it. The artwork itself is nothing less than spectacular, an homage to art deco at its finest with a bit of black humor thrown in. I love the intricate shadings and attention to fine detail.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick Product Create, blessing and curse

The advent of Quick Product Create in the Zazzle marketplace has caused some consternation in long-time Zazzle users, and it's easy to see why. Unlike Cafepress, where you put your design on anything and everything, in Zazzle the philosophy and site structure works best to show a design on one thing then allow customers to customize. What's too often happening with Quick Product Creat (QPC) is the same design is slapped on everything available in the Zazzle marketplace, regardless of whether it fits well. Then searches clog up as people have to scroll by page after page of the same design to be able to see what other designs might be available. It can be a nightmare.

Fortunately, there's a way to use QPC responsibly so your designs are highlighted and your work is at least somewhat streamlined. Here's how I handle it for the DDGraphix site.

First, I made a set of templates. I did that by creating templates in Quick Product Create using the guidelines in the Zazzle seller blog. Don't worry, it's easy.

The very first thing to do is set yourself up a "Templates" section. Under "Products," click on "Add New Product Line." I actually put my "Templates" section under "New Products," but put yours wherever it makes sense to you.

I used "all products" to set up my initial set of template items. Then, before even completing the template process, I went through and slimmed that offering down. I went with one male model, one female model, and one child model. I left in a magnet, button, and key chain but just one of each. I also left in vertical and horizontal stamps and vertical and horizontal cards. I ditched neckties, it's not something I'll use. Obviously your own choices may differ, but think of trying to distill to one of each orientation of paper products and one of each type of model for clothing, etc.

That becomes my main template for all new items I want to use Quick Create on. I'm now ready to actually put a design on many products. When deciding whether to use Quick Create, I first make sure that it's appropriate to put the same categories, description and tags on all the items. If I need to do special tags and descriptions for each item then QPC isn't the right thing to do.

Once the main design is loaded and you hit to create products, your real work begins. Because if you want your design to be successful, you need to be prepared to prune your offerings and modify the ones left. Let's take this Doberman design. The main design is just a black and white Doberman head. It's vertical, so the first thing I did was toss out the horizontal stamps, cards, etc. that QPC had pulled from my template. Then I went into the Customize feature on each item. I worked on size, added some background colors, etc. My goal is to show my potential buyers how good the design looks in a variety of products but not overwhelm them with pages and pages.

Another great use of QPC is to highlight a design you have available in several color combinations. In the case of this stylized agility design, I did it in many colors. I want to display different colors on different products, and in the description I will be sure to mention that it can be available on ANY product in any color.

If you put your quality time into this main section of QPC, it will reap you huge benefits. You can then move to the best feature of QPC, the ability to assign a description, category and tags to a number of different items all at once. Be careful in your description and don't be afraid to add extra info. I always point out that shirt styles can be changed for instance.

QPC really can be useful, but it should be used with understanding and respect. Don't spam your site with lots of products, but do use QPC to apply a design thoughtfully to a smaller subset of products.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Agility crazy

This stylized design was so fun to draw, and I think it will work really well on a huge number of products. So day I've been using Quick Create, along with the design itself in a lot of colors, to start creating a whole new line. I'm also making sure I add a spot for people to customize with their breed name so they can personalize their shirt. I'm showing three bright colors here, but I also added more subdued colors (and a couple more shockers!) It's important to design for a variety of audiences, and I see this particular design as being very appealing to men as well as women, so I wanted to have subdued *and* bright options.

More on how to properly use (and not abuse) Quick Create soon!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Featured Design

I've had Tanya Bond's Charming Critters site as one of my favorites for awhile, but hadn't yet featured any of her designs. I love her two Robins. Perhaps because my name is Robin and I have a special affinity for birds. These are English Robins, different from our larger, sleek American Robins but so charming. I especially like Tanya's loose, impressionistic brushstrokes and the way her animals come to life. I hope everyone reading this checks out Tanya's entire gallery.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rounding out some categories

I did a nice set of flower design mugs a couple of months ago for my sister. She's married to a career military man, and one of her favorite sayings, popular among military wives, is "bloom where you are planted." In a life where they are on the move every two or three years, military families constantly shift from the known to the unknown. New place, new people, new friends. The stresses, especially for young families, can be tremendous.

Mary's three children are all either in college or graduated now, and they are at their last posting before her husband retires. But I love the design and I think it applies to any of us who have had to deal with upheaval and shifts in our lives. Since being laid off from my job, I too have tried to take that mantra to heart and make the most of where I am in life, even if it's not exactly where I expected to be right at this moment!

Today, with spring and Mother's day nearing, I expanded the designs from mugs to shirts, stickers and cards.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New design series!

Here's the first of my new design series for bumper stickers. This is the uncropped design; the real design does not have an actual wavy bottom.

Those of us with purebred breeds are facing an ever-increasing onslaught of prejudice, pushed in large part by Animal Rights activists who would like to see ALL dogs (and cats) eliminated as a species. Breed-specific laws are not only unjust and unfair, they are also ineffective. In each of these so-called "vicious" breeds, the great majority of the dogs are wonderful family companions. Many of them are therapy dogs or do assistance work. Targeting an entire breed for the problems of a few dogs, almost all owned by very irresponsible people, is discriminatory and unnecessary.

Instead, dog laws should be tightened to apply to ALL dogs and to severely punish irresponsible owners who allow any dog to attack or maim humans. There are vicious Golden Retrievers, Labs, and Spaniels, yet these draconian breed-specific laws do not cover those breeds. Thus, many problem dogs go free while other wonderful dogs are condemned to death because of the law. Further, breed-specific laws infringe on our rights as American citizens to have the freedom of choice of which dog best suits our lifestyle.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm back!

After four days in North Carolina full of rain, fog, rain, drizzle, storms and, oh, rain, I'm back home. It's cooler here but at least it's dry.

It was fun going around to all of the booths at the Agility National and seeing who had what. I got some pretty good inspirations, and one idea I'm going to make right away. I'll post it as soon as it's done.

And my shirt that I am selling to raise money for Border Collie rescue resulted in an initial check to Gail Storm of $85. She was *thrilled*.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We will continue after this short break...

I won't be posting to this blog for the rest of this week. I'm in North Carolina at the AKC Agility National. If you're interested in dogs and dog agility, feel free to grab onto my Min Pin blog, where I'll be posting for the next few days.

One pleasant task I had today was passing along a check for $85.11 to Gail Storm for Border Collie rescue. That reflects the royalties from my design of "the joy of agility" shirt.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Investing in self-education

Over the past few days I've been spending some quality time with Illustrator. But I'm not designing right now (hence, no new designs!) Instead I'm having a tutorial from my friend Mordy Golding.

Who is Mordy Golding? Well he's the definition of guru. Look on the Illustrator credits, you'll see his name. He's been involved in the creation of Illustrator since day one and he knows it inside and out. I've actually met him and he's a modest, unassuming man. This weekend he's helping me learn some new techniques and better ways of doing things I already know how to do. How is he doing that? Through is, as far as I'm concerned, the world's best online tutorial site, especially for graphic designers. You can buy DVDs from them outright, but even better, you can subscribe to Lynda and view DVDs online. Lynda is the best because they use the foremost experts in their respective fields, people like Mordy Golding (Illustrator), Dave Blattner (InDesign), and Deke McClelland (Photoshop). It's also the best because for their online material, each DVD is broken into small video segments, each segment from 5 to 10 minutes, and each segment illustrating a specific trick or technique to make your life easier and bring your art to the next level. I love it because I can start or stop the video, skip sections I already know, and try new stuff as I'm following along without feeling pressured.

Now Lynda isn't just for uber-high-end software. Their roster of available training is so huge I can't begin to list it all, but it includes far less expensive programs, including Publisher, CorelDraw, and Photoshop Elements. Here's the complete list. Their subscription prices are actually very reasonable for what you get. And best of all, you can check out several titles and even the start of some DVDs without subscribing, just so you can ee if it works for you.

The time I'm spending now with Lynda means I don't have any new designs to show you. And since I'll be out of town for most of the rest of the week at the AKC Agility Nationals, I may not have art to show you this week. But it will be worth it when I can expand my skills and my artistic range. So think about investing some time in really understanding your design software and learning good design technique. It may take some time away from your designing now, but will send more profits to your pocket later.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More red/black

I subscribe to Google AdWords. And it's weird, but one of my most hit keywords is Chihuahuas! I had one chihuahua design, but I decided I better add a couple more. So I've done both long and a smooth coat chihuahua. As with all of my dog designs, it's important to me to represent dogs who meet the breed standard. In this case, the distinctive apple head is very important. There are many, many very badly bred Chihuahua's out there (including the famous Taco Bell dog, who was to Chihuahuas as I am to a ballet dancer). So these designs are both cute and correct.

I'll do a separate post on Google AdWords.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A discussion of copyright

On the Zazzle forums, we often get a lot of questions about copyright. Unfortunately most of the time those questions come after someone has had a design or designs pulled by Zazzle for copyright violation.

It must be frustrating to put a product up, only to see it disappear. However, copyright is the law. And even though not everyone contributing designs to the Zazzle marketplace is from the U.S., because Zazzle is located in the States, their User Agreement is based on U.S. copyright law. Zazzle's User Agreement also prohibits things such as copying slogans, quotes, or trademarks without express permission. The complete User Agreement is here: and everyone should read it. Slowly. With comprehension in mind. It's very important.

The basics of copyright are very simple. If someone else created it, you can't steal it. If you created it, nobody else can steal it. So the best way to avoid copyright violations is to only use your own original creations.

What constitutes "creation?" Well, the words I am writing on this blog are mine. I own them. You who are reading this blog cannot copy or paste my words onto your own blog without my permission. That's stealing. You may link to my words here, but you can't take them. If I take a photo, write an essay, draw a design, make up a slogan, all that is mine. If you take my photo and make a drawing from it without my permission, you're stealing, because you're using MY artistic inspiration for your work. If my artistic inspiration was not there, your work also would not exist. That's called derivative artwork, and derivitaves ARE covered by copyright law.

And here's a really important thing. If something appears on the internet is it NOT free for the taking. Designs, photos, and writings posted to the internet are just as much covered by copyright law as anything else.

It's worth the time to pursue the basics of copyright at the site.

So what do you do if you want to sell things on Zazzle but you aren't an artist?

There are several routes you can take. There are some free clipart resources available, some posted to Zazzle. But, this is very important, you MUST review their terms of use. Many royalty-free clipart vendors allow a single use but do not allow multiple uses and never allow an image to be used on items for sale. You can also go out and take your own photos. Or, if you find a photo you love that you'd like to make into an item, ask for permission. Often photographers are amenable to that if you just ask. But keep in mind that if the photo shows a person, that person's permission should also be given.

I do a lot of dog design, and some of my items are photo-based. In each case, I got specific permission from the photographer to use the photo. Many of my items are not able to be identified as a certain dog, but in the case where it is, I often try to get owner permission too though it's not required. The photographer owns the copyright, not the person (or dog!) in the photo.

Another option is to just use the suite of fonts available at Zazzle and make up some fun original sayings.

But whatever you do, do NOT steal work from others for your own profit. It's more than against the law, it's tacky and rude.

Remember that copyright also protects YOUR work. When thinking about this, put the shoe on the other foot. How would you feel if you spent hours of your time and energy coming up with a great design to sell on Zazzle. Then, a month or so later, you found that somebody else had stolen it and was using it on *their* site to sell shirts. They were making money off your work and you were getting nothing. Me, I bet you'd be pretty mad about that. I know I would.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My first TBA!

And what, you may ask, is a TBA? Took me forever to figure that one out. It's a Today's Best Award. My design will be up with a number of others, singled out as one of the best of the day! This is the first time I've gotten a TBA since I've been with Zazzle. Ironically, it's not for one of my dog designs. Instead it's for a design I did for Earthday. I actually did two. The circle design got the TBA, but I think I personally am more pleased with the notecard design. This one might be fun to put on Keds.

Featured artist and design of the week

It's funny how you discover things. I got a comment on one of my new designs, and discovered a great artist. Houk's designs are detailed, dreamy, beautiful. I love the use of color and the dali-esque bend to reality. These designs remind me of the sci-fi and fantasy I love to immerse myself in. I'm showing just one of many of the designs here. Please visit the Houk site for more!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The new overall website is up!

I now have a website under the DD Graphix name that links here, to my Zazzle store, and to my overall portfolio. Yay! The CSS was kind of a bear but I did get it done.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Earthdog mania

I've been meaning to design this for quite awhile. I knew what I wanted, it was just a matter of getting the dog right. So this morning four, count them four, new designs. Two in my black/red silhouette style and two color ones similar to my tracking shirt (which, by the way, looks just spectacular on dark colors). I have available in both natural and stubby-tailed styles, but I'll just show the natural tail here. The mouse was especially fun.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Featured Dog Site of the week

Cruising around Zazzle today I came across a site with some gorgeous painterly depictions of a number of breeds by Lyn Hamer Cook. I'm showing the Sheltie, but there are many breeds available at Wally Doodle. Please check her out! These breeds are generally quite good representations of the breed on colorful and scenic backgrounds. It looks like mostly cards and postage stamps as the presentation of choice. Perfect for dog lovers of all types.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Working with someone else's design

I'm doing client work today, and it so happens that this client wants a Zazzle store. So I'm working with his designs. What's sad is that the person who sent him these designs really did not have them ready to go to an online store. One is going to end up being a bit fuzzy because he blew it up, and I had to convert two others, fix some missed masking, then export. I happen to know this client paid someone for these designs.

Now that I'm done fixing them they will be okay, but they could have been better. The best thing to do is to design on a transparent background. What I will do as well is put a layer down with a bright color on it, and switch it on and off as I work in Illustrator and/or Photoshop, to make sure I'm getting all extraneous trash out. Then I export to *.png at 300 dpi, which gives the best result for both Zazzle and Cafepress.

Making sure designs are clean and crisp is critical to happy customers on the other end!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Featured Design

Welcome to my Featured Design series. In this section, I want to highlight some of the other great Zazzle designers. There's an incredible amount of talent out there and people are producing beautiful materials! The intent of this section is to help other great designers get exposure.

The first design I've picked is by Ruxique's Little Art Shop. Ruxandra is a graphic artist from Romania creating stunning and unique cards and letters, mostly for the wedding market.

I picked this glorious sunflower design for several reasons. I love the attention to detail in this piece. The burst of color, the way the sunflower breaks the plane of the edge of the design, the rule around the edge and the free-flowing typeface heads with the simple san-serif combine for a cohesive balance. Also note the detail on the back side. There is a lot of thought put into this artwork. It's not just slapped up there. Though Ruxandra intended this piece for a summer wedding, it would be appropriate for any summer get-together. It makes me think of warm days and the garden I had as a little girl in Kentucky.

Ruxandra has other outstanding designs as well. Please visit her shop, It's always fun to look at beautiful things, and as a designer, I can look at good designs and get ideas I may be able to incorporate in different ways for my own work.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My wheels, they be spinning!

I've spent all day today sort of futzing around not getting a whole heck of a lot done. Which is frustrating.

So what am I dithering over? The build of my website. I'm not sure whether to use the Zazzle storebuilder or go with my own design and just link. I know I want to do it in CSS, and that in itself is still a challenge to me. I spent at least two hours today over at the CSS Zen Garden thinking about what kind of design I want! I have the basic graphics ready to go, I just need to kick my own butt foward.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The muse is back!

Or at least, the graphic part. I'm particularly pleased with this simple design. I freehand drew the dog with my mouse using the paintbrush tool in Illustrator. The typface is Andy; I wanted just the right combination of casual without being too "schoolkid" or too elegant. I looked at Banner as well, but it just didn't fit as well with the strokes of the dog.

This is one of several designs I've done to benefit someone else. All the royalties from this one will go to Border Collie rescue, which is near and dear to Gail Storm's heart.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Frustrating morning

I've been trying to do a quick product create this morning and the customize button isn't working. Waaahhh! How crummy is that! The Doberman design I'm doing doesn't show well on black so I've shown it on tan, but it can go on any lighter color. I have both the German spelling (above) and the American spelling of the name for this shirt.

I've sort of been in a funk of design after my huge rush of productivity a week or so ago. Doesn't help that I'm in a funk all together since tearing a calf muscle last week. I'm missing my morning gym workouts something fierce.

Anyway, I did a tracking design specifically for Dobes for a friend and it turned out pretty well.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Productive but tiring!

My design tends to come in waves. I have times when literally all I can do is sit and create, and others when that's the last thing I want to do. Right now seems to be a creative time. Which is great, but exhausting. I designed all weekend. I've spent all day today working on a logo for a veterinarian in Chicago.

My head. It sort of hurts. On the other hand, I've got lots of fun new designs to share! It's funny that Dobermans are MY breed but I've been lax on getting dobe designs up. Better late than never. I still need to get the dobe silhouette up as well.

Back to the grindstone...

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's Friday!

I got a new Rally design up last night before I quit for the day, and today I've been sort of shiftless if you know what I mean. I have a logo design to do for a non-Zazzle client, as well as a web page to start, and have caught up on one of my regular websites that I maintain.

The economy is horrible, but if I can get my Zazzle site publicized enough to bring in some steady income, I think I'll be okay.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

shuffle, shuffle...

This morning I reorganized my product lines. I decided they were getting sort of out of line. So now all my breedwear is under "Dog Breeds."

I also discovered that if you aren't careful, Zazzle "appends" your search words. Not only did they change my search words for my German Shepherd wear, they misspelled the name! I do try to put common misspellings and nicknames in my search terms, so I'm now being careful to check the box to NOT append search words.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Design

This is all Ann's fault. See, I used to show Saddlebreds, lo those many years ago. I actually attended William Woods University on an equestrian scholarship. But those days are long gone. I haven't ridden a horse in years.

Today Ann G emailed a video of a racking horse to a small group of friends. Which made me go find some World Championship Horse show video. And after I watched some of that, I dug in a closet and pulled out a drawing I did in 1988. I've been having a ball with it all darn day. Of course since it was 18" x 24" and my scanner is 8" x 11", it's also taken all day for me to scan it in pieces, put it togther, make it seamless, and then have lots of fun with colors and shadings. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New design

New design, and I actually used my template!

More nuts and bolts

I am now sallying forth to try the template feature. I want to add some new designs. I only want to use certain representative products, not the whole Zazzle line. Unlike Cafepress, in Zazzle it's smart to show, for example, one men's shirt and one woman's shirt then allow customers to choose an alternate shirt. But Zazzle doesn't allow customers to take that design and apply it to, say, a coffee mug. So I try to make a variety of items available in each design, but not so many that it clogs up my viewer with repeat after repeat of the same design.

Back later with anything else I learn.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This promotion stuff is exhausting!

You know, I think I have some really good designs. But promoting them in the marketplace, that's hard work! Treading the fine line between legitimate promotion and spamming is incredibly difficult. I want to shout to the world, "Look! These are cool! You will like them!" But if I push too hard, I'll be (rightly) labeled a scummy spammer.

Hence this blog, reciprocal agreements with other designers who are also in the same spot I am, and today, reupping my old address. See, I was in business for myself for years as a graphic designer, before Zazzle. But with the economy sinking, so did my business. So I let my address go. And it was scooped up by domain name pirates. Instead of trying to deal with them, I went for the *.net name.

All this makes my head hurt and I find a lot of it incredibly confusing. It's also annoying to be spending so much time doing this kind of infrastructure work instead of what I really want to do, which is design. I have so many ideas and even though I'm not working I still seem to have so little time to actually do what I like best.

I know, I know, bitch, bitch, bitch. Oh well, I'm done for the day anyway. Time to take Pinhead and Crazydobe to the training building!

Welcome to DD Graphix blog

Here I'll share the trials and tribulations (and designs) from my DDGraphix store. I'll showcase new designs and share discounts available. I'll also feature other stores with designs I especially like!

Most of my designs are dog related. I have been training and showing dogs for over 20 years and currently show in agility as well as teaching classes. I'm a graphic designer by trade. Like many others in these economic times I was "downsized" last year. That has allowed me to step outside the box and explore other income opportunities! Hence, offering designs for purchase through Zazzle.

Why Zazzle? Well I do have a small store on CafePress as well. But I was disappointed in the quality of the clothing in CafePress. I've found that the variety of clothing and giftware at Zazzle is better. Hence, Zazzle it is!