Buy the best, and you only cry once.

The Value of Expertise

“Buy the best and you only cry once.”
Miles Redd

Have you ever bought a replacement for something, only to have that replacement fail almost immediately?

Or paid for a service only to be disappointed that it didn’t actually meet your needs? It’s a frustrating situation, and one that leaves you feeling like you wasted your money. Because, let’s be honest, you did. It’s not a situation anyone likes to be in. Of course, the real frustration is often also with yourself, for falling for the quick fix cheap option instead of a genuine solution to the problem.

When you keep trying to go for the cheap fixes, and keep having to redo it to get it done right, those costs add up over time. It saves time, stress, and even money to just go to the quality fix the first time, rather than beelining for the cheapest option. We all like saving money, but skimping on needed resources rarely ends well.

The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is true of many things, including professional expertise.

This applies whether you’re looking for help in your business or your home life. Quality work will last longer and perform better than its cheaper counterpart. The expertise to deliver that quality work should be valued accordingly. If you truly want design that will set you apart, a website that performs well, a handyman that really knows what he’s doing, or any service done well, you need to be prepared for the equivalent price tag.

If you want cheap, generic service, then providers are a dime a dozen. And you’ll go through a lot of them because at that price point they a) don’t have the expertise to help you in a meaningful way and b) aren’t investing the time or materials to give you a quality solution.

A true expert knows their worth, and charges accordingly for the customized, high-level work they provide. Smart consumers (and business owners) know that quality work will serve them better in the long run. It may have a higher price tag up front, but it’s an investment that will pay for itself over time- in time saved, stress avoided, and redo costs eliminated. As the intro quote says, you’ll only cry once.

What do you think? Do you agree that expertise creates its own value?


Creative Wavelength

Today I’ve got another batch of Creative Wavelength finds for you- the cream of the internet artsy crop that I’ve come across in the past few weeks. Take a look:






This Machine Creepily Duplicates Your Handwriting Perfectly. Send handwritten notes without actually writing them by hand.

The Inbox of Forgotten Emails: All those emails you wrote but never sent. This makes for some interesting reading.

Why we should kill the 40-hour work week. Yup.

Strandbeests: kinetic beach sculptures that move with the wind. These are both creepy and cool.

Graphic Design is a Literary Discipline.

Have you come across anything creative, artsy, or design-y that’s impressed or interested you lately? Do share!


Color Theory: Brown

Color Theory: Brown


Composite Color
Tonal Value: Warm-Neutral
Opposite: None

“I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.”
— Winston Churchill

Churchill is not alone: according to public opinion surveys, brown is the least favorite color in the western world.

This may seem odd, since brown is a predominant color on the planet, along with green. Soil, trees, leaves half the year, many animal coats- you’ll find it all over the natural world. It’s also, in its many shades, the most common color amongst humans: skin, hair and eyes. Even the very word for brown in many languages comes from a delicious thing like tea or coffee or chocolate. So why, then, the vast dislike? It could be that its very ubiquitousness makes it seem common and unspecial; or the fact that it is the color of dirt, giving it strong negative ties to things like mud, uncleanliness, and poverty.

But it’s not all bad news for brown. The plethora of shades in nature made it an obvious choice for pigments and dyes, and it has been around in art for about 40,000 years. That’s an impressive track record. Many other pigments also degrade to shades of brown over time, so you could say brown is itself the color of history.

Take a look at some of the other connotations attached to this color:

Meanings / Associations


Wholesomeness / Reliability / Friendliness
Straightforwardness / Simplicity / Practicality
Earthy / Nature-Friendly / Organic / Rustic
Rich Soil / Abundance
Craftsmanship / Handmade / Hardworking
Stability / Home / Structure / Tradition



Seriousness / Grounded Intellect
Physical Comfort / Material Possesions
Quiet / Background
Chocolate / Coffee / Tea
Wood / Trees / Nuts
Thanksgiving / Autumn / Winter
Packaging / Shipping
History / Vintage Objects / Aging
Animal Fur
Outdoors / Agriculture



Dull / Basic / Predictable / Unexciting
Cheap/ Stinginess
Suck-ups / Toadies / Bootlickers
The Nazi Party
Dirtiness / Unclean / Fecal Matter
Mourning (India)
Spoiled Food / Burnt Food
Lack of Humor
Lack of Sophistication / Unrefined


Despite all of these meanings and uses, you won’t find brown on the color wheel or in the rainbow. It’s a composite color made by combining usually 3 other colors (black, red and yellow for example, or red, yellow and blue in certain ratios). Together with a low brightness or low saturation, we get brown, instead of a clear shade of another color. Its composite nature makes it a natural background color, and you can find a shade of brown to complement any other color well. It’s got strong game as a neutral color, though it does tip toward warm tones rather than being a true neutral.

If you want to see some examples of the many ways it can be paired and used, check out my neutral color board on Pinterest.

What does brown make you think of? Do you fall into the majority who consider it their least favorite color?


Decoding Design: The Parts of the Process

Decoding Design: The Parts of the Process

You’re looking over a proposal for your design project. The designer has it all spelled out, but you’re not sure what it all actually means. What is the difference between a concept and a revision? What can you actually expect them to provide at the end of the project? Today I’m decoding some of the lingo involved in the design process to help make this a little clearer.


an idea for the direction that a project can go.
The designer takes in all of the info about the project, your target market and branding, any budget or production constraints, and comes up with a few concepts that meet all of the requirements, each in their own way. Depending on the type of project, you may be shown anywhere from 2 to 5 or more concepts. These are usually accompanied by a brief statement explaining how the concept addresses all of the points the project is meant to hit. It is customary to choose a single concept (direction) to pursue for the rest of the design process.


an updated concept based on requested edits.
As much as every designer would love to get a concept 100% perfect out of the gate, usually there are a few edits that need to happen. Perhaps text has changed, or a different photo is needed, or that shade of blue just isn’t quite right. When a client views a concept and provides feedback, the designer will condense that down into edits that need to (or can be) made, and present a revised concept. Professional designers will designate how many rounds of revisions are included in the project fee.

Draft / Proof

a rough or unfinished piece meant to show a concept or revision fully enough for presentation and feedback, without yet being finalized for production or handover.
This can take the form of a low-res file digitally (usually a .pdf or other easily viewable file) or an untrimmed sheet from the printing press if you are further along in the process. All concepts and revisions are usually shown in this manner, before a design is finalized.


the actual file(s) that the designer delivers at the end of the project.
What format those files will take should be spelled out and agreed to in the contract beforehand. Generally designers do not hand over their layered/editable Adobe files, but only work-ready files tailor-made for the use designed for, i.e. files that can be uploaded to the web or given to the printer immediately. For example, if a designer is creating images for social media for you, they will delivered flat, finished image files (.jpg or .png) rather than a Photoshop file. The only standard exception to this is for logo design, when the vector Illustrator file should be provided. If you need access to the Adobe file for your project or a template you can update and use on your own, that should be discussed with your designer up front, before work begins.

Did that clear up the parts of the design process for you? What else could use decoding?


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Amanda Guerassio

From freelance designer to studio owner, I've been a self-employed, independent graphic designer for over a decade. I love helping people find the right visual voice for their businesses and projects. Let's talk!