Creative Wavelength

Creative Wavelength

Today I’ve got another installation of Creative Wavelength for you! Here’s some nifty art, design & generally creative-cool things I’ve found around the web recently:

 Soft and delicate double exposure portraits of wild animals. That sums it up nicely.

Soft and delicate double exposure portraits of wild animals. That sums it up nicely, these are beautiful. By Dániel Taylor.


This Designer Turned A Year's Worth Of Emotions Into Colorful Spectrums

This Designer Turned A Year’s Worth Of Emotions Into Colorful Spectrums. Interesting to see some of the colors he assigned to certain emotions.



The Secret Lives of Fruits and Vegetables. An artist delves into the history and mythology of certain foods. Cool looking.

The Secret Lives of Fruits and Vegetables. Photographer Maciek Jasik delves into the history and mythology of certain foods.


No-Bullshit Advice for Choosing a Logo You’ll Love. Possibly the best round-up of such advice I’ve seen to-date.

Top 10 TV Shows For Entrepreneurs And Creatives. I’ve watched exactly one of these. Any input?

Here’s What Makes Flying Suck, and How Designers Would Fix It. Some worthwhile ideas here.

Portland graphic designer helps the Cherokee Nation update its language for the digital age. Cool.

What cool arty designy things have you come across recently?

6 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Work With Me

Six Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work With Me

A lot of the marketing articles I’ve read talk about focusing on what you bring to the table and why a person should pick you/your business to provide whatever it is you’re offering. I get that, and employ a good amount of that in my social media and here around the site. But less often do I see addressed the flip side: letting people know when they should go elsewhere. It’s basically a way to have potential leads auto-eliminate themselves from your audience, based on criteria of who you don’t want to work with. It’s a time saver for both business owners, because it was never going to be a good match, and neither wasted time going back and forth via email or phone. Ideally, then, the people who do actually end up contacting you are well-qualified leads and more likely to fit into your target audience.

In that spirit, here are 6 reasons why you shouldn’t work with me:

1. You aren’t part of the lifestyle sector I focus on.

It’s taken me a while to define the kind of clients I want to work with, and that is clients in the lifestyle sector. Think food & drink, writing, art, culture, events, wellness, etc. If your business doesn’t fall under that umbrella, then we’re not a good fit. I’m sure your business is great, but you’re going to want to find someone who is interested in and specializes in your type of business.

2. You are only hiring a designer because you don’t know how to use the Adobe programs.

I get it, the Adobe programs are expensive and tricky to learn. But if you think that Adobe mouse-pushing is all that a designer brings to the table, you’re missing the point of design. A designer’s job is as much about strategy and innovation in coming up with the design and making sure it works for your business, as it is about the execution of the design. Though obviously a good designer excels at that, too. If you are going to ignore your designer’s advice and expertise, and just want them to put it together as you instruct (or worse, request to look over their shoulder while they work), then you can go elsewhere. I want to work with clients who actually value the design process and a designer’s perspective and experience.

3. You have a problem with signing a contract or paying a deposit before work begins.

Yes, currently Studio Guerassio is just me, an individual. But it is still a business, and I run it as such, down to all of the legal nitty gritty. A contract is a piece of security for both parties, as it details the responsibilities and rights of each side. A deposit serves several purposes: a) it secures your spot in my workflow; b) it shows me you’re serious about this project and ready to get to work; and c) it serves as payment for time I spend researching and prototyping before you may even see the first concept. If at that point we discover we’re not a good match after all, I am not out a loss for those hours worked. Refusing to sign a contract or pay a deposit is a non-starter for me; we will not be working together.

4. You think ‘freelancer’ is just another word for ’employee.’

It’s not. You are not my boss. For one thing, you’re not paying for my health insurance, or retirement, or taking out taxes for me. I handle all of that. Which means you don’t get to dictate what hours I work, or my payment terms, or insist I be at your beck and call exclusively. I have set office hours, and payment terms will be clearly outlined in the contract you sign. For project work, I give you a timeline of when you can expect drafts from me, and respond to emails in a reasonable timeframe. None of this is unusual, nor, I feel, objectionable. Basically, if I’m getting the work to you when I say I will, and it’s done well (which of course, it will be, because hello that’s what I do), then you don’t get to demand anything further. If that doesn’t work for you, then I don’t work with you.

5. You are looking for a cheap price tag rather than design that is well done and best fits your business.

Good, tailored design takes time. And professional designers deserve to be paid for their time, just like any other profession. If you honestly think it makes no difference to your business having a stock clip art logo you can get for $5 rather than a professionally designed, custom one that has been properly fitted to your business and audience, then we are never going to form a good working relationship. You should just take yourself off to Fiverr right now.

6. You are not prepared to answer questions about things like your target market and what makes your business unique.

In order to design well for your business, I need to get to know it. I do that by asking a lot of questions. These are questions that, as a business owner, you should’ve given some thought to over the years. Even if not, you should be able to come up with an answer – if not immediately, at least in the timeframe before we sign the contract. If you can’t do that, or are dismissive of the importance of such questions, then you’re crippling my ability to design effectively for your business. Since that’s not a position I like to put myself in, I would turn down the project.

If any of those apply to you, then thank you for stopping by, but please move along. We would not be a good fit to work together.

On the other hand, if none of the above apply to you and you’re looking for a designer to craft the visual voice for your business or event, hit me up.

What are some non-starters for your business?

Bonus reason #7: if the tone of the above blog post bothered you, our personalities are also probably not a good fit for working together.


Uncovered: Book Covers That Don’t Shout Their Titles

One thing I’ve heard some authors and even other book cover designers say is that the title of the book should be the largest thing on the cover.

“It needs to be readable when it’s shrunk down to thumbnail size on Amazon” is how it’s usually phrased. It is a very common cover tactic, resulting in the title set in large type, ready to grab your eye before anything else. I don’t disagree with this approach, per se; in many cases there’s nothing wrong with that and it works beautifully. But I don’t believe it’s a hard and fast rule. Take a look at the following book covers:

It becomes clear looking at this small sampling that having a cover where the title isn’t SHOUTED at the reader (and in some cases is even unreadable at thumbnail size) isn’t an obstacle to success. A good handful of these even made the bestseller list. And this approach works across the full range of genres.

Speaking as a reader and not just a designer, I am much more intrigued by a cover that stands out by doing something different or unexpected rather than just yelling at me from the store shelves. But that doesn’t mean you should just make the title tiny without any other considerations.

You can get away with a cover where the title doesn’t take place of prominence in two scenarios:

  1. You are already famous, and so your name is given prominence to draw people in on that recognition factor. (See Nora Roberts or Tina Fey above)
  2. You are otherwise drawing potential readers to your cover with an unusual layout or intriguing imagery, and so the title does not need to be the attention-grabber. (i.e. Jenny Lawson’s costumed mouse, or the stark contrast of Wave, or the very minimal Perks of Being a Wallflower)

The people who fall into #1 make up a pretty small group, relatively. But the good news is that ANY author can be in group #2, provided they have a good designer in their corner (ahem).

What do you think? Do un-shouty covers grab your attention?

Are you an indie or self-pub author in need of an awesome cover for your new book? Step into my office.


Designing for the Lifestyle Sector

Designing for the Lifestyle Sector: What? Why?

What do you do when you cease to love the thing you love to do?

I’ve always loved design. And I’ve been in business for myself doing just that for almost a decade. It’s had its ups and downs, as any freelance venture does. But the last couple of years have been a bit rocky. I haven’t felt as inspired, wasn’t getting that spark of excitement over a new project as often as I used to. I was tired of clients micromanaging, or requesting a design so bare bones traditional that there wasn’t any actual design involved. I was getting things done just to get them done, and I know it showed in some of my work. That’s not how I wanted to operate, but when you’re self-employed you need to keep the paychecks coming in, and so I did, despite being tired and stressed out and unhappy with my work. This year, when wedding planning also got added to my plate, my stress level hit a new high. Insomnia, health issues, and a constant feeling of hopeless overwhelm became the new norm. The idea of getting out of bed in the morning to go to my computer and work was, some days, a seemingly unbearable chore.

Had I fallen out of love with design?

I didn’t think so. The design work I did for myself was still fun and satisfying, and for a few select clients. But a majority of the work and clients I was spending my time on caused dread rather than excitement.

Then, a few months ago, I came across a quote that really hit home:

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

Ding, ding, ding. A large part of my stress level was because I was doing work that I just didn’t care about- either because there was no creativity involved or the industry itself was one that I just had no interest in. And that was something I could fix. I knew I’d be changing my business name once my legal name changed; there was nothing to say I couldn’t change how and for whom I did business as well.

So I sat down and really thought about the kind of client and kind of work I want to be doing. It was not a quick process. Eventually it became clear that everything I was interested in doing design-wise fell under one roof: lifestyle. Food, art, books, culture, wellness, nature, events- that’s what they all had in common. Once I had established that I wanted to work solely in the lifestyle sector, the real work began: writing some break-up letters to clients, and all of the copy and packages for this new site.

Now, while I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about my new focus (I’m just not that demonstrative with my emotions), it’s a big step in the right direction. The lifestyle sector is something I’m already interested in, on a personal level. Book covers for authors? I’m an unabashed book worm and reading addict, and understand in my core the importance and appeal of a great book cover to attract readers. Branding for restaurants? I love good food, and when a restaurant wows me with their brand and ambiance on top of that, I’m hooked. Paper goods for weddings? Having just got married recently myself, I can honestly say my favorite part of the planning was designing the invitations and the sheer tactile yumminess of luxury paper stocks. Plus I’m a romantic at heart.

I enjoy all of these things as a consumer. With that informing my design work, I know I can do amazing work with these clients. And since these industries tend to be more open to new and creative design (rather than just wanting the same-old same-old), I’m excited to see what comes.

Did you catch that?

I’m excited.

That bodes well for this new chapter in my life and business. And if you, reading this, fall into the lifestyle sector and are in search of a designer with a newly-lit spark burning in her, drop me a line. I’d love to get started.

Have you ever had to change the direction of your business mid-course? What brought it about and how did you implement it? Let me know in the comments.

Creative Wavelength

Creative Wavelength

The latest installation of Creative Wavelength is here! Here’s some nifty art, design & generally creative things I’ve found around the web lately:


As a book addict, piano player, and designer, this awesome bookshelf is hitting all of my sweet spots. I want one. By Sebastian Errazuriz.


I love these illustrations by Amy Hamilton.

honest wine labels

These honest wine labels are hilarious, and based on real situations that happened while the designers were drinking wine.

This Book Cover Judges You Back. If you look at the book with anything other than a neutral expression, the cover refuses to open.

⇒ Have you tried out the Kolor color guessing/matching game? It gets tricky quickly.

The Look Of Funny: How The Onion’s Art Department Works.

⇒ And did you see? I’m now on Instagram.

What cool arty designy things have you come across recently?

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About Amanda


Amanda Guerassio

With 10 years of experience under my belt as a freelance graphic designer, I'm turning over a new leaf and venturing into studio LLC-dom.