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Monday, June 15, 2009

Techno Granny, Graphic Designers, Artists or Marketers.

This show was originally aired on the Techno Granny Show on June 8, 2009 at 7 AM. Archived version is available at: or on Techno Granny Show unique radio channel at:

Susan is a graduate of The School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration. In her early career, she worked as a graphic designer and art director for many major book publishing companies in New York such as, Penguin and Macmillan.
In 1994 Susan established her own company, Susan Newman Design, Inc. Her work has encompassed corporate identity, web design, posters, book design and more. Her clients range from new small businesses to large corporations and span the United States. Susan has received numerous awards from organizations and publications over the years and most recently in 2008 from GDUSA.

Talking points to be discussed on the “Techno Granny Radio Show” June 8th, 2009.

1- What is a graphic designer?

A graphic designer is an artist, problem solver, conceptual artist. Someone who designs both for themselves and for their clients.

Whether starting a new business or trying to separate a business from the competition, these clients need an identity. I listen to what my clients say in describing themselves and the mission of their business, I look at what other companies like them have done or look like, I try to get my clients to show me by example what they like as far as design, looking at logos, color schemes, websites or whatever samples they may want to show. I then take this information and conceptually I decide what seems right for them. I usually show them a few different concepts, changing it up. 98% of the time I am on target and they usually cannot understand how I am reading their minds as far as designing just what they wanted.

Sometimes someone comes to me with a website that has no design at all, just content, or sometimes a company has no site and needs one. These companies might have a logo and business cards, which gives me someplace to begin. What does that look like, do they also have a brochure? Some companies have nothing and we begin with creating a logo and their corporate identity, then we move on to a brochure, product packaging, perhaps a presskit folder, perhaps sell sheets, and then the website.

1A: The most exciting project so far?
A few years ago a colleague who teaches software to companies, some are publishers, came to me with a website assignment. At the time she wasn’t designing websites and asked me if I was interested in designing a site for Simon & Schuster, she would be the liaison between us. When she told me whom the site was for, I was so excited I couldn’t wait to begin. The site was for Barack Obama’s newest book, The Audacity of Hope. I knew then he would be our next President f the United States and was thrilled to have been able to design that site. The site has changed somewhat since he was elected.

1B: Design that made a difference with a company or product?
I was asked to join the board of advisors for Actors Shakespeare Company at NJCU last Fall. Since that time I have redesigned their logo, website and poster/signage for various productions, including The Three Musketeers, King Lear and Henry V. I negotiated a deal with NJ Transit to design and hang a 10 ft. banner in Hoboken Terminal for 35 days which dramatically changed the traffic to their website and helped sell more tickets as well as bring awareness to the theater company. I secured them a space as performers in the Everything Jersey City Festival which took place on May 16, 2009… they were the only theatrical performers and the buzz during and afterward was fantastic. I am now in the process of designing their next season’s brochures and will soon update their website with the new season’s schedule and build photo galleries of the past shows.

2 - What’s the difference between graphic design for books, magazines or other print marketing and websites/email marketing?

Designing for these two areas have some minor areas that are the same but mostly they are completely different. Something that’s printed has one face, one chance to capture someone’s attention. Imagine designing a book cover, which will be sitting amongst the shelves with many others in its category. What will make you choose one book over another, if it’s not an author that is famous? It will most likely be the cover that catches your eye that is pleasing or intriguing to you.

This explains the “concept” of design. Someone created that cover feeling that what they selected as far as the imagery, colors and the typeface was in their view representing a window into what that book is about, enough to get you to pick it up.

The “print” medium works in high resolution, 300-1200 dpi and the CMYK printing process, or flat Pantone (or other brands) colors, or both.

The web uses low resolution, 72 dpi and works in web colors and rgb.

When we think of websites, there is much more available to us. Audio, video, Flash animation, links, we have so much more to play with to attract attention, but here again people get overwhelmed by these options, and it takes a graphic designer to make sense of it all, not over use these things but to figure out ways to make everything work together so you’re not driving people away instead of gaining new customers.

Many websites scream for attention with either fast moving Flash animation or advertisements that are Flashing, look at me! They don’t realize that to some it’s annoying, and should be used minimally or moved off or down the homepage and into an advertising section.

When designing for the web one should always focus on the user. We must always remember that what matters most is that the site is pleasing to look at and the navigation, functionality is the key. If someone cannot find what they came for, they will leave and not return. So there are many areas to be considered, design, color palette, how much content, structure, and just using common sense.

3- Why use a graphic designer and not just design it themselves using templates, clipart or laying things out themselves?

It takes years of experience to understand how to listen to clients, gaining a window into what they’re saying and how that translates in a visual image for me… sifting through their copy, images, logos, and information and know just how best to represent them in print or on the web.

Just because someone has a computer, “Word” and perhaps “Photoshop” doesn’t mean they have any expertise in laying out information. Conceptualization comes from the creative, intuitive mind, processing the ingredients and coming up with “the right solution” for that client and no other.

This is why I hate the concept of templates. There are online companies who offer website templates, postcard and brochure templates, as if everyone just fits into a cookie shaped mold. Each client has their own unique idea, mission and business sense, and their print marketing and web presence should match that.

4- How do we pick one graphic designer over another, how are they different?

One more point I thought we could discuss is the challenge a businesses person might face when looking for a graphic designer. For example, I have many online profiles with portfolios, on styleapple, logolounge, guru, elance, and others. These are places where designers post their information and can look for new opportunities by responding to postings or clients can look through different profiles to find someone they may want to hire. So, if they are looking through these portfolios, what distinguishes one from another?

Well, first it may depend on the reviews other clients have written in, or how many samples they have up in their portfolio, or how many projects they have completed. Most important will be that they will look through the portfolio samples, at the work, and the style of that artist and they will know when a style matches what they might have in mind for themselves. They just see something that agrees with their aesthetic sense and it will follow through to their own project.

5- Keeping up with technology.

We could also touch on how a graphic designer and web designer must stay on top of software updates, stay tuned in to award shows, the latest news and trends.

Watching the news, reading the latest articles online, subscribing to various magazines, and keep the networking channels open to stay informed.

Also be sure to look at wikipedia on “graphic design” I found that page fascinating.


Susan Newman
Susan Newman Design inc.

Creative, award winning graphic and website design studio.

Jersey city, NJ 07307
Ph: 201-420-8205

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