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Madison Area #ShopSmall Local Gift Guide

Wow-za! Look at the time, or calendar rather… Have you started your holiday shopping? Are you planning to shop local in the Madison area?

I can’t even believe it, is Black Friday Small Business Saturday really right around the corner? Having an early Thanksgiving this year is really throwing us off.

BTW, do you know how (and why) the holiday’s date is determined? Thanksgiving is always held on the fourth Thursday of November and since this year the month started on a Thursday, it falls on it’s earliest possible date. I was reading this [actually quite interesting] article from NPR, and discovered the history behind the date chosen. Did you know that there was once a month where TWO Thanksgivings were celebrated!? Bring on all the homemade mashed potatoes ya’ll!

Anyways… back to our main focus.

If you’re not familiar with Small Business Saturday, I’m happy you’re here to learn more. It’s a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. It’s the annual holiday shopping tradition that gets communities everywhere out in support of their favorite small businesses. Because when they thrive, we all thrive. The small businesses are the ones working their butts off to make a living doing what they love and giving back to the local communities. This day was created to refrain shoppers from shopping the big box stores and encouraging them to shop small. To read our previous year’s local gift guide you can read more here for 2016 and here for 2017.

#SmallBusinessSaturday

In support of this movement, we wanted to continue the tradition of feature local businesses and create this fabulous list of local shops. This way, these gifts are easy to shop for and provide a great variety for everyone, regardless of where you live in the Madison area. We are bringing you our favorite spots to find local gifts and just in time for the gift-giving season!

Get ready to shop local in the Madison Area!

Shops are in order based on the distance from the Wisconsin State Capitol as the crow flies…


Good Day Collective

1 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

We’ll kick off the list with a pop-up retail experience by One-One Thousand, Red’s Mercantile and Wildewood. These three brands have joined forces (yay for #communityovercompetition!) to curate a one-of-a-kind shopping experience just off Madison’s capitol square! They are temporarily in the space to bring you the very best this shopping season, so shop now, they are only open until January 8, 2019.

In the shop, you’ll find a carefully curated selection of gifts including indoor plants and handcrafted home and lifestyle goods. They feature over 30 brands to explore! A special note from the owners: Check back often as inventory will change throughout the three-month pop-up!

Shopping small means everything to us! We know the people behind a lot of the brands that we carry, we know their story, their process. We’re experts on everything we carry, as we should be, which is something you just don’t get from big box stores. That also makes it so exciting to see someone come in and connect to something we feel so strongly about. All of us personally enjoy shopping small, too. It’s such a fun way to source unique and high quality items for your home or gifts for loved ones. And you get the added bonus of knowing you’re supporting someone who took the scary leap into the world of small business owning.

Kate Holl, Owner of Wildewood, Co-owner of the Good Day Market

Website  |  Facebook

Little Luxuries

230 State Street, Madison, WI 53703

A state-street favorite by many! Little Luxuries has been a part of the State Street local business community for over 25 years. They have a really fun and diverse selection of gifts for loved ones of all ages. The owner, Amy Moore, is so sweet and has brought a really fun collection of gifts. We ALSO love Little Luxuries because it is a proud supporter of the arts and local charitable programs, which we give a BIG thumbs up!

Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Hazel + Hatch

1248-1250 Williamson Street, Madison, WI 53703

We love the creativity and artistic talent here! Hatch Art House and Hazel General Store are the perfect 2-in-1 gift stop! While they operate as 2 separate entities, they have a joined store which gives you double the fun. They have a lot of fun treasures to find, including an expansive collection of art pieces, beautiful prints, jewelry, apparel, and more! Hazel supports over 100 USA Makers with an emphasis on makers who give back through donations, charity or good ole kindness! I always find ready great gifts every time I stop by, sometimes they’re so good I have to keep them for myself.

My first shop, Hatch Art House opened 8 years ago in 2010. I have a passion for supporting local artists and after many years of being an artist and waiting tables, I saved enough money to finally make the leap. (I moved across the country to do it!) About 5 years in, Hatch Art House was doing great with a solid community built up around it, when the neighboring space became available. I knew our neighborhood would benefit from a modern-day general store since our art gallery customers were continually asking where to find certain products nearby and for so many things I didn’t have an answer for them. That’s when Hazel General Store was born. We opened a few months later in June of 2015 and showcase US makers and artisans.
Tammy Schreiter, Owner of Hatch and Hazel

Hazel’s Website   |   Facebook  |  Instagram

Booth 121

6203 Monona Dr, Monona, WI 53716

Truly one of a kind! It also happens to be one of my favorite places to bring out-of-town guests. There are so many fun (and inappropriate) gifts that you could probably spend all day in there. They feature many one-of-a-kind and handmade gifts, home décor, upcycled furniture, clothing, jewelry and so much more!

If you’re looking for a place to shop local in the Madison area, I would definitely recommend this shop, it’s unlike any other.

Website  |  Facebook

Ubuntu Trade

2789 Fitchrona Road, Madison, Wisconsin 53719

Ubuntu Trade is a socially conscious shop that features gifts filled with unique, handcrafted items from both global and local makers and artisans. Her tagline: Trade Goods. Trade Good. couldn’t be more fitting. Her shop of truly-lovely and culturally diverse gifts aims to connect people + goods around the world in the spirit of UBUNTU. April has an incredible story and her shop was created to support the local maker whether on her travels around the world or just down the street.

“I have always loved shopping from small local makers in all of my travels around the world. After living in Uganda for 2 years and getting to know many makers personally, I wanted to give them an international platform to share their talent. Once I opened the store, I decided to add from fair trade brands along with small US-based makers. I don’t have “maker talent” myself, but if my shop can give makers a place to sell their wares, so they can keep making and earning a living, then I feel like I’m supporting and contributing to the small maker movement.”
April Joy Gulley, Owner of Ubuntu

Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Lake Life Co.

331 E. Main Street #101, Waunakee, WI 53597

We all can appreciate the value in living a lake life lifestyle, where dreams are endless, time to relax is precious, and all you have to do is DIVE IN!… Lake Life Company features a nice blend of gifts for both your family AND furry friends. Amy’s company was founded by a hobby-turned-business with homemade candles and sugar-scrubs. In February 2018, Lake Life Co. opened its doors to its new home in Waunakee, WI!

They have a great collection of decor which would make a great gift for loved ones. Plus, with a wall full of clean-burning, 100% soy homemade candles in all kinds of great scents, you’ll be sure to find one that will make a perfect gift.

We started our business three years ago as a creative outlet for our kids. Our daughter started our business at age 11. We opened our shop to grow our brand, make more of an impact and help others with our Mission. #ShopSmall is supporting dreams. Hardwork, time, dedication, persistence all go into growing a business. Shopping with these businesses rewards these efforts…
Amy Bernards, Life Life Co. Owner

Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

JNJ Craftworks

1051 N Edge Trail, Verona, WI 53593

JNJ Craftworks is close to home and a great place to find unique items and that perfect gift in Verona, WI! They feature gifts for all occasions including religious celebrations. They opened in 2016 and support over 70 artists. For JNJ owner Jerina Vincent, supporting the local community isn’t just a catchphrase or a way to drum up holiday business. It’s the very heart of JNJ’s business plan. They take pride that their products bring joy and honor to many.
 “We don’t just serve local customers, and we showcase the work of local artists. Dane County is full of creative, talented people, and our shop is a celebration of that talent. It’s a cozy little circle: the better we support local artists, the more they’re able to create, which keeps us stocked with all sorts of interesting things.”
Jerina Vincent, Owner of JNJ Craftworks
For the second year, JNJ is giving back to local schools this holiday season! Want to show extra support your children’s school? Print this image out, and JNJ will donate 5% of the sale back to your local school of choice.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

KELLA

118 E. Main Street, Mount Horeb, WI 53572

KELLA’s business is pretty much my dream come true! They have a storefront selling local products and a studio for their design business in the back. Their space is so well put together and I love everything they sell, including their own apparel line, Forward Apparel Co. Everything in their shop is so exquisitely designed that you will never have to turn down a shirt because of the poor kerning or crappy choice of font. (Sidenote: Do you ever think, “Wow, I love this, but the kerning is terrible!!” Yea… we know how you feel. You will not have that problem here!).

They created a really nice space and shopping experience that offers a space for local artists to highlight their work as well as providing an avenue for their apparel line.

“Even before we opened KELLA, we have always fully supported and participated in the #shopsmall movement. We know that small, locally-owned businesses are the heart & soul of every single community and want to make sure we support them in anyway that we can. When you shop at KELLA you can feel good knowing that your money stays in the community and is helping to support small artists from around the great state of Wisconsin.”
Kelly, co-founder of Kella Design

Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

 

 

BONUS: Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz

330 W Lakeside St, Madison, WI 53715

We can’t forget gift-giving for our furry friends, so we had to add a bonus feature! If you’re looking for a local pet store, we’ve got you covered. Liz says she opened Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz to satisfy her personal motto in life — Help People, Help Animals, Build Community. What a great motto!! She offers a large variety of locally-made goods

Continuing to #shopsmall is a legit way that people can honestly support hard working store owners, artists and entrepreneurs. It means that we can have connection, talk about our issues, solve our issues, smile, cry, have eye contact, help one another, care for one another and just plain DO GOOD. You can’t get that from a computer screen. “Buying local” is not just a catch phrase.When you do it, you are helping pay a bill and keeping your neighborhood alive. And we, as small biz owners, love you for it.

Liz, co-founder of Mutzy Mutz

Facebook  |  Instagram

 


 

Now grab your friends are family and head out for an amazing shopping trip!

Get out there and #ShopLocal

 

 

Why don’t images off the internet print well?

“I found this really great image on Google but it doesn’t look good when I print it!”

This can be a really frustrating problem, especially if you just spent a lot of money to get your marketing materials printed. How annoying! Sadly, printing internet images incorrectly is often an amateur mistake and one we can help you avoid…

Image quality on the internet is reduced to save server space and to load your website faster. So that graphic you’re pulling from the internet (We hope legally!!!) has been reduced to web quality and won’t look good on your printed material. Just because your images look awesome on your computer or mobile does not mean this will translate once printed. Images don’t need to be a high-resolution in order to look good on your screens, which is why we reduce them to load pages faster.

Let’s dig in more…

Your image is printing poorly because of one thing: PIXELS.

Pixels are the teeny tiny dots of color that are arranged together to form an image. The number of pixels, or dots, within a square inch, we call the resolution. The professional standard for printed images is 300 pixels per inch while photos on the internet are often only at 72/inch. That’s almost 4 times the quality! 

Here’s a graphic that shows you the difference. Look how sad our beautiful capitol looks on the right… blurry and pixelated. On the contrary, the left side is so beautiful, it would make anyone say, “Yes, I love Madison, Wisconsin!” The image looks sharp and in focus, perfect for your printers.

So we have established that the internet used images at a lower resolution for speed and file size. A web image at 72PPI is not enough to give us a sharp, professional look when printed. But why do the images we print have to be so much bigger?

What does 300DPI really mean, and why does it matter?

Printers use a higher resolution when printing, so when a web quality photo is printed, you can really tell the difference.

Printers work by applying ink or toner onto the paper. They have nozzles that spray tiny drops of ink – so the more dots of color you have within a square inch, the sharper your image will be. If you have a low-resolution photo, your printer may try to compensate causing your image to look worse. This is why you want to avoid printing internet images. Photoshop essentials compares it to spreading too little peanut butter over too much toast. It just doesn’t work.

Printing internet images:

We see this all the time with entrepreneurs and small businesses that try to DIY their designs. Beware, if you don’t know what you’re doing you may print a handout and the images look awful. This doesn’t give the professional look you’re probably looking for. We also see this problem with organizations that work with other company’s logos, for example, an event that lists their sponsor’s logos. People will say, “Just grab the logo off our website”. The problem is that the logo is probably optimized for web, not for print. So be careful!

If you’re using stock photography, be sure you are downloading an appropriate size. Often times you can save money or get free images by getting a low-res version, but don’t let them fool you, get the highest option you can so you’re prepared. We usually recommend at least 2000px wide for standard marketing materials like brochures or postcards.

(Bonus tip: Remember to keep your high-resolution images intact. Bigger is better, you can always go down in size, but you can’t go up!)

It’s a complicated concept to wrap your head around, however, it is important to know the difference. The key lesson here is to keep your web quality photos on your website and use high-resolution images whenever you plan to print.

We hope you learned something and feel free to explore more of our blog. You might be interested in this post about Raster vs Vector Images or the differences between File Formats.

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Eight Pro Tips on How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Next Event


Are you organizing an event for your business or organization? Are you working with a short timeline and penny-pinching budget? Keep on reading my friend! This article will give you EIGHT (not ten, because everyone chooses ten) pro tips on how to start using social media to spread awareness for your event! To bring in some expertise, we brought in Kayla S. Clemons to give us some great tips for your event promotions.

Kayla is the Director of Social Media at S&L Hospitality in Verona, WI. She loves all things social media, event planning, and bicycling!

 

 


 

Eight Pro Tips on How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Next Event

Create ONE #hashtag for your event.

Make sure it is simple, easy to spell, scalable (#event2017, #event2018, #event2019), and original. Optimize and update all of your marketing pieces to include your event’s website and #hashtag. Also consider including the #hashtag in email signatures, bio’s, cover photos, etc. If your audience doesn’t know the specific hashtag, they may create their own causing confusion. Make it well-known so when your attendees Tweet or snap pics on Instagram, they know what to use.

Create a Facebook Event page.

Include enticing photo’s, link to purchase tickets, event details, a link to your website, sponsors, etc. After the Event page is created, “share” it to all social media platforms being sure to include the Event #hashtag. PRO TIP: Instagram/Facebook “Stories” and LIVE videos are SUPER effective. Post short clips about the event and encourage your followers to RSVP on the FB Event page.

Team up with complementary businesses and run contests on social media.

For example, Three Bears Resort is a Northwoods themed Indoor Waterpark Resort. A complimentary business for Three Bears would include an adventure tour company, local cranberry growers, museum etc. A contest for them could be “Post a photo of your favorite summer memory and tell us about it for a chance to win a free night stay at Three Bears and an ATV Tour!” Both of the businesses would post the contest to their social networks to reach each other’s audiences. This is FREE.

Create a Facebook Ad for your event.

Be sure to include enticing photos and keep the description short and sweet. Facebook Ad’s allow you to target specific demographics and behaviors. If your event is local, you have a great opportunity to target the audiences in your area.

Join Facebook Groups that are relative to your target market, and talk about the event within the group.

For instance, Madison Mom Blogger’s has a large online community that hosts events once a month where their members bring their children and they do a variety of activities. Three Bears Resort is a family resort. Three Bears Resort should engage with the Madison Mom Blogger’s groups and pages to draw attention to the Resort.

Another option is for Three Bears Resort to donate a “Beach Basket” or even a one night stay to Madison Mom Bloggers in exchange for them to run a contest on their social media pages.

Build anticipation by sharing photos and videos of last year’s event.

If this is a recurring event, hopefully, you have some great pictures from last year to share. You can even plan to post on a Thursday and use the hashtag #throwbackthursday!

Share behind the scenes content.

People love to see behind the scenes look into the action. Share pictures to gain some hype such as the venue, previews of performers, main guests, prizes, décor, surrounding area, etc. This can also set the stage for attendees to know what to expect.

Invest in stickers to promote your event.

Be sure they have your Event’s #hashtag on them! Why? People love stickers. They WILL stick them somewhere, and depending on how cool your stickers are they will stick them somewhere important! (Not to mention, they’re totally Instaworthy.) A great place to order stickers is Sticker Mule and they have a lot of options and will even send you samples.

 

Are you ready to promote your next event!? Thank you to Kayla S. Clemons for all the fabulous tips!!

 

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About Sprout Studio’s Web Design Process

Ever wonder what the web design process is like? We’ll walk you through what our main steps are. Get to know how we’ll build your site.

WordPress Website Process

1. We’ll kick off with a website questionnaire.

This is some simple homework for you to get a feel for what you’re looking for. This will allow you to answer some questions for us so that we can provide you with a great website. (Some sample questions… Who is your audience? How do people typically get to your site? What are they looking for when they get there? Etc.)

2. We’ll ask you for some websites that you like for inspiration.

There are so many websites out there, and because everyone has different wants/needs/styles, we ask for these to help us narrow in on who you are and what your goals for the website are.

3. We’ll create a mockup of your website’s homepage.

Using a design program, Adobe Illustrator, we can lay out what we’ve envisioned for your site. This is where we can lay out things such as where’s the logo placed, what links are in the menu, or what’s in the footer. Sprout will design it and you will have a chance to provide feedback before we get into the development of the site. Typically we’ll do one revision before heading to WordPress.

4. We will set up a development site on WordPress.

During this time, we’ll keep your current site live until the new site is finished. We will develop the new site on our server and make changes there. As soon as we’re ready for the launch. We will migrate your new site into your domain and it will be live for the world to see.

5. After the launch, we will get together for a WordPress training.

We will take you behind the scenes and teach you how to do some basic edits to your site. During this time, we’ll also teach you some basics about SEO and keeping Wordpress up to date as well.

6. From here, our job is done.

You should have a beautiful new site and what you’ll need to attract customers as well as sign in and make edits as needed.

Learn more on our https://sprout-studio.com/services/wordpress-web-design/

Looking for a Cheap Graphic Designer?

Looking for a cheap Graphic Designer in Madison, Wisconsin? Well, graphic design is probably not the area you want to skimp out on. I mean, we’re talking about your business right?! You should have a professional face to your brand. So, if you’re looking for someone working for $10/hour out of their grandma’s basement, you’ve probably stumbled upon the wrong site. We value the work we do and you may not find us “cheap”… HOWEVER, we are here to tell you a few of our best tips to save money when working with a graphic designer.

 

5 Tips to Saving Money Working with a Graphic Designer

Ready to get started on your new project with your graphic designer? Hooray and good for you for investing in a professional to elevate your brand. Working with a graphic designer is a great way to create a really professional brand

 

Avoid vague descriptions.

Have you had to answer one of those questionnaires where there are a million questions and you’re wondering why it’s important? Well, truth be told, those questions most likely have a purpose. They’re trying to get to know more details. At the start of a project, there’re so many things we as designers need to know to create a design that serves you best. Be sure you’re clear about all the details to avoid back and forth questions, and even worse, having to redesign something that you didn’t specify at the project kickoff.

Minimise revisions.

A. Know what you’re looking for ahead of time. It can be extremely beneficial to have your project going in the right direction from the start. The further you get down in the process, the more work it is to pivot or start fresh. (We know that sometimes this does happen, but we need you as the clients to understand that we can often step back and reanalysis, but this will affect the budget with additional revisions and change of scope.)

B. Do you work with a group or committee that will be reviewing the work? If you’re looking to keep your costs down and also need to a few people to review a project, be sure you’re reviewing together so you can hash out revisions at once. It adds a lot of time and revisions when clients send over a couple revisions at a time. It’s more efficient for us to make 10 revisions at once than to make 2 corrections, 5 times around.

Use the same designer for all your projects.

Working with someone on a consistent basis allows you to get all “extra stuff” out of the way (contracts, emails, estimates, deposits, etc), and lets you focus on the job at hand. You’ll begin to create an impressive workflow and can get to know each other’s style and preferences when it comes to their marketing collateral. Similarly, both parties will get to know standard processes, preferred file setup, communication style, and the brand as a whole. A more effective workflow means a better price for you.

Have the logos you need handy (and vector).

Most importantly, you will need your business’s logo in vector format which you should hopefully have! If not, you might have to have the designer recreate your logo in the format you need (click here for the logos you should have for your business). If your designer needs to recreate any logos, it’s going to cost extra money.

Additionally, some projects might have multiple logos involved, such as event branding where there will be sponsor logos. Save your designer time by having that ready for them. If your designer has to hunt down sponsor logos, this will add time to the clock. Be sure you also have the best quality you can get access to. If you provide a low-res pixeled version you snagged from there twitter account, that probably won’t work and your graphic designer will have to get involved to get something better.

Have your copy and photos ready to go.

We run into this a lot where clients are ready to start a project but they don’t have all their ducks in a row or their copy (the text for the website or marketing piece) finalized. It’s actually quite challenging to design a piece without knowing whether we’re working with one line of text or three paragraphs. This is really critical to efficiency… If we don’t have a basic understanding of what content will be used, we could be designing and redesigning and it can exceed your revision time. (Oh. We should probably mention, basic test edits and swapping pics here and there is not what we’re referring to, it’s the big edits that we’re referring to. That makes a large difference.)

Related topic, if you’re not at the point where you can hire a professional photographer and will be using stock photography. It’s really helpful if you have an idea of the photos you’d like and some keywords for use to search for. Sometimes as designers, we need some examples of what to look for in stock photography. For example, if you are an interior design but only work residentially, we won’t want to include anything that involved commercial spaces (…granted as your graphic designer, we should already know that, but you get my point, right?)

 

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We hope you found this helpful! Let us know what you think and if you can implement any of these tips with your graphic designer to maximize your cost and save some money. Don’t skimp our for a cheap graphic designer… If you use these tips and think smart about your project, it will help you save $$$ in the end!

If you’re in Madison, WI and are looking for design help, feel free to reach out! Otherwise, just hang on tight to stay tuned for more great tips to come.

 

 

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What is a Vector?

If you’re in marketing, small business, or a creative field, you’ve probably heard the term VECTOR thrown around. You might have been totally lost by what this means. As a graphic design studio, we use vector EVERY DAY… not even exaggerating, we LOVE them.

BUT… What if you’re not a designer and you have someone telling you that you NEED a vector logo. Wel, in this case,e you might be totally confused, but rest assured you’ve come to the right spot! We’re here to help you learn what it is and why its important. It’s a tricky concept to digest, but we’ve created an infographic for you that should hopefully make it easier to understand.

I’ll run through the basics quickly before you dive into the graphic. Google Dictionary describes VECTOR as “a quantity having direction as well as magnitude, especially as determining the position of one point in space relative to another”. Similarly, in graphic design, we use the term “vector” to refer to a graphic created with anchor points, lines, and angles which work together to form shapes. The elements of the design use their relativity to one another to create the shapes of your design. Because of the geometry behind it, you can scale shapes as large as you want without losing quality. Whether your design is one inch or one mile long, these relative mathematic equations stay the same, allowing your lines and curves to stay crisp and clear.

There’s a lot of mathematics behind it, and although we loved math in high school, that knowledge has definitely diminished [probably to retain more knowledge about fonts, lol]. If you want to read the brainy details behind it, click on this link: https://www.intmath.com/vectors/math-vector-art.php.

So thanks to the fabulously smart people of the world, they figured out how to use their math skills to create vector graphics in programs like Adobe Illustrator. Praise the lord — this means we’re able to make awesome designs without thinking about math!

Let’s take a look at the graphic below.


As you may have already noticed, vectors are the type of thing that makes us giddy… yep, you can call us design-nerds, WE ARE.

What it comes down to is… A vector graphic is created with lines, curves, and points. These all combine together to make something that is completely scalable. As they grow and shrink, they don’t cause pixelation because they aren’t made of those pixels/dots. The lines, curves, and anchors create a mathematical relationship to each other, so as they scale, they maintain the same equations.

So the most important thing you take away from this post is this: VECTOR graphics are scalable!

This is why we ALWAYS tell our clients and pretty much everyone we know, you need to have vector logo files. They are so important… To read more about our post on what type of logo files you need, you can read our post, 6 Logo Types You Need.

 

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Get to know your file formats

Ever wondered why there are so many file formats? Each type has its own features and there’s a place for all of them in the design world.The reason we really wanted to share is because we often see people who don’t understand the differences between file types and/or are often not supplied with what they need. In today’s post, we’re going to go through six formats you will encounter most often and what the differences between them are.

Let’s dig in…

JPG – Joint Photographic Experts Group

All right, let’s start with the most common file type. This would be a JPEG. I’m guessing that you have heard of a JPEG before or maybe you’ve just seen those three or four letters at the end of your file. This is the most common type of file seen across the board. JPEG’s are often used in many ways… they can be for logos, images, infographics, and much more.

JPEG is a handy file type because it can be in CMYK or RGB. These different color types are important to know whether or not your graphic will be on the web, or printed. The advantage of the JPEG is it so versatile and anyone can open it. Another benefit of the JPEG’s that you can reduce the size of the graphic if you are using it for a website. You can have a very large image, reduce the quality, and this allows for a quicker page load on your website (good for user experience and SEO!).

The disadvantage is that it loses quality over time. Unfortunately, another disadvantage is a JPEG cannot be transparent. This is really important when you’re getting logo files because a JPEG cannot be placed onto a color background without the hideous white box around it. Please don’t do this! (This leads us to our next format…)

USE IF: You want some quick and easy, image quality isn’t as important.

PNG – Portable Network Graphics

Our next file is a ping, also known as a PNG. And the design we’re on some people refer to it as a ping file, while others use PNG. You may hear them both versions, but they are the same. It’s like a “bubbler” or a “drinking fountain”. A PNG is a really handy file type because it allows for transparency. As we mentioned before that hideous white box around your logo, can be avoided by using a PNG. They also tend to have higher file sizes compared to the same file as a JPG. So keep this in mind as you’re designing on the web if you don’t need transparency go ahead and use the JPEG. Another important thing to note is that PNGs are always RGB, because pings are often used as digital graphics, such as social media graphics, web elements, or PowerPoint presentations.

USE IF: You need a transparent background.

PDF – Portable Document Format

Our next most common file type you’ll encounter is the PDF. It’s possibly the most versatile file format in our opinion and used very often in our business. Often we will use a PDF to show proofs to our clients and often times these are the final files we send to a printer as well.  One of the really great things about PDFs is that you can save them at different qualities. When we send large files off for a client proof, we can reduce the size so that we can email them. (Pro Tip: Most email systems limit file scaring to 25 MB, If you have to send something larger, we suggest www.wetransfer.com) When it’s time to send the final art files to a printer, we can still save the same PDF as a high-resolution print file. Love technology!

PDF’s have so many great features, the list goes on. They are also great for applications and forms because you can have fillable fields that allow users to type in information. Another benefit of PDF’s is that you can embed links. This means if you’re sending a file to a customer, you can link your URL, your email address, a download button, and much more! One of the biggest features of a PDF that designers use daily is the markup capabilities. Clients are able to add little sticky notes to your files to note revisions and/or text corrections. It can be such a helpful tool to use.

Lastly, a PDF is SO VERSATILE that you can use almost any program and output as PDF.  This allows it to be so wide-spread and also allows for anyone to open it on their own computer.

USE IF: You want something easy to share or sending to someone for review.

EPS – Encapsulated PostScript

The next file type we are going to discuss is an EPS. An EPS is a really important file type in the design world, because this saves your files with all the vectors. (Not sure what a vector is? New post coming soon!) And EPS is often used as the universal file for vector graphics. This file type can be opened only programs used to read vector files, but the importance of maintaining the vector art. If you’re sending a logo to a designer, this is what they will like to have. You’ll also use a vector file if you’re sending your logo to a printer for things like screen printing T-shirts, making promotional materials, or signage for your business. Another similar file type for designers is an .AI file. This is Adobe Illustrator’s version of the EPS and has a few more customizations within. However, it’s not a helpful file type for someone who does not have Adobe Illustrator.

USE IF: You want to maintain your vector points or need something that’s scalable.

SVG – Scalable Vector Graphic

Another file type is an SVG. This is another great web file because it allows for scaling on the website. In the world of responsive web design ability to scale a graphic is really important. And SVG is kind of like a blend of a JPEG and a EPS.  This file type is relatively new to the design world, and you’re starting to see it more and more.  Many web and graphic designers like to use SVGs on their designs so that they can scale without pixelization.

USE IF: You want vector graphics on the web.

TIFF – Tagged Image Format File

Another file type which will talk about is the TIFF. A TIFF file is similar to a JPEG, but is often used for higher resolution photos and can have more features. For example, a TIFF file can have layers in it. This is important for someone working in Photoshop and would like to maintain their file layers. (Sidenote: layers are used in Photoshop to layer elements on top of each other. For example, if you’re looking at a graphic it would have a background layer, content layers, perhaps text, and commonly some layers for color correcting and/or photo editing.) The TIF file type comes in handy when you want to send a file to someone who does not have Photoshop, but you still want to maintain the editable layers. Is “editable” a real word? IDK, but we use it a lot. lol…  And another file type that goes along with the TIFF, is a PSD file. This is basically an Adobe Photoshop file and can maintain it’s layers but can only be opened by those with Photoshop.

USE IF: You have a large photograph or layers.

So there you have it! Is your brain ready to explode? Sorry, we tried to make it as easy as possible, but there’s a lot to know. Hope this helps, happy designing!

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How did we get started freelancing? Our Story, Part 1

How did we get started?

I don’t think I’ve ever received any question more than this one. So we’re here today to answer the question everyone’s been asking. Every entrepreneur or freelance graphic designer has a different story and that’s why we’re excited to share with you our story, and how we came to be. Read on to hear “part 1” of our story…

It’s funny, when I graduated college, I always used to dream about running my own shop. But I was in college, young, and had no clue what that meant… Our friends and classmates were always chatting about how cool it would be to run our own studios. We often thought about what life would be like and how much fun it would be to work on creative projects and run the show. It was always a dream, but never really knew how to execute it or where life would take us.

The college I attended, UWSP, had an amazing design conference every year called NowHere. Through NowHere our dreams starting to flourish. We got to see amazing designers across America (and Internationally) doing what they love and making a living at it. Some of these designers work for large well-known agencies while others were entrepreneurs and running their own business. It was always inspiring to see what creatives were doing in the real world and it was always something we looked up to.  I learned so much from the NowHere Conference (and UWSP in general)…we were just a small design school, but it was an amazing blessing that we were able to bring in famous designers. #unbelievable. This is where my entrepreneurial daydreaming began.

After graduation, I decided to take a little break and went on a mini vacation to see a good friend who lived in Reno, Nevada. Being fresh out of college the world was my playground.  I decided it was important to take some time to myself before I went out into the world. Knowing the time would come and I’d have no time for vacations and real life became all too real.  I took a three-week vacation to visit my friend Dorothy and we had so much fun hiking, my first (and only) time snowboarding, and visiting some really awesome spots. Yet, the best part of all was that I was going to see my good friend who happened to be a year older than me, and also a designer from UWSP. She was the best, and I had always looked up to her as a mentor and friend.

We had such a blast, and it was great spending time with another designer and close friend. I took the time to enjoy myself and didn’t think about job hunting until my return…

When I got back to Wisconsin, it was time to start filling out applications and sending out resumes. I was a bit selective in what I was applying for because I knew that I had a good talent and design strengths. (perhaps also a bit stubborn and didn’t want to settle :P)

I met with a talent agency called C2  that focuses on people in the creative field. As part of their process, I had to go in for an interview and also take a design program evaluation.  I’m naturally a pretty shy person so interviews always intimidated me,  however, I knew that to have the most success I had to be myself.  What I was really terrified of, was the design test. We went through a series of questions and different Adobe programs. When finished I found out that I was doing pretty good! The man who was running the test had said that students out of Stevens point always scored well on the program testing (yay, UWSP!).

I had gotten a couple inquiries about job positions through C2. One position, in particular, sounded really interesting, AND was in my hometown! The next week was a whirlwind… On Monday, I had heard about the job. Tuesday, I had sent in my application. Wednesday, was my interview. Thursday, I excepted the job.  And Friday, was my first day.

Having a full-time job was an interesting experience that I learned a lot from, but this company was just not for me. I got to work on some incredible projects, meet incredible people, but eventually knew I’d move on.

While freelancing on the side, I had always dreamed of something bigger, and something better…

Then one day, life changed forever. I got word that I was being let go.

Was I excited? Was I pissed? To be honest I wasn’t really sure.

But what I did know, is that this was meant to be, and I had no excuse but to launch myself headfirst into the freelancing world. Later discovering what would become my dream, Sprout Studio, LLC.

Was I terrified?  Heck yes. Did I know what I was doing? Not entirely.…

I begin building up my freelancing work and started to get the word out that I was freelancing full-time. Ideally,  it would have been really helpful to start building this up ahead of time and saving up for the leap of faith. (Not to mention I had just purchased a brand new car… not the smartest investment if I had known I’d be jobless months later.)

I started reaching out to people in the industry I already knew… a lot of them are still clients today and we love dearly.

After about a month, I was contacted by my good friend, Kayla, who is working in New York City. They were looking for a freelance designer to help with packaging for the NUK brand products. Seemed pretty crazy right? Could I really move to New York for a couple months and work for a national brand in The Big Apple? We were excited to try!

Within two weeks my bags were packed, and I was on my way to New York City!

I had never been, I had no clue what I was getting myself into, but I was so excited for this experience and was so blessed that life had led me here.

Working with NUK, literally changed my life. It was the launching pad for my career. I was able to work directly with the marketing team and one of my best friends — A dream come true!! While navigating the ins-and-outs of product packaging, we jumped into some product graphics, which later became the first designs we had on the shelf. (see excited Carly photo below) Working with Kayla and NUK, I was also able to hone my skills in Illustrator. I quickly became obsessed with the program and honed my digital illustration and iconography abilities.

We loved working in the baby industry, even today, we love designing for children!

What happens next!? Stay tuned to find out!

6 Logo File Types Your Business Needs

New to business? Ready to launch a new venture? Are you looking to rebrand?

Looking for which graphic designer you’d like to hire to design a new logo can be a task in itself. There’s a lot of options out there and a wide variety of prices, skills levels, and logo packages. Whether its a recent design school graduate, a successful freelance graphic designer, or an expensive agency, you should always know what your final deliverables will be. Do a little research ahead of time to know that you’ll be receiving the files you need in the end. (Warning: cheap online services are often lacking in the deliverables arena. Beware.)

In our five years of business (and even prior to that) we’ve seen so many businesses unequipped with what they need. One time that we can vividly remember, we were asking a client for a vector format of their newly designed logo. It came as no surprise that they had no clue what we were talking about so they just sent us everything they had. (If you’re sitting here confused, it’s totally common for people not to know the term “vector”… That’s why we’re here to educate you!)

They sent us what they had and it was a folder full of variations of .jpg and .png files. NOT VECTOR FILES. Who is this designer that didn’t supply a vector file? What kind of training, or lack thereof, did the designer have? Puzzling… After the frustration wore off, we contacted the designer and were able to track down the vector file as needed. Fortunately, we didn’t have to recreate the vector logo… Unfortunately, it did require extra emails, jumping through hoops, and loss of productive time.

After this dreadful inconvenience, we thought it would be helpful to lay out the most important logo files you need for your business. So let’s hop to it… We’re counting down the 6 logos you should have for your business and why.

6. Horizontal and Vertical Formats (if applicable)

Some logos may or may not need 2 different logo variations. It just depends on what your logo looks like. If you have a really tall or wide logo, you may need a horizontal or vertical logo. With the example below, we showed why it is important to have the variation. Carrie Cullen‘s main logo is a circle and it looks beautiful! But what happens when we put it on the website and there’s a very short header? This is where the horizontal version becomes important… If we used the circle logo there, it would have had to be so tiny.

5. Transparent

Please, please, please, promise us you will never use your logo with an ugly white box around it. It looks so unprofessional. It’s clear you weren’t prepared with the logo file types you need (or knowledgeable in design). Using a transparent logo is a great way to solve this problem. Be sure you only place it over graphics or colors that allow full legibility, you want to be sure it’s easy to read and doesn’t strain your eyes. Another “sin” in design…don’t try to create your own transparent logos by deleting the white pixels around it. This can create an awful white, and often pixelated, blur around your logo. This can look even worse. Promise me you’ll avoid this tactic?

4. Color profiles

You may not need it often, but it’s important to always have a version of your logo that uses the original PMS, RGB, and CMYK colors. A PMS, also known as a Pantone color, is a universal color system that allows accuracy in colors across the world. This will be important for printers you use to match your brand well. Even if you aren’t printing with PMS color inks, you can still sthare these color codes with your printer to let them know what to match tones to. RGB files will be used for anything digital you are putting out into the world. RGB is referring to the Red-Green-Blue values on your screen that are used to create different colors. CMYK files will be used for anything you are using in print. These files are based on the ink colors, Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black, that a printer uses to create different tones.

3. Reversed Logo

Ever plan to put your logo on a dark background? Yea… you might have problems if you weren’t supplied with the right logos. You may not think of it at first, but you WILL need a white style of your logo at some point for various marketing collateral and you’ll probably use it somewhere on your site as well. With the example below, we were able to put The Granite Workshop’s logo on a light-colored marble or a dark-colored granite. Both look beautiful!

2. One Solid Color

This is where a lot of inexperienced designers hit problems. If you’re using multiple colors that overlap or gradient tones, it can be really hard to create a 1-color logo from it. It’s so important that designers (and you) understand that colors are really nice in a logo, but how will it look when it’s only one color? Are you thinking, “Nah, we probably won’t ever use a one color logo”? Think again! The most common uses for one-colored logos are in screenprinting (t-shirts, bags, etc.) and promotional products (pens, thumbs drives, mints, etc.). It’s super important. See how we were able to take this really colorful logo for Moonbeam Birth and also create a one-color version that still looks great standing alone in blue?

1. Vector Logo (EPS)

MOST IMPORTANT… You neeeeeeeeeed to have a vector file. Your designer and other vendors you work with might jab their eyes out if you don’t have one… Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but please take me seriously when I say you NEED a vector logo. This will often come as an EPS file (occasionally an .ai, but less universal). Okay, so hopefully you’ve caught on that it’s major…

What makes a vector so important? 1. They are 100% scalable so the can be transformed from 1 inch to 20 feet and beyond. 2. You can pull elements from it to use in designing collateral. 3. You can edit the colors should you ever need a black and white version, end up changing your brand colors down the road. 3. You can edit it should you need a new variation down the road or your business pivots.

This graphic shows the “vectors” of a logo. They are made with all these blue squares which are called vectors (thus the name). All the vectors work together to create angles and shapes. Each one can be moved and manipulated if the need arises. Together, they make up the greatest thing in design!!

 

We hope this was helpful. We also hope you’re equipped with all the proper files you need! DI you find this beneficial? Are there any logos your business is missing? Anything you found surprising?

Let us know, we’d love to chat more!

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Sprout’s Process for Print Design Projects

Wondering what our process is like for our client’s graphic design projects?

You’ve come to the right spot. We’ve created this easy to follow roadmap just for you! Follow along as we walk through the steps of a graphic design process for print collateral and other marketing pieces. The process is pretty simple but this will at least give you an idea of what to expect.

 

Thanks for checking out our infographic on the design process for print projects. We hope it was informative and helped you understand the timeline.

Stay tuned for future posts where we will talk about the web design process.