10 Marvelously Modern Free Fonts for Graphic Design

A guest post by Brian Morris who writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog.

Your choice of font can make or break your design. A great font helps the rest of your design set a mood, elicit emotion, and motivate action; while a poor font distracts from your message and can ruin your entire design. If you’re creating a design that has a decidedly modern tone, the following 10 fonts can usher your artwork into modernity marvelously. Best of all, each modern font listed here is free to download!

1. Sansation

This versatile font can be used for headlines, subheads, and even body copy on both print and digital media.
www.dafont.com/sansation.font

sansation

2. Magalopolis

Your poster can’t be ignored when you use this bold, heavy, and exciting font.
www.smeltery.net/fonts/megalopolis-extra

magalopolis

3. Quicksand

Quicksand is clean and modern, with evident rounding on heavier weights, which means it will work well in print and digital designs, either as a headline or body copy.
www.typophile.com/node/50437

quicksand

4. Carbon

Want to add a splash of elegance to big, bold headlines? Carbon is the solution. It’s perfect for large web sales headers!
www.urbanfonts.com/fonts/Carbon.htm

carbon

5. Tondu Beta

If you’re seeking a bold, modern alternative to Helvetica, Tondu Beta is a great option that combines classic elements with modern touches.
www.fontspace.com/jonathan-hill/tondu-beta

tondu

6. FoglihtenNo04

Choose FoglihtenNo04 for style; it’s perfect for event announcements, greeting cards, and posters that must include a certain level of sophistication without sacrificing the fun factor.
www.fontspace.com/gluk/foglihtenno04

foglighten

7. Ice Cream Soda

Ice cream soda combines a retro feel with modern touches and is distinctive enough to be used as part of a brand logo.
www.fontm.com/ice-cream-soda-font/

ice-cream-soda

8. Wireframe

Any web designer will understand the basis for this font, but its use isn’t limited to designs that feature the web. Clean, modern, and bold, the Wireframe font would make a great headline typeface, but should be avoided for body copy.
www.fontm.com/wireframe-font/

wireframe

9. Joe Hand 2

Many designs incorporate handwritten fonts to convey a sense of a personal touch. Joe Hand 2 is a perfect font for adding those personal accents to your websites, brochures, and even business cards.
www.dafont.com/joehand-2.font

joehand

10. Pincoya Black

Pincoya Black is a fun, bold font that could be used for poster and web-based headlines. It’s attention-getting and energetic, memorable and entertaining.
www.behance.net/Gallery/Pincoya-Black-Typeface/496023

pincoya

Have you used these fonts in any of your designs? If so, share them with us in the comments below! We’d love to see how you applied styles to modern fonts in your own graphic designs.

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.

5 Tips for Creating Engaging Infographics

A guest post by Luke Clum

Infographics are an extremely potent tool in internet marketing. Easily shared, infographics use visuals to convey interesting information. ‘Data Viz’ (that’s data visualisation) packs a powerful punch by conveying information in a way that creates a lasting impact. Infographics are all about dissemination, and when done well, can be extremely powerful. But wait! Don’t jump on the data viz bandwagon without stopping and thinking first. Take these tips into account and you’ll be creating compelling infographics that spread like wildfire.

1. Think Purpose

Some of the worst infographics are those that seem to lack purpose, and are simply a poor attempt at creating something ‘worth’ sharing. Think before you begin. What questions are you trying to answer? What information are you trying to convey? Sometimes, no matter how you look at it, written content will do the best job, so trying to ‘force’ an infographic will just look like an over-reach.

infographic 1

Versus

infographic 1B

Look at the above images, which works better? Here, Travel Match’s written information gets the message across far more clearly than the infographic – which shows that data visualisations aren’t always appropriate.

Brainstorm your ideas and think about your question from the perspective of your visitors. What would they want to know? You want to leave them feeling satisfied yet intrigued. Your infographic should be good enough to share whilst also encouraging them to dig deeper into your site.

2. Do Your Research

A badly researched infographic looks just as terrible as poorly edited written content. It’s unprofessional and sloppy. No one will share an infographic that’s full of errors, so do your research. Fact based infographics are the most successful, so try not to use opinion based data as you want your infographic to appear reputable, just like your business. For example, look at this infographic on internet networks and bandwidth. Notice how it uses bandwidth statistics to visually display which sites/software hog connection speeds – the numbers speak for themselves.

infographic 2

3. Keep It Clear

Use engaging colours, and images that are simple but effective. Too many colours or graphics can crowd your infographic, making it harder to understand. You want to avoid confusion, conveying your information in a way that requires very little effort from your visitor.

You don’t need custom illustrations to create an engaging infographic. Using icon images avoids complicating your design.

infographic 3

Here, part of Brightcove’s Making Video Content Work infographic uses icons effectively to get their message across—without overdoing it.

4. Try Visual Metaphors

Using visual metaphors to represent an idea is an effective way of turning ‘dry’ information into something engaging and memorable. What’s more, when done well, visual metaphors can be understood by a wide variety of people. Grant Thornton’s Race to Economic Growth is a great example.

infographic 5

5. Use Visual Comparisons

Sometimes when creating an infographic what you’re really looking to achieve is impact. Visual comparisons are a great way to get a message to really hit home.
Frugal Dad’s The Weight of Walmart infographic uses visual comparisons over and over again to give the viewer a real sense of perspective on the issue at hand.

infographic 6

The illustration shows us what 10x larger looks like…

infographic 7

… and how $421 billion compares to $19.8 billion.

The main thing that you should take away from these tips is that infographics are all about making data user friendly. You want to increase interest and comprehension in a way that supersedes the use of text alone.

Luke Clum Luke Clum is a graphic designer from Seattle who specializes in print and web development. He loves coffee, hiking and alpine climbing in the mountains. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum

10 Killer Die-Cuts for Design Inspiration

A guest post by Brian Morris who writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. 

Die cutting is one of the best ways to make your printed marketing tools and packaging stand out from the crowd. For your inspiration, check out the following 10 killer die cuts.

1. Epson Packaging by Ali Prater

This clever design by Ali Prater not only has a cool look, it’s also functional in that it indicates which type of printer cartridge is in the box. The splash of color underneath adds another dimension to an already-awesome die cut.

espson diecut packaging

2. Super You by Matthew Hawkins

Matthew Hawkins’ die-cut creation makes the perfect attention-commanding point-of-sale flyer.

Super You diecut packaging

3. Brand Card by Brand-It

When you have an outstanding logo, there’s no better way to put an exclamation point on it than with a die-cut business card.

Brand card diecut packaging

4. Big 6 by Tim Hansen

Forget bland white envelopes; brand your company with powerfully designed die-cut stationery.

Big 6 diecut packaging

5. Super Happy Times by Jordan Metcalf

Make your greeting cards more fun and memorable with die cuts.

Super Happy Times diecut packaging

6. Mos Burger Calendar by Andrew Wong

Die cuts help these cool calendars stand up to the competition!

Mos-Burger Die cut packaging

7. Smiley Business Card by Driv Loo

Simplicity sells. This die-cut business card isn’t complicated, but it is attention-getting and memorable for powerful branding.

Smiley Die cut packaging

8. Generation Green Card by Pei Ru Chang

This super-cool business card features a unique die cut that makes it impossible to ignore – and presents an opportunity for guerrilla marketing. Excellent design, all the way around!

Generation-Green Die cut

9. Shirt Business Card by Lemongraphic

This fun-yet-serious business card die cut ties in perfectly to the unique theme.

Shirt-Business card die cut

10. Christmas Tree Card by Steff Geissbuhler

This creative greeting card die cut interacts with the recipient – when opened, it forms a pop-out Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree diecut

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.

Some tips for managing freelancer finances

A guest post by Finance and Business Writer, Mark James currently works in-house for small business accountants Crunch

freelance finances

Image – by Images_of_Money

I’m guessing that as a freelance graphic designer, doing your accounts doesn’t tickle your fancy much. I know it didn’t for me whilst I was a freelance Writer. It was rigmarole I put off and off foolishly, leading to an amalgamation of calculations, frantic form filling and debilitating stress come tax return time.

Now though, working in-house for an online accountancy firm, I’m a little more clued up on all things financial and savvier when it comes to managing finances. So, if like the old me you’re a bit suspect when it comes to managing your cash, here’s a few tips that should see you right….

Get up to speed with the tax facts

Tax is taxing. Legislation is constantly changing in line with new political regimes and frankly, it’s difficult to keep track of.

That said, if you’re without an accountant, it’s worthwhile attempting to get up to speed with the various tax return deadlines and trying to get your head around what or what you may not be liable to pay. Here in the UK the HMRC have recently introduced ‘webinars’ to clarify all of this, so that’s well worth checking out if you’re UK based and a tad clueless. Nobody wants a nasty tax fine.

Establish a routine

To those not accountancy inclined, sorting through your finances can prove unrepentantly dull and a bureaucratic nightmare. Even more so if you’re uninitiated in the process.

The longer you put it off though, the worse it’ll be later down the line. I can vouch for that personally. It’s therefore wise to put some time aside for some bookkeeping every day or at the very least once or twice a week. Subsequently, this should help keep some of the stress at bay.

Organise your paperwork

It’s important to develop some sort of system, especially where paperwork is concerned. Chuck all your documents into a disorganised draw or shoebox and you could end up struggling to find that important document when you need it most.

Establish a filing system, with different sections for invoices, bank statements and the like and you might spare yourself some financial grief come tax return time.

Embrace technology

Online accounting has made things easier regarding the management of freelancer finances, reducing the complexity that’s often involved in using a DIY software package and a separate accountant.

This software can reconcile your outgoings with your bank statements, work out tax and produce clear graph visualisations all in a nice little package. Essentially, it provides a tidy and easy to use online environment from which to do all your accounting rigmarole.

Budget, budget, budget

A fact of the freelance life is that there’s going to be periods of feast and equally, periods of famine. This perpetual circle will obviously have an impact on your finances.

With that in mind try to keep to a budget and elsewhere, embrace financial tools like cash-flow forecasting. This should provide you with a better picture of your finances, whilst helping you to legislate for any lean periods.

Hopefully that’ll be enough to help you get your financial affairs in order. Taking control of your finances will do your mental well-being the world of good. Trust me.

A Finance and Business Writer, Mark James currently works in-house for small business accountants Crunch. You can find him on Twitter @MarkJames891.

10 Vexing Vexel Designs

A guest post by Brian Morris who writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog

Can you tell the difference between a vector and a vexel? Without zooming in, it’s almost impossible to tell. But while vector artwork employs geometry to retain image quality at any size, vexels are just like pixelated images; that is to say, they become pixelated and blurred when zoomed. Vexels are essentially pixel-based raster art that is made to mimic vectors.

Vexels have become popular among some designs due to their ease of creation: A cursory knowledge of Photoshop’s layers is all that is needed to create a stunning vexel. At the same time, vexels aren’t often given respect by those who believe they’re below true vector art. I say the end result is what is important, and when a graphic will only be a specific size, who cares? To the casual viewer, a vexel is every bit as good as a true vector, as demonstrated by the following 10 vexing vexel designs.

1. Clay Aseo by Vincent Rhafael Aseo

vexels 1 illustration

This vexel employs a glow effect to showcase the headphones and wires. It might have been made from a pre-existing photo, sliced and layered.

2. Jack by Orlando Abarca

vexels 2

Vexel art is a quick and easy to way to accentuate prominent features, as evidenced by this vexel of Jack Nicholson.

3. Bliss by Kimo Rama

vexels 3

With vexels, distinctive lines and custom colors can be easily added to a closeup.

4. Seducing Vexel by Zareena Ayoub

vexels 4

Shading with similar hues is a hallmark of vexel art, such as with this vexel design featuring seductive lips.

5. Stop and Sing by Lina Garzon

vexels 5

That same layered shading effect can make a vexel mimic a painting in appearance.

6. Face by Ed Favila

vexels 6

This example demonstrates how vexels can be employed to add a touch of surrealism to a face.

7. Lemon by Emilie Gourmanel

vexels 7

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but too many colors can be distracting. This vexel art shows how a few simple hues can be used to create a distinctive design.

8. Vexels by Kat Craig

vexels 8

Heavy strokes can be applied to vector layers for an illustrated outline or sketched appearance.

9. Arla Project by Dennis Salvatier

vexels 9

This vexel appears highly-detailed at a glance, but closer inspection reveals that just three colors were used to create it.

10. Bubblegum by Jestoni Santella

vexels 10

This vexel reminds me of the 1990s, a period in which the artwork was featured on everything from posters to CD covers.

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.

20 Top Promotional Tips for Freelance Designers

20 Freelancer Designer Tips

A guest post by Ben Fellowes,a design and marketing professional and chief blog writer for NextDayFlyers

1. Be Active and Get Seen

Shrinking violets don’t succeed as freelance designers. You have to “get out there” and get yourself noticed. Attend meetings and seek out local professionals to inform them of your business and services, i.e., the Chambers of Commerce, gallery shows, and local business events. You should also go as many business trade shows as possible to network with potential customers (if you’re a designer, every industry trade show has customers that need your services.) Social gatherings are also a great place to network and get seen and heard (you’re not going to get customers sat at home watching the TV) bookstores, schools, churches, coffee shops, etc, are necessary destinations for meeting and greeting potential clients. You don’t have to pester anyone! Natural conversations always turn to, “what you do for a living!”

Depending on your knowledge and experience, you may also consider contacting colleges and organizations about classes or seminars that you can speak or teach at – great word-of-mouth exposure for your business!

2. Cross-Promote

This is a biggie! I’ve got so much design work business through cross-promotion. Be direct and convince a contact or business associate to cross promote in their on or offline promotions, i.e., a print designer could promote themselves via a web designer, photographer, or copywriter, etc.

3. Referral

Offer your clients and customers a referral fee or discount for referring customers to you. It works for big companies and there’s no reason why it won’t work for you!

4. Buddy -Up With Other Graphic Designers

Make friends with other designers online in networking sites, and other online design communities and make design friends in the real world at expo’s and conferences. It’s one of the easiest ways to get collaborative work, referrals, or hired!

5. Sell Online

There is a whole online world of shopfronts and other places like etsy and threadless to flog your design and artwork in which you can sell or receive royalties for original designs. Avoid the 99 designs and crowdspring style of competition sites as they’re a total crapshoot!

Here are 5 of my personal favorites (that I’ve actually made money from):

  • graphicriver.net (templates and designs)
  • graphic leftovers (photographs, vectors and designs)
  • brandcrowd.com (logo design)
  • artsprojekt.com (t-shirt, mug, iphone case, etc)
  • society6.com (poster prints, t-shirts, etc)

6. Blog Away

  • Okay! Don’t all shout at me at once! I know I am being totally obvious with this tip but how many freelancers blog effectively? There are a few essentials to creating your own blog that you might have overlooked:
  • Your blog should not be on a separate domain with a different URL! I have seen so many freelancers with separate portfolio and blog site. This makes no sense. All that lovely content that you may be writing about your designs and experiences will go to waste if you create a separate “blogger” site (I’ve seen this done so many times.) Your blog must be tied to your own domain and URL! Make a separate header for it on your website which should be a one-stop-shop for ALL your design and business information
  • Fully utilize SEO tactics like title tags, meta info, and H1 tags – you should also tag every image and post with relevant terms, i.e., if you write a post about a logo design for a butchers shop, tag the post and the image with every keyword surrounding “logo design” and “butchers shop” you can think of!
  • Make sure you include the following share tools – RSS feed, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, pinterest, twitter buttons (displayed prominently)
  • The other alternative to creating your own blog is to “hit-n-hope” by creating interesting, madcap, funny, or bizarre video or online blogs for sites like tumblr! You never know, you might start getting thousands of visitors and a mass of business opportunities!

7. Old School Business Listings

As a freelancer, I would hope that you’re already rocking a thousand graphic designer job listing and directory sites but I would also suggest looking into an old school marketing technique that is much ignored and often overlooked. I worked as designer for yellow pages for a year of my life, creating ads for everyone from the local pet stores to major ad agencies. You’d be surprised how many businesses still use offline trade directories. It’s really cheap to advertise too!

A similar old-school strategy would be to post in the local newspaper listings. Print is not quite dead (yet!)

8. Coupon Coding

Include a discount coupon for your design services on the back of your business card, flyers, etc. However ‘old-school” this may seem, nothing resonates more with other businesses than the thought of getting your services for cheap!

9. Magazine Pitch

You have to be a serious design expert to get published in magazines such as Advanced Photoshop and How but you will get a cavalcade of links and business interest in your work. Plus, you will be seen as an expert in that field. What a lot of freelancers may not realize is that these magazines rely on graphic and tutorial input from designers and freelancers (such as yourself) for their content. Digital Arts Magazine, for instance, has a whole section devoted to new and upcoming designers that needs your design work! Don’t be shy…get pitching your tutorial ideas and portfolio work.

10. Give Free Design Consultations

I can sense some freelancers getting very hot and angry at this suggestion but it makes sense in the long-run. I’m a firm believer that when a client meets with you, they are also giving up their time and effort! And anyway, you’re not a doctor or a lawyer – you should design consult for free. It’s worth the time and effort (even if you don’t get their business, there’s always the chance of a referral for a different project!)

11. Wear Your Business like a Badge of Honour

Put your coolest, hippest and most commercial design on a t-shirt and turn yourself into a walking advert for your company. It’s pretty inexpensive to do and worth it for all the “where did you get that shirt” questions you’ll receive. At worst it’s a good exercise in company branding (give them out free to all your friends and relations so that they too become walking advertisements for your business!)

12. Guest Blog

If you’re a good writer and can write interesting content about freelancing, design, and other industry related topics, then contact relevant site administrators and guest blog. Ensure you get a link back to your own web pages from specific design-related keywords or personal brand keywords.

13. Send a Press Release

If you’ve created some brilliant design work for a local charity or a piece of design work that you think is truly original or groundbreaking, send a press release about it. Press releases get widely distributed and may even get picked up by a local or national news organization. (A paid for press release is way more effective but there are free press release organizations out there, such as, free-press-release.com)

14. Always Send Follow-up Emails

Always thank customers who hire you, friends who refer you, and people who have helped your business. It’s just poor business practice to not email a client after delivering a project? Personally, I go one-step-further and write a hand-written note rather than an email. Keep in regular contact with clients after you’ve finished a job (you are NOT being a pest, it’s just normal business practice!)

15. Email Promotion

An online newsletter, or e-promotion has become an essential way to promote any business, big or small. It’s also a great way of getting contact information from potential customers. Ensure that you create a subscription button with your promotions.

16. Actively Seek Out Poorly Designed Print Materials or Web Sites

When you notice bad print promotions or you come across web sites that are poorly designed, don’t ignore them or turn your design nose up at them! The likelihood is that the client is fully-aware that they have inferior promotions. Contact the business owner immediately and offer your design services (be forthright but tactful)

17. Submit to Others!

You will get a lot of traffic if you get your work listed on popular design and design resource sites. You may also want to think about creating some freebie design backgrounds, vectors, brushes, or web templates (drupal, wordpress, etc) to draw attention to your work and website. Target popular design sites that rely on free resource materials for their own web traffic to get a truckload of new visitors to your site and your work. Something that I’ve recently done that you might want to consider is designing your own font as a giveaway to some of the major font websites as a means of getting some great link and design exposure (make sure you get your links displayed prominently with all your resource submissions.)

18. Find and Approach New Businesses in Your Area 
Do some serious web research.

Look at the local papers and make a conscious effort to find out about new start-up businesses in your area. You could also simply drive round your locale to see if there are any new shops or restaurants that need design or print services. New businesses need design materials.

19. Send Your Work to Agencies

Don’t let anyone convince you that you shouldn’t cold-contact agencies and clients! Make a CD, postcard sampler, or mini portfolio and send it to ad and design agencies, or other relevant businesses. It’s way more likely to get you remembered than a typical email shot-in-the-dark!

20. Google AdWords

This doesn’t occur to most small businesses and freelancers but ALL businesses who have an online presence should consider at least testing the waters of paid search out. Create a small ad campaign on Adwords and see what happens! What have you got to lose? It will cost you usually about 5 cents per clickthrough.

Ben Fellowes is a seasoned design and marketing professional from the UK who now lives and works in California. He is currently the chief blog writer for NextDayFlyers – a major web and print company that provides flyers, business cards, and other prints.