Beautifully Designed Playing Cards fit for a King, Queen, Jack…

Vanda Cards - Well Designed playing cards

Designer David Goldklang got in touch with me recently to show me some beautifully designed playing cards he had designed and I asked if he would be interested in sharing his story.

David Goldklang DesignerTara: Please could you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you are based and  what you do?

David: I’m a graphic designer living in San Francisco, California. I’m currently working for Deanne Delbridge at Creative Focus. We offer creative consulting for photographers as well as design of branding, websites, portfolios, and other collateral. Additionally I work as a freelance designer for clients around the world, specializing mostly in branding and web design.

Tara: You have created a set of beautifully designed playing cards called Vända cards, please could you tell me what inspired you to create them and where the name came from?

David: Thanks, Tara!

My life seems to be filled with playing cards – I’ve always been very interested in cards, games, and puzzles and I’ve played quite a bit of poker. Also, my brother Jordan is a professional magician and typically has dozens of card decks sitting around. Designing a deck of cards is a fantastic project because it’s a perfect opportunity to really let your creativity free – there are so many different elements to design that have to work together and a basic structure to follow, but the possibilities are endless in terms of theme, style, and colors. So I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually design a card deck.

The name Vända was Jordan’s idea. It’s a Swedish term meaning ‘turn/reverse/twist’ which is incredibly apt because it describes some of the ‘color change’ effects that are used by magicians as well as the deck’s complete rotational symmetry – a feature that is entirely unique to the Vända deck. It also inspired me to design an ambigrammatic (rotationally-symmetrical) logo.

Tara: What was your design process?

David: All of the design features included in the deck were first sketched on paper. It began several months ago with exploring different typographic concepts for the court cards. I went through a number of variations before deciding on ones that really worked well. I particularly like the design of the kings and those seem to be favorite cards for many people who have seen the deck. I also spent considerable time developing the center pips for the spades, clubs, and hearts. My goal was to develop unique symbols that were rotationally symmetrical and worked well alongside the traditional suit icons.

Vanda cards

Tara: You have launched a Kickstarter project for the cards please could you tell me a bit about what you hope to achieve from the campaign?

David: The goal is to raise enough money to cover the cost of printing the decks properly. In addition to the actual printing costs, there’s the expense of artwork setup by the printer, proof copies, shipping, and project/transaction fees. The cards will be printed on Bee casino-quality stock by the US Playing Card Company and will look and feel exactly like those used in most casinos in Las Vegas and around other parts of the world. Getting the world’s best quality of cards isn’t cheap and that’s why I’m looking for support from the Kickstarter community.

Tara: Do you have plans to create more future designs?

Absolutely! I already have ideas for further editions of the Vända cards as well as other completely new design concepts. I’ve also been talking to some friends about designing themed playing card decks to help promote other businesses such as music groups. I really hope this project is successful because I would love the opportunity to produce more of my designs and share them with all the card enthusiasts out there.

Tara: Where can people find out more about you and Vända cards?

David: Right now the best place to go is the kickstarter page
I’ve also created a Vända cards facebook page where I will be running promotional drawings to win free Vända cards and accessories (just ‘like’ the page to be eligible to win):
The official website for Vända cards is

vanda cards backs

Vanda Cards Box

Finding Graphic Design Freelance Work

A guest post by Tom Savage from

this way
You pick pixels and place them in perfect patterns: Graphic designers are some of the most commonly used freelancers or temporary workers in the market. Yet there are also a lot of them around and sometimes that creativity doesn’t always stretch to winning business.

At 3Desk we have more designers than any other type of freelancer. In this article I will explore some methods for helping you find work in your local area:

Use Twitter

Twitter is very powerful.

It’s not so much about who you’re following and your followers. Engage in conversations rather than start them. Use platforms like TweetDeck – and Hootsuite, which have search features in order to identify relevant opportunities in your area. i.e. graphic design London, or HTML Bristol

Identify keywords that are relevant to your work. Start interacting with people you think are the movers and shakers. If you’re looking for work, ask for people to retweet a tweet asking about work, you’ll be surprised how helpful people will be.

Use Klout and WeFollow (Klout scores are also calculated in Hootsuite) to determine who is worth interacting with and keep a column (meaning a filtered group of Tweeters) of the people in your area tweeting about your sector. Make sure you communicate with them, praise them and show them some love.

Twitter also enables you to interact in a way that you wouldn’t by email – just to say things like ‘love your work’, or ‘can you keep me in mind if you see something like this’.

Twitter is best used a little and often, to keep your network alive, should you need to top up your work.

Use Networks

There are some great platforms to help you showcase your work, which recruiters and employers will use to find people. Try Dribbble, Behance and of course Linkedin.

Most employers now use Linkedin, so remember that although it’s not design specific, it’s very useful. Just because you can’t upload images, doesn’t make it invalid. Use your address book and other networks to maximize your connections. Remember how people ‘search’ on linkedin, so ensure your skills and summary are up to date.

Don’t post everything you’ve ever done on these sites – less is more. You want to leave enough to pique interest, but not so much that someone might decide they like some, but not all of your work.

Your own website

No-one is going to hire you on the back of your own website – they’ll communicate with you first. Too often I’ve seen websites that are poorly put together. This can do more harm than good. Make it minimalist. Link to your other networks and remember to hold stuff back to wow people when they get in touch.

There are plenty of great blogging platforms like WordPress that can be used to present your work in a clean format. Employers are more likely to look at the work you’ve done for other clients, rather than the quality of your site when they are making decisions.

Your CV

Unless you can really improve on the CV format, don’t bother designing something too fancy. It’s better to focus all your attention on one place (like your designs themselves). Also remember that if someone is looking through 10 or 20 CVs, if they’re long or all different formatted, they can be more confusing than they are helpful. You might not even have to write a CV if your website, or your other profiles are good enough.

Good luck and if you have any additional tips, please do comment below.

tom savagerTom is an award winning entrepreneur and runs a site for local freelancers called 3Desk He also blogs on simplicity at

Graduate in Graphic Design versus the Mature Designer the Challenges

graduate designer anology climbing up a mountain

With the economy in the state its in, being a graduate in graphic design at the moment must be very difficult. At any financial time good or bad, getting that first elusive design job is always the hardest, it’s the chicken and egg thing, everyone wants design experience but how to you get it if you have only just graduated. In this blog an anonymous graduate graphic designer shares his/her problems of trying to get a Graphic Design Job in London.

So is it easier for the more mature designer than the graphic design graduate?

I think perhaps the problem can be almost as bad for the older designer. If you are a more mature designer who has lost your design job due to redundancy the issue may be that you are now considered too expensive, especially with so many others out of work. As a more mature designer with possible mortgage, family etc there are more rigid requirements of a certain level of wages and less time to put in those long hours to get jobs done or learn new software.

It’s the same with freelancing, the more mature designer must be able to differentiate themselves enough and show their experience and reliability in order to be able to challenge the cheaper quotes of younger designers and new graduates.

From my own personal perspective I used to worry that my design would not be as trendy as a younger designer, but then if you think about it in a lot of projects trendy is neither wanted or suitable for the job.

Can you be too old to be a designer?

I posted on Linked In recently to ask Can you be too old to be a Designer and got some interesting responses you can read here

Check out also an insightful post on the Creative Freelancer Blog called “Too old to be a designer” which the blogger Laurel Black states “I have been told that if you are over 40, no agency will hire you. If that’s true, what happens to all these people when they get laid off?”

So what is the answer for both graduate designers and mature designers alike?

I think it is case of standing out amongst the crowd, networking and finding your perfect design niche. It’s the sweet spot where there is demand and where you are considered the go to person in that field? Just off to look for my sweet spot (oops that sounds a bit rude!)

What do you think? How have you found your graphic design sweet spot?

Free Pitching for Design Jobs Don’t Make the Mistakes I Did

Warning Sign for Free PitchingLike anyone, in the course of my freelance graphic design career I have made some mistakes, one of those being that in my earlier freelancing days I did some free pitching (won a few lost a few). It’s something I haven’t done for a long time now and I wanted to explain why, so you don’t make the same mistakes that I did.

5 Reasons Why Free Pitching for a Design Job is a Mistake

1. You need to increase your prices by 3 or 4 times

Let’s face it if you are free pitching you probably won’t know how many people you are pitching against, but at a guess it’s a minimum of 2 others. So the odds of you getting the job are 1 in 3, which means that in order to make as much as you would for doing normal paid work you need to charge at least three times more.

2. Winner doesn’t take all

Because winning one job doesn’t mean you will get all the rest of the work. I have pitched and won a job, but the majority of the rest of the companies’ work was done in house.

3. No one may win the work

Just because a company have asked designers to free pitch does not mean they will award it the work to anyone. In the past I have free pitched and then the client has decided not to go ahead with the job with anyone. Of course it was no skin of their nose as they hadn’t paid anything to any of the designers/design agencies who took part.

4. You can’t necessarily give your best work

If you are quiet a free pitch seems like it’s not a bad idea as you have plenty of time to spend on it. So what happens when you get a few paid jobs in? You then have a choice, put in a second rate effort with the time you have or pull out of the free pitch last minute (I have done the latter) neither of which look good on you.

5. Your work might be copied

Imagine you have done your free pitch, but unfortunately you didn’t win the job, there is still a chance elements of your work may appear in the final design. I don’t even mean through total plagiarism, but perhaps the client liked some of the elements you used in your design or the colours or fonts you used, chances are they will somehow incorporate them into the final design however innocently (or not).

I haven’t done a free pitch in a long time and if you are thinking about it BEWARE. The only way I can see when Free Pitching could be a viable option would be if it was to win all of a companies’ design work and not simply one job.

What do you think about free pitching? Have you done it yourself? Would you do it again? Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

Other articles from around the web on the topic of free pitching

Google Plus for Freelance Designers

google plus for freelance designersYou just start getting the hang of Facebook and use a bit of Twitter for marketing for your freelance design business and then Google Plus arrives and throws another spanner in the works. So now we all have another social network to learn how to use, which is why Alex Mathers has created a new Book called Google+ Course for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses which you can find at Alex was kind enough to give me a free copy as I had reviewed his previous book on design promotion and enjoyed it.

The book is made up of 3 Parts:

Part 1 – An overview of marketing for the freelance designer or design business owner

This is a great refresher into marketing yourself as a graphic designer especially if you haven’t read Alex’s previous book and covers things like: knowing your target market, setting up an online portfolio, a quick word on blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Mailing Lists.

Part 2 – Setting up and and how to use Google Plus for your graphic design business

This second part features screen shots and text showing you how to get started on Google Plus. This includes tips on uploading photos to use as a portfolio and how to organise your circles (these are a way of grouping different people together). I also learned a great tip here on how to use circles to collect together articles you want to save and refer to later (great for bloggers).

Part 3 – Building a network on Google Plus

The third and final part of this book is more about how to use Google plus to build a network for your design business, how to find influential people to engage with and how to make yourself appear an authority in your field.

Is the Book “Google Plus for Freelancers” for you?

If you haven’t yet got yourself on Google plus, or have just started but want to kick start your knowledge, then this book is for you. Just as with Alex’s last book this book is straight forward good information and no fluff.

Find out more about the book here it’s currently on promotion for $29 until Friday 10th February 2012

PS: you can find me on Google Plus here (my personal profile) and my Graphic Design Blog Page here, I  hope to see you over there

Disclosure: I was given a review copy of this book, the link to the book in this post is an affiliate link, which means if you buy through my link I will earn a commission (it won’t cost you any more).

Twitter for Freelance Designers

For several years I didn’t bother using Twitter. Now blogging, that I loved, but Twitter… I just didn’t get it. A couple of years ago I decided to have another go (DesignblogUK) and read a couple of books (Twitter Power and Twitter your Business) and watched some Twitter Tutorials and I started to see what all the fuss was about. Twitter can be a freelancers way of making an introduction to people they want to get to know.

So how can Twitter help you?

Now the first thing most Freelancers are probably thinking is to get more clients. While this is a biggy I think there are many more, but let’s start there anyway.

Can Twitter help you get more clients?

Follow people you want to work with/for
I think the answer is yes, but instead of thinking of Twitter as a big promotional tool perhaps it should be considered more of a way of introducing yourself in a more subtle way. Twitter allows you to follow anyone, so you could start following companies that you would like to work for. Then you can start joining in their twitter conversations, answering questions they pose, retweeting their tweets etc etc (NOT SELLING). If you maintain regular Twitter contact with them, with any luck they will check out who you are, follow you back and who knows what will happen from there. As well as the standard Twitter search also check out Twellow.

I have got work through Twitter
Personally I have got work through Twitter, one through someone I regularly tweeted with and actually hadn’t even considered they may give me freelance work. I have also indirectly got freelance work through Twitter by finding and following someone, and then asking if they would be interviewed for my other blog on Skype. After that we met in person through another Twitter friend and since then she has given me some freelance work.

Setting up twitter searches for your freelance niche
Twitter also allows you to set up searches (I use Tweetdeck for this), so you can keep an eye out if anyone is looking for the type of freelance work you offer. For example a little while ago a friend of mine was looking for a freelance copywriter, I said I would put a Tweet out for him through both my twitter accounts. Within half an hour I had people recommending people and some suggesting themselves. Some of these people weren’t even following me, so they must have either had searches set up for the term “copywriter” or alternatively my tweet was retweeted by someone they were following. To cut a long story short, my friend ended up with about 10 copywriters to choose from and ended up using one of them.

Getting advice

If you are a freelancer working alone it’s great to know that at the end of a Tweet their may be someone who can answer a question for you or offer advice.Perhaps you are having computer or software problems or just aren’t quite sure how to do things then put a Tweet out.

Need recommendations for products or Services

If you are looking for something such as a product or service what better way to find one than asking you Twitter followers. of course as with anything you have to do your own due diligence.

Making Friends

If you work in a big office there is never a shortage of conversation, but that is not always the case for freelancers especially if you work from home. Want to share a story, something you are working on or just pass the time of day you can do this with Twitter.

Finding Other freelancers to collaborate with

Who is to know what can happen with the people you meet on Twitter. Find someone you have a lot in common with and you can always take the conversation to email, Skype or even meeting up in person.

What are you thoughts on using Twitter as a Freelancer?

Please feel free to comment below or drop me a Tweet on Twitter

For tips on freelancing straight to your inbox click here

Other posts worth reading on the web

How to Really Use Twitter to Find More Freelance Work
8 Easy Ways to Network on Twitter