Sunday, April 05, 2009

How to Brand Yourself with a Twitter Background

I recently wrote an article for Twitter Backgrounds Gallery website, "How to Brand Yourself with a Twitter Background."

In the article, I talk about when marketing and branding yourself, you want all pieces to look similar and cohesive: logo, business cards, letterhead, envelope, website, brochure, media kit, marketing materials, signage, etc.

And how Twitter profile backgrounds is another tool in helping to market and promote yourself. The background should match your existing brand or look. Twitter backgrounds get noticed if they’re: unique, fresh and stands out from the crowd.

I also go into topics about

+ What size should the Twitter background be?
+ Type of Twitter Designs
+ Tile or not to tile
+ Contrast and readability

The article is up on Twitter Backgrounds Gallery website now. You can read the full article HERE.

Follow @mayhemstudios and @TwitterBGallery on Twitter.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Chat With Twitter Master & Designer Calvin Lee

If you're on Twitter, you probably already know Calvin Lee, principal and creative director of Mayhem Studios. Calvin is one of the most helpful designers on twitter. You can always depend on him to tweet/retweet an interesting article, answer questions or make a witty comment.

In this interview by Grant Friedman, owner of Colorburned Studios, decided to stray away from the usual questions about design, instead, asked questions about how Calvin became one of the biggest design tweeters out there.

Head over to Colorburned Studios and read the interview, A Chat With Twitter Master & Designer Calvin Lee.

Follow @mayhemstudios and @colorburned on Twitter.

About Grant Friedman
Grant Friedman is the creative mind behind Colorburned Studios, a freelance design studio.

Grant started his website as a means to showcase his artwork and designs as well as to share his thoughts on current design trends. Colorburned Studios offers unique design resources and tutorials to other designers who may be interested in learning some new techniques.

Grant started as a designer in 1999. Volunteering to design a e-newsletter for an organization, which he was involved with. From that moment on, he was hooked. He spent most of those early days designing websites for organizations and individuals. It wasn't long before his interest in web design spawned into a passion for design in general.

Today, his passion for design includes; graphic design, illustration as well as print and web design. Over the years, Grant has worked for a number of businesses, organizations and individuals on a number of projects, in a variety of roles.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

13 Tips You Should Know About Before Flying Solo

When starting out on your own for the first time it can be very scary, not knowing when your next pay check will be coming from. I wish I had information that was available to me back then to help ease the transition into flying solo.

I was lucky enough to work at a small marketing firm on my first job. I worked there for about two years before it went out of business but during those two years. I did learn the ins and outs of running a design firm, working with clients and print shops, prepping press ready files, juggling many projects and the business end of design.

These are thirteen tips I believe you should know about before going solo. I hope they useful and helpful to you. If you have any other tips to add, please feel free to comment below.

Be honest with yourself – Know your strengths and weaknesses. Surround yourself with good people that compliment your weaknesses. Be sure that you know your stuff; design and the process from concepts to print production to web design.

Learn from your day job – Learn everything you can before going on your own, from your day job. Like how to run a business, invoicing, billing, estimates, working with print shops, preparing print ready files, working with clients, file management, etc.

Saved your pennies – Save up some money before starting out on your own. It can be very tough getting your name out there in the beginning. Back up money, can really help you through those dry times.

Dealing with clients - Be patient with clients and educate them on your process. Never let them see you sweat. Be cool and level headed, even with the difficult ones. It’s about what you can do for them.

Be organized – Set up all your folders for each project. Place all paperwork related to the project in the folders: estimates, invoices, emails, correspondence, design, concepts, etc., so that it can be found easily. Also set up job folder on your computer for each project; concepts, layered files, text, etc.

Learn the business side – Make sure you learn about the business side of design; getting the proper licenses, permits, taxes, business forms, dealing with clients, self-promotion, getting new clients, etc., when starting a business.

Taxes – Read up and research about which taxes apply to you. Tax breaks, licenses, permits and what you can write off, etc., to insure not to get penalized by the IRS.

Branding - Brand yourself, let potential clients see you as a brand/product, a total package. Everything should look similar: logo, resume, business cards, marketing materials, signage, website, etc.

Make Connections – Make connections and network within/outside of your industry before going solo. It makes it a lot easier when you're on your own. It's who you know most of the time. You never know, who may refer you through word of mouth.

Contracts - Before you start any project or do any kind of work. Always get a signed contract and a 25%-50% deposit. A contract protects you and your client from any miscommunications. A 25%-50% deposit insures that the client is serious about working with you. Consult an attorney once you have drafted a contract, to cover all your bases.

Business Forms - When starting out in any business, it's very important having a logo, business cards or stationery, so you look professional. It's equally important having business forms that help in organizing and running of your business.

Creative Brief - It's a good idea to get some background information about your client before starting on any project. It will help to met client goals and expectations. Using a creative brief will help accomplish this.

A creative brief lays out the visual design directions to explore and the objectives of the project. Using the information on the form to make sure that we are both focused and are on the same page throughout the creative process to deliver the clients message.

Website - Make sure you have a website or a place to display your work with all your information. If you're not comfortable with building a website yourself. There are many free online web galleries you can use.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mayhem Studios Business Cards Flogged On The Design Cubicle

Brian Hoff, owner of The Design Cubicle recently joining the Twitter community. He's been introduced to a diverse range of creative and talented persons that share his same passion for graphic/web design, web development and blogging.

Brian asked Mayhem Studios along with twenty five other designers, developers and blogger friends on Twitter, if they would like their business cards featured on his next blog post, 26 Business Cards of Graphic & Web Designers on Twitter.

You can read the full article and discussion at The Design Cubicle.

Mayhem Studios also received a mention in the October issue of Flogged Magazine (pdf - 5.2 mb). As one of the featured Twitters of the month.
"Some exciting, beautiful and funny tweeples we’ve met on twitter ... you’ve made the past month exciting, thank you."

About The Design Cubicle
The Design Cubicle is run by Brian Hoff. A graphic/web designer and front-end web developer with 7 years of professional experience.

His experience and passion for graphic design has led him to start The Design Cubicle which focuses on graphic design, offering free tips, resources, articles on all subjects of print and web design. Topics range from, but not limited to, print and logo design, web design, typography, freelancing and marketing.

For more information about Brian Hoff, please visit

About Flogged Magazine
Has a client rejected one of your designs recently? It was a great one too. You kept on looking at the design, it excited you! Well, send it off to Flogged Magazine, we celebrate good designs that have been flogged in a monthly magazine.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mayhem Studios Contributes To Article: Designers Favorite Fonts In Use

Niki Brown of Design O'Blog asked Calvin Lee of Mayhem Studios along with seven other top designers in the design field, what their favorite fonts are and why?

Among these top design professionals that contributed to the article included: Jeff Fisher, Jeff Fisher Logomotives, David Airey,, Steph Adamo,, Liz Andrade, Cmd+Shift Design , Renee Rist, Ribbons of Red, Chris Coyier, CSS Tricks, and Adelle Charles, Fuel Your Creativity.

You can read the full article and discussion at Design O'Blog.

Calvin Lee, of Mayhem Studios, gives us a little preview of his thoughts on what his favorite font is and why?
"One of my favorite headline/sub headline fonts is Rosewood, which I used on a five-page article design for Create Magazine. I also used the font Imago, a san serif to balance and compliment Rosewood, a wilder font."

About Niki Brown
Niki Brown is the owner of the wildly popular Design O'Blog. Niki has be designing since she was a little kid - drawing cartoons, making fake newspapers, and planning a plot to take over the world. OK, maybe not. Niki's early interests in design were heightened when she got her first computer, it was love at first sight!

She made her first website in 1996, with the help of geocities and word-art. Now the rest is history. Fast forward to today - Niki is all grown up with a nifty degree that says "I know what I'm doing."

When Niki is not designing, eating, or sleeping you can usually find her blogging or running. She's been known to dress up in red flannel and run when its really cold outside. Niki's most recent accomplishment was completing the Dam to Dam 20k (half marathon).

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Beginners Design Guide: Preparing For The Interview

The past three months, I had a chance to work with two great interns. It was a pleasure walking them through the process of taking a project from the sketch/thumbnail stages to Photoshop mock-up, to print ready art/html/css.

Before their intership ended. I gave them a few tips on preparing for their interviews. I'm sharing the same tips here, in hopes, it may be helpful to other designers just starting out.

I would like to also thank Emily Lewis, owner of A Blog Not Limited, with additions to my list; Any Questions? and Thank You Letter, along with her suggestions.

+ Be Prepared For The Interview - Wear your best clothes: dress, dress shirt, tie, shoes, etc. Be confident, if not, act like you're. Do research on the company before the interview, Google (what they specialize in, what they are about).

+ Brand Yourself - Let employers see you as a brand/product, a total package. Everything should look similar: resume, business cards, leave behind and your portfolio pages.

+ Resume - Don't clutter your resume. It should be designed but not overly designed. Make sure it's simple and easy to access your information.

+ Any Questions? - In most, if not all interviews. You will be asked if you have any questions for them. Be prepared with a few thoughtful questions that show your interest in the job, but also your commitment to your career. Such as: "Can you give me an example of how the team/department works in terms of division of tasks?" Or: "What are the growth opportunities for this position in terms of either job growth, continuing education or both?"

+ Thank You Letter - Never forget to follow-up with a thank you letter (or email, though letter gives a personal touch). Make sure to, obviously, thank the interviewer for the opportunity. But also to reiterate how you can benefit the organization and, conversely, how the organization can benefit you

+ Portfolio - Your portfolio should have between 8-10 pieces of your best work, too many pieces will bore the interviewer. Don't put pieces in you don't like. Make sure you have nice quality printouts. Try to include a wide range of design projects in your portfolio. You can also tailor your portfolio to specific design positions like logo design or web design, only show those pieces.

+ Leave Behind - You may want to create a leave behind promotional piece; postcard or a folder with 3-4 samples of your work, resume and business card. This will keep you in their minds and give an impression that you're willing to take that extra step.

+ Website - Make sure you have a website or a place to display your work with all your information. Also make sure to have different file formats of your resume for potential employers, so they can download: pdf, Microsoft Word document, text file.

If you're not comfortable with building a website yourself. There are many free online web galleries you can upload to, below are a few.

+ Carbon Made
+ Design Related
+ Coroflot
+ Designer ID
+ Flickr
+ Veer
+ Design Hide
+ Behance
+ Logo Pond

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Mayhem Studios Case Studies Published In Jeff Fisher's Identity Crisis!

Los Angeles, Calif. July 2, 2007 - Mayhem Studios, Award-Winning Los Angeles based design firm client, Fagerholm & Jefferson Law Corporation and the Studios' own identity will be featured in Jeff Fisher's next book Identity Crisis! 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands. Identity Crisis will be released by HOW Design Books in 2007.

Identity Crisis takes a fresh look at 50 before and after case studies by exploring the process of redesigning existing identities to help businesses refine their image, communicate with customers, and find success.

Readers will get an inside look at the challenges of redesigning identities. They'll see the creative and strategic thinking behind fresh design work as well as have a powerful tool to show clients what a difference a professional can make to their image.

For more information, please visit Identity Crisis Book

"It's a pleasure to include the crisp, contemporary design work of Mayhem Studios in 'Identity Crisis!' Calvin Lee's efforts are a great example of a one-person design firm being able to compete successfully with much larger design entities on the international creative playing field."

Jeff Fisher, LogoMotives, author of Identity Crisis! 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands.

Jeff Fisher, author of the "Savvy Designer's Guide to Success" is the Engineer of Creative Identity for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. He has received over 550 regional, national and international design awards for his logo design efforts. His work is featured in over 85 books about logos, the business of design, and small business marketing. Fisher serves on the HOW Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, the UCDA Designer Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, and the HOW Design Conference Advisory Council. In addition, Fisher also writes for and HOW Magazine.

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About me

  • Mayhem Studios is a small award-winning design firm located in Los Angeles, California, developing identity and brand recognition for the business sector across the nation. The Studio uses strategic and creative design with effective messages targeted to the client's specific audiences to produce identity and branded collateral pieces, annual reports, brochures, logo design, advertising and interactive web sites. Calvin Lee, Principal & Creative Director of Mayhem Studios is a graduate of Platt College and serves as a member of the Platt College Advisory Board for the Visual Communications Department, NO!SPEC Committee and on the Creative Latitude Management Team.
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