In the real world…

I was reading through the current edition of “Mac User” magazine where there is a very interesting article on graphic design by designer Steve Caplin. I would just like to quote from the first paragraph.

“As a graphic designer, you have to be prepared to come up with just about anything, from corporate logos to magazines, from CD inserts to compliment slips. In an ideal world, everything you designed would be commercially printed. You’d have full access to spot varnishes, special colours, foil blocking and blind embossing, and everything you created would look absolutely gorgeous. In the real world though, budgets are limited. You have to make do with the materials that are available to you, at a price that is affordable and you have to design so that your work can be implemented with the minimum amount of effort.”

Lucky old me. At the moment I have a design job where there is literally no limit to what can be done so I am really enjoying the experience as jobs like these are as rare as hens’s teeth!


Steve Caplin’s best-selling book “How to Cheat at Photoshop” is now in its sixth edition and is published by Focal Press

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Don’t panic…..but….FIRE!

It started as a really nice February day. The sun shone and everything was rosy. So it stayed until I had a phone call from my good friend John L. And he didn’t sound happy. Rightly so. His lovely house had been badly damaged by an exploding electrical appliance. It was a dehumidifier and only one year old. The conservatory which John had hand-built himself to an incredibly high standard was wrecked and that included all the furniture and furnishings. The smell was burnt plastic and everything was covered in a film of black oily soot. Thank goodness they have insurance to fall back on. I certainly checked mine! To be honest if this devastation could happen to my friends with their incredibly well maintained and cared for home, it can happen to anyone all too easily. We can only take so many reasonable precautions but thankfully nobody was hurt in this case. Take care and check your insurance!

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Just taking a break…

Quarter to five on a Saturday afternoon and it has been a lovely day outside, so where am I? Sitting in front of the computer…where else? To be honest, it is not a problem, as I have just been catching up with some work and I have some exciting work on the go at the moment. I am thinking in particular of a job for a very confidential client and that is all I can say about him, but he has for the last four years owned a very big boat and this boat has now travelled some 70,000 nautical miles around the world. She is changing owners however and my client wants to produce 3 very exclusive and limited edition books journaling its travels, from the Mediterranean to the Galapogos islands and back again. I have been commissioned to look after the design, artwork and print on this lovely job and it is going to look fantastic, with very special bindings of brushed stainless steel and glossy, rich carbon fibre. Jobs like this don’t happen very often so I am privileged to be involved. There in a nutshell is why I am in front of the computer on Saturday afternoon working. Time for a nice cup of tea I think!

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Cold comfort!

I have just returned from a trip to the doctor’s surgery following an appointment made a few weeks ago to have a “warty” thing removed from near my eye. This thing appeared out of knowhere about a year ago and I did what most people do… Ignored it! I thought it would go away, but it didn’t. Now we are not talking of something like elephant man proportions so I thought that I couldn’t get it checked out in case I was categorised as a worrier and a hypochondriac. Being honest though, I really did want to know it wasn’t the start of something nasty so mentioned it to the doc when I saw him for something else. He took a look with a magnifying glass (that says a lot!) and confirmed that this was not one of the nasty ones but offered to remove it. Something I gratefully accepted. It was so easy. He had a canister full of liquid nitrogen, about the same size as a large aerosol. Two 10 second bursts was all it took to do the job. Five minutes in the surgery and I was on my way home. I just wait now for it to drop off apparently! It is so easy to ignore these things when they start and do nothing about it. That is what I did and I was lucky this time. Be more sensible than me. Please.

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Shrove Friday unfortunately!

Blimey! I could just down a few pancakes. I can almost taste ’em. Shrove Tuesday so what better day to enjoy a plateful beautifully rolled with castor sugar and lemon juice, but it is not going to happen. Due to unforeseen circumstances (we forgot) pancake day has been shunted to Friday. Not so bad. End of the working week. Nice bottle of wine over dinner and then those glorious pancakes. I know that a lot of people lik them with a huge variety of fillings etc but just nice and simple with lemon and sugar makes one of the best comfort dishes on the menu.

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Hard to believe!

I have been meaning to do this for so long now, but it really is over one year since my last entry to the Karisma Design blog.
So what happened? Well apart from moving house after 33 years in Whitstable, changing our lifestyle completely, losing two stone in weight, regaining my sanity and rediscovering my music….not a lot!
We knew we needed to do it but after all that time you become ‘metaphorically’ super-glued to a house after the first two decades. You get so close to things that in Basil Fawltey’s words, you miss the bleeding obvious. We needed a new adventure and we needed to consolidate our finances after a very slack time work wise.Finally we had the courage and it was so easy. I know that estate agents have taken a bit of criticism over the years but I just have to complement Christopher Hodgson, estate agents in Whitstable came through for us in a big way.
Here we are then now well and truly installed in our shiny new house in Herne village. I know what it means to be happy again.

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Last night of the Proms

Early start today off up to Blean Woods with Nina and our brown lab Roxy. 22nd consecutive day that we have done this and you know, I would really miss this now.

Took the camera along in case I could get some nice shots of unusual fungi (geeky or what!) and although it is a bit early in the month yet found a few. Roxy is getting so much better out walking now after such a dreadful start in life. A way to go but she is unrecognisable from the poor little pup who arrived in February and would not come out from under our coffee table. Yes, she was a a rescue case and at only 4 years old was due to be put down. There is such a difference now and she is curled up on her own arm chair fast asleep as Nina and I listen to the last night at the Proms. A must every year.

So, after the walk in the woods it was back to the appleMAC for another day at the “coal face” so to speak. I have got some cracking good work on the go and it is urgent, so I need to keep ahead of the game. I had a contact from yet another Royal Mail centre on Friday with a request for more signage to help them implement their World Class production schedule and also a batch of my Karrikard pocket sized health and safety Visitor cards. Must be about 8 or 9 Mail Centres that I deal with now I’m proud to say. Also working on corporate identity project for global sized print client and tomorrow is going to be about the same sort of pressure I think. Ah! just remembered I have a Vitamin product pack to design for one of my Nigerian Clients who I am also supplying corporate ties and scarves to. I have asked the next door neighbour to model the scarf for me tomorrow so that I can photograph it and send on to client so they know what they will be receiving.

Well, time for a well earned glass of wine before the Proms finale I think!

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Variety is the spice of life

So today was the 15th consecutive day that Nina and Roxy the pooch and I have walked round a beautiful and quiet part of Clowes Wood near Canterbury. God, it must be doing all of us some good musn’t it? Well I am feeling pretty pleased with myself (well probably smug really) but already I would really miss this excursion out into the peace and quiet of the forest walk. It is so relaxing and I have never seen so many dragon flies before. Amazing.
So lets see if I am so keen when the weather starts to get bad! Seriously though I am determined to get this fitness thing going. I honestly haven’t done so much walking since I had tendon grafts in both ankles which was not a happy time. Couldn’t walk so didn’t exercise. Just sat working in front of the computer. Oh dear, how could I have been so stupid and not done something about it? On goes the weight just making everything worse.
NO MORE! I have even been out cycling as well. We are not talking Tour de France here but it is enjoyable just cruising into Herne Bay along the seafront. Well, the outcome of all this is that I do feel better for it and certainly have more energy already. Today then: Walked the pup, cleaned the inside of the car out which was covered in dog hair, started repairing some rotten woodwork on our front porch, cleaned the pond and tried to get rid of as much duckweed as possible, fixed the door handle on the spare bedroom door which has needed doing since the last century, and finally had a session on the MAC teaching myself how to use some cool new E-Book cover creating software which is unbelievably fantastic. So if you need an E-book cover I’m your man!
Finally sat down on the comfy sofa to write this and with classic Little Feat DVD playing am thoroughly enjoying myself. Who remembers Little Feat? Waiting for Columbus, one of the greatest ever live rock recordings I think but showing my age now. Lowell George on slide guitar is still the best ever I think. Just how did he get those high notes?
So that was Saturday. Up early tomorrow for walk in the woods and get cracking on those little jobs again. Ah! just thought. Must tidy my office as it is a disgrace again. Never a dull moment.

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I’ve seen the future, and it is variable data!

I had a trip to Dagenham today. You don’t go there for a day out, but I had a design briefing meeting at the countries biggest and most experienced variable data media and printing specialists.
To walk into the production hall is a jaw dropping experience. It is so big that it must have its own weather sometimes. Everything is database fed so that every single leaflet brochure or whatever is different from the next with personalised content. For now the project is confidential but I know it is a privilege to be involved in this exiting project. More to follow in due course….

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Karisma – past, present and future?

To be honest it seems like not a lot is new and like a lot of us folk running our own businesses we just have to keep running faster to stay in the same place.
The one major thing that keeps me sane is that I still love working in design and print. The fact that I did not start off as a designer and knew little about print just goes to prove that we have to keep reinventing ourselves.
I am lucky. Why? because I am ancient enough to have spent many years working in advertising and graphics when scalpels, cow gum, Rapidographs and magic markers were the tools of the trade. When apple was a fruit and the Mac was only a new type of burger.
Nothing wrong with that at all I have to say, in fact a lot right to be honest. You certainly got to understand type when it was necessary to cut it up from a galley of repro and stick it down on a sheet of CS10 (anyone remember that by the way?) to make a piece of artwork. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t miss the studio environment where everything including us artists was covered in a film of spray adhesive. It was truly horrible and the MAC changed everything thank goodness. I really don’t want to work out how many hours I have saved in travelling backwards and forwards to London for the past 17 years!
Yes, lots to look forward to I think but I have just got to try and keep up to date with the technology and that is the big challenge all the time.

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