Blog

When to Invest in Design

You are starting your dream business. You’re putting the pieces together to get this dream of yours off the ground to start making money. You want to get a logo and website so you can look professional, so you should hire a designer, right? Probably not. It pains me to say it (seeing as I… Read more →

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Thinking About Freelancing? (Some Practical Advice)

I left a job I truly enjoyed with people I loved to start Airship. It was one of the hardest decisions to follow through on, but one of the easiest to make. I’ve always known that one day I would start my own business. When I was young I didn’t know what that business would… Read more →

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Too Busy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want Airship to become. About what I’ve been spending my time on these past few months and what needs to change. I’m happy to finally see the growth the business has made, but it has led to some new problems I wasn’t quite prepared for. Until… Read more →

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Step up to the Plate

I love to help others. Nothing makes me feel better than helping someone else with something. I don’t know if it’s just because of my jesuit education, my Catholic guilt, or if I’m just a good person (doubtful), but helping people is very important to me. Whether that thing is dog sitting for my parents,… Read more →

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Finding Balance

I love design. I spend so much of my time thinking about it or actively doing it that it can seem unhealthy to those who don’t understand it. Design is my life, but it isn’t my entire life. It’s easy to equate time spent on things that aren’t work as “time wasters,” but I find… Read more →

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Being Authentic

I try very hard to be authentic and genuine. To share as much as I can about my design business. Good, bad, or otherwise. Over the past weeks I’ve been thinking… what does it mean to truly be authentic? Does it mean to be painfully honest at all times? Does it mean you show all… Read more →

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Keep Your Heart Open To Possibility

Life has a way of throwing me off balance. Just when I feel like I’ve got everything figured out, everything changes. When I was 12 I thought I’d only have one sibling, my parents had another baby. When I thought I wanted to got to college to be a history teacher, I discovered graphic design…. Read more →

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Crossing The Finish Line

It’s Fall in Buffalo. My fingers are slightly numb from the autumn air. My heart is racing as I sprint around the track at my High School. I have a huge smile on my face. I was a late bloomer. For the majority of my time in school I was shorter than everyone else. It wasn’t… Read more →

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Creative South Changed My Life

Last week I was lucky enough to attend Creative South and I can safely say that it changed my life. I’ve been hit with a dump truck full of inspiration and motivation. I got meet so many “internet friends” and made even more. The Creative South experience exceeded my expectations over 100x. It would be… Read more →

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Why You Need To Invest In Design

Investing can be scary. There are always risks involved in any form of investment. When we invest money, we can lose it. When we invest emotionally, we can have our feelings hurt. To look past that fear, and see all the potential that could come if you succeed, is where we find growth in our… Read more →

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You Are A Brand

The word brand used to make me sick. It conjured up images of snobby marketers trying to convince business owners to do things that they weren’t comfortable with. It made me think of giant corporations that got away with whatever they wanted. It made me think of sleazy salesmen trying to get some more dollars out of… Read more →

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How to Design a Brand Identity That Excites

I made a huge mistake. I had spent the past month working on a new brand. I was talking to the client, asking questions, doing research, and coming up with concepts. The usual. When it came time for me to present the new brand, it was met with a humdrum response. I had missed the… Read more →

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Fighting Self-Doubt & Making Positive Change

Do you ever have that feeling at the end of the day where you can’t really name anything in particular you have accomplished? You worked all day, you know you’ve finished things from your to-do list, but nothing seems to stick out as something you can proudly announce and say “I did this today.” I… Read more →

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Asking the Right Questions to Find Clarity

Every project starts with a problem. “My visual identity is out of date and unappealing.” “I need to update my old website.” “My logo looks bad.” Before these problems can be solved, there are questions that need to be asked and answered. There are lots of questions I ask new clients before we begin coming… Read more →

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Designing an Adaptable Identity

An adaptable identity design is a recognizable system that can be used across many different mediums. Unlike more rigid visual identities, adaptable identities gain their recognition by using the same elements or typography in the same manner each time while still maintaining a unique look to the specific use. Adaptable identities are not less strict… Read more →

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Why You Need a Visual Identity

What do you think of when you think about what Apple looks like? or what Coca Cola looks like? or Starbucks? Odds are that no matter who you ask those questions to, you’ll get similar answers for each one. Why is that? We all have such clear and similar mental pictures of these brands because… Read more →

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Sketchbooks Are Not Precious

For a long time, I treated my sketchbooks like precious treasures. I had separate books for different projects or different kinds of drawings. This led to me having about 5-7 different sketchbooks at any given time. I’d erase mistakes or even rip out pages when a sketch didn’t turn out the way I wanted it… Read more →

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Making Next Year Better

I’ve never felt worse and I’ve never felt better in 2015. It’s New Year’s Eve and it’s that time of year when everyone starts reflecting on everything they have or haven’t done in the past 365 days. I’d be lying if I said I’d be sad to see 2015 go, but I also made some… Read more →

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Design an Interesting Beer Can

It can be a difficult thing for a brewer to admit, but more often than not the label on the can or bottle is going to do more to sell the beer than the actual beer itself will. How many times have you ordered a beer because it had an interesting or funny name? Or… Read more →

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Designing a Custom Wordmark in Illustrator

Designing a custom wordmark means that you can capture exactly what qualities you want your type to have instead of relying on existing typefaces. Drawing letterforms and getting your new wordmark just right on paper is fun, but eventually comes the most strenuous part of the process, moving in to the digital realm and converting… Read more →

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Anatomy of a Logo

There is a lot of different terminology that gets thrown around in the world of identity design, and at times it can be pretty confusing to keep everything separate. What is the difference between a logotype, an emblem, and a signature? Does it even matter? Understanding these different terms is important, but these categories are… Read more →

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Give Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US and I’m in Richmond, Virginia with my family. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. Thanksgiving is a holiday with so many different traditions and memories for me, that I inevitably start reflecting on the past. So often we focus on the low-points in life and… Read more →

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How to Choose the Strongest Design Concept

I’ve written before about why I believe in only providing one design concept to clients, but there is a very difficult part of that process that sometimes gets overlooked. Actually choosing the final concept. This can be an extremely daunting task. If you have two, three, or forty different concepts that all seem strong, how… Read more →

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One Year in the seanwes Community

One year ago, I was working at my old job and trying to make something out of the random illustration and design work I’d occasionally post on my Instagram. I wanted to start my own company, but it seemed like something that was a million years away. Then one evening, November 9th 2014 to be… Read more →

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Taking Control of My Valuable Time

For the past two weeks, my schedule has been absolutely packed. I’ve been meeting with great new people, working on projects for myself and for others, and hanging out with friends. The problem? I’ve been over committing myself and it is starting to take its toll. One of the hardest things for me to do… Read more →

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How to Sketch Effectively When Designing a Logo

After I’ve worked out all of the details for my fictional client and established a solid base of information, it’s time to start sketching. But I can’t just dive in and start exploring all of the fun ideas that have been running through my mind while reading the questionnaire and client notes. I love working… Read more →

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Stop Checking Your Email and Get More Work Done

Imagine you had a coworker that constantly needed you to answer questions for them. So much so, that they’d come to your desk a dozen times a day, interrupt you in meetings, and even call you when you’re at home trying to relax. You would never allow this to continue. So why do we allow… Read more →

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Designing an Ideal Client

When you start a self-initiated project, you are going to need a “client” to work for. You will never be hired to do real projects without a client with expectations and goals. So why not come up with an ideal client that you’d want to work for? Coming up a fictional client to do work… Read more →

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Week One

My first week of freelancing wasn’t exactly what I expected. I spent a large portion of my week doing “boring” tasks that wound up eating up a big portion of my time. Things like meeting with an accountant, running errands, building my new desk, setting up my new workstation, looking up New York state laws,… Read more →

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Day One

Today is the day. I woke up. Got out of bed. Got ready. Made coffee. And I didn’t get in my car to drive to work. Today is technically day one of Airship being my full-time job, but in reality I’ve been doing this for years. Pretty consistently since 2012 I’ve been coming home from… Read more →

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Get Confident. Stay Humble.

“I wonder if I’m good enough to do this.” That thought has entered my mind more times than I’d care to admit since I put in my notice at my job. I often think about all of the amazing designers that I admire who do work so much better than I am capable of doing…. Read more →

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Setting Bigger Goals

Just before I was about to graduate from college, I wrote down a list of goals I had for my future. They varied pretty wildly in size and difficulty. (My personal favorite is “own a sweet recliner.”) I take this list out and look at it every once in a while. It’s pretty fun to… Read more →

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My Last Day

Today marks my final day at my job before heading out into the cold reality of freelance life. I was only at Luminus for just over two years, but so much has changed for me in that short amount of time. Before I took this job, I had only built around ten websites and only… Read more →

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The Struggle to Show Up

Showing up can be hard. I am currently writing my tenth blog post in ten days as I build up to taking Airship full-time. Every night (with the exception of my first blog post) I haven’t really *wanted* to write another post. They take a lot of effort and preparation in addition to all of… Read more →

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Staying Positive

I tend to be a pretty cynical person if left to my own devices. I used to roll my eyes at inspirational quotes, hide emotion-filled Facebook posts from my feed, and I’d regularly question the sanity of my constantly upbeat friends. Thinking that way absolutely sucks. I was getting upset over things that should either… Read more →

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Choosing a Niche to Gain Focus

Some of the best advice floating out on the internet for young designers is to only put work in your portfolio that you want to do more of. Find the work you want to do, and show the world you can do it. I’ve found “my thing.” It’s something that people associate with me and… Read more →

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Embracing Constraints

Life is full of constraints. Sometimes you need to find a way to get to the store even though your car is in the shop. Sometimes you need to figure out a way to get that big couch to fit through the door of your new apartment. Sometimes you need to figure out how to… Read more →

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My New Daily Routine

One of the strangest things I will have to get used to when I start working for myself full-time is establishing my own routine. Since I got my first job when I was 14, I’ve been on someone else’s schedule. I show up to work when my boss tells me to show up and stay… Read more →

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Letting Go of Fear

I thought about it constantly. I agonized over it for weeks. I thought of every worst-case scenario. It was an incredibly risky idea. I wasn’t completely prepared. I decided to trust myself, and I quit my job. Every person I spoke to, every article I read told me that I’d never feel “ready” to leave… Read more →

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The Emotional Investment in your Work

Working on your own personal projects can bring out some of your best work. Your heart is in it. You want to do better than you did before. To improve your skills. To expand on what you know. You do everything in your power to make this the best work you’ve ever done. You are emotionally… Read more →

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One Designer. One Client. One Concept.

I had spent the past several weeks sketching page after page of concepts. Carefully evolving and improving as I went along until I was happy with the result I had achieved. It was time to present my work to the client. It was only one concept. The client was ecstatic. I was thrilled. Win-win. This… Read more →

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Why Airship?

“Why Airship?” I haven’t been asked that question nearly as much as I feel I should have considering that Airship is a seemingly random name when you think about it. I’ve always had a fascination with history. I love learning about how things used to be and the challenges of the past. The idea of… Read more →

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Onward and Upward

I decided to follow my dream of taking Airship full-time and leave my day job. Deciding to leave my job was extremely difficult. It was the last piece of my life that remained consistent from before my breakup. It felt strange. It felt scary. But it felt right. Onward and upward. This has been my… Read more →

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Attract Better Clients with Self-Initiated Design Projects

Is there value in a self-initiated design project? Of course there is! A lot of designers scoff at self-initiated work. They claim that if there’s no client, there’s no value to what you’ve designed. Design is about embracing the constraints you’ve been given by a client, and coming up with a solution that fits within those… Read more →

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Beer Identity: Stone Ruination

Stone is well known for brewing beer of an insanely high quality, so it should come as no surprise that Stone is one of the fastest growing breweries in the country. Well known for their Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone has a very distinctive brand that does not change much from bottle to bottle. Now with a revamped recipe for Ruination, new packaging has come along as well. How does this absolutely fantastic brewery’s design stack up to the rest?

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Design Swings the Pendulum

Designers often feel that design is the be-all and end-all of any project. It is their role after all. But does design really affect the success of a product or company? Isn’t a good product enough to find success in the marketplace? There are 4 different combinations that a product can fall into. So how does each one affect the success of your product?

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Beer Identity: Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey

Left Hand describes their personal philosophy as, “Too much of any one activity leaves you missing out on another, always wondering if the other was better. A healthy dose of all things in a balanced way keeps your right brain feeling good and the left brain knowing it’s all good. We believe the same to be true with craft beer.” Left Hand tries very hard to achieve balance in everything they do, but does their packaging reflect that?

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How to get a logo that works for your business

“I need a new logo.” This is a very common request designers get. A totally fair request for any business owner to make. But before any responsible designer gets to work designing a new logo, there is one essential question that must be asked. “Why do you need a new logo?” Anyone can get a generic logo, slap it on a business card, and get to work. Your company’s greatest chance for meaningful and lasting success comes when you establish your brand, your identity, and then determine the appropriate pieces.

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Beer Identity: Flying Dog Dead Rise

Flying Dog has arguably the most original and eye-catching branding for their beers out there. All of their packaging, labels, and their logo are designed by world famous illustrator, Ralph Steadman. Steadman is well renowned for his work with journalist and author, Hunter S. Thompson, but his work with the Flying Dog brand is becoming a close second.

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Designing Focused Beer Labels That Sell

Before a designer can start coming up with beer label designs it is important to determine what the focus of each label will be. Will the brand be front and center, prominently displaying the brewery’s logo above all other graphical elements? Or will each beer style be unique, essentially branding each variety of beer that the brewer makes? What makes a beer label stand out from the crowd and get chosen above the others?

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Beer Identity: Ballast Point Big Eye

Ballast Point is a San Diego based brewery that pride themselves on their home brewing roots and their desire to experiment with new styles of beer to try new things. The founder’s love of fishing can also be seen in the names of their beers with most of their offerings named after fish or fishing terms.

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How to Avoid the Obvious in Logo Design

Designing a logo is a delicate balance. A designer has to capture the essence of an organization and condense it down to stylized text or an icon. That is no easy feat. While obvious imagery can make the most literal connection to what an organization does, going deeper and finding a better connection will tell a much more interesting story that connects with your customers.

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Welcome to Airship!

Welcome to the brand new Airship website! I’ve been working very hard over the past few weeks to get this ready and I’m very proud to share it with you. I haven’t had an appropriate outlet for writing out my thoughts in much detail outside of the limits of social media, so this new home base will get put to good use.

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