Graphic Design: Degree Or No Degree?

Through my design career I have come across many job adverts for a graphic designer 'with a degree'. It always made me feel a little frustrated – "If I do not have a degree do you automatically assume I will not be good enough to join your company?". Surely a designer's portfolio and / or experience should say more than a piece of paper with a qualification on it.

I studied for a higher national diploma in graphic design at college and when the course finished I had the chance of pursuing a degree in graphic design or go for an advanced diploma in art and design. One of my lecturers told me that the degree contained more theory work where the advanced diploma was more practical. I opted for the practical work … after all that's what graphic design is.

The advanced diploma was only a year of study but most of the work was project based even if the deadlines were a bit too generous at times. However, since leaving college (armed with my qualifications) I admit that I learn more during my first design role and by teaching myself. That kind of education never stops with the design world and technology continuously changing.

This led me to question the importance of a degree as a designer and I know that I'm not the only one to ask this. In my honest opinion a degree does not automatically make someone more creative and successful than a designer who is self taught or who has learnt on the job. Their portfolio should be the strongest reflection of their skills and abilities especially when it comes to finding employment. Do companies advertising for a designer 'with a degree' honestly think that they are going to employ a better designer or is it a status thing?

Now I know that things have changed since I was at college so I thought I had a look at what degree courses my local college offers and found that they offer a BA in Art and Design. Here are the modules:

Year 1: Visual arts; applied crafts; digital arts; site specific design; graphic design; performance related design; web design; animation; self-employment; video production; community art; textile design; teacher or lecturer.

Year 2 : Creative skills and concepts; integrated project; visual literacy; digital applications; specialist options: skills development; contextual studies; personal development planning.

Year 3: Creative practice; contextual practice; specialist options: skills application practice; research skills; critical and contextual studies; pathways and concepts; professional and studio practice; professional and contextual studies; creative futures.

I did not study most of this stuff and I've spent 9 years in design studios working on a wide variety of projects of all sizes and with good feedback. I'm now working full-time as a freelancer trying to grow my own business. I like to think that I turned out okay without a degree.

So I guess my question is … does a degree make a better designer or is it all down to natural creative flair, experience and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends?

Affiliate Marketing – A genuine work from home opportunity?

Recent times have seen a major increase in people looking for work from home opportunities. We have all heard the "buzz words" internet scam and wonders if there really is a genuine home business that allows an individual to earn an income from the security of their own home. Affiliate Marketing is definitely an option to consider.

The basic idea behind Affiliate Marketing is directing prospective customers or "traffic" around the internet to merchants or organizations that have a product to sell. The methods used are quite simple. Each Affiliate marketer operates a website to display banners or links to direct prospective customers to the merchant's website. Each time a sale is made, the merchant pays a commission to the referring affiliate. Therefore, by definition Affiliate Marketing is revenue sharing between merchants with product or information for sale and the online "publishers" or website operators who provide the prospective customers via the links or banners and "sales pitch" text on their web site.

The commission paid varies depending on the company selling the goods and the product being sold. Some merchants offer percentage based agreements; others offer set dollar amounts depending on the value of the product, this form of commission is called "pay per sale". It is possible to earn commission from merchants for prospective sales or leads referred to as "pay per lead" and payments for prospect Buyers simply clicking on your links to a selling organization's site, this is referred to as pay per click.

Many successful affiliate marketers have set up web sites providing information on a specific topic often choosing their "product line" based on a personal interest, hobby or niche market that they have discovered through online research. Once the site is set up with links, banners and topic relevant information, it is simply a matter of promoting the site through advertising on search engines and "optimizing" their site to achieve good natural search engine results. Each time a web surfer clicks through your link or banner then makes a purchase, you collect the commission. You can even earn money while you sleep; how is that for a 24 hour 7 day a week business.

The sky is the limit, once you get your web site up and running, there are actually hundreds of internet companies offering affiliate marketing partnerships, with varied products for sale. One big advantage of affiliate marketing is the ability to promote diverse product lines and develop multiple income streams. The more products you have to sell the more commission you can earn. Affiliate marketing is really an opportunity to earn money with high incentives – the more effort you put in the more you can receive in return.

The key to successful affiliate marketing and learning a genuine income is selecting the right product or opportunity, and following proven information or guidelines that will produce online success and financial reward. If you are looking for a genuine home business opportunity, or just some extra cash, you should definitely consider affiliate marketing. There are genuine work from home opportunities on the internet. Affiliate marketing will require time and effort on your part, however getting started is a fairly simple process. If you are interested in starting your internet home business you can find more information at [http://www.workathomeasy.com].

Success With Bulb Container Gardening

There is nothing to give you the feeling that Spring is on it's way to see bulbs come into spectacular flower. Even if you do not have much space or you are affected by other factors such as poor soil, an uncertain climate, not enough sun or limitations in your own mobility then growing in containers provides the solution. Also container gardening is slightly easier in the sense that you can more readily guard against plant diseases and pest problems.

Part of the fun of creating a container garden can be in the unique items you choose to house your plants. As well as the standard terracotta, plastic, china or earthenware plant pots you could recycle and use watering cans, buckets, beer or spirit barrels, wooden planter boxes / crates, hanging baskets or even old tires. You can also use a range of sizes so there is something for everyone from the window-box in an apartment or balcony through to the other extreme of a large garden. Let your imagination run riot and you could create something really special.

Key Points To Remember When Creating Your Container Gardens:

  • All containers should have drainage holes and these are best sited in the sides rather than the bottom of the pots so that the roots do not get waterlogged. If the pots already have drain in the bottom then perhaps thing about lifting the pots on to bricks or small blocks of wood – anything really to elevate them slightly so that the water can drain away. Obviously the problem is solved if your container is hanging – so well done you!
  • The soil is the next step and this should be light, moisture retentive and well drained. It is best to avoid garden soil because as well as this possible being tainted by disease or insect problems it is also going to be too heavy. Thus only use as a last resort. Your plants will thrive best if they are in a blend of vermiculite or perlite, sphagnum moss and some finished compost.
  • Because your plants are in containers and to some extent can not spread their roots and fend for themselves you are going to have to keep a careful eye on watering. Check on your plants at least twice a day or alternately install a drip-irrigation system, use self-watering containers or water-holding crystals mixed in with the soil. None of these are essential, it just depends how much time you have to dedicate to the upkeep of your containers.
  • Again when it comes to container gardening your plants will be totally dependent on you for nutrients therefore when you are planting it is important to add granular organic fertilizer and then follow this up by weekly watering half-strength, water-soluble fertilizer.

As you can see container gardening really does offer something for everyone and it really is relatively easy to care for your plants and with such rich rewards. There are huge ranges of stunning bulbs and plants about and everyone from the beginner with a small window-box to the seasoned gardener with a large patio area can benefit. What's nicer that sitting with a nice cup of tea or chilled glass of pinot and gazing at all that blooming glory .

Strategize Your Advertising with Vinyl Graphics

Marketing and advertising campaigns have taken a new dimension with the technological changes in graphics printing and decals. Adhesives have undergone a major change in the last few years, getting better and safer to use. Earlier the major problem faced by professionals was the high level of chemicals used for application and removal of decals.
New safer, easy to apply vinyl decals have simplified the whole process, that even a layman can apply it.

Vinyl graphics in the form of stickers, banners and decals are in vogue as advertising and marketing tools. Window vinyl graphics is a preferred medium, especially for store windows, car windows and glass fronts. Mainly perforated vinyl graphics are used on glass, as it is safe and does not heat up easily, even on exposure to sunlight.

Another good area which had benefited by using vinyl graphics is the banner advertising sector. Banner graphics are often printed as photo prints with laminations, which have higher chances of curling after multiple uses. The banner stand graphics are easy to set up and transported, but used to get warped fast. With the change over to vinyl graphics, banner stands have started printing on vinyl the same photo prints with amazing results. You get the same vibrant multicolored prints with equal digital quality prints with matt finish on the vinyl, without the fear of curling and warping of the banner.

With banners and decals, vinyl is being use steadily with a rise in advertising features.
The variety available in decals is actually amazing. You have a choice in colors, shapes and sizes giving you the freedom to avail the decal as per your requirement. Decals are cheaper to use than getting wraps on vehicles, making them more popular. Adding to their popularity is the facility of new eco-friendly adhesives which can be applied faster and removed with greater ease, without using heat and chemical applications.

Vinyl decals are here to stay as the cheap effective methods of popular advertisements and an integral part of marketing strategies. You are your own master whether it is applying the decals, removing them, designing them and strategizing your campaign. Although professional auto installers are always there to help you in case needed but the dependence is over. So, market your product and target a wider section of audience with vinyl graphics . Add it to your store window and increase the number of customers or print your trade show banner with it, unlimited choice with better results.