Video: Human Communication


This month’s First Watch brings you Typographer and Graphic Designer Erik Spiekermann. He’s been making the rounds online at the time of this writing, but goes back to that essence of communication. If I ever get up the nerve to redesign governments forms there could be a good market there… and if you use this idea all I ask for is a finder’s fee of 5%.

Every month on the first new videos are posted here covering graphics arts. Please share any videos you may have.




Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Video: The Human Element


First Watch back again with a segment from The Creative Class Series featuring graphic designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister of New York based Sagmeister & Walsh. I totally agree with his sentiment about taking machines out of the equation. Let’s have more human interactions. See the humanity in the things we create.

Then again, without the tools that I’m using right now I wouldn’t be here talking to you, showing my creations. What do you think?

The first of every month I post new videos about graphic arts. If you have any suggestions for videos please let me know!




Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Video: Wall Flowers


Don’t Look Down

It’s 1st Watch time again where I bring you cool things happening in the graphic world for the first of the month.

This time we have the story about “Wall Dogs” or wall painters that hand-paint tall buildings in New York. Like of lot of craft-movement style things happening right now it’s about a return to roots, traditions, and connecting with people.

Every month I try to post cool videos so if you have any hand-crafted stuff to share, feel free to comment here or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Video: Wrestling with Illustration


James White’s Character Illustrations: Start to Finish

1st of the month means 1st Watch! Videos that explore illustration, graphic design, print and other media.

Today we have James White brought to you by Don’t know who James White is and I’m not sure what Lynda is all about, but I’m going to look into it. Anyway this one is probably more for the illustration geeks out there, however if you’re curious about how much thought your designer is putting into her work, this will give you a good snap shot of what it takes to make an image.

Always looking for new videos so please send me cool stuff that you find related to print, graphic design, or illustration.



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Now On Etsy: Robert C. Olson


Etsy is a rad site full of creative people trying to bring some personal love to the world and I’m nervous, but excited to take a small step into this competitive market. Don’t act too impressed, there’s not a lot going on just yet, but in the coming months I’ll be attempting to make my own screen prints based on some of the designs you’ve seen here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to have on your wall, let me know and I’ll work to get it into the store.

Stop by and give me a shout:



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

What A Graphic Designer Costs


Budgeting For A Designer

So you’re in the market for a graphic designer. You’ve looked at websites and portfolios, talked to friends and colleagues about people they know, maybe tried a family member or friend, or tried to learn on your own. But now it’s time to hire a professional. How much should it cost?

Two things are working in your favor (and against designers): one, there is a flood of graphic designers entering the market; and  two, the recent recession has driven many to lower rates in order to survive. You can find graphic designers at ridiculous rates these days. Anywhere from $0 to $200 an hour with the old adage “What you pay for is what you get” not really applying in all situations. So finding a graphic designer that suits your budget needs is pretty easy. There are a few considerations before choosing a graphic designer (more on that here), but once you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of designers it’s time to set your budget.

One of the most talked about issues among freelancers is the reluctance that customers have about sharing their financial goals because it makes our job more difficult. For people who create art it helps to know as much as possible about the final product.

The overall budget may impact the amount of time a graphic designer can spend on a design, or what options are available for the final print such as paper weight, ink types, paper finish, and quantities, for example. Having an idea of how much you want to spend will greatly help a graphic designer make decisions about the design work. Even if you are unsure of what to spend most graphic designers will give you a free consultation to help better define budgetary concerns.

A Sample Project

Let’s say that you want to try putting together a brochure. You know that your customers are asking for information and that you could benefit from having materials to leave behind for people to pick up and peruse. To print 100 to 250 Brochures you can expect to pay $150 to $300 depending on the printing company and their options. Note: I would avoid trying to print materials on your desktop printer – this turns into a bigger hassle than it’s worth and has many defects in print quality ultimately making your business appear cheap.

Then add to that graphic design services and you might see costs laid out like this (more $ = higher rate):

  • $ or $$ Concepts or comprehensive layouts (aka “comps”)
  • $$ or $$$ Front + back layout & graphics, full color
  • $ Edits/Revisions
  • $$ or $$$ Photography
  • $ or $$ Stock image licensing
  • $ or $$ Photo touch-up, color correction for printing
  • $$ or $$$ Copy writing
  • $ or $$ Final edits, checks (more if getting press checks)
  • $ Delivery

If you have a budget in mind a graphic designer can make suggestions to meet your financial goals by customizing the above list to fit the margins. For example, if you are looking to spend under $500, including printing, I can suggest that we go without concepts or comps, limit editing and revisions, and keep images to a minimum while you provide the text. For a basic package like this I would ask for between $150 to $300 for the layout and creation of any custom graphics. I would also suggest a paper size, weight, finish, and quantity that would be in the range of $100 to $150 dollars from a professional print company, saving you anywhere from $250 to $50.

It’s good business for graphic designers to work with you this way and if you are ever in doubt you can ask for a detailed breakdown of costs.

Solo vs. Studio

Worth mentioning is the difference between solo designers and design studios. Generally speaking solo designers or artists will be less expensive while studios largely charge more. The trade off is in the resources. Studios will have a wider range of equipment and talent and can give you a pretty comprehensive service if you need a website as well as printed material or other marketing services.

Solo designers, while often lower in cost, tend to specialize in a field such as book cover design, or logos. This allows them to be really good in a narrow field, sometimes working for larger studios to fill in talent gaps. Going this route you are likely to end up with real talent for the specific job you need done, but ask for a wider range of services and you’ll probably see quality diminish.

Budget For Success

As always there are exceptions to the rule, but no matter what you look for having a budget will help make your project successful. It helps the designer determine what options are available to you and ensures that you get the best quality work for your needs. If you want to control for costs, it’s better to share information than hide it. Most designers are not out to nickel-and-dime you to death – that’s bad business. But if you don’t quite have that trust you can always ask for a breakdown of costs.

Any thoughts? Please leave a comment and don’t forget to share with your friends as well.



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Video: Wicked Wolf



It’s the 1st of the month. That means 1st Watch is back with some wicked illustration process reel.

My wife turned me on to Hydro 74 a while back and I really love his style. The self proclaimed purveyor of sin has made a name for himself as an illustrator of all things bad ass. If you like what you see you should check out his site:

Process videos are great for people like me to see how other illustrators do the deed, but I think you’ll like the inside look at what goes into this phenomenal art.

Every month I try to come up with cool videos so if you have any suggestions, let me know.



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Wedding: Up Inspired Poster

Schutz Wedding Poster 2014

Schutz Wedding Poster 2014

Our friends recently married with a theme inspired by the Disney movie “Up”and I created this 11×17 digital print as a gift. Congratulations you two!



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Today’s Illustration


OffBook: The Art of Illustration

It’s the first of the month again which means you’re 1st Watch video about graphic arts is here!

PBS has a great series for creative occupations called OffBook. While a little quick, it’s great for a shot of creative spirit and a look into the world of makers and shakers like this short on the world of illustration.

Check back on the 1st of each month for more and I am always looking for more inspirational video so please share!



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson

Wedding: Inspirational Quote Poster

Graphic Design
Wedding Poster

Quotes Wedding Poster

Our wonderful friends got married in April and like any DIY get-together, they had a lot on their plate, so they asked my wife and I to help out with some of the design. This image was handed off to me with the instructions that it had to be 11 in. x17 in. and that was it – blank check. At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but it slowly came to me as I worked on placing text. The final result was crunched together and if I had more time I might have done cooler things, but for a last minute project everyone seemed very pleased!

Like it? Please rate it below!

Oh and have a nice Memorial Day too!



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson