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1-Minute Workshop: Paper Heart

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Creating a Paper Heart in Adobe® Illustrator® 10

Paper Heart Step 1

Step 1

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to create a realistic folded paper effect using simple gradients. Begin with a simple shape, such as a heart in this example.

Paper Heart Step 2

 Step 2

To simulate the fold of the paper, you need to cut the heart in half vertically. To do this, select the Scissors tool and click on the top center point and the bottom point of the heart (circled in red).

Paper Heart Step 3

Step 3

Next, join the points together. Select the top and bottom points in each half and go to Object > Path > Join to create two individual halves of the heart.

Paper Heart Step 4

 Step 4

You can now play with color to create the illusion of folded paper. Begin by opening the Gradient window. Select two similar colors, such as a pale pink and a lighter version of pale pink for contrast. To create a realistic effect, the colors should be fairly close so the difference in contrast is subtle.

Select the left half of the heart and fill it with a linear gradient from left to right diagonally. Next, select the right half of the heart and drag the direction of the gradient from right to left diagonally. See the arrows on the sample at right for the direction of gradients. Experiment with the length of the gradient to achieve the correct contrast.

Paper Heart Step 5

 Step 5

To complete the effect, skew the right half of the heart using the Shear tool in the tool palette. Select the right side, click on the bottom point of the heart and drag upwards a bit to slightly skew the shape up.

You may further enhance the design with a drop shadow and a colored background.

Why You Should Be Using Pantone’s Color of the Year

For the last 15 years, color corporation Pantone has been selecting the annual Color of the Year, which is decided after intensive research on fashion and interior design trends. Marsala, an earthy red color named after a type of wine, has been named Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015. This color is predicted to be the most often used color for this year in the home design industry-but they won’t be the only ones. Fashion and textiles, graphic design, and consumer products will be seeking out this swatch as well. Here are a few reasons why this color is this year’s winner, and why you should be incorporating it into your designs.

Image Source: cathyscrazybydesign.blogspot.com

Versatility

Marsala’s natural hue makes it an appealing color for both men and women, giving off an almost vintage feel.  This muted burgundy makes it easy to pair with various color combinations; just look at some of the ones below. Marsala pairs well with yellows, blues, and even blushing pinks or rustic oranges.

You can use Marsala as an accent in your design for a dash of warmth in your piece, or it can even dominate an entire spread without making the design seem overpowering. Marsala’s versatility makes it easy for designers to play around with color combinations to find the best fit.

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Image Source: pantone.com

Mood

A lot can be said about a color. Color is a different experience for any individual who looks at it. So, it isn’t a surprise that much has been said about this newly popular shade. Here’s what Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone, has to say about their color choice, “Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability.” It has also been described as being natural, alluring and warm. Its rich color gives Marsala a boldness without it being overbearing. Much like its wine counterpart, Marsala is a robust and earthy hue. Its alluring feel makes it ideal for product packaging and point-of-purchase sales. If you’re looking for a hue that evokes these types of feelings, you might find your answer in Marsala.

Digital Appeal

Logos, web design, packaging–you name it, Marsala can be the color for your next digital project. Marsala is a great hue to use in logo design because it’s sophisticated and eye-catching. Some reds are too harsh but Marsala is soft.

Thanks to Quartz Blog, the Pantone swatch number for Marsala has been decoded for digital use.

  • RGB, electronic displays: 150, 79, 76
  • CMYK,  print: 25, 77, 64, 11
  • Hex, web: #955251

Marsala is one of the most versatile of Pantone’s Color of the Year winners in terms of usage; preceded by emerald, tangerine, and a luscious orchid. This rich, beautiful, wine-inspired shade adds a touch of sophistication to your color palette. Used as an accent or a backdrop, Marsala is a great color to try next time you’re stuck on a design. If you don’t enjoy it, you could always try the wine!

 

How to Meet and Exceed Your Goals

After the holiday hustle and bustle, it’s a perfect time to reflect on your business’ progress. Start to think about how you want your business to develop in the year ahead and set measurable goals. Here’s some tips to help you meet and exceed your goals:144443719_171366_72_338_507_C_R_jpg

Look back before you look forward.

It’s not easy to figure out where you should be going if you don’t focus on where you’ve been. Think about what tactics you’ve used that worked and didn’t work. For example, if you recently launched a Pinterest strategy that is getting great feedback, then you might want to focus your efforts there. Likewise, if you’ve found that your e-newsletter is not as successful as you’d like, figure out how to adjust it for better results. Perhaps you need more attention-grabbing headlines or deliver content that is more on target with what your audience wants. Ask yourself questions like the following: do your offers work better if you include a value-added service, would you find more clients by getting out of your office more often, what matters most to your customers and how can you prioritize based on that? You will start to generate some clear goals by asking yourself questions like these. 

Make your goals specific and realistic.

Break up large goals into actionable tasks that have deadlines and actions assigned to them. Objectives should be concrete and highly detailed. For example, if you want to market more on social media, jot down some possible marketing tactics. You might want to create a contest for your followers, make a profile on a new social media network, or post more frequently on your current social media. Next, break them down even further by setting a budget, creating schedules and researching.

Stay organized, consistent and focused.

You’ve figured out your goals and set deadlines, but you might notice some overlap in your goal planning that could make some goals seem unattainable. Fast Company talks about how to get consistent results with multiple goals by letting your team help you reach the goals. One of the many useful tips they talk about is to focus on what’s important to the business overall rather than what’s urgent. In the creative environment, important projects require some time and mental devotion to complete. The “urgent” matters that arise unexpectedly with clients and general life management threaten to prevent progress with our long-term objectives.

Part of successful goal setting is tracking your progress. This can this be an excellent motivator when working towards a goal. Track your progress by running weekly or monthly goal evaluations that help you assess what you have accomplished so far and where you need to focus more of your attention. A common resource businesses use to track goals is Smartsheet. Smartsheet allows you to keep track and share your work with other team members. Some other features include an interactive and customizable calendar, mobile compatibility and resource management.

So, what’s the bottom line?

The best goals are specific, measurable and attainable. Do one thing every day in pursuit of your goals, even if it’s small. With that much effort and focus, you’ll reach your goals in no time!

Who’s in the Spotlight? Vice President of Recas Strategic Development – Tim Brennan

Meet Tim Brennan, VP of Strategic Development at Recas! Tim is going on 15 years with MultiAd and is very passionate about what he does for Recas co-op advertising. Here, he tells us about his time with MultiAd and some interesting facts about himself.

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What is your role at MultiAd?

I am the Vice President of Strategic Development at Recas, a division of MultiAd. That means that I help build co-op advertising solutions between manufacturers and media operations for local dealers. We work to help businesses utilize the advantages of manufacturer brand programs in print, broadcast and digital media with direct and indirect support.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The people. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with some top-notch folks around the country over the years. I love their passion for the advertising business and have learned a lot in the process. With the transition from “old media” to “new media,” there’s been a huge learning curve for everyone in making the process work for local businesses. That’s been my passion from the very beginning. I like helping the local business hang on and thrive in the age of the big box, which is usually done through consistency in message and strong partner affiliations. It’s still very much a people business.

What past jobs/experiences have helped you along the way in your career?

I’ve been in the business of brand sales promotion for over 25 years, and have worked a lot in the field of co-op advertising and market development support, which helped me build my skills. My first job out of college as Co-op Administrator at Fair Discount Department Store helped start my career with a solid foundation in how manufacturers help local businesses advertise to move inventory. From there, I was able to move up as advertising director for the company, where I managed an advertising team to develop the marketing and sales promotions for our regional discount department stores. After moving on to a decade of local business in newspapers, my skills in co-op advertising eventually led me to MultiAd. That’s where I began working on products and strategies to build advertising with media clients in our AdBuilder Graphics, Creator Ad Production and Recas solutions.

How long have you been with MultiAd?

Well, I actually started out as a client for a lot of years. I brought Recas into the Fair in 1989 (when it was paper and micro-fiche). I also worked with Recas through two different newspapers in New England until I was recruited over in 1999. I started at MultiAd as a business development manager in the Northeast and became the Vice President of Recas Strategic Development almost two years ago.

What’s a typical day at work like for you?

Never a dull moment…although I kind of miss the dull moments. It’s usually a mix of client calls and consultations along with work on new business on every end of the advertising spectrum from media, manufacturers and retailers. When the phone rings, it could be anything from a new rep at a small community paper to a brand manager with a major manufacturer, usually with questions on the complexities of co-op advertising and media.

What’s your fondest memory of your time at MultiAd?

That’s a tough one. It’s hard to not pull out some funny anecdotes that really shouldn’t be shared here. In my role working with many sometimes competing entities, I have to be a living, breathing non-disclosure act. There have been a lot of great times in great places over the years. MultiAd helped me step foot in each of the contiguous states so far, and that’s been pretty cool. It’s a pretty big and diverse country.

Do you have any fears?

Articles like this.

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What’s the best dish you can cook?

Outside of the grill, the best I can do is boil water. Love my grill time though.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

By necessity, home improvement. I bought a house back in 2003 that needed pretty much everything replaced except the foundation. After 11 years of a lot of trial and error, it’s actually a pretty neat place that I capped off with a new deck and pergola last year. Plus I’ve carved my way to a pretty neat view of New Hampshire scenery after years of chainsaw and bonfire activity.

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If you could hang out with any celebrity for a day, who would you choose and why?

I’m not a big fan of our myopic celebrity culture. I’d rather sit down and have a beer with any random stranger to get their viewpoint of the world.

What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have a favorite musician/band?

My music tastes are all over the place and hard to peg. Anyone scrolling through my collection may be a bit mystified by the variety. I guess my favorite band would be The Killers. My wife has had a crush on the lead singer Brandon Flowers for a while and we’ve seen them in California, Massachusettes and Connecticut, and on a strange whim at Wembley Stadium in London last year. Good stuff.

What are your greatest personal and professional achievements?

Another tough one. All of my achievements have involved the collaboration of others and I consider them all mutual successes. I guess one of the better ones would be the 10th anniversary I’ll celebrate with my wife Doreen this year. Obviously, she’s a very patient and forgiving soul.

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Do you have any pets?

Dogs. Currently Cricket, a Portuguese Water Dog, who hates the water, and Meiko, a Shih Tzu, who thinks he’s a much bigger dog than he is. I did once have a great Golden Retriever named Bailey, who I took on a sabbatical around the country back in 2002. He peed in 32 states along with the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. Great dog.

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How to Sell Ice Cream in the Winter

It’s probably no surprise that ice cream shops tend to see a slowing of business once the temperatures drop. Unless you’re a die-hard ice cream fan, most would rather put off leaving their warm homes to indulge in a frozen treat. Some shops close during the colder months to avoid the inevitable slowing of their business. However, shops that brave the cold can use some innovative tactics to profit during the time of year when their frozen treats are less desirable. Ice cream shops can still hit the sweet spot during the winter months by using these advertising ideas…

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Advertise hot drinks.  

If customers are too cold for ice cream, provide them with some warmer options. A coffee and/or hot cocoa advertisement could be very enticing to locals. Businesses might offer a hot drink special that includes forms of tea and apple cider. Chances are, many ice cream shop customers have children who aren’t deterred from ice cream at any time of the year! So expand some options for the adult customers who might not be craving ice cream. Ice cream shops might also consider teaming up with a local bakery to offer baked goods. The winter months are also a great time to advertise low-fat treats for those trying to stick to their New Years resolutions.

Feature complementary desserts like warm pie.

Businesses can offer specials on hot desserts that can be baked at home and paired with their favorite ice cream. They also might sell tubs of the highest selling flavors like Coldstone Creamery. Shops should consider announcing a winter seasonal flavor that is unique to their brand. Possible winter flavors might include peppermint or cinnamon.

Get creative with your sales tactics.

In the summer, not much effort is needed to bring in customers looking for ways to cool off, but winter is a different ball game. Literally. When Super Bowl nears, ice cream shops could consider giving discounts to customers who come in wearing the jersey of their favorite football team. They can also give out rewards cards to encourage more visits. Josh & John’s shop in Colorado Springs uses punch rewards for customers who are willing to brave the cold.

Image: Freakonomics.com

Rev it up on social media.

A gelato shop in the Chicago suburbs, 4 Penguins, keeps the customers up-to-date all year round by posting photos of their “flavor of the day” on Facebook. Since more people will be staying indoors due to the weather, businesses should utilize social media even more than normal. They can give deals to those who like their business’ Facebook page, such as 15% off each scoop of ice cream to Facebook friends. The more delicious photos used on social media and in advertisements, the better! Just looking at a delicious picture of ice cream could be enough to give somebody those must-have cravings.

Summer may be the ideal time to sell ice cream, but that doesn’t mean that revenue has to come to a standstill during the colder months. Ice cream shops can still thrive by combining a few creative tactics to advertise and get people in the door.

Have you seen any clever ice cream specials? If so, tell us about it by leaving a comment!

Free Spouse Graphic

January 26th is Spouse’s Day! Spouse’s Day is dedicated to recognizing spouses everywhere and being thankful for long-term relationships. Celebrate with this free spouse graphic!

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FREE DOWNLOAD: (300dpi RGB jpg) (300dpi CMYK jpg)

Only available for free from January 12th, 2015 through January 19th, 2015.

Miss this free graphic? Search for it on Creative Outlet!

Tricks to Staying Focused When Working from Home

While many dream of being able to work out of the comfort of their own home, those who are working from home know that it’s not as relaxing as it might seem. There can be many distractions that can come in the way of the work being performed at home and this can cause stress. This article discusses several techniques to limit distractions and stay focused when working from home.

Find your motivation.

Nobody is around to motivate you at home, so try to find things that will help you jump-start your day and motivate you throughout your work day.  Write down some of your favorite motivational quotes and keep it in plain view as a constant reminder. Also subscribe to any of these great motivational blogs. Another great motivator is music. If you’re feeling sluggish, try listening to some upbeat music for a while. If you need to concentrate, try listening to slower paced music like classical. Join Spotify or Pandora radio to use an online music channel for free.

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Organize your work station.

Create a tidy and distraction-free work space. The kitchen table or couch could work, but those areas might be too distracting with too many things on top of and around your work area. It is ideal to work at a desk while at home. Place only the things you need beside you in a neat pile. Have a designated area for food, drinks and other personal items.

Make your computer distraction free.

Set aside time to organize your files and stay on top of it throughout the year. Routinely file items on your desktop so it’s not cluttered.  Make sure you have a folder for each project you’re working on. Place all files that relate to that project into its corresponding folder. Files might include documents, images and website shortcuts. Remember to ensure your PC is always virus-free by using anti-virus software. Update it frequently to save you the hassle of manual checks and repairs. This will help you avoid computer failure and other major catastrophes that could delay your work.

Make a to-do list and prioritize the tasks.

It’s helpful when you have a hand-written, tangible list of tasks beside your computer because it is constantly in your line of sight. The first hour at work is the time when most people are productive. Since your energy wears down during the day, start off strong with more difficult tasks and finish with less pressing tasks. Put all the difficult and challenging tasks on the top of your to-do list so they can be completed first. This helps you stay focused at work without spending precious time on less urgent tasks. Cross out the tasks as you finish them and put the to-do list where you can always see it so you are constantly reminded of your progress.

For more helpful tips on how to stay organized whether working from home or at work, check out this article from LinkedIn.

Strategies to Keep Up Your Sales After the Holidays

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The busiest time of the year for your business has ended, now what? Although you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief that the rush of frantic holiday shoppers is over, you’ll soon meet the inevitable lull of after-holiday sales. But there are still plenty of opportunities to keep bringing in the after-holiday shoppers. Here are some strategies to keep up your sales after the holidays…

Say “thank you.”

First things first, let loyal customers know you appreciate them. Send thank-you emails to those who did business with you during the holidays and let them know about any post holiday sales. If these resources aren’t available, send gratitude via social media. Tweets and Facebook posts thanking customers will build loyalty.

Market appropriately.

Even if your store is due for a post-holiday rush, these shoppers are on a much different agenda. Some of them are buying for their New Year’s resolutions, others are doing some personal shopping or they could be returning gifts. Either way, their shopping excursions are going to be more focused on themselves than for others.  Encourage customers to let them know it’s okay to treat themselves after the season of giving.

Avoid the hard sell.

Focus on the experience rather than making the sale in your store. Many shoppers are exhausted and might not be in the mood to spend any more time in stores.  Hand out samples and coffee, and set the mood with relaxing music. This will take the pressure off of shopping and make a great impression for anyone who may be stopping in for the first time. Exceptional customer service is important to any business at any time of the year, so keep it up after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Bring on the freebies.

Everyone loves free stuff, so why not give your customers a little gift for shopping with you? You can use the gift to advertise by displaying it in-store, or you can wrap it up and make it a surprise. Pick out something that could be useful after the holidays. Since money is tight for many around this time of year, offering up a freebie can help them feel good about their purchase.