How to depot a MAC eyeshadow


If you find yourself wanting to depot a MAC eyeshadow for whatever reason, here’s how to do it and what you’ll need:

  • Sharp tweezers (and a small, pointy knife if your tweezers aren’t sharp)
  • A lighter
  • Magnetic tape (you could use a thin magnet and glue if you don’t have magnetic tape)

I depot my MAC eyeshadows as my local (and only) MAC store isn’t a Pro store. I choose not to buy online as I don’t know the colours by heart and like to go in and play around to find my next one! I purchased my palette from the US when I was there last year – it fits 30 eyeshadows.


To begin, you want to dislodge the plastic pan from the container. You do this by using something sharp (tweezers or knife) to get in the ridge/groove of the two and wedge them apart so the plastic pan pops out. It’s not glued so should pop out quite easily if you’ve managed to get the sharp object in properly. Note: be careful with sharp objects.


Secondly, use the open flame from the lighter to heat the bottom of the plastic pan – use tweezers to hold it as it gets quite hot. You may need to do this for about 20-30 seconds depending on how long it takes for the plastic to soften.


You’ll know you’ve heated it long enough when you can push tweezers through the bottom to entirely dislodge the metal eyeshadow pan (as above). The metal pan can get quite hot so be careful when using bare hands to handle it. You’ll find glue residue on the underside of the metal pan, don’t remove it as it will come in handy.


To keep the back sticker that shows the colour and batch code, use the same method as before and heat the sticker to warm the glue so the sticker can peel off easily. Attach the sticker to the back of the metal eyeshadow pan using the glue residue already there.


Then stick some adhesive magnetic tape over the sticker, leaving the eyeshadow name visible. As these palettes are magnetic, using the magnetic tape will ensure your eyeshadow doesn’t fall out of the palette – so you’ll need to ensure you use a strip of magnetic tape large enough to keep it in place! And that’s it, happy depotting!

DIY Christmas gift: How I made and packaged candles


I’m really getting into crafty things, so decided to make homemade candles for DIY christmas gifts with a personal touch. I picked candles as they were something I hadn’t made before and was interested in learning. I am a big fan of candles, my favourite being Circa Home’s Vanilla Bean & Allspice – delicious!

I decided I would make candles in jars rather than try pillar candles – 1) as I prefer jar candles and 2) I assumed they would be easier for a beginner to learn. I decided to fully document my process to show how I created great DIY homemade Christmas gifts (complete with packaging).

Making the Candles

I first, researched many sources online to find out how to make candles and picked an Australian website, Natural Candle Supply, to buy the following:


1. Soy wax
I opted for soy wax over paraffin wax as it’s vegetable-based and doesn’t release black soot into the air like petroleum oil-based paraffin wax. See Household Tips for 5 reasons why soy candles are better than paraffin candles.

2. Jars
I opted to try tins as I thought they were quirky and the silver colour appropriate for Christmas – I bought the 4oz (118ml) silver tins. From what I’ve read, you should only use materials that can hold boiling liquid – therefore glass and tin are usually safe. Do not use plastic jars as they will melt when you pour in the boiling wax. I also imagine using super thin glass may be a problem (heat may cause delicate glass to crack/shatter).

3. Wick stickums
As I read, these aren’t a necessity as there are multiple ways to stick wicks to jars, but I liked the ease of wick stickums. They are essentially a double-sided sticker used to secure the wick to the bottom of the jar – super easy and stress-free for beginners!

4. Wick holders
From what I read these also aren’t a necessity, as you can use a wide range of objects to ensure your wicks stay centred while your wax cools.

5. Wicks
As I discovered, choosing the right wick for your jar/tin is very important. I watched the CandleScience tutorial on the effects of choosing a wick too small or too big for your candle/jar size (think terms such as ‘tunnelling’ or ‘drowning’ the candle) – I highly recommend their video! I also came across Rustic Escentuals wick chart, which really helped me match wick size to jar size. I chose High Temperature Paper (HTP) wicks and with my tins being medium (between 2.5″-2.75″ diameter), opted for the HTP-73 size as per the chart – which turned out to be perfect (no tunnelling or drowning here).

6. Fragrance oils
I used fragrance oils as essential oils are flammable and I didn’t want to risk adding too much and creating a candle that caught fire. With that being said, fragrance oils are synthetic (aren’t of a plant-based origin). To read more, see Natural Candle Supply’s general information on candle fragrance. I bought the fragrance oil Mistletoe & Ivy for my Christmas candles.


Even though I knew my tins were 4oz (118ml), I wanted to double-check the volume. You should usually leave the wick at least 8mm long (to be safe) to ensure the candle doesn’t tunnel – this can happen when the flame doesn’t have enough of a chance to burn and you end up with a narrow hole in the wax so deep that the flame extinguishes. Therefore, to ensure I could have an 8mm long wick with the lid on, I decided I would only fill the candle to the inside line. I measured this with water and it was under the 125ml line on my measuring cup so I assumed it was approximately 118ml (talk about accurate)!


Another thing to think about first – make sure your jars/tins are clean (no residue) and are 100% dry. Water and wax do not mix, so you don’t want water in your jars when the wax goes in. To reuse the jars of old candles, let the jar sit in boiling water for a few minutes. Any wax left should loosen up and you should be able to scrub it clean again (with soap).

I stuck the wick stickums to the base of my wicks (both 15mm diameter) and stuck them in the centre of my tins. I then used the wick holders to ensure the wick stood centred and upright.


When you’re measuring out your wax flakes, you want to use double the amount of the volume of your jars. As my tins were (let’s round it up to) 120ml, I want to use 120ml x2 = 240ml of wax flakes for each candle. As 1 cup = 250ml, I just used 1 cup of wax flakes. As I was making 4 candles, I used 4 cups of wax flakes. Also remember, use a glass or stainless steel bowl to put the wax into, as this will become boiling hot and you don’t want the bowl to melt!


Create a double boiler to melt the wax. Fill a saucepan with water and place the bowl on top.


While you’re waiting for the wax to melt, put the prepared jars/tins and a pouring jug in a tray and fill the tray with hot water (doesn’t have to be boiling but should be hotter than warm). This is to heat them up so they aren’t stone cold when you need to pour the wax in – this is so your candles can cool gradually and can avoid glass cracking if you’re using glass jars.


Make sure the wax flakes melt completely before you turn the heat off. Use a metal spoon to stir when required. The wax may look yellow-toned depending on which wax you’re using, but it does cool a white colour (so fear not)!


Once you’ve turned the heat off, add the fragrance oil. From what I’ve read, depending on how strong you want your candles to be scented, you usually add between 8-10% of the candle volume of fragrance oil. 10% of my 118ml candles would be 11.8ml. As my candles were quite small, I wanted them to be strong, so I added roughly 15ml of fragrance oil per candle. I used a 15ml tablespoon to measure it out and as I was making 4 candles, I added 4 tablespoons (total of 60ml of fragrance oil). Stir the fragrance oil in with the metal spoon.

Note: a few things I’ve read discussed heating the wax to 70 degrees Celsius and waiting for the wax to cool to 60 degrees Celsius before adding the fragrance oil, but I found this a little difficult to coordinate (even with a thermometer), so didn’t bother. I’m sure if you wanted to become more of a professional candle-maker you could start looking into this, but otherwise my method does the trick well enough for me.


Once you’ve stirred in the fragrance oil, remove the pouring jug from the tray of hot water and pour the melted wax (with fragrance oil added) into the pouring jug.


Pour the wax into the jars/tins sitting in the hot water. Be careful not to fill the jars too full, as you need to leave at least 8mm for the wick (above the wax line).


Carefully transfer the candles to a level towel/tea towel and reposition the wicks/wick holders if required. The towel will ensure the wax doesn’t cool too quickly – if it does cool too quickly you can get cracks in the wax. For other candle problems and fixes, see Candle Cauldron’s Troubleshooting Guide.


When the wax has solidified, you can remove the wick holders and trim the wicks. I used regular scissors but you can get special wick trimmers. As you can see, the wax has ridden up around the wick slightly, you can fix this by melting the top layer of wax with a hair dryer – I didn’t bother as it didn’t bother me.


These are my candles ready to go! I created my own stickers in Adobe Illustrator and got them printed at my local Officeworks. I cut them out myself, so they’re not perfect, but I kind of like their imperfectness. Now for the packaging…

Making the Packaging

So I decided to make a ‘box’ for the candles and was inspired by this design on Pinterest. I like the way it displays the object rather than encapsulate it in a box.

candle packaging
Image credit: Pinterest

To start with, I went to my local art and craft store, Eckersley’s and my local two dollar shop and got:

  • 600gsm cardboard
  • Double-sided contact (adhesive sheet)
  • Brown paper
  • Twine
  • Thin red ribbon

Things you will also need are:

  • Stanley knife (box cutter)
  • Steel ruler
  • Pencil
  • Cutting mat
  • Stickers

You’ll need to measure the height, width and depth of the jar/tin to work out the sizings for the box. Remember as you’re working with 600gsm cardboard you’ll lose some length when you fold it, so add in an extra 1-2mm for each measurement.


I used an A4 piece of card here and could fit 3 boxes onto one sheet.


Using the cutting mat, Stanley knife and steel ruler, cut out the 3 conjoined box shapes. On the reverse side (without the pencilled box measurements), adhere the double-sided contact. Peel away the other side of the double-sided contact and stick the brown paper to it.


Flip it back over and cut out the 3 box shapes.


For each individual box shape, use the Stanley knife with a light hand to score the cardboard so it can fold nicely. Be careful, if you actually cut the whole way through you’ve ruined your box and will need to do another one!


Once the cardboard has been scored, you can fold the edges. Place the candle in and seal it with your choice of sticker (make sure the sticker is heavy duty enough to hold the box closed).


Tie the twine tightly around the box with a bow on the top and decorate with as much or as little red ribbon as you like. Repeat as required for all your candles.


And that’s it, you’re finished! You now have pretty, homemade Christmas candles to give to your loved ones, friends or colleagues as a personalised gift.

As I’m a first time candle-maker, I’d be interested to hear how you make your candles – any tips or tricks are always welcome. Thanks for reading and happy candle making!

How does packaging indicate brand value?

Compare two brands and how they use packaging to indicate value and price point. Chose one high-priced brand and one low-priced brand and compare/contrast the use of packaging.

The two brands I have chosen to compare are Aldi’s Expressi to Nestlé’s Nespresso. They both make coffee capsules that can be used in their machines to produce great coffee at home.


What colours, typefaces, graphics does the company use on the packaging? What does this say about the value of the product?
The Expressi packaging utilises black as the main colour, red to depict the K-fee System logo and a colour theme for each type of coffee. The colours are vibrant and stand out against the black background. The Expressi typeface is sans-serif, modern and quite elegant, yet the ‘x’ is playful. The coffee typeface appears to be Century Gothic (sans-serif and geometric) with increased kerning – it feels youthful and playful. The coffee capsules are a secondary graphic in this design, where the main graphic is a series of circles forming a firework-type design. The firework graphic seems to be a visual representation of the taste of the coffee – indicating a taste ‘explosion’. For example, Perugia is a medium roast coffee with pleasant and zesty acidity and refreshing tangerine notes, therefore the green firework graphic depicts zest.

Image credit: Aldi

This packaging positions Expressi as a playful, delicious, stylish, yet affordable type of coffee. I believe the design would blend into a supermarket quite well, though I’m not sure it would jump out at me – it looks quite similar to some Nescafé packaging (not Nespresso, though still owned by Nestlé).

The Nespresso packaging also uses black as the main colour and a single colour to identify each type of coffee. The colours are subtle and placed strategically at the end of the rectangular tube shaped box – so the colours are visible when stacked. The Nespresso typeface is sans-serif, modern and elegant, and the stylistic ‘n’ depicts a coffee bean. The other typeface is sans-serif, simple and easily legible – it is neat and contributes to the classy feel of the packaging. There are minimal graphics used in the packaging design other than the Nespresso logo – though the Pure Origin and Variations ranges display discrete and delicate graphics consistent with the flavour colour, to communicate these special flavours.
nespresso boxes
Image credit: Nespresso

This packaging positions Nespresso as simple, refined and exquisite. The shape of the box is unique and communicates a product that is not like others. Nothing about the design is particularly attention grabbing, suggesting that Nespresso is for coffee enthusiasts.

What materials are used in the packaging (ie card stock, foils, specialty papers, print treatments)? What do the materials tell you about the product value?
The Expressi box card stock is much like that of cereal boxes, a smooth surface, coated on one side. The design does not utilise foiling or any print treatments – most likely as a cost-saving measure. The shape of the box is fairly standard. These factors indicate that Expressi is practical and affordable.

The Nespresso box is a similar card stock, however it utilises a glossy, raised ink for the Nespresso logo and is perforated for easy opening (and positioning in the capsule stand). The shape of the box is unusual and iconic, indicating the Nespresso is a premium product.

In addition to the differences between the outer packaging, another significant difference is the coffee capsules themselves.

The Expressi capsules are ribbed and display the same branding as the box (logo, coffee type, coffee strength, K-fee System logo and firework design). The design is practical and another way to advertise the Expressi brand if the capsules are not stored in the box.

Aldi advises that any capsules with a K-fee System logo will fit into their coffee machines, irrespective of whether they are sold under the Expressi brand name.

Image credit: Aldi

Unfortunately, I was unable to confirm what materials the Expressi capsules are made from. Though I did tweet Aldi Australia who advised that the capsules are not recyclable, which would no doubt contribute to the low price point. This is another factor that sets them behind Nespresso.

The Nespresso capsules are sharply contoured to achieve a sleek look and as a result, the capsules make an important contribution to the visual identity of the brand. Nespresso also identifies “the shape of the Nespresso capsule has been specially designed to ensure that the pressurised water flows evenly through the ground coffee during extraction“. Nespresso produces a range of capsule dispensers/storage so consumers can choose to either display the boxes or the capsules themselves. Nespresso makes the packaging just as important as the product itself, because they know that if their customers are stylish, they’ll want their coffee to be stylish.

The Nespresso capsules are made from aluminium as it protects the coffee grounds from air and light. The capsules are also 100% recyclable and Nespresso has set up a capsule recycling program where the aim is to turn end-of-life capsules into new capsule material.

Nespresso insists that the Nespresso branded coffee machines should be used with Nespresso capsules to guarantee the in-cup quality that they are known for.

Image credit: Nespresso

It is clearly evident that there are multiple ways in which packaging can reflect brand value and price point. Expressi and Nespresso clearly have different target markets and aren’t directly in competition with each other, even though they have a similar type of product.

Visual identity system: Aesop

Choose one brand that you think has one of the best visual identity systems. Show images of their identity system and analyse the visual identity of the brand.

A company I think has a particularly eloquent visual identity system is Australian brand, Aesop. Aesop was created in Melbourne in 1987 and is the definition of alchemy. Aesop employs skilled chemical scientists that source plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients to formulate skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality, with a strong focus on safety and efficacy. Aesop is a modern beauty brand that exhibits philosophical sensitivity and cultural intelligence to promote health, vitality and a holistic lifestyle. The Aesop website displays the beauty brand’s approach to non-gimmicky or commercial sales and instead declares, “we explore and support the arts as an avenue through which to inspire, learn and communicate”.

The name, Aesop, is synonymous with the Ancient Greek fabulist – as the founder, Dennis Paphitis, is a former philosophy student. Paphitis claims, “the clarity of thinking [of Aesop] and quality of his communication was inspiring to me”. Aesop tells a unique story focusing on environmental design, superiorly created products and poetic writing. Paphitis articulates that Aesop is a brand with soul. Aesop reliably exhibits truisms from great works of history on everything they produce (bottles, bags, boxes, store walls, press releases).

Image credit: Pinterest

“We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.” – Henry Miller.

The Aesop logo itself is timeless – it has remained unchanged for the past 28 years and I believe it will continue to do so. The typeface used is contemporary and classic and oozes sophistication. The logo is both uniquely identifiable and easily recognisable. Aesop utilises primarily neutral colours throughout their branding – black, off-white, brown, beige and olive green, which reflects the mostly botanical origins of their products.


Aesop is unlike other beauty brands as it doesn’t position itself as either feminine or masculine. Aesop’s customers are intelligent, well-read and appreciate products in every detail (origin, effectiveness, packaging, store ambience).

Aesop is known for their “unselling” philosophy, so instead of focusing on advertising and pushing products that have made “best products” lists, their attention is on perfecting their products (which take years to formulate). Aesop knows that their customers have high skincare standards and understand that trust is hard to regain once lost. One particular vision Paphitis communicates which perfectly summarises both Aesop’s branding and marketing is, “It’s become politically incorrect to discuss good taste but actually this what Aesop does best. We aspire toward a certain quality, discretion and restraint in our work. These are qualities that are almost counter intuitive in a retail market desperate to cater to short attention spans and infinite choice“.

Minimalist packaging is created via brown pharmaceutical-style glass jars and aluminium tubes, for their light-blocking properties and to minimise the need for preservatives. The labels are two-tone (off-white and black) and use space, text and hierarchy to display the Aesop logo, product name, use and ingredients.

Image credit: Pinterest

As part of the visual identity, each Aesop store is unique and evokes a sensory experience. The stores reflect their surroundings by weaving the city’s essence into the store design and though each store is a different work of art, they are seamlessly connected through architectural design and sophistication. Paphitis believes that “there’s a direct correlation between interesting, captivating store spaces and customer traffic within a store“. Aesop endeavours for their worldwide products to connect locally.

Image credit: Pinterest

Overall, I think Aesop has positioned itself to reach it’s full potential and has a strong visual identity system. The logo, colours, textures, packaging, architectural design and philosophy all have a uniform approach to extraordinarily connect the brand to it’s target market.


Comparable? MAC Studio Fix Fluid vs Estée Lauder Double Wear

I used to be a MAC Studio Fix Fluid advocate for 2 years before I considered using anything else. I loved the coverage and it was the first non-drugstore foundation I liked enough to repurchase. I don’t have problem skin, though still like a medium coverage, matte-finish foundation so I thought it was perfect. However, after using it for so long I started to notice I wasn’t happy with the staying power anymore. I would say I have normal skin, though can get a slightly oily t-zone throughout the day and found that Studio Fix would rub off around my mouth and t-zone (hello, patchy). I would use a water-based primer and set it with powder but it didn’t make enough of a difference to keep me happy (I also found that over-powdering easily made it look cakey).


Estée Lauder Double Wear caught my eye as it was a favourite mentioned frequently on MakeupSocial. People raved about the staying power and matte-finish which are two things I want in a foundation. So I made my way to my nearest David Jones counter with my Studio Fix so I could get the best colour match. Unfortunately, I went quite late in the day and the counter was unmanned, so I matched myself and bought it without asking for a sample (I don’t recommend doing this though as it’s good to test a foundation in natural light before you spend AUD $50!). I’ve done a direct comparison of the foundation features listed on the MAC and Estée Lauder websites below.

Image credit: foundation images taken from MAC and Estée Lauder

With Double Wear almost doubling the wear time of Studio Fix (the name really does say it all), I’m surprised I didn’t jump on it sooner! I must admit I didn’t know Studio Fix only had a wear time of 8 hours, but I would say that is accurate. Perhaps I might find MAC Pro Longwear better, I’m not sure (that only has sheer to medium coverage). I’m also someone who doesn’t have a special occasion foundation, as the foundation I have is the one I’m using every time. Which is one of the main reasons I’m so interested in staying power.

I’m an NC20 in Studio Fix and found 2C1 Pure Beige in Double Wear to be the best match. It may not be what other sites or people say, but I always found the Studio Fix shades not quite right for me. To help decode the Studio Fix and Double Wear undertones, check out my chart below.

  • C = Cool
  • N = Neutral
  • W = Warm


MAC considers yellow tones to be cool and pink tones to be warm, whereas Estée Lauder is the opposite and considers yellow tones to be warm and pink tones to be cool.

Now here’s a picture comparing the two shades I use (in natural light). Note: I always think it’s best to go in store and look at foundation shades in real life, rather than buy straight from the internet after choosing from an online colour matrix.


I don’t find 2C1 too pink but I do find NC20 a little too orange. I fake tan so that’s probably why NC20 is the closest match to me, as I remember NW20 not being right. When I looked at other Double Wear shades such as 2N1 it looked too pale and 2W1 looked too orange. However, just because I go for 2C1 as an NC20 doesn’t mean you will, so I really recommend getting matched in store so you are happy – especially when you are forking out $50 for a foundation! I am happy to use these shades interchangeably – as you can see from the pictures below, they both work for me (these photos were taken on different days in different lighting).


In terms of ease of blending and finish I find them comparable. Though I don’t agree that Double Wear has a semi-matte finish – I find it matte. I find they are both foundations that should be applied reasonably quickly – they are thick and dry reasonably fast! I apply with either a synthetic kabuki or my fingers, which helps keep the foundation warm and blendable. Double Wear really does last from wake to sleep and I think Studio Fix would be better for a night out (when you don’t need it to last all day as well as night). I do find that since Double Wear doesn’t budge, it can clog my pores and give me a few pimples if I don’t take it off properly before bed (has only happened once or twice, I swear!). So make sure you really focus on your skincare routine and remove it all before bed.

In terms of smell I find Double Wear much more favourable. Studio Fix smells like paint and although it doesn’t smell once it’s dried, it does bother me – I am reminded each time I use it that I really am painting my face!

Both foundations come in glass bottles, which may be a worry for some (I haven’t dropped one just yet) and although neither foundation comes with a pump, this doesn’t bother me. I bought the pump for Studio Fix and didn’t like it – I prefer to get a controlled pour of foundation rather than be restricted by pumps. The MAC foundation pump does fit the Double Wear bottle.

Overall, I prefer the staying power of Double Wear so that’s why I prefer it. Are they actually comparable? Not entirely – in every aspect other than staying power I would say they are. After using Studio Fix I’ve decided a longer wearing foundation is more important to me. Do you use a foundation you think is comparable to Double Wear? I am interested to know what else is out there!

What does sustainability mean in the context of graphic design?

Design Can Change is a great resource that educates designers on the current changes we are seeing in the climate around the globe and the impact these changes will have on our future. They specifically link the core role of designers and the relationships they have with suppliers and printers to achieve outputs (examples outlined below).

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 5.31.57 pm
Image credit: Design Can Change

As designers, it is interesting to learn how we can both influence clients to become more sustainable and work with suppliers and printers to identify sustainable options. And as more people are demanding environmental accountability, it is crucial that designers endeavour to reduce their footprint and ensure they encourage and are able to provide sustainable options.

What is Cradle to Cradle design and how can you see this applied in the graphic design industry?
Cradle to Cradle identifies a unique approach to design whilst considering reducing environmental toxicity. It is identified in the 2002 book written by architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart, called ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things‘. It discusses how products should be created in accordance with the cradle-to-cradle life cycle model as opposed to the cradle-to-grave model – the core difference being the focus on a waste-free end result (as opposed to a disposal phase). Cradle to Cradle suggests that industries have a responsibility to protect and enrich the environmental ecosystem.

As a result, the Cradle to Cradle Certified product standard has been developed to guide both designers and manufacturers through an improvement process judged in accordance with five quality categories. These categories being:

  • Material health – knowing the chemical ingredients of every material in a product and optimising towards safer materials.
  • Material reutilisation – designing products using materials that come from and can safely return to nature.
  • Renewable energy and carbon management – foreseeing a future in which all manufacturing is powered by 100% clean renewable energy.
  • Water stewardship – treating clean water as a precious resource and essential human right.
  • Social fairness – designing product operations to honour people and natural systems affected by the creation, use, disposal and reuse.

Some examples of Cradle to Cradle Certified products are a plant-based laundry detergent, Mushroom Materials (seed husks and stalks combined with mushroom roots) in place of plastic foams such as Styrofoam, and bricks made from clay.

I can see Cradle to Cradle being applied successfully in the graphic design industry through having a solid sustainability strategy. New Paper Leaf, outlines some great considerations relevant to the graphic design industry.

Firstly, a designer can check whether the design solution must be a printed piece, or whether it can be digital (eg PDF/web-based). If it can be web-based, the designer can consider using web hosts that use renewable energy or who purchase carbon offset credits.

If a printed solution is necessary, there are many other considerations that can be taken into account to minimise environmental impact (or to aim for a neutral impact). Some examples include:

  • work with local printers to reduce emissions from transport/shipping,
  • maximise the use of the paper when designing (consider unnecessary excess trimming, bleed and the ability to print multiple pieces per page),
  • consider the next phase of use for the printed piece (could it have dual purpose or serve another purpose after primary use),
  • consider what the paper stock is made from (trees or straw, 100% recycled, has it been bleached, etc),
  • consider what inks and coating the paper stock and printer uses (vegetable-based inks rather than petroleum-based, UV coatings, varnishes, laminates and metallic inks can be non-recyclable),
  • consider what finishing processes the paper stock and printer uses (saddle-stitching is preferred to petroleum-based glues when binding),
  • does the chosen printer have a waste reduction strategy? (waterless or digital printing, FSC Certified, etc), and
  • if the item needs to be packaged, can it be packaged in a material Cradle to Cradle Certified?

A local graphic design studio (whose work I was browsing recently through their newsletter), is Papercut Graphic Design. They caught my eye as I noticed they have created their own ‘green tick’ (below).

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 8.36.29 pm
Image credit: Papercut

Even though they’re not at a Cradle to Cradle approach, they proudly identify “from the inception of the design, through the studio, in the choice of paper stock, to the selected printer and to the end of the lifecycle, the products sustainability and reduction of carbon footprint has been considered and managed for the least impact or longest life“. In addition to “…the design should be print friendly and the hosting should be powered by solar wind or a combination of both. Papercut manage the production process of web and print products through the studio so that the most sustainable requirements are met, resulting in the smallest carbon footprint” for web.

The Papercut Green Tick of Approval is a wonderful representation of Papercut’s commitment to sustainable business practices and design. They market the tick as something that both sets themselves apart from other design studios, as well as something that organisations should be eager to display. On reflection, I think having environmental and sustainability policies and strategies is a great asset for any freelancer, studio or organisation. It helps spread awareness, identifies accountability and influences change in the current climate.

In the Creative Gallery of Sustainable Communications, what ad has the most impact for you and why?
When considering the ads most relevant to graphic design, the below ad really speaks to me.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 10.01.39 pm
Image credit: United Nations Environment Programme

The ad’s headline is “A perfect packaging doesn’t involve” and shows icons of water, oil, hazardous chemicals, petroleum, trees, carbon dioxide and animals.

I like it as it identifies the fact that nature can produce perfect packaging itself. It doesn’t need the shiniest, sturdiest, most-cushioned, easily-produced, man-made material. The world often thinks man can better the Earth, but it is already pretty spectacular to begin with – all we need to do is look to nature for our solutions.

Packaging is required on a temporary basis when comparing it to the product it holds, and is used to contain, protect, present, identify, inform and advertise. Even though it is important, the negatives can outweigh the positives when we produce tonnes of excess and non-recyclable packaging.

Environment Victoria outlines that the packaging process already takes a lot of energy, water and natural resources to produce, and identifies that when we throw away packaging after a single-use, these natural resources are lost. They also advise that in Australia, we’ve doubled the amount of natural resources we use to produce packaging in the last 30 years – that’s only produce! That does not mention the effect of the litter it produces and the earth and wildlife it destroys post-use.

I find it quite disappointing to learn this, as I don’t think environmental destruction was a consideration before these types of processes became the norm. Upon reflection, it seems having environmental accountability is a commodity and not something everyone should be doing out of responsibility. This is saddening and I am concerned about my previous ignorance.

List five things a graphic designer can do in their practice to decrease their impact on the environment.
After conducting my research, it is actually hard to limit myself to only five. Some steps I can personally take would be:

  • to suggest alternatives to printed materials and explore whether the clients needs could be met through a digital outcome,
  • to consider the emissions of unnecessary shipping/transport and use local printers,
  • to check what paper stock and inks the local printer uses and discourage unnecessary varnishes and coatings,
  • to maximise the use of the printed material, and
  • to check whether web hosts use renewable energy to power their servers.

Design and ethics

I would personally summarise ethics as conducting oneself in a transparent and moral manner. AGDA defines ethics as professional conduct expectations in the client/designer/subcontractor relationship. This covers:

  • A designers obligation to the client (best interests, conflicts of interest and confidentiality).
  • A designers responsibility to other designers (free pitching, existing commissions, plagiarism and criticism of others’ work).
  • Commissions (details for securing and accepting commissions and subcontracting).
  • Fees (charges, free pitching, reductions, other financial interests and selection of another designer).
  • Design competitions.
  • Self-promotion (content, credit and use of designer’s name).

What is free pitching and how does it affect the industry as a whole?
Pitching is the competitive provision of design services (including concepts) for a client in an attempt to win new business. Therefore, free pitching is when the designer does not get paid for these services/concepts. Free pitching can come in many forms and can be either client or designer initiated, such as (and not limited to):

  • Design competitions where the chosen designer’s “prize” is publicity.
  • Handing over design concepts with the premise of potential future paid work.
  • Deliberately providing free design to displace other designers.

Free pitching can also be referred to as speculative work (spec work), predatory pricing and unpaid competitive tendering.

DIA claims free pitching “undermines the value of design services and destroys the professional standing of designers”. In short, by providing services for free, a designer is identifying and communicating their time, skills and product (design) is not worth paying for, which in turn, destroys both a designer’s credibility and the design profession.

DIA also discusses how design is commonly considered as an industry and not a profession. Many other fields in which people gain qualifications and have representative bodies, don’t require any form of pitching – think doctors, accountants and tradesmen. For example, try asking three accountants to complete your tax return, pitch the completed outcome and provide the paperwork to you, for free, in a bid to gain future business (or that you will tell your friends how great they are).

Further arguments against free pitching also outline that pitching delivers:

  • work designed to win the pitch, rather than provide the best solution,
  • an undercut of the financial viability of design,
  • unexperienced and less qualified designers to the process, providing a poor representation of the design profession, and
  • higher freelance rates for paid projects for designers who accommodate free pitching but still need to earn a viable income.

A great resource I came across was NO!SPEC, which is a group of designers whose aim is to educate both designers and clients on the negative effect of spec work. This site outlines that design organisations across Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the UK all fundamentally oppose spec work, and provide consistent advice that a designer should not undertake any work without adequate compensation.

Lastly, the DIA classifies free pitching as unprofessional and asks the conclusionary question: “Are you in the business of winning pitches, or designing?”.

Why is it important to have a code of ethics in the graphic design industry?
Just like any other profession, a code of ethics is important in order to establish the appropriate and acceptable behaviour of a professional group, in order to reflect its values. A code of ethics in the graphic design industry is especially important as it identifies graphic design as a responsible profession, it also identifies what is ‘fair play’ and sets the standards of professional service and conduct. This benefits the client as they can gain a better understanding of how their designer should carry out their business and why.

What is the difference between a copyright and a trademark or patent?
Copyright © is the legal rights to the expression of a concept or idea, but not the concept or idea itself. Copyright is automatically granted to the creator and can provide protection of websites, photographs, graphics and illustrations. If work is created for an employer as part of a day-to-day job, the copyright belongs to the employer. If working as a freelancer for a client, the copyright is often identified in a written agreement.

A trademark is the legal rights to the concept or idea itself, and can cover a logo, phrase, colour, sound, scent, shape and aspect of packaging. A trademark doesn’t have to be registered (TM – unregistered trademark), though it’s legally more difficult to stop others from copying or imitating the trademark. A registered trademark ® comes at a cost, and needs to be applied for and approved. A registered trademark is easier to defence against infringement in a court of law.

A patent protects an invention and how it works or functions, it also comes at a cost and needs to be applied for and approved.

What measures do you need to take as a freelance designer to protect your creative output?
There are a number of measures I can take as a designer:

  • Do not copy other people’s work (even temporarily to express ideas).
  • Understand copyright licences for images and fonts and use them legally.
  • Include a copyright notice and symbol for my designs.
  • Advise confidentiality if providing concepts to a client before an agreement is in place, ie “all ideas are presented in confidence and are owned by me”.
  • Search the trademarks database available at IP Australia to make sure I am not infringing any registered trademarks.
  • Ask for documentation to confirm the client owns the copyright when asked to modify a design.
  • Identify in the agreement (signed by myself and the client) who owns the intellectual property (IP) rights – if I am giving them up, I should include a clause on folio use for myself.
  • If I own IP, I should keep track of the renewal dates.
  • Understand it is up to me to protect my own copyright.

What is my (graphic design) worth?

I found it a little difficult to research how much a freelance graphic designer should charge per hour. Throughout my research, I also found the debate on fixed pricing versus hourly billing very interesting.

Just Creative gave me great insight into the reality of pricing graphic design services. Some key points I have taken away are:

  • there’s no exact formula,
  • my prices will affect my own outlook on my services and the client’s opinion of my services,
  • uncertainty is common,
  • pricing can be a good way to weed out the time wasters,
  • potential clients may think the prices are too high no matter what the price, and
  • starting out I will probably have to charge less than I would like.

Tuts+ also outlined nine factors to consider when determining prices. These include: expenses, desired profit, market demand, industry standards, skill level, experience, market positioning, level of service and who the client is (whether they are high risk, etc).

The AIGA Survey of Design Salaries outlined the average salary of a junior designer (print/web/interactive) in 2014 was $40,000 USD, and $60,000 USD for a self-employed designer – though I acknowledge this probably doesn’t include ‘junior’ self-employed designers and is a reflection of USA standards, not Australian.

After checking Seek (an Australian site), I found salaries aren’t often outlined for graphic design job advertisements. Though, from what I did find, the average salary offered to a junior graphic designer is between $35,000-$50,000 AUD (for a mid-weight graphic designer this jumps to $50,000-$65,000 and a senior graphic designer as much as $80,000-$100,000). I then used Pay Calculator to work out the hourly rate for a junior graphic designer based on the above figure, which equates to between $17-25 per hour (based on a 38 hour working week). I understand the above hourly rate is based on a salary where the employee is entitled to leave provisions, etc. So a freelancer would have to account for leave and potential periods of no work, among other things, in their pricing.

The fixed pricing versus hourly billing debate raises some interesting considerations. Miranda Marquit, a professional writer who has experience in graphic design, advises that clients often want a quote for the project rather than an hourly rate. Meaning, if you can estimate how long a project will take, you can transfer your hourly rate into a fixed price for the project. For example, if the hourly rate is $60/hr, and designing a flyer will take 2 hours, the quote could start at $120 and include a further price buffer to account for extra tweaking time. Miranda also discusses the importance of having an agreement with the client for any graphic design project. The agreement should outline what services and product the quote includes, and should cover the following:

  • number of revisions included
  • what exactly the designer will produce
  • provision for additional charges that go outside of the original scope of the project
  • additional fees, such as a premium for rush jobs

In the end I emailed AGDA directly to get a better idea of what freelance junior graphic designers should be charging. Steve from AGDA wasn’t able to give me freelance rates but he did advise the following for junior designers working within a studio:

  • Junior Graphic Designer (0-1 years) = $33,222 or $23.50/hr
  • Junior Graphic Designer (2-4 years) = $42,013 or $27.50/hr

I understand this isn’t all the information out there, but it gives me something to start thinking about. Since I am a student only halfway through completing my double degree (Graphic Design/Communication in Advertising) and I already have full-time employment, I would be looking to freelance on the side and not as my main source of income.

I also understand my technical skills aren’t yet as advanced as a graduate graphic designers, so I would need to work a little slower on projects to start with. Meaning I wouldn’t want to transfer this extra time spent on projects as a cost to the client. Meaning I would ideally want to charge based on “reasonable” job timeframes (whilst also considering complexity of job, etc).

I think I would only be comfortable charging a base rate of approximately $25-30/hr to begin, and would only be able to fit in approximately 5 hours of freelance work a week.

Below is a timesheet branded with my personal logo, which I could use as means to track my hours completed per week for a certain client/project.


Managing myself and managing others

I completed the Johari Window tool to find out how others see me in comparison to how I see myself. The 5 attributes I picked for myself were:

  • intelligent
  • knowledgeable
  • logical
  • organised
  • witty

I work full-time and study part-time, so being organised is crucial. I like to learn, gain knowledge and share knowledge and I much prefer deductive reasoning over inductive reasoning, so see myself as quite a logical thinker. I also appreciate smiling and good humour, so like to work it into my interactions with others. I think all of this is communicated in my ENTJ personality type result as well.

I asked 20 people, consisting of friends, some family, university peers and work colleagues to use any 5 of the Johari Window attributes to best describe me. The results were:

  • 60% organised
  • 40% confident, intelligent, trustworthy & witty
  • 35% independent
  • 30% friendly & self-assertive
  • 20% able, clever & helpful
  • 15% giving, idealistic & logical
  • 10% adaptable, cheerful, dependable, energetic, extroverted, happy & proud
  • 5% accepting, calm, caring, kind, knowledgeable, observant, reflective, sensible & warm

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I read A Client’s Guide to Design by AIGA to understand how the design process works in a professional environment – to give me a better understanding of what qualities might be important in the design profession.

What attributes described in Johari Window exercise do you see as key to dealing with clients?
When dealing with clients, communication is important. Having the client clearly identify goals and objectives is key for the designer to achieve anything worthwhile. Therefore, I think one has to be: able, adaptable, caring, confident, dependable, dignified, friendly, helpful, mature, organised, responsive, sensible and trustworthy.

What attributes are key to dealing with your colleagues?
Working with colleagues often requires collaboration, as well as an understanding of diverse personalities and differing views. Drawing from my experience, I think one has to be: accepting, adaptable, dependable, dignified, friendly, helpful, observant, patient, mature, self-assertive, sensible and trustworthy.

What attributes are key to dealing with yourself?
In order for one to develop and succeed on a professional level, I think one needs to be: able, adaptable, clever, dependable, idealistic, independent, intelligent, observant, organised, reflective, responsive, searching and trustworthy.

What attributes are key to dealing with your boss?
There are a range of attributes that one might want to demonstrate to a boss in order to be viewed as a valuable employee. Therefore, I think the following attributes are important: able, adaptable, calm, confident, dependable, helpful, idealistic, knowledgeable, mature, observant, organised, reflective, self-assertive, sensible and trustworthy.

How does your version of the Johari Window differ from your close contacts?
Funnily enough, there were no attributes I picked for myself that others didn’t pick for me. I suppose this shows that I have a reasonable level of self-awareness.

Three of the five attributes I picked for myself were within the top responses (intelligent, organised, witty), which I am quite pleased with. I would like to think I am a switched-on individual and I think this is demonstrated by the fact that I work full-time while completing my double degree part-time. I also love a good joke and come-back and appreciate a dry sense of humour.

The top responses in my blind spot are: confident, trustworthy, independent, friendly and self-assertive. I’m not offended that people view me as self-assertive, as I think they mean it from the perspective that I’m not afraid to tell it like it is. I would like to think that being viewed as friendly means I am not harsh or offensive in my self-assertiveness! I do value trust, I understand that things happen but I think a high level of transparency is important to maintain trust.

I think my personal response of knowledgeable that of which only 5% of respondents agreed, I actually meant clever. If I had to pick again I think clever would be a more apt description as I definitely see myself as more resourceful than knowledgeable – so think clever would be a better fit.

Something to make note of is the fact that able at 20% was only deemed a personal attribute by work colleagues. Out of the 6 work colleagues that I asked to respond, 66% deemed me able. So I think the responses could have been vastly different if I had asked 20 work colleagues to respond. This shows that attributes important on a personal and professional level can vary.

How does this exercise make you think about your position in the workplace?
I think these results show that I can work soundly on my own and would potentially be a good boss. I think my main areas to improve on would be working with peers and co-workers, in terms of being more patient and letting others have a go. I wouldn’t say I am not a team player, but I think I need to learn that I don’t always need to take the reigns (so to speak). I think I would also like to start acknowledging when others may have the answers to the questions that I am too busy researching for myself.

Brand: Me

I like to consider myself from a brand perspective, in terms of how I represent myself, especially online. For example, the look and content of my Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram all have a considered aesthetic – I like to make sure what I post contributes positively to how I aim to be seen.

From a graphic design aspect, I’ve dabbled in designs for my own personal logo a number of times. Since I am always learning, exploring and broadening my tastes I haven’t locked anything in before (I still have a few part-time years at uni left). Therefore, I answered questions on Logo Tournament to prompt me to think a little more formally about the type of logo I’d like to create for myself.

I would like to use my real name as my business name, so I opt to name it Stephanie Brink Graphic Design. My target audience would be any business or individual requiring good quality graphic design solutions.

What are the top 3 things I’d like to communicate to my audience through my logo?
Simplicity, quality and reliability.

What style of logo?
I’m leaning towards a wordmark (company name in a stylised type which may include abstract or pictorial elements) or letterform mark (very small amount of letters to represent the business).

What colours would I like to use?
Ideally, none. I’d like a neutral design, black and white, possibly grey or a spot of natural colour if necessary.

Do I have any logo ideas or additional information?
Firstly, I am a little obsessed with the Trivia Serif typeface. I love classic, timeless logos like that of Vogue, and Trivia Serif reminds me of it.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 1.20.25 pm
Image credit: My Fonts

I also scoured Pinterest for logos that align with the look I want to achieve and found these: (images are links to original source)


I have utilised the sliders below (courtesy of Logo Tournament) to help describe how I want to communicate my personal brand.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 6.59.43 pm

Finally, the below logo is what I have come up with:
SB logo

I enjoy this design as it is sleek and simple. As they say, simple is hard – and this design actually took me a while to complete! I like the use of lines and negative space to essentially create a puzzle where the viewers mind must complete the picture. I incorporated the Trivia Serif Bold typeface with Lane Narrow. I like the quiet and subtle feel it creates, while the use of serif and sans-serif type together (and the bold/light contrast) proves how well the two can work in harmony. They also reflect two different types of graphic design – print (serif) and web (sans-serif).

As the above design doesn’t display my whole business name, it could also be used in conjunction with the below typography (for my website and business card). Please note: the serif typeface below is actually Baskerville – I only used this in place of Trivia Serif Regular which I haven’t purchased yet (I only purchased the bold version for my logo).

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.36.21 pm

Below is an example of my logo being used on a template CV I created.
I opted to keep it formal and optimise the use of white space. I often overcrowd documents with information so this was an ideal opportunity for me to explore a more minimal design. I made use of two typefaces, Baskerville and Univers – ideally though, I would use Trivia Serif Regular with Univers (Univers is more legible than Lane Narrow, which is a more stylised sans-serif type). I like how this CV design combines both a modern and traditional look – much like my logo!