Inside the Design Studio Tips

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How can I "green" my studio space?

Greening Your Studio

When it comes to your graphic design studio, there are many different ways you can "go green". If you are looking to reduce energy use and waste on the job, here are some great tips to get you started:

  • Recycle. Set up an area for cans, bottles and paper and recycle whatever you can. Use old paper as scrap and bring coffee cups from home that you can wash instead of using disposables. Every little bit helps.
  • Change bulbs. Using florescent bulbs uses less energy than other bulbs. Change them out where you can. Don't forget bathrooms, closets and hallways.
  • Power strips. Putting electronics that don't need to be on all the time on a power strip allows you to turn them all off with the flip of a switch. This will result in energy savings since most electronics use power even when switched off.
  • Outdoor lighting. Consider solar lights for outdoor use if possible.
  • Timers. Use timers for indoor and outdoor lighting to save energy.
  • Programmable thermostat. This item allows you to adjust the temperature based on if there will be anyone in the building. You can use less heat and air conditioning when people aren't there, reducing your overall energy use.
  • Use recycled products, such as paper, paper towels and toilet paper.
Just using these simple tips will help you save energy at work, and the best part is that you can use them at home as well. Remember--greening the design studio doesn't have to be an overwhelming task!

What are some upgrades to consider for a laptop as a designer?

Your Laptop Setup

If you spend a lot of time on your laptop coming up with ideas or doing research, you may want to consider some upgrades for your graphic design studio setup. For those who travel frequently between work and home, a docking station may be a very practical investment. Docking stations save you the trouble of dealing with a variety of cables every time you move your computer. Just slide your laptop in, and you're ready to go.

Cooling systems are another good option for those who spend endless hours on the computer at work. Since graphics naturally place a large demand on your computer's resources, a cooling system can help keep your laptop from overheating. There are many different varieties available.

Many designers prefer to use a full computer rather than a laptop, due to resolution capacity and monitor size. Still, it can be nice to bring things home to go over on your personal computer or laptop. A portable hard drive can be a great investment for this purpose--that way you can take things back and forth without too much trouble.

What are some tips for decorating at the studio?

Studio Decor

When it comes to studio decor, you'll want to be sure you select something that fits with your company image. Stodgy furniture or old-fashioned designs won't work well in the graphic arts industry. You don't have to go too far out on a limb, but you'll want to be sure you are decorating with a fresh and contemporary style.

Clean lines are always a classic choice, and you can even punctuate space with colors from your company's logo to help reinforce branding. Try to create a waiting area that is pleasant and comfortable, and consider hanging some artwork there as well. Plants are another good choice; just make sure they are low maintenance and that your lighting conditions will work for the type of greenery you pick.

In the design field it can be a good idea to set aside some meeting space so that you have an area to sit with clients and talk. Be sure and include a computer with a nice display in the room in case you are going to look at designs or discuss revisions. This way you can keep your own work area more private and set it up however it works best for you.

What are some basic studio considerations?

Considerations For The Design Studio

You might work for a fancy Los Angeles graphic design studio or you may be a freelance designer that works from home; either way you'll want to consider what your studio area is going to look like. In addition, you will want to make sure it functions well for your needs as a designer.

So what are some of the main factors you will need to address? If you work for a larger company, chances are they will have much of the studio set up already, but that doesn't mean you can't customize your own work area. Make sure the ergonomics are healthy and make every effort to create an environment where you will feel creative and comfortable. You'll feel better in the long run if you set things up right from the beginning.

If you freelance or work from home, portability may be a major factor in your overall setup. Think through what will make that an easier process, and enable you to stay organized as well. You may want to consider things such as cushioned carry cases and computer security features. If most of your equipment is in your home, you may also want to look into additional insurance so that you are sure you are covered.

What are some ergonomic issues to consder in terms of workstation setup?

Ergonomics: Workstation Setup

What the setup is like inside a Web design studio or graphic design company can make a big difference when it comes to your body and how it feels. If you haven't yet overhauled your workstation to make sure you are set up well ergonomically; now is the time. Here are some tips on how to make the most of things while being kind to your limbs:

  • Use a headset if you are on the phone a good deal.
  • Make sure that frequently used items are easy to access and use.
  • Use your mouse at the same level as your keyboard.
  • Try to keep your wrists in a neutral position, not bent.
  • Change positions often and rest your eyes frequently.
One very important thing to remember is that if you are feeling pain anywhere, you may be developing a repetitive stress injury (RPI) from overuse or improper use. If you find something is bothering you, take a look at the tasks you're doing and setup you have for that part of your body to see if you can make any healthy changes or adjustments.

Should I consider investing in a tablet for the studio?

Consider A Tablet

Many designers enjoy working with a tablet rather than a mouse. Tablets allow for precision-point control, are less confining than a mouse, and they have the additional advantage of being customizable as well. There are different brands out there you can choose from, but many have similar features.

First you'll need to decide on a tablet size, and much of that will depend on what you are comfortable with, how mobile you need it to be, and what you typically design. Naturally, the larger tablets tend to cost more than the smaller ones, so that is a factor you may also want to take into consideration.

Typical tablet sizes are:

  • 4x6
  • 6x8
  • 6x11
  • 9x12
  • 12x12
  • 12x19
Besides ease of use, the tablet offers other advantages as well. Using a tablet cuts down on scanning paper and makes it easy to share designs over the Internet with clients. Tablets are also designed to interact with software programs that designers use on a regular basis, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel Painter. If you haven't yet added a tablet to your studio setup, it may be time to consider one the next time there is money in the budget for a new purchase. They aren't just for New York designers anymore--as a matter-of-fact, they are becoming a standard tool in the industry.

What are some tips for proper monitor placement?

Ergonomics: Computer Monitors

Is your computer monitor at the right height? If you can't answer this question, you may want to keep reading. Many people are not aware that their monitor height is incorrectly placed, but in a graphic design studio this is a very important thing to get right. With all the hours that designers spend on computers, the toll can be great with improper placement.

Here are some tips for making sure your workstation is set up correctly:

  • Take a look at the screen in the normal light that you use. Is it free of reflections or glare? If not, position it differently to eliminate those factors. You may also want to invest in a "glare-free" screen.
  • The top of your screen should be either right at or just below eye level, so sit down and take a look at where your screen sits.
  • You should be 18 to 30 inches away from your monitor. If not, move it back on the table or move your chair back a little.
This simple check should only take you a few minutes, but it can save your posture and help you stay healthy. Be sure to check every computer that you work at, and if it is a multiple-person station, make sure you re-adjust the monitor before you begin working.

Are ergonomic factors important to designers?

Basic Ergonomics

Ergonomics are an important factor to consider when it comes to setting up your workstation. Web design studios and those for graphic design both rely heavily on computers for their work. Although sitting in a plush chair may be comfortable for a while, it will eventually result in an aching back and stiff neck. There are many ways to customize your work area to be sure you are not injuring yourself while on the job.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Your mouse. Finding the right mouse for graphic design work is key to remaining injury-free. Many designers also like using a tablet for their work.
  • Your chair. Make sure it's adjustable and that you know what the proper height is for your body. You should be able to place your feet flat on the floor and the chair should have back support.
  • Your desk or table. Regardless of whether you have a laptop or a full computer, you'll want to make sure that it is positioned well for you on your desk.
  • Lighting. Screen brightness, room lighting and sunlight are all things you need to think through in your work environment.
Taking frequent breaks can be very helpful. Be sure to rest your eyes, stretch and walk around periodically. Preventing injury from repetitive motion should be something that is taken into account by anyone who uses a computer to perform their work on a daily basis.

What are some factors that graphic designers should consider when it comes to choosing a computer?

Graphic Design: Choosing A Computer

It doesn't matter if you are in a Chicago graphic design studio or one in Atlanta, your choice of computer is an important one. Since graphic design is such a visual field, not just any laptop or desktop will do the work that you need with the speed that you require.

A large screen is pretty much a priority for your setup, and preferably one that is high resolution so that the detail comes through well in images and graphics. Deciding whether you want to go with a Mac or a PC is another thing you'll need to consider. Other things you don't want to skimp on are processing power and memory. Since the computer is such a big part of your job, it pays to invest wisely.

You will probably also have your own personal preferences in terms of a computer. Some people like to work on a laptop for mobility, while others prefer a more traditional workstation. Think about your likes and dislikes and see what you can do to customize the features. Ultimately it will make you more productive if you can arrange things the way you like them.

What are some things to consider when starting a freelance graphic design business?

Setting Up A Freelance Graphic Design Studio

Setting up a freelance graphic design studio can be a time-consuming task. Going into business for yourself means taking care of a lot of details--as well as carrying a full workload. You'll need to come up with your own logo and marketing collateral, navigate the books, scout for work and more if you are self-employed.

As a freelancer you can work from home, or even rent a small office. Going into business with a writer or another graphic designer are other options that you can consider. You'll need to choose a name for your company, file any necessary paperwork, create a business portfolio, get a Website up and running and attend to many other start-up tasks. You may want to consult a small business lawyer and accountant for advice when you are trying to pull everything together. They can often help you navigate the details so that you are sure that you are covered when it comes to taxes and other details.

Self-starters with a knack for multi-tasking may enjoy the freedom that comes with a freelance lifestyle; but it isn't for everyone. Some people prefer the security of a company environment, along with the steady pay and solid benefits. Only you will know if a freelance career is right for you.

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