Today’s Mental Struggle = Tomorrow’s Mental Gain

Has this ever happened to you?

You get an idea, something that in some point in the near or far future you would like to see come to fruition. Whether it be by your hand or someone else’s, it is a goal that you can imagine in your mind and you can see it being a success.

Now, how do you get it there? How do you bring it from intangible thought bouncing around the pinball machine of your mind to full-blown creative vision fleshed out and flourishing?

Sometimes I feel like I have hit a snag in a project that runs parallel to my design business. This snag comes from the sheer magnitude of a task that I have set out for myself as a goal, and I find myself nearly rendered incompetent and motionless whenever I sit down to think about it. Seriously, I think, “Now’s the time to finally get down to business and… dust the whole apartment.” At night before I go to bed I feel like a task-oriented mega-businesswoman who can handle anything she happens to throw at herself. And in the morning I am a child who doesn’t know how to spell “the.”

So why is this task so monumental, so huge, humongous, gi-normous? It boils down to being a project of a hundred smaller tasks all linked together in such a way that to do one of them wrong could mean financial and legal ramifications my family is not ready to deal with. It involves research, trial and error, mountains of my time and energy, and the necessary neglect of dust bunnies. It involves computer time, both on and offline, sketchbook time, brainstorming time, brain-calm-seas time (that needs to be a word—get with the program, Webster)… And so much of me that I sometimes wonder if the person I am today will survive by the time when I will eventually be able to put my pen down and say, “It is done. Let no man put asunder what my blood, sweat and tears has created.”

Of course, all this drama could just be my mind putting weight in areas of this project that really mean no more than sitting with a library research book and a hot cup of tea after the kids go to bed. Or sitting at the computer with a hot cup of coffee while the little one naps and the older ones are away at school.

Or having a quiet date night with my husband while brainstorming on napkins and holding hands by candlelight.

Life is tough. So are minds. Minds being not “tough” as in “Boy, she’s a strong woman,” but more like, “Your mind is turning this project into a dissertation when it’s really only a high school level essay.” But isn’t that was life is all about? We choose our battles (and I think I have picked a doozy), and our battles are only as hard as we make them out to be? I certainly like the idea of sipping a cup of sweet tea with cream while reading a book on my squishy couch rather than piling my hair on top of my head, wearing vinyl gloves, and scrubbing the baseboards in my bathroom.

That’s not to say that changing my way of thinking instantly turns this task into a high school level essay, but it certainly puts things into perspective. One step at a time, right? I could always look at it this way—I had to brush my hair, put it on top of my head in a sloppy bun, pull on the gloves, fill the bucket with soap and hot water, make sure I had the right sponge… The big task separated out into much smaller tasks (that may all be connected but are each as equally important as the one before it) suddenly makes it more manageable. More acquirable. More, “Hey, I can do this.”

So this task? It involves trademarks, legal fees, income and profits, and yes – lots of my time. I might be successful, I might not, but I know by the time it’s over I will have learned an insane amount of stuff that will make the time I spent on the project invaluable.

And perhaps a few months down the road it will mean a new blog post featuring the fruits of my labors and a rundown of the steps I accomplished in order to complete it. After all, a task such as this one is a task worth teaching someone else how to do as well.


Downtown Fairbanks – Midnight Sun Festival Design

So I am finally getting around the writing this blog post that I promised a couple weeks ago. That’s what a flu-like illness will do to a person! After recovering from the horrible symptoms and waiting for my heart activity to come back to normal (yep, it was that bad), I was then free to… Catch up on school work! No blog posts for yet a while after recovering. I was behind in school work and now that I am caught up with that I feel it’s a good time to finally write about my experiences with designing the Midnight Sun Festival t-shirt and logo design.

Final Copy T-Shirt Colors

The instructions were to design a logo and then incorporate the logo into a t-shirt design, so that every entry consisted of two files. For some reason I decided to attempt to do the whole thing in Adobe Illustrator, which I have been trying to learn for the last couple of years in half-hearted attempts at designing various designs. This time I challenged myself to do the entire thing in Illustrator.

Now on a side note, I probably could have done this exact design in just a few hours using Adobe Photoshop, since I have been working with that program for 10+ years. But Illustrator has always struck me as an integral part of graphic design knowledge, thus my desire to use it and only it in designing the Midnight Sun Festival t-shirt and logo.

My very first problem was getting the swoop in the text “Midnight Sun.” I have to admit, I created the text in Photoshop but then traced over it with the pen tool in Illustrator. I just couldn’t figure out how to do that in Illustrator without sneaking in a little Photoshop into the process. This, however, gave me a great deal of practice with the pen tool, which I am able to use but am not proficient with.

And since I am a font-lover I settled on a condensed version of Big Caslon for this text. It fit my original idea for the text, which was to have accompanying accent lines just outside the lower and right hand surfaces of the text (which I ended up not using in favor of the thick drop-shadow type behind the main text).

I also used the pen tool to draw the “The” letters after sketching those out in my sketchbook. I decided to make “The” and “Midnight Sun” match so the next step was figuring out how to use swatches, what it really meant to lock a layer so I couldn’t alter it when I was manipulating other pieces of the design, and how to create outlines out of strokes so I could manipulate by hand the thicknesses on various parts of the strokes. This process probably took me two or three days alone, since at this point I was still very new to these new aspects of Illustrator (and because as a mother of three little ones it is darn near impossible to sit at the computer for hours at a time uninterrupted while working on a design!).

During this time I looked up so many different Illustrator tutorials I should have kept a list. Most of my new Illustrator knowledge came from these tutorials and not from me fiddling around with the controls. I think this was how I learned about locking the layers!

And the funny thing is, many of the things I learned were from the narrators of these video tutorials were actions they were doing from second-nature, such as locking layers, rather than them actually instructing me to do what the topic of the tutorial actually was.  If that makes sense…

I altered a font to come up with the “Festival” and used my three selected colors to color it the way I did. And the font I used for the “2014” and “Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska” was Cheboygan, a font I found on It took a while to figure out where to place the “2014” but I managed to squeeze it in. My husband suggested I make it really big underneath the “Festival, Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska” but I declined. It made the “2014” appear like the focus of the design rather than the rest of the text.

The final part of the design was the sun, which took an additional two days to make in Illustrator and to color just the way I wanted it. During this time I found the amazing rotate tool, which enabled me to make a circular grid to perfectly line up the sunbeams. I will be utilizing this trick in the future, for sure!

After all of this week-long drama, the logo took me a day to design out of elements from the t-shirt design. I really liked what I came up with for the logo but in hindsight I probably should have incorporated more hand-drawn elements, and maybe more elements of downtown Fairbanks.

MSF Design Logo Haley Holland

I now have a whole year to tweak this design and to come up with new ones. You will see me in next year’s contest! And look for my designs in any other local contests that might pop up. I know some designers may feel it is beneath them to enter local contests but I find these are excellent opportunities to flex my skills, learn new ones, and to earn a little name recognition in the local art community.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Share Your Business Facebook Posts On Your Personal Page

I occasionally create simple tutorials on computer issues that friends and family come to me with, since showing them how to do certain things helps them more than trying to explain it over the phone. I also like making these tutorials because often I end up learning something new. For instance, sometimes I am asked how to do something that I don’t know how to do. Doing the proper research and creating a tutorial helps me learn how to do it as well as helping others learn. It’s a win-win!

This first tutorial I will be explaining is the method I have found for sharing your Facebook business page posts on your personal Facebook page. This is actually an issue I ran into and while doing the research for how to accomplish it, a family member expressed interest. Hence the tutorial!

The first step is, while logged into your personal Facebook page, use the search bar at the top to search for your business Facebook page. In this image you can see I am logged in as Haley Holland and I am searching for my business page, Holland Design:

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Click on your business name:

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And find the post you would like to share. In this image I have found the post where I shared my blog post “My Journey Into Graphic Design”:

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When you click on “share” at the bottom of the Facebook page, this window pops up. See where it says “On a Page you manage”?

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Click on “On a Page you manage” and change it to “On your own timeline,” then click “Share link”:

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And TA-DA! “Haley Smith Holland via Holland Design.”

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I know this may not be the only method for how to do this so please, if you have your own method you would like to share go right ahead! You can tell us or add a link to it in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market Logo Contest – WON!

I was excited to find out I won the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market Association’s logo contest! It’s fun to know that one of my pieces has been officially trademarked! This logo was a small labor of love because I do love and appreciate the Farmer’s Market for the products they offer and for allowing local artisans, crafters and farmers the opportunity to sell their wares throughout the summer and at the winter bazaar, and I really wanted a down-home, simple design that could be used on a variety of media.

Apparently they thought mine fit the bill! Although Adobe Illustrator and I have a love-hate relationship we set aside our differences and created this small gem of a design. Look for it this summer at the Farmer’s Market!Logo Draft 3

When A Printer Goes Down – Google!

I recently experienced something that might put fear into the heart of any freelance graphic designer who prints proofs on a home printer — my printer, an HP OfficeJet 6500, suddenly stopped printing black ink. How could this be?! I know of some people who let their color ink run out of their printer (obviously they are not graphic designers) and only use their printers for black ink printing.

So I did what any self-respecting amateur printer technician would do in my position — I got out a new black in cartridge and switched them! Did it work? No, of course not. I proceeded to “print” yet another blank page. It’s rare that things work out that easily!

Enter Google, stage Left…

When something goes wrong, when I can’t figure something out, or when I need some advice from someone who doesn’t have a conscious mind I turn to Google. In this case it turned up several interesting suggestions, among them unplugging and then plugging the printer back in, turning off the printer overnight, and reinstalling the printer software. After unplugging my printer and reinstalling the software I decided to try the more extreme method of fixing the problem, which was outlined by a person who discovered their own solution to a Yahoo! Answers question that they had posted — taking the printer heads out of the printer and rinsing them under warm water.

This is a foreign concept to me. Take apart my printer? No way, not even if you pay me. But risk having to spend a couple hundred more dollars on a nice printer or try this last ditch effort to fix the one I have? You bet!

And to my surprise, when I took out the little contraption under the ink cartridges it looked like the black printer had vomited all over it. And then dried. And then vomited again.

So with my husband’s help we rinsed off the chunks of dried ink, patted it dry and let it sit on the kitchen counter while we went into town. As soon as we returned I put it back in the printer, replaced the ink cartridges that I had initially pulled out of the printer (including the original black ink cartridge), and it proceeded to print out a page that apparently was still in the queue. Ta-da! I fixed the printer!

This whole scenario led to me also googling how to store an open ink cartridge since I certainly didn’t want my brand new XL black ink cartridge to dry up on me. It is now in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet in a Ziploc bag with a moist paper towel. Let’s hope it works when I eventually go to install it in the printer!

To Trademark or Not To Trademark?

I have recently been looking into trademarking some custom t-shirt designs for both my own retail purposes as well as for other businesses that I currently design for. This is new territory for me and I have found it to be completely confusing and difficult! Not only does there appear to be no practicing Intellectual Property lawyers in Alaska, but the whole process itself also sounds intimidating. No wonder the United States Patent and Trademark Office recommends using a lawyer to get you through the process!

For anyone else who might be interested in trademarking a brand or slogan the best service I have found is The Trademark Attorneys. They will hold your hand through the process for $1,500.00 or you can fill in an online application and pay a reduced price of $770.00 ($445 in lawyer fees plus $325 per class of item).

There are still a lot of unanswered questions and in my quest to answer them I will be posting the answers to the blog. For instance, apparel appears to be one class of item, so what if I wanted to print on mugs, mouse pads, or tote bags? Does that mean I will have to pay an additional $325 for these classes of items? I hope not!

There is a lot of confusion in the differences between copyrights, trademarks, and even between trademarks (TM) and registered trademarks (®). A design is technically copyrighted as soon as it is designed, but anyone can take it and alter it to suit their own purposes. Registering the copyright can help if any future legal issues arise. Trademarks are used more for a word, symbol or name used to identify the source of a good, like the Nike “swoosh” or the Coca-Cola logo. It is this type of mark, a registered trademark, that I am seeking to establish a whole apparel brand that my husband and I can bring to market. As I said before, to help others on the same road I will be posting further updates of the process as we move forward with our designs and our ideas.

Until then we will be adding TM to our design to help establish our ownership of the original design, and to avoid legal issues of illegally using the registered trademark symbol ®!