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!


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

Graduation Day – May 12, 2013

Today I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Accounting. What, you might ask, is a graphic designer doing going to college for a degree in accounting? Well, several years ago I decided that, being good with numbers and having an excellent memory for them, an Accounting degree would be the perfect way for me to work from home and earn a good income. Little did I know that barely a year into the program I would find out that I really disliked accounting quite a bit.

Already being a year in, however, made it seem like to stop then would be a waste, since I had convinced myself that the degree was for the betterment of my family. After all, my kids would benefit, my husband would benefit, and I would benefit from all the time I would be able to spend at home while making money.

[Insert GROAN here]

During this time I was doing various design projects for friends and family, as well as playing a large part in the bookkeeping and design aspects of my husband’s new business. It was about this time that *gasp* I learned people actually called themselves Graphic Designers, and that they made money doing it! From home!! Successfully!!!

That is when I started the final two years it took to acquire the accounting degree while daydreaming about opening my own graphic design business and embarking on a career that I could honestly say I LOVED. Which is why this fall I will be changing my major to Art and will decide if I want to purse the BA or the BFA with a concentration in drawing. I have a lot to think about as far as my future is concerned.

Don’t worry, the accounting degree comes in handy every single day. As I said before, I do the bookkeeping for my husband’s business although we do outsource the end-of-the-year accounting to a good friend of ours. Maybe someday I will tackle that, but for now I am comfortable with using my limited accounting expertise to adequately perform all bookkeeping tasks for the business as well as to use those skills in the start-up of my own business. Wish me luck!

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 ®!

Holland Design Business Card Design

Since recently changing the name of my freelance business I have been tasked with creating a new business card for myself. While not being sure that I wanted to name my business Holland Design (it seemed bland and dull at first, very unexciting!) I came to realize that I could appreciate not being tied to any one image, animal, color, shape, etc. The Holland Design logo and any related graphics will only ever be tied to whatever I choose to tie them to, and I am in love with that idea.

Holland Design copy

I did design a business card on-the-fly to reassure myself of these facts. This card is merely a rough draft and doesn’t include everything I think should be on a business card, but I like its simplicity, the color choices, and the font used (Candara, one of my favorites).

Stay tuned for the final draft!