Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Design Drought

It seems as though designing comes in waves. Maybe it is just me? There are times where I have so much to do that I can barely find the time to do it all and on the other hand there are times where I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel to find things to do! I just can't seem to find a way to make things consistent. What are your tips and tricks for keeping steady business? I know a lot of people use social media outlets to drum up business. Anymore it seems that there are thousands of people to choose from when it comes to looking for services on social media. As I said before, people are going to jump at the cheapest avenue so it leaves the good quality designers with slim picking! What do you do? How do you cope with the designing drought??

- Jacob Reno

Friday, April 22, 2016

Paying In to a design contest??

Let me ask you a fairly simple question. Does it make sense to pay into a design contest as a designer?
I was just contacted by an individual asking me if I'd like to participate in a contest to design a logo for a local band. The winner of the contest would receive a $100 cash reward. Sounds like a decent deal right? So I bit. I told him I was interested. He began to tell me some of the rules and regulations. The one that caught my attention was the minor detail that there are going to be 5 designers and they must each submit 2-3 logo designs. Anybody that has designed a professional looking logo knows how long it is going to take to submit 2-3 good quality logos. Each designer must pay $20 to take part in the contest and the winning designer will be rewarded the $100 cash payment. Let me say that again. EACH DESIGNER MUST PAY $20 TO TAKE PART IN THE CONTEST. Now... I'm no rocket scientist, just a designer with a little common sense, but doesn't it seem fishy that I would be required to pay a fee to design 2-3 logo designs so that they could pick the best one and then take MY money plus the other three designers money and give it to the winning designer? Or in other words, why should I pay $20 so this band can get a free logo?
I can see the motive behind this contest where the band would like to get the community involved and run a contest to get a great logo, but don't make the designer pay!!! Give out a $100 cash prize to the best design of anyone that wants or knows how to design!!!
Maybe it is just me but this sounds a little weird! Thoughts??

- Jacob Reno

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Price of Design

The other day I was scrolling through a photography group on Facebook. There was a certain person who asked a question inquiring about what one should pay to have a logo designed. She said that she was quoted somewhere around $150 for a simple design. She could not understand why it would cost so much for such a simple design. Oh boy did she start quite the heated conversation about the price of graphic design. She had all kinds of remarks stating what I have stated before. "You get what you pay for"! People where getting angry with her wondering why she would even ask such a question. Seeing that she was an up and coming photographer they assumed she should know the value of ones time. So. . . I sent her a pm. I told her that all designers are different. You will not find two designers that charge the same price for the same thing. Some are an hourly rate while others charge a flat price. There are all kinds of factors that come with designing a logo. Revisions being one of them. This is where the hourly rate gets expensive where as a set price usually gets you 2 revisions. I gave her my hourly rate and the files that she would receive and she was very grateful that I wasn't over the top expensive. I live by the rule that I am not out to get rich off of one person. But I've also got to look out for me and my family! I can guarantee you that I am cheaper than most designers out there and I can also guarantee you that my work is equally as professional! With that information she entrusted me with her business logo and turned me loose. I came up with a simple design and to both of us it was perfect. To think that others would charge $150 for this amazes me. But, it also makes me sit back and wonder if maybe I am to cheap.
Over the last couple of days I have wondered if the fact that I do keep my prices affordable is the reason that I don't get a ton of business. Do people look at my prices and think that I don't know what I am doing because graphic design is supposed to be expensive? What do you think?

- Jacob Reno

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Big Break

They say that everybody has a big break in their business ventures. Well. . . I'm still waiting! It seems as though business comes and goes in waves. There are some months that I hardly get any and there are others where I am swamped! I need it to be consistent. My life goal is to own my own business that gets enough monthly income to sustain my family. Right now it's enough to have a little play money! Here is a question for all of you successful business owners. At what point in time did you go all in and devote all your time to your business?

- Jacob Reno

Thursday, March 24, 2016


I was recently asked if I would design a graduation announcement for a young man that was to be graduating this year. After several exchanged texts and phone calls we had decided on what this announcement would look like.
Now, back in the day I used to take payment for designs after they were complete and the client was satisfied. Not anymore! I was burned one to many times by people that said they loved the design but once they received the invoice it wasn't so great. So I now require the payment before hand so I am not out my time.
I informed this person that I would need payment up front for the design before I could get started. She completely avoided the comment and asked when it would be done. I again told her that she would need to pay before I started. Her response was this, "you're just a local freelancer. Shouldn't these be free"? What?!?!?! Absolutely not!! I don't think I have been more frustrated and had the urge to reach through the phone and sucker punch someone!! I was floored.
I proceeded to tell her in a very calm, cool, collected way that a lot of time, effort and energy goes into graphic design and that if she was ever to get it for free than she shouldn't expect very good quality design.
She declined my services and I sent her on her way!
I am amazed at the amount of people that expect things done for free. She was expecting me to take time valuable to me and use it to make her a high quality graduation announcement. Thanks, but no thanks!
What do you think? Was I wrong to send her packing or should I have cut her a deal?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I am fortunate enough to live in a very beautiful part of the country. At my full time job I am able to wander around as I please. One of my favorite things to do is take my camera to work and go sit on the roof during sunsets. I LOVE SUNSETS!! There is nothing else that makes me feel more at peace than watching the sun set.
Isn't it funny that something so simple can bring so much joy? One of the great things about being a photographer is that you get to experience things in a different way than the average person. We photographers see things in a different way than most and that's what makes us unique.
Most people think that photographing a sunset is just another sunset. A photographer sees the colors and shadows, the horizon and landscape. There is so much more to a sunset than the sun. The beauty surrounding the sun is what is being captured! I hope you enjoy this Idaho sunset as much as I enjoyed photographing it!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Recently I was asked by a lady in the community if I would like to enter this picture in an art gallery to sell. Of course I was stoked to get my art displayed! I told her I was interested and asked the details of the gallery. She told me that it needed to be poster size printed on wrapped canvas. Okay. . . I can do that. She then told me that I couldn't charge more than $50 at the event. Hold up. . . you want me to pay almost $100 to get this thing wrapped canvas and I my want me to charge $50 for it? Don't get me wrong, I would love to get my work out there to the public but I'm not going to lose money doing it. Tell me, would you spend $100 to make $50?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why Is It Hard To Be A Photographer?

The truth is this. . . it is not hard to be a photographer. Let me explain. With a little time and effort someone can take good pictures. So, it isn't hard to become a photographer. Now, is it hard to be a good photographer? The answer is yes. It takes a lot of time, practice, money and patience to become a good photographer. These days the good photographers are getting overlooked by the people who just claim to be photographers. These amature photographers and charging people next to nothing for family pictures, weddings, graduation announcements, birth announcements you name it. I've said it once and I'll say it again. You get what you pay for. If you go to a photographer and pay $50 for family portraits they might be good, but there not professional. Now. . . you go to a good photographer for the same family pictures and you can expect to pay $150+ , but you will notice a huge difference in the quality of the picture. Am I saying that all amature photographers are crap? Absolutely not, but you better not complain when you get your pictures back and they don't look as good as your sister Sally's family pictures that she got taken by the professional at Jacob Reno Photography and Graphic Design!! It's hard to be a good photographer in a world of amatures who claim to be professional. People settle and unfortunately money talks. The time invested in making amazing photographs isn't worth a mere $50. A good photographer spends weeks editing to perfection and you can expect to pay for their time. I would, but that's just me!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Takin it Back.

I love to design! I especially love designing birthday party invitations. It makes me feel like I've played a role in making the persons birthday special. Weird I know, but it's how I roll! One particular thing that I like doing is designing something that is themed in a different era. Recently I was tasked with designing this 50's sock hop party invite. When the lady contacted me about this all I could think about was black, pink and poodle skirts! So did she! This was a fun invite to design and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Being a graphic designer and photographer is a very rewarding profession. I get the opportunity on a daily basis to play some kind of role in someone else's life. Whether it it's taking new born pictures or designing a company logo I'm there. Too be able to take something that someone has pictured and put it in the screen to make what they think is they absolute best logo to represent something that they have worked hard to build is very rewarding. I just recently finished this logo for a lady that had been making here husbands welding hats for 12 years now. One day she decided to start selling them as a side business, she had gone quite some time without a logo because she hasn't found one that she would fall in love with. She came to me and asked if I could design something. So I did!
She fell in love!! What a great experience to be able to make someone's dream a reality!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Man That Would Make A Great Picture!

Being a photographer has its ups and downs. One thing that I love is the ability to look at something and think, man that would make a great picture! The other day I bought my wife some roses because she was having a bad day. When I got them home I set them on the counter and thought, man that would make a great picture! So I did what any photographer would do and grabbed my camera and snapped a picture. The rest is art in the making!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Random Picture Design

The other morning as I was getting ready for work I couldn't help but take a picture of my wife and baby sleeping in the bed. I'm a photographer. It's what I do! Anyway. . . as I was looking at the picture, my wife's favorite quote popped into my head and I got this inspiration for an amazing picture. So, I got too work. 45 minutes later I had a photo designed that my wife is having printed on canvas to hang in our home. I love what I do! Inspiration can come from anywhere. Capture it!

Friday, February 19, 2016


As a graphic designer I never thought that I would be called names. But there are certain people that feel they need to express their feelings whether you want them to or not. Whenever you post something online you are opening yourself up to criticism. There will always be someone out there that doesn't like your work and will let you know about it. This picture is something that I was experimenting with using my 7 month old, at the time, and some different effects. As you see, the design turned out a little. . . dark. I posted this to my Facebook page and was instantly ridiculed by a lady stating that I was insensitive. Insensitive? I asked her why she thought that. I was a new designer at the time so I was curious! She said it was because I used a child's face in something so dark and disturbing. At first I was apologetic saying that I didn't mean to offend anyone. Then a good friend called after he had seen what she put and told me not to worry about it. If she didn't like it she could keep scrolling. From that day on I have lived by the "if you don't like it keep scrolling" rule. This had saved me a lot of grief when it comes to ridiculing. If you don't get ANYTHING else from this blog get this. . . don't let other people dictate whether or not your work is good. If you like it and are satisfied with it then publish it for the world to see!!

Inspiration From My Kids

Every once in a while as I am interacting with my children I will get inspiration for a design or photo from something they do or say. The idea for this picture came from a time when I was holding my, at the time, 2 month old boy. As a father I believe there is no greater responsibility than protecting your children. So, i took the picture, edited it and added my favorite quote. BAM... Wall art for the baby's room! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Never Give Up

Owning a business gets very discouraging at times. Especially in the photography and graphic design industry. Living in a small town there isn't a whole lot off business in my field. I rely a lot upon social media and the internet to boost my revenue. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do but there are times when I wonder if it is worth my time and effort. The thing that keeps me going is the satisfaction I get when I know I have created something that someone loves. One of these days I'll be able to quit my full time job and Persue what I love. Until then I'll Never give up!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Advertising Woes

When it comes to advertising social media is one of the top places to get your name out and product seen. But. . . if takes time to build up an audience that is truly interested in what you do. That and there are so many other people that might be doing what your doing that you need to step up your game. The problem with Facebook in particular is that the "fan" of your page has the option to"follow" your posts and receive them in their news feeds. What most people do is like your page and then turn off this option. Now the posts that you think 5000 people are seeing are only being seen by 100. Dirty little trick Facebook!!! This is murdering advertising. Now you have to work twice as hard to get your name out there because more than half of who had already liked you is no longer seeing or promoting you. Social media can be a great tool for advertising but it can also get your hopes down when you see the stats.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Picture is Worth a Thousand. . . Lies??

What is up with the title of this post?! I'll tell you what's up. . . the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" used to have a lot more meaning than it does today. Anymore you can't trust a picture. There are to many people out there who edit pictures to what they want to perceive rather than what the picture is actually capturing. Photo editing software has taken a toll on the integrity of a photograph. Now, Before you go and label me a hypocrite let me throw out a disclaimer. I will edit photos and I have edited photos. I am big into photo manipulation! But. . . I will ALWAYS disclose when a picture is edited. Far to often you see people posting pictures that are clearly Photoshopped or have had some kind of filter placed on them. These pictures are then followed by #nofilter or #noedit. I'm calling BS! To the untrained eye the picture looks holy crap amazing. But, to the seasoned professional it's a good laugh and on to the next one! A picture is worth a thousand lies. Yup. . . sounds about right!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Time to Think

Wednesdays at work are my days to sit and think. About what? I use this day to think of designs that people will love. I spend the day scetching and jotting down ideas that come to mind. I then spend the rest of the week putting together my thoughts. Not many people can take there thoughts and put them into a computer and generate a piece of art. This is one of the many rewarding factors about being a designer and photographer. The "slogan" that I live by is, "if you can dream it, I can design in". My recommendation to all designers and photographers out there is to keep a piece of paper and a pencil, or pen, close by. When you have these thoughts or ideas come into your head write them down. Trust me. Telling yourself that you'll remember it when you get home never works. I've lost many great ideas because I didn't have anything to write it down on. Take time to think. Locking yourself in a quiet room with nothing but your thoughts is very therapeutic. Try it sometime!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trusting Your Designer/Photographer

More often than not when a person is looking for a graphic designer or photographer they will Google it. I would say about 75% of the results that they will find are what I like to call "clipart" designers or "cellphone" photographers. Let me explain. . . a clipart designer it's someone who has a very basic knowledge of a designing program and uses clipart to make things work. A cellphone photographer is someone that once took an awesome picture on their iPhone 6 plus and called themselves a photographer. They will both claim to have education and experience in the field. When in reality they do not. Now. . . I'm not bashing on the people that do not get an education in the field because their are some that do amazing work. But, for the most part these people are phony. A person should have a certain expectation of trust In their photographer or designer. A person should see at minimum a Facebook page where the designer or photographer posts some of there work to show you that they know what they are doing. Do yourself a favor and research the designer or photographer and make sure you are getting a good quality person that Will do a fantastic job. Like me!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Wasted Time

A little while back a local band approached me about a "symbol" that they wanted designed. I got all the info and thoughts on what they wanted this thing to look like. The next several days were spent pencil drawing rough designs. After what seemed like one hundred sketches I finally came up with something that would be amazing. I called the bands front man and ran my idea past him. He loved it! So I started to put it into the computer. Thirteen hours I worked on this symbol and finished what I thought was a perfect depiction of the band and their meaning. I sent them the design, watermarked of course, and waited for their response. They loved it!!! I wrote up the invoice and sent it their way. NOTHING. I got nothing. I waited a week without any communication before I tried contacting the band to see about payment. No returned phone calls, texts, emails, nothing. To this day I still have not heard a thing. Thirteen hours of design plus countless hours of sketches waisted. This experience alone it's what made up my mind to require a deposit on large projects. FYI, the design is up for grabs!!

Owning a business

One of my biggest dreams is to some day own my own business. I want to be my own boss, answer to myself, and make my own schedule. The biggest problem I run into with this is freelancers! Heck, I am one! I've said it once and I'll say it again, competing with freelancers is tough work. It's hard to make a profitable business when there are people that offer the same services at a fraction of the price. Quantity vs. Quality, that's what it boils down to and most will always choose quantity. So, all you successful business owners. . . how do you deal with the low ballers?

Saturday, February 6, 2016


A client recently contacted me wanting birthday invitations designed. I asked this person if they had an idea in mind and they said, "you're a designer. . . I'll let you take control on this one". Perfect! I love doing this. I can put my creativity to work and design something AMAZING! I spent 7 hours, 7 HOURS on this birthday card and then sent it over for critique. Within the mininute this person replied and said, "I was thinking something more along the lines of this". And sent me a Disney Frozen card that they had found on etsy. If you know what you are looking for, or have a certain idea in mind. Please do not Tell the designer to "have at it". It takes a lot of time and effort to create a piece of art!

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Critique

One of the most stressful times for a designer is the critique. The moment that you send the product to the client for review is a very satisfying yet stressful time. It it's a time where the designer gets into a mental battle with themselves thinking about the "what if's". For me this it's a time to air back and look at the design through a different say of eyes. I typically ask my wife to study the design and give me feedback. I use her because she doesn't hold anything back. She tells me how it is!! Now it's a waiting game. I've waited anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks for the client to respond with their critique. SWEATING BULLETS! 90% of the time there Will be changes. Don't take if personal. I used to take a clients critique to heart and get very upset that they didn't like my design. As I became more experienced I realized that it's not that they didn't like it. It's not what they had pictured in their head. Now it's a good time to use the suggestions from the second set of eyes. Moral of the story. . . use the critique as a building block, not a chopping block!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I am currently designing a logo for a new construction company in the area. One of the things that I pride myself on is the fact that all of my logo designs are 100% original works of art. I don't use, and will never use clip art! As I was working on this logo my wife was looking over my shoulder inquiring as to what it was I was designing. "Legos dear, those are legos"! She couldn't see it! It brings a sense of satisfaction knowing that you can take a plain white canvas and design whatever you can think up. "Legos dear, those are legos"! If you can dream it, I can design it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Shipped or Emailed?

Lately I have been dipping my toes in the world of invitations. Birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, you name it! The problem I have been running into is when it comes to getting the product to the client. The cheapest option it's to send the digital file so that they can print however many they need. However, most people would like the invites printed and Shipped to them. The issue with this that most don't realize is in order for me to design, print and ship the invites to them I have to charge upwards of 2 bucks a card to barely break even. After sending a quote of over $50 for 20 invites I get the old "I'll chat with the significant other and let you know". We all knew how that one ends! So. . . my question to you is. . . would you rather have a custom designed invite printed and Shipped for a higher price, or have the digital file emailed to you for printing at your convenience?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I'm Back!!!!

Hello again!! It has been far to long since I have logged in and shared my thoughts, pics or deals. But, I intend to change that and make this a daily occurrence with posts, pics, surveys, etc. . . I want to get involved in the photography and graphic design world. I want my voice to be heard! Thank you to those who are following me already and please, share this blog and let's have some fun!