• Ruth Lefcoe

How this designer stays sharp.

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

*hint: it involves shutting down the computer.

Don't get me wrong. I love my job! Digital graphic design is one of my very favorite forms of art. Get me going on a logo design assignment and I'm in my happy place! The only problem is I'm always designing on this flat monitor. I'm most often working on designs that will never become something that can be physically held, moved, rotated, seen in three dimensions.

Art without a computer. Imagine that.

Sometimes digital designers forget they can create without Adobe! I used to make quilts. I have a few in the house and some were gifts for friends and family. I'm pretty sure there's a quilting hoop in my office closet. As far back as college, I minored in art and took courses in everything from basket and paper making to still life and live model charcoal sketches. After my son turned 2, I started the annual tradition of making his Halloween costumes. I've made a little ghost, a scary spider, a Jedi, scar-faced pirate, a Hobbit, and so many more. He's aged out of costumes now. so that's no longer an option for a creative outlet.

Flour and eggs and sugar, oh my!

In recent years, I became fascinated with cake decorating. I joined Facebook groups and watched countless YouTube videos to learn all I could. As an artist, it was something I picked up quickly. The annual tradition of a very custom designed birthday cake for my son began, and his requests became more fun and challenging each year. I even made my friend's 5-tier wedding cake with over 65 hand-made sugar flowers. I became The Hobby Caker and there's an Instagram account for just my cakes and other bakes. By the way, they taste great too!

Staying sharp...

Graphic design is an art. We need an eye for color, layout, composition, spacing. We need to have the talent and skills to create what we see in our minds. Many designers get inspiration from images they find online, in art and logo books, or from nature. Inspiration can come from so many places and involving oneself in other creative outlets can be part of that process. But another way these hobbies and side projects can help a designer is much the same way that reading, learning, and discussing can help someone keep sharp for critical thinking and tasks that require a trained mind. Let's just say, the creative juices are more apt to flow freely. I can actually feel a difference when I've taken the time to practice creativity in a variety of ways.

The next time you feel a creative block, put down the paint brush, the pencil, the computer mouse, and try doing something else to get those juices flowing!

Action Item: Contact deRuth Design to find out more about the design process and if we can work with you on your next project!

About the Author: Ruth Lefcoe is a graphic designer based in the Washington, DC, Metro Area, with a client list covering the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. She has over 20 years of design/branding experience with large and small companies, U.S. Government agencies such as DHHS, NIH, SAMHSA, and private clients. Ruth has a 15-year-old son and a sweet beagle pup, enjoys creative challenges, digital art, cake decorating, and marathoning whole seasons on Netflix, Prime, Hulu, and anything streaming.

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