I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Graphic Design

As a part of the graphic design community, I often have thoughts about design practices, client communication, content strategy, web development, and other miscellaneous things that, for the purposes of my writing, will fall under the extremely broad category of “graphic design.”

Masculinity Is So Fragile

This past year, Eliel Cruz started the instantly popular and constantly snarkily on-point blog, “Masculinity Is ~So~ Fragile,” featuring everyday marketing, products, and attitudes that are supposedly necessary to coddle men whose masculinity is so fragile. Think about “man-sized” things, or the ridiculous “man card” (WHICH IS ACTUALLY A THING WHAT) and can apparently be revoked by something so pathetic as using the wrong soap. As Eliel says, the blog “is dedicated to all the ridiculous things made for menz because menz need to be manly because masculinity is ~so~ fragile.”

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time anywhere on social media for beyond, you know this blog is right up my alley and I’ve been a massive fan. So when Eliel approached me about creating a shirt design with the same name, you know I said yes.

Masculinity Is So Fragile
Buy before December 24!

This design is being sold through Teespring through December 24. It’s printed on American Apparel shirts and runs $20. And if you happen to want to buy one and then cut it into a crop top and post photos tagged #masculinityissofragile…well, who are we to stop you? After all…

Masculinity is so fragile.

“Different” isn’t enough.

Occasionally, in both my freelance and office work, I’ve gotten requests from clients to create a design that’s different. “We don’t want to do what our competitors are doing. We want to be different.” Don’t get me wrong. There’s definitely merit to this request. A design that mimics competitors — or is so bland as to be invisible — fails to have a lasting impact. A strong and unique design is always appropriate.

But just being “different” isn’t enough in and of itself.

Sometimes, it can even be disastrous.

So, when is a “different” design just not enough?

There Are No Strings on Me: Work in Progress

This delightfully creepy sentence is Ultron’s motto in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” So, naturally, I decided to sketch and calligraph it. This is the first inking. I’d never really used a flex nib calligraphy pen before, so my shading and everything is just abysmally off. For a first time, though, I was pretty pleased. I…

Antietam Cable’s Home of the Future Campaigns & Collateral

Antietam Cable Television approached the team at Icon Graphics to create full-page and banner-sized print ads for the local newspaper, matching the minimalistic strong tone of their new TV spots. I was tasked with creating a print strategy for this “Home of the Future” campaign. The client was thrilled with the result.

One of the struggles I had with preparing for the campaign was finding suitable images. They all needed to be easily masked from their backgrounds or have a white background, and be able to work together with other images. A decent chunk of the time spent designing these ads was in selecting and prepping the images. Typographically, I chose to go for high-contrast between Myriad Black or Bold and Myriad Light. I found that this communicated both strength and sophistication, which is exactly the feeling Antietam Cable wanted in their campaigns.

After the ad campaigns were so well-received, Antietam Cable came back to the team at Icon and asked us to redesign all of their collateral materials in the same theme as the ad campaign. This included their cable channel guide, digital phone booklet, services pricing guide, digital phone brochure, digital cable brochure, high-speed internet brochure, business-class services brochure, and business-class services stepped one-sheet inserts. Once again, these designs were successful: the client approved the design, which was created specifically for ease of use for their customers. All around, it was a win-win.

Read more to see the pieces designed for both the ad campaign and the business collateral.

I contain all of me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my various passions, the segments of my life that sometimes mesh together and sometimes seem not to. There’s been not just a little worry about writing so openly about my mental and physical health problems, particularly on a site that also contains my professional portfolios of work.

It’s difficult for me to really nail down an accurate picture of myself. I know who and how I’d like to be, and how I’d like to be perceived, but despite all my intuition, I can’t often intuit how others actually perceive me. Which, of course, can present problems. Particularly when fighting an anxiety disorder.

What if my writing turns away prospective clients or alienates colleagues? What if my insecurities illegitimize my experience and expertise in others’ eyes? What if they see all my selfies and talk of video games and makeup and think me another shallow millenial? What if my self-preservation techniques are misunderstood? What if my feminism or humanism are seen as obnoxious? What if I am simply not enough of a Normal Adult, and too much…me?

#BlackLivesMatter is not a radical statement.

My friend @greatersafety approached me a few weeks ago about working with her and @sassycrass on a shirt design for #BlackLivesMatter, proceeds largely going to @sassycrass (and a portion to me, as well, for the design).

It’s such a simple sentence. Not revolutionary at all. And yet it is, because white supremacy has a chokehold on every part of our society here in the United States (and certainly beyond).

Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.

@sassycrass is right. It’s not a radical statement. It shouldn’t be a radical statement.

And I want to do everything in my admittedly small power to make sure that it’s not radical. That black lives are afforded the same respect, dignity, acceptance, celebration, and love as everyone else. And this is my tiny offering towards that end.

This particular campaign for the shirt ends Tuesday, September 29. It’s only $15. It will not only support @sassycrass and me for her wisdom and my design, but it will help you build awareness in your community, help you show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

After all. #BlackLivesMatter is not a radical statement.

Photoshop Adventures: Power Lines, Be Gone!

This week, my company has been working on a client’s website, making some slight design adjustments and choosing new photos for some of their pages. They’d expressed a desire to use this image as the header for their site:

original

The most glaring problem was the pole and myriad telephone lines distracting from the main subject of the photo. So they were the things I took care of first, creating a new layer entitled “clone stamp” and using the clone stamp, healing brush, and paintbrush tools to clean everything up. This was rather painstaking, taking about 40 minutes to do since some of what I was removing was in heavily detailed areas, like the white house on the right and the tiles on the main building.

no-lines

Then I wanted to adjust the color and contrast a bit. I created two Hue/Saturation adjustment layers: one for the whole photo, and one with just a mask to target the main building. I also created a building-specific Color Balance layer to help it stand out just a little bit more. Finally, I created a Curves adjustment layer to adjust the contrast of the entire image. Here is the final result:

shopped

And just for funsies, here’s the before and after together.

photoshopped-building