Creating Color by Russell Hampton

Designers often have certain elements that influence their particular style, expression, and creativity. They usually have that one element that they can always fall back on, in times when the white paper/screen is just too much to handle, they can always rely on their roots, what got them to the place they are today.

My element of choice is color. Sure it’s pretty to look at and all, but color is a language, a language that can speak volumes to an audience. It is a language that can mean so many different things in a variety of cultures. Color is the one thing that inspires me the most among the rest.

A classic example of color used today in our pop culture is exemplified by Sony. I have provided a few commercials by Sony that are absolutely breathtaking. They took the theme of color, and brought it to another level. No matter how many times I watch these videos, I always sit back in awe and get immersed in the pure joy color has to offer.

But be careful, color can also be tricky and work against you. Often times an audience can find certain colors offensive and just too much to look at. There has to be a fine medium within color, and it often takes time and patience. It is tricky because it is largely due to a preference of opinion. Designers often get stuck in familiar color schemes just because they “like the way they look” or “that’s my favorite color”. A successful designer has the capability to break away from their favorite color schemes, and can understand a target audience and the impact color can have with a particular message. Red can mean love, and it can also mean danger at the same time. You have to treat each color differently and understand its graphical impact within each individual setting.

A good exercise to expand your experience with color is to attempt to create a design piece by starting with colors you hate. You know, those colors you see and you go, ew, I can’t bare to look at it anymore. You will find that it is harder than it sounds, but more rewarding in the end. You will realize that even though it isn’t your favorite piece of work, you were given a problem, and you created a solution. That is graphic design in a nutshell: the process of creating a visual solution in order to convey an effective message to a target audience.

I have come across a designer named Teresa Nunez. I find her work to be pure joyful to look at, and I greatly admire the attention to detail she has put into many of her pieces. Not to mention her amazing skills with color. Check out some of these:

Teresa NunezTeresa NunezTeresa NunezTeresa Nunezspaceball-1

As you can see, color can make or break a design. Pay attention to it, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Research your audience, understand the interaction between certain colors and what emotion is shown. And just remember, the next time you are hitting a brick wall and can’t think anything creative, look no further than color. Because like I said, color is a language, just let it do all the talking.

Russell Hampton |


*Make sure you check out Russell’s portfolio to get a little taste of how he uses the element of color in his own work. He is a very talented graphic artist and we are excited to have him share some of his secrets.*

If you are interested in guest blogging for us, please contact or to learn how.

*How to get out of a Creative Slump* by Curtis McHale

Being creative is hard work. I know that most of your friends think you just get to ‘draw’ on your computer all day and wish that they too could have this freedom, but you know it’s not as easy as that. Being creative day in and day out requires lots of energy, which sometimes fails us. In fact, if you’ve been as this thing we call design for long enough you have probably encountered a dry spell in your creative juices.

It’s generally hard to explain to those who haven’t had it. For me it’s just a lack of any type of idea. Not just good ideas, I have nothing to put on paper at all. I sit in front of my canvas (Photoshop or Illustrator) and put ‘pen to paper’ and…nothing. Nothing that is worth the money it costs to have my computer on at least.

Sure I’ve hammered out projects for clients through these times and most often the projects turn out alright, but if you’re anything like me alright isn’t what you were going for.

So how do you get out of that creative slump?

  1. Have a non-design related hobby. I love to be outside. It rejuvenates me in so many ways that go past the physical. It inspires me to see all of the beauty that is around. I am actually really lucky in that my wife works for an outdoor shop so we spend lots of time that is ‘work related’ outside for her. It doesn’t have to be outside though just find something that is not in front of your computer and you enjoy. How about reading, basketball, photography. All good options and can bring huge amounts of rejuvenation as you open your eyes to those things around you.
  2. Personal Projects. Often designers get stuck needing some money and therefore have to take on a less than inspiring project. Projects that don’t get your blood boiling, cool it which makes it harder to be creative. I always try to have a project on the go that is mine. Money doesn’t matter it’s for me. My most recent one was simple, I made a wallpaper for Smashing Magazine. It is a simple picture I took and added a calendar to. Not really a lot of work but it paid off big when I got to send my parents, wife, and friends the link that showed how amazing I was. Honestly it has also paid off work wise. In the 3 days since it was featured I have had 3 contracts come as a direct result. My 2 hours working on it are well paid for.Your personal project doesn’t have to make you any money it just needs to be something you like and want to do. A website for your favorite anime film. A wedding anniversary site. How about a cool poster for your office. The possibilities are limitless just go do it.
  3. Put your feet up. So far all of my suggestions will take some energy so how about just resting. I actually have a degree in Psychology and know from years of study how much lack of sleep can affect you.
  4. Work in inspiring surrounds. Finally work in places that inspire you. Hopefully your office is a place that inspires you but for some of us that just isn’t the case. I really have nothing to complain about I have the second bedroom in my house as my office. It also doubles as the storage room for all of my outdoor gear, so it does get a bit crowded. Most often I do find my office great to work in but not always. I learned while I was in school that working at home was not always the best way to get good results. Often I would go out to a coffee shop with my iPod and study/write madly for a few hours and produce papers that earned me A’s. I have also forced myself to stay home and spent hours on a paper that should have taken my minutes. If you have a laptop then get out and try some different work areas. Maybe the park will work. Maybe the coffee shop. Maybe a restaurant. Just get out and try it to see if it inspires you out of your slump.

Ultimately having a time in your career where you lack creativity just marks that you have been designing for a while. We’ll all hit it. What will make us succeed as designer’s and artists is pushing past it and continuing to enjoy what we do. – Curtis McHale

Who is Curtis McHale?

I am an in house designer/wannabe full-time freelancer located in BC. I design because I love to be creative and code because I like the technical stuff involved. Creativity is a breathe of fresh air into life that many people don’t get to experience. You can see more of my work on my site and on my blog.

Guest Blogging!

Mel and Michelle are inviting fellow designers to share their ideas, inspiration and advice on our blog every Friday. If you’re interested, please send us an email: OR We would love to hear from you!

“The Inspiration for Inspiration” from our guest: Rachel Cobb

We are going to have a guest blogger each week and we are excited to announce this week’s guest: Rachel Cobb!

Rachel Cobb is an excellent designer who has been working with Collar Free for about 6 months now.
Two of her shirts have won our weekly design contest and are now for sale at!

“Freedom”“Linear Garden”

You can see more of her Collar Free designs on her profile. Support Rachel and vote for her designs on Collar Free and buy a few to sport around town! Without further ado…


I’ve been out of college for well over a year and I’m a graphic designer and sign shop manager for CASAIC Printing. Lately that means I might get to design a few things here or there, but mostly (or at least until they can hire someone new) I’m running large-format printers, cutting vinyl and wrapping vehicles, among other things.

But enough about me, the real reason I’m here is to talk about inspiration. I feel as if all art should have some type of inspiration. Art for the sake of art isn’t enough for me. I want to connect with it and be inspired by what inspired it. Inspiration, for me, comes from the random pieces of life that pass in front you. Whether it be a quote from something famous (or just known to you), a piece of wrapping paper, the twisting branches of a tree, the sounds of a busy street… All life is an inspiration, you just have to recognize it when it’s there. So here are my 5 tips for getting inspired and keeping that inspiration thriving.

1. Start a creative journal or collection.
2. Visit a museum, local art gallery, or the art section of the bookstore. (see:,

3. Take a walk, without the iPod and observe your surroundings
4. Talk to people that are creative about what inspires them
5. Surf the web, stock photography sites, blogs, random links…
Ideas come from all kinds of places. Here are a few example of regular websites that could spark inspiration.


Tazo Tea

As for random links, check out this HOW design article for more ways to be inspired.

So until next time I’m inspired to inspire the world with just a random piece of me.


Guest Blogger: Kenny Tolman

Hey Everyone,

Mel and I are really excited to have our first guest blogger, Kenny Tolman! He was our first winner ever with “Scroll Toll” and we are super excited to have him as our guest this week.

Everyone, meet Kenny…


I have been working with a guy at FlowLuckyFree, not trying to get business, on some “Collar Free” influenced artwork. Here are a few designs:

These designs have been inspired by the same style as the work I have done for Collar Free. I am currently working on a Koi fish design that has a lot of potential (I’ll post more on this later).

I have a friend that has started a website a couple of years ago. I go there to get what artists are doing and what they are into. You guys should check it out, it is called WitchHunter. The same guy has his own photo website called, cancerbox.

I think it is good to meet and share with other artists on the forums to discuss artwork, especially since you cannot meet a lot of them in person. I have rarely met a lone artist that grows like they should. When we get together as artists more ideas come out as we discuss things that pertain to our artwork.

Talk to you soon,

Kenny Tolman