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Video and motion graphics communication

Video and motion graphics communication is a great way to get a message over to clients or customers. It is very helpful as a designer for showing a brand development, presenting work in a short time span where I as the designer have control over what is shown, plus the sensory experience of movement and sound together with the visuals create a full on design experience.

I work with video text and animation to create unique solutions for my and my client’s needs. Video adds extra dimensions to a presentation and works particularly well on social media, plus brings the power of Youtube’s search engine. (The second most used search engine in the world behind it’s sister site Google).

Below are a few examples of my work.

NoLesLaw presentation from Iain Cameron on Vimeo.


The Eyesea introduction video ‘Shock n awe’.

learn-photoshop-quickly

How to get good at Photoshop quickly

learn-photoshop-quickly

If you wish to become a good designer, skills in Adobe Photoshop are essential. Here are this designer of many years tips for how to learn Photoshop quickly. You don’t become a successful designer by Photoshop alone, but you need to be on very good terms with this tool.

If I were to go back and start again, how would I go about gaining those Photoshop skills?

There is no cheat way, there is no easy way, it’s an enormous piece of software that can do an awful lot of things, but you can do your best to not waste time along the way.

There are two specific things I would consider doing every day. One is through learning, the other through practice. The first is to do a tutorial on Photoshop on Youtube every day, and the one for practicing your skills as you learn is to post something you make with Photoshop on social media several times per week.

Learn Photoshop through tutorials on Youtube

I would start with looking for something you want to learn. A specific thing you want to know about, based on a piece of design you have seen, or something you wish to express yourself with, and search for it on YouTube.

This roughly splits into two types of video. By tool, or by specific effect. For example, ‘How to use the pen tool in Photoshop’, ‘How to use the patch tool in Photoshop’ or by style ‘How to make a pop art portrait’? ‘How to make a soviet style poster in Photoshop’? etc. This will build up over time to give you a very broad understanding of Photoshop, and in getting used to using Youtube to solve problems as you meet them.

A social media platform for your art to get you fast and comfortable

For social media, consider starting an Instagram or Facebook page on a subject you are passionate about. Niche works well on social media. A football team, a sport or athlete, a band, a film franchise, an author, a game, a celeb, or maybe reimagine film posters. Something you love, something you have a good knowledge of, or wish to know more about. Ideally something unique, but doesn’t have to be.

What the social media page does for you is get you in the habit of publishing your work regularly and quickly. When working on a design job for a client, or student project, we as designers can get very precious. With our own output, we can speed up the process, experiment, and gain valuable experience quickly. You can always delete something you don’t like later. It can be #workinprogress or #justlearning.

You will pick up another skill, a clear understanding of managing a social media business page. Always something to add to a CV, an extra bonus for a potential employer.

This will get you fast in setting up a document. Not being too precious, and saving your work for the web. It becomes second nature.

Find yourself some inspiration to follow on Instagram. www.creativebloq.com/photography/graphic-designers-follow-instagram, www.delightfull.eu/graphic-designers-to-follow-on-instagram.

I think these to actions together will help you to learn Photoshop quickly. It won’t be easy, but will build up over time. As the ancient Chinese proverb says ‘To become at one with Photoshop, one must at first have worked your ass off’.

Here is my article on whether Graphic design is worth studying. www.iaincameron.dk/is-graphic-design-worth-studying.

Iain Cameron is a freelance graphic designer and web designer based in Copenhagen. Here is my portfolio. www.iaincameron.dk/design-portfolio.

 

after-podcast

The aftermath of being a guest on a podcast

So I did it. I got through a podcast as a guest. You can read of my pre-podcast concerns here. It was okay. The world didn’t end, albeit most of it is now on lock down…

And here’s the Podcast.

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after-podcast

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Invited to be a guest on a podcast – to do or not to do, that is the question

Surprised and very honoured to be asked to be a guest on a podcast, www.beingfreelance.com/the-best-freelance-podcast. A brilliant podcast with a wealth of information for freelancers and those considering becoming freelance.

This is the conversation in my head on being invited.

Sensible me: I couldn’t possibly. No one wants to hear my opinions, I have nothing to say that the world wants to hear, I will politely decline the …

My ego: Let’s not be so hasty.

Sensible me: Come on now, it might be a car crash.

My ego: Someone is asking to talk to you about you and what you do. What’s your favourite subject again?!

Sensible me: We-ell…

Imposter syndrome: Are you two friggin’ kidding me!?

Sensible me and my ego: We told you to get lost!

Imposter syndrome: Maybe this time I’m actually the voice of reason. What’s that duct tape for? *muffled screams*

What could go wrong?

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I said yes.

There’s a follow-up article on after the podcast here.

And here’s the podcast.

And you can find more of my cartoon work here at www.iain.dk and on Facebook.com/iain.dk

intern-designer-application

A graphic designer’s guide to applying for an intern position at a design company

intern-designer-application

If you are applying for an intern position at a design company here are some suggestions to consider for your application. As a designer I receive a number of applications but I don’t use interns so can’t offer a position. This advice is hopefully positive suggestions to inspire applicants in their search, and is based on emails I have received.

Your email

Try and get the name of the person you are writing to, to begin the email. Difficult sometimes with so many websites only offering info@ addresses, but do your research.

In Denmark, where I am based, there is a large job searching website called Jobindex.dk. If you go to ‘Job annoncer’ ‘Advanceret søgning’ you can go into their archive and find every company that has ever advertised for a designer, and usually a specific person’s email address. If they’ve hired before, they’ll hire again.

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Your CV

You are applying for a position in a design company. You want to learn, you don’t know everything, the company you are applying to, will know this, but… first impressions count. The person at the other may be a ‘design nerd’. Possibly a ‘typography geek’, line-height, font-sizes and white space are their thing.

That CV needs to look professional. You can purchase a CV template from Graphic River from about $5. That’s an investment I’d strongly recommend. You then rework the design to personalise it.

That design won’t get you a position, but the professionalism in the design will stop you falling at the first hurdle.

I recommend a photo of yourself on the CV. A positive happy best version of you photo. A picture paints a thousand words, make it work for you.

Start with the good stuff first. The relevant skills and experience. People usually skim read stuff, so front load your CV and your application email. Also have your website mentioned in the email and the CV. In case they’ve skimmed and missed.

There is a great course on Designing resumes for Creatives at Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda.com). Typically you can get a free first month.

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Your Website

As a creative person looking to get into the design industry I strongly recommend you have your own website. At an absolute minimum be on Behance but you are really not sending a good signal if you don’t have your own website.

My recommendation, you purchase a domain and hosting, I use one.com, (this is a referral link, we both get 100 DKK off if you use it) the cheapest hosting option they offer is all you need, and then go on Youtube and find videos for starting a WordPress website. That little bit of web knowledge will give you enough skills to add ‘webmaster’ or WordPress CMS user skills to your CV. It won’t take you more than a couple of hours to get it set up. And that might be enough to get you a position. Being able to update the company website and social media platforms might be your stepping stone into an intern position or junior designer position. A lot more relevant to a potential employer than you mentioning that time you worked in a baker’s shop in your summer holiday that is padding out your CV.

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Last bit of patronizing advice

Rejection, or not even getting a reply, can be heart breaking. Stay strong, believe in yourself. It’s not personal, people are just busy. If you get a nice reply that turns you down, and you are unsure how your application is, you could gently and apologetically ask for feedback on your CV and application email. You won’t always get an answer, but most people hate giving out rejections so if they have some positive advice it might be helpful.

That little bit of an exchange might be enough to get you remembered another time.

Unless you’ve been rejected 200 times, you haven’t even begun applying. Your application just needs to hit the right person’s desk on the right day. The chances of that will only increase the more you apply to.

Good luck and stick with it.

Iain Cameron is a Copenhagen based graphic designer, web designer and illustrator. Here is my portfolio.

 

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Portfolio building as a designer – why my portfolio is everything

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I have recently been updating my portfolio. A difficult task to get to when freelance. Thankful for being busy with client work, but the longer time passes without updating it, the bigger the task when getting to it, which makes avoiding starting it easier. Not unlike going to the gym.

Around Xmas and New Year I began the job. Bit by bit it came together, old pieces updated, new pieces created. Forgotten jobs found that I both hadn’t appreciated properly at the time and had completely slipped my mind. I reached the tipping point between the daunting scale of the task to the the sheer joy of putting it together becoming a labour of love. It also brought me back to putting together my first portfolio as a young art college applicant.

Portfolio cases and trains

I am old enough to remember pre-digital art. Where a giant A1 folder was requisite. A giant black Winsor and Newton folder of art that was an extension of myself, my personality (to cover for my lack thereof), my baby. Lugged around from place to place, banging into people on trains and buses, getting odd looks as I carted round ‘my art’. No other possession was as important. It dominated every room with a sulky teenage attitude of ‘no I don’t want to be opened, but please ask to see my work, well okay if you insist’.

It went to a couple of job interviews and wasn’t even opened. How could they! Memorably at an art college interview, someone nonchalantly, dismissively flicked through it while eating an apple.

“Is my portfolio getting in the way of your lunch?” I wanted to say, but just thought it, loudly.

He made an enemy for life there, as if the leather trousers he had on weren’t bad enough.

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The portfolio rules

The rules for a portfolio. Do you put in everything to show the full range of your skills and your work ethic or do you only put in the very best for the shock and awe effect. Might that minimalism backfire if it’s not what the viewer is looking for… “Is that it?”

I remember between 12 and 15 pieces were optimal. Ultimately people can’t be bothered with more. The very first piece  should be you very best. Your second best piece should go at the back. This is for people who flicked through the portfolio back to front. Smart huh.

I would add now from experience, that the end viewer is so variable it’s impossible to have the perfect portfolio. Anything you aren’t entirely happy with, remove it. And just like going to the gym, much better to work at it regularly, than to need to start all over again as you’ve left it so long.

Well if you insist, you can have a look at my portfolio here.

*nonchalantly looks away like it’s no biggie*

 

 

2020-design-trends

Graphic Design trends for 2020 and why you should ignore them

2020-design-trends

A new year just started, and a time for bored hacks to predict/blind guess the graphic design trends for 2020. After a quick Google it appears random adjectives and talking bollocks will be big in 2020.

Much like graphic design trends for 2019 then.

So why in the graphic design world do we have articles on design trends for a coming year? The concept is lifted from the fashion industry, who have clearly defined seasons, and for whom short-termism is a big part of their industry model. If clothes are very quickly out of fashion, then the need for new purchases is ensured. As long as you’ve a timeless Chanel number for funerals and stuff. I know my fashion.*gently closes drawer containing 28 identical black t-shirts*

As graphic designers we of course need to know what is going on around us, and always be aware of style developments. But as designers we should also be creating unique solutions for our clients that have longevity and won’t go out of fashion inside six months. Or else we end up with stupid fads and designs that can be time dated to the month.

Generation Lucky

Designers in 2020 are the luckiest generation of designers there has ever been. Thanks to software advancement we have the creative tools to create anything. We can self publish getting our designs out to the world in seconds. We don’t lose our original artwork in the post, like previous generations did. The internet grants us access to inspiration from all over the world. We are so privileged as designers to have these resources. If anything we have too many resources/distractions at our disposal.

Why on earth would creative people be restricting creative possibilities by acting like sheep and working ‘on trend’. Does your client want to stand out from the crowd, or look like a bland cliched copy cat company?

My predictions for 2020

Hard work, research, and originality are on trend for 2020. And if we can just jam Baby Yoda somewhere in there…

Design-students-and-graduates-finding-a-job

Design students and graduates – finding a job

Design-students-and-graduates-finding-a-job

It is particularly tough for those finishing their design education coming out into the workforce to find the first step on the career ladder. So here is my advice.

Ignore the negativity and rejection

There is a lot of negativity and bad experiences when starting out. Whether it be tutors saying how tough the ‘real world’ is, or hearing of the unemployment situation in the branch, or being unable to get even a reply to a job application. This bad experience can lead to you losing your motivation and belief in yourself. It’s very important to not allow this to happen.

Job searching basics

There is lots of advice on the internet for job searching for designers, use it. Don’t send anyone an email that is not personal. Do everything to find a contact name, compliment them on something in their portfolio website, something that shows you haven’t just copy pasted this email, along with hundreds of others.  A very busy person is far more likely to send you a personal message rather than a ‘thanks but no thanks’ copy paste reply, or just not reply.

If you get a reply, you can delicately ask for advice. Very apologetically ask if there was anything in your CV, application email or portfolio that could be improved. You won’t always get an answer, but good people hate turning applicants away. If they can give a bit of advice that may help someone, they often will.

Remember you just need one job. It is like finding a needle in a haystack, but if you don’t look for the needle, you definitely won’t find it. As a positive thought, if you haven’t been turned down by 200 applications, then you haven’t begun looking. Use that number as a positive target. Something to aim for. Five a day, every day, it will soon mount, and you will become better at it.

Worst case scenario

So what do you do if you still can’t get in. There comes a point where you have to work. Perhaps it is in a coffee shop, perhaps as an entry level trainee in a different area completely. You may well have the best time of your life and make friends for life. An odd thing is, you will be surprised how random opportunities can come your way in life. You may find there is a creative position within this company you never knew existed. There are creative jobs you would never have heard of until you are working for that chain of convenience stores, or bars. You are networking by accident.

I worked as a barman in London. I went on to start my own business as a blackboard artist, as a full time job. Something I would never have seen as a possibility. But I had the contacts and knowledge just from working in the branch to know how to do it. And what I didn’t know I learned on the hoof.

Be prepared

Another issue regarding the random nature of things, is after sending hundreds of CVs out, and working yourself into the ground trying to find a job in the design industry with no success, you could find yourself sitting at a dinner or in some other social situation, when during small talk someone says ‘oh we are looking for a designer, can you Photoshop?’. And before you know it, you have a job, without applying or being interviewed.

Now here is the important aspect of that scenario. Make sure the last design work you did, wasn’t what you did in college. Make sure you are still active. Have a website portfolio, or a blog that is active. Make sure you can show your enthusiasm for your area of expertise. Because you will be kicking yourself if an opportunity like that comes up unexpectedly and you blow it because you were not prepared.

Working for free

It’s a tough one. You need experience to get a job, how do you get experience. How do you build a portfolio that shows what you can do, without working for free? From my experience, the sort of people who would accept free work, are the worst people to work for. They are like sharks. They will never pay you at a later date when you are experienced. Their shark brain will go, ‘find another idiot to work for free’. They will not respect you, will not respect your work, and will almost certainly insist on doing something to the design which is so bad it means you can’t use it in your portfolio. There is also the argument that working for free for people demeans the industry you wish to work in.

Stay positive and keep learning

If you still can’t get a job in the design industry there are further options. Start up freelance is one of them. Another is to look at the different aspects of your work and work at it in your free time. Illustration or animation for example, or typography design, or motion graphics. Something that would have been hard to get to, and possibly too exhausting to work on in your free time as a designer as it is too similar to the day job. Working in a different field you are completely fresh to work on this in your free time. This can be incredibly rewarding and go on to you being able to work in your niche area later. Helps if you think of yourself as being like an out of work actor. Ignore anyone who uses the word ‘hobby’ to describe what you do.

Keep taking online courses to extend your skills. If you work in the web, get javascript, get php skills. In design, add typography design or motion graphics, take figure drawing classes, there’s always more to learn. Keep adding to your portfolio and good luck!

 

Iain Cameron is a web designer, graphic designer and illustrator based in Copenhagen.

 

 

is-graphic-design-worth-studying

Is graphic design worth studying?

is-graphic-design-worth-studying

A question and answer guide to deciding on whether to study graphic design, or are interested in teaching yourself graphic design.

Is graphic design worth studying? Here are the pros and cons of a graphic designer of some decades. In the interests of letting you judge my opinions I studied graphic design but was kicked off my course before I finished it. Many years later, I taught myself via working alone and the internet. We are all different, I try and give as balanced an answer as possible. But it’s just my opinion, make sure you seek others’ opinions too.

Is graphic design worth studying? Yes, education can only be good. You will always learn, meet good people, and see and experience things that you wouldn’t alone.

Is studying graphic design at college essential? Absolutely not. Unlike a lot of jobs, graphic design (and all the surrounding disciplines – illustration, web design, motion graphics) are measurable by your portfolio or showreel. It is easy to see what you can or can’t do, and the best degree in the world from the best university in the world, and all the charisma in the world, can’t hide that you aren’t a graphic designer to an employer.

Is the financial outlay as a graphic design student worth it? This question is related to whichever country you live in. If you are coming out with 40000 pounds/dollars plus worth of debt at the end of a graphic design course and your parents aren’t rich, my opinion is, no that’s not worth it. (Just my opinion, again seek other opinions)

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But every job advert I see requires a degree from a top design college? Yes that’s a slightly strange one. HR (Human Resources) departments write the job adverts. They don’t know anything about design, but they’ve got a degree, so degrees must be special…

From my experience, you  make sure your portfolio website is all over your CV and covering letter. There is also a huge difference between an interview with an HR department, and an interview with a department head or business owner. HR interviews are the interviews of specialists in that field. The field of interviewing. Read up on how to get through an interview for that.

For a department head or business owner, almost always all you’ve got to do, is ‘shut up, and listen’, while maintaining eye contact, looking fascinated at everything they say, and have one question ready at the end. Smile and nod, smile and nod. (Very occasionally you will meet an anomaly, a department head or business owner who does know how to interview, whereby the interviewee is doing most of the talking. You will later learn this person previously worked in HR).

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The ideal graphic designer job advert

Can graphic design be learned? Absolutely. There are clear rules, and best practices with typography, colours, imagery, creativity, problem solving and the use of the industry standard software (Adobe for short). There are vastly differing parts to being a graphic designer or graphic artist. From an all rounder who can fit into any discipline between logo design, illustration, web design and motion graphics, to an absolute specialists in their niche, a font designer, packaging specialist, character designer. At least one part of it, you need to get a buzz off of the creative process that drives you forward to want to learn more, and make the mundane tasks worth it.

What skills are essential to know if graphic design is for you? The fact you are interested, shows you probably have it. You are visually oriented. Like aesthetically pleasing things. Like typography, the shape, and feel of the letters, a colour combination interests you, you like and admire nice design, are excited by being creative. You are maybe not happy with what you create, you are always striving to get better.  You don’t need to be the finished article to start learning. (This is a particular bugbear of mine regarding art school applications. They will accept the people with the best work in their portfolio, who typically have the most experience. These same people have often reached full potential, so are at art school for a qualification. Whereby more talented people who have less experience are turned down, despite the potential they have to get much better. Art tutors are often very bad at every aspect of their jobs – yes I have some issues with art schools, but it doesn’t mean I am wrong). Somewhere in you there is a spark of passion for creativity. That spark of passion is your calling. You mustn’t want to be a graphic designer because it sounds cool. (trust me, no-one is ever impressed!) It’s all about the creative process, and the desire to get better. Other aspects that would be good, but not essential, a sense of, or an interest in business/commerce, an enjoyment of problem solving. An interest in people from a behavioural science viewpoint. If artists are the movie stars of the art world, graphic designers are the character actors. We shouldn’t be leaving our specialised mark. Our style is invisible. We bring the correct solution for each roll, for each job. It’s not about us. Also graphic design is a service industry, you need to be, or learn to be service minded. The client IS always right, if you want to pay your rent.

Is graphic design boring? Absolutely. And it’s the most exciting job in the world. No job is exciting and brilliant all day every day. There are lots of mundane tasks, there can be problems with clients, problems with bosses thinking they are designers and design by committee to deal with. You’ll learn to deal with it. Learn to love the clients you get along with, the bosses who respect your knowledge. You’ll love the buzz when it all comes together. When a client sends you a gift, for no reason other than gratitude. When you can see you have made an improvement. When there are sometimes enormous measurable improvements, that you are responsible for. There are a lot of great highs to go with the lows. And you’ll learn to set aside time for your own projects, where you are in charge… My not entirely serious article on graphic design being a boring subject for non designers.

How do I learn graphic design without going to college or university? I did it with a computer, the internet, Adobe software, mainly learning Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and to a lesser extent InDesign, and Lynda.com the education website. Also Google is your friend, and Youtube has an enormous amount of videos explaining design, software, and business practices. Spooner graphics has some great videos on his Youtube channel. I also learned web design at the same time. A bit of basic HTML, and CSS, and now I would recommend learning WordPress through using it. The web design aspect gives you the power of self publishing, and publishing others, which in turn builds a portfolio, which leads to employment. In addition to this I was also studying design around me, looking and learning to see what works and doesn’t and what are the latest design trends and developments. That part took me fully two years to get to grips with, and is a permanent ongoing process. That is the difference between a designer, and someone (a boss or client) who wants to play at designing something because they think it’s easy.

How long does it take to learn to become a graphic designer? In my opinion it takes a minimum of two years of study (whether in college or working alone) to train your eye to design to a professional level. I had an odd journey to becoming a graphic designer. Studied for two years, kicked out of art college and began learning again almost twenty years later. When I began learning again, one of the odd sensations I had was realising I had been better at it when I was a design student previously. I couldn’t explain how I knew this, ‘what had I known I now didn’t know’, was a very strange experience. Eventually I became aware I was as good as I had been, and better. The exact point of that was at the two year mark. I had presumed I still had some design training. Without practice it was all gone. A designer must keep working at their skills to maintain that ability.

I have a degree in marketing but wish I’d learned graphic design, have I messed up? An oddly precise question but one I have met a couple of times. You can learn graphic design, see the question on learning without going to college, and not only will you succeed, you will be a brilliant graphic designer. Any sort of business qualification together with graphic design will make you superb in the profession. Graphic design ought to be taught in the same colleges that teach business and marketing. When I was studying for my degree in graphic design, we had to have a second subject we’d study one day a week. The choice was ceramics or textiles. The art college that threw me out, were just time wasters.

Do I need to be a salesperson to work as a graphic designer? Yes and no. More for freelance designers, but still relevant. Depending on your personality type, this part may fill you with dread. What you don’t need to be is the stereotypical used-car salesperson. In a client meeting, you need to listen, ask a few questions which will be easy to you, as you’ll know design, and do what you say you’ll do in the meeting. They don’t need to want to go for a beer with you, or play a round of golf with you, just to trust you. Your portfolio that got you the meeting ought to generate that trust, and you being smart enough to turn up on time, and dressed nicely, ought to seal the deal! So not that hard really.

Does graphic design have a future? That’s a big question. Subject to Greta Thunberg’s ability to save the world, does any job have a future… To be less pessimistic, I believe graphic design does have a future. We now have the Fiverr Wix mentality whereby anyone can get a cheap logo, and a cheap and easy website. I’ve had quite a few clients come to me after failing to do their own websites and logo designs despite being told how easy it would be in the adverts. And the more businesses who have ‘done it themselves’ the more the need for companies to stand out from the competition with some special design that only a designer could create.

What should graphic designers do for the future?  Keep learning. And love to learn (it keeps you young) There are other disciplines closely related to graphic design, that a graphic designer’s brain is best suited for. From user experience, to analytics, to social media marketing, to motion graphics, writing a narrative for a brand, the whole marketing shebang. Eventually the name graphic design will go (it’s an awful name anyway) we are marketing creatives, or commercial artists (the old name was far better).

Whatever you choose to do, the very best of luck. Life is short. Enjoy it, do what you want to do. Also, all going well, there is room for more than one career in a life. Two or three career changes are possible. You are not nailed down forever in any area.

Iain Cameron is a graphic designer, web designer and illustrator based in Copenhagen.

Portfolio here.

 

sign writing copenhagen

Events’ signs and blackboards

sign writing copenhagen

Should you or your company in Copenhagen require a specialised event sign, on blackboard or any colour of signage, then please get in touch. A hand written bespoke sign adds a personalised touch to any event or occasion. These can be drafted in advance in Photoshop, then the final artwork created when the final design is okayed.

So whether for a wedding, birthday, conference, product launch, bar, restaurant, hotel or shop, I can add that special hand written touch, that a printed product can never reach.

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artist blackboards copenhagen

manet blackboard art

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You can see more of my blackboard work here www.iaincameron.dk/design-portfolio/blackboard-and-mural-artist/
And see more of my graphic design work here. www.iaincameron.dk/design-portfolio-for-business/