Summer Lovin' Freebies!

What could be a better way to enter into summer fun than with a new computer or phone wallpaper! We created a few you can use that were inspired by a pineapple themed party invitation suite we created. Download them, then unplug and get out to the pool, with a cocktail in hand of course! 


Beach Don't Kill My Vibe Wallpaper

Summer Sweetness Wallpaper

Palm Tree Wallpaper

Lockscreen Wallpapers

Our Fave Organization & Productivity Tools

The beginning of the year always has us trying to find ways to be more productive, organized and efficient with our time. Here are a couple of our favorite tools to do that. How about you?

Google Excel Sheets

We use Google Suite all. the. dang. time. Being able to work on the same document is super convenient, and it’s nice for both of us to be able make changes on a project in real time.

But more than any of Google’s other awesome features, Google Sheets is our #1 when it comes to tracking a n y t h i n g. Seriously….anything. We’ve got spreadsheets for our clients, our social media calendar, income, expenses, pricing guides, to-dos, “dream big” projects and well, you get the idea.

Here’s a peek at our blog post spreadsheet. A brainstorming session a while back gave us a bunch of ideas for future posts, so we’ve captured them here, where we can track what we’ve done and what we want to post in the future.

Bonus: We love this little feature in our Gmail account:

By utilizing the promo and social tabs, it lets us focus on our clients in the main inbox without being overwhelmed by all of the clutter. Yay!

Dropbox Mobile

Not only is Dropbox super nifty for sharing projects with clients or between us (in fact, you probably already have one), but it has a nice little mobile app that helps us do our work more efficiently. For example, we like to save our created social media images on Dropbox. Then, when we’re ready to post something to our Instagram, for example, it’s as simple as a couple of clicks.

Presto!

Evernote

I (Katrina) use the Evernote app all the time. I like that I can have it on my desktop AND on my phone, so wherever I am, I can jot down interesting ideas, lists, quotes, etc. I’ll use this app to keep track of personal tasks, but I’ll also use it for taking notes during a client meeting or taking a photo of something I want to remember for a project later.

The checklist is a nice feature, as are the notebooks (which help me keep different parts of my life separate). You can also share lists with friends!

So, if you’re like me and constantly writing things down on scraps of paper, this is the app for you.

Trello

This is how we stay on top of our current projects. We have a board for general Tandem tasks (marketing plan, renewing subscriptions, connecting with future clients, etc.) and a separate board for each client we’re working with.

Here’s how we arrange our boards:

At a glance we can see what we need to be working on next, what we’re waiting on, etc. Within each task, we can create checklists if there are smaller tasks within the bigger task to complete. We can also write notes back and forth to each other so we know what the other person is working on.

Once we’ve finished with a client, we can archive the board, cash our check and high-five each other for another project completed!

StayFocusd Extension

Nothing’s a bigger work killer than the internet, amiright?! This extension can be added to your browser and allows you to set a time limit on certain websites (Facebook, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, Zappos, Anthro, etc.) or block certain sites altogether. If you go over your set time limit for any website, it will be blocked for the rest of the day. Say “see ya later” to endless scrolling on Facebook. Boom.

Brainstorm Like A Boss

creativity-819371_1920.jpg

Business and brainstorming go hand-in-hand. It doesn’t matter if you design greeting cards or work in a science lab, because sooner or later you’ll be tasked with coming up with a fresh, new idea for a product, logo, program, activity, etc.

Here’s how we tackle this in our own business, and we hope you can use these tips in your work too.

  1. Purpose, Baby - Before you do anything else, have a specific and manageable purpose in mind. Are you brainstorming a new name for your product? Thinking of three new marketing campaigns you want to roll out it 2017? The clearer and more concise your purpose, the easier it is to stay on task when the ideas start running amuck.

  2. Diversify the Guest List - As much fun as it is to be in a room full of people who have the same interests and passions as you (80s movies + crafting, anyone?), it’s important to invite team members who will come to the table with a different angle, whether it be age, gender, lifestyle, work experience, etc.

  3. Heads Up, Buttercup - Don’t spring a brainstorm meeting on your team 10 minutes before it’s happening. Give enough time to let the ideas percolate. You never know where they’ll show up - on a walk, at the water cooler, in the shower.

  4. Use A Timer - Your baking skills may be sub-par, but you can still put that egg timer to good use. Set the timer for an hour and let the ideas run wild. A set time frame will create a sense of urgency and will help your team avoid burnout from brainstorming for too long.

  5. Put It On Paper - Hand a team member the Sharpies and have them capture the ideas on paper. Sometimes ideas get lost in the air, and this way you’ll be able to have a visual representation of everything your crew has talked about.

  6. Don’t Kibosh Bad Ideas - We’ve all heard this before, but it bears repeating, don’t slam on the brakes on a bad idea. Why? Three reasons:

    1. Shutting down a bad idea could shut down a team member from participating further in the conversation.

    2. Getting bad ideas out there means they’re not clogging up brain space.

    3. A bad idea might actually hold a few nuggets of awesomeness that could be combined with something else to make a really great idea. See #8.

  7. Let It Flow, Let It Flow - Your creativity that is. Don’t be afraid to let your team doodle, create mood boards or do a little word association to loosen the mind. A picture or a word has the power to take your team in a whole new direction.

  8. Franken-idea - Don’t be afraid to pick out the parts you love from various ideas and mash them into one majestic beast.

  9. The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here - Now that the hard work is done, don’t just let your good ideas languish in the dark. Follow-up here is the key to success. Set some concrete next steps - a meeting to flesh out 2 or 3 of the best ideas, a call to a designer about your new logo concept, an email to a photographer to capture your hilarious Christmas card idea.

Now go ahead and wash, rinse, repeat. Let’s get some amazing things out into the world, people!

#FunFridayFinds

Image @gaiamathieu

A few finds from the good ol' internet as we ease our way into the weekend.

1. Halloween Costumes for Designers - the Notorious RGB costume is calling our names!

2. Messy Desk, Don't Care - Turns out messy spaces DO bring out the creative best in us.

3. 10 Perspectives To Get You Moving Creatively - love #8.

4. Perry Smith shares how brokenness made him a better photographer in this Creative Mornings talk. 

5. If you're local: A Mpls Food Truck Finder so you can join us on our quest for the perfect #fallfridayfoodtruck

6. Not too late to join the month-long drawing challenge that is Inktober. (Or to creep on the hashtags like we are: #inktober #inktober2016)

Happy weekending!

3 Tips to Making Your Clients Feel Comfortable in Front of the Camera

We've all been there, the location has been picked, the camera battery is charged, the lighting is superb, the stars have all aligned for the perfect shoot and then, the client gets in front of the camera and freezes up. Their smiles are unnatural. All their limbs protrude in awkward and uncomfortable ways. And now the hardest part of your job is upon you, to make them relax and get comfortable so you can get the money shot.

There are a lot of reasons why people get uncomfortable in front of the camera. They range from things like feeling self conscious about their weight or that blemish on their forehead to never having been part of a professional shoot and not knowing how to pose. While not every client will feel 100% comfortable by the end of your shoot, there are a few things you can do to put them more at ease thus making it possible to get those perfect shots.

1. Keep them engaged in conversation.

Before the shoot get to know them a little bit. Ask them questions about themselves and find out more of who they are and what they like to do. Tell them more about who you are and what makes you tick. Find places of commonality and bond over them. Talk about everything except the shoot. This will help shake off the nerves they undoubtedly came with. Continue the conversation throughout the shoot. If they are thinking about their favorite Super Bowl commercial they won't be so focused on feeling uncomfortable. 

2. Make sure to keep them moving.

Giving your clients something to do will take their focus off the camera and may even help them forget you are there for a moment, which gives you the opportunity to capture natural smiles and interactions. Playing on the swings, straightening a suit jacket, or giving dad a high five will all help bring natural movement into your photos and can relax your client.  It's also a good idea to keep the shoot moving by not spending too long in one location. This doesn't mean you have to drive all the way across town, simply walking to a new area of the park or around the side of the building changes things up. 

3. Give them a quick posing "tutorial" before you get started and then continue to guide them throughout the session.

People become really self conscious when it comes to things like what to do with their hands or their feet. Taking a couple minutes before you get started to show them the basics of posing can be really helpful. While you're practicing, take a couple shots to show them how great they look. As you get started, continue to guide them by telling them where to place their hands, how to position their feet, and where to look. It can also be helpful to actually demonstrate the pose for them if they are having difficulty with it. 

 

Little things like the three listed above go a long way in helping you to capture that perfect shot. 

Celebrate!

Throw the confetti, sprinkle the glitter, blast the Pitch Perfect soundtrack all day because...it’s our birthday month!!!!

Yep. We’re officially one year old. (Well, Tandem is.)

It certainly hasn’t been a year of roses, sunshine and walks in the park, but it’s been an oh-so-good and challenging year of learning who we are as Tandem Creative, and who we want to be moving forward.

We’ve learned that owning a creative business doesn’t necessarily mean you get to play with watercolors all day. It also means figuring out invoicing and scheduling meetings. Some days have felt overwhelming, and some days have felt exhilarating.

There have been projects that we’ve done well, but realized it really wasn’t something we wanted to offer in the future. There have been other projects that we’ve loved and can’t wait to do more of. We’ve realized the importance of dividing and conquering tasks, and how to walk the line of friendship and business partnership.

Looking ahead, we can’t wait to establish good rhythms in our work, tighten up our personal branding and the services we’re offering, take on new challenges that expand our skill sets and schedule regular happy hours with other creative minds.

This is just the beginning of our big dream…..

….cheers to year ONE!

 

House Rules

Every start-up has to navigate how they are going to approach their work. Who will take the lead on certain projects? What hours do they work? Is wearing pajamas okay?

Over the last year, we’ve had to ask ourselves these same questions. Here’s a couple of our own “house rules”:

  1. Weekend Cut-Off - We do our very best to finish up our work by Friday so that weekends are “our” time. We’re sign off our email and social media, so that when we come back on Monday, we’re refreshed and ready to tackle our work with renewed vigor.

  2. Happy Hour can’t start til 3 pm on Friday. (For real though, sometimes it’s a struggle.)

  3. We were friends first and business partners second. So, if we’re hanging out as friends, we don’t talk shop. Sure, we might need to discuss our work schedule for a minute or two, but intentionally focusing on our friendship helps us maintain a balanced relationship.

  4. Always stop for lunch. We like to take a break everyday to step away from the computers, reset the day, touch base with each other, and if we’re being totally honest, watch an episode or two of New Girl.

  5. We understand that we always want the best for and from each other. Whatever the current project may be, we’ll routinely give positive feedback. It’s not about criticism, but rather about asking further questions and pushing each other create our best work.

What should we add to our list?

And for the record, we’ve nixed pajamas as appropriate work attire.

In Our (Virtual) Backpacks

It’s been a long time since we were filling our Lisa Frank backpacks with glitter crayons and construction paper in preparation for going back to school. Things have changed a bit since then, but one thing still remains - we love to learn! We’re doing less long division now, and more reading, and these are just a few of the books we’re dying to read. 

Creative Confidence - David & Tom Kelley

The Kelley brothers combine their vast knowledge in innovation, design, and creativity to help readers tap into their max potential, whether they work in a “creative” field or not. We’ll be taking notes on what they have to say about productivity and creative problem solving.

Creativity, Inc. - Ed Catmull

Ok, we’re really excited to read this one. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, tackles the topics of originality, communication, creative culture and taking risks within the setting of one of the best animation studios in the world. 

The Art of Non-Conformity - Chris Guillebeau

This book has been out for a while, but is still on our “to-read” pile. Chris writes about embracing a counter-cultural life, whether in work, travel, or goal-setting. Unsatisfied with a status quo life, he sought a change and hopes you’ll follow. 

The Fringe Hours - Jessica Turner

We’re all looking for more hours in the day - for work, for friends, for creative projects. In her book, Jessica shares how she made the most of the “fringe hours” in her own life to pursue the things she was truly passionate about (like writing her book!). 

Personality Not Included - Rohit Bhargava

We love the brands we do because of their unique voice. Not only is this book a good reminder for us to stay true to our own fun and quirky personality, but also a helpful reminder when working with clients who are still trying to capture that voice.

Worth Every Penny - Erin Verbeck

This book gets into the nitty-gritty of pricing your work well, building lasting relationships with clients and continuously putting out top-notch work. A must for any small business!

There’s our summer reading list. How about you? Any great career/creative work book recommendations?

On Mentorship...

A year ago I spotted an adorable clay mug in a Fort Collins boutique. Shocked at the price tag, I decided to take a pottery class and make my own. I showed up for the first day of class and rolled my eyes as the instructor, Steve, meticulously spent the first hour teaching us how to roll out even slabs of clay and seal joints together properly.

"Let's get on to the wheel throwing," I thought impatiently. After all, I was here to make a mug that would soon be filled with cozy beverages sipped by a warm fire (never mind that I don't even have a fireplace). 

Next week's class, Steve shepherded us over to the wheel where he walked us through centering the clay, positioning our fingers correctly, and building up the sides of our pieces. I only half-listened, eagerly smushing my off-kilter ball of clay into an even more off-kilter vase/bowl/alien monstrosity. My clay flew off the wheel in a frustrated lump.

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Again I tried, again I ignored the instructor, again I made something unrecognizable to the naked eye. Steve attempted to reiterate the finer points of his earlier lecture, but I was convinced that I knew best and that my pottery techniques would work just as well as his.

Weeks later, at the end of class, I left with several small bowls, some art pieces, a plaque, but no mug. It was starting to look like I'd be drinking cozy beverages from a mason jar after all. 

I learned from that experience that it's okay to admit that you're not the best and that you really don't have all the answers. I could have humbled myself and learned how to throw a mug the right way, but I wanted to try it on my own and it didn't work out.

I'm a big proponent for learning from your blundering mistakes but I'm also an advocate for learning from mentors and experts that have put their time into their work. At Tandem, we design and film in a way that makes sense for us, but we're always learning new tips and tricks that make our work better, more cohesive and more effective.

So...don't be afraid to admit that even though you know a lot, you still don't know everything and it's okay to reach out and ask for help throwing that mug. 

Client Spotlight: The Center for Spiritual Formation

The Center for Spiritual Formation offers retreats, workshops and resources that support the spiritual growth of attendees at a local Minnesota church. The Center's two-year program offers space to learn and grow, to retreat and rest, and to be challenged to live more fully. 

We created this promo video to highlight the ways that this program has benefitted and challenged current participants and to encourage new participants to sign up for the next session of the program. 

Put In The Hours

Your "future self" is probably living on a private island sipping mimosas on a Wednesday morning. Our "future selves" are filming a documentary of the world's most breathtaking camping spots. These dreams won't become reality though unless our "present selves" put in the long, hard hours.

Malcolm knows this...

Elizabeth knows this...

Ira knows this..

So keep working hard on your craft. Remember, there's a sandy beach and a cabana boy/girl waiting for you at the finish line.

 

 

Client Spotlight: Beyond Our Door

Beyond Our Door is a nonprofit that brings hope and healing to the most vulnerable in Haiti, Uganda and Kenya. They do this by providing homes, education, micro loans, and life and business skills to those that need it most.

We created this brochure for Beyond Our Door as a way to showcase the many projects they are working on and to highlight opportunities to partner with them in their work. 

Beyond Our Door Nonprofit Brochure

How Starting a Business is Like Going on a Road Trip

We feel like we have been drinking from the fire hose called Small Business Start-Up for the last year. It's exciting to look back and see how much we have learned and how far we have come. As we take time to reflect on our small business journey we have decided that starting a business feels a lot like going on a road trip.

 

  1. There is a ton of preparation to do before you even hit the road - picking a route, researching, packing, shopping, the list goes on and on. The same is true with starting a business. You need to have an idea, do a bunch of research (competitors, clientele, legalities, etc.), acquire the tools of your trade, get a client base and... Like planning a road trip, the things to do before you actually begin seem never ending. 
     
  2. No matter if you just bought your atlas yesterday (remember paper atlases?) or have the most state-of-the-art GPS, you just might get lost along the way. Things like traffic jams, accidents and road closures all have a way of sneaking up on you and potentially throwing you off course. Starting a business has its own version of getting lost. You may suddenly find yourself having to spend all your time on the administrative tasks and not the thing you started your business to do. Or maybe one day you get paralyzed by fear and fall into a two-week Netflix binge as feelings of impending failure wash over you (dramatic yes, but it can happen). Whatever it is that gets you off course, stop, breathe, re-orient yourself and then keep moving forward. Although it may not be the exact route that you envisioned, it can still produce good things for your business. 
     
  3. As you venture into new cities and down random unmarked roads you will undoubtedly stumble upon cool things and people you didn't even know existed. Stopping off at local coffee shops and taking side roads instead of the freeway will lead you to Ms. Charlotte, the gregarious town diner owner or to the the world's largest ball of twine (who knew that was a thing?!). The Ms. Charlottes and balls of twine for your business might be the client you never saw coming your way or the conference filled with like minded people you didn't know were there. Keep your eyes open and be willing to take a pit stop at some random places along the way - you never know what little gems you might find.
     
  4. Car problems will be inevitable. Need we say more? No one sees that flat tire coming or anticipates the smoke streaming from under the hood. Likewise, you don't plan on a slump in paying clients, or sinking money into new equipment or unexpected software fees. The only thing you can do is prepare the best you can. Get the right kind of insurance, talk to your financial planner, set money aside each month for emergencies, but at the end of the day remember that unexpected things are a part of life and they will happen. Don't let them throw you off course or into the pit of despair (any Anne of Green Gables fans out there?). Again, these things become part of the adventure and may lead you to places, people or experiences you didn't know were out there.
     
  5. You'll get frustrated or annoyed (or both) at your road trip companions (aka partners and clients) from time to time. Maybe your friend in the back seat won't give up control of the music selection, or the navigator thinks they can decide where every pit stop should be. People are people and we don't always get along. Whether it's a bad day, relationship drama or family crisis, we all have bad days, moody days, sad days, you get the point. You and your business partner won't always see eye-to-eye. Your clients won't always love what you produce and may even ask for changes you don't agree with (gasp!). When these kinds of things happen, and they will, don't be discouraged. It's just a part of the game. Take 5 minutes to breathe (and maybe sip a cocktail) and then jump back into the adventure that is running your own business. 

(And one last thought, remember that good music and delicious snacks are a must for all great road trips and small business start-ups - oh, and caffeine may just become your new best friend.)

Freebies!

Later this month we're heading out to the Smokies for a hiking adventure. In anticipation of our road trip we have pine trees, mountains and camping on the brain. Seriously! We can't wait. That excitement translated into some free digital art prints that we're sharing with YOU today!

Print these out and let them inspire your soon-to-be next adventure!



5 Instagram Accounts We're Totally Loving

1. Caroline, the designer behind Made Vibrant, has an Instagram feed just as fun and colorful as her website. We love her bold splashes of paint, funky patterns and inspiring quotes. 

@ckelso

2. We kind of really like Minnesota. So much so that we can't get enough of Capture Minnesota's stunning feed. Never have the Stone Arch Bridge or Ice Caves looked this good.

@captureminnesota

3. Javier Perez is a genius with simple line drawings and everyday objects. The results are whimsical mini pieces of art.

@cintascotch

4. Two girls like us who like to travel the world? Sounds like a definite follow! We don't mind being transported to exotic locales through Sarah and Jahnel's adventures, even if it's on our phones on our lunch break.

@two_excited

5. Okay, so we may be biased because we know John, but Dodge Creative's feed is not only filled with gorgeous photography but also deep words of encouragement and inspiration.

@dodge_creative