Juggling is an Art Form

I use a juggler for my own personal logo because I often find I am using four things: design, consultation, instruction, and promotion to make sure my clients needs are being met. My logo really is me as I feel like I am always juggling the tasks that are part of my daily life. Should it be computer programs that I keep switching to and from, to meeting design deadlines, to networking with people, to helping others troubleshoot their business solutions, I am always moving things around. I choose to specialize in working with photographers and my fellow freelancers because it’s the world I understand best. When it’s just you, and you need that push to get started, start here.
 

Brand Identity Design


/> Designing logos is something I take very seriously. I have a strict and personalized process that I have spent years fine tuning for optimal efficiency. I believe that logos are the key to identity development and that they can make or break a business. I give high quality professional services and it’s often appreciated by my design clients. Your business. Your voice. Your logo.

Consulting Services


/> Freelancers and small business owners often need a little help developing a strategy that will propel their business forward. Maybe you need assistance with specific problem, or maybe you just need help gathering your thoughts and making your ideas happen. By acting as your strategic business guide, I can help you work toward solutions that succeed.

Building A Web Presence


When it comes to your web identity, I and my business partner, Erik Bernskiold, have got you covered. We know what it takes to create a strong web presence. Working as a team we can help you create a website that you will be proud of. What’s more is that we can show you ways of working with it independently and taking it to the next level with social media and SEO.

Behind The Logo

Elizabeth Gast, better known as ‘Firgs’, has been an independent designer for over ten years, specializing in brand identity design and business consultation. During her freelance career she has come to focus her business on working with photographers, and fellow freelancers to help them kick-start their business dreams in the right direction. Taking care of her clients is her top priority and often times, they get more than they expect when they hire her. It is her dedication and expert troubleshooting skills that have earned her the respect she has gained in the field.

Testimonials

  • Firgs did the graphics on my website, my logo, business card design, and did it beautifully! Working with her was the perfect design experience. She gave thought to my business and to me as a person while working on the designs, and came up with a perfect fit. I’ve also taken advantage of her consultation services and she’s given me a new perspective and a better focus of my business. I highly recommend Firgs for both graphic design services and career consultation. She’ll pull it all together for you!

    Janine Smith
    lynda.com

    Janine Smith

  • When I started rebuilding my web presence and rebranding myself, I sat down with Firgs to talk about how I should move forward to get the most out of this new beginning. After our conversation I had a more defined focus, a drive to be more intentional with how I present myself, and a newfound confidence to make it happen. Her advice came from a place of great experience, tremendous generosity, and genuine care for my growth and success. I still have a long way to go, but with Firgs’ help I have a strong foundation to build on and the will to do it.

    Jason D. Moore
    jasondmoore.com

    Jason D Moore
    www.johndoejuniorwebsite.com

  • I originally hired Firgs for what I thought would be a simple logo (re)design.  It became far more than that.  Through the design process she posed questions that helped me not only focus ideas for a logo, but my business direction as well.  She brought me to insights about questions I hadn’t yet even articulated that ultimately led to some modification of my businesses marketing practices.  That’s a lot of value for *just* a logo.

    Gudrun

    wildlight.ca

    WildLight.ca
    www.johndoewebsite.com

  • I was referred to Firgs and am so glad to have the opportunity for her to design my company logo. She created my logo with an extreme level of patience, communication, guidance and all around great customer service. I love the logo and it has helped grow my business!

    I would refer her to any one I know looking for a hard working, top notch designer.

    AJ Gentry

    REALTOR, ABR, QSC
Real Estate Consultant

    urbankcliving.com

     

    Urban KC Living
    www.janedoeseniorwebsite.com

  • In a one-on-one tutorial situation, I found Firgs to be an outstanding teacher. Her breadth of knowledge about the internet and working with it is impressive, made all the more valuable by her wisdom and intellectual courage. She presented the information clearly and in a logical order. If I didn’t understand something on the first bounce, she was not only patient but also quick to adapt and present the idea in a different way, effectively searching for concepts and categories in my own mind that she could build on.

    Arthur Lyons
    Center for Economic Policy Analysis, Chicago

    Art Lyons
    www.janedoejuniorwebsite.com

  • Brand Identity Development
  • Consultation
  • Building A Web Presence
  • Working With Photographers
  •  

Brand Identity Development

Your brand identity is not made up of just your logo. The logo is just the starting point. My services have been developed to help you not only tune in to what the perfect logo would be for your business, but also to help you understand your business identity and brand as a whole.

I will admit, I am one of the more expensive logo designers. But, I’m worth every penny because I go out of my way to make sure all of my clients needs are being met and I also tend to throw in extras and freebies along the way. I will usually spend about a week to two weeks doing research on you, your existing designs, your company, your competitors, your target market, other existing designs, and making sure that whatever I design for you will be protected as far as legal issues and possible future trademarking. The design process takes about one to two months on average and individual pricing quotes and plans are available.

 

Consultation

Over the years I have been approached by many freelance photographers, designers, and some illustration artists all with questions regarding how to run their business more efficiently. Some have just a simple question, but most need a lot of guidance. I finally realized that I needed to include consultation in my list of services. Each client is treated as an individual with individual needs and each session begins with one hour of assessment by appointment. From there I will guide you on the area (or areas) that you need the most assistance with. As always, the goal of each session will be to help you grow your business with efficiency.

Consultation services include (but are not limited to):

  • Getting Started
  • Internet Marketing
  • Business Practices
  • Client Relationships
  • Networking
  • Social Media
  • Branding

 

Consultation services are invoiced at an hourly rate and are available by appointment only. To reserve an appointment, please contact me here via my contact page or send an email to datchicfirgs on gmail.

Building A Web Presence

I take the team approach when it comes to building websites. I know that having the best means working with the best and my web design partner is just that – the best! Erik Bernskiold – from XLD Studios – has over six years of experience in building and hosting websites. We have been working together as a team for nearly three years and have developed a very smooth rhythm that we have found works very well for our clients.  We start with a group consultation meeting to discuss your design and development needs. From there, I will design and Erik will develop. Consultation and instruction are always included in the process.

In the past, we have helped clients achieve

  • Hosting
  • Beautiful Designs
  • Content Management Systems
  • Photo Galleries
  • Blogs
  • Social Media Integration
  • Contact Forms
  • and more!

With many websites on the internet, it is all about giving your customers a good experience to make sure they will come back over and over again. We focus on providing all solutions needed to create a modern website that appeals to your visitors still withholding an easy-to-use navigational structure and a simple browsing experience. – xldstudios.com

 

Working With Photographers

Photographers live in a fast paced world of creativity and yet often times, when it comes to their own look or logo, they either just don’t have one, or their “temporary” design has been servicing them for years. I enjoy working with photographers because I understand them and have spent the last six years getting to know them through my affiliation with the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. They are some of the hardest working people I know and I am dedicated to helping them grow their businesses with a designed look that is just as creative as they are.

If you are a photographer that is looking to partner with a designer, look no further – you’ve found one.

  • 2011/11/14Welcome to the NEW Design By Firgs
  • 2010/10/06Why My Logo Works For Me But May Not Work For You
  • 2010/08/24A Lesson In Being Brave
  • 2010/08/10Sound Advice
  • 2010/06/29Networking Is The Heart Of Your Business

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to the fresh new design for Design By Firgs! Please take a look around. As you can see, it’s quite a change. The tutorials and downloads are now gone in favor of a more ‘available services’ display. Brand Identity design, consultation, and web services are now the main focus as well as a new gallery.

For those that were so loyal to the old format, I want to extend my great thanks for your support. If there is something that you are really missing, please send me an email and I will see if there is anything I can do for you. If you are looking for more advice articles written by me, please be sure to visit onextrapixel.com. If you would like to talk to me about the changes, I encourage folks to interact with me in real time via social media. You can find me on Google+, Twitter and Facebook via ‘Firgs’. I am usually around and I would love to talk to you and get to know you.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the changes as much as I do!

~Firgs

Why My Logo Works For Me But May Not Work For You

I am a brand identity artist. As part of that job title, I design logos. More often than not, my clients approach me with one question followed by one statement. The question: “Did you design your logo?” The answer: Yes, I did. The statement: “I want a logo like yours, I love it!” The answer… is one that I have yet to come up with. Although I am more than sure my clients understand that I realize they don’t want my exact logo, I’m not sure if they understand what parts of my logo it is that they do want and what parts they don’t.

I’m hoping this article will help with that.

How My Logo Came To Be

In all honesty, my logo was unintentional. I never said to myself, I need a logo. I never sat down with paper and pen and said “what symbol suits me best?” The real story of it is that a friend of mine was in a city far from my own, battling cancer. I decided the best way to help him was to distract him with funny postcards. I would send him one or two a week with some sort of joking statement on the back, and then sign each one with a cursive L for Liz and put an abbreviation dot next to it. This went on for a couple of months and the more I signed the L, the more it began to look like a little person with outstretched arms to me. Soon, it felt like those arms needed to be doing something, and having a long time love affair with kings, queens, and especially court jesters, I gave the arms little dots to juggle. That little doodled image then stuck in my brain as if it had been cemented into place. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had created my logo.

From there, my doodle went through a series of changes over the course of a year, most of which I have lost over time, but here are a few of the very early versions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why My Logo Works For Me

There are lots of subtle things about my logo that when added together, give it the strength that it has.

  • It’s easy to remember.
  • It’s fun.
  • It’s easy to relate to.
  • It’s an image rather than a word.
  • It tells a story.
  • It’s versatile.
  • It has individual elements that can stand alone or in a group.
  • It’s humanistic.
  • It has contrasting, eye catching color

But mostly, it has a personality to it and it’s a personality that matches the one my brand is based on. One that is fun and constantly moving and that is something people seem to enjoy.

Also, I use the logo absolutely everywhere I go.  By doing this it brings gravity to the logo and my brand. As people become involved with my work, they also become somewhat attached to my logo because it’s what they are used to seeing. People enjoy continuity. Take the new Gap logo that was released this month. Although it is no more simple or complicated than the old logo, many people are not happy with the change. Be it graphically, or emotionally, any tie the public had to the previous brand and logo is now severed because of the sudden and drastic change. Once you have your logo, then put it to work for you. Make it a part of you and plaster it on everything and constantly be on the look out for new ways to display it. By doing this, your logo will not only work for you, it will work for others as well.

Why My Logo May Not Work For You

When you are a one person show, as I am, your logo needs to have a lot of you in it. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again and again – my logo, is me. Every bit of it right down to choosing the red ball as my signature ball, contains a piece of me or my personality. It’s just that simple. I have watched others try to mimic my logo on their own only to have it fail leaving them frustrated. The reason for that is that even though you may really like the little primary colored balls, or the black figure, it’s not coming directly from you. When it’s your turn to hire a designer or sit down with your sketch pad and ask “what symbol suits me best?” you need to get to the very heart of who you are, what your brand is all about, and where you’d like to be in the future. All of those visions, plans, and hopes will play a big part of your logo development. Think of things that make you feel good inside and bring a smile to your face such as the jesters of the Renaissance do for me. By getting in touch with your own personality, your brand will not only evolve but will maintain a unique look that is true to you and you alone.

What To Look For In Any Logo

The best logo is one that just about anyone can remember in a split second. Simple is good, but being able to relate to it is better. All of the best logos can usually be summed up with one commonly known word that also happens to be the one word that matches the product or brand. Coca-Cola = Smooth. Pepsi = American. Nike = Fast. McDonalds = Fast. If your logo causes people to have to stop and think about it, chances are, they won’t bother. But just because you don’t want a short attention span to be the death of your logo, that doesn’t mean that the design itself needs to be over simplified (Hello Gap – I’m talking to you). Take for example the FireFox logo. Lots of color, shading and detail. Yet, it also has a one word summation of Fast, and any time you see an orange fox, with or without the blue globe, you think of the company.

For me, my one word is Fun. I love fun. Having it, being it, creating it. I try to make sure that there is a little bit of fun in all of my work and that also shows through in my logo and other branding designs. It works well for me because although there is a lot of other words that go with my brand like professional, smart, educational, creative, etc. – the one word that people will take home with them at night is fun because it’s what they also enjoy and can relate to the most.

So, if you are in search of your perfect logo, start looking at you first. Think of one word that sums up everything about you and the services or product you wish to provide. Your logo is there in your head, not on my site or any other, and it’s up to you to help your designer get it out of your head and on to paper.

A Lesson In Being Brave

A while back I was able to get away for a bit and partake in one of my all time favorite activities. I went to visit and spend time with my nephews – ages 2 and 4. The older one and I have been “best buddies” ever since he was born so I guess I’m not really surprised that I see a lot of me in him. For example, he took to using the computer and surfing the Internet at age 2 before anyone even showed him how to do it. Sounds like my kind of kid right? But there is another thing about him that makes him so special in my eyes. He’s a bit timid and tends to be afraid of a lot of things. I was just like that when I was a kid. I was extremely shy and it took me a long time to grow out of it. Believe it or not, it’s something that I still struggle with from time to time.

To my surprise, this time when I arrived at my brother’s house, my 4yr old nephew was very eager to show me his brand new “Bravery Chart”. It was a system that my brother and his wife had developed where every time Little Man did something brave or wasn’t afraid, he got a sticker along with a note describing what it was that made him so brave. After a collection of ten stickers, he got a special prize as an additional reward. He was very proud of his brave achievements and couldn’t wait to tell me the stories that went with each sticker.

As odd as this may seem, the more I thought of the Bravery Chart the more I started to wonder how this sort of thing could be applied to the freelancers and entrepreneurs of today’s world. Where there times were we were being too timid and missing out on opportunities? How many things are we not doing because fear is standing in our way? Do we ever reward ourselves for being brave and grasping the moment?

As we grow into adulthood it becomes a general expectation that we face our fears as a part of life. We learn that life is naturally scary and it’s ok to avoid feelings of fear and uncertainty if we can. So we duck out of uncomfortable situations, skirt issues, and dodge meetings or confrontations – or worse, talk ourselves out of doing something that we know we need or want to be doing just because we are afraid of the unknown. Giving into our fears can hold us back rather than propel us or our business forward. Without adventures and accomplishments then everything, including ourselves, can stop growing.

I started to wonder what would happen if we spent more time facing our fears and then celebrated our victory after, even if it was just with something as simple as making a note of it so that we could read it every day. My guess is that one adventure would lead to a new adventure and that one to the next and so on and before we know it we’d have a whole wall of accomplishments to wake up to each day and be very excited about sharing them just like Little Man. That was an idea that I liked – a lot!

So, the next time you need to face something that makes you uncomfortable, or makes you want to talk yourself out of doing it – just think of my Little Man and all of his exciting stickers. Because if he can face his fears, shouldn’t we all be able to?

Sound Advice

Over the last few years I have received many messages of advice through Twitter, Facebook, Forum messages, and emails. At times, I copied and pasted them into several NotePad documents so that I don’t lose track of the advice. I now have a small handful of these documents scattered throughout my laptop and external hard drive. I’ve lost track of who said what, where and when, but the advice has stuck around. And I read it often.

I thought I would share some of what I have gathered. And to the advice givers… thanks! <3

———————————————————————–

I shouldn’t even have to say it, but I will: you need a blog. People in the village love toys, but they also like to get to know the village toy-maker.

Your first thing might not work out. Despite your faith, despite your hard work, your work may fail. Be ready to create something new if it does.

When it looks like nobody’s noticing, have faith that someone is or soon will be, IF you keep doing your best work.

If you want this, you have to work every day to get it. You have to sit in the chair and stay seated. And sleep and come back to the chair. You need to wear out that chair and then buy a new one and then wear out that one.

Getting going is just a menu command away.

Don’t be delusional: be rigorously honest with yourself.

I know at times it seems like there’s no point, but the point will become clear tomorrow, or the next day or next week or whenever.

There are those nights when you think you should burn it all up and go back to the quieting hug of whatever-you-did-before. Faith in yourself, and in the world’s knack for finding good things, will keep you going.

Get your own damn dinner.

When you want to the least is when you need to push the hardest.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

You ain’t quittin’! You are NOT a quitter!

Have faith. I don’t mean be blind to reality. I don’t mean give in to wishful thinking. I mean to have faith in your ideas and abilities. That’s the point.

Every once in a while you have to go outside. Even though it seems like it, the world does not live inside your computer.

Play 15 Questions –

• Do I have my goals posted so that I am reminded every day of where I am headed?
• Is my path clearly marked?
• Am I visualizing the road ahead so that I am prepared for any challenges?
• Am I properly measuring my progress toward my goals?
• Are my goals getting closer or are my actions only pushing them farther away?
• Am I making the right choices along my journey?
• Are my daily detours distracting me from my ultimate destination?
• Have I been accountable for my actions?
• Have I maintained high character ethics along the way?
• Am I taking responsibility or placing blame on others if I deviate from my path?
• Do I make good use of my time?
• Do small potholes in the road take the appropriate time to get by or are they becoming giant obstacles?
• Am I realistic about the time and effort that may be necessary to reach my destination?
• Do I remember to stop and celebrate the small goals reached along the way to my ultimate goal?
• Am I committed to do everything to the best of my ability?

If you can answer yes to all or most, you’re doin’ good kid.

If you believe you suck at what you do you won’t enjoy doing it anymore. SO STOP IT!

Just keep moving forward and it will get easier and better!

If you ever become famous, don’t forget us little people.

Just remember that you are loved by people. And those are the people that matter.

Not everyone is going to get what you do. But do it anyway if YOU get it.

Networking Is The Heart Of Your Business

The phrase “It’s not always what you know, but also who you know” speaks loudly to those of us in the freelance community. We rely on word of mouth, referrals, and above all, our ability to network in order to grow our clientele. It is a stone cold, and sobering fact that without strong people skills, what we know can quickly become useless. But, talking to people is not a shared trait from one person to the next. For some of us, it is second nature to strike up a conversation with a stranger. For others, it can feel like a painful visit to the dentist’s office – you don’t like it, but it’s just something you need to do and you hope that there is something on the other end of the visit to make the situation less painful.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Good networking skills can be learned and obtained. A strong networker does not leave the house unarmed. They will carry with them practiced and perfected skills that will aid them in making their connections. Before you begin building your network, let’s go over what some of these skills are.

————
The Art of Attitude

Attitude is the first and foremost an important skill that a good networker has to learn. That’s right, I said learn. It’s no secret that people are more prone to respond to, and ultimately do business with, happy and positive people. What is a secret however, is that these exuberant people, are no different than anyone else – they have just learned the art of attitude display. Attitude Display is a unique process of taking all of your emotions and inner dialogue and temporarily adjusting them to fit the current situation. The hard part is that, sometimes, this will mean having to put things like fear, anxiety, sadness, frustration, or anger on hold to be dealt with at a more suitable time. It takes time, patience, and a lot of practice to master. It is also, never easy. However, if learned, and practiced, then the art of knowing how to correctly display your attitude will become more natural you. Before you know it, you will be able to recognize the times when you will and will not, have to do this in order to grow your business.

The Conversation Starters

Starting a conversation is the biggest stumbling block when it comes to networking. A lot of people have zero problems engaging in conversation once the ball is rolling, it’s just a matter of getting things going. The fastest way of doing this is by making your meeting all about the other person. This is basic psychology. Within all of us is a need to be noticed and liked for what we have to offer. And often, all you need to do to start a conversation is to pay a person special and positive attention and don’t try to sell them anything. By redirecting your focus to their world, regardless of your own, you will inadvertently make that person more comfortable about your presence. Once someone feels comfortable around you, the more receptive they will be to return the favor and make you feel comfortable around them. The key is not to expect anything in return and just let the conversation flow from that point. It’s much better to have them ask for your card, rather than you forcing it on them. Remember, the conversation needs to be natural and comfortable for both parties. If you find that you or they are struggling for things to say, then it’s best to politely excuse yourself and find somewhere else to be.

The Connection Hook

Networking is all about connecting people. It begins with finding a way of hooking your life to the life of another person and then builds when you can help that person hook to a new person. The resulting chain, is your network. The best way to do this is by sharing common ideas, experiences, or thoughts with another person. This kind of sharing then leads to the network connecting that we all long for. What most people don’t realize is that we do this every day with little effort. We just almost never realize that is what we are doing. From the basic “we are in the same location” to the more complex “we both like the same things” to the involved “we have a common goal”, people connect on many different levels at all moments of the day. All you need to do is to recognize it as it’s happening and then decide how the hook will be of the most benefit to you both.

The Give & Take

Each successful network depends on a delicate and often intricate barter system of favors. The give and take balance you create between you and your network needs to be well thought out and carefully played out. Tip the scales too far in either direction and your network could fall apart before your eyes while you’re blinking. Be aware that the people in your network are not to be viewed as paying clients. Although some members of your network may one day hire you for a job, the beginning of each relationship must start out on common ground in order for it to build correctly.

The Follow Up Format

As any great networker knows, just making a connection with someone isn’t enough. You also need to follow up with that person and give them something to help them remember who you are and what you talked about. We, meaning the entire human race, are constantly meeting new people and taking new information into our brains. Without written or verbal reminders we can easily forget to show up in the lives of others. The Follow Up Format is unique to each individual freelancer, however it is usually a custom crafted routine. It can include a phone call, or an email, a hand written note, or even a quick face to face hello. Sometimes the follow up can even include a small token of appreciation. But, usually the Follow Up will include your name, the location of where you made your connection, the day or date, and a summery of what was said, followed by a sincere message of gratitude. Be polite, and be gracious. After all, no one person is required to like you, but your business may require it in order to survive.

Remember, networking is the heart of your business and you need to keep it beating – no one wants their business to go into cardiac arrest.  The more you practice the above skills the more you will be able to build a strong and healthy network.

Talk To Firgs!

 

 

 

 

 

Although you can find me on most of the social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter under the name “Firgs”, I choose to concentrate most of my energy on Google+. I find that it allows me to connect with my audience in a way that other social media websites do not. If you’d like to contact me about a quote for your project or about one of the images for sale in my portfolio, the best ways are through Google+, my email, or the contact form on this page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

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