Designing book covers- why I like it

As a graphic designer most people automatically think that I only work on making websites look great. While I do love this aspect of my job, I also like some variety in the type of projects I work on. That is why anytime I have the chance to design a book cover I always jump at the opportunity. Graphics for a website and designs for a book cover are always projects that are completely different and this helps me stay engaged in my work.

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When I am designing a book cover I get the chance to get lost for a little bit in another world. Since the cover usually has to show some aspects of the plot, I get to read a short summary of the story, if not the entire book, and I have recently discovered that it is a great way to relax. Even though every book is not from a genre I usually like, enough of them are to make it well worth my time to read.

 

I also love the freedom that comes with designing a cover. While there are a few guidelines I have to follow, mainly that the cover must have something to do with the book. I do have a lot more freedom in the design than I do with a website. With fewer restrictions on the design I can really let my “creative juices” flow, and this is beneficial for all aspects of my career. I’ve learned that after a while my graphic designs can start to look a little “flat”, and this is never good for business. My clients certainly don’t want to pay for a graphic design that looks the same as everyone else. It is definitely not uncommon for me to use some of the ideas I got from creating a book cover on my next graphic design project.

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The other main reason I enjoy designing book covers is that the deadlines are often less stressful. Graphic designers are almost constantly under pressure to meet a deadline, and if you are dealing mainly with online clients you already know that the time frames can change and it is usually not in your favor. A design for the book cover can be easily completed before the novel is finished, and most editors will hire you for the job several months in advance. Speaking of advances that is just one more reason to design the occasional book cover since most of these jobs will pay you before the project is finished. I can’t tell you how many times this has made it possible for me to send my monthly bills in on time.

 

If you’d like to try it out yourself, you can get started with these tips.

A Short Story on How I Injured My Leg

I did it. I hurt my knee while sparring with a friend, and since I have to recover now, I found myself with too much time on my hands. So, as a natural consequence, I decided to document the leg injury I suffered, so that others could take after my cautionary tale and avoid getting themselves in the same unpleasant situation as I did. Unpleasant is too little a word to describe the excruciating pain I experienced when I injured myself, but let’s just leave it at that, or my confidence will just take another hit.

le1I was sparring with my friend, Stephen, when it happened. Since I am a big fan of moving a lot when I box, I am quite aware of how important is for a boxer to have their feet in constant motion, so they do not risk being too static and getting a punch that would send them to the floor in an instant. Let’s make things clear. Stephen is not to blame for what happened, but rather my rashness and lack of attention when I should have been focused on what I was doing. Somehow, I miss-stepped at some point and I landed on my right leg. I was just trying to move my weight from one knee to the other and it happened. It was quite an awkward landing, too, and by the look on Stephen’s face and the strange popping sound my knee made, it must have hurt a lot. I cannot recall the actual moment, but, after that, it really really hurt.

le2Lucky me, I only got a stretched ligament, nothing serious, according to the doctor. For me, it is the first serious injury I have ever suffered, so it is a huge thing for me. So, right now, I am in physical therapy and I must follow the good doctor’s directions to the letter if I want to get well soon. I intend to go back to practicing martial arts, but now I know that I am going to pay better attention to what I do if I do not want a repeat performance of what just happened.

There are a few things I learned from my experience, and I am going to share them with you.

  1.      If I want to be fast, I need to train more. I think my injury was a matter of believing myself to be faster than I actually am … and my injury was a wakeup call like no other.
  2.      My friend is much more experienced than I am and that is bad for me. Apparently, novices are those who get injured more often because they have no idea how to properly control their punches.
  3.      And last, you must talk to your sparring partner about how hard you two are going to train. I was obviously going at it too hard and that is why my injury happened.

I hope my experience will help you avoid some injuries in your training. Of course, I don’t expect to suffer no other injuries in the future, but I surely know more now about what I can and I cannot do.

The equipment you need if you want to practice martial arts

I recently signed up for MMA training (Mixed Martial Arts) at my local gym and I quickly realized that I was going to need some equipment. Thankfully the necessary gear is relatively inexpensive, and I found most of it at my local sporting goods store. If it wasn’t I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with the classes. If you’re new to the sport, like me, here is a list of the equipment you’ll need to get the most out of your martial arts training.

 

Basic Equipment

 

Flexible Cup

 

lk1If you are a guy you will definitely want to invest in a strong cup, and the best ones are also flexible so you can still move without it irritating your inner thighs. Trust me, you will want a cup when it is time to start training with a partner.

 

Mouthguard

 

lk2Unless you really aren’t that worried about the possibility of losing a few teeth you will want to wear a mouthguard. A good one will also keep your jaw from being dislocated during a sparring match. If you are on a budget you can find several great mouthguards for sale, but the best one will be custom made by your dentist.

 

Athletic Tape

 

lk3I don’t think you can ever have enough athletic tape. It is inexpensive and can often prevent injuries. In fact I never start training unless I have at least one roll of tape in my gym bag. When you start boxing or Muay Thai training you might want to consider advancing to hand wraps for added protection, even if you are wearing a pair of sparring gloves.

 

Clothes

 

lk4You want to find a pair of shorts that are loose, but not baggy. You need to be able to move around without restrictions, but you don’t want your shorts to be baggy enough that they get caught on your sparring partner’s foot. The same is also true for your shirt. It should allow for plenty of movement without hanging off your frame. You can find clothes designed specifically for martial arts training, but a good pair of boardshorts and an athletic t-shirt will often work just as well.

 

Shinguards

 

lk5Nothing can knock you out of training faster than a hard kick to the shin, and from what I’ve heard the recovery process can be long and painful. There are two types of shinguards commonly worn, those that come with a sleeve and ones that simply strap on. I prefer shinguards that fasten around my knees with Velcro, though some of my training partners wear sleeves. Both are perfectly capable of providing plenty of protection, and choosing one is usually a matter of personal preference.

 

Headgear

 

lk6This is one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll need once you are ready to start training with a partner. There are several types and styles of headgear to choose from so you can easily find one that feels comfortable to wear. After trial and error I found that the two most important factors to consider is visibility and fit. You want to have a clear field of vision, and if the headgear is adjustable fit won’t be a problem.

 

These are the basic pieces of equipment that you will need when you are just starting out with martial arts training. As your skill level progress or if you decide to stick with the program there are a few others things you will need to get along the way, but we’ll get to those in my next blog post.

2 good websites where you can find the latest information on fitness gear are Dek23 and cookinglight

Trying out MMA

As you might know already, I’m a graphic designer. On the one hand, I love my job and plan to do it for as much time as possible. On the other hand, sometimes it’s very difficult to stay in shape if you spend more than eight or nine hours in front of the computer, sitting on a chair. In spite of the many office chairs I’ve tried over the years, none of them managed to meet my expectations in terms of comfort. Regardless of this, the main thing that bothers me is that I don’t get enough exercise. I drive to the office and whenever I go out, I always use my car to get there. Usually, I avoid doing more than ten crunches or other simple exercises partly because I’m lazy and partly because I’m tired.

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I’ve been trying to go to the gym regularly for some time. My friend Mike suggested I try out some mixed martial arts training, just take my workout to a whole new level, develop a new physique, and even learn some self-defense tactics. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to make a lot of effort once I joined the gym as I was able to avoid packing several pounds by sticking to a somewhat healthy diet. I make sure to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables so I get my vitamins and minerals, and once in a while I enjoy grilled or baked fish.

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When Mike asked me about whether or not I wanted to give MMA a try, I didn’t know what to say, at first. I thought martial arts were a bit too much for me. Once I got back home and started to do a bit of research on the matter, I came across some videos that explained several beginners’ techniques. While it might not be the easiest type of martial arts out there, I am rather ambitious and willing to try new things, so why not give it a shot? I just bought a pair of MMA gloves for my first training session. I am looking forward to seeing how MMA makes me feel and hopefully, I will be able to stick to it. Getting into martial arts might take some time, especially if you’re not used to the kicks and movements, or even to the strenuous warm-up routines. Either way, I’m determined to do my best, and I’ll be sure to document as much of the experience as possible.

How is it to be a graphic designer?

Blogging is a form of connecting people nowadays, or so I see it. My name is Mike Lenke and I’m a graphic designer, a profession that requires me to spend a great deal of my time behind a screen. If you’re a graphic designer too, you’ll understand it when I say that it is difficult to reach out to other professionals in the field for advice and assistance, as we are most of the time head over heels buried in our work and not very communicative, especially if we’re asked to open ourselves on other matters that are not our current projects.

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Graphic design is one of those jobs that you must choose out of passion and, even though you may go through moments when you want to smash your laptop against the wall while practicing it, you have to cling on to that passion to keep going.

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As a graphic designer, if you are not an organized person, your number one enemy will be deadlines – they will follow you like a plague from one project to another and you that you will never have free time to do anything else but working on your project and that you’ll probably take the shape of your computer chair and won’t be able to ever come back to your human form.

There’s no standard recipe that you can use to be successful and eliminate stress from your life when you start a career in this field. If there are a few tips I would give you after a couple of years in this domain, these are really simple:

  • Accept that your life from the moment you get hired will be a non-stop roller-coaster. You will be faced with deadlines continuously, some of them more relaxed, others excruciating.
  • Schedule a working volume day by day and include in it: possible moments when you don’t feel like working, technical issues, creativity blockages and oversleep issues. Realizing that you have chosen a career that requires you to work with multiple aspects of your personality: creativity, organization, dealing with stressful situations, accepting negative feedback or letting others participate in the way you do your work is the only way to still be alive at the end of a long day.
  • Stick to the schedule.
  • Don’t overthrow your personal life for your career. Of course, this is an advice you could give to anybody who is trying to build a reputation in any domain but, some fields have a higher potential of turning you into a work addict than others. Graphic designers don’t work on a 9 to 5 schedule. They mostly have individual projects and they make their own working program. This can be a positive thing, meaning that you don’t have somebody telling you when and how to work, but can have  a negative side, that of poor time organization which can lead to weeks in which you feel that you need to work constantly, without noticing any significant progress.
  • Don’t let yourself be disappointed if your ideas are not always of use. It’s true that graphic designers need to be creative in terms of technical methods they employ and they have a wide spectrum of choices when it comes to making a brand new design, but, sometimes, your clients will have strict norms and specific ideas on the wanted project which will minimize your contribution to the final result. If you have several projects like that, you may experience a sense of disappointment, thinking this job is nothing like you’ve imagined it to be. However, remember that, in time, it gets better and you’ll be able to say no to jobs that do not allow you to use your creativity or that you don’t feel you would like spending time working on.

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I can proudly say that I’m not (anymore) an addict to my profession and I have other passions as well, about which I’d like to open up on this blog. I love working out, not only for the sake of bodybuilding or losing weight, but for a variety of reasons and I also enjoy traveling. In addition to sharing my knowledge on graphic design, I would very much love to share with you my travel and workout experiences as well.