5 Tools, stories, & more that made me a better creative this week

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This past week I did something I don’t often do: I explored other blogs on creative pursuits such as design, writing, etc.

To be honest, the most amount of time I spend on a blog is here at Millo when I’m adding my articles or responding to comments.

It’s not that I don’t have the desire for it, I just don’t have the time usually, and there are so many out there, yet so few with truly great content, that I find the “hunt” for great content to be disheartening and exhausting.

I usually avoid it altogether.

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

But…I managed to stumble upon some articles I really liked, as well as discovered some really cool resources for creative projects.

Some of them had such an impact on me that I really wanted to share them with you, too.

While these are more “targeted” at designers, many really apply to any creative field. I hope you get as much from them as I did.

1. The “I’m a better designer” checklist

This is a “checklist” to go over with any project that reminds you to go deeper into it, solve problems (and not just create “fancy” things), and really put your heart in your work.

From the checklist:

7. Talk about your design. The more you talk / explain about why you designed that way, the more clarity you get.

You can see how that would just as easily apply to writing or any other form of creative freelancing.

I particularly like this checklist because it’s not one of these…

“1. Interview Client

“2. Research Competitors…”

… kinds of lists. It’s a checklist for becoming more sensitive, talented, and perceptive in your craft.

Check it out here.

2. Tookapic: free, great photography for creative projects

If you’re tired of “Unsplash” and the like, this is a great resource. Especially for photos of people. For some reason, many free stock photo websites are lacking photos of actual human faces. But those are so great for so many facets of marketing.

Use tookapic’s categories and such to find the kinds of photos you need to bring your project to life, or to create mock-ups for clients who haven’t provided their own photography.

I love the movement started by Unsplash though (at least I think they started it) of using really beautiful photography instead of traditional stiff, lifeless stock photography. It definitely brings projects to life in a new way.

However, most of these sites are limited to beautiful landscapes and cityscapes. If you need human subjects, you’re S.O.L. most of the time.

I’m really glad I discovered “tookapic” for that reason.

Here’s a link to “tookapic”‘s collection of free “people pics”You can explore the rest of the site easily from there, too.

We’ve also used and recommend our friends at PicJumbo (here’s their “people” category).

3. Tobias Van Schneider, “The Day You Became a Better Designer”

Again, this is from a designer, but the advice and stories are universal across any creative field.

In this article, Tobias, a designer / creative I really admire, talks about an unusual path he took to becoming such an amazing designer. In fact, he starts by saying:

As far as I remember, I’ve never read any books about design.

(He used to be a freelancer, but became a creative director for Spotify.)

I can really relate to his no-frills advice, and found this Medium article really inspiring.

Tobias’s work is really something. If you haven’t seen it, Google his name and check him out. His work really shows a great deal of depth and understanding of how people interact with advertising mediums.

And, okay, it’s just super frigging cool 😉

Anyways, turns out he has some interesting, inspiring thoughts to share on life and becoming better at your craft.

Read the full article here.

(If you’re unfamiliar with Medium – it’s an open blogging platform that anyone can write, well, anything, on, and it’s published for all the world to see. Some great articles on topics you don’t really find anywhere else – including aspects of being a creative.)

4. uiGradients

I love color. But I have no talent for picking the right ones. That’s why I was thrilled to find a site that has such a beautiful collection of gradients that make perfect overlays for images or text.

When you head to the site, it’ll randomly open a gradient. Use your arrow keys on your keyboard to flip through more.

They display each one with the hex codes too so you can easily pop them into Photoshop or Illustrator or CSS. There are a lot of sites like this, but this is the first one I’ve encountered where I literally have not seen one gradient I didn’t like.

The gradients are user-generated. Feel free to contribute your own as well. You can see it all here.

5. Font Flame: Tinder for font pairing

If you’re having trouble choosing typography for a project or document, this site just might do the trick. It has pairings of heading / paragraph font combinations provided by users.

Just like the Tinder app, you can swipe left or right to “love it” or “hate it.” I found some really great ones I plan on using very soon.

Also very cool – you don’t have to worry about writing them down or storing them somewhere. Just click “My Type” in the site navigation to see all of the ones you marked, “Love it.”

Also: You can actually select the sample text and change it, in case you want to add text relevant to your project to see what it would actually look like. Pretty nifty little website, I must say, that’s opened me up to new fonts and pairings.

Fall in love for yourself here.

What do you think?

Have any inspiring tools / stories of your own to share? Enjoyed these?

I’d love to see them & hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment and let me know about what resources / articles have really helped you out lately.

Or, if any of the above impacted you, let me know that too 🙂 I’d love to hear about it.

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About David Tendrich

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.

 

More about David’s business: David is co-founder of Reliable PSD – what happened when a group of designers got fed up with PSD to Code companies… and created their own. Check them out, and see why freelancers & agencies are head over heels for this amazing new service.

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Comments

  1. Sharon Pettis McElwee says:

    Thanks, David. If you can find the time, I think this would be great to have on Millo weekly. I’ve been looking for good people pics, so I’ll definitely be checking that resource out 🙂

    • Haha this was an exceptional week where I actually had the time to look for these kinds of things 😉 We’ll see though! I’m sure I’ll have more weeks like it down the road 🙂

      Another great one for people pics is https://randomuser.me.

      Especially good for testimonial / team photo placeholders.

      Glad you liked it, thanks for the kind words 🙂

      David

  2. Nice article! I especially liked uiGradients and Font Flame. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nice article! Thanks for sharing. I especially liked uiGradients and Font Flame.

  4. Devin Gilmer says:

    Good stuff, thanks!

  5. I find that I don’t have as much time to surf like I used to either, but sometimes it can help your business when you need new ideas, etc.

  6. Christyl Benford says:

    Awesome content David. I plan to utilize all of these great resources. Very helpful information. Thank you for sharing!

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