10 Copyright Laws Every Graphic Designer Should Know

Copyright is defined as having the exclusive right to control reproduction and commercial exploitation of your work. In a world where truly inspirational art has taken a backseat to fame and fortune it is important to make sure your true creations remain yours in the eyes of the law. For aspiring designers, it is especially important to get your signature on every original piece you produce unless contracted or compensated to not do so. It is also important to properly cite borrowed graphics that you use to avoid any potential legal trouble.

Most art schools and major graphic institutes offer good Adobe Training that teach you how to properly cite your work and share it with others. The problem is we usually get so lost in creating a masterful piece we forget to seal it when we are done. Here are 10 copyright laws that every designer should know and practice to help preserve what honesty is left in the world of creative design.

What You Need to Know About Copyright Laws


1. Save Yourself Time and Understand What CAN’T be Copyrighted by Designers

Here is a list of things designers can’t copyright:

  • Titles
  • Slogans
  • Names
  • Measurement Charts
  • Calendars
  • Symbols
  • Variations of lettering or coloring

Many of these things can only be protected by trademarks. The difference between copyrighting and trademarking is that copyrighting is simply the act of using the trademarked item in written text to market, advertise, or convey a viewpoint and citing that text as your own. Trademarking is a means of identification to distinguish a name, symbol, figure, or word as unique to that merchant or manufacturer. Even if a name is trademarked it can still be used in a design or written work as long as it isn’t manufactured under that name.

2. Copyright Registration

Registration is not required for your work to be copyrighted since it really was copyrighted when you put it in print. However, you need to register if you want to be able to sue somebody for statutory damages. That little copyright symbol represents your claim to it and lets people legally know they can’t claim it as their own or plead dumb under the innocent infringer rule. Using the copyright symbol itself in the image is not required but notice needs to be given with the image that it is registered in order for you to be able to sue for damages.

3. Your Creation, Your Copyright

So is the copyright automatically mine if I create it? Yes and no. An exception would be if you are designing something for an employer then more often than not they will own part of the copyright as well. Most companies will want your work for them to be solely theirs but it’s good to get shared rights so you can claim it for solid reference. Usually these agreements prohibit you from using the image anywhere else but you still claim it as your creation. Other than that, yes, any original work you create is yours.

4. Defining Infringement

Infringement is when someone takes a substantial part of your design without your authority. Exact standards vary from nation to nation but generally the substance is considered the part that defines your work as unique and truly gives it originality.

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6 key terms graphic designers should know

Whether you’re a newbie, a student or just in need of a refresher, read this guide.

Graphic design, like any profession, is littered with jargon and terms you may not be familiar with. Here are just some of the key terms you should know, and a brief explanation in words you can understand – plus where to go to learn more.

01. Raster images and vector images

Vector-based images (like this one) are made of points; raster images are made of pixels

Raster images (sometimes referred to as bitmap images) are made up of thousands of pixels which determine the colour and form of the image.

Photos are raster images. Photoshop is the most common raster editor, enabling you to manipulate the colour and other properties of the pixels. But, because raster images are made up of a finite amount of pixels, resizing can be tricky. If you make a raster image larger dimensions in Photoshop, the software has to make up data in order to add the size. This results in loss of quality.

Vector images

Vector-based images (such as those created in Adobe Illustrator) are made up of points, each of which has a defined X and Y coordinate. These points join paths to form shapes, and inside these shapes you can add colour fills. Because everything is generated based around this, vectors can be resized to any size without any loss of quality.

In recent times, Illustrator has progressed so much that vector graphics have become incredibly complex – and you can now add gradients, complex shapes and more to create highly detailed, scalable vector images. Because vectors can be resized, they are often used for creating logos and other graphics that need to go across many different outputs (from leaflet to billboard, for instance).


02. CMYK and RGB

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key

CMYK is the standard colour mode for sending documents – be it magazines, newspapers, flyers, brochures, annual reports and so on to the printers. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or black – key because in four-colour printing, cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed, or aligned, with the key of the black key plate). When you send a job to the press, cyan, magenta, yellow and black plates are made (on a traditional press, anyhow) and then aligned to print on paper. You can add Pantone, or fifth colours, which are created as separate plates.

When working in Photoshop or Illustrator, you have the option to set your document’s colour mode as CMYK, RGB (red, green, blue – for screen output) or other colour modes (but the former pair are the two you really need to know about).

Because CMYK has a more limited colour gamut than RGB (which is essentially what the eye sees and how screens output) you can experience a loss of colour when converting from RGB to CMYK in these applications.


03. DPI and PPI

The more dots per inch, the better quality the printed image will be

Resolution is another key term that is often confused. There are two main acronyms used when dealing with resolution: DPI and PPI.

The former is only of concern when you’re creating work for printed output. It stands for ‘Dots Per Inch’ and refers to the number of dots per inch on a printed page. Generally, the more dots per inch, the better quality the image – and 300DPI is the standard for printing images.

PPI refers to ‘Pixels Per Inch’ and, as you’d expect, is the number of pixels per inch in your image. If you resize an image in Photoshop – making it larger – you will increase the number of pixels per inch (with Photoshop making up the data) and you will lose quality.

Bear in mind that resolution only applies to raster graphics – because vectors do not work in pixels.


04. Typography

Put simply, typography is the art of arranging type. It’s one of the fundamentals of graphic design and one every designer should read into in great detail.

The difference between good type and great type is often what sets brilliant designers apart. And being able to spot a kerning (the space between two characters) error from a distance is somewhat satisfying!


05. Grids

Setting up a grid enables you to get your composition right

The best way to describe a grid in graphic design in a series of intersecting vertical and horizontal lines used to organize and structure content. Whether in InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator, setting up a grid enables you to get your composition right and balance your type and imagery.

Common grid systems include a large header across the top with equally sized columns beneath – but there’s no real limit on what can be created.

06. Logo design vs branding

Logos are powerful graphic tools, but they’re a just part of the branding process

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Upcoming international design events in 2015

1. OFFF Barcelona

  • 28-30 May 2015
  • Barcelona, Spain

OFFF is this year celebrating its 15th birthday. The theme: “let’s feed the future.” The venue: the Design Museum of Barcelona. Past events – conferences, workshops, activities, performances – have hosted some of the biggest names in the creative industries. Expect more of the same this year.

The three-dayer is for anyone interested in everything from graphic design and web development, to motion and sound design – and almost everything in between. “OFFF,” its organisers say, “is made for the curious.”

2. Reasons to be Creative

  • 7-9 September 2015
  • Brighton, UK

A festival for artists, designers, coders and creative minds, Reasons to be Creative returns to the sunny British seaside town of Brighton on the 7 September 2015. Every year a stellar line up of passionate, international speakers and attendees flock to the south coast city to share mindblowing stories of creativity – if you’re looking to remember why you got into design in the first place, this is the event for you.

Aside from the fantastic speakers and workshops on offer, Reason’s signature ‘elevator pitch’ – where a selection of creatives looking to break onto the speaker circuit attempt to wow the audience with a three-minute pitch – is worth a watch.

In addition, the whole thing is run like clockwork and the £1 drinks each evening at the venue bar ensure you’ll leave with more friends than you arrived with.

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Importance of graphic design

Graphic design is an important tool that enhances how you communicate with other people. It serves to convey your ideas in a way that is not only effective, but also beautiful. Here are just a few factors to consider before investing in graphic design services.

It makes you look good


Good design makes you look good. It’s that simple. Great graphic design allows you to make a positive first impression on those looking on. Human beings form initial opinions in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, it takes a lot more time to have a change of heart after a first impression is made. Aesthetically pleasing, professionally designed graphics will cause other persons to form positive opinions about your product, service or brand.

It sets you apart

People have choices. It’s important to know that the graphic design that you choose to represent your brand can set you apart from your competition – whether negatively or positively. Great design stands out in the minds of decision makers and can influence their choices, both deliberately and subconsciously. By nature, people like to associate with things that look good and make them feel good. By investing in quality graphic design, you are significantly increasing your brand’s ability to stand out in the minds of key decision makers.

It conveys a message of credibility and professionalism

As noted earlier, graphic design plays a significant role in the decision-making process. Companies that invest in quality graphic design are perceived to be more trustworthy. Presentation and perception can make or break any business. Persons are looking for signs of professionalism to convince them that you can be trusted. One such sign is the way that you present yourself. It’s important to present yourself in the best possible way by investing in quality graphic design.

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The top 10 current trends in the field of graphic design

Various notable and companies and their CEO’s are always on the hunt for some brilliant graphic-designing talent out there. This is mostly due to the fact that the verge of mobile internet platform and the need for applications has been and constantly in great want, which certainly requires an efficient design and appealing look to apart from having great functionality.

Some of the most known and popular designing trends, which some of you might already be aware of such as responsive designing, typography, speed & users, and the material designing. Here are the most notable 50+ graphic designing trends for 2015 by the experts of designing themselves.


  1. Materialistic Designing


This technique of designing that has gained a very remarkable reception in the global designing community is a fresh concept invented by Google back in the June of 2014. By the end of the preceding year, couple of websites has implemented material designing techniques into their infrastructures both for the web portals and the mobile platform. Google has also been using material designing since it was created by them and the technique is steadfastly growing ever since.


  1. Card Designing

The very neat, minimal and sleek appealing look that this designing trend possess has captivated a lot of viewers of the web in awe and admiration. Card design has already been used in a couple of products of its own by Google and has been a very popular graphic designing trend in 2014 with having great potential in the year of 2015 as well. Card designing is now gaining fast momentum on various sites for both mini and big formats of the web.


  1. A video background with a full width


This particular trend is more famous for sites that represent small and big businesses on the web. Having full-width video embedded at the top of your site gives your viewers a very easy and convincing message about your organization’s motives. If your company is a start-up on the web and you would like to display your portfolios and testimonials, full-width videos in the background with bold typography and parallax scrolling is a sure way to go.

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The top 10 skills needed for graphic designers

In order to become a well-rounded Graphic Designer, there are a variety of skills that are essential to handling a clients or employers tasks proficiently. Below you’ll find some of the most essential skills that a Graphic Designer will need to have as he/she advances in their career and reaches new height.

In several cases a designer may have excellent artistic abilities and many years of experience, however what separates the “must re-hire” from the rest is the following acquired skills. The following skills will not only make you a more valuable member of a team, but they will also make you much more feasible hire, ergo allowing you to raise your rates in exchange for quality.


1. Style Compared to No Style

Style can be acknowledged as a designer’s signature. When your design needs to reach a targeted audience, whichever styles the audience has been familiarized with can be a valuable addition to the design tools at hand. It’s key that every designer should be comfortable and drawn to their own style. As every project you approach is unique, your style has to leave an imprint on the minds of the audience.

Most designers, (especially the novice) tend to adopt a wide range of contemporary styles for the sake of being well rounded or familiarized. However, style can be whatever the designer desires as long as it’s unique and brings structure to design. If you wish to fully master a style, designer’s should carry out reasearch on its history.


2. Project Management


A lot of designers consider being organized sufficient, but on larger projects it really helps to have a grasp of project management fundamentals. A designer that can actually project manage the design part of a project has an edge over another designer who needs to be told what to do and when to do it and sits there waiting for input.

Leadership is one of the designers strongest points when it comes to managing a project. Taking on a new project/responsibility, means managing the extent of authority you need in order to effectively execute your project. Make sure you have the proper authority at hand before you begin hammering away at a project.


As a leader it’s also important that you are flexible enough to realize when plans need to be changed be or accommodated. Planning shouldn’t stop the moment you think you’ve figured out the direction you wish to steer a project, it should be an ongoing process. Depending on the succession of your plan’s implementation, you would take into account the strategic planning and documentation that placed everything in motion. Bad planning translates to bad implementation and chaotic results.


3. Typography

typography(skills 3)


One of the more underrated design skills today is typography, however, in truth, typography is one of the key things top advertising firms review in a design portfolio. It is usually the difference between a good and excellent designer. Typography requires a firm understanding of font families, appropriate use of line-height, kerning and tracking. The advertising industry is primarily about communication and therefore needs clean, readable, well designed type.

Seasoned designers can tell you that it’s almost impossible to know the names of all the typefaces available. However, if you can learn to identify a portion of the main fonts utilized for clarity in readable content, then you should feel confident. Typography is readily classified as the official language of graphic design. If typography seized to exist, most designs would become irrelevant or obsolete.

Fact is letters come in many different shapes, colors, and forms, and this is what gives graphic design its unique and favorable personality. While knowing technology is essential, if a graphic designer does not learn the difference between families and styles of type, or how and when to best use them, they will not be fluent enough to communicate.

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The top 10 personality traits of a successful graphic designer

Some believe that creative geniuses are born, while others believe that creativity is a learned behavior. Your attitude and the way you see things are two aspects that contribute to what makes you creative.

Creative graphic designers are known for their ability to adapt to all kind of situations and not allowing criticism to render them short. They have a multitude of qualities that many lack.

Here are twelve traits of seriously creative graphic designers:

Highly Motivated

higly motivated

– Creative graphic designers are motivated by the task at hand rather than by material rewards. They find motivation in the challenge that a task presents rather than allowing the material benefits to dictate what they do.

Very Imaginative


– They stand out from the crowd. While others follow the latest trends and find inspiration in other people’s work, the creative graphic designers find inspiration in everyday things and themselves.

Truly Passionate – Passion tends to be the main driving force behind creativity. You have to love what you do in order to do it well. Unless you are passionate about what you do, you will not be able to completely focus on the task at hand and soon get tired of it.

Adore Challenges – Creative graphic designers do not shy away from challenges. They let their curiosity get the best of them, allowing them to ask questions and discover things most of us overlook. This curiosity gets them intrigued by challenges and they are able to tackle them head on.

Manage Time – Time management can become a challenge for many graphic designers who take on multiple projects and fail to deliver on time, leading to a lack in creativity. A good graphic designer would assess his/her current workload and is realistic in his approach towards work so every project s/he takes can be given its due time.

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10 Tips for graphic designers

  1. Pair Contrasting Fonts 


Which fonts look good together & which ones don’t?

Pairing fonts is one of the most common areas that stumps people who are starting out with graphic design.

A great rule of thumb is to choose fonts with high contrast. This will help the fonts balance each other out while still creating a feature in your design.

In this example, the font Sifonn was used for the word “Hawaii” and the font Arvo for the supporting text:

The contrast between the 2 typefaces has been increased by making the size of the title significantly larger & using a bright color to complement the background ocean image.


  1. Match Colors Within Your Designs


Creating color harmony is one of the most effective ways to make your designs stand out.

One way to create harmony is to match the colors you use for your graphic elements — such as fonts or text holders — with a background image.

You can find the exact color from an image using a color picker tool, which will provide you with a hex code — the six digit code that identifies an exact color on the color wheel.

Hex codes are an important concept for graphic design newbies to learn. They’re what you’ll use to construct all the color palettes for your designs!

In the example above, matching the text color with the vibrant pink flowers in the background image helps the copy stand out.

A transparent shape has also been added as a text holder to help with legibility.

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The top 10 companies to work for, in the field of graphic design

1. Pentagram


Pentagram was established in London in 1972 by graphic designers Colin Forbes, Mervyn Kurlansky and Alan Fletcher, architect and sculptor Theo Crosby, and acclaimed industrial designer Kenneth Grange. The idea was to create a multidisciplinary collective based on equality and independence. Today, it’s the biggest independent design firm in the world and is operated by 19 partners who each run their own teams in London, Berlin, San Francisco, New York and Austin. Pentagram’s design scope is wide – ranging from architecture to books – and clients include the Whitney Museum of American Art, Saturday Night Live, 21st Century Fox, Wired, the Sundance Film Festival and Activision. “Great design cannot happen without passion, intelligence and personal commitment, which is demonstrated by a portfolio of work that spans five decades,” proudly claims the company’s mission statement.


2. Landor Associates

Branding pioneer Walter Landor established award-winning consulting firm Landor Associates in a tiny San Francisco apartment in 1941. In 1964 he famously moved the company’s headquarters to the Klamath ferryboat, which he renovated, in San Francisco Bay. Today, Landor has 26 offices spread out across the globe – from Bangkok to Tokyo. “Walter Landor invented branding. We’ve been reinventing it ever since,” states the company’s official website. Landor – which offers a “full range of integrated brand consulting, creative and design services” – prides itself on breathing new life into brands. A notable example of this is Landor’s work with Federal Express, for in 1999 it advised the delivery company to reinvent itself as FedEx and created the now-iconic invisible arrow FedEx logo with an original typeface. Other past or present clients of the agency include Procter & Gamble, BP, Cathay Pacific Airways, Citroën and Volkswagen.

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The 10 most influential people in the field of graphic design

If you’re embarking on a career in graphic design – or just interested in creating some great layouts – there are some designers that you positively need to know about.

These are the designers that have changed the way graphic design is seen in the contemporary world; the mavericks; the thinkers; those who have made a difference

01. Milton Glaser

Glaser was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2009.

Milton Glaser is one of the world’s most celebrated graphic designers. His most famous work is undoubtedly the logo he designed for New York to promote tourism in the city in 1977 (below). Much copied, much used and much adored, the ‘I love New York’ logo is set in American Typewriter, a rounded slab serif.



i love ny>His ‘I Love New York’ logo has been in use since 1977


02. Stefan Sagmeister

Born in Austria, New York-based graphic designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister has had somewhat of resurgence in the last year – mainly due to Sagmeister Inc becoming Sagmeister & Walsh after he made talented young designer Jessica Walsh partner. Announcing himself on the scene 20 years ago with a naked shot, the pair recently did the same thing, and it did the PR job.

But there’s more to Sagmeister than nudity: his often conceptual, thought-provoking work has turned just as many heads as his PR: particularly his ‘cutting’ work for AIGA and his incredible album artwork for Lou Reed.

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About me

*Resume*          jiyoun1jiyoun

I’m Ji Youn Lee and an international student coming from South Korea. I came here to study advertising, and I’m attending to California State University, Fullerton.

Actually, I was major in Economics when I was in Korea, but I have had a desire to study advertising in the U.S. since I was young. Therefore, I set a goal and prepared what I would need to do for it, and then I finally came here in 2011.

I had a language barrier at the first time, and so it was a very hard time studying English rather than others. I’m still struggling with the language barrier, but I’m solving the problem step by step while studying English and my major, advertising, in the university.

I have liked to watch various movies and soap operas since I was young, so I have had to watch commercials between the movies or soap operas. At that time, I just hated that commercials because I thougt that it disturbed the TV shows, but since I saw them every time to watch the TV programs, I started to be interested in that commercials.

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