The AC Vent

Design gets a breath of fresh air.

Gift Guide for Self-Employed Designers
Date: December 18, 2014

Gift Guide for Self-Employed Designers

Is there a self-employed/freelance designer in your life that you’re struggling to find a gift for? Have no fear, last-minute shopper. As most self-employed peeps will tell you, buying treats or gadgets for themselves tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list, right next to updating their own website. So I’ve put together a list of things that your designer friend would be thrilled to find under the tree this year (I have a few of these, but would be thrilled by the rest, too!).

Gift Guide for Self-Employed Designers

Tech Gifts

  1. Sharkk ergonomic mouse. $16.99. I just got one of these and already love it. More importantly, my wrist loves it.
  2. USB hub. $13.99. So many things to plug in, not enough ports. This sleek aluminum hub fixes that.
  3. Inkling digital sketch pen. $68.95. Sketch on regular paper, get a digitized version. I would LOVE one of these.

For Fun

  1. Pantone mug. $17.99, your choice of color. Self-employed designers are guaranteed to love 2 things: hot caffeinated beverages, and color. Get the best of both worlds here.
  2. Page turner lamp. $19.99. Turn the page for a new illustration every day! Just a fun concept.
  3. Popular Lies About Graphic Design. $13.51. Beautifully designed and looks like an interesting read to boot.

Useful Subscriptions

  1. HOW Magazine gift subscription. $29.96 for one year. The go-to magazine for business, tech, and creative inspiration for designers. Their issues are always fun to page through.
  2. Graze box subscription. Starting at $19.47 for 3 boxes. People who are self-employed and work form home tend to be grazers. Help them keep nutrition and portions in check with this snack box service. I use this and love it.
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. $599 If you’re rocking Christmas Daddy Warbucks style, this year-long subscription to the full line of Adobe products would make any designer’s day.

Chime in, fellow independent designers! What do you hope to find under the tree this year?

25 free script fonts
Date: December 9, 2014

25 Free Script Fonts

Continuing the full exposure of my font obsession, today I’m sharing with you 25 script fonts. Just in case you still need to put together your fancy holiday cards, these will fit the bill. Scripts are fonts that mimic the look of handwriting. They may or may not actually look handwritten. The list I did previously was all about the handwritten look, but today’s list features scripts that are more elegant and clean cursive. But as you’ll see, even within that narrow scope, you can find a decent range of styles and font personalities. And as before, all of these fonts are free to download and use. Check out the previews and download links below:

25 Free Script Fonts

Download links:

  1. Aka Dora
  2. Alex Brush
  3. Blessed Day
  4. CAC Champagne
  5. Channel Slanted 2
  6. Corinthia
  7. Dragon is Coming
  8. Elegant
  9. Freebooter Script
  10. Halo Handletter
  11. Janda As Long As You Love Me
  12. Judith
  13. Lavanderia
  14. Living Together
  15. Marketing Script
  16. Miss Brooks
  17. Old Glory
  18. Rouge Script
  19. Sacramento
  20. Signarita Zhai
  21. So Lonely
  22. The Loyalist
  23. Veilchen
  24. Windsong
  25. Volutes

What are some of your favorite script fonts?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Date: November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just dropping by to wish you all a Happy and Wonderful Thanksgiving! (or for you non-US readers, happy Thursday!) May it be full of delicious food and free of family drama. I’ll be out of office today and tomorrow spending time with my own little Texas family, eating myself silly, and watching the UT game. Have a great weekend!

Cutting the (Phone) Cord
Date: November 21, 2014

Cutting the (Phone) Cord

So, I’ve gone and done something most business-y types will tell you is a bad idea.

I’ve removed my phone number from my website.

Yes, this site. My business site. And it’s precisely to help my business that I did so.

I am a one-woman operation here, which means I handle everything: emails, invoicing, accounting, bidding, social media, etc. Plus, you know, all of the actual design work. In the space of any given day, I already have a lot on my plate. Having my concentration and work flow interrupted by unscheduled and unnecessary phone calls is both an annoyance and a waste of my valuable time. And, sadly, I get too many of those. Marketers, sure, despite being on the Do Not Call list. I’ve even gotten a few prank calls from what I assume (hope?) are bored teenagers. But mostly just people who didn’t take the time to read my website, asking me about services that I clearly state I don’t offer. Or people (that I’ve never worked with) who have a last minute project they expect me to drop everything to take on, for a laughably small budget or “exposure” – ha!

In short: people who don’t respect my time.

And I am officially fed up with it. I’m not a phone person to begin with, so maybe this piques my ire more than most. But there’s also no reason I need to put up with it. Cold calls aren’t exactly a big source of clientele for me. I’m an online girl. So I’m not losing out by doing this. I’d be losing out if I didn’t do this. Aside from putting me in a bad mood, wasting time on nonsense calls hurts the efficiency of my business, and the quality of work I provide to my actual clients.

Those actual clients, by the way, all have or will be provided with my phone number. I’m not cutting out the phone completely. I’m still happy to talk to current and past clients about our projects, and for potential clients I’m happy to schedule a time – via email! – to talk on the phone and then provide my number. It’s not an interruption then, it’s relevant and part of my workflow.

So if you go looking for my phone number on this site and can’t find it, that’s why. And if you actually need to talk to me, you either already have my number (hello, current client!) or can email me to set up a time.

And if that bothers you, you can move right along to a different designer’s site, as this is how I’m doing business from now on.

< / rant >

One-person business sites not having a listed phone number: deal-breaker or no?

For the record, I also have all notifications turned off on my phone, so I don’t get interrupted by tweets or anything like that either. So if it takes me a bit to answer your tweet, it’s because I’m working!

And no, my phone doesn’t actually have a cord. It’s a metaphor, people.

Freelance Conference
Date: October 31, 2014

Freelance Conference Recap

The first ever Freelance Conference was this past Tuesday. It was billed as an event “created by freelancers, for freelancers […] those who leave a J-O-B with the dream of freedom, better income, and the ability to control our own careers.” I had met the founder, Emily Leach, through some networking events and heard her talk about this new venture. And I was excited for it. I’d never been to a professional conference before, not having an employer to sponsor my travel & ticket (looking at you, HOW Design). This one not only had an affordable ticket price, but was also right here in Austin and geared specifically towards the self-employed. That’s the holy trinity of conference specs as far as I’m concerned.

To say I jumped on registration when it opened is not an exaggeration; it turns out I was the very first person to buy a ticket. Emily actually called me out up at the start of proceedings for being the first person to support the Freelance Conference. I didn’t get the face-burny feeling I usually get from blushing, so hopefully I handled that surprise ok. Thanks, Emily!

Ok, so the conference itself. I’m glad to say it lived up to what I was hoping for, especially for an inaugural event. Here’s some highlights:


  • Affordability: it was $92 for a ticket. No problemo.
  • The time & location: Abel’s on the Lake was a great location (free parking, great water views) and I liked that the conference didn’t start super early (I’m not a morning person) or run very late.
  • Having Brad Closson start off the day’s panels with a fun twist on networking was brilliant. I liked this panel MUCH more than I thought I would from the website description, and met some lovely people as a result.
  • The Clients From Hell panel during lunch was well-done – interesting enough to entertain, but didn’t require note-taking so you could actually eat your meal.
  • All of the panels were at least interesting and kept my attention, though some were more applicable or organized than others.
  • Being surrounded by people who actually get all of the ups and downs, perks and heartaches of freelancing was awesome.


  • Technical difficulties regarding the Skype call with Brennan Dunn. His was the panel I was most excited about, and it was cut short because of this. But it works out ok, because I’m taking his free email class on the same topic now.
  • Hard wooden chairs all day. There was bruising. ‘Nuff said.
  • While all of the topics were great, not all of them included actionable steps on how to apply this new knowledge. I like my workshops/panels to be practical, too, not just theoretical.

Overall, I had a lot of fun, and I’ve come away with some new connections and a ton of new ideas for my business. Plus, of course, all of the great swag. ;) And apparently the conference for 2015 is already in planning stages, so it will be happening again next year. I, for one, will jump on that registration bandwagon right away.

What’s the best conference you’ve been to?