As businesses and organizations continue to migrate analog imagery to digital, sometimes they realize the only copy of an important graphic is painted on a wall, embroidered on a shirt, or part of a piece of stationary. It’s time to freshen those images up!

An example of recreating, rebooting and refreshing came with a graphics project from a cathedral, to render a bishop’s coat of arms with a new background. This new version is intended for printing on canvas banners.We’d love the opportunity to help with your project. Contact us for a quote!




When a book designer takes on a client, there are certain expectations regarding research. The cover images and typography selections need to correspond to the subject of the book. As a book designer, my best client is a true crime author, which means I need to perform some interesting searches for graphics source material. A friend once asked what was new and interesting. When I told him I was searching for corpses and good looking dead bodies,  he asked if he should be worried. I chucked and explained I was recreating a murder scene for a book cover.

Sometimes designing book covers results in curious Google searches for reference images (and I’d like to say “hello!” to my personal NSA observer as I type). True crime genre art involves gore! Blood! Corpses!  Finding good looking deceased samples is difficult.  Most accident victims are deformed in some sort of way, or the angle of perspective is wrong.  Occasionally I find a treasure trove, such as a small collection of early  20th century forensic photography shot in New South Wales, Australia. 

Once I find a decent corpse photograph, I decide what I like best about the image subject: good body parts to use in a collage, the lighting, position in repose…  there are many good uses for one photograph.  A good photograph can be revisited for different projects, so when researching photographs, keeping notes about where the photo was archived, what website exhibited it, copyright permissions, etc. is essential.

I consider myself lucky that some of my commissioned cover art came at the request of a friend and organized crime historian, since the subject matter is challenging to illustrate in a tasteful manner.  Having said that, I’m open to working with romance novelists when I can search for handsome bodies instead of dead ones. But if you’re interested in reading about murder in Prohibition-era Cleveland, check out The Sly-Fanner Murders, by Allan R. May.




Working in collaboration with teams and supervising others is humbling. When you think about it, nobody is born to be a manager. A friend of mine in the field of archives mentioned to me years ago that, when we are little children and asked what we want to be when we grow up, responses are “librarian,” “teacher,” “doctor” and so forth. Nobody dreams of being a library director, a principal or a hospital administrator, yet as we continue along our career paths, sooner or later we find ourselves in a position of authority.

After many years working under the direction of managers in higher education, I was offered a role with responsibility for supervising a department of university students. I can say with absolute authority that I blundered many aspects of leadership, and my crew was quick to show me the error of my ways. Like many, I was taught how to manage projects, software, budgets, but nowhere along my career did anyone teach me how to manage people.

When we speak of management, I believe what we really should be doing is coaching and motivating people as a priority, rather than managing objects and things. Properly supported and allowed room to work, your team will achieve success. After a few years of mistakes, I distilled my managerial theory into four simple rules. Every decision I’ve made that was successful followed these principles.

First, and the simplest, is that you praise people publicly, and criticize privately. There is nothing that rewards people as in sharing their accomplishments to the group. Likewise, if you want to sow seeds of sedition, blow up at them or criticize them personally in front of others. If you must criticize in front of colleagues, such as in a meeting, criticize the project detail and not the person. Make certain you offer thoughts on how to make the project better or solve the problem.

Second, we all have complaints about work. Procedures that fail, difficult persons and other obstacles litter every workplace. If you want to complain, complain up the chain of command, and never down to team members that report to you. Complaining without providing a viable solution helps motivate nobody.

Third, managers best understand how to delegate and develop workflows when they are intimately familiar with the task at hand. I never assigned a project to anyone that I could not, and would not, be willing to do myself. Managers are time challenged, and the crew you hire and train is there to help you get the job done so you can spend time on the bigger picture. Be certain you know the job you’re assigning, especially if you’re needed to pitch in and help.

Fourth, and the most important rule of management I apply, is that the manager’s job is to remove the obstacles that prevent workers from performing the job they were hired to do. This can be as straightforward as anticipating supply needs, or upgrading that desktop PC built in 2008, but just as importantly, it can be understanding how the tragedies of personal lives can impact work. It’s impossible for someone to focus on work when a loved one is in the hospital, or a spouse is laid off. Sometimes, this also means putting yourself in harms way to protect your workers, such as confronting an unreasonable administrator and personally risking a backlash.

There are many guides for managing and coaching for performance out there, but I can say with authority that applying these four simple managing principles transformed my ability to lead a team. If you’re new to managing people and projects I hope you find these helpful in your career path.

— Lynn Bycko