.design Success: PaoloFontana.Design

Written By Liz Achanta

Based in Venice, Italy, Paolo Fontana has developed product designs for companies all over the world.

Paolo Fontana, owner of PaoloFontana.Design, works within the fields of visual identity, product design, and environmental graphics. Paolo’s impressive portfolio ranges from designing hydroponic structures to wine and spirits product design to branding and exhibition design for museums. Holding titles like Creative Director and Art Director, it comes as no surprise that Paolo’s work is clean, crisp, and extremely professional.

“My job is to deal with the aesthetics of things related to their functionality,” said Paolo, when asked about his brand mission. In turn, Paolo’s brand mission has helped him achieve his proudest moments – of which he says that his proudest moment as a designer has been the various projects he’s worked on.

“Designing something few people are lucky enough to work on, like the interior of an airliner, or the recent launch of an item that didn’t exist, like a coffee cup that replaces paper cups!”

Paolo said his work on the ATR 72-500 Airplane included developing functional style and design concepts for the airplane’s cabin. This involved intensive creative research, style design, renderings, and mock-ups, which ultimately led to the finished product which currently retails for over $14.4M USD.

Other work of Paolo’s, like the hydroponic structure, included product design, prototyping, and final digital drawings. Paolo has also worked for companies like Piandimare wines, where he developed the visual identity and label design for their Montepulciano d’Abruzzo lineup.

“My biggest obstacle has been to build a rich and explicative portfolio of my style in order to intercept the right client with whom to build interesting projects.”

While actually building his portfolio may have been a challenge, the completed product is worth exploring: with over 50 different projects showcasing Paolo’s work, all on a dot-design domain.

“Dot Design is more than a .com, it goes beyond a country,” says Paolo. “Today it’s necessary to be very specific in communicating immediately what you love to do – that’s why I chose a .design domain.”

For those designers who are looking to find motivation and inspiration to start their own online design business, or even showcase their work online like PaoloFontana.design, Paolo says that having fun is the most important thing to do.

“Having fun while working is without a doubt the mantra I’ve always repeated to myself, I guess sometimes I should have had just a little less fun so as not to waste some of the effort put in.”

For more information on Paolo Fontana and his work, check out any of the medias below:

Website  |  Behance


Written By Guest User

Based in Barcelona, absurd.design specializes in unique, hand-drawn illustrations.

With a whimsical, organic style, absurd.design stands out against the landscape of mostly-digital illustration.

For anyone looking to add a human touch to that special blog post, presentation, or website, absurd.design is a bold and creative choice that will leave a memorable and joyful impression.

With free and paid membership plans to access illustrations licensed for both commercial and personal projects, absurd.design is an accessible and delightful resource created by a talented designer who dares to be different.


Written By Liz Achanta

Emily says: “I have a passion for creating designs that are inspired by the exotic, and love paying close attention to furniture, finishes, and art selections. I have experience interning at design firms in Palm Beach, Florida, my home town, and working in high-end residential design, as well as commercial and hospitality. I love the artistry and stylistic possibilities behind design, and hope to create spaces that are reminiscent of the places we have been, and dream to go.”


Written By Guest User

Energi.design creates award-winning motion graphics, 3D animation & unique website experiences.

Screencaps do not do any justice to the beautiful video graphics throughout the site. We highly recommend you click through to energi.design to experience the site as it was meant to be!

After trying out a number of domain names such as energi.click, energidesign.com and clickenergi.com, they were finally able to acquire the perfect domain to match their brand: energi.design.

As creative director Steve Holmes says, “Energi Design is the actual name of my company, founded 20 years ago. So finally having the exact domain name to match it is perfect. When I learned about .design becoming available, I signed up right away.”

Graphic Design Tough Topics: The Pros and Cons of Contract Employment

Written By Liz Achanta
So you’re a graphic designer, and you’re working a new contract job. You hit the ground running, and are putting all of your best efforts and designs forward to make a good impression. And just when you’re starting to become comfortable in your role and make friends with your team members . . . your contract ends, and now you have to start looking for a new job.

For many graphic designers, this situation can be frustrating – especially to those who were hoping for their contract to be extended, or were trying to work towards a full-time gig. If you’ve found yourself in this situation before, don’t worry – you’re not the only one. According to ColorLib, there were 265,000 Graphic Designers employed in the US in 2021, with 90% of those designers working contract or freelance. This brings us to question if there’s such a large need for graphic design, why aren’t businesses hiring us permanently?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but common theories in the design industry relate to overhead costs to onboarding new employees (compared to the more cost-effective way of hiring designers, like Freelancers), and the fear of a designer’s style not matching the company’s brand (no one wants to be stuck with a bad designer).

While contract work lacks the stability of full-time employment, being contract isn’t always a bad thing. As a matter of fact, according to IBISWorld 90% of Graphic Designers prefer working freelance. Check out our pros and cons list below:

Pros & Cons of Contract Design Jobs

Pro: You can negotiate a higher base salary due to the lack of benefits you don’t receive from being contract. Typically with contract work, you don’t receive the normal benefits a regular employee would receive: like health insurance or paid holidays. Use these ‘cons’ to help you negotiate a higher salary to make up for what you’re anticipating to pay out of pocket for these expenses (or, if you’re married and your health insurance comes from your spouse, pocket that extra cash to pay for the unpaid vacation you’re planning on taking!).

Con: You don’t get paid holidays or vacation time – so you need to save enough to cover these unpaid times off. Some contract companies offer a few days of paid sick leave, but this is not always guaranteed as well – so make sure you ask about this benefit while you’re interviewing with your recruiter.

Pro: You have more flexibility over your schedule. Unlike regular exempt employees, your work schedule really can stop at 40 hours if you want it to (or you can cash in on that overtime pay). With most contract workers, you can decide when you work and for how long – giving you more autonomy over your personal and work life.

Con: You have a shorter amount of time to learn the job. Since you’re employed for a short amount of time, the expectation is that you get as much done as possible, so you have to hit the ground running starting day one.

Pro: Your employment is relatively secure during the length of your contract. Contract workers are generally hired for specific projects or services that employers anticipate to last for a short period of time. That means the employer has funds reserved specifically for you, for that project, so you can typically anticipate no surprises during the course of your contract, which also means you know exactly when to start looking for a new job as your contract wraps up.

Con: Contractors are usually the first to go during corporate downsizing. While this isn’t always the case – like General Motors, who offered early retirement as a first option to their corporate downsizing in 2019 – the seniority structure of the “last to arrive is the first to go” is usually an easy-out for companies looking to decrease their headcount. And since contractors aren’t regular, full-time employees, well . . . you get the picture.

Pro: You can get your foot in the door with certain companies. Have dreams of working for a large tech company or a Big Three, but are having a hard time finding full time employment with them? Working through a contract company and showing your value as an irregular employee is a great way to show your value, and express your interest in working for them on a full-time basis. If your employer likes you and your work, there’s always the possibility of extending the contract or working contract-to-hire.

Con: If you want training and development, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. For full-time employees, paid T&D or tuition reimbursement is becoming the new “norm” as a benefit for working with a company – according to Georgetown University, employers spend $177 billion annually on formal training, and $413 billion on informal on-the-job training. Unfortunately if you want to stay competitive with your colleagues and relevant in the newest software, you’re going to have to save a portion of your paycheck to pay for these classes.

How to land that full-time gig:

Start freelancing to bulk up your portfolio & resume. By showing off your versatile skills as a contract designer, you’re telling potential employers you’re able to adapt quickly to their needs and could start designing right away. Need help setting up your online portfolio? Check out our related blog post here.

Join a professional design community like AIGA or the International Council of Design to make professional connections, like independent design agencies or heads of design departments.

Build on the relationships you already have: hit up that old manager you had two jobs ago to see how they’re doing (and if they’re hiring anyone on their team), or post a catch-all status on LinkedIn saying how you’re looking for a new position.

Learn all about UX design (and how to put the customer first). On average, UX designers earn more than the typical Graphic designer, with a base salary of $95,577 compared to the $58,260 mean annual salary of other occupations in the US. You can get started learning more about UX design by earning a Google UX Design Professional Certificate, which is free if you complete the course in 7 days, or by taking professional classes at your local community college or university.

Here’s some places where you can find full-time Graphic Design jobs:

How to set up an art fair station: Build an art booth that allows your work to shine, and entices visitors to purchase your artwork.

Written By Guest User
An art fair is an excellent time to build a following and garner new fans for your works of art. Make the most out of the opportunity by designing a booth that engages the crowds. But given that an art fair can feature dozens, or even hundreds, of other artists–how can one create a booth that stands out? Follow a few key principles of design and presentation to make sure you’re setting up your art fair station for success.

Invest in quality

Think about the little details that assist with your presentation. The tables, chairs, signage, and even the adhesives that keep your art on the walls. The last thing you want to worry about that day is your canvases sliding off the walls! Make sure to invest in quality materials that will allow for a professional and seamless display of your work.

Leverage the elements of style

You’re an artist and already understand the building blocks of good design, decor, and art flow. While you might be eager to showcase everything you’ve produced over the last few years, be sure to select a reasonable number of works for display. Don’t over-clutter your booth. Instead, curate your best works so that there’s ample space between each canvas or sculpture. Design your booth so that it showcases your different abilities, skills and looks. Think about the big picture, and how your art booth might look from afar.

Know your audience

Depending on the type of art fair, think about the typical attendees and their preferences. For example, an art fair at a beach town might prefer light and bright colors to match their seaside homes. Also, unless you’re presenting at a millionaires-only event, consider offering a range of different price points and sizes to appeal to a wider audience.

Be professional

Art fairs can be a long, draining day of chatting with followers and new fans. There can alsp be a lot of downtime. No matter what, refrain from being on your phone, eating, or reading while at your booth. Be engaged and aware of your surroundings, as you never want to miss a sales opportunity due to texting your friends. Be welcoming and be prepared to talk about what inspires you as an artist.

Don’t hover

Be engaging but also give passersby and visitors room to breathe and appreciate your art. Read their moods, as some enjoy speaking in-depth with the artist, while others like to observe in silence.

Let visitors know about your digital portfolio

Create a website that can direct interested parties to your larger body of work. Have business cards or flyers handy so that you can share your website. A .design web address can add an extra layer of creative professionalism to your artistic brand. The TLD is unique and memorable, and therefore might also help your stand out from the other artists at the fair.

Keep in touch

Just because the art fair has wrapped up doesn’t mean your work is done. In addition to your art website, make sure to also include your name, contact information, social media accounts, and e-mail on your business card or brochure. Have a signing book at your booth where fans can write down their names and emails. Each month or quarter, shoot out a newsletter unveiling your latest works and what you’ve been up to as a creative. This gives visitors the opportunity to continue to communicate with you and engage with your masterpieces, long after the art fair takes place.


Written By Guest User

Succeeding in a creative industry is all about standing out from the crowd as professional, innovative and forward-thinking. That’s exactly why Sam Rodell Architecture, an award-winning architecture firm based in Spokane, Washington, chose rodell.design for their website.

The architecture practice has achieved massive success due to its unique combination of building expertise and creative design. The company website used to be located at rodell.co, but they quickly transitioned to rodell.design. “I really like it: It feels right,” says Sam. ” It’s just one more tiny little way of distinguishing our firm from the herd.”

8 Ways to Celebrate International Design Day

Written By Liz Achanta

International Design Day, which takes place April 27 each year, is a day to appreciate the importance of artistic and innovative design across numerous fields. Design is not just about prettying things up; it has the power to bring about solutions that can improve health, technology, the environment, and more.

According to the International Council of Design (ico-D), International Design Day was founded in 1995 by Kim Paulsen, who served as vice president of the organization from 1993 to 1995. The date also commemorated the launch of ico-D on April 27, 1963. It was originally called World Graphics Day, and after a few iterations, it became World Design Day in 2015 (and then International Design Day in 2022).

The ico-D states the mission of International Design Day is “to encourage designers to reflect deeply on the wellbeing of people within their local environments, and to find innovative solutions to local needs by using design as a vehicle to honor diversity, transcend borders, and improve quality of life.” In other words, International Design Day serves as a reminder to creators and their audiences that this field can make the world a better place.

Here are ways designers–and those who consume and appreciate their work–can celebrate International Design Day:

1. Take a creative retreat. From a literary tour of Edinburgh, Scotland, to visiting the art galleries of the Fort and Colaba districts in Mumbai, India, consider booking a trip to one of the most creative cities in the world. Appreciate the vibrant arts scene, the architecture, fashion, cuisine, and youth culture that fuel the local arts. You need not hop on an airplane to take an artsy trip, and it need not be a luxurious getaway. Consider taking a road trip to a nearby bucolic town, a new emerging city, or even a lovely cafe with a view, to get your creative juices flowing.

2. Read about design. The ico-D conveniently put together a list of essays and books that not only honor the history and tenets of design, but design as a profession. The reading list includes articles and think-pieces about the practice of design, as well as tangential topics to show how design affects everything we do. The organization also encourages all pros to read its code of conduct, which addresses everything from sustainability, inclusivity, and even data privacy. One critical rule, for example, calls for designers to “uphold basic human dignity by considering the respectful portrayal of all people, i.e. gender identities, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, awareness of body image issues, etc.”

3. Gather with other designers. Sometimes looking outward is more effective than looking inward. Networking and connecting with other designers, learning about their creative processes and how they translate their passion for design into a source for livelihood could be what you need to elevate your career. According to the ico-D, “Marking the anniversary of ico-D’s establishment on 27 April 1963, participants worldwide are invited to gather, innovate, and live out a moment of design by organizing public events and initiatives on 27 April of each year.”

Interested in getting together with other designers but don’t know where to start? You can always start with LinkedIn, or if you’re part of a design organization, check out their member directory. Or, you can take a non-traditional approach by checking out websites like womenwho.design, which is a directory of accomplished women in the design industry, or arisingtide.design, who has an active directory of API designers working in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and urban design.

4. Celebrate on social media. Scout social media for emerging artists and designers from underrepresented groups and give them your support, be it with a simple follow, like, or purchase. Sport jewelry or clothing from a cutting-edge label and tag them in a post. Call out a small business or startup with a spectacular logo or storefront and let them know you’re a fan of their exceptional branding. There are endless and easy ways to support designers from various industries on #WorldDesignDay or #InternationalDesignDay.

Follow International Design Day on Facebook here, or on Instagram here.

5. Launch, spruce up, and share your portfolio. International Design Day is a great excuse to revisit the work you’re most proud of, and perhaps finally launch or revamp your online portfolio. Whether you’re an established freelancer, a creative agency, or a design-driven brand, one way to stand out is to opt for a .design domain and e-mail address to communicate your dedication to premium design.

6. Celebrate design in other categories. Designers and artists often run into creative blocks out of fear of not being original enough. One way to draw inspiration from non-competitors is to look to other categories for new trends. Be it decor, artwork, landscaping, automobiles—draw from various sources all around you, and make it your own.

7. Visit a museum and take time to appreciate the public arts. Whether you visit a behemoth like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a natural history museum, or even a historic home in your region, let history influence your future designs. You can also take a few cues from the best contemporary works by visiting a modern art museum or gallery, or even tour a local arts district to appreciate some street art.

8. Encourage kids to participate! Nothing can inspire your work more than teaching future generations the principles of design. Team up with a local school, youth nonprofit, or community center and host a workshop to encourage children to participate in International Design Day. Who knows, working alongside these mini-artists in the making might spark your next creative wave!  

Graphic Design Tough Topics: People think all design types are the same

Written By Liz Achanta

Imagine this scenario: you’re sitting at your desk when your boss walks up to you and says that you need to redesign the website. But you’re not a web designer – or a UX designer – you’re a graphic designer, and your knowledge of website best practices are limited. You try to explain this to them, but you’re not getting through . . . and now you’re stuck on a project you not only know nothing about, but aren’t passionate about. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, you’re not alone: unrealistic expectations from managers and colleagues is a common practice in the design field, and is a reason why many designers are leaving their corporate jobs altogether according to Graphic Design Blog Launch the Damn Thing.

While some skills are “learn as you go” (like logo, brand, and package design), other skills, like App design, web development, video or audio editing, and UX design, typically require more in-depth training since they are completely different skill sets. So how do you change the norm in your office of graphic design being a ‘catch-all’ job?

We’ve come up with a list of ways conversations you can have to start setting real expectations:

  • Tell your manager or colleague “That sounds like a really great idea – I’d love to learn how to do that! I think there’s a class at <local community college/online course> that teaches that skill really well. Is it in the budget for me to take that course so we can do this project right? Otherwise, I’m not sure I’m the right fit for that type of project.” (For more tips on how to master getting more technical training and resources, check out our other blog post How to convince your manager to invest more in your design squad).

  • Or, if you’re not interested in learning how master that skill entirely, try saying, “That sounds like a fun project – but that’s really more of a job for a <name of profession>. Should I look for some contractors that I think would be a better fit?” Remember: it’s important to make the individual feel like their thoughts and opinions are valid, while also setting the standard that just because you know how to use a computer it doesn’t mean you know how to do everything. While you don’t want to come across as someone who’s not open to new ideas, your profession is your profession: so if they ask further questions, detail exactly why you aren’t a good fit for the job.

  • Remind your colleague or manager that you were hired as the expert, so ultimately you are the one who understand what designs work and don’t work with your skill set. Try conversation starters like, “Any project the company is funding is worth doing right,” or “This isn’t the type of project we can afford to get wrong the first time” so they understand that you are not the person to approach for that type of project.


When you’re having these conversations with others, remember that being humble and having open communication are key to success. Rather than just saying “I don’t know how to do that,” offer other alternatives that would still get the job done – or, if it’s a bad idea altogether, explain why that idea wouldn’t be a good use of company resources at this point in time (but you can always revisit the idea later!).


Written By Guest User

NPR.design offers behind-the-scenes stories from the design teams at National Public Radio.

As one of the premiere journalistic sources in the United States, NPR’s design team unites technology and storytelling in ways that are compelling to listeners and readers.

From branding and graphic design to app UX and integration with voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, the NPR design team is keeping public radio a vibrant, innovative resource for news and information.