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CorelDRAW is the most popular graphics programs in the awards and personalization industry. Learn about the difference between PNG and JPEG files; turning a customer’s low-quality artwork into a masterpiece; welding, trimming, and combining shapes; and more!

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In all my 20-plus years as a graphic designer, I had never made or printed a bar code.

I’ve often wondered how it happens. How does a person or business become known for specializing in a particular product or service? Does the idea come from within, or the consumer? Is it random, or does it occur by a more organic nature? And the most important question: Can a decent living be made through a niche profession? As always, I think the answers are many and the road to a niche is a winding one.

I’d rather show my client a photo of what I can do than explain it. It saves time and does a much better job of revealing what I’m able to accomplish—which is why photos have become such a valuable tool for marketing my business. Every time I create a new or unique item for a client, I make sure to stage and photograph the finished product for social media or post it to my website for potential clients to see.

Almost every project has a portion of time dedicated to the layout phase. The decision to place which design elements where may include some precision, such as centering objects, aligning text, or spacing different design elements equally. If you are relying on just your eyes for alignment, there will no doubt be a redo in your future. 

“You burn, you learn.” This is a phrase I use occasionally to explain how lessons are sometimes best learned by firsthand experience. For better or worse, this is often how I learn.

After scouring all the programs in my computer, I came up empty.

I needed a tool to convert printed documents, pictures, and handwriting into editable text. But I didn’t have it. I also did not want to pay for a tool that may already exist for free online.

Many years ago, an awards dealer told me that the best advertising idea he ever had was to place a sticker on the bottom of the awards he sold.

Have you ever stopped to think how certain tasks were completed without the use of the tools and technology that exist today? I can still recall—as a production artist in 1998—receiving artwork via mail. This had as much to do with the size constraints of email attachments at the time, as with the clients’ familiarity with email technology. This mailed artwork would often arrive as a tri-folded piece of paper in an envelope—a piece of paper that probably had two creases running through what the client was calling “artwork.” My job was to digitize the artwork using a “state-of-the-art” HP flatbed scanner (a process that often took 20 to 30 minutes) and make it production-ready for whatever process was required for the product requested.

How do I get a black penguin to show up on a black T-shirt? How do I perfectly mimic a smaller or larger version of a custom shape? How do I create text that looks threedimensional? You might think that each of these questions would lead you in three different directions. In fact, there is a CorelDraw tool that is the common denominator for all three: the Contour tool.

I would have to look back to a class I took in high school to point to my first experience with glass etching. My instructor, Mr. Siska, introduced me and several other sophomores to the process in his art class. It was one of the projects that I remember well and has stuck with me despite the 23-year absence from the process. It seems fitting that my career now finds me back to glass etching again—a technique that has changed little since 1987.

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Awards and Personalization Association

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