Know Your Graphic Design Basics – Part I

(Written by Mili Suleman, owner of a graphic design solutions company.)

Welcome Readers!

This is the first in a series of articles I’ll be writing focusing on graphic design for the small business.  (Thanks Kate!)

The average consumer is becoming savvier about graphic design software programs and that’s awesome.  But if you think knowing how to put together a newsletter in Publisher is all you need to know in terms of graphic design, (we’ll lovingly call it GD from now), read this article and you’ll probably change your mind.  The harsh truth is the image of your business presented to the world each day can be a lot more important in the start than the actual product or service you are delivering.  So, get comfortable and read on…    

First off, let’s define ‘graphic design’ that is sometimes confused with ‘desktop publishing’ and discuss how the two are different.   

Graphic Design is the art and science of laying out images (photographs, scanned images, computer-created artwork) and text into a space that communicates a message to the audience.  This could take the form of logos, brochures, annual reports, branding/identity, restaurant graphics, direct mail, posters etc.  GD is an intensive and sometimes lengthy process that involves research, conceptualization, sketches, designing and revisions.  GD can involve creating pieces of work completely by hand and then transferring them to a computer or creating them from scratch on the computer.  Hence, graphic designers usually have a background in studio arts, photography, etc.  Programs used by a graphic designer include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Bridge, Freehand, Flash, Quark XPress, etc.  

Desktop Publishing (we’ll call it DP for short) is the usage of the computer and specific software to lay out newsletters, brochures, and other functional pieces.  Compared to GD, DP is usually a process that is not as in-depth, which doesn’t mean it isn’t as time-consuming unfortunately, and focuses more on the function than the “art.”  DP is aimed at the average consumer who doesn’t have a design background.  DP is entirely completed on the computer using programs such as PageMaker, InDesign, Quark XPress, Word, Publisher, (Photoshop, Illustrator on occasion). 

Let me illustrate how GD helped a client of mine with branding her company in creating an identity that presented her business with a sophisticated and professional image…  

Case Study:  Yvonne Fontana Jewelry 

Yvonne and I met at a women’s networking meeting after she had started a small home-based business of making delicate, beautiful jewelry for women.  Like any small business owner, she dreamed big.  She came to me for a logo that represented her work.   

I met with her a few times and got to know her better.  Then I started working on some concepts, which resulted in several pages of sketches.  The images you will see in the near future are only a sample.  I worked on typefaces, shapes, colors etc.  Image “d” is the final product.   

We knew we wanted something that represented Yvonne’s strong faith and her product.  The shape in the center can be interpreted as a star, diamond, sparkle, a cross.  The colors I chose have a feminine quality.  The typeface (or font) is delicate, stem-like.  I also created a black logo on a white background and a white logo on a black background.  This gave Yvonne the versatility to print it as she pleased.  She has patented the logo, made necklace tags and earring cards, and is on her way to selling the heck out of her jewelry.  

I’d like to end this article by asking you to make a list (I love lists!) of your qualities, passions, personality traits that you might like represented in your company’s logo.  

Mili Suleman can be reached at 817-456-6622 or  Her website is and of course features some of her design work.