Magical Graphic Design: Houdini

Harry Houdini with his mother and wifeHarry Houdini once said:

My brain is the key that sets my mind free.”

As designers, the key is to keep the creativity fresh and inspired. Thinking outside of the box and out of the ordinary.

Harry Houdini was a creative innovator. His public acclamation came from showing people what they had never seen before, making that which was thought impossible seem possible. Although, for him it was a daily routine. He said it best:

“My professional life has been a constant record of disillusion, and many things that seem wonderful to most men are the every-day commonplaces of my business.”

Yet his inspiration is suggestive of the inspiration that drives a graphic designer to keep designing whether for profit or not: To go beyond the norm and create or build fantasy where none is found.

Here are some fascinating designs inspired by or dedicated to Harry Houdini:


The Great Houdini

The Great Houdini by Tena Letica


Houdini Records

Houdini Records

Harry Houdini by Derkert

Harry Houdini by Derkert


Houdini by Google

Houdini by Google


The Handcuff King

Houdini - The Handcuff King


Magic by Cruenta

Magic by Cruenta


A Kind of Magic by ReptileCynrik

A Kind of Magic by ReptileCynrik


Have any Magical Design Tricks to Share? Please do so in the Comments Below

Refreshing and Tasty Design Inspiration

Art is a fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother’s womb.
Jean Arp

When in need of inspiration I always turn to nature. Curves, colors, shades, reflections, beauty; You name it, she’s got it.

Here’s a healthy dose of inspiration:


Rebuild the Aesthetic Poster by gomedia

poster by solo designer-d32lw4j

Killer Grapes Poster by GraphZ

Tropical by Creatunco

Print Infographics by Rhysbol

Fruit by sweetchantal1989

FRUIT RAIN by illugraphy

cherry stick heart-shape by dkraner

updated fruit poster by sweetmisery11

Becoming Reality vII


Quick Fun Fruit Facts:

  • Avocados are commonly used as vegetables. Botanically they are fruits.
  • Very few fruits contain fat: avocados, olives and nuts are the only ones with significant amounts.
  • Cranberries, Concord Grapes and Blueberries are the only major fruits native to North America.
  • Strawberries, bananas, grapes, apples and oranges are Americans favorite fruits in that order (2008).
  • The Red Delicious is the most widely grown variety of apple in the world.
  • There are 3,236  people in the U.S. listed on with the last name ‘Orange’
    (Mark Morton, ‘Gastronomica’, Fall 2010)
  • Grapes are about 80 percent water.


Is there something in nature that you find inspirational to your design?

The Need to Bleed

Bleeds and crop marks business cards
I recently asked my production manager and the graphic department manager here at Marsid M&M:

– What is the most common mistake that you find in artwork submitted by customers?
Answer: Missing Bleeds.

They also added that it is one of the biggest causes of delays in the customer receiving their order. It’s a fact that many businesses hire outside designers and when we contact the customer about the missing bleeds, it can take a matter of minutes to a matter of days to get the adjustments made by their designers.

Unfortunately our graphic department cannot always add the bleed because the file is not editable which is a whole other blog post (coming soon).
If we can add the bleed ourselves, we do it free of charge as a courtesy to our customers.

Bleed and Crop Marks

What is Bleed?

Some designs contain graphics or solid backgrounds that reach the edge of the paper as shown above. Printers require an additional stretch of these graphics or solid backgrounds, usually about 1/8th of an inch called a “Bleed” in order to guarantee the edges are not left without ink when the paper is cut.

Stack of paper showing bleed being cut

Quick tutorials: Adding bleed to your artwork

The easiest thing to do to prevent forgetting to add bleed is to simply make a bleed guide as the first thing you do when beginning a new design. Some professional design software makes this incredibly easy to do, some you have to do manually (still pretty easy).

Adobe Illustrator LogoAdobe Illustrator:

Illustrator offers one of the easiest and most convenient ways of adding bleeds to your documents from the start. In the “New Document” dialogue, under “Bleed” enter 0.125 in to any of the columns. If the link chain is selected already, then it will populate all 4 fields with 0.125 in automatically.

Add bleeds to an Adobe Illustrator Document

As you can see below, your bleed lines are added automatically. Shown as a red frame around the artbox…

Adobe Illustrator Bleeds

Adobe InDesign LogoAdobe InDesign:

In the “New Document” dialogue, make sure the “more options” button is pressed and at the bottom has a “Bleed and Slug” section. In the bleed box type 0.125 in and if the the link chain is selected it will automatically add it to the other 3 boxes.

Adding Bleeds in Adobe InDesign

Similar to Illustrator, InDesign automatically adds the red frame around the artbox as a guide for bleeds…

Adobe InDesign Bleeds

Adobe Photoshop LogoAdobe Photoshop:

In the “New” dialogue window, add 0.25 to the desired finish size. For example, if your designing a postcard that has a finish size of 5 x 7, then you would enter 5.25 x 7.25.

Add Bleed to Photoshop

Once you click OK, your empty canvas will appear and we will use the Rulers (View>Rulers) to use as guides to center our 5 x 7 within the 5.25 x 7.25 canvas and therefore make the bleed areas visible. Pull a guide from the ruler for each side of the canvas and drag it until it is 1/8th” inside the canvas from the edge.

Adding Bleed Guides in Photoshop

Photoshop Note:

We do not suggest using Photoshop for layout and typesetting of print projects. For best results use Photoshop for image manipulation and special effects. Import or place the image or object in Illustrator or InDesign for layout and typesetting.

Photoshop is a raster design program which uses grids of pixels to compose an object. Illustrator and InDesign create vector art which is composed of lines and curves or “Paths” to create objects and therefore create sharp edges and lines for both objects and text. Vector can also be scaled to extremely large sizes without losing quality.

Bookmark Worthy: Print-Ready Design Checklist

Use the checklist to double check that every requirement is already in your artwork to avoid any issues or delays!

Digital Evolution: The State of Commercial Printing

Epson Digital PrinterJust as a pianist has affection and allegiance to the piano, a printer has a fondness for his press(es). The tune played as the various mechanical parts perform their individual functions in harmony will never be forgotten. But as the synthesizer and electric piano changed the scope of music and musicians, the digital press and toner have taken the industry by surprise creating a new breed of pressmen and press work. Being “mechanically inclined” is no longer a requirement, the future generation of pressmen are computer savvy, web surfing, toner wielding wizards.

Embracing Change

The idea that print is “dying”, as I see it, is simply a matter of wordplay.
The word “dying” provokes a negative connotation such as “ending, expiring or kicking the bucket”; wordplay. The truth of the matter is that print media is “changing, adapting and evolving”.

Lets take a step back and remember the faithful Letterpress. Slowly but surely faded away from print shops all over the world with the introduction of the Offset Press. Yes, there are many letterpress communities still in existence because there is still a passion for the art. But in business, passion alone does not pay the bills or fill the coffers.


Print Communication the Social Way

Digital Toner Wells

Communication has been in a constant evolution since the beginning:
Symbols drawn in caves; Eventually, the need for long distance and mass communication brought about the invention of telephones and printing presses. Furthermore, innovation and efficiency gave birth to the internet and social media.

The consumer is no longer to be considered one of many but one individual, changing the scope of business marketing and the tools it uses to target the consumer. This new Social environment requires marketers to change the message from Hello, everyone to Hello, you.


Digital Printing: Changing the message, one print at a time.


Our 2010 encounter with GraphExpo confirmed that there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s more efficient, has more abilities and is constantly growing both in capacity and awareness. This is the true current state of commercial printing.

Digital Press Speeding

Walking in, you notice the absence of the tantalizing aroma of press chemistry. The knocking sound; faint, lacking. Apprehension sets in, a slight shiver of concern triggers a bead of sweat to trickle down the forehead of many attendees.

As we entered, the modest noise level echoing the building pronounced the quantity of offset presses being displayed on the floor. Much of the collateral we amassed in our journey through the isles was about digital technology, Variable Data Printing (VDP), Digital Presses, QR Codes and PURLs.

The cover of “the magazine” distributed by the Printing Industries of America is riddled with QR Codes as are the interior pages and the title: “A Blueprint for Your Future”. If this does not warrant the fact that digital printing is here to stay, then nothing will.

Fear Not, Change is here!

There is no cause for alarm, this is fair warning.
No one in the industry expects to start seeing offset presses out on the curb tomorrow. Digital printing still has some work to do to catch up with the efficiency and cost that an offset press offers for large runs or even large format for that matter.

Print brokers, advertising agencies and designers are yet to really understand the advantages of Variable Data which is only starting to mature. Assembling a VDP campaign is no easy task at this point and collecting the data necessary takes time and lots of energy.

Until your local pizza guy can easily and inexpensively access the tools to create a database of his current customers, upload a picture of their favorite pizza and tailor a message to them specifically without breaking a sweat, it is the duty of the advertising agencies, print brokers and designers to promote and manage these types of campaigns.

This running sentence bears a very important question:

Is this a job for the printing company?

Some printing companies have already incorporated the “Print Agency” model. Everything from strategy to fulfillment is carried out by one entity.

Do you think that a printing company should involve themselves in the creative process?

Should advertising agencies start merging with print shops or vice versa?

We would really like to hear your thoughts on this subject,

please post a comment below…

Brand Visibility – Perforated Window Film

There is nothing better to make customers remember your brand than showing them something fun and innovative. Digitally printed Perforated Window Film (PWF) also known as “Window Perf” has an effect of mystery and surprise on everybody, and if you are able to affect your audience, they will remember you.

More and more businesses are using digitally printed perforated window film these days. We can find it on vehicle windows, bus wraps, rear window graphics, window privacy screenings, glass entrance doors and more.

Custom Window Cling  - Window Application

Digitally printed perforated window film should be laminated with an optically clear overlaminate to prevent dust and dirt buildup in each film perforation. Also, this overlaminate prevents rainwater from clinging to the film and provoking limited visibility for vehicle riders and operators.

One of the most interesting features of Window Perf is the one-sided privacy it can provide. No matter how colorful the print is, or how much the film is covering, the side with the brightest light will always be visible to the individuals on the darker side. This creates a one-way mirror effect that can be reversed with the simple turn of a light switch, or with the natural cycle of the sun.

Perforated Window Cling - Glass Door Application

A typical example can be found in city buses that display the printed work on the outside during the day. People outside the bus cannot see the passengers, but the passengers barely notice the film in between them and the outside world. At night, the situation shifts, since the inside of the bus is what is now lighted.

Window Perf should be printed using solvent-based, UV-resistant, exterior-grade inks for fade-free, long-life graphics, which allows its use indoors and outdoors without having to worry about fading due to the sun, or rainwater damage.

Colorful Collection of Poster Designs for Inspiration

Poster by CPX InteractiveWhen promoting a band, a new product, service or simply to convey information, a full color poster will STAND OUT like capital letters in any text message.

Posters are designed to be hung on walls and many other large flat surfaces. Their large format allow for both text and images to promote events, use as an informational guide and can even be educational.

Posters can be printed on many different substrates.  To name a few: vinyl for durability, art canvas to give it an “artsy” finish or even acetate for more creative works. Posters can even be mounted on different materials or framed. Foamcore and Gatorboard are frequently used and allow for the poster to stand on its own or be displayed on an easel.

Here is a collection of beautiful and colorful posters that will hopefully strike a spark in your brain and ignite a creative fire that will make your next poster design STAND OUT beyond it’s size…

Poster by Beaucoupzero

Poster by Ellyezer

Poster by Etrix

K-Salaam and Beatnick Poster

Poster by MrHahn98

Bauhaus Poster by DT1087

Poster by StrongstuffPoster by Aremanvin

Poster by Zivrezcara

Poster by C345


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