Inkspot Graphics Logo


 As you know (maybe you don't) that it has a been part of my business model to go out to meet two new people a week and go to a networking event once a week. I do this to get my business name out there and to promote my business. I learned that it is one more asset of marketing that businesses need to do (even in good time)s.

When the US had economic troubles in 2008 I almost lost my business because I never went out to either sell or market my business. When a couple of sources dried up and I was forced to live off my credit card for three months. Bad decision, so I sucked it up and started networking with people/businesses in my community.

I found myself attending this networking event last week (FREE Small Business Event: How to Become a Social All-Star) that was put on by Frontier, at the Embassy Suites in Beaverton, OR. It was here that I got to hear from a couple of local big hitters in the social media world. Patrick Galvin (Galvin Communications), Jan Wallen (mastering LinkedIn) and Ryan Lewis (Bonfire Social Media). I even met a woman that has an automotive repair shop close to my office that was interested in talking about her business and the downtown Rotary group. This may be another post and opportunity for Molly's Fund to meet corporate sponsors.


Patrick Galvin - Chief galvanizer for Galvin Communications.

I went up and introduced myself to Patrick and asked if he would like to meet for coffee and have more conversation. He was more than happy to meet at Case Study coffee shop that is located in the Hollywood district of Portland. Finally, during his introduction at the Social Star Event he spoke on his commitment to WOM marketing. I am a heavy endorser of Andy Sernovitz's WOM campaign. He has a great newsletter called, "Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That".


Speaking of WOM… Patrick is a Connector and endorsed Case Study coffee shop that a friend of his owns (and the little bakery next door to it). It is always a treat to find someone locally that has a passion about helping other businesses through word of mouth!

Patrick owns a PR firm in town and has a handful of clients that he promotes in the traditional and social media venues. He also is a professional speaker that presents to various groups and events. 

 Bella the boxer

But what really caught my attention was that he has a dog, Bella the Boxer, that he has creatively introduced as the star of the Hollywood neighborhood (especially businesses). He speaks through Bella as a Goodwill Ambassador. It is pretty funny. It was so popular that Patrick had a written, Secrets of a Working Dog: Unleash your Potential and Create Success

I really enjoyed my conversation with Patrick and welcome him into my group of Strategic Partners. He passed on information about a local video connection and also one in the Bay Area (where I may be reaching out to because of my connections down there). We talked about our adopted children and lives outside of the business world. I will keep him in my thoughts when I see anything of interest in the Social Media world. I would recommend signing up for Patrick's blog - Buzz Builder.


Published in marketing 101
Monday, 09 July 2012 14:24

1st Week's Photoshop Tips

Straw-Mojito BlogEntry Flat

List of edits:

  1. Remove Background
  2. Trace Jam & Brighten Reds
  3. Edit Out Grean Reflection
  4. Lighten Shadow
  5. Darken Text
  6. Add Drop-Shadow
  7. Remove Glare from Bottom of Jar


Summer Intern Post #2 

While working on editing a group of images for Johnson Berry Farm I learned and re-learned a few great tips for editing images for a web page. The images were of jam and jelly jars as well as multi-jam packages and all of these needed to be edited so that they made the product look good on screen. I got the images from Mike and after bringing them into Photoshop I started the editing process. Now in my schooling I had been taught to use the magic wand and the lasso tool to select areas on an image and then to edit them on separate layers on top of the original image. Mike showed me a better way to edit based on using the pen/bezier tool and paths. This process was similar to using the polygonal lasso tool and saving selections but it allows for much fewer points and soft curves as well as hard corners. Also once you have made a path you can use it as a selection and alter it much easier than if you just have a saved selection. You just add to the path on the same path or on a new one. The process is much more streamlined compared to the process I used before.

The next few tips I learned were ones I had been taught in some form or another before. Reiteration and practice of techniques and processes are very important to any job really but to a graphic designer streamlining and simplifying a process is of the upmost importance. Designers must be efficient so I knew working on these images was a great opportunity for me to practice my skills.

I made two paths, one that consisted of the top and bottom areas on the jar that the jam could be seen and one that outlined the whole jar. I first selected the path that covered the whole jar and used a vector mask to temporarily erase the background so that all that cold be seen was the jar. I then selected the path that would just cover the jam areas and created a new layer gave it strawberry red color and used a blending mode to allow the original image to show through. I then lowered the opacity of the jam’s new color layer so the original image could be seen more. The whole point of this step was to add color to the original image so that it pops more on screen. Then I went in and edited the left side of the jar’s lid and label because in the original image there was a green reflection that came from some plants in the background. After that I needed to edit out a small glare at the bottom of the jars because they looked strange with a white background. I then added a small drop shadow so give the image extra depth. All of these changes were done on separate layers to ensure no irreversible changes were done to the original photo.

After these simple but important edits were made I needed to set the files up for web viewing. This was done by creating a template so that all the web versions came out the same size and resolution. Then I brought the edited images into the template and shrunk them down so that they fit into the guidelines Mike set so the focus of each image was in relatively the same spot. Then I saved each file to web & devices and as a much smaller JPEG. The smaller the image the faster the web page will load which makes your website less clunky for your users/customers. Once all these edits were applied to the jam, jelly, and package photos we uploaded them and placed them on the site which is now open to the public and customers. So stop by the Johnson Berry Farm Website and check it out.


Signature Final 

Published in marketing 101

BlogPhoto Comp

Summer Intern Post #1

My name is Daniel Nelson and this is the number one lesson I learned this week working as a summer intern with Mike at Inkspot Graphics. To be a successful free-lance graphic designer with your own business is a extremely active endeavor. You must be always thinking about the next project but be present at the same time to complete the project at hand. As a student in the PSU graphic design program in Portland, Oregon I had been introduced to the concept of producing projects for clients but I didn’t know the reality of how the industry works. 

Watching Mike for the few days has shown me that if I was ever to own my own graphic design business I would be consistently in motion. Working out deals with clients, going to meetings, and of coarse the doing the design work. In my college courses I am taught the mechanics of designing and how to do such things as matching colors, spacing and sizing solutions with text and imagery, popular and unpopular forms of imagery, how to work with type and much more.  All of these pieces of information go into designing every single piece of design work but in Mike’s world it goes much faster. For instance I am used to three plus weeks to work on usually two projects, one for each class I’m taking. That workload for me is difficult at times especially when it gets close to final rounds (the finished work). Mike as at times eight or nine projects moving at one time and needs to have them finished on dates he and his clients have agreed on. So that means he has to know his own work style and schedule well enough to be able to give a educated guess on when he can get something completed for them.

So much goes into that thought process, like starting the project, learning its details and background/story or figuring out one if one doesn’t exist, first rounds second rounds and final rounds, getting pricing for the prints/production of the project from vendors, setting the files up for the vendors, and meeting with clients throughout the whole process and there are other steps I know I am neglecting to mention. The point is he has to know the amount of time it is going to take for this process for eight to nine projects. Just in the first few days of working with Mike has made me respect this field of work immensely more. 

Signature Final

Published in marketing 101

I was approached to design a logo for a new committee…

Our executive director came to me and said, "We need to have a design made for this new program." I was honored that he was going to pay me for a service that I could have promoted in our local chamber. Part of my design process is to learn more about the direction and how it is to be used. I have been telling quite a large number of contacts, "I could design you a pretty logo but is it going to be functional and are you going to question the design in 6 months to a year down the road."

I sat down and discussed more about the project with two women that were on the committee. I went through my creative brief questionnaire with them and found alot of holes in the project direction. I submitted a proposal to the director and followed up with a phone call. He said, "Mike, I just need a logo!" It sounded like that he wanted something inexpensive and created immediately. I begrudgingly said, "Terry, I can make you a pretty logo for $XXX.XX!" I wasn't happy about my response but deep down inside I didn't feel like I was going to be proud of my task at hand. In the end could I really say, "This design was well thought out and very functional."

Needless to say, Terry never called me back. This is the design that they came up with:

bizexchange logo

and here is one of the places that they are using it:



Personally, this doesn't work for me way too much going on and too many colors. I thought that I would share this beautiful web site layout by Baker and Spice Bakery. Very clean and beautifully designed. I would be proud to show this in my portfolio.




Published in marketing 101
Tuesday, 27 December 2011 13:41

Interview with Idea Mensch

Idea Mensch interviewed me & my business.


I was very honored by the article and my thanks to Mario. I can't say anymore about speading your company's message to your audience.


Published in marketing 101

Biscuits Cafe on Johnson Creek Road in Clackamas, OR.


I was invited to my first Molly's Fund board member interview at Biscuit's Cafe. They are a local chain in the Portland metro area. Their food is consistent and large portions (you could split a normal plate with two other people). Never had a bad meal. 

But this franchise went to the point of putting their PURPOSE right on the wall when you walk in (with the owner's signatures). That tells me that they are going stand behind their food, employees and service. I like that.

To make it one step better would be to show your customers the faces (and their stories) that provide them with the fresh food. 


© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101

Have you ever had one of those little damned screws come out from your eye glasses?


Needless to say it is very frustruating! I decided to go to the local Sears store (Optical Dept) and get it fixed before I lost the expensive lens. I was the first customer in the optical department and I don't know if you have ever been there but it usually is fairly slow – even during the Christmas holiday.

The nice woman at the counter asked if I needed any help and told her about my glasses needing to be fixed. She said, "That replacement screw will cost $5.00". I said that would be fine. "It will take me a few minutes, if you want to shop around…". I told her no problem. I wandered into the tool department, half blind. After I killed 10 minutes I walked back into the Optical Dept and the woman said, "I have your glasses fixed but noticed that the nose bridges are worn, did you want me to replace those…it would be another $5-$10? I said, "No thanks, I am going to get them replaced within the next month."

Now how am I going to pass on a good optical business recommendation to Sears? A number of things that she could of done to get my business and tell the world about this great optical business that I love to recommend:

1. The cost of screw and time that it took to fix the glasses wasn't important. They could of said, "We love to do this for you – call it our holiday gift to you…by the way we also replaced your nose bridges…at no cost! Do you have an emergency set of glasses in case it happens again?

2. So, I am half blind without my glasses. It really doesn't do any good have me wandering around the store because I am not going to buy anything. But if they gave me some temporaries I could have gone into the electronic department and watched some television and contemplated about buying a new set.

3. Get an opportunity to introduce yourself and get on a first name basis with the customer. 

4. How long has it been since you have been for your eyes checked? I could have slip you in right now to see the optomotrist and get your eyes checked for a special price of $49.99! That would be convenient since I am waiting and I need to have it done!

Hmm. Your thoughts or suggestions?


© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101
Wednesday, 23 November 2011 12:55

Start with Why (part 1)

Ben Sandberg - PDX Fix It

I started working with a friend of mine that is a local Joomla web developer that was looking to rebrand himself. 

I have started this new book by Simon Sinek, "Start with Why". All I can say is that I usually start off the conversation with, "What is your PURPOSE".



We went through the discovery process and researching his competition and target market. I went through and made four pages of conceptional ideas. 


Looked at mood board printouts with various colors and images (icons). Dug deeper into what was his "purpose". By discussing more he found that he had quite a few different directions he could take his company.


Presentation of three polished concepts that I liked and completely identified his personality. My challenge was to make his brand memorable and his company's URL to stick in his customer's head. We also talked about what are the descriptive key words that describe him and his business. So if your potential clients are trying to look for you what would they Google search for?


I really thought that makes Ben unforgettable is that he is always wearing those shoes that have the toes sticking out. He loves those and I think that it is one of the funniest things that I will always remember about him.


Ben told me that his wife, Amanda, was really impressed with the brand discovery process and wanted me to do her company's logo. It is really nice to have people that are excited and see the real value of having a purpose.

Published in marketing 101
Friday, 30 September 2011 05:34

Favor for Innovative Entrepreneur

Meet Chuck from E-Zee Fence Post Repair.


I got a referral from a friend of mine. I called and I met Chuck at Starbucks. We exchanged business cards and I was trying not to let my jaw hit the ground! I looked at his business card and was frustrated because I didn't know what his logo or product was. He asked me what I thought of it…


There were a couple of problems:

1. I asked him how he picked his company's name "E-Zee Fence Post Repair"


It described the ease of using the product. Unfortunately, there is another company with the name EZ Fence and E-Z Fence products.

* This is a big branding problem if you are trying to sell a product that conflicts with competitor names. Most of the time the buyer will go with the first one that he finds.

2. His company card didn't have a logo that makes product memorable to target market. 

I took some time to explain how branding works for your business. The card that the designer created had three different icons on it. The recycle bug, the fence and the "President's Club" logo.

He explained that his background was in sales and that the designer that he hired basically created the pieces without any reasoning. And billed him $1500.00 to boot!

3. The designer didn't use any bleeds on the card (which normally has the card cut unevenly). It also tells me that he probably had it printed online to cut his costs.

4. Used all CAPS for the long business name. It is harder to read both for print & web.

5. The designer's "Before" business card didn't stick out. I told Chuck that he needed to have a sticker of his brand on the product (I will show in another post). I presented his card with a blue and red logo (which really popped). Chuck didn't want his logo to have that much attention so we compromised on a brown color.


I told Chuck that I would help him out with his branding and all his marketing. I knew that he didn't have very much more money to spend before he went broke, so I put a little time in this project. My goal is to do the right thing and give Chuck some marketing that would help his business and look professional. He has been very happy with his new campaign. Unfortunately, I met with a public relations specialist, Amber Dennis and she told me that Chuck should rethink his whole business name but he couldn't afford to spend anymore time (or money) with branding his product. I did the best with the cards I was dealt and it was a HUGE STEP for Chuck and his business!

My next post will show the brochure that I created for E-Zee Fence Post Repair.

Published in marketing 101
Monday, 29 August 2011 07:22

Don't Give Up - Inspiring Thoughts (7)

From an article posted in the Costco Connection by Andrew Lock on "Don't Give UP".


Elton John

"A friend of mine in the music industry personally auditioned a singer by the name of Reg Dwight in the 1960s. He unceremoniously shoved the singer out of his office for wasting his time. That singer is now better known as Elton John."

Published in marketing 101
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    This blog will provide you with examples of my experiences of marketing.  I am a professional educator and story teller.  My goal is to help your company succeed by telling your story.


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My Website looks wonderful––thank-you. Love the graphic for the Haiku poetry. I've been thinking about the creation (and planning) of this website for almost 9 months, I can't tell you how great it is to see it realized in design

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