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20 Gifts Every Creative Needs

When it comes to buying the perfect gift, we all need a little push in the right direction. Are you struggling to decide what to get the creative in your life? The Telegraph team submitted their favorite Christmas wants, and we compiled their responses to curate the perfect 2020 creative gift guide. Scroll through for some giftspiration!

Via Ugmonk
  1. Ampersand Crewneck → Because we want to flaunt our favorite fonts
  2. iPad Screen Protector → Because we’re coffee-spill prone
  3. Sharpie Art Book→ Because a Sharpie tip holds a million possibilities
  4. Elaborate Puzzle → Because we’re still problem solvers outside the office
  5. Brass Candle Lighter → Because we need to keep the creative spark going

Via CB2
  1. Pencil Sharpener → Because we’re constantly erasing and starting from scratch
  2. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad → Because even the most creative minds still need a little push
  3. Chromatic Puzzle → Because a chromatic visual piece is therapeutic
  4. Impala Skates → Because why the heck not?
  5. Pantone Notebooks→ Because we need a place to scribble for on-the-go inspiration

Via Mr. Cup Shop
  1. Letterpress Calendar → Because we need to stay organized (or at least pretend to try)
  2. Waterproof Writing Pad  → Because our best ideas come to us in the shower
  3. Pin Art Board → Because we like to keep our desk looking fresh
  4. Desktop Speakers → Because sometimes we need a tune to get us in the groove
  5. Noise-Canceling Headphones → Because sometimes the tunes are a little too distracting
  6. Creative Tee-Shirts → Because we love a good graphic tee

Lego / via Best Buy
  1. Lego Classic Creative Suitcase → Because we’re never too old to play with legos
  2. Apple Juice Sticker → Because we love to spruce up our laptop with some fun stickers
  3. Under Desk Foot Rest → Because we need a little TLC after a day of creating
  4. LED Task Lamp → Because—let’s shed some light on the situation, shall we?

Giving Back Through Design and Dance

The energy inside the historic Lyric Theatre was electric as fans and supporters poured in to watch local celebrities take the stage to compete in 2019’s Dancing with the Stars of the Magic City. Friends and family snapped pre-show photos together and made glitzy posters to cheer on their favorite star. As a member of the First Light Young Partners, the junior board of First Light shelter who organizes this annual event, I couldn’t help but think back to the show’s humbler beginnings.

When Dancing with the Stars of the Magic City began in 2016, fans cheered from tables and  bleachers set up at the now-defunct Old Car Heaven as each group of dance partners performed a 90-second routine in the dance style of their choice. The Young Partners raced to count cash donations to find out which team would win the first-ever Torch People’s Choice Award. We were learning everything as we did it, and we had a blast bringing people together to support First Light.

First Light serves homeless women and children in Birmingham, and it is the only shelter in our community that is accessible to guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. First Light is also unusual in that they do not turn away people who are struggling with mental illness, battling addiction, or dealing with chronic neglected health issues. Even before the pandemic, there had been a troubling increase in homelessness. Last year, First Light served 213 adults and 88 children in supportive housing programs. In 2003, they served 13 children.

First Light relies on the generosity of volunteers and donors, and Dancing with the Stars was created as a way to raise financial support for the shelter’s supportive housing programs and various services for the women and children it serves every day. In the event’s first year, DWTS of the Magic City raised $36,970 for First Light, and we knew this special event would only continue to grow from there.

Now, DWTS of the Magic City has graduated to the Lyric Theatre, a venue that truly reflects the magnitude of the event. In 2019, the show raised $78,003 for First Light. Because the event has matured so much over the past five years, I knew 2020 was the perfect time to give it a makeover. Working with the talented and service-minded team at Telegraph, I saw an opportunity for us to help by donating some of our time and expertise.

Art Director Kyle DeMarco got to work on a new DWTS of the Magic City logo with art deco and old Hollywood influences that also tied in some of the shapes from the shelter’s logo. Designer Kaitlin Sparkman helped bring the new look to life in revamped sponsorship materials, new programs and fresh posters. The result is an elegant, sophisticated new look that illustrates the significance of the event. Thanks in part to our updated materials and new look, DWTS of the Magic City has already raised more money in sponsorships than we had last year before the event.

But Telegraph’s involvement doesn’t stop with the branding. Telegraph President Brian “BJ” Ellis is one of the stars who will be competing this year. BJ’s dance partner, Miah Thompson, has been teaching BJ to dance a quickstep to Rihanna’s “Pon de Replay.” The practices have been hard work for BJ, but he has enjoyed the ride so far and is ready to take the stage at the Lyric on October 8. “Dancing with the stars has been a great experience. I didn’t know what to think as I haven’t done anything like this before, but it has been fantastic to be able to give back to First Light in this way. And it’s certainly helpful that Miah has so much patience!”

Although this year’s DWTS of the Magic City will look slightly different because of the pandemic, anyone can still attend the event virtually. Tickets are $25 and give you access to watch the live streamed event from the comfort and safety of your own home. All proceeds benefit the women and children who rely on First Light shelter.

The Telegraph team is thankful for the opportunity to use our talents to help the homeless women and children of Birmingham, and we can’t wait to root for BJ as he struts his stuff on the Lyric stage. To get your live stream tickets and help us cheer on BJ and the other stars and dancers, head to

Storytelling Through a Lens

How do you tell a good story? It’s clear that our Director of Video Content Ginnard Archibald has learned the secret ingredient—and he has a shiny, new Emmy award to prove it. Ginnard’s 2019 video highlighting the grand opening of the Abbeville Fiber Sawmill in Henry County, Alabama, won Outstanding Cinematography Work at this year’s National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences live event. The video was compelling. It was emotional. It was a perfect example of good storytelling.

So, how do you tell a good story? Where do you start? What do you focus on? Our video master would argue that it begins with some hands-on experience. “I usually wait until I get there to have an emotional vibe or connection to what’s being represented in its current state, then take the history that I do know and curate it into a minute-and-a-half story,” said Ginnard, who scouted the Henry County area and sawmill the day before the shoot. He gleaned inspiration from the quaint countryside and small-town charm, which immediately drew him in.

It’s more than just the scenery that makes for a good story, though. The opening of this sawmill was the largest economic investment in the history of Henry County, and it has brought more than 100 jobs to the area. But there’s another story unfolding just beneath the surface. The mill and its workers are the American dream—a dream built from hard work and humble beginnings. “I felt like I needed to convey that story,” said Ginnard. “This sawmill means so much to the town, so I feel like sentiment needed to be injected no matter what, so that you can feel that emotion.”

The video captures the moment when a truck delivers its first lumber load to the mill. It starts out eerily slow with short clips of Abbeville’s small town, but quickly picks up speed as the truck nears the sawmill. “I really like that you can emphasize an emotion through slow motion and sound,” said Ginnard, who used 25 layers of natural sound they recorded in the area within the final video.

An important rule of thumb for Ginnard with visual storytelling is to approach a project with as little bias as possible. “A lot of times when people are filming, they have their own perspective that they think they’re supposed to bring to a piece,” said Ginnard. He wanted to capture all elements of the story, but in an organic and ethereal way. The slow motion edits and graceful panning of the countryside reel in viewers while remaining true to what is being portrayed: a town revival. The result is a tribute to those men and women of Abbeville Fiber whose craft helps build a place of refuge and rest for others.

Ginnard’s cinematography work earned him an Emmy in the “Photographer–Short Form” category during the live-streamed event in Atlanta, Georgia. But Ginnard wasn’t the only Tele team member who received kudos for their work this year. Producer/Director Cat May took home her own Emmy in the category of “Director–Non-live” for her video “The Mirage.” All in all, the members of our video team took home five Emmys in four different categories this year.

At Telegraph, we are a team of ideators, inventors and creators with a talent for telling. It’s at the core of who we are—whether we’re creating a brand from scratch, crafting scripts, designing graphics or filming stunning videos (s/o to Ginnard and Cat for their shiny new hardware!). What story are you trying to tell? We might just be able to help you out.

Picturing the Post-Pandemic Creative World

Everyone has been touched by the effects of COVID-19 this year, either by contracting the illness itself or experiencing its more intangible repercussions, such as unemployment, uncertainty and social isolation.

Much can be speculated about how our lives will be forever changed by this virus, which has already taken a great toll. Beyond our personal lives, the pandemic is changing our industry in potentially permanent ways. We believe that there are three key areas the design community will feel the lasting of COVID-19, for better or for worse: how brands approach their consumers and their spending, the increased importance of digital, and how remote working will change agency life as we know it.

The Shifting Landscape of Brand Behavior

  • Brands are more vocal about socio-political issues. Brands have never experienced higher visibility or greater levels of scrutiny than they are right now. The increased brand scrutiny and visibility can be contributed to brands’ rising use of social media (more content = more chances to connect with customers—good or bad), rapid news cycle, and the nature of the digital world we live in. Interestingly, brands can spark controversy by standing with a belief or movement just as easily as by doing nothing at all.
  • Brands are required to be more transparent. As customers grapple with “fake news” and losing trust in the media and brands as a whole, transparency has become more crucial than ever. It’s not enough to vocalize support. Companies are made to walk the walk, and customers are holding them accountable for how brand’s statements are reflected through company policies, as well as treatment of customers and workers.
  • There is a serious shift in how brands spend their money. Due to decreased revenues, many companies have had to cut ad spending, social content creation and workforce numbers. This affects where the money will be spent and what will be deemed “essential,” as well as the future needs of the industry as a whole.
  • There is no better time for brands to start fresh. Now is a great time for a new approach, whether that means a new way of doing business, rebranding, developing more creative solutions, or focusing on a new area of growth. Many brands have had to step back from the public eye (restructuring their company, refocusing their strategy, or reducing ad spending) due to the pandemic. Therefore, it is the perfect time to take some space to rework their brand. And because consumer behavior has changed so much, it is also a great time to evaluate the core offerings of their brand and how they speak to consumers.

The Ever-Increasing Emphasis on Digital

  • Digital environments and accessibility have never been more crucial than in a quarantined world. Because many brick and mortar stores have had to move online, a solid, easy to use website or app is paramount to surviving an increasingly digital world. Also, with information changing so frequently, consumers rely on social media and customer service access to get the most up to date knowledge (like hours of operation, new store protocols, and availability).
  • App-based companies (especially delivery) are more important than ever. Food delivery services and online shopping have risen dramatically and won’t stop anytime soon. Therefore, companies that provide these services need to have apps that are usable, fast and accessible to keep up with customer demand.
  • Human interaction cannot be replaced. As important as digital services have become, people crave human interaction and need to have access to real people when going through difficult times. Consumers have little or no access to in-person employees during the purchase process like they did before. Brands that have emphasized this in their messaging understand that this is an issue for their customers, and they must be creative and empathetic to meet those needs.

The Rise of Remote Work

  • The importance of digital networking and business services will increase. Products and services like Zoom, Slack, Gmail, and others have become indispensable in our remote work world, and we will likely see even more digital solutions popping up in the near future.
  • The rising trend of agencies without brick-and-mortar offices will continue to grow. While ditching the office space may offer a larger pool of candidates from more diverse backgrounds and allow companies to save on rent, it has the potential to hinder collaboration, communication and ease of processes (such as brainstorming or producing final materials).
  • Companies are required to have greater flexibility than ever before. Dealing with different employee home situations, environments, sick leave, families with kids at home, mental health, and more necessitates extra adaptability from employers.
  • COVID-19 will impact the way we interact with vendors, clients and one another, even once the virus is controlled. We may not sit as close together, have clients in the office, share equipment or structure offices the same as we did pre-pandemic.

Ideate, Create, Adapt

An Approach to the Challenge of Branding

Branding is one of the most essential aspects of the advertising, marketing and public relations fields. However, for as frequently as the word “branding” is used by professionals in these industries, it is one of the most commonly misunderstood terms. Many mistakenly believe that the process of developing a brand is as simple as designing a logo and pairing it with fonts and colors. While an effective and appropriate logo is an essential piece of creating a brand, a logo alone cannot address all of a brand’s needs and completely tell the brand’s story. Branding is more than just a logo design. Branding is better than just a logo design. In fact, the process of creating a successful brand should start before the logo is ever concepted.

Before a brand seeks to have a logo designed, they should take into consideration the ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself.” All successful brands are aware of and deeply believe in their own, unique identity. They can confidently define their purpose, intended audience and value proposition. Successful brands know why they exist, whom they exist for, and what makes them better than their competition. One name for this prenatal process of defining a brand’s identity and purpose is ideation.

Campesino Rum is one of the many clients that Telegraph assisted in the ideation phase of creating their brand. Central to Campesino’s identity as a brand is the question, “What is Rum?” Campesino believes that rum is more than just a liquor produced from fermented sugar cane; rum should be an experience rooted in history, adventure, craftsmanship and culture. Because Campesino believes that rum is more than just a beverage, their identity as a brand must set them apart from competitors in their industry. That is why we approached Campesino’s brand with a thoughtful, detail-oriented approach that reflects the individuality and authenticity of Campesino’s conviction. For example, all of the photos we use in Campesino’s website or social media are less stylized and more organic; they focus on real moments that imply exploration and adventure in the Panamanian jungle.

Campesino’s unique identity is also conveyed through their website design. Instead of being bombarded with a product, users visiting Campesino’s website will be met with a highly engaging, interactive digital experience. With features like an “animal spirits” personality test and specialty drink recipes, visitors are visually transported into the very jungles that inspired the brand. This commitment to creating a unique, organic experience is how Campesino Rum successfully defined itself during the ideation phase of brand creation. While the ideation phase is extremely important for the success and longevity of a brand, no brand can come to life without the creation phase.

When most individuals hear the term “branding,” they are specifically thinking of the creation phase: a small part of the larger task that is branding. The creation phase involves the designing of the logo, website, physical collateral pieces, social media and all other visual assets that a brand may need. In the creation of these assets, the purpose and identity that were defined during the ideation phase are made visual.

Designing the logo is the central visual challenge involved in the creation phase of the branding process. The logo should function as a symbol for the brand and its message; it is effectively “the face” of a brand. However, it is important to remember that a logo cannot possibly meet all of a brand’s needs alone. In a way, a logo functions as an empty vessel. That is to say, it cannot generate meaning that was not defined during the ideation phase, and it also cannot function correctly unless it acts consistently with the identity and purpose of the brand. The identity and purpose of a brand must permeate all of the brand’s visuals, not just the logo. A great example of this branding consistency can be seen in another one of our clients, Born Ready.

Born Ready is an initiative from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education focused on raising awareness of the importance of early brain development and the empowerment of parents to play an active role in their child’s life. Their logo is a symbolic wordmark with tri-fold meaning: It symbolizes the parent-child relationship, smiling children, and a parent holding their child. However, even if a viewer could not immediately recognize all three of those abstract meanings, they would unmistakably sense that the logo is friendly, warm, affirming and welcoming. The fact that these affirming qualities are immediately recognizable to viewers proves that the logo is congruent with the brand messaging, which supports parents by reminding them that they were “born ready” for the admirable responsibility of parenthood.

The encouragement that Born Ready seeks to provide parents is incorporated in elements beyond the logo. Born Ready’s content is paired with whimsical face icons that mimic various expressions of a child; hand-drawn markings in vibrant, pastel colors; and photos that show parents and caregivers interacting with children in meaningful ways. All of these elements of the brand further the precedent that was defined in the ideation phase and made visual with the creation of the logo. The fact that Born Ready’s logo and content match the defined mission and purpose of the brand reveals that Born Ready is a brand prepared for success. However, even brands that have been successful in the ideation and creation phases of branding know that one more phase exists for brands that desire longevity—an intimate, authentic connection with their audience.

Successful brands know when it is time for a change. One of our clients, Vesta Industrial Contractors, illustrates this crucial principle of brand adaptation. Founded in 1993 as Sunbelt Industrial Company, the brand prides itself on the reliability, thoroughness and thoughtfulness that it brings to the industrial insulation market around the Southeast. While Sunbelt’s business practices embodied all of the characteristics that were essential to their identity as a brand, they needed a visual identity that was congruent with their excellence and would resonate with their contemporary audience. In 2019, Sunbelt became Vesta Industrial Contractors and was given a new name, logo and identity system. The new name and identity system not only embrace modernity, but better represent the true, original values of the brand. The warm, muted colors represented the brand’s commitment to the craft of industrial insulation, and the grey colors and sturdy typefaces imply Vesta’s unparalleled reliability. When Sunbelt became Vesta, they were not selling out or turning their backs on tradition; they were actually re-engaging with their original purpose as a brand. With this change, Vesta exemplified that oftentimes change is inevitable and necessary, even for the most established brands.

Like our clients Campesino Rum, Born Ready and Vesta Industrial Contractors, all successful brands must recognize that the task of branding is complex and requires a great deal of thoughtfulness. Although the process of branding is a high-maintenance and constantly evolving task, we believe that having a deep awareness of the problem at hand is the first step to solving it. Knowing and practicing the phases of ideation, creation and adaptation are the first steps to creating authentic and enduring excellence for your brand.

Our Day with Coach Dye: A Spirit That Was Not Afraid

This past November, a lucky few of us at Telegraph had the unique opportunity to sit down with Coach Pat Dye and discuss the 30th Anniversary of the Iron Bowl coming to Auburn. But this was not just another day on the job; it was truly a dream come true for me, Kenslie McGuire and Seth Baird, all Auburn alumni and lifelong Auburn fans.

We were like kids in a candy shop—or maybe more like kids rolling Toomer’s Corner—as we walked into the Auburn locker room just days before the Iron Bowl for an exclusive interview with the Auburn legend. Coach Dye, joined by Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene and former Auburn linebacker Craig Ogletree, shared his incredible stories and insight into that first home Iron Bowl in 1989 and everything it has meant to Auburn.

I grew up in the Pat Dye era of Auburn football and attended that 1989 Iron Bowl when I was 11 years old. I even held onto that iconic ticket from the game for all these years and asked Coach Dye to sign it for me after our interview. Hearing him recount not only every detail of that day and game in 1989, but also everything that went into moving the game from Birmingham to Auburn, was an experience I’ll never forget. He talked about so many memories from that day that echoed my own memories.

He talked about the Tiger Walk being so big that players, for the first time ever, had to walk single file down Donahue on their way into the stadium. He talked about the cloud of blue from the fans’ paper shakers rising up into the orange sky and how he would never forget that sight. He talked about the pass to Alexander Wright on the fifth play of the game and about how many rushing yards Stacy Danley had, as if the game had just been played the day before. As he told these stories, it was so apparent how intense his love for Auburn was and that Auburn had meant as much to him as he had meant to Auburn. Even more touching for me was how apparent his love was for all of his former players as he talked about them, and seeing through his interactions with Craig Ogletree how that love and respect was mutual from his players.

He made a point to mention the first time he read the Auburn Creed and how it resonated with him so deeply, saying “…it was right down the line with what I believed in. How you treat your fellow man. How hard you have to work.” He then said the line that most resonated with him from the creed was having “a spirit that is not afraid,” and that if you are afraid, you won’t ever get anything done. I think that sums up Coach Dye extremely well. He never backed down from any challenge or adversity and tackled everything head on. It was more important to him to teach his players the values that resonated with him in the Auburn Creed, and how to be great human beings, than it was to just teach them how to be great football players.

Kenslie McGuire recalls that after graduating from Auburn University, she made it one of her bucket list items to return to Auburn for a work project.

“As you can imagine, I was thrilled to hear we’d be interviewing Coach Pat Dye for the 30th anniversary of the first Iron Bowl played in Jordan Hare. My mom attended that ’89 Iron Bowl and bought a sweatshirt that I ended up wearing all through my college days. Such an iconic game!

Coach Dye is a true Auburn man. He treated coaching as a serious responsibility and developed a father/son-like relationship with so many of his players. Seeing him and Craig Ogletree interact was the sweetest thing. You can tell they had so many fond memories together that led to their lasting respect so many years later.

It was such a delight to meet Pat Dye and spend that afternoon with him, Craig, and A.D. Allen Greene. I knew it’d be an experience I’d never forget, but didn’t realize how special it would become seeing that we’d lose Coach so soon.”

Seth Baird said that day was his first time getting to really meet Coach Dye.

“He was super nice and friendly. For him to take the time out of his day to sit down with us was awesome. I’d heard he was not only a great coach but a great man, and I got to experience that myself. It is something I will never forget. The way he told the story of the ‘89 Iron Bowl was like it happened yesterday. He seemed to remember every detail about that day. He made you feel like you were there in the stands. I could have sat there for hours listening to him tell stories about Auburn. We are going to miss Coach Dye.”

For some context, Auburn’s record versus Alabama prior to Coach Dye was 17-27-1. Since Coach Dye came to Auburn in 1981, that record is 20-19—including a 15-10 record against Alabama in games played in Auburn and Tuscaloosa since Coach Dye moved the game away from Birmingham and truly evened the playing field. Coach Dye’s contributions to Auburn are immeasurable. In many ways he is Auburn, both in the way he lived his life and in the path he paved for Auburn athletes, coaches, students and fans to come through his accomplishments on and off the field.

Coach Patrick Fain Dye the man may be gone, but legends never die, and he will live on forever through the Auburn family and in memories like the ones we recalled and made during our interview. Thank you, Coach, for the day we spent together and for the life you gave to Auburn, defining what it means to be an Auburn man.

War Eagle, Coach!

Zoom Gloom

5 Tips for Surviving Your Next Virtual Meeting

As we enter week another week of the seemingly endless COVID-19 news cycle, people around the world continue to work from home and practice social distancing to flatten the curve. Over the past few weeks, our kitchens have morphed into classrooms, our living rooms have transformed into offices, and our backyards (if we’re lucky enough to have them) have become oases of escape.

We now find ourselves viewing our coworkers, classmates and family members through the window of our computer screen. All day, we hop from meeting to classroom to another meeting, then finish up the school day and log back on for a virtual happy hour, and end the day with a FaceTime chat with our parents before bed. (You can’t dodge those calls. Your parents know you’re home because, well…where else are you going to be?)

Doing this almost every day for weeks on end has left us feeling exhausted. But why, exactly?
Quick answer: Zoom, Google Hangouts and FaceTime (Sorry Skype, you didn’t make the cut this pandemic). All of these virtual meeting spaces have mentally worn us out to the point where we don’t have the energy at the end of the day to even look at another screen.

We can’t run on fumes until the end of social distancing because we don’t even know when that is. So how do we combat this new fatigue? Let’s first understand what we are now experiencing in our virtual lives.

The Gloom Factor:

Virtual conversations are inherently going to be more face-to-face (literally), eliminating the cues from non-verbal body language we’re accustomed to. According to Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, the majority of human interaction is interpreted through non-verbal communication. A shrug, hand movement, fidgets—these are all non-verbal cues that help us interpret the tone and mood behind someone’s words. So when the computer eliminates this, we are forced to focus all our energy on the words someone is saying and interpret them from a cropped point of view. Because our minds have to spend more time and energy trying to understand this, the natural flow and rhythm of conversation is disrupted. It’s as if you’re snapping off beat to a song you’ve heard a million times and can’t seem to get back in sync.

Another cause of our fatigue is the “gallery view” feature in some programs that allows you to see everyone on the call at once. Sometimes it’s nice to see that you’re not the only one that doesn’t have yourself together by the 9 a.m. status call. But when you’re on gallery view for an hour or so for every meeting, it can be mentally taxing without you even knowing it. Imagine walking into Best Buy and being stuck in the TV aisle where every television is playing a different movie. That’s effectively what gallery view is. You’re constantly pursuing the “gallery” to see if Johnny’s really paying attention or if Sally still has the photo of you two on her wall, all while trying to actively listen to the person speaking. And while you’re doing this, you have 10 (or however many coworkers you have) other sets of eyes looking right into the camera, which is staring right back at you. It shatters your sense of privacy and forces you to be intimate with one another. Because of the discomfort this causes for some, your body can have a “fight or flight” reaction, which can be physically draining.

But the one gaze you have to be most concerned about is your own. Your own webcam is also a contributing factor to your digital fatigue. One aspect is the nagging feeling you’re constantly on display during the entire meeting. You have to act attentive, put on your best face and be present at every moment. Being hyper-aware of yourself, your actions and your surroundings can be extremely stressful. You’re not only highly tuned in to what the speaker is saying, but also to what you look like, what you’re doing, what’s happening behind you, whether your child is going to pop in the room at any given moment, and on and on. Even for the most vain of people, seeing yourself speak during every conversation when you’re not used to it can throw you for a loop.

While these video conferences can wear you out both mentally and physically, there are some steps you can take to manage the stress, anxiety and fatigue before hopping on your next virtual call.

1. Do I Really Need to See You?

We may be tempted to make every conversation a virtual call so we have an excuse to see a familiar face, but it’s not always always necessary to flip on the webcam and have a quick conversation. By turning off the camera or using your cellphone, you’re eliminating all visual cues and relying solely on sound to interpret your conversations. It’s less for your brain to focus on and easier for you to manage the conversation.

2. Mirrors Are for Bathrooms

If you’ve tried making the meeting a phone call and your coworker insists on showing you their new virtual background, try turning your own camera off or hiding yourself from the gallery view. Most of our anxiety and exhaustion comes from staring at our reflections for hours on end, so why not just hide yourself all together?

Some people might think your lack of camera access means you are disconnected or unengaged in the conversation. If you’re required to show yourself, show you’re present and attentive at the beginning of the meeting, then turn your camera off. And when you want to chime in, turn your camera on while you converse, and then off again when you’re done.

3. Brady Bunch is Canceled

Yes, it makes for a fun social media post (just look at ours!), but you really don’t need to be looking at a classroom of coworkers every meeting. If you’re that curious to know what all your coworkers are doing during the meeting, you might not be very engaged in the meeting itself. In your next meeting, utilize the “speaker view” and save your energy for the person that’s talking. What they’re saying is probably more important than your other coworker’s cat walking across the screen.

4. Set the To-Do List Aside

We’re all busy people with a thousand tabs open between our internet browsers and post-it notes, but one thing that makes us so exhausted after video calls is our constant need to multitask during all of our meetings. Your brain is in five different places trying to handle everything that needs to get done. It’s mentally taxing to tune in and out of conversations, and it’s impossible to do so seamlessly. Hit snooze on all the notifications, close some tabs and keep your mind where your virtual body is.

5. Okay, Let’s Break It Up Everyone

If you find yourself constantly glued to your chair with your eyes locked on the screen, it can help to get up and take 10-minute breaks between meetings. Let yourself recharge by walking away from the desk, running to the mailbox or getting another snack before joining the next conversation. Not having a break prevents your brain from gracefully shifting gears and strains your eyes for an extended period of time, leaving you more tired than you would be after an in-person meeting.

As for your social life via Zoom, having a virtual happy hour every other day with your friends or people you haven’t talked to since college graduation can be just as exhausting as having back-to-back meetings all day. You’re spending even more time locked into your computer than you really need to be. Set aside certain times to catch up with your friends, and be aware of when you might need to pass on a virtual hangout if you’re already feeling fatigued to help you better balance your on-screen and off-screen time. Your friends will still be there.

The future is up in the air for now, but working remotely is a new norm for many of us. This change in how we communicate with friends, family members and colleagues can leave us anxious and exhausted as we navigate our everyday life, but looking out for your own sanity and personal well-being shouldn’t take a back seat. Until we can click “Leave the Meeting” one last time and meet in person again, we have to learn what’s best for us as we embrace and adapt to the changes to come.

Design Students: Set Yourselves Up for Post-Quarantine Success

Just because life has seemed to hit the pause button, it doesn’t mean that you (or your future) has to. There are plenty of ways you can still equip yourself with the skills you will need to graduate and apply for jobs in the future.

You had plans for you summer, whether it was an amazing internship, a freelance job, applying for jobs upon graduation, or something else entirely. But with COVID-19 turning the world upside down, many of those dreams and goals have come to a screeching halt. You want to graduate ready and prepared to start your career, but now that your summer (and much of your school year) has been taken away from you, you are left wondering what to do.

Luckily, we have some great tips and tricks to help you to fully take advantage of this time at home. Just because life has seemed to hit the pause button, it doesn’t mean that you (or your future) has to. There are plenty of ways you can still equip yourself with the skills you will need to graduate and apply for jobs in the future. These suggestions can help you develop yourself, your network and your portfolio.

Develop yourself.

Many of you have spent time during the quarantine working on yourself by delving into hobbies, exercising and spending time with your family (or feeling the pressure to do all of these while juggling school and the effects of a global pandemic). We understand that there is a anxiety around coming out of quarantine better than before. We’re feeling it, too. But we want to encourage you to try do develop yourself in at least one area while at home, and we have two suggestions for how you can do just that.

1. Learn a new skill

There are thousands of tutorials on YouTube, as well as learning platforms like SkillShare and Lynda. You can learn a new skill (or improve on one) in a platform you are familiar with, or you might want to learn a totally new program. A few skills that we suggest nailing down before you graduate are:

  • Learning the basics of animation in After Effects
  • Getting skilled with the pen tool in Illustrator
  • Touching up a photo in Photoshop (blemishes, teeth, flyaways, etc.)
  • Removing a background (or extending it) in Photoshop
  • Mocking up a product/logo application in Photoshop

2. Watch design talks or pick up some books on design and get inspired! We have a few suggestions listed below:

Develop your network.

When you hear the word “networking,” you probably picture a room full of people in suits with nametags and painful small talk. Because of this outdated perception, your instinct may be to think that networking only applies to businesspeople and that it won’t help you in the design world, but that is far from the truth.

Networking is simply communicating with people in your desired field, job or company and developing relationships with those people. But developing your network is so much more than just adding people on LinkedIn. While networking is a continual process, we have two tips that can be utilized right now and will serve you well in your time as a student.

  1. Build a list of your favorite companies that you want to apply to, either for an internship or full-time job upon graduation. There are a lot of things going on when you graduate, so it is best to start keeping track of your desired companies before it is time to apply. Linked are a few resources you can use to build this list.Ask yourself these questions to narrow down your search: Where do you want to live? What type of work would you like to do? What size company would you like to work for? What type of work do you like? Following these companies on LinkedIn and Instagram help to give you an idea of their culture and the type of work that they produce.
  2. Reach out to a designer in the area (or in your desired field) to find a mentor during the summer. They can give great advice on applying for jobs, reviewing your portfolio and more.

Develop your portfolio.

Having a good, clean portfolio is the single most important part of applying for a job. While it is helpful to have that network in place, your portfolio can get your foot in the door and get you noticed, and many times, it will be the main reason that you are hired. We as designers are constantly developing our portfolios as we grow, and being a student is no exception. It is important that you improve and develop old projects as you gain knowledge and improve your designer’s eye. We have listed a few suggestions below (and these are often things that come up in portfolio reviews).

  • Try to replace all of your studio photography with mockups when possible. Unless you are a master photographer and craftsman, it is very difficult to get beautiful pictures of your work. Mocking things up will allow you to have more control, and the work will look more cohesive in a portfolio.
  • Clean up old work. Fix typos, extra anchor points, kerning, etc.
  • Update old projects and make them better. Go back to a project that you loved, and use your current knowledge and expertise to refine and elevate your work. Would it work better if it had a different typeface? Color palette? Illustration?
  • Expand on those projects by adding things like an ad campaign, packaging, additional products or animation. This will help to position you as a designer who understands brands and how they work as a system. It will also bring your work to life and give viewers an idea of how your designs could live and work in the real world. Brand New is a great resource to see how some of the best agencies present their work.

There are thousands of things that we can all do during quarantine. We know it because the pressure is coming at us from all sides telling us what we “should” be doing. We know it’s hard. If you can focus in on these tips, you will be able to use this time to grow and challenge yourself, but also set expectations for yourself and home in on what you want to achieve. It’s okay if you need to take a break or if you have difficulty starting or finishing a task. The most important thing is that you are trying and working towards something.

COVID-19 has been a struggle for all of us, and even more so for students, but remember that we are here with you, we’ve got your back, and we want you to succeed as much as you do.


This Mother’s Day is like no other in recent memory. With social distancing and sheltering in place, it’s a difficult year to connect with our moms and mother figures on a day that should be all about connecting with each other.

If your work is like ours, and working remotely has become the new norm, you spend countless hours popping in and out of Zoom meetings. You click a link in a meeting invite and join a grid of coworkers without question, ready to discuss the next topic on your agenda.

We decided to use that to our advantage and surprise our employees with unexpected video chats with their special someone. We set up fake meetings, scheduled them throughout the work week, and when our employees logged into the meeting, they were face-face with MOM! What happened next—the surprise, the joy, the emotions, the laughs, the tears—well, you just gotta see that for yourself.

Probably the most unique perspective on this project was that of Catherine May, our Producer/Director who played moderator on almost every mom call and got to see all the connections happening first hand.

Producing this video was truly a special experience for me. Being relatively new to Telegraph, these hours on the phone with my coworkers and their special someone allowed me to view them in a much more complex and dynamic way. I feel closer to this team than I could have ever imagined, and I was so impressed with each of the raw and authentic approaches to the surprise calls. I’m thankful to work with a team that takes advantage of special moments like these and embraces them to their fullest. I realize that it was such a privilege to witness these conversations, and I feel very lucky to have learned so much about the human experience from each of these individuals.