Nela Dunato Art & Design Blog

3 ways service based businesses can specialize

3 ways service based businesses can specialize

If your market is saturated by competitors, and you can tell you’re losing clients to other (perhaps cheaper) businesses, you need to stand out in a meaningful way. While it may seem counterintuitive that aiming for a smaller market segment would bring in more business, it actually works because it gives you an edge over generalist competitors. Read more...

Is graphic design subjective or objective

Is graphic design subjective or objective?

Who gets to say whether a design is “good” or “bad”? What are the objective criteria we can use to evaluate the work? Is it appropriate for clients to dictate design decisions, or should it be left up to the experts? In this article, I’ll point out some of the objective and subjective sides of design, and how to make the best of both. Read more...

The truth about dark art

The truth about dark art + spooky colored pencil drawing process

Have you created any dark art, and are a bit confused because you don’t know where these spooky images are coming from? Or is your loved one creating dark art and you’re worried about their mental health? In this video I’ll help you make sense of dark, spooky, creepy, gory, and macabre art and explain why some people find it so appealing. Read more...

Mixed media sketchbook tour 2016-2021

Mixed media sketchbook tour 2016–2021

I recently completed this 132-page sketchbook that I've been using since 2016, so it's time for another tour video! This ended up being one of my favorites, filled with fantasy portraits, quirky portraits, floral portraits... you get it, a lot of portraits. There's also animal and landscape studies, as well as abstract-ish mixed media experiments and a healthy helping of doodles. Read more...

Art and creativity for mental health and wellbeing

Art & creativity for mental health & wellbeing + mixed media self-portrait process

In this episode of Nela’s Art Chat I’m sharing the process of creating a mixed media self-portrait, and discuss how creativity and the arts can improve our mental health and help us maintain a healthy outlook on life, give meaning to our life, and help us deal with daily challenges and grief. I would love for more people to learn about this power of creativity that anyone can use in their life. Read more...

Find your own answers and solve problems through journaling

Find your own answers & solve problems through journaling

The habit of turning to outside sources every time we need an answer trains us to lose trust in our own judgement. It’s great to have mentors and teachers, but at the same time we need to be able to trust ourselves. So what’s the alternative? How do we find our own answers and become empowered decision makers? Let me share my secret tool with you. Except it’s not a secret. Read more...

Can great branding really help you earn more money?

Can great branding really help you earn more money?

Branding can be a significant financial investment and as savvy small business owners we need to ask ourselves: is it worth it? Will we actually receive enough of a financial benefit to justify that cost? In this article I explain how branding can encourage clients to see our business as a better choice, and share an exercise to help you see where you may be losing clients. Read more...

Doorways of inspiration

Doorways of inspiration

How is it that sometimes I can be so full of inspiration and drive to create, but other times I can’t even get myself off the couch? Why is it so difficult to remain in the state of forward momentum? How could I reinvigorate that creative spark after the fire has died out? I’ve tried to answer all of these questions, and more, in this essay. Read more...

Fact-checking 13 MLM myths about business

Fact-checking 13 MLM myths about business

I'm tired of seeing misleading claims that multi-level marketing companies are spreading about business, so I want to raise awareness of how damaging those myths are. Starting a small business from scratch is many times more likely to lead to profits than joining an MLM, and the small business ecosystem is way more supportive than any MLM team. Read more...

How to get clients to see you as an expert

How to get clients to see you as an expert

How can service based business owners convince clients to hire us, instead of someone else? One of the most persuasive ways is to claim an expertise in a narrow field. In this article I’ll explain what it takes to be an expert, and how to demonstrate your expertise to your clients. Read more...

One logo design concept, one revision

One logo design concept, one revision: why this method works

It’s common among logo designers to present 3 concepts to the client, so they can choose the one they like the most. I’ve even seen this taught in design schools and courses. I don’t offer multiple logo design concepts to my clients—I show them one, and then we discuss whether it works for the business or not, and if something needs to be changed. This may not work for every designer, but I’ll explain why the “one concept, one revision” approach works for me and my clients. Read more...

How to stand out through exceptional client service

How to stand out through exceptional client service

Creatives and consultants try to stand out from their peers by claiming to have rare skills and specialized knowledge, but that is only one part of the professional service equation. How we package, explain, and deliver our skills and knowledge makes a difference between the average consultant and a highly reputable consultant. Here's how to blow your clients' minds with professionalism and expertise that shoots beyond their expectations. Read more...

How to balance personal and commercial creative work

How to balance personal & commercial creative work + Mixed media cat painting process

Finding balance between personal creative practice and paid work can be a challenge. Our jobs may not give us 100% of the creative fulfillment that we need, and we also may have our own inspiration and ideas we want to follow. Personal practice is an excellent way to stave off creative burnout, and it helps us keep our skills sharp and develop our unique style. In this episode of Nela's Art Chat, I offer tips how to justify spending time on creative practice, and incorporate more spontaneous creativity into your life. Read more...

Which brand identity design assets does your business really need

Which brand identity design assets does your business really need?

Brand identity design is rarely just about creating the logo and brand style guide. Every brand design project I work on involves at least a few additional graphics. But which of those graphics do you need? Many business owners are stumped by this question because they may not even know what options exist. My hope is that this article helps you clarify your individual needs. Read more...

5 Rules of Elegant Logo Design

5 Rules of Elegant Logo & Brand Design

When I ask my clients in the beginning of my logo design process to choose up to five aesthetic qualities that are the most important for their brand, the quality clients most often select is “elegant”. We can all tell something is elegant when we see it, but what specific graphic design choices create this effect? Read more...

Nela's ultimate list of freelancing tips

Nela’s ultimate list of 34 freelancing tips

I started freelancing when I was 19 years old, and for the past 7 years I've been a full-time freelance brand identity designer. There are many lessons I learned in that time that I wish I knew when I got started, but at least others can benefit from this experience. Here's my list of 34 tips that will help you avoid the common pitfalls of freelancing. Read more...

Overcome your fear of visibility

What will people think? 10 steps to overcoming your fear of visibility

I help clients who want to be seen and valued as experts in their field to increase their visibility and impact. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel emotionally prepared to receive attention, so they keep putting off their marketing activities. In this article I offer tips and techniques you can use to shift your mindset and prepare yourself before you step into the spotlight. Read more...

My favorite black, white and red mixed media art journal supplies

My favorite black, white & red mixed media art supplies (video compilation)

In this long 3-part video series, I share my favorite mixed media art supplies for sketchbooks and art journals, along with examples of how I use them. I’ve been keeping sketchbooks since 2006 and experimented with lots of different mixed media techniques. My approach involves a lot of drawing, doodling, and painting, usually of figurative and surreal scenes and creatures. I combine drawing mediums that allow for a lot of precise detail, along with some more fluid and expressive painterly techniques that add atmosphere, depth, and texture. Read more...