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Welcome! I am Kathy McGraw of KMG, a graphic designer, east coast gal transplanted to beautiful southern California/ San Diego. This is some of what inspires me. I like to think of it as a mix of west coast bohemian and east coast folk meets Mumbai meets Paris. I'm drawn to eclectic hand done looks with lots of prints and texture, particularly Indian prints and French style. I love branding, packaging, hand lettering, hand printed designs, block printing, screen printing, letterpress and illustration...




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DISCLAIMER ALERT ****SWEET MANGO Shameless Self Promotion**** 

I now have designs available for sale at Society6! They are available as iPhone skins, computer skins, art prints, framed prints and stretched canvases and canvas bags! If Bliss and Buddha isn't your thing, have no fear I have more mainstream designs with joy and positivity coming up… If you don't like joy and positivity… Well I don't know what to say… LOL. Check out my Society6 shop anyway... :) Thanks!


SWEET MANGO: Tote Bag Designs

I am so excited to announce that KMG's Sweet Mango line of designs is doing a collaboration with Lusso Bags! 5% of the proceeds goes towards stopping human trafficking…So help me choose one of my Sweet Mango designs for a canvas tote… Which one do you like the best?


WHAT DO I CHARGE? The Value of Design

So you like my portfolio and you’d like to hire me… Congratulations. If I may so, you have impeccable taste and I’d love to work with you. So now comes the question. What do I charge? It may look effortless, but a lot of work goes into good design and it takes years to develop professional design skills. All too often a client needs some work done for $250. The reality is the work they need is actually worth $1500. Before you get sticker shock lets talk about a few things and what actually goes into a design. Sure, I could throw together a brochure in a few hours for $250 but that would be doing you and your company a disservice. We both care about your company and how it does. I want you to do well, and want you to get a huge return on your investment decision to hire me. In order for that to happen, I want to get to know what it is that you do. I will want to discuss your job specifications and scheduling; "what makes your company tick; what sets you apart from your competitors; what are you trying to communicate; and what are your biggest challenges?” Although this process may seem somewhat time-consuming, it is essential to sharpen the focus and objectives of your project. This ensures that the designs I produce for you are not only creative and of good quality, but strategically targeted as well.

If you wish, you can compare me to other designers and other sites that will design you a brochure for $250. Look at my portfolio. Look at theirs. If you are happy with those designers, then I am happy that you have identified a solution that will work for you. We probably would not have been a good fit. If you look hard enough, you could also probably get a logo for even cheaper. Ask yourself, “can the logo be trademarked or has it been plagiarized?” Are you comfortable in risking a potential lawsuit from the entity that actually owns the logo trademark? My business model is focused on giving a differentiated and custom solution based on your unique business strategy so that you will stand out in the crowded marketplace. It is a lot of value for your money.

I understand that the reality is that many people and companies are on a very tight budget, and can’t afford the prices that first class designers charge. There is nothing wrong with this; cost discipline is an important component to your business margins. It is important though to understand the value of good strategic design. I offer a package of services for those interested in establishing a relationship based on personal strategy and differentiated value. If my design services are still out of your budget then that is okay. I will still be here if you become dissatisfied with less expensive, “templated” solutions, and I will love to get to know and work with you.

Image from Designing a Life Blog.


PACKAGING: The Spa at Terranea

I had created this logo design and this packaging a while back for "The Spa at Terranea" while I worked at Van Vechten Creative, but I never had images to show it off... So I thought I'd show it now. I think it came out quit lovely... I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work on this project. Terranea is a beautiful resort in Palos Verdes, California just south of Los Angeles.



I recently had the pleasure of designing some social media branding for Freshly Hatched Studio: a logo, Twitter and Facebook elements, and Wordpress blog design... Freshly Hatched Studio is going to be lifestyle blog about arts & crafts, raising a family and cooking.


KMG: "Hands of Hope" Poster

It looks like there still may be a few of my "Hands of Hope" posters left to raise money for Haiti, if you didn't get one and are still interested... The poster was done for "The Haiti Poster Project", a collaboration of artists and designers around the world to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. 


SWEET MANGO: KMG's alter ego Now on Etsy!

KMG's alter ego "Sweet Mango" now has an online store on Etsy: where you can purchase the greeting card designs. Thank you so much for your support! I hope to be getting some special occassion designs like Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary etc... soon.


North County Graphic Designers (NCGD): February Meetup

We had a great group of people this morning at the North County Graphic Designers Morning Meetup, (that I am a cofounder of with Erika Firm of Delphine). Christy Fuston from Fuston Creative and Nita Gilson from Gilson Graphics were so nice to show us some of their client and personal work and Guusje Bendeler gave us a tour of her studio Parrallax that was just around the corner! Thank you so much Christy, Nita and Guusje... Sorry for the bad iphone photos... LOL.


TYPOGRAPHY: Book Covers by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich 

Lovely book covers by designer Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich who specializes in publications, and restaurant design and branding. I had loved the design to the book cover Little Bee, but I never knew who actually did the work... Now I know. Again some lovely use of silhouette with typography, but Roberto’s work is more diverse then that, as you can see with his sophisticated use of typography...


KMG: Logo Design

I compiled some of the logos that I have done. I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some great clients. Hope you like them!



When I discovered Lauren Bishop from the UK, I was really excited by her use of silhouettes and patterns. I can see some similar influences in my own design… Be it a coincidence or something unconscious, I am not sure… but I truly love what she does… 


DESIGNER LOVE: Mary Kate McDevitt

Loving the recent handlettering work of designer Mary Kate McDevitt from Portland Oregon. Her work is inspirational, whimsical and fun. She uses a color palette that feels very nostalgic... Here is the Carpe Diem Journal that she designed for Chronicle books. It’s a journal to help you make the most of your life, with your planning, dreaming and organizing... 


SWEET MANGO: Getting Closer!

Getting closer to getting my greeting cards up in an online store! Just got really busy with client work and holidays... All good things...



I know I have been bad about posting to my blog lately, but I have been busy working on KMG's alter ego "SWEET MANGO". SWEET MANGO is my line of "yoga & holistic living" inspired greeting cards. I am happy to announce that the SWEET MANGO designs premiered at the YOGA VISTA fall Bazaar last weekend with great success! I don't have the online store for the cards up and running yet, but you can contact me directly if you are interested in purchasing any of them. NAMASTE and OM SHANTI - Kathy


KMG BRANDING: David Bacco Chocolatier

David Bacco Chocolatier, creator of exclusive artisanal and hand-crafted chocolates approached KMG to redesign their existing logo and to create new branding for their company. KMG updated their old logo using more contemporary and elegant fonts and reworked their existing mark to make more of an elegant statement. KMG also designed beautiful business cards, and packaging wraps for their boxes of chocolates and created patterns that could be used for wrapping product.



Hundreds of websites run contests for everything from logos to brochures designs. All you have to do is write a description of what you want, post an amount you are willing to pay for it. An online company will then act as a go between you and designers. Designers from around the world submit their entries in the hope that their work will be chosen and they will win the money. If you select one of the designs as a winner, that specific designer, and only that designer, gets paid for their work. If no design is selected, no one gets compensated. This practice is now called 'crowdsourcing'.

WHAT IS CROWDSOURCING IN RELATION TO LOGO DESIGN & BRANDING? At first, it’s easy to understand how crowdsourcing might have an appeal. It doesn’t cost much and it tends to have quick results. This is what people tend to see and why it has grown in popularity. There are some things that a business cannot crowdsource to create its brand: like its name, culture, or point of view. There is value in hiring a talented design firm that is well versed to create a brand for your company. At face value, crowdsourcing might have that immediate appeal but in the end the costs are damaging to your company’s success. Why would you trust your new identity to DIY designers who don’t understand your brand, business strategy or core values? The reason companies spend so much time and effort to create a unique brand is because it’s essential to the longevity of their business.” To build a bond with the consumer, you really need to have insight into who they are and what compels them. Don't waste a few hundred dollars and get something that won't work.  Make a good investment on your brand identity.

CROWDSOURCING IS A REALLY BAD IDEA FOR YOUR BUSINESS. It’s not wrong because it’s cheap. It’s wrong because it lacks value and doesn’t help a business with its brand. A logo is not a brand. The brand makes a company mean something to its audience. A logo is a single element that goes into making a brand. It’s part among many things to make up a company’s story. A brand cannot be built from one or two statements that ill-informed designers will use to set off in every direction to create a logo.

THE QUALITY OF CROWDSOURCING TENDS TO BE LOW. The quality of the final designs of crowdsourcing contests is mostly determined by the quality of talent, the contest set up and how it is well it is managed. Crowdsourcing designers tend to have less training in the fundamentals of graphic design, which often times result in logos based on stylized trends and fads with nothing to do with your company’s core values. Most of the people that participate in crowdsource work are students looking to increase their portfolio or DIY hobbyists self-taught on Photoshop without ability and experience.

RESULTS AND MOTIVATION GO TOGETHER. Designers are like other people and are motivated by compensation, respect, and a sense of being part of a team. The relationship between a crowdsourcing client and a crowd source designer is vague and has no underlying motivation. Crowdsourced designers are not vested in the success of your company. Hundreds of people are working for free, from countries all over the world in the hopes that they might get a few hundred dollars from a contest that you posted. Without proper pay, designers don't have a lot of time to spend creating custom work that will connect with your consumer and target market. Instead, what you get is work that has been submitted that is recycled that has been rejected by a 'real' paying client. Is that the level of talent that you want working on your logo and brand? There are many well-documented cases in which work that was submitted violated trademarks, copied logos from well known designers.

GREAT LOGOS ARE WELL RESEARCHED AND BUILT ON STRATEGY. Brand identity has to connect emotionally with your consumer and target market. That doesn’t happen from a just a pretty logo. That comes from really knowing the consumer and the company. It takes lengthy discussions and research to get feel for an industry and company. Who is making sure that your crowdsourced logo will work on a strategic level? Who is making sure the design will compel consumers to choose you instead of the competition? Most likely you will get a logo that won’t have any longevity of a well-designed and thought out logo that has your overall branding in mind from a skilled designer/firm. 



KMG LOGO DESIGN: Intertrade Industries

Intertrade Industries, a thermoforming plastics company in Huntington Beach, California contacted KMG to design a new logo to update and re-brand their existing image. They needed a more contemporary feeling that went with their market, with a font treatment that was more technological. Their original logo was ambiguous and didn’t reflect the plastics industry and what they did. Intertrade Industries also needed to update their outdated color scheme. KMG choose a clean contemporary sans serif font and designed an icon that had the feeling of "plastics" but also had "energy" and conveyed the concept of an idea being introduced to go along with Intertrade's tagline of  “Imagine. Design. Deliver.”  The company wasn’t ready to give up a blue color scheme, so KMG picked two new industrial and more contemporary blues.


My Four Seasons Logo Design Was Chosen for New Book Release!

I am so excited! I just found out, that another one of my logo designs is being chosen for inclusion in the remarkable new LogoLounge project, “Shapes and Symbols”, the third book in the new Master Library series. Some of my other logo designs have been published in in the best sellers from Rockport Publishers: “Animals and Mythology”.


BRANDING: Choosing Fonts For Your Brand 

Branding isn’t just for large companies. Small and medium sized businesses benefit from branding too. Branding doesn’t stop with the creation of a company’s name. That’s just the beginning. A company’s brand should consist of multiple elements: it’s identity, as well as it’s messaging. A company’s brand must be so unique that it can easily be recognized by the consumer and separated from all other competing brands.

The identity is the image of the brand and includes: the logo, a color palette, and the fonts. The selected fonts for a company’s logo and messaging are essential and if used correctly will give credibility to the brand. They will make a company’s brand distinct. Fonts have personalities, and like a company’s logo, they should support the company’s message. The company’s fonts should match the company’s image and personality. Is the company serious, playful, or formal? The font selection should reflect this e.g. conservative businesses shouldn’t pick loud and complicated fonts. Another thing to consider is that a company’s brand should also match the personality and preferences of its clients.

Companies should be consistent in their font use for all their marketing and promotional materials. All marketing materials should have a limited number of font families (a font family includes a normal, bold and italic variation of a particular font). Using more than three font families is excessive and may come across as unprofessional.

Consider specific company fonts for:

  • The logo: This font should be unique and interesting and should not be one of the default fonts installed with Windows. Logos may use two or three different fonts. In this case a company might want to use one of the fonts as a secondary font too.

  • A secondary font: A unique and interesting font for headlines, sub-headlines, taglines, special text graphics, captions, and pull quotes. Consider using a logo font as a secondary font. 

  • A tertiary font: A highly legible font like a serif font for mid length texts and long printed documents. Typically printed materials are more easily read if they are in a serif font rather than a sans-serif font. Serif fonts have little those tiny little "feet," at the ends of their letters. Examples include Times, Palatino, and Garamond. Tertiary sans-serif fonts may be used for shorter printed documents. In Sans-serif fonts those little feet are missing and they look more clean and modern. "Sans" means “without”. Some of the more common san serif fonts are Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, and Helvetica.

  • Online fonts: San serif text on a computer monitor for websites, emails, and HTML newsletters is easier to read than serif. Online fonts should be limited by what a user might have installed on their computer and most likely will be Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, or Trebuchet MS. Otherwise the text may default to whatever is selected by the user’s browser. Serif fonts can be used on websites; but may be better as headlines and subheadings. These include Times, Times New Roman, and Georgia.

Things to consider in choosing a company's font:

Make sure that the font is legible in large and small size formats, faxed, and in color as well as black and white. The company should have the rights to it’s fonts and that they can be easily installed on all it’s computers. Typically companies settle and stay with the default Microsoft’s Office Suite fonts: Times and Arial. Using these fonts doesn’t create much of a visual brand difference between a company and it's competitors. Font types are usually Post Script, True Type, or Open Type. Post Script fonts are an industry standard for professional printers. They are available for both Macintosh computers and PCs as different formats cannot be shared between machines. True Type fonts are found on PCs and do not print as well as Postscript fonts. A company might want to consider purchasing the newer Open Type fonts, which are cross-platform Mac and PC compatible.


BUDGET DESIGN: Hand Stamped Business Cards

It's been a while since I blogged… I've had a couple of crazy and busy months going back and forth from the west to the east coast. I wanted to post about a fun alternative for business cards. Sometimes it's great to get off the computer and do something by hand so this is why hand stamping appealed to me, and I wanted to show some hand stamped business cards that caught my eye… Custom stamps are a great way to experiment with your look on different colored papers, and try different colors of ink… Additionally you can use your stamp on stationery, and packaging, etc… French Paper offer some really great pop tone paper in various colors…, you can also get lovely business card paper at the Paper Source.