Review: I Love My Filofax!

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As a small business owner, I know that organization is crucial to running efficiently and keeping your brain from reaching the point of insanity! Some people solely keep their appointments tracked digitally while others prefer to write them down. For people like me, I prefer to do both! I am obsessed with collecting annual planners and continue to try a different brand each year. This year I went with Filofax, and I’m pretty much obsessed with it!

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This year I went with the A5 sized, Domino Filofax Planner, and I’ve been getting a lot of use out of it! Last year, I used an A5 KikkiK daily planner that worked fairly well, but I found that having an entire page devoted to each day was a bit much real-estate for me.(Maybe I should get busier! ūüėČ )

This year, I decided to compact my schedule into weekly pages that has worked swimmingly for the most part! What I love about Filofaxes is that they have a three-ring binder system so once you buy the planner, you don’t need to go out and get a new one every year. You can just order more inserts. ¬†

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Besides having a daily calendar, my filofax is also filled with various inserts such as to-do lists, notebook paper, graph paper, contact sheets, etc. This filofax comes with various tabs to keep all of these sheets divided which is pretty convenient! I will also note that the inside of the covers have pockets to store business cards, IDs, and any other loose papers you might want to save.


In Closing

The only complaint I may have is that I wish I would’ve gone with a larger size. I think having a weekly planner is more logical for my work than a daily, but I think having a tiny bit more room to write would be better for me to jot down things that come up during my days. If you’re interested in picking up a Filofax planner, they have a complete range styles that function the same as the one I reviewed. You can check them out at www.filofaxusa.com. Let’s see what planner I will pick for the 2016-17 year! With that, have a good one readers!

Leaving 304: A Reflection On Moving

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I can’t even begin to tell you all how much of a whirlwind the month of August has been for me so far. The moment I got settled back in Kalamazoo after spending a week in New York, I have hit the ground running. From finishing up with Summer clients, preparing for the upcoming season at the venue I work at, and managing to fit in all I want to accomplish this Summer before the school year picks up. On top of juggling these tasks, I am moving out of my first apartment and into a new one.

It’s odd seeing the place I have spent the last year of my life barren and without personal touches that made the place my home. I had come to appreciate the student-housing that I got to inhabit for the last twelve months. Apartment 304 is where I made new friends, fell in love, fell out of love, laughed and cried. This apartment is also the birthplace of many projects I have began since moving in. This was the first place I really could act as an independent adult.

As I reflect on the past year that this walled nest has created for me, I think of my place of living each as a different chapter to my life. As I close the door to Apartment 304 for the last time, I transition into a new space, with new faces and plenty of new experiences to come my way. That idea is exciting to me. I feel like moving to a new home is being able to start off on a clean slate and open a new chapter to start chasing new goals and I accept that mindset with a happy heart.

I have a growing list of things I want to accomplish in the coming year, and I am preparing myself for the slew of life changes I will undergo in the coming year. I think that moving in the end of the Summer just feels like everything is resetting it’s course and it is a good time to step back, reexamine what the vision you’re aiming for in life, and continuing on that desired path.

What’s next?

How To Have A Hot Date With Hong Kong

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When spending a month this Summer in Asia, Tiffany and I were mainly stationed in Vietnam. With that in mind, we wanted to spend a week in one of the nearby regions while we were there. We had Thailand, Singapore, and Cambodia on our radar but Hong Kong took the cake.

We awoke at 3AM on a Wednesday morning and took a taxi to the HCM airport. After a two hour flight we were back in Hong Kong. I say back in Hong Kong because we had a layover there on our way to Vietnam and our views from the airport of the area essentially sealed the deal that we would be back to explore.

After spending a week, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite spots that I recommend you make sure not to miss when you visit the city!

windowshop in causeway bay

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If you’re looking to get your real shop on in Hong Kong, I definitely recommend checking out Causeway Bay. You will find stores to meet all budgets, but I recommend at least doing some window shopping in the higher end market. Being an interior design junkie, I was obsessed with many of the high-end stores like¬†Comme des Gar√ßons pictured above.

Take a ferry ride across VICTORIA harbor

UntitledFor real cheap, you can take a ferry ride across Victoria Harbor from downtown Hong Kong to Kowloon. I think it provides gorgeous views of the city. The harbor is constantly packed with various boats and ships yet the air still feels really clean. 

explore the markets in kowloon

UntitledMany of the locals recommend that you check out the street markets in Kowloon. If you’re looking to get away from the busy city-vibe, Kowloon is a great place to get away for a bit, and remember the ferry I mentioned above? That’s exactly where it goes! The markets are a great place to find some local treasures sold to you¬†by¬†locals!

take in the views outside of the city

UntitledI hope I wasn’t the only one that thought Hong Kong pretty much was just a city and nothing else… I was wrong! There is actually a lot more than just the downtown areas that occupy the region of Hong Kong. Tiffany and I spent time visiting a friend who was studying abroad at one of the local universities out of town. The views were absolutely gorgeous. One the most beautiful sights I’ve seen traveling.¬†

Relax in hong kong’s victoria park

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I had already arrived in Vietnam before we explored Hong Kong so coming from 100+ degree weather each day to heat in the 70’s was such a treat. It was nice to be able to roam the city without dripping with sweat and made for many wonderful evenings spent in Hong Kong’s various parks. My favorite was Victoria Park which is great for observing the locals while you’re in the city.

observe the architecture

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I am a complete freak for architecture and building design. While most kids were reading Magic Tree House as children, I was checking out architecture books with hundreds of buildings from different famous architects. One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new city is see how the buildings differ from other places I’ve been to. Hong Kong is really ahead of the game when it comes to the amount of diverse and unique buildings they have. They also host one of the most famous buildings in the world, the Bank of China Tower.

Take a ride on the hong kong observation wheel

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If great views and ferris wheels are your thing, then take a spin on Hong Kong’s Observation Wheel. The wheel is situated right on the harbor and a short walk from downtown and the views are amazing. The vibe reminded me much of The London Eye which is London’s ferris wheel.¬†

End the night with drinks in lan kwai fong

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The Lan Kwai Fong district is usually bumping on most nights. Locals and tourists raid the 7/11s for cheep beer and flood the streets. Out here there are no public drinking laws so the parks and streets become a free-for-all at night which is actually really fun! I’ve noticed a lot of the bars have some pretty decent deals as well. Just remember,¬†drink responsibly!¬†

Things to note


  • The subways do become quite crammed during rush-hour. I recommend catering your travel times to times that are less busy.
  • Mentioning the subway, many of the stations do not run 24 hours like other city metro systems. This is something to remember when you are going out for a night partying.
  • There are three types of taxis in Hong Kong that are easily recognizable by color. You will find most red taxis in the urban areas, green taxis mostly in the New Territories, and blue taxis on Lantau Island including the airport.
  • Buy. An. Octopus. Card. These cards are refillable currency cards that are used for the metro system and are also accepted by many of the stores and restaurants in Hong Kong. You have to pay a deposit to receive the card but you can get the deposit back if you return your card at the end of your stay.
  • Many of the locals walk very slow in public; much slower than I’ve noticed in other international cities I’ve visited. This might be due to my stature, but just remember to remain patient and maybe bring headphones to ease your mind when doing treks of walking.
  • If you plan on driving while in Hong Kong,¬†they drive on the left!¬†I find it much easier to travel by public transport when I travel, but if you do plan on renting a car and are from the West, keep that in mind.

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IN closing


Hong Kong by far is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. While the crowds can feel overwhelming at times, I really recommend anyone visiting the far east spends a few days in Hong Kong. There is plenty to see and plenty to discover. I could say I would definitely be back to explore some more!

Have a good one, readers.

Month Edition: June 2016

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Whoa, that was fast!

The month of June was definitely a rude awakening for me after being pretty much off the grid for the month of May. Returning to work and daily routines after a long excursion feels like you’re hitting a brick wall in simplest terms. Although June felt like it went by in a flash, it has been also been jam-packed with some¬†awesome things in the making!

THE best podcast for graphic designers

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Whether you are a designer just starting out, interested in getting in the business or been working for 5+ in different design jobs, you have to check out The Deeply Graphic Design Cast. The Podcast is hosted by Wes McDowell, Mikelle Morrison and Nick Longo, all of which are fabulous designers and own their own respective design studios. The episodes cover a whole range of design-based topics from your design process, dealing with clients, writing contracts and the list goes on and on! They also host periodical live shows where viewers can submit questions for them to answer on air. This Podcast makes the trips from Kalamazoo to Northern Michigan on the weekends much more enjoyable!

Weekends at the lake

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Speaking of the lake, last Summer my day job required me to work every weekend from 6AM-2PM at a coffee shop so I didn’t manage to get up to my family’s lake-house in Northern Michigan. This Summer working Monday-Friday I have managed to take a couple mini-vacays every now and then. It has been lovely to get away from the business of client work and just be able to grab a drink and relax on the pontoon. Did I mention I learned to paddle-board the other week?!

Spreading the love at GR pride

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After the events that took place on June 12th at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, me and my fellow members of the LGBT community across the world were shook, especially at home here in the United States. Many of us were celebrating LGBT rights the moment that this news came to light and made many of us question going to the Pride Events in our own town. I’ve learned over time that the best thing you can do when fear wants to drive you away is to stare fear in the face, throw some glitter and have a fabulous time!

clients keeping me busy

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One big target of mine this year was to obtain more freelance clients for my design studio. I can happily say that I am carrying a full basket this Summer and that have been beyond happy doing it. I decided on Graphic Design about four years ago and when there are nights that I literally have to force myself off of the computer, I know that I made the right choice. ūüėČ I can’t wait to share with you all the projects I have been working on in the upcoming weeks!

Until Next month…

I am now ready to take a long weekend off and spend yet another weekend at the lake with friends and family, enjoying the water and managing not to get too sunburnt.


Links

Advice: Battling Discouragement With Evolution

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A few weeks ago I spent a Saturday evening in Grand Rapids with a good friend of mine catching up on life at our favorite coffee place, The Bitter End. We sipped on lattes well into the night gabbing about our recent endeavors, work and eventually touched on our creative projects.

I began to go on about my recent clients and how much I have enjoyed my work and writing lately. This friend then returned starting about a creative project that I got really excited for her about. As the friend went on about this endeavor, the more discouraged she seemed by it and lacked motivation to continue the project.

“What is holding you back from producing the content?” I asked.

She told me that she felt like her writing ability or ability to produce content was beyond her skill-set and she did not have the right equipment to pursue said project.

I had to stop her immediately in her tracks.

“Keep creating. That is the only way to further evolution. Evolution brings clarity.”

If you are a creative individual, the process of creating things is actually quite a beautiful and spiritual thing that takes place internally. I find solace in allowing myself to enjoy the process of trial and error. I find solace in the idea of letting your work evolve.

When I feel at my highest caliber of discouragement, I want to stop everything I am doing and just start a new project. It has taken a lot of time for me to look at discouragement with a new lens. I now allow discouragement to only perpetuate me to keep creating.

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Allow Your Projects to Evolve

If I did not allow myself to start blogging until I had the ultimate editorial formula, I would still be homeless to a domain. If I had waited until I could save up and purchase a premium WordPress Theme, I would still be without a site. I think the beauty of digital publishing is that we can go in at any moment and fix or improve something that needs changing. As I go along posting about my endeavors, I will take time every now and then to tweak something with my blog’s design, update my about page, and insert new projects in my portfolio and take out the old. That is what I mean by evolution. I feel great when I look back at claytongerard.com in 2014(above) and see how far the site has come in terms of design and my writing.

Don’t let lack of EQUIPMENT¬†hold you back

If you didn’t know before I chose design as my career, I was a freelance photographer during my high school years. Before I was performing any freelance work, I was taking macro shots of flowers up north at my grandparent’s cabin with a cheap point-and-shoot camera. Through taking those photos while not very good, I developed a sense of composition and laying out a photo. Keep in mind, this was seven years ago.¬†Nowadays most people have a decent camera packed in their cellphone. Whether it is a camera, writing tool, program, etc. don’t let the lack of “professional” equipment hold you back from producing wonderful things. You can actually learn a lot by having a basic tool to develop your skill.

Trial and error

In the evolution of a project, you will find out over time what works and what doesn’t. I would be lying to you if I said that I have the same exact¬†process of handling clients from the day I started designing. I am always tweaking my creative process to what best suits me and what is most efficient. You will make changes that at one time may have felt right but in reality does not fit correctly when applied. That is the only way you will learn what works best for you! You will set yourself up for a long road of heartache if you want your projects to be perfect from day one.


In Closing

When taking on a large creative project, it may seem completely overwhelming at first. Some people love this feeling of the unknown while others hate it. I feel enormous amounts of excitement when my friends come to me to tell me about a new project they are starting. It inspires me to keep doing the work that I do and taking the time to let my own projects evolve. With that, take the leap and start. Have a good one, readers.

*Need advice? Shoot me an email at hello@claytongerard.com and I’ll make sure to include you in a future post!