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Autistry Studios – ABC 7 Profiles of Excellence

As a follow up to our October blog about SLM’s partnership with Autistry Studios, I wanted to share this wonderful story that ABC7’s Profiles of Excellence did on Autistry. We are very honored to have the opportunity as a company to participate in this program.


25% OFF your holiday order at

Have you been thinking about gifting art for the Holidays?  You will get 25% OFF your holiday order on any 11″ X 14″ framed and matted print from today through November 15th.

SLM Creative Design in partnership with Autistry Studios

Click here to see a brief video about our work with Autistry Studios and our talented student, Owen!!

Did You Know about the Artistic Side of SLM?

When I started telling people that I was going to have my photographic work on display at an art show last month, I got a lot of surprised looks. Since I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, I didn’t realize how many people didn’t know that I have a side passion in artistic photography.

For my first show, I consider it a big success. My work was part of a larger show supporting the Wings Learning Center, a school for kids with autism in Redwood City.

There was a great response to my work, which is thrilling. So thrilling, that I’m willing to do it again.

The next show will be on November 17th at Henley Photography Studios in San Rafael. This show will also feature several wonderful artists, including 3 other photographers and at least one painter. Please save the date, and stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime, you can preview my work in person at Arts Desire Gallery (in Pacheco Plaza, Ignacio, near Paradise Foods). My best pieces are also posted at


The Partnership that Makes Coming to Work Exciting

As an independent graphic designer, I feel fortunate to have developed a unique partnership with Autistry Studios, a local organization that helps teens and adults with Autism, Asperger’s and other learning challenges develop skills for independence. It’s a cause close to my heart that has also made for a surprising and inspiring business relationship.

Autistry was a creation of necessity. Janet Lawson, CEO and Executive Director of Autistry, was troubled by the lack of services and opportunity for her autistic son, as he became a teenager and adult. Janet and her husband, Dan Swearingen, responded by creating a community that could address the need for work choices, special services, and living situations for people like their son.

I already knew Janet from the board of Dedication to Special Education (which I’ve served on since 2003), and Janet asked for my input early in the process of forming Autistry. In addition to doing some early pro bono work, Janet asked me to take on a very special project: helping her very talented student, Owen, publish the children’s books he had written. (You can purchase Owen’s books here.)

As I re-opened my graphic design business a couple of years ago, Janet honored me by asking me to partner with Autistry and work with some of their students.

I agreed to work with Autistry because I have a passion for their mission. They make a real difference for the students they serve, and it makes coming to work very special.

Since basing my office in Autistry Studios, I still work with Owen as he writes and illustrates more books. I also benefit from the administrative help of one of her students, who learns job skills that can help him become successfully independent. Janet has made me her graphic design professional for promoting the organization, and we are currently working on a fundraising event on October 28th.

3 steps to success when working with your graphic designer

1. Work backwards to plan for success

The best way to guarantee the success of your design project is to look to the end with your designer before you start. Ask yourself… What do you want to accomplish? What is the most important goal to reach? Who is your audience? What are the final uses for the files you will produce?

If you’re printing your design project, look to the printing process with your graphic designer. Who is going to print your project? Is there a specific size and type of press sheet (paper) that will allow for the look you want? Can you save money by making minor adjustments in your design to best suit the printing process? There are so many ways in which you can save time and money by practicing good planning before you even begin to design your piece.  An experienced graphic designer will be able to work with you to look at your project and plan to best fit your needs and budget.

2. Complete a design brief with your designer

One of the most effective ways, in my opinion, to successfully work backwards is to create a design brief.  In its simplest format, a design brief is a form you fill out with your designer.  Ideally, the brief will discuss any special requirements that effect your project at the outset. The brief will make clear any logo and color requirements and any important information that must be included in your marketing materials.

It will also help to confirm that you and your graphic designer are both “on the same page” in relation to your project and assist in managing expectations between you. If you to take the time to discuss all of the details on the brief form, you’ll leave feeling confident that both you and your designer are in sync and working towards the same goals.

3. Don’t be afraid to Talk about your budget

It’s of the utmost importance that your designer understands your budgetary needs at the beginning of your project.  Not only do you need to discuss budget with your designer in regards to paying for graphic design services, but your designer needs to be certain that she is not designing a piece for you that you cannot afford to produce once it’s complete.  Printing can be expensive, especially when not planned well.  A good designer will understand ways to look at your project in the big picture and see if there are any ways to save you money.  Is there a way to design your project to make your end production less expensive, but still give you the outcome you desire? Will your files work for all of the applications you’d like to use them for? It’s part of your designer’s job to look at these and other issues on your behalf.  You can assist your designer to be a partner in your success by taking the time to discuss your budget up front.

Please feel free to contact us for more information! We’d welcome the opportunity to hear your questions and feedback.