Graphic Design for Normal People: The Tool Box

Have you ever seen an advertisement or a flyer for something that was top notch? Something that caught your eye and made you want to, at the very least, read the rest of the flyer? Have you ever wanted that for your Deaf Ministry?

Photo courtesy of frecuencia at www.FreeImages.com

Photo courtesy of frecuencia at www.FreeImages.com

I’m here to tell you that you can! If you have someone who knows their way around graphic design in your ministry, I highly recommend recruiting that person. However, I don’t have anyone like that and I will assume the vast majority of deaf ministries do not either. If you don’t have someone who can make you amazing flyers and graphics, what can you do? Asking Google will just leave you overwhelmed with information and leave you no idea where to start. My goal with these posts is to give you some tools (in part one) and principles (in part two) so that anyone can put their best foot forward in Deaf Ministry.

Before I delve too deeply into this topic, I need to let you know that I am not a graphic designer. When I started off leading a Deaf Ministry, I knew a little about design and how to use the programs, but almost nothing about the artistic side of design. So, I found myself a mentor. One of the pastors at my church just happened to have attended college for graphic design before he became a pastor! (If you’re reading this, thank you Shannon!) I began meeting with him weekly and having him critique flyers that I made for our Deaf Ministry. Still, I do not consider myself an incredible graphic designer. I am just “ok.” Additionally, there are tons of great online resources for graphic design as well. However, I want to convey some of the simple things I learned, that anyone can do, that will take your materials and images to the next level. For anyone with a background in graphic design, most of this will be common sense. For the rest of us, we need this.

Why Does it Matter?

This is an important question to ask. Why do I need to worry about how things look? So what if it doesn’t look great? Sometimes, it doesn’t matter. The truth is, quality graphic design shows that you care about what you are doing. I once worked for a pastor who told me a story that a pastor he served under many years prior would always call things “Good enough for church work” as a way to accept mediocrity. That shouldn’t be our attitude. We need to represent God and His church to the best of our abilities. In the case of an event, a flyer will most likely be the first thing that the person sees connected to that event. We need to put our best foot forward and set that level of expectation that what we do, we do it well.

We need to put our best foot forward and set that level of expectation that what we do, we do it well.

The Tool Box

Have you ever tried to fix something with the wrong tool? Doesn’t it make things much easier when you have the right tools for the job? Recently, I had to have a pin in the door of my truck fixed. I took it to my mechanic (who I am friends with) and he fixed it in his garage. He was showing me that he has a tool to remove the door spring on that particular kind of truck. Without that tool, the door can’t be fixed. I have noticed that, when most people design something for their ministry, they tend to use the wrong tool. Specifically, I am referring to Microsoft Word. Word is an great program, for typing papers and processing words. However, it is not designed to make flyers or edit images. That is why you will not see it on my list of tools. Using Word will limit the quality of your work. What should you use instead?

Microsoft Publisher

If you want the comfort and familiarity of Word, but a program a little more powerful, Microsoft Publisher is for you. You can lay out flyers, handouts, and any other kind of material. Publisher is slightly week when it comes to editing pictures, but it can handle most simple projects like adding text or moving parts of the picture.

Adobe Photoshop/ InDesign

If you want the industry standard programs that professionals use, then Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign are what you need. These two programs have a steep learning curve (and an even steeper price tag), but there is not a better program out there. I grouped these two programs because they are the same, but also different. They can do many of the same functions, and are both made by Adobe, but Photoshop is more geared towards images and InDesign is targeted towards laying out documents such as flyers or bulletins.

Gimp/ Scribus

These two programs are what I personally use. Both of them are a little less user friendly than and of the previously mentioned programs, but they are also 100% free and have many of the advanced capabilities found in Photoshop and InDesign. Gimp is the Open Source version of Photoshop. It is best for editing photos and designing graphics. Scribus is more like InDesign and best for laying out documents.

A Quick Note on Images

A proper image can make a great background or make your flyer pop.

Stock images are important when working on flyers or other media. A proper image can make a great background or make your flyer pop. I have been guilty of just pulling something off Google Images, and those pictures tend to be poor quality and not always look great. Where can you get some quality images? I’ll run down a few quick options.

Free Images

Free Images is just what it sounds like… a website for free images. We actually use it here at Reach The Deaf and I have used it several times in different ministry handouts and flyers. Easy, safe, and 100% free.

Flickr

Flickr is another great resource for free images. Just make sure the picture you use is listed as “public domain” or some other permissions are available for you to use it.

Paid Services

My church has a paid subscription (to Graceway Media) for great images and graphics. Chances are, your church might have a similar subscription you can use.

Those are my thoughts for some tools to help you make your Deaf Ministry put it’s best foot forward. In part two I’ll have some practical tips to help you use these tools!

Have you used any of these tools? What tools would you add?

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