business-etsy-wholesale-videoSixteenByNine540I have been thinking about how effective these company “biographical” videos are for small business.  (click on the images to view the videos).

Don’t we all love to see how things are made?  I remember taking a tour of the copper mill my father worked at when I was a child. Every year, Nortel would host a family day when employees could proudly showcase the plant floor and the milling process. I was mesmerized every time.  I  recall the smell of machine oil and that clash of  machinery in operation was deafening.

I still love having a look-see behind the doors of an etsy shop, or an artist’s studio. Like this fabulous production for Worley’s Lighting.  There is something inspiring about watching something being made. I get kind of  dreamy and enchanted.. and it makes me want to roll up my sleeves and start working at something tactile. (Pass up the computer for a while!)

I also believe there is a great deal of marketing value for small businesses to be able to tell their story in this way.  It can create an impression of quality; of commitment to the product or service that is being offered; it can even build trust and credibility if done well – the person behind the scenes is real and they are quite approachable! like this gem as well. JMB Canada is a local business in my community that crafted this beautiful moment in the leather studio with designer, James Brooks.  I worked here a few years ago providing some marketing support to James and I love this shop.  The products are beautiful, made with great pride and use only the best leather and hardware – to make things last a lifetime.. The video adds credibility to JMB in that it proves the shop to be very real and likely encourages customers to buy here because they share in James’ values.

A 5 minute video is not an enormous investment. It could cost anywhere from $200 to just over a $1000. Post it on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, upload it to your website.  Let your customers meet you in person and get a chance to tell your story the way you want it to be told.  Imagine what a video about you and your business could look, feel and sound like?  I am thinking about mine!


austinkleon.comEvery now and again, I come across a great gem of a book that stimulates my creativity. I gobbled this one right up. “Steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon.  Wise young man is Austin.  He has been invited to Ted Talks, written several other books and is a fabulous artist and poet. I first read about him and his work in the most recent issue of Uppercase magazine. He has designed a series of blacked out newsprint poems that are brilliant.  You might like to get a copy of this fabulous little book for your collection.   ~Anne


Holiday cards for 2013

Throughout the year I am inspired by many ideas. As November rolls around, I draw on my notes and doodles for a visual that could resonate with the holidays, one that reflects on winter, on Canada but not on Christmas per se, and that would translate well into a gift card. The one I chose this year was inspired from a sculpture I saw when I visited France in August. The artist had created an outline of a forest scene by laser-cutting this on a sheet of rusted metal. The long sheet of metal attached to the wall so as to create a gap between the artwork and the wall surface which cast a shadow. It was fantastic. I created my own forest by tracing an image and overlay the outline onto a series of lined backgrounds. This was the result, and these are the three designs I transferred into gift cards to send out to everyone on my little list!

I received my latest edition of Uppercase magazine. And as I read through it, oh so slowly (I don;t want to gobble it up too fast.. I need it to last me two months until the next delicious edition) I discovered the illustrator Julia Rothman.  She has sold her illustrations to the likes of Anthropology, Chronicle books and Target.  uhkum.. impresses me anyway.  Her themed line drawings are applied to textile, stationary, book covers, wallpaper, artwork, clothing accessories plus plus. I image so many more applications.. And how about these design themes? Vintage camera collections, fans, glasses. Objects of the everyday with a vintage spirit.  You should check out her web site to see more.. I like her use of hand written fonts.

She inspires me to take out my sketch book and keep it close to my computer. Just last week, I did tackle a few ideas. Tried my hand for the first time, at rendering some painting ideas using my Wacom tablet and Adobe Illustrator. It was surprisingly simple to sketch using both tools. I really liked changing textures and colours without having to mix paints! The idea of playing with colours after my drawings were complete was not something I am accustomed to.. this usually has to be decided up front with paints and canvas. I got sucked into the vortex of my colour swatch libraries and happily worked away for hours on end.    ~Anne


Great Photography

Some of my favourite blogs are just so enticing to visit because of the great photography. You have often heard it implied that photography is critical to making your products and services stand out in the crowded media landscape.  If the customer can’t physically touch the item, or smell the rosebush you are trying to sell, I think great images that evoke an emotional connection to your company are a minimum investment required to stand out.

What Katie Ate is my favourite food blog because of the recipes Katie Quinn Davies plates up and photographs herself. She has published two recipe books titled What Katie Ate and is a regular contributor to Australia’s ABC Delicious Magazine.  The photography is so fantastically styled that I can just about taste the meals she showcases.


Copyright © 2013 Katie Quinn Davies| All Rights Reserved.



Jane Heller is a commercial photographer who also imbues a soothing quietude in her creative pieces. Makes me want to step right inside the image, to these calm and romantic spaces. These are some of my favourites from her current collection.

Jane Heller Photography

Copyright © 2013 Jane Heller | All Rights Reserved.


Sarah Ryhanen is a gardener and floral stylist. Her floral creations and photos evoke a rustic sophistication that is just dreamy. Love, love her work.

Sarah Ryhanen Photography -

Copyright © 2013 Sarah Ryhanen | All Rights Reserved.

Chris Court’s work is par excellence rich in texture. I love the soft focus in some of his images and that the studio shots are styled with antique and simple artifacts. Here is a sampling from his web site.

Chris Court -

Copyright © 2013 Chris Court| All Rights Reserved.

Perhaps you too have a natural talent for staging and a keen eye for visual balance and lighting. If, however, you are not so confident that your photos are striking and can deliver what you envision, maybe a creative professional can lend a hand.   Either way, I hope you are feeling inspired. I know I am!

Happy shooting!  Anne


All rights reserved to the photographers I have featured today.

What Katie Ate

Sarah Ryhanen

Jane Heller Photography

Chris Court


It’s not so obvious; that we need to record our web site account information to avoid getting ourselves into double trouble.  I’m not trying to be alarmist, but I am kind of alarmed to learn of several instances when a few friends and clients ran into difficulty obtaining access to their domain name registration or web site hosting account data. It lead to problems and created a great deal of unwanted stress – as you can imagine.

One of my friends lost touch with his web designer who moved without notice, and with that connection went access to his web site files. Without this information, he was facing the possibility of rebuilding his site from scratch. Fortunately, through some persistent calls through his network, the web designer was found – way way out west, and the files were successfully transferred from his server over to a new hosting company. Fewf!

In a separate case, a shop owner was offered a quick facebook page, and a wordpress site to get him all set up online. The only problem is that the person who set up these sites (no naming names here) became somewhat elusive when it came time to collecting the usernames and logins.  Had to rebuild everything.

And finally, a case where the web designer became disinterested and was not prepared to finish a site, and decided he wanted out. He outright refused to help with transferring the wordpress site to another server where it could be edited and completed. The site had to be completely rebuilt, all costs born by the client. Nasty.

Now, I am not trying to frighten the novice out there into avoiding a web site or getting online in any way, it’s just that I am particularly incensed that some designers or web developers don’t help their clients out in this area.  I think it is incredibly important ( and just plain good customer service) to spend a little time educating a more novice client on the significance of proper administration of data – that they actually own by the way.

Though it is ultimately faster and simpler for the designer or developer to activate domain registration and hosting services on behalf of the client, it behooves us to ensure our clients receive a record of this valuable information for their safe keeping.  For this reason I prepare a one page sheet with domain registrar information, hosting provider details, and in the case of WordPress, Facebook, Shopify, Twitter and Pinterest to name a few, the usernames and logins for each account.  This way, if I were to suddenly split town without a word (because, say, I amassed a large number of parking tickets and was unable to pay, not that this would every happen to me!) at least my client would be able to run things from their desktop.  The only stress being that they would likely miss having me around…

Here is a basic account summary that Rural Studio shares with my clients immediately after their site is registered and hosted:

(You can read more about this process by visiting the web menu item: Best Practices/ Basic Web Site Admin)


CSS Awards

I just last week finished reading this great book on web site design. The author, Patcik McNeil does a great job helping creatives understand how the web works. He seeks to educate designers and this digital medium by clearly explaining the various aspects of a web site that help the designer with conderations for great design as well as usability throughout the life cycle of the web site.  If you are relativly new to web site design, or maybe want to refresh.. this is a great resource.
The Designer’s Web Handbook by Patrick McNeil.








In this book I found several great links to sites he uses as examples to illustrate various web features and tools. I particularly love the sites he recommends for regular following for great web design.

The site is cool to look at and incredibly easy to surf (wonder why?) and overflowing with links to other amazing sites showcasing top notch web design & usability.  Web sites can be submitted to this site by anyone for voting by members and the jury. Each site goes through a jury process for potential wins in three categories of awards: Site of the Day (SOTD); Site of the week (SOTW); Site of the Month (SOTM) plus there are Honorable Mentions. The Jury Process is based on four key criteria for measuring talent.  50% – Design, 25% – Creativity, 15% – Usability and 10% – Content. The judges who appear to run the site are web designers themselves and are based in the five continents of the globe.  Tres cooel.

You can sign up for free which gives you a page where you can begin to collect your favourite  sites found on plus you get to vote, and follow other members.  A great resource for connecting with designers who are at the leading edge of web design and technologies.  I love it!  Though it might take some time, I am going to be working hard to land one of Rural Studio’s web sites up there!