Creative Self-Promotion, by Lisa L. Cyr

Create Dynamic Promotional Materials

In today’s marketplace, creatives face many challenges. To call attention to their brand, they need to produce engaging, thought-provoking promotions that are not only keenly strategic but also highly innovative, spanning print, broadcast and new media. I’d like to share with you just some promotional projects created by my Marywood University MFA  students while taking my Promotional Strategies class.

Interview with Christina Galbiati

Q: Can you talk about your brand and how you incorporated that vision into your promotional materials?

A: My design aesthetic is simple, clean and contemporary, while my illustration and artwork is detailed, tactile, layered and full of energy. Having promotional materials that showcase my artwork without competing with the design is instrumental to conveying my brand effectively.

Christina Galbiati promotional materials

Q: What advice can you give other illustrator/designers when it comes to developing successful self-promotional materials?

A: Promotional materials should be dynamic while still representing your aesthetic vision. Consider your medium, audience and what work you are trying to attain. Design something that not only allows your work to sing, but also showcases how your abilities can benefit their business.

Christina Galbiati promotional materials

Q: Do you work in a sketchbook to develop your ideas? Please detail your conceptual approach to design.

A: Absolutely! Organic free-flowing sketches are instrumental to the creative process. I start each project by creating a word list and thumbnail sketches in pencil, one idea right after another. The key is getting down as many good or bad ideas as possible. The number of thumbnails varies, from a few to several pages. I know when I’m heading in the right direction when I see it and feel it. Intuitive acumen is a necessary part of this profession. It’s the unexplainable, the ‘a-ha’ moment you are striving for, when you allow yourself to trust your instincts. Once I identify a few solid ideas, I enlarge the sketch by hand, do some color blocking and then sketch an outline on my canvas or illustration board (for my design work, this is when I start computer construction). I tell my students that this is what sets them apart from those who overlook the conceptual process of design and just hop on the computer without any direction. If you skip this foundation step, you will end up not only wasting time but your work will most likely end up looking mundane as well.

Christina Galbiati promotional materials

Q: You have lots of very tactile traditional materials in your work. Can you talk about what inspires such choices in your design work?

A: I gravitate toward clean and contemporary materials such as metal and clear acrylic in order to balance out the detailed, handmade look of my work. Since my art is very colorful, I need to showcase it, so I am careful to pick good quality paper, usually a smooth white 80-100# cover stock. I utilize a limited color palette throughout all of my branding materials (white, gray/black, purple and green) in order to create a consistent visual identity.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to visual communications through the layers of mixed media you employ?

A: I am enamored with tactile forms of communication and have created a deeply personal aesthetic journey of photocopying words and sometimes images to create unique patterns. I then hand tear the resulting paper to form my collages. The unexpected outcome of rough edges, uneven tones, broken lines and dot patterns that arise from the xerography process are intentional. My work symbolizes the importance of print media communication despite society’s increasing reliance on intangible, digital forms of communication.

Christina Galbiati promotional materials

Q: You are drawn to dimensional surfaces as well as unique elements. Can you tell us more about this aspect of your work?

A:It’s my natural instinct to create something that is robust in order to exaggerate my concept. This aspect of my work aligns with my approach to visual communication.

Christina Galbiati promotional materials

Q: Describe your artistic working environment and how it helps support your distinctive process and approach.

A: I work on a large art table and do not concern myself with the messiness that occurs during the collage process. However, this is one of the main reasons I usually complete each piece in one sitting. This approach allows me to work unencumbered and promotes a productive working environment.

Christina Galbiati promotional materials

Q: What are your artistic and design influences and where do you look for inspiration.

A: Everything that is beautiful inspires me. It may be a melancholy sunset over a still beach, an exquisitely designed living room that showcases harmony and warmth, or that perfectly designed poster that shows emotion. If it captures my senses, I take notice. I am particularly drawn to art and design that utilizes type and geometry, specifically the bold and meaningful work of the Constructivism, De Stijl and Bauhaus movements. Some of my favorite illustrators/designers are El Lissitzky, Alvin Lustig, Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol and Paula Scher. I am also inspired by León Ferrari and Mira Schendel’s work, which explore the written word through art. It’s quite impressive. In the end, inspiration is about surrounding yourself with things that make you feel good in order to put you in that right frame of mind to get your creative juices flowing. I’ve accumulated a library of books and design publications, as well as several file folders of beautiful samples of print material (pre-Pinterest). Basically, if I see something I like and it’s well designed, I save it.

Christina Galbiati promotional materials

Q: What do you see yourself incorporating in your work as your vision evolves? Any other advice that you would like to share when it comes to promotional endeavors?

A: I would like to incorporate different types of paper, handmade perhaps, as well vintage ephemera.

Promotional materials are much like a billboard on a busy highway: many will glance, several may see, but even fewer will remember. So, it’s important to spare no time, effort or expense to create something memorable.

Interview with Chad Hunter

Q: Can you discuss how your promotional materials communicate your unique style and overall brand?

A: My promotional materials are really all I am or at least all potential clients see of me. I need to make each piece communicate my brand, style and approach. Specific characteristics act as a hallmark of my work that identify it and separate it from others: color palette, drawing style, textures, points of view, etc. These make up my brand. But really that’s not all. I think a brand is the result of one’s values. One’s brand presents itself in many ways: how I write, what I say, how I answer the phone and the craftsmanship of my promotion pieces each communicate my brand.

Chad Hunter Bio

Q: What advice can you give other illustrator/designers when it comes to developing successful self-promotional materials for both print and web?

A: Be yourself. Be yourself consistently. And be yourself in many places. To me this means know who you are and identify what makes you unique. Work hard and consistently. Send out promotional materials, keep mailing lists current and send specific mailings to specific targeted audiences. Lastly, get yourself out there in a variety of media, including social media. This all translates to allowing yourself to be found and seen in a variety of places.

Chad Hunter letterhead

Q:Your work has a sketchbook feel to it. How important is working in a sketchbook to you? Can you detail your approach.

A: My sketchbook is always with me: at meetings, traveling, classes, relaxing and just everywhere. It’s my fun thing, my journal, my brain dump and my bucket. My finished work comes directly from my sketchbook. In it, I try new things, I practice and I even complete my finished work. I’ve had to do some research in finding the right sketchbook for me. It actually took me years. My criteria was size, paper thickness, tooth, acidity and how it takes multimedia like pen, ink, watercolor and acrylic. I had to try different sketchbooks to see how they worked. As my style has developed, so has my sketchbook choice. I currently use the Aquabee Deluxe 11″x14″.

Chad Hunter Mailer

Q: Can you share some insights into your creation process when it comes to your illustration and hand lettering?

A: Ed Brodsky, the past director of Marywood’s MFA “Masters with the Masters” program, taught us to brainstorm. First you boil down your message to a short, succinct phrase. I write out the phrase in a single line. Then, I make a list of similar words under each word appearing in the phrase. The fun part begins by mixing and matching to create a unique direction. Sometimes solutions have a concept and drive a point home and sometimes they are a straightforward solution that rely on a unique style to carry the idea.

Chad Hunter Website

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to visual communications through the process, media and visual textures you employ?

A: I straddle lines. I’m an illustrator, designer, letterer, printer and artist. As far as my process goes, I prepare my designs in plates, scan them into the computer and composite them in Photoshop. My final product is digital and produced by offset lithography, serigraphy or giclee.


Q: Describe your artistic working environment and how it helps support your distinctive process and approach.

A: I strive to work regardless of my environment. I read a post Star Wars interview with Harrison Ford where the interviewer asked, “Do you believe in the Force?” Ford responded. “Yes. The Force is in you. Force yourself.” I like that. I believe we can accomplish more than we realize and that work is a key ingredient.

Q: What are your artistic and design influences and where do you look for inspiration.

A: Etchings in general are big for me as are pen-and-ink artists such as Albrecht Durer, Howard Pyle, Robert Lawson, Arthur Rackham, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak and others.


Q: What do you see yourself incorporating in your work as your vision evolves?

A: I’d like to push my drawings to new points of view, incorporate new textures and create new color combinations.


Marywood University’s Get Your Masters with the Masters MFA Program is a low-residency program with a sixty credit Master of Fine Arts degree in graphic design or illustration. “It’s specifically designed for working art directors, designers, illustrators, new media artists and art educators who have to budget their time and resources carefully, while continuing with their full-time occupations,” shares program director Steven Brower. “While production and technical skills are stressed, the thrust of our program is on creativity and concept.” Marywood University also offers a low-residency, twenty-four credit certificate in sequential art. “Study with the best over one year through independent studies and two weeks on campus for two summers. The end result is a graphic novel,” adds Brower.

Former MFA student Chad Hunter comments, “If you want inspiration and the opportunity to study under a list of leading industry professionals, the Marywood MFA is the program for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the study tour sessions, visiting a long list of top design and illustration studios as well as small workshop presentations created just for our class. I was inspired by my fellow classmates, many came from a broad range of disciplines from across the country. The curriculum is well thought out and offers a wide-range of advanced-level courses that are perfect for anyone seeking a challenge. The Promotional Strategies class was one of my favorite classes. It allowed me to solely focus on creating a distinct set of branding and promotional materials as a perfect resource to jump-start the new creative vision I constructed during the program. The Marywood Get Your Masters with the Masters program is an invaluable resource for working professionals.”

Artist Network Webinars & Online Courses by Lisa L. Cyr:

Assemblage Accents

Assemblage Accents Webinar: Employing Faux Finishes & Patinas
Tuesday June 4, 2013 1:00pm to 2:00pm EDT

This webinar will cover creatively customizing found objects, assemblage accents and sculptural creations with unique finishes and patinas. To enliven the mixed-media landscape, a diverse array of techniques and materials from repurposed and custom treated natural and man-made elements will be explored. With the addition of faux finishes and decorative techniques, the everyday object can be transformed into a one-of-a-kind accent, communicating a concept or illuminating a subject in a unique way.

Collage Techniques webinar

Collage Techniques for the Mixed Media Artist (available for download)

This video covers an array of exciting collage techniques from gluing, sealing, tearing, scoring, punching, die-cutting and custom inlays to wrinkling, creasing, burning, peeling-back, stitching, weaving, embossing and debossing handmade, custom treated and machine-made papers, foils and ephemera. If you love working in collage this video with artist Lisa L. Cyr is for you!

Painting Techniques webinar

Transforming the Surface with Mixed Media Painting Techniques Webinar

This video covers a striking array of creative approaches in which to alter and transform the mixed-media painting surface. Lushly painted passages and rich transitions employing resist, blotting, lift-off, dissolve, marbling, sponging, distressing, aging and printmaking techniques are shown in inventive combinations. Utilizing both traditional and unconventional tools and techniques, this video will certainly ignite the creative juices.

Within the Layers: Inspirational Mixed Media Art Techniques

This online workshop will investigate exploratory methodologies, techniques and approaches in mixed-media art. Throughout the workshop, exciting in-depth demonstrations will be shown, providing an extensive array of visually-stimulating possibilities for artists to explore. Both two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques will be covered. For artists that are looking to push their work to a new level, this workshop will be a valuable resource and an ongoing source for creative inspiration. Course registration comes with a digital download of Experimental Painting by artist and author Lisa L. Cyr.

Experimental Painting

Creative Explorations in Mixed Media: 2D, 3D and Beyond!

This online workshop will explore alternative, innovative ways of conceptualizing and creating content-driven mixed-media art that is on the cutting-edge. Throughout the workshop, insightful and thought-provoking profiles of leading artists and illustrators accompany exciting in-depth, step-by-step demonstrations, shedding light on signature processes and techniques. The workshop also provides insight into the historical influences behind contemporary thinking and approaches, investigating the origins of alternative, unconventional picture making throughout the decades. Offering a wide range of possibilities for exploration and experimentation, this workshop will reveal how alternative, mixed media aesthetics is uniting the disciplines of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, digital and new media art in inventive combinations. For those wanting to venture outside the norm, this workshop will be a valuable resource and an ongoing source for creative inspiration. Course registration comes with a digital download of Art Revolution by artist and author Lisa L. Cyr.

Art Revolution

Lisa L. Cyr  ( is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist and author with a content-driven approach. Her highly imaginative, fantasy-inspired works use layers of metaphor and allegory to stimulate curiosity, provoke thought and encourage further inspection. A poetic, rhythmic synthesis of drawing, painting, collage and assemblage, Cyr’s visually tactile, mixed-media work is composed to collectively create a new reality with a more expressive, symbolic arrangement. An artist member of the Society of Illustrators NYC and the International Society of Experimental Artists, Cyr’s work has been featured in numerous magazines, books and online. She has authored seven books on art and design and writes for many of the creative industry’s leading art publications. In addition, Cyr gives workshops across the country and teaches in several of the top MFA graduate programs.


Go to the Create Mixed Media Interview on the Artist.







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