Wednesday, June 19

SweetTownhome's Craigslist Tips

My brother-in-law and his fiance moved to a new place not too long ago and had to start looking for furniture.

He emailed me for Craigslist Tips, probably because I'm obsessed with it. Here's what I told him. . .

I love Craigslist and have found so much of our furniture on it! I've got a headboard, foot board, chandelier, bench, dresser, chest, mirrors . . . You name is and I've probably bought/tried to buy if off CL. Tristan says I have to stop bringing home other peoples' furniture.

Like you don't look at other city's listings just for fun!

I  pretty much follow the tips on this blog post:
It basically tells you some general stuff, especially to use the website CraigsEasy which lets you search Craigslist by photos (which is SO helpful).

When I go to CL, I just make sure I'm using the Chicago site ( and then I typically search the South Chicagoland (just because I'm lazy and never willing to drive too far to pick something up), and to do that, I just click 'sox' up at the top middle of the page. You guys might want to click 'ncn' for North Chicagoland. It all just depends how far you're willing to go. My sister just searches all of Chicagoland, and then decides if she's willing to travel based on how much she likes the piece.

Once you narrowed down your area, then you want to pick your category (under the 'For Sale' heading). For wardrobes, you guys are going to want to choose 'furniture.' One of the most helpful tips I got, is once you click furniture, choose 'by owner' on the following page. This weeds out all the millions of 'dealers' who are trying to sell you their overpriced stuff and trying to get you to go to their stores. Searching stuff from dealers is fine, but it's going to cost more and usually the posts are bombarded with a bunch of photos of their inventory. Lame.

Once you find something you like, email the seller right away! Even if you're not sure yet! That way, at least they know you're interested and it might keep you above somebody else that emails later. You can always change your mind, but at least you give yourself a chance (the good stuff goes fast).

Also, never, never, never, pay full price! You really don't have to, so might as well just save a couple of extra dollars. Whenever I see something I like, I email the seller, and my email usually just says, "I saw your xxx post on Craigslist. I would like to know if xxx is still available. Also, I would like to know if the price is negotiable. If so, would you accept $XX as the price). Usually, I only offer $10 less then they have listed, but I haven't had anyone turn me down yet. Every little bit helps!

Totally could have got this for at least $5 less if I would have asked!

I got a chest off CL that I paid full price for ($30), and I know I could have at least got it for $25, but I was so excited I just emailed the lady and was like "I want it, I can get it tonight!" I should've told her I'd pay $25. Oh well.

That's another thing. Sometimes sellers will sell to you, over other people, if you're willing to pick it up sooner than other people. I try to go pick my stuff up the day of or no longer than about 3-4 days after I told the seller I want it. Usually it works out, because there's like 1-2 days of email correspondence (although, some sellers email super quick), so it's end up giving you enough days to get to a weekend or a day you have free.

If you see something you're really interested in, but not sure, feel free to ask the seller if you can stop by and see it. This is totally normal and happens all the time. Make sure to bring cash with you though, because if you look at it and like it, chances are you can buy it on the spot.

And, depending on the area or if I'm going after work/if it's late at night, I sometimes try to make sure I have somebody to go with me. It helps if I know I'm picking up heavy furniture, and sometimes it makes me feel better about going to a stranger's house.

Here's another blog post about using CL (although not nearly as helpful as the first one) :
One more good one:

Well, those are all the tips I have! Hopefully, it'll help you find something good! And if you don't find anything in your area, then totally check the south Chicagoland because it has all kinds of stuff.

Sunday, June 16

So you want to be a graphic designer?

Recently, a friend of a friend who is a high school teacher told me that he had a lot of students who wanted to be graphic designers when they grow up.

Here, I pause and cannot believe that I'm grown up, but whatever.

I thought it was kind of sweet, because I remember being young and 16 and starting to look at colleges. I remember thinking that I wanted to be a graphic designer one day, and how do I get there? Oh so long ago ;-). To be young again. . .

I was asked if I had any advice for future designers.

Here is what I shared:

As far as getting started in highschool? Hmmm... Well, I took my first graphic desin class in high school, and then later followed it up with two more. The first one was pretty basic and really an introduction to graphic design and getting to know letterforms, I didn't learn much about the job/industry itself, but to this day, I am so happy I took it. I can still look back to my sophomore year of highschool and pinpoint where I really learned the foundation of what I'm doing every day as a career. Luckily I had a great teacher, who really emphasized the elements and pricipals of art and design It's really important to know these things. I think a lot of people forget that graphic design is an art form, at it's core, and it's important to learn about basic art before jumping into it.

When I took my first design class (of many) in college, I was definitely way more prepared than a lot of the students. Sure, a bunch of them were planning to go into design as a career, but they hadn't had any experience with it before that.

Almost all of my highschool design work was done by hand, and this has given me, I think, a better understanding of design. It's important to remind your kids that even though it's really a computer based job, that there's still a ton of designers who do work by hand. In the industry, basic drawing and other fine arts skills are great to have. They really move your resumes to the top of the pile. Even if you want to be a designer, don't forget about your other skills. I've never been a painter, but I still draw fairly often to keep my abilities sharp. I also draw stuff and scan it into the computer, and then use it for work all the time.

I spent a full day at my office writing 'Miley Cyrus' over and over. I wanted it to look hand written, so I wrote it over and over until I had some letter forms I liked and could scan it in. It might sound silly, but if you can start looking at letter forms as an art, then you'll be way ahead of the game!

Obviously the majority of our work is done by computer. Keep in mind that if this is a career you want to pursue, you better be comfortable sitting in front of a computer all day. This doesn't bother me :), but I'm not sure it's right for everyone. Designers spend most of their day using Adobe software, primarily Illustrator. I used Photoshop my first time in my upper level high school graphic design class. I managed to get through it, but I probably only had very basic knowledge of it. Learning the software would be a huge advantage to anyone.

My first time using illustrator, I was a freshman in college and had no idea what I was doing. My design professor spent one class period teaching us how to use the pen tool and that was it; we were on our own. Considering that you'll find yourself living, sleeping, and breathing Illustrator for the rest of your college career (and real career), I say the sooner, the better! If you can get a handle on, or even learn the basics of Photoshop and illustrator (... And I guess Adobe InDesign if you're feeling particularly ambitious), theN you'll find yourself way ahead of the game.

I wish someone had told me, before going to college, that you'll learn about design, not how to use design software. For me, the best way to learn it, was just to sit down and use it: make shapes, change colors, draw pictures. I would've been doing this before college if I would've known! It probably would have saved me some long nights in the ISU computer lab for sure!

Also, my last bit of advice would be to know what kind of designer you want to be. There's a big difference between print design (what I do and absolutely love) and web design. It can get broken down quite a bit from there (for example, I'm a print designer, but specialize in information design), but you don't have to get that specific yet. You just need to decide if you want to work in print (magazines, newspapers, bill boards, band poster, cd cases, etc) or web (websites) because many schools have different programs for these things, and some schools really favor one or the other. I went to ISU, the graphic design program there was print based, so I only have one semester of web design under my belt. I get by making web banners and email banners, but my skills aren't nearly as extensive as someone who was trained doing web design.

Chances are, if you're going into web design, you'll make more money than a print designer, but no promises that you'll be as cool :). You might not know which you want to be, so just make sure your school has both options. You could always just double major!

Hopes this helps a bit! It's a very exciting career to get into!

Saturday, April 13

eBay Light Fixtures

So I hate the light fixture in our entry way. Yes, hate is a strong word, but it's exactly how I feel. The shape and all that shiny brass? Hate.

Buying a new light fixture really isn't in our budget (especially since I bought more scrapbook supplies last week-oops), so I've been online window shopping.

I started looking at eBay of all places, because my coworker just sold a light fixture on eBay, and I assumed if she did it, then others most be too.

Tris kind of entertained my ideas, but I think only because we don't have money to buy one right now.

First, I thought this light was hilarious and I kind of loved it. Who doesn't need a bowler hat in their life?

Sold by aituzib on Ebay.

Right? Hilarious.  Even though it's great, it realistically would never work for us - we have no overhead light in the living room so we rely on the light from the entry way to help light up the living room. We would need a brighter light than just that hat. (Also, Tris said we could probably DIY this for cheaper and I agree.)

But you know what I really want? Like legit? This sucker!
Sold by buybuybag-ouovo on eBay.

I mean, seriously, wouldn't would want a light that looks like a giant light bulb!! I love everything about it, the size, the shape, the sense of humor. Tris shook his head, but I think I might've been able to convince him. It comes in three different sizes, but I would want the largest. It's too bad though, the large one (with a circumference of a whooping 11.8 inches! Holla!) rings in at $80 with $46 shipping. I'm sure that seems like a fair price in the light fixture world, but we don't want to spend that kind of money on a non-necessity right now.

Oh well, back to hunting through the other 80's light fixtures on Craigslist.

Where do you find light fixtures? Anybody else look on eBay?