A&E Asks: 5 Minutes with Jennifer Foy

A&E talks graphic design with Jennifer Foy of Unisub.

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Welcome to A&E Asks: Five Minutes with… where one-on-one interviews with industry professionals are featured in a Q&A format. These interviews share the experiences, opinions and ideas of some of the industry’s best-known individuals.

In these interviews, we’ll discuss the industry’s current events and trends. We are very pleased to interview graphic design expert Jennifer Foy of Unisub.


Q: Could you provide a general state of the industry and what that means for the awards and engraving industry?

A: The sublimation industry continues to offer opportunities for those looking to get outside their standard comfort zone and grow their business.

With the emergence of new markets now more than ever before, there are a variety of new options that can be a fit for sublimatable products-think wineries, craft brew festivals and stylish personalized gifts.


Q: Any particular design trends that seem to be emerging in 2016?

A: There’s nothing shockingly new emerging so far this year. You can look to Pantone for color ideas, but monograms, items with state shapes, and simple stylized patterns like chevrons remain popular, while watercolor backgrounds or florals remain a hit as well. You’ll also continue to see more color used at weddings, in baby gifts and décor.


Q: What are some of the biggest challenges companies will face in adapting to new trends in graphics and design?

A: One of the biggest challenges companies may face is actually being up for the challenge and finding resources to fit their needs. Some of that may include outsourcing graphic design or even trying online ready-made graphics software like Canva.


Q: Can you explain the benefits or drawbacks of traditional graphic design software compared to the rise of new smartphone apps in terms of accessibility for the average retailer?

A: The majority of the smartphone apps are for images that remain online using a low resolution quality image only. Traditional graphic design software is still the best option when it comes to producing high-resolution images and products.


Q: More and more, I see the prevalence of a use of filters in photography. Why do you think there’s a shift in the idea that “old is new”? Why do you believe these retro designs have become so popular?

A: Instagram really began that trend, with filters that could stylize your cell phone snap shot to make it look better or give it a color tint. Older photographs had a square shape, which also is part of that nostalgic feel. It’s a great way to fix up a not-so-great picture and one that has an emotional connection for the person who took it or the people in the photo. It’s also easier than ever to use filters and one-click color change upgrades in recent versions of Photoshop.


Q: What is the must-have design software in the awards and engraving industry?

A: Photoshop and a vector-based software like CorelDraw (or Adobe Illustrator) are must-have design software for different reasons. Corel is vector based while Photoshop is designed for images and is pixel based.


Q: What are the recent important or notable upgrades in traditional graphic design software?

A: In Photoshop, an important upgrade is the ease of use for layer masks, LUT color change filters, and even the super easy-to-use magical clone tool.


Q: Would you say that these once-technical design software programs are becoming more or less user-friendly for the average small business owner? Why or why not?

A: Design programs have become more friendly and affordable with Adobe Photoshop Elements as a no-bells-and-whistles version. There is also the option to use subscription-based software. There are so many more user friendly tools now available in Photoshop that makes it easy to get started.


Q: Can you offer any insights on CorelDraw Graphics Suite X8? What should new users know?

A: From what I understand, there (are) more advanced and easier-to-use options for editing in the new suite, and while it may seem overwhelming, CorelDraw is great about offering short tutorials at Startup for newcomers or those looking to get comfortable with some of the newer functions.


Q: It seems that the industry strongly prefers CorelDraw over Adobe Creative Suite. What are the significant differences and why do you personally believe awards retailers prefer CorelDraw?

A: CorelDraw has been cheaper than Adobe software and branded itself from the beginning as software that anyone can use. Adobe was previously off-limits to those outside of the animation, illustration, graphic design and web industries.


Q: Both CorelDraw and Adobe have introduced subscription options for their software. Do you believe it is worth the investment to buy the software programs or is it more beneficial for the awards retailer to pay for the subscription?

A: At first I was against the subscription-based idea, but I love the frequent upgrades I get that come with the subscription. It’s also much more affordable for small businesses to pay a small amount every month rather than a few hundred dollars at some point every year or every other year.


Q: Is this transition to subscription-based software inevitable, so to speak?

A: Yes, while those of us that used to update every other year may not at first welcome the idea of going subscription based, the chance for the software companies to continually fix any bugs, add upgrades, and make it a better experience for you (at no extra charge) is a great thing.


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