Whale Works Design and Illustration

Recent Interview by Michael Hughes of All About Business


Why I chose this business. I have been interested in art since childhood and have enjoyed adapting my fine art, calligraphic and typographic training for business purposes.

What is unique about our business compared to my competitors. Our business does not offer undervalued or over-inflated pricing. We are not a high-volume turnaround, template executing, graphics business looking to take advantage of clients by selling the same images repeatedly.

Whale Works Design takes time to get to know each client, their target audiences and their competitors. A visual communication strategy going from present to future projects is created for each client using proven creative problem solving techniques.

I have been trained in the hands-on traditional methods of my trade as well as the intricate, up-to-date technological methods. A unique focus is taken on effective, high-quality, boutique design. This level of standards delivers an individual, well researched and communicated creative strategy for all marketing pieces — producing results.

My success comes from established client and personal relationships, having top notch mentors in my field, and sticking to my emphasis on custom, high level design, from the copy writing, to the imagery, to the typography.

I attract new clients by networking, attending chamber events,  communicating with graphic design trade organizations and soliciting recruiting services.

I continue to grow my business by constantly reading, undergoing training, connecting with other boutique level designers and mentors.

Ideas for projects come from communication, trips to the local art museums, reviewing design annuals and lots of research.

If I was not in this line of work, I would be a scientist — for the research.

Ways That Professional Designers Help
Businesses Plan for Visual Communications


4 guidelines for maintaining a corporate identity

  • differentiation
  • relevance
  • coherence
  • esteem

7 ways to distribute effective content that gets noticed

  • website
  • discovery platforms
  • email
  • social networks
  • content sharing websites
  • native advertising
  • get media and bloggers to share content

6 website tips

  • 3 seconds to grab attention
  • white space
  • original photography
  • connection between user and brand
  • coherent theme
  • consistency

4 ways that a designer can help you automate your business

  • statement of purpose
  • marketing budget with a timeline
  • find prospective audience
  • consistent campaign

How can a marketing plan reduce content noise?

  • funnel information
  • pinpoint message
  • differentiate from competitors
  • eliminate brand confusion
  • build trust


Use Consistency and Industry Relevance in
All Corporate Branding and Visual Communications


A wonderful logo is only part of your communications effort.
All interactions with clients and the public are included in your communications effort and range from how the phone is answered to
the branding, packaging, printed collateral, advertisements, website,
social media banners and posts, environmental graphics and signage.

A designer can help you create a statement of purpose with objectives
and priorities, establish a budget with a timeline and find your
prospective audience. Instead of working on communication items
piece by piece, a designer can help put together a strategic plan for a consistent campaign.

Designers are great problem solvers, analyzing information details
and relating them to the entire project as a whole in relation to the
client’s business.

Utilize Professionals for Professional Services and Gain Business


Utilizing the services of a mentor, business coach or professional designer can be beneficial for putting together a business plan, establishing a budget and discovering your visions. A mentor can offer connection, support, advice and encouragement to stay on target.

Business owners are reluctant to allow other people to take over their responsibilities or become involved in details of the business. Suggestions and constructive criticism from other business leaders can be positive for increasing productivity and delivering results.

Tools available to a business owner to assist in automation are:

  • professional bookkeeping services
  • software to collect, generate and recall passwords
  • delivery services for orders
  • virtual receptionist for messages and managing calls
  • software to track contact information, relationships, meetings, calls, tickets, invoices, bill payments, expenses and billable hours
  • social media automation to store and schedule posts in advance
  • professional design services

Letting Go of the “DIY” Thought Process in Business


Reasons to outsource business duties include:

  • a business owner does not have the time to do everything
  • it is less expensive to hire a contractor that offers quality results
    by utilizing the latest technology with a trained, specialized skill set appropriate to the task
  • relieve stress with the knowledge that the job is being completed in
    a timely, professional, qualified, accessible and cost effective manner
  • projects completed off site do not require the business owner to pay for and supply extra office space
  • concentrate on the essential elements of business that bring
    in revenue
  • the cost of the service is less than the hourly man power for overhead and non-productive hours
  • start and focus on new projects
  • equal the playing field with competitors and reduce risk to
    the business

Get to know the contractors used for outsourcing. Ask questions about their business, work habits and ethics. Stay away from the pitfalls of spec work which can damage professional relationships on both ends.

Benefits in Hiring a Professional Designer


A professional designer can institute a plan for using consistency and industry relevance in all corporate branding and visual communications.

A marketing plan developed by a professional designer can reduce content noise by funneling the information and pinpointing the message to a specific audience. This will differentiate your business from competitors, eliminate brand confusion and build trust between your business and the market audience.

Content can include elements of a business’ branding and identity demonstrated by design concepts, photography, illustration, copy writing and the industry appropriate print or web usage.

A professional designer will use creative problem solving to establish a visual communication strategy. This is done through research, analysis and by getting to know your business and your visions.

The visual communication strategy lays out future marketing projects so that all of the pieces have a consistent look throughout and do not look as if they were produced individually as separate jobs.

Call, visit, email or meet with a professional designer today to get to know their design work and production styles. Include design in your business plan and budget for your visual communication strategy. Then get started on the best investment for your business.

Connect with your target audience, clarify your message and content, become easily recognized in your market and increase your profits.

Good Design is Important for Businesses of All Sizes


I recently had a conversation with a colleague regarding whether a small, family-owned business requires the same level of design quality that a large national company requires.

He believes the small, family-owned business can get by with a branding strategy that has had not as much time spent on it by the designer as well as less of an effort for research on the target audience and the competitors. He also believes that a presentation that is not highly professional is acceptable for this business since all customers are generated initially by personal references.

This colleague thinks that a large, national company should be dealt with differently by the designer in the design approach and strategy.

I feel that businesses of all sizes deserve the same treatment by designers creating work for their marketing campaigns for time, quality, research, personal attention and customer service.

Reasons to Outsource Graphic Design


Outsourcing graphic design duties can be beneficial to business owners.
A degreed and trained designer can bring experience, knowledge, quality, management skills and shortened turnarounds to projects that employees on staff may not be able to accomplish.

A graphic designer can take on many jobs including things like:

  • writing and managing content between marketing materials
    and campaigns
  • creating a consistent look, style and voice for social media postings
  • creating marketing strategies and schedules
  • promoting your content and brand
  • designing, updating and testing your website
  • making and managing social media banners, images and photography
  • assisting with preparation of reports and analytics

Schedule a consultation appointment today.

Visual Communication

JULY 2014

Visual communication is the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon. The ideas and information could be explained in signs, advertisements, brochures, newsletters, business cards, shirts, letters, envelopes, posters, greeting cards, packaging, emails, websites, blogs, social media, video and animation. The typographic illustration at left shows these concepts.

Inbound Marketing

JULY 2014

Recently, I spoke to a small Annapolis business group about inbound marketing. Here are some highlights of my discussion:

  • bring visitors in
  • be easy to be found
  • draw customers to website with interesting relevant content
  • blog, podcast, video, enewsletters
  • SEO (search engine optimization with key search words for google), social media marketing
  • convert visitors to leads
  • convert leads to sales
  • content marketing, create and share relevant media and published articles with potential customers
  • valuable, high-quality, engaging content that solves
    people’s problems
  • gain website traffic through social media sites
  • create content relevant to your industry that can be shared through multiple social networks
  • track success and failures of content with statistical data

Check out Hubspot, Hootsuite, emarketer.com, grafik.com, gotgroove.com.

Stop, Follow, Communicate

JULY 2014

On the left is my theme for my presentation to the GSPACC on visual communication, branding and marketing. The topics covered subjects such as graphic design, print design, illustration, web design, brand, logo, identity, inbound marketing, outbound marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and planning tips to get started. Some of the bullet points include:

  • consistent use of shapes, colors, imagery, typography and space
  • branding should carry over into all print and web materials for things such as font choices, color scheme, graphics and photography
  • web materials must be accessible and understandable on all versions of electronic devices and screen sizes
  • branding can cover many abstract corporate identities including such things as a logo, customer service, employee management, product packaging and advertising and even interior design
  • color is key in brand differentiation
  • inbound marketing is blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks,
    enewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing and
    other content marketing
  • outbound marketing is direct mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, telemarketing and traditional advertising
  • content marketing involves creating and sharing media and publishing content to attract customers
  • social media marketing involves creating content that attracts attention and gets shared on their social networks

Plan, educate yourself, do your research, look at the big picture, and do not settle for “good enough.” Make your identity and marketing plan great!



Suzanne worked tirelessly to locate a printer who was willing to print our program in color at a cost that was affordable. She also was able to juggle many opinions in how the final project should look with a great deal of professionalism. Suzanne Marshall of Whale Works Design and Illustration provided the knowledge and expertise needed to develop a stunning program for the Bands by The Bay Competition. I look forward in working with Whale Works Design and Illustration and Suzanne Marshall in years to come.


President of Band Boosters
Broadneck High School


P.O. Box 46, Arnold, Maryland 21012


Member of the Greater Severna Park and
Arnold Chamber of Commerce
, AIGA Baltimore, Entrepreneur’s Exchange, BigCommerce & Shopify

Nominated for 2016 SBA Maryland Small Business Award

© 2018 Whale Works Design & Illustration