Traditional Japanese Interior Design – Bamboo

If you’ve ever seen tall stalks of golden bamboo in a grove or in photographs, you might be surprised to learn that it is a grass. A very fast growing, tall grass. While ‘dwarf’ bamboo grows to less than a foot, some species actually grow 100 feet tall!

Bamboo is attractive, pliable and sturdy, and is the preferred plant used in the making of wicker furniture. (It’s also provides the preferred food of the Giant Panda, but that’s a different story.)

Once the wood has been properly treated to prevent insect infestation, bamboo forms a very tough hardwood that can be used in fences, canes, toys, musical instruments, clothing, and much more, including decorative baskets.

Bamboo grows in many countries around the world, such as China, Japan and Indonesia, and each country has its own traditional method of weaving baskets. So if you’re thinking of adding a decorative bamboo basket or two to your home decor, you can go with traditional designs of your own area, or purchase something unique from another country.

Baskets woven from bamboo are works of art in their own right, and can stand on their own as decorative pieces. But they are above all functional, and can be used for a variety of purposes, from holding various knicknackery to setting off plants or flowers placed within.

Don’t just go into a local store and buy the first basket you see. If you search the web you can find hundreds of examples of intricately woven baskets that will amaze you with their beauty. Even if your home is not furnished with an ‘Oriental motif,’ a traditional Japanese basket is such a unique work of art that it will stand out and complement its surroundings.

Because bamboo baskets can be so beautiful, it’s no surprise that it takes a long time to learn the craft. It can take artists up to ten years just to learn to master the art of bamboo weaving. However, if you like to create your own baskets, don’t despair, there are plenty of resources which will show you how to work with bamboo.

Books such as The Basket Book: Over 30 Magnificent Baskets to Make and Enjoy, Handmade Baskets: From Nature’s Colorful Materials, and The Craft & Art of Bamboo: Projects for Home and Garden are written for the beginner and have simple designs to start with.

On the internet, bamboocraft is a website chock-full of links to every possible subject you could want to know about bamboo and the art of working with it and creating everything from furniture to baskets to clothing! It includes a message forum so like-minded artisans can get together to exchange stories, hints and techniques.

The American Bamboo Society americanbamboo is another excellent resource – and it provides links to societies around the world, from Mexico to Europe to Australia to China and Japan. There’s a vast network out there for those who’d like to learn how to make beautiful bamboo baskets…or appreciate those who have.

Do You Need a Graphic Design Degree?

Do you really need to get a graphic design degree? It is true that many graphic designers have never formally studied, but rather taught themselves over many years on how to become a great graphic designer. Many were or still are freelance designers who also work for a company.

Whatever the case, a degree in graphic design can only strengthen your position when it comes to finding employment in this competitive field. Without a doubt, the top corporations who employ graphic designers will look for a degree. This is because a degree proves you have perseverance and commitment to the industry. Commitment is often a more important factor for employers as they want to be sure they are hiring a graphic designer they can rely on well into the future.

People interested in graphic design generally begin their interest in high school, sometimes even before that. Many students practice graphic design at home in their spare time. The affordability of high end graphic design software and capable computers has made this art more accessible than ever before. There are now millions of excellent graphic designers the world over, some working freelance and gaining 100% of their work online. These people do not have a graphic design degree but are very proficient in the art.

Graphic designers typically earn between $40,000 and $70,000, but this can vary greatly depending on the employer and whether the designer partakes in any freelance work to supplement their income.

Currently some of the most established and recognized places to gain a graphic design degree from are available both online and offline. These include:

Academy of Art University Online

American InterContinental University

The Art Institute Online

ITT Technical Institute

Westwood College Online

Penn Foster Career School

Penn Foster College

Most schools offer a wide range of design courses which focus on different areas, including computer animation, fashion design, television, media, interior design, web design, video game design and more. All of these areas require graphic design skills so you are not limited in the careers you can pursue once you are qualified with a degree.

If you wish to be employed locally and make graphic design a stable career for you then earning a degree is the best way to begin. It will win you points in the eyes of employers and will also equip you with the skills and experiences that you would otherwise miss out on.

A Career in Interior Decorating

Imagine having a career that lets you use your creativity to make homes and businesses more beautiful and comfortable. Welcome to the world of interior decorating!

There are few careers that offer so many benefits. As an interior decorator you will have the satisfaction of making your vision a reality. You will meet interesting people, and because many people who hire interior decorators are wealthy, you will likely spend time in many beautiful homes and businesses. If you start your own decorating business you can enjoy the freedom of being your own boss. And perhaps most importantly, your “work” will be fun, interesting, and rewarding.

As long as you have the desire, you can become an interior decorator. No special education or experience is necessary to break into this career and succeed. (Unlike becoming a certified interior designer which has strict requirements including two to five years of post-secondary education in interior design.) You can become an interior decorator immediately.

If interior decorating sounds like the career of your dreams, here are 10 steps to breaking into this fabulous job, based on the FabJob Guide to Become an Interior Decorator published by FabJob.com:

1. Train your eye

Since you are interested in a career as a interior decorator, chances are you already have a “good eye” for design. In other words, when you look at a room you can see what looks good, and what could be improved. But no matter how naturally talented you are, you can continually “train your eye” by studying what people consider to be good design.

Seek out beautifully decorated interiors to look at. You can find numerous examples of beautiful interiors in design magazines or in your own community by visiting show homes, open houses for sale in wealthy neighborhoods, furniture showrooms, historic homes, art galleries, and offices of professionals such as interior decorators and corporate lawyers.

2. Educate yourself

Interior decorators are expected to know about the various elements involved in decorating such as: space planning (how to arrange furniture and other items within a particular space), use of color and light, furniture and decorating styles (for example, Colonial or Southwestern), floorings, wall coverings, window treatments, and use of accessories such as pillows and art. You can learn decorating basics through courses, books, web sites, and even by speaking with retailers of products used in home decorating (paint, carpet, lighting, hardware stores, etc.)

3. Practice at home

Most interior decorators get their first decorating experience working on their own homes. Even if you have just one small room to experiment with, you can get “hands-on” experience with a variety of decorating techniques. For example, you can make a dramatic change to any room, quickly and inexpensively, simply by rearranging the furniture or painting the walls a new color. Give it a try! Experiment with techniques you wouldn’t ordinarily use. Consider this room your “research lab” where you can try things out before recommending them to a client.

4. Volunteer your services

Your friends and family members may already have asked for your advice about decorating, but if they haven’t yet asked you to actually decorate their homes or businesses, why not offer?

Some occasions your family or friends may want to redecorate are when they experiencing transitions in life, such as: marriage or co-habitation (help them merge two households into one), moving into a new home, childbirth (offer to decorate the baby’s room), hosting a special event such as a wedding or dinner party, starting a home business (you could decorate their new office), and selling a home (explain how a well decorated home can attract buyers).

5. Prepare a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of samples of your work, plus any other documents that can help show why someone should hire you. The most important part of an interior decorator’s portfolio is photographs of interiors you have decorated, so make sure you take “before” and “after” photos of every space you decorate. Choose 15-20 photographs of work you are proud of, and arrange them in a photo album or portfolio case.

Your portfolio can also include letters of recommendation and “design boards” (poster boards onto which you have pasted pictures and samples of materials such as fabrics, flooring, wallpaper, etc.) to show clients what you recommend to decorate a particular room.

6. Get a job

Even if you plan to start your own interior decorating business, you can learn about the business and meet potential clients by starting with a job in the industry. Companies that hire people with decorating talent include home builders, manufacturers of furniture and housewares, hotel and restaurant chains, retailers (furniture stores, home improvement stores, antiques dealers, housewares stores, etc.), plus interior design and decorating firms.

To get a job, you will need to prepare a resume that emphasizes your experience with decorating plus any other skills the employer is looking for, such as customer service or organizational ability.

7. Start your own business

Many interior decorators dream of being their own boss. If that’s your goal, you’ll need to decide on business matters such as your company’s name and whether to incorporate or not. Free basic business advice is available from organizations such as the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Many interior decorators choose to work from home when they start their businesses because it saves on the cost of an office and, unlike many other types of businesses, you won’t be expecting clients to come to you – you will usually be going to their homes or offices.

8. Establish relationships with suppliers

Suppliers are companies that supply the products and services you need to decorate. They include manufacturers of furniture, wall coverings, flooring, fabrics, etc. as well as contractors who do painting, carpentry, installation, etc. When you go shopping as a professional interior decorator, you are entitled to “designer discounts” of up to 50% off the regular retail price which you can pass on to clients.

While some decorators charge an hourly rate or a flat fee, others charge “cost-plus.” For example, if your cost for a product is 40% percent below the regular retail price, you could charge the client your cost plus 20%, thereby saving the client the other 20% they would pay to buy the same item at a retail store. This opportunity to save money on decorating may convince clients to hire you.

9. Get clients

Your potential clients could include home builders, new home buyers, wealthy home owners, professional couples, advertising agencies, art galleries, bed and breakfasts, boutique stores, corporate head offices, hotels, law firms, restaurants, spas, and many other types of businesses.

One way to market your services is by networking with professionals who can refer business to you, such as real estate agents, architects, antiques dealers, art dealers, home renovators, and owners of businesses that sell home furnishings. Other marketing techniques include putting up a web page with photos of interiors you have decorated and getting publicity in the homes section of your local newspaper.

10. Grow as a professional

Successful interior decorators continue to learn new decorating techniques. Once you have started a business you can continue to develop your skills by attending trade shows, reading decorating magazines and books, and joining professional associations. You can also impress clients and have an advantage over your competition by becoming certified as a professional interior decorator.