Stephen Burdick Design

Frequently Asked Questions:

How did you get started in this business? I've always loved to draw, and in high school I had the opportunity to intern at some local ad agencies in Syracuse, NY. After college (Mass College of Art, in Boston), my first job was at the Museum of Science publications department, and I was later employed by a variety of design studios in the city. Motivated to expand my illustration work, and with the generous help of a friend with temporary office space, I launched this business in 1994.

Do you live there? My partner and I bought the building in May 2001, and we live above the office area. Here's how to find us in Boston's Bay Village neighborhood.

My nephew will design my project for free, can you beat that? Go for it; remember you get what you pay for. Will he be available to troubleshoot when your website fails? Can he prepare files for print? Before the printer or publisher rejects your nephew's work, turn to a designer who has experience and skill preparing files for print and electronic media. We also provide remedial design work. Some of our greatest accolades come to us from vendors at the production end, as we prepare your files in a professional and efficient format.

If you have an idea or sketch that you'd like professionally rendered, send it over to our office; it can be a helpful starting point for creative development. Here's more information about how we work. And hey, be sure to send samples of your nephew's work. We love a good laugh.


What do you like most about your business?
It's inspiring to work with clients with a commitment to social justice, like Wainwright Bank, and Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility creating illustration and graphics for a good cause. Large-format projects, like the Healthy Child posters, are a favorite as well. I enjoy traveling and like to use drawings from various adventures as inspiration for new projects.

What's toughest about running the business? Chasing after delinquent billings. I've never been ripped off by nicer people! It can get discouraging, and it's tough being creative under those circumstances

We recently fired our designer and want to get access to our original files. Who actually owns the layout and image files? Technically, you are buying the reproduction rights for that particular printing or electronic posting that the designer has created. According to the Graphic Artists Guild, "Original artwork, and any material object used to store a computer file containing original artwork, remains the property of the artist unless it is specifically purchased. It is distinct from the purchase of any reproduction rights." So, it's always in your best interest to specify up front if you expect to own your project files on completion.

Sometimes we include an "archive" charge in our estimate, so that we can provide you with complete files for your project if you need to reprint them in the future. Usage for other projects must be agreed upon in advance (if the book becomes an online classroom teaching tool, or a full-length action adventure movie, using my graphics). Find out more about copyright law and original artwork on the Graphic Artists Guild website.


What's the difference between what you do and just downloading stuff from the Internet and moving it around? (real question!) I wear the big boots, and I kick ass. Seriously, artwork on the Internet is not high enough resolution for print, and if you're using it for a website, you're either stealing or using art that your competitor used last year.

I take an original approach to your project, whether it's logo design, a brochure or spot illustration; keep in mind your goal, and reach your audience in the most effective way. I have experience and creative skills. Click here to see some samples.

Make my logo bigger!
Okay, it's not a question, but it is a frequently heard comment. Your logo doesn't need to be bigger than the headline. Look at most advertising: the best work keeps the logo in a consistent color, size and position across a range of materials, with a specified amount of white space around it. It's not size, but a commitment to branding consistency that matters. Click here to see samples of corporate identity design.

What's camera-ready art? It depends... It could be a high resolution photostat, a film negative, a print-ready pdf document with an ink-jet proof. Ask your printer or media rep for specific material needs, including specs for image format, resolution and color proof requirements. Most publications supply guidelines for preparation of artwork for reproduction.


Win any awards lately? We've received awards for our annual reports and other client projects. Our work for Wainwright Bank has even been honored by the American Banking Association. Projects have been selected for publication in Creativity, Print, Graphic Design USA, Utne, Technology Review, and Applied Arts magazines, online at American Illustration, and a gallery show for the Society of Illustrators. Logos we've designed have been published in American Corporate Identity; and our self promotional mailings have been selected to appear in The Big Book of Self Promotion. You can see our winning projects on our Awards page. But our favorite awards is the praise we get from satisfied clients. Read some here.

I see some of your work in Spanish, are you fluent?
No, pero aqui hablemos 'Spanglish' muy bien. Es mejor corregir su propio trabajo, but we've caught a few typos in the past. And we've used online translation with entertaining results.

What are you reading? I know I should find a new book, but I still recommend "Eats Shoots & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" by Lynne Truss to my clients and editor-friends in search of a good laugh while proofing their newsletters. And don't miss Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick, my brother!