Thursday, May 13, 2010

Words of Wisdom for Young Graphic Designers

Photo credit: markmiller from

Here's a little tip for young designers. Stop going straight to your computer. If you want ideas, don't start surfing the web either.

Start by looking at the problem from every angle. What does your client want and why do they want it? What problem are they trying to solve? This sounds rather obvious, but it isn't. We often feel the client hasn't given us enough time to do such thinking. But it is imperative.

The next thing you need to do is find out why the final product needs to be in the form the client is asking for. Maybe there is a legitimate reason that you will have to adhere to. But often, there are assumptions we make that stifle creativity. Does a business card need to be 2 x 3.5? Can the website be a microsite in a series of microsites? Can the site include a video introduction?

Last, take more time to work with words. I know we are graphic designers. And we like to express ourselves visually. But often, in the beginning, we need to express ourselves through words and communication. After all, we are not simply designing, we are communicating. First, we must define the solution and agree on the design process with the client. Then we need to understand and integrate what the client wants to communicate with the final design. Most of the time, from that text copy, we can associate the key word elements that can lead to a visually integrated approach.

For example, let's say the design must communicate that your client cares about the well-being of kids. A good designer does not assume what all that means. The designer asks questions of the copy (and the client) such as, "What constitutes well-being?" "Who are kids? 18 year olds? 1 year olds? Something in between?" "Why does it matter that we communicate this message?" These questions will drive your design choices and solution.

At the end, hopefully, you will have a successful design and good client relationship. And you will have solid reasons for your design solution.

Oh, and take some time to sketch. No, not on your computer. In a sketchbook.

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