Monday, May 9, 2016

Graphic Designers: 3 Ways To Rethink Your Work Process

As a graphic designer, you know the importance of developing your unique workflow and process. Some art classes I’ve taken have taught specific, almost formulaic ways to approach work. Others have emphasized forming your own ways of working through experimentation. I’m interested in how different this work process can be for two graphic designers. As a Northwestern undergraduate student interested in design, I found two articles that discuss the relationship between design and work process.

An AIGA review by Laura Bolt discusses an interesting exhibition at The Drawing Center called “Please Make This Look Nice.” The exhibition explores the design process. There is the logical process clients are presented with. Then there is the real process that’s taking place with each project, one that usually doesn’t conform to a clear step-by-step progression. That’s the process that is most interesting because it’s so influenced by every designer’s “personal quirks.” Making things is often illogical. It involves tangents, and this exhibition explores embracing the process behind the process. It calls attention to the fact that making things doesn’t have to be so precise, and embracing the way you naturally work is important.

A second AIGA article by Madeleine Morley features Tribero design studio partners David Heasty and Stefanie Weigler, who give their advice about branding. They emphasize the importance of iterations and trying out different solutions to problems to see what sticks. Heasty and Weigler also emphasize how important concept is, which can be difficult to grasp when the outside world is so focused on aesthetics. Concept should drive the work, especially in branding. Branding, they say, is about creating an entire visual experience for the consumer. Your process has to start with concept to succeed — it can’t just look pretty.
After reading these articles, I started thinking more about my own process. I developed the following three action items based on my undergraduate experience and the information in the articles:
  1. Try multiple solutions - Approach the design problem from multiple angles, then build off your best option.
  2. Trust your process - Embrace oddities in the way you work — it can lead you to unique solutions.
  3. Concept is everything - Remember your work should be visually compelling, but always lead back to something crucial about the brand.

Ali Tomek is a student at Northwestern University studying history and integrated marketing. She is currently studying digital media in a social marketing specialization course, and plans to attend SAIC after graduation to study visual communications design. You can find her on Twitter.

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