This chapter was an important reminder that the planning and research stages of a project are so incredibly critical to achieve a well thought out and intentional final product. It breaks the process into seven stages.
- Research: it’s so incredibly important to be continually immersing yourself in new and varied things, record anything that strikes a chord with you, and share your findings with others. Research doesn’t always have to be specific; ideas can stem organically from all sorts of findings.
- Linear reasoning vs. lateral thinking: There are two main ways to begin developing concepts. Linear reasoning involves splitting an idea into smaller components (color, type, composition, etc.), and working through each element individually and methodically. Lateral thinking aims to push boundaries by thinking of anything and everything and then drawing connections. These two processes are opposites, but can be used together quiet successfully.
- Exploratory sketching: This is the first step in transforming ideas into form. These sketches don’t need to be good, but the should explore multiple angles and options.
- Visualizing ideas: Initial sketches then need to be turned into roughs and thumbnails that include compositional sketching as well. The strongest of these can then be turned into computerized comps.
- Theories of image and text: During the creation process, it’s important to think about the messages being conveyed in a piece, and whether these need to be clear, pragmatic and didactic or can be more abstract. Components that affect message include, but aren’t limited to, decoration, symbols, metaphors and poetic messages.
- Audience: It’s critical to research and understand your audience for a piece so it can most effectively communicate. After initial research, you need to develop parameters while still being aware of cultural differences that might affect how a message is perceived.
- Scheduling and organizing: Before any of this happens, it’s critical to understand your design brief and ask questions early. Then you need to establish checkpoints along the way so you can allocate adequate time for all stages.
While looking for a second source, I was able to find a blog* from a graphic design firm called Eightyone Design in England that outlined their design process in four stages (research and development, print, web and logo). While much of the information covered in this chapter is things that I’ve heard before, it was quite helpful finding how it applies to an actual firm. A lot of what they wrote about was very similar to the reading, but they also made some helpful new points regarding research especially, including:
- It’s important to have a careful client brief not just so you understand what they want and need, but also so that you don’t approach it from one particular, and potentially wrong, angle.
- Objective and message are separate components. Objective asks what the project aims to do, while the message is how to communicate that.
- After objectives and messages are clearly defined, they are pinned up in a location that is easy to see to avoid going “off on a creative tangent.”
- Researching doesn’t just include cataloguing ideas for inspiration, but also encompasses competitors, market, and the overall industry.
- After sketching and narrowing down concepts, it’s important to schedule enough time to allow you to step back from a design and come back in a day or two with fresh eyes.