Design Hurts

Inspiration for the designer

Design hurts. Sure it can be satisfying, even fun, but if you're doing your project right, thinking outside the box, and pushing the envelope, it will be hard work. We are in a project where we are paid to pull ideas out of thin air, to come up with stuff no one else has come up with, to help our customer convince, sell, motivate, attract, and dazzle their own customers.Creativity is a God-given gift, but their are still times of "designer's block." So, what do we do to lubricate the wheels and keep the ideas rolling, especially when deadlines and budgets loom large? Here are a few tips:

  • Learn to see and always be looking. Learn to know when you are seeing good design and make a note of it. Analyze everything you see: books, magazines, ads, commercials, billboards. Study the grids, the type, the copy, the color, the shapes, the sizes, the branding, the navigation.
  • Be well-rounded. Watch great films, go to great concerts, listen to great music, read great books,and eat great food. The visual arts rely on keen senses—all of them.
  • Study the arts. All the arts. Know what is going on in painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and drama. Go to Borders and paw through all the magazines and thumb through the art books. Go to the museums, the exhibitions, the shows.
  • Study, don't copy. Read about and look at the work of the legends of design. Study the award winners to know what makes the design work—their stuff can act as a catalyst.
  • Keep a sketch book (Moleskines are cool). Got an idea? Write it down or draw yourself a picture.
  • Don't design on the computer! Computers are for fleshing out your idea and production—they don't design—you do. So before you jump on the computer, have computer-ready pencil sketches.
  • Don't ever be content. Don't be lazy. Don't rely on your bag of tricks. When you think you have a solution, ask yourself if you've really thought of all the possibilities. Is it really going to change the viewers behavior? Have you turned it upside down? Looked at in a mirror? What haven't you thought of. Have you made it hurt yet?
  • Experiment. Play with type, shapes, color, and the tools at your disposal. Rotate it, blur it, stack it, illustrate it.
  • Know your typefaces. Play "what-the-font" all the time. When in doubt: classic typefaces.
  • Save creative work for the right time. Are you a morning person? If so, do the heavy lifting before lunch. It's usually quieter (the clients are too busy to call). Save the humdrum production stuff for your off-times—after lunch or late in the day.
  • Don't be distracted. Turn off Twitter, and email, and iChat. Don't take phone calls or visits from peers when you need to concentrate. Close your door, turn off the phone, take a walk, or drive to the park.
  • Exercise. If you don't, you should. It clears the mind and gets the blood flowing.
  • Get the rest and nourishment you need. Hard to be creative when tired or hungry.
  • Practice creativity.
  • Look heavenward, the source of all creativity.

Author: Brad

Tags: design, tips, hints