Archive for May 31st, 2009

Yesterday, Saturday morning, I woke up early and completely tore up a little three-fold brochure I designed last week. Two colors (didn’t need to be, since it was going to be printed digitally — I planned it that way), kind of a cornball Dean-Martin-swingin’ bold script, combined with a nice, clean sans serif for the main information. Not at all my usual style, but I liked it for its straightforward, ‘Fifties vibe, and, though I wasn’t totally crazy about it, it had a certain appealing consistency and rhythm of its own. It was okay, you know,¬† and since this was a “quick turnaround” thing, a “no big deal” thing, a “let’s get it to the printer, this is an emergency” thing, I dashed it off and delivered the PDF to my clients in record time. They LOVED IT…and then decided it really had to have some pictures.

Uhh. What most non-designers don’t know is that once a design is close to being finished, it is just about impossible to add unplanned-for elements and have it retain any of its original integrity. So, dutifully, and knowing this, I stuck in the tiny photos and it was, predictably, terrible. I could not let it go out that way. No way. NOOOO way!! That is why six a.m. Saturday found me excitedly redesigning it from scratch.

The good news is, it’s a lot better than the first one, actually, and it has pictures and it’s not going to be a smirch on my design reputation…and the clients like it way better too. I feel much relieved and much happier all around.

In spite of the happy ending, this episode reminded me of the hilarious¬† YouTube video about what if a corporation were trying to redesign the Stop Sign — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwqPYeTSYng–

If you are a designer, you will totally die laughing. It’s our life! But it also makes me curious about this process. It’s almost as if the design, be it a new logo, a flyer, an ad or total redesign of an identity, wants to be a certain way. It’s the designer’s job to find the path to it. There is this interior exploration on the designer’s part to understand and “get” the spirit of the company or client, the intention, the vibe, and translate that so it becomes a truthful, emotional depiction of it, visually. In truth, there are infinite possibilities available, but there is only ONE that will be chosen. This means that every comp the designer delivers needs to be GOLD. The designer ethically must believe in every iteration, because the client could chose any one, and if he chooses the one Ms. Designer threw in as bait, she is sunk. She is saddled with a smirch on her reputation.

Yep, every design concept is completely, absorbingly crucial. It takes hours and hours of creative digging and fooling around and playing and going back and forth, tons of experience and study and knowledge of typography and placement. I have been learning these things for thirty-five years of so now and I still feel such angst over design, such elation when I hit on something that really “sings.”

Hardly anyone but another designer knows the creative tussling this requires. So when a designer delivers something, there is usually a lot of love in it, to tell you the truth. We fall in love with our work, unfortunately, and that is possibly a bad mistake, but a natural piece of creativity too. In a sort of woowoo context, designers are mediums…artistic witches interpreting the clients’ hopes, and passing them through the filter of our own aesthetics and skills, to come out with an ineffable something that does its job with elan and grace. We aim to please, but get our own volition involved in there too.

Graphic Design is a crazy mystery. We love the process and the struggle. We love the work itself, and we love the clients too, almost all of them.


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