Week 8: Workshop Challenge – Mind the gap

Week 8: Workshop Challenge – Mind the Gap

To start, let’s take a look at a list of my skills, ways of working and process:

typography, layout design, editorial design, illustration, imaginative, photography, packaging, print design, traditional print, brand development, art direction, teaching, can draw, copywriting, managerial, entrepeneurial, Adobe, Mac.

Ways of working:
Quick, efficient, direct, adaptable, practiced, narrative thinking, direct ideas, industry know-how

No fucking about, ideation in the work itself, stop to think, just do approach

I’ve always struggled a LOT with this weeks kind of challenge and I’ll be highlighting that as this week progresses. Traditionalist or artistic design thinking suggests that there is a lot more process to design than I incorporate. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I play to my strengths, and I hire someone else to do the things I can’t do. A running theme through this modules work is bound to be a very small amount of “development” work. Which is simply because it’s something I don’t do. I don’t keep mountains of sketchbooks with layout concepts, illustration ideas or practice attempts because I don’t have the time or the inclination. My process is to just do the work, if the client doesn’t like the ideas, I just do some more. I have a thought process that runs through this, i’m always thinking, but I’m not recording that thought process, it’d be a mess!

I’ve found this difficult to contend with, frowned upon by a traditional design movement that sees value where I do not. I appreciate both ways of working, but continued development is not mine! Had I fallen flat in my career, struggled to find work or to make a living, I’d have to relent that my way of working does not match the industry. But that is not the case, I’ve always been pretty successful. I suppose in this way my primary skill and way of working would be described as intuitive.

The Double Diamond Approach (or why it’s not for me)

image source: Wikipedia

The Double Diamond approach was my first place to look this week. For me, this system doesn’t work at all, the discovery process is inefficient and laboured. I find this area muddies my ideas and results in convaluted or messy concepts that don’t work together. Likewise the Development and testing stage is problematic for the same reason. I fully take on board the usefulness of this model, though it is not for me.

Lateral thinking

What is very important to me is the idea of lateral thinking. What is the solution to the design brief (the problem)? 99% of the time I know what the solution will be straight away. The other 1% of the time I reject the brief for another designer to enjoy. But it is important to me to take a side step with the solution, look for an alternative solution, not to explore ideas that push up the client bill unnecessarily, but to look at a quick solution that is unexpected.

A great example of this is in some of my own work. Developing a board game recently, the first thing I did was to look at the problem what makes a good board game? taking inspiration from all the games i’d played with friends and the number of times I’d heard the phrase “look at this art, isn’t it beautiful”. The obvious solution was to create beautiful artwork for a board game. Instead I decided to reject that and do the very opposite, focussing on typography and minimalism instead. I found a solution to present a “good board game” without taking the obvious route.

an example of elaborately illustrated board game art
the game i developed with minimalism and graphic design favoured over illustration

I thought about displaying a lateral thinking model to explain my process. But felt it didn’t really define the core principle at the heart of my design beliefs, the idea of quick and efficient work that avoids the elaboration of the development phase as depicted by the Double Diamond approach.

The Bumblebee approach

Attempting to define what I actually do to develop my work was hard, but a quick sketch found that model, starting with the brief and ending with the final deliverable I realised my process was to just do the work providing proofs to the client on the way from brief to completion. What worked nicely in this is that the bulge of the elipsis worked really well to explain the effort of work process as I go!

I decided to develop this concept into a final piece. It felt that my very anti-art perspective of creativity this week would be well suited to something infographic in nature. I used some techniques I’d recently learnt in Illustrator to create some faux 3D models and build an infographic.

The Elipsis Work Model

As I created the actual design and wrote in some copy to accompany the piece, I reflected on what it was about this model that I liked. Did it defy the artistic notions that have shunned me in the past? Yes, but it wasn’t that alone or the efficiency of A to B without the detours I liked. I realised that what I enjoy is design without the personal ego.

For me, the research and development stages are all about the ego of the designer vs the client. Why do so many running jokes exist about graphic designers angered by a client ruining the work? It is because the designer has allowed themselves to become infatuated by their own ego and they have allowed the creative industry ideals lead their work further from their clients needs.

Whilst I see design as something that can and will change the world, my design work is not going to. Nor have I the inclination to pursue that any more, rather I would like to get paid, turn off my Mac and spend time with my family. I make a living from the thing I am good at, but I am good at it for leaving my ego – and the double diamond – to those designers who wish to seek industry approval.