Reflections of a Graphic Designer

Someone asked me recently to describe my creative process as a graphic designer at Article Ten, and I gave them the following framework.

The details of my creative process vary, depending on the nature of the project, but there are always three distinct phases:

1. Research

2. Concept

3. Design

“What will make this look amazing?”

This question is at the forefront of my mind during the research phase of a project. I’ll spend some time looking for inspiration – usually surfing sites such as, www.itsnicethat.com, www.designboom.com, www.design-milk.com, www.behance.net and www.creativereview.co.uk – and then display all my found elements together on a mood board, or on several mood boards. This lets me gather ideas and also see directly the client’s response to them. After all, the main goal is to satisfy the client; it’s not just about working out what I like. Ideally, we’ll be on the same wavelength and the two will go hand in hand – but that’s not always the case, which can make things even more interesting!

Crafting through trial and error

Once the client has identified the basic format and theme they want, I start to develop a much more detailed concept. For me, this is the longest phase in the creative process, which always starts with a stream-of-consciousness brainstorm on paper, just to unleash all my crazy ideas. Then, I go through a process of trial and error, crafting together my chosen elements into a coherent whole that works in accordance with the brand. The goal at this stage is to develop two or three different concept proposals. For a premium sales brochure, for example, I might produce several options for a cover and double-page spread.

To satisfy and surprise

Once the client has chosen a concept they like, it doesn’t take long to lay out the rest of the document. It’s just a matter of doing it. I always know when I’m happy with the final piece because that’s when I feel really comfortable to share it. Ultimately, my goal is to meet the client’s expectations, without being too predictable. I want to challenge them a little with the unexpected – for example, with an unusual treatment of pagination or text placement. If I have both satisfied and surprised them, then I know I’ve done a good job.