Research and Concepts

For these next series of posts I will be covering topics discussed in The Graphic Design School, a text about the principles and practices of graphic design by David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, and Eric Zempol.

Today’s main topic will be all about research and concepts, but before I get into that, the book actually suggests that above all else the graphic designer must first be interested and inspired. Observe the world around you and take note! Record what fascinates you and keep it so that you can always look back to it. Sketch or collect the things that you find interesting.

Get inspired! Here is an example of an inspiration board someone has created. Once you find something that inspires you hold on to it so you can always use it as a reference. (Tumblr)

Get inspired! Here is an example of an inspiration board someone has created. Once you find something that inspires you hold on to it so you can always use it as a reference. (Tumblr)

Moving on, the first thing any designer must do when they are faced with a design problem is research. You have to know what you’re dealing with before you can propose any solutions. The book suggests that you do both linear reasoning and lateral thinking in order to get yourself thinking creatively and logically. Linear reasoning is a more strategic thought process while lateral thinking is less constricted and more explorative.

Here is an example of brainstorming in the form of lateral thinking. In this case the researcher is just trying to come up with ideas quickly: looking for all possible associations and not disregarding any ideas. (Google Images)

Here is an example of brainstorming in the form of lateral thinking. In this case the researcher is just trying to come up with ideas quickly: looking for all possible associations and not disregarding any ideas. (Google Images)

Once you have your ideas, start sketching them out. At this point you are still just trying to get down as many ideas as quickly as possible. The text also suggests that you continue to work by hand and not on the computer. With hand drawn ideas they look much more rough: they are vague and leave a lot to the imagination. This is a good thing because sometimes computerized ideas will look to finalized and there is a tendency to not want to change them. But if you are reluctant to refine them, you might never come up with that next great idea had you went back in and touched it up.

This is a great example of the design process of a logo. Here the designer hand drew a bunch of ideas before they went into the computer to make some more revisions. It shows that they really thought about a lot of different ideas before they committed to one, and even then they experimented more with color. If you are interested in logo design, check out the link (here) where I found this image. The post includes 49 more great examples!

This is a great example of the design process of a logo. Here the designer hand drew a bunch of ideas before they went into the computer to make some more revisions. It shows that they really thought about a lot of different ideas before they committed to one, and even then they experimented more with color. If you are interested in logo design, check out the link (here) where I found this image. The post includes 49 more great examples!

The book talks a lot more about how to keep conceptualizing and researching but the last thing it talks about in this unit is scheduling and organizing. In this profession deadlines are almost always non negotiable. All your great ideas and concepts won’t matter if you didn’t deliver it on time. Managing your time and thinking ahead is a tool that designers need to perfect and creating your own schedule is a great asset. Know when everything is due and know how long it will take you to get there.

Here is an example I found of one design firm's process schedule. These are the steps that they take for every project they take on. It is important to have a designated date for when each step should be accomplished by in order to finish on time. (paper leaf)

Here is an example I found of one design firm’s process schedule. These are the steps that they take for every project they take on. It is important to have a designated date for when each step should be accomplished by in order to finish on time. (Paper Leaf)

 

To go along with the reading from the book I searched the web for what others had to say about the same topics. From a website called Just Creative I found an interesting article called The Logo Design Process of Top Logo Designers. I liked this resource because it gave similar advice as the book but in a much more concise and simplified manner. It listed eight important steps of the creative process:

  1. The Brief (what is your client asking you to do?)
  2. Research (get to know your audience)
  3. Visual Research (look for styles and inspiration)
  4. Sketching & conceptualizing (start coming up with as many ideas as possible)
  5. Reflection (what is working and what isn’t?)
  6. Positioning (choose how to work: are you like a contractor or a business trying to build a relationship with your clients?)
  7. Presentations (present your work to your client)
  8. Celebration (once you have successfully finished a project, know how to celebrate!)

Overall I agreed with what this article had to offer. I especially liked that they added “celebration” to the list of crucial steps of the design process. While I thought that was somewhat humorous, I think I would have to agree that it is actually very important to recognize a job well done and celebrate your successes!

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