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Learning to Sketch All Over Again

Posted on July 10, 2009

The last two weeks have been devoted to working a brochure for a new customer. This is the first project we’ve done with this customer, the product is brand new and the sky is our limit. Normally when I begin a new project, I typically do one of two things. I browse though design annuals for ideas or I take a trip to Barnes & Nobel or the local cool flower shop hoping that the new environment will spark an idea.

But this time around I decided to try something new. Sketching. I know, it?s a ground breaking idea. But over the years I found myself getting further and further away from sketching. It seemed quicker to just jump on the computer and start design away. Everything is at your finger tips after all, stock photo resources, fonts, etc. Who needs to sketch when you can do it all on the computer?

Well, what I found out is that I need to sketch. And more than that, I enjoy it!

I was skeptical at first. I thought it would add MORE time to the project, just like stopping at Starbucks on my way to work adds more time to commute (but it?s totally worth those extra few minutes!). But to my chagrin I found that it made the entire process faster, more efficient, and ? dare I say it ? resulted in better designs. Why haven?t I been doing this all along?!?

Thinking back, I used to sketch ALL THE TIME. It was drilled into me in college. Before we could even look at a computer, we had to submit sketch books for critique. I think that being forced to do it for so long, my rebellious streak too over and demanded ?NO MORE SKETCHING!? And so I stopped, and it seemed to be working. That is, until I went back to it.

All of a sudden sketching opened up this whole new world. It was like I was living in a pitch black cave and suddenly the lights were turned on to reveal that the cave is actually a stunning rain forest. Before I even got near a computer, I picked up my pad of paper, some design books, competitor literature, my thoughts and went to work. And an amazing thing happened. Instead of using only what was available to me on my computer, I thought more closely about the project and what the best solution for it was. Not just what would look good, but what would be the most effective way to sell the product and reach the target market. And I sketched?and sketched?and sketched until my mind was empty, my body was exhausted and my creativity was tapped out. But it was worth the effort because I had tons of ideas and I was able to quickly weed out the ones that would not work. So when I finally did make my way over to the computer, the comp-ing stage went much smoother and more efficiently than before.

What did I take away from this experiment? I?d like to say that I will never again begin a project without first sketching. But let?s face it, habits are hard to break and sometimes you have a clear enough picture in your head that going straight to the computer will work. The biggest lesson that I?ve learned is sometimes you have to take a little more time at the beginning of a project to produce better work, and to sometimes it even saves time in the end. So many times it?s ?go, go, go!? without stopping to question is this the best solution that I can come up with? Is it the best solution for the project at hand? I’m going to slow down, spend more time brainstorming, researching, and especially sketching. And if I?m working away at the computer, struggling with a layout or logo concept and nothing is working, I?ll step away from the computer, sketch book in hand, and see what ideas start to flow when I spend some quality time with the project.

Do you need a creative team that takes the time to think about your project? A team that learns it inside and out? Visit our web site to learn more about what we do, and how we can help you.

Designer’s Block

Posted on July 8, 2009

There I was, minding my own business, working on a brochure for a new, fresh and exciting customer, having a blast because honestly, the work I was doing was brilliant. I?ll say it again, BRILLIANT. I?m in the zone, nothing can stop me from reaching creative stardom.

Then it happens, so slowly that I don?t even notice. I start to get a little restless. Have trouble keeping my mind on the task at hand (brilliance). Then suddenly I can feel it leave my body, the inspiration draining out leaving in its place?a big fat NOTHING.

Ugg, designer?s block. Now what? I could sit here, staring at my screen, waiting, hoping, praying-to-the-powers-that-be that my muse comes back. I could stomp my feet, cry and pout (much like my 15 month old son). I could keep working and working and working, knowing in my heart that I?m only going to cause myself more stress and anguish. Or I could sit back, and wait.

I?ll choose to wait, thank you very much.

Image from
Image from

Over my many, many years of experience (OK, not that many, I?m only 25 after all ;-)) I?ve learned that creativity is a fickle monster. You either have it or you don?t. You can?t force it to come, in fact sometimes it?s going to look the other way and RUN, run like the wind! But I?ve also learned that if you are patient, it WILL come back. Just like the Pokey Little Puppy always makes his way home in time for dinner. So instead of stressing, banging my heading against the wall, hollering with my fists shaking towards the heavens and otherwise tormenting my co-workers, I wait. Perhaps taking the time to catch up on my favorite design blogs, or browsing through some inspiring web site galleries, design annuals or listening to that song that always gets me hopping and shaking, hoping that I can coax it back quickly. And so far, I have not been let down.

If you are looking for a team that has the creativity to tackle the task at hand (designer blocks and all) we?re the team for you. Visit our main site to find what we do, and how we can do it for you.

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