There are many college students studying art all over the world and for each of those students, there are as many creative processes to take a project from a thought to a beautiful work of art. When I was studying design I, like most, was trying to find the magic formula for my creative process. I have yet to find a specific set of steps that always produce the creative genius that I hope for in the beginning, but I do know that to some degree if I follow a certain procedure I get similar results with a few variances here and there occasionally. This blog post contains a sort of outline of the things I find myself doing over and over again in each project.
1) Establish the bounds of the project
Once you have been contacted for a specific project you must learn the bounds and scope of the project. This includes the medium, projected payment method/amount, content, and time frame. One needs to know these things before they can fully comment to the project and all of the details can be worked out further.
2) Assure the client of your understanding
Make sure your clients know that you understand the specifications laid out prior and if you need to make specifications of your own such as an adjustment/clarification in pay or payment type…now is the time to do so.
3) Gather client inspiration
This is probably the biggest step for me. This is the step that lets me know exactly what my clients are wanting whether they know or not. I tend to ask them for quotes, colors, imagery, works (logos, websites, ext.) that inspire them. One of the most important things to ask for is a series of three or four descriptive words describing the platform of their organization. What they don’t realize is that this helps me not only know what they are all about, but also what their vision is and how they visually what to portray both.
4) Gather personal inspiration
This is the step in which, by the end, everything starts to come together. Starting out with a board of client inspiration I begin to gather my own inspiration on a separate board. Once I start seeing a clear look starting to form I begin to pull from both boards to an ultimate inspiration board where as a whole the client is undeniably represented.
The manic obsessive compulsive freak inside me then starts to sketch on anything that is near me (sketchbook…my hand…napkins…I mean anything) and then after I see the mess I have created I compile them all neatly onto a single sheet of sketch paper.
6) Take a break
As you can imagine, after the manic sketching spree and then the very OCD clean up sketch session that follows I am in need of a break, but I don’t mean a TV break. I tend to grab a cup of coffee and read a book, listen to music, a small project or create in some other medium such as photography or painting. This keeps my creative juices flowing and rids my thought processes of the mundane that everyone has to get to the really creative ones that propel me further towards the intended ending of the project.
7) Re-think and Re-sketch
In this step, I really begin to dig into that ultimate inspiration board replacing a few items with some new ones and then creating new sketches based on new ideas that I had after my project break.
8) Computer rough
This is exactly what it sounds like…..those pencil/pen sketches transform into their digital counterparts. Simple black and white shapes and slight gray variants used for personal indicators.
9) Breathe life into content
Those digital roughs now begin to have life breathed into them as I bring in those colors from the inspiration board and the content the client has provided is inserted and cleaned up.
10) Present progress and adjust content accordingly
From there I present my work to my client and depending on what they like or don’t like I make adjustments until the piece is exactly what they wanted and more. This can take anywhere from a few moments of small fixes and in some cases, unfortunately, a few days of rethinking certain elements or, in worst case scenario, the project in its entirety.
Present the work in its entirety in a folder with nicely organized file types desired. If your clients are anything like mine…they don’t really know what file format they will need or they will need the final piece in a few different file types so go ahead and ask what those file types are and give them what they are going to need. This prevents lots of extra emails and time on both parties that could be better spent doing something else. This is also the step in which I send my billing information and my project invoice so finalize and finalize well.
12) Contact client
Give the client some time and contact them, making sure they are satisfied with the piece and have received the invoice. Also, if you enjoyed working with them let them know and offer your services for any other projects they may have come up in the future. If you didn’t love working with them…don’t tell them that…..just be gracious and let them know that you hope they like what you brought to the table and leave it at that.