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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Aug 30, 2013

Do you Sketch Before you Design?

By On 15:54
I just participated in a conversation on the topic with colleagues. It was a bit like preaching with a choir, but I want to share some of the commentary here.

I recently had the chance to work with a newly graduated designer who habitually goes straight to the computer whenever a design project is presented. If needing to change gears or develop more design solutions, there was always the need to go back to the drawing board; I personally, found it an inefficient process.

When faced with a new design challenge I always whip out my pencil and sketchbook. This is owing to my fine arts background; it's how I brainstorm, storyboard, script, plan, and develop my ideas. Plus, my poor memory means that I take a lot of notes, so there's always a hard-bound sketch book in my hand.

Here's how some of my seasoned colleagues replied when asked, "Do you sketch before you design?"

"Absolutely! I almost never design on the computer. The computer is a tool and that's it. My creativity flows faster and easier with a pen/pencil and paper. Plus you have a reason to spend an insane amount of money on cool drawing utensils and books!" - PD

"There has to be some preparation before spending the time in design. UX items need to come into play and UX protype tools such as Axure let the designer plan out the site and give it a testing before going into the visual design work. Or, it can be as simple as a drawing in a notebook to plan out a page. So, a sketch is part of the process and can give you as a designer a clear vision." - MS

"Absolutely, I can usually get half-a-dozen concepts out sketching in the time takes my computer to get warmed up. Purely from an efficiency perspective it makes sense." - JS

"90% of the time I do. The other 10%, I do what I call block sketching. It is where I go into Illustrator and just create shapes and build them together. I do this to create a font or build a wireframe for a website. It's quick fun and doesn't take long to get the idea from your head to screen." - TS

"Design begins with the thought process that follows a thorough investigation of the client's needs and the market they're in. Generally for me that is word based, especially for branding. I distil everything down to what I refer to a key words, a very concise summary of the discovery process. In turn this is the start of creating visual proposals and working with the client as 'ownership' by the client is vital. Other projects may be layout and production only where the client has already compiled the material but lacks the ability, skill and experience to turn the material into a professional piece of literature, or other form of marketing or promotional material, exhibition or packaging. Sometimes it is a combination of both. The vital skill for me is drawing out the essence of what is required before any form of creative work begins. Do I draw or sketch first after this? Yes, the pencil or pen is much more flexible than the computer. Do I present this to the client? Sometimes." - RS

Although he didn't participate in the disucssion, Milton Glaser said this about jumping on the computer to create  design, "Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking." Hey, the soup is hot, but is it good?

Aug 25, 2013

Inspiration: Milton Glaser Interview

By On 14:59
The great benefit of drawing is not to replicate reality, but to understand what is real."

Aug 23, 2013

This Week: Lecture Series Update

By On 11:49
I just spent the majority of the day shrieking inaudibly at technology. At my disposal is a Macbook, and 2 (allegedly) high-end Windows desktops in my office that I'm to use for multi-media projects. They are all inadequate. Today saw me  spend several hours watching a 2 minute commercial render on various crappy computers in our lab.

Unfortunately, there's been little time left for me to give a s$%^t about updating my blog; with me constantly monitoring my blood pressure and all--yes the technology failure had me stressed out. Now that my vitals have returned to normal, I'll happily share this update with you.

We've nailed down the speakers, images, dates and times, and communications plan--pretty much--for promoting the series. So I'm able to share more fleshed out pieces with you:


I'm actually quite happy with the way that this has all turned out and I'm looking forward to my part in the first session. Not to mention; recoding and sharing the events on our new website, promoting via social media, and tracking the analytics and attendance stats.

Aug 22, 2013

Freebies: Hand-Tooled Type

By On 07:19
My first MOOCs begin soon, I’ll be taking a photography course and a hand-tooled typography course. I’m inspired to share freebies with you. Here are a few hand drawn fonts that got me inspired this week.

I’ve shared some samples to get you guys inspired as well. These lovelies have a relatively high x-height and most have built-in leading. Check them out:

Created by Jusebox

Created by Nice and Ripe

Created by Vanessa Bays

This may be my favorite!

Aug 16, 2013

Professional Pet Peeve: Laziness

By On 07:39
I've got something to say to the lazy folk. You make me sick!

There's nothing  wrong with having a relaxed attitude toward work. Being relaxed is important to being effective. However, some people just take it a bit to far; stretching the boundaries of relaxing into the realm of apathy.

Now that the opinion piece is out of the way let's talk about it. Here are a few tips to help you NOT be perceived as lazy in the workplace:

  1. Be on time - Oh my god, just be on time!
  2. If a project is overwhelming, ask for assistance or guidance early.
  3. Know what you're referencing - If you've got several projects in the hopper, keep their titles and parameters straight. I'm talking about in conversation. You could be perceived as apathetic or worse dumb if constantly referencing the wrong name, team members, or goals of a project.
  4. Are you exhausted or feel overworked? Take a break - Yes I said it. Get up and get away from your desk/office. If you need to, call it a day and head home. Fatigue makes it hard to concentrate and get things done. Instead of trying to power through a project, or doing a half-assed job, step away from it and come back fresh.

Aug 13, 2013

How do you Want to be Remembered?

By On 11:21
Source: http://danielbischoff.blogspot.com/
A recent encounter with a former co-worker brought back vivid memories of an on-campus work-study job. The thing that she remembered about me was that I enjoyed doing one of our mandatory, crappy jobs early in the morning--cleaning the facilities early in the morning. Funnily enough, I hated the task. But instead of avoiding it, I got to it as quickly as possible in order to get it out of the way.

Here’s the back story: In college, I took a work-study position at the campus gym and volunteered for the early morning shift. This meant entering the building by 6:30 each morning, cleaning all of the facilities, equipment, group fitness and racquetball rooms, mopping the gigantic gymnasium floors, and seeing to customers. One staff member had to be at the reception desk at all times, so these jobs couldn't be done in tandem.

Early in my tenure, I worked with a really good friend who helped me figure out two important truths about arriving on time. First, we could both do a couple loads of laundry every day in the industrial machines before the rest of the staff reported to work. Second, if we switched off and tackled the work in shifts, we’d get it done quickly; one day she’d take the floors and I’d take the rest, and the next day we’d swap.

So, while we always got to work by 6:30 and got to our jobs as quickly as possible, we were still working when clients started coming in at 7am. However, we’d only be hampered by them for about a half hour. It was a well-timed process. We both got to finish up the hard work and spend the rest of the time on homework, projects, or just surfing the net between greeting customers.

The friend who mentioned my "cleaning fetish" was someone else that I worked with on the morning shift, briefly. The working relationship was different with this peer she came in at quarter-to-seven in the morning. So, the plan to start cleaning up the filthy, huge gym right by 6:30 didn't work—by the time we got started clients were queuing to come in and use the facilities that we were to clean. On these mornings, as soon as my counterpart entered the building I made a bee-line for the cleaning supplies to get the hated task completed quickly.

Anyway, speaking to my former coworker and hearing that she thought I loved the cleaning aspect of that job—those years ago—makes me feel a bit proud. I was able to complete those tasks efficiently, without voicing too many complaints.

This brings me to the moral of this story: We all have a task we don’t like at work. The best way to handle it is approach it with the same effort and enthusiasm as the best parts your the job, and do it well.

Aug 1, 2013

This Week: Fall Lecture Series

By On 09:55
My job is at times trying, challenging, rewarding, and sometimes just plain fun. In the upcoming semester, I'll be presenting as part of this lunchtime lecture series, and I get to design the print and electronic promo materials. This is a monthly series and we plan to promote primarily via web contact, but there will also be a few print/ digital posters around campus.

The series title and typography speaks to the informal setting and the feeling that we want to convey. The Autumn color palette lends bit more sophistication, while also giving a nod to the season. My goal is to reuse this layout/format and only switch out the colors for each semester series (yes, that is Greek text):

I'll see how this project progresses, and I may slip it into my portfolio when it's all done. :)