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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Nov 7, 2014

Visualize The Audience

In building my design course for spring 2015 I just got an acute reminder of the most important part of the design process: Research. Specifically the part where we identify the target audience, looking at this group as an individual...giving him/her a face, a job, an annual salary, living quarters, friends, acutely specific demographic information.

Here's how I learned it in my first design class, Introduction to Print Design with Professor Bert Smith. For my semester-long project for his class, I chose as my client a fashion design collective based in Baltimore. This collective included artists, fashion designers, theatrical costumiers--all in school or recent graduates. Their Avant Garde, and diverse styles brought to life the imagination of their generation. They did not work to make seven easy pieces, but instead couture reminiscent of 1970’s Vivienne Westwood.

My job as designer for this client was to speak directly to their ideal audience.

Research included talking to the designers about their work and audience, checking out their past events, press write ups, product lines and boutiques/retail selling them, before attempting to visualize their ideal client.

Although my Intro to Print notes are long gone, I can almost precisely remember my description of this ideal client:

  • she was someone with a fair amount of disposable income, an interest in music and the music scene—someone who could travel two states away to catch her favorite band. 
  • She considered herself a bit of an artist too, and would also travel to show her work and see the work of other young artists—a bit of a scenester. 
  • She's physically slender, but not emaciated. Her appearance is important and could reach the level of obsession if she gains/loses too much weight.
  • Professionally, she works in fashionable industry- the arts, design, gallery, theater, and is considered knowledgeable by her peers. 
  • She has the potential for much increased earning in the future, but is not making that much currently—the purchase of a strategically distressed garment is prioritized over getting the car fixed.
  • Although not required, she is most likely white, 
  • and cohabitates with close friends—fellow artists, musicians, students, etc—she doesn’t live with her parents*

Note: This exercise was completed way back before the great recession where college age and twenty-somethings found it important to get out once reaching the age of majority.

Visualizing this woman helped me to create a successful identity and series of collaterals for the client!