Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The GD process

 Sometimes I get the feeling that some people assume great graphic design falls from the sky. I can assure you it does not. When you see a professional company logo on a building, the side of a truck, or on a package in the grocery store, I assure you that logo (much like Rome) wasn't created in day. It wasn't the first iteration, and may not have even been created by the first person to attempt its design.

Like most other things in life, there is a process to graphic design. (Well, to successful graphic design, that is). Remember science projects in school, which always had to follow the scientific method? You know....hypothesis, research, conclusion...yadda yadda. It's kind of the same thing with design, although it's not exactly that cut-and-dry in all cases. In most cases, however, the process looks a little like:

Step 1: Gather information
The client may say they need, for example, a brochure. The GD's job is to ask the important questions:
  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the message?
  • Is there a proposed deadline?
  • Is there an existing brand that needs to be matched?
  • etc.
Once all of these questions are answered, it may even be apparent that instead of a brochure, the client actually needs a flyer or a poster.

Step 2: Outline
The GD should be able to outline the time frame (taking into consideration the due date), and the content so that everyone is on the same page: designer, client, and anyone else directly involved.

Step 3: Gather ideas, get printing quotes
The GD sketches, reads books, peruses magazines, googles ideas (or waits until they come to her, normally in the shower and while driving to work). Also, if the piece is being printed, the GD will need to make choices about things such as paper type, colors (will the piece be in all black ink, will it be two-colors, or four colors?), bleed (when the ink goes to the edge of the page), size, etc, and ask a printer/printers for price quotes, which the GD will then share with the client.

Step 4: Creating, sharing, revising
Now comes the "fun" part. The designer designs, maybe scraps the first few ideas and forges ahead. Ideally, depending on the project, the GD will provide at least two concepts to the client. The client may or may not dig those concepts. The GD may need to rethink and start over, tweak one of those first concepts, or even mix-and-match two or more of the original concepts to make it align better with the client's needs. The client/designer back-and-forth may go on three times, ten times, a million times. Every project is different. (At work recently, we made it to proof 21!)

Step 5: Approval, collect and send to print, deliver

 ...and hope for positive feedback! Sometimes there's another step: a meeting, which some call a "postmortem" (I HATE that name, and so in my brain I translate it to "follow-up meeting"), where the GD, client, and anyone else who needs to be involved discuss how the project went, what worked well, if there are areas for improvement, and the like. you can see, no logos falling from the sky or brochures growing on trees. Promise.

Today's random photo:
I found this little piece of greatness online. Someone made it,
but unfortunately I don't know who. Cookie Monster and me?
Kindred spirits.


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