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I sometimes think that the problem with being being a designer now, in contrast to years ago is that we have so many tools available to us, particularly digital tools and applications. A few days ago I started a new set of designs for a logo project. Rather than start on paper, I went straight to screen. Not long after starting I hit a snag. My ideas felt a bit lacklustre and void of feeling; they lacked the mark of a maker.

The following day I started roughing out ideas for a poster concept, for another client. With a pencil in hand, I noted key words in my clients preamble, applied those to some thumbnail layouts which were created so quickly my annotations were illegible, then went to screen. That afternoon I’d created a polished concept and sent through a draft for client consideration.

On the day after, I reopened the logo file for my other client. Still, I felt stuck, so I went outside to rake up the last of the leaves from autumn. (The logo job was for a garden nursery, so I considered my procrastination as being more like research). Later that afternoon I grabbed some brush markers and started doodling. Before long I had a few filled up a few pages full of black scribble, it all looked like a mess, but a few sparks of potential logo images could be found among it all. After scanning these and converting them to vector, that night I had many potential iterations.

Moral of the story: start analogue before going digital. Free yourself before restricting yourself to the constraints of software and a mouse/trackpad. Ideas happen faster when the travel straight from your head to hand, to paper. I tell my students this all the time, but I need to remind myself of this too. Sometimes taking the time to explore before you do the ‘real’ work can end up being a big timesaver.

The mark you can make with a pencil or brush pen is unique to you, unlike those brush presets in your software apps. Offering a genuine, honest mark, generally equals a happy client. As a designer, it makes the process more rewarding too.

June 14, 2015