Design Thinking

Design Thinking has gained popularity over the last few years. From classrooms to corporate boardrooms, Design Thinking is being used as a strategy to solve problems through tools to initiate creative ideas and solutions. Here’s a short four minute introduction to Design Thinking, and if you own a Fitbit or Apple watch, these guys were way ahead of them!

After watching that you may be thinking, ‘So, it all sounds and looks awesome, but how can I actually use it in my classroom (if you’re a teacher), in my folio (if you’re a student) or in a corporate boardroom? How can I actually facilitate Design Thinking?’ Design Thinking can be a great launching pad for innovative, creative ideas if you have the right tools.

To get started, here’s a free download of one of these tools (SCAMPER) below. At first SCAMPER can seem tricky, and can be difficult to explain, but with practice its a great way to begin thinking differently, particularly in the early stages of the design process.

Download SCAMPER poster

Some people would argue that they’re not at all ‘creative’. And while its true that not everyone can draw like Da Vinci or have a mind that works like his did, Design Thinking tools really level the playing field, allowing anyone, regardless of their ability to think about solving problems in creative ways.

The video above mentioned that the design team iterated using simple materials like cardboard to build mock-up physical devices. Nintendo recently announced a similar approach… Quite literally!

Nintendo are clearly implementing Design Thinking in a fun way. They’ve also truly differentiated themselves from competitors in the entertainment industry through their creativity.

So when you’re next stuck for ideas, or are looking for a new way forward, start your process with Design Thinking.

Design Process Q&A

Early each year I start to receive emails from students about design process, particularly students studying VCE Visual Communication Design. I’ve written this post Q&A style using some general questions I’m often asked.

At the moment this written piece is a work in progress, I’ll be  adding more to it, and will also be building up a few resources online here for students and teachers alike.

Is design process important?

All stages of the design process are important, from initial research to generating potential ideas or concepts, through to developing those further, refining them after consulting with my client and finally signing off on a job before it’s sent to print or published online. I’m a firm believer that if you try to skip a stage in the design process you’ll end up with a piece of work that may not truly satisfy the brief. Having said that, unlike being a student, I don’t have the luxury of lots of time to spend on projects for freelance clients who’ve hired me. In my job as a freelance designer, time is money, so I have to be efficient and find the best solution for my client with a reasonable turnaround time. Generally I might draw a few rough sketches before going to the computer to explore them more and send some samples onto my client. After receiving feedback I might develop them further or refine them for the client to sign off on the job. After that I prepare the work for print, it gets printed and I deliver the finished product to my client.

In terms of a specific project, one of my ongoing clients is Sport Inclusion Australia, which I rebranded in 2015. Prior to this, the organisation was known as Ausrapid. The organisation works as a governing body for sport organisations and specifically in the area of sport for people with disabilities. Sport Inclusion Australia is involved in interstate national events for all sports, the Paralympics, International events and the upcoming 2019 Global Games which will be held in Brisbane. As I already had a good understanding of the organisation (Ausrapid), the CEO asked if I was interested in pitching concepts for their new rebranded identity ‘Sport Inclusion Australia’ back in 2015.

To complete this job I started with an initial face-to-face meeting to discuss their new direction. After that I started with a few loose freehand drawings (Generation/Visualisation) before going to the computer to explore them further (Development). Once I felt happy with two or three possible new logos, I prepared them in a PDF and these were emailed to the CEO. I then followed up with a phone call to gather her thoughts (Evaluation). After receiving feedback, I made some final changes (Refinement) before the CEO and her team gave their chosen concept the final tick of approval.


 What were the roles and responsibilities of you (the designer), the specialist, and the clients in the production of one of your visual communications?

As a designer for Sport Inclusion Australia I’m required to consult with my client to answer the brief (their requirements) as new jobs are sent through to me. This is generally carried out through face-to-face meetings, phone conversations and email correspondence. In the instance of a job like a business card, stationery kit or annual report, once a job is complete it is prepared for print by myself before it is then sent off to a printer for production. Commonly, commercial printers are one of the main specialists I work with. It is up to me as the designer to ensure that factors such as colours, print settings like bleed and trim on print documents are correct and ready to hit the press. Commercial printers then transfer my digital files onto metal plates which are slotted into a printer. As the job is being produced the Printer ensures that inks used are correct and are consistent with Pantone colours I have selected from a swatch booklet. Once a job is all finished, I’ll collect it from the printer and deliver it to the client.



What are the processes and practices you use when pitching and presenting design directions, proposals and final presentations to clients?

Face-to-face meetings or phone conversations are probably one of the most transparent ways of establishing whether or not a client is satisfied with the potential concepts presented to them. For smaller clients this might be quite a relaxed meeting, or for larger clients potential concepts might be presented more formally in a board room with several staff present. Having said that, for some clients I’ve worked for I’ve never actually met them. Sometimes a job will go from start to finish all via email. This isn’t my preferred way of working though – it’s often much more time efficient to discuss ideas in person or at least over the phone. In all instances I always present concepts digitally in the form of a PDF.



Which evaluation technique/s do you use throughout the design process?

Again, verbal or email feedback informs the direction or progression of work I complete. In the early stages of a project I might talk to my client about other competitors or existing businesses. This helps to ensure that I’m able to create a unique identity and provide my client with some differentiation to set them apart from similar businesses.



What is the role of the brief in documenting the parameters of clients’ needs? (referring to one project that you have completed)

I always refer to the brief as being the ‘roadmap’. Without it, it can be difficult to establish direction and before starting a job I like to be really clear about what it is that my client actually wants. Unlike a student project, for me the brief is often in the form of a job quote. In this I detail the deliverables (the finished things my client needs), estimate costs and time-frame.



What social, ethical, financial and environmental factors influence your decisions?


What are the trademark and copyright legal obligations that you have to follow when using the work of others?

In terms of trademark, copyright and legal obligations, we had to gain written permission to use the supporting logos along the bottom of the posters I designed for North East Sustainability & Health Group (NESHG). I also often need to refer to Style Manuals when using logos or branding elements that belong to other organisations.

The environment was a factor in the work I produced for NESHG. When selecting stock for printing of the final documents, we decided to use a natural paper which is sourced from authorised sustainable forests, free of bleaching and made from 100% recycled paper.

Social and ethical decisions are often important when using images of people. In the instance of the work I complete for Sport Inclusion Australia, permission is always sought from athletes before their faces are used in any marketing material.

2017 is looking Fressshhh!

Pantone just announced their Color of the Year for 2017, and it would be fair to say that the new year is looking fresh; 2017 is all about greenery. As a plant lover, I’m pretty pumped about this. Check out the promo footage below:

“A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings.”

A marketing spiel it may be, but I honestly feel inspired by it, especially after the year I’ve had in 2016.

“Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”

I feel that Pantone’s announcement is perfectly in tune with how most people are probably feeling at this time of the year; I certainly feel ready to reinvigorate.

“Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world. A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.”

Wordy it may be, but I’m certain other creatives feel slightly wooed by this… C’mon creative people, admit it!

Pantone’s suggested colour pairings also look great. I particularly like the look of the colour combos ‘Calm it down’, ‘Transitions’ and ‘Fathomless’ below. Find out more at

Making a list, checking it twice

Not quite Christmas morning, but close

It’s that time of year again: making lists, checking them twice, naughty or nice and all that stuff. It’s also a time when WordPress nerds get excited, which I was when I woke and checked my phone yesterday morning.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of WordPress 4.7 and the new default theme Twenty Seventeen. Both of which are powering this little site you’re looking at right now.

In a smart move from the WordPress team, Twenty Seventeen is perfectly pitched at micro/small businesses and start-ups. Given that such a massive portion of the web is powered by WordPress, moving away from developing a blog-centric default theme for the year ahead seems like a no-brainer, but its something WordPress geeks have been waiting a while for.

Last night I set to work, making changes and updates to this site, and its a dreamboat theme! Not only does it do most of the stuff I want it to do, it looks fresh and contemporary, is responsive and it doesn’t cost a dime! Bonus!

Obviously its probably going to look a little bit cookie-cutter over the next few months as new WordPress sites pop up with Twenty Seventeen pre-installed, and exisiting users (like me) adopt the new theme, however this isn’t a major concern I have. In the past, the fear of having my web presence look like everyone else’s has stalled me in terms of updating my site. As a result, my exisiting website had some serious cobwebs going on… But I’ve been busy setting some goals…

Making a list, setting goals & Ticking things off

So, in terms of making lists and checking them twice, my gift-giving list is almost complete for the coming festive season. More importantly, I’ve been setting some goals for the immediate future. Some might call it ‘strategising’ or ‘prioritising’, but basically its just me getting my shit together.

In terms of the site you’re reading right now, it’ll be my online hub with links to my other websites and obviously my socials. I’m looking forward to sharing some new corporate design projects I’m working on at the moment. I’ll be featuring them right here on this site in the new year. In terms of my online store, personal side projects and illustration work, I’ll be posting those over at

I’ve also been working toward updating and consolidating my portfolio into a single location at

Also, the blog on this site now reads ‘Thoughts’. I’ll be posting regular bite-sized articles, videos and perhaps even some podcasts with a specific corporate design focus. I’m also going to maintain my Journal over at, with the less-serious nonsense and silly stuff I work on/contemplate in my downtime.

Until then, good luck preparing for the festive season ahead and planning for the new year. Stay cool and be sure to check in here again soon.


The perfect design project?

We creatives are a fussy lot. There’s no denying it, and it would be fair to say that most designers are… Especially when it comes to branding ourselves and presenting our own brand identity/presence in print and particularly online.

I remember back in 2005 as a student in a web design 101 class at uni, after creating our first plain text ‘hello world’ html page, we were presented with a real web assignment; to create a portfolio site for ourselves so that we could leave uni and land our dream job. After working through dozens of prescribed briefs over a few years, the opportunity to simply work on showcasing our hard work, free from the constraints of a brief initially sounded like the perfect project. However, the endless possibilities of this project quickly turned into a burden… I thought it was perhaps just me, but as I browsed the interwebs (via a dial-up connection), I found that so many other designers websites existed entirely as coming soon/under construction holding pages. It quickly became apparent that even professional designers were:
a) too busy working on client work to complete their own website
b) feared the whole html/css thing
c) were crippled by trying to decide how best to present their work and identity online
d) all of the above

But as a bunch of students about to graduate, we all muddled through, slicing and dicing our websites with Fireworks and going hyperlink-mad trying to work out Dreamweaver… There was always a quiet sense of achievement when those links magically transported you to another page, via a clunky rollover. Remember those!?

Flash forward to 2016 though, and I have to admit that I feel a tinge of jealousy toward new graduates at the moment when it comes to building an online presence. There are just so many stress-free options for building a website.

One recent addition to the growing online web-builder market is the relatively new Adobe Portfolio. And if you have a current Adobe CC subscription, you’ll already have access to it. While you can’t blog with it like major players, WordPress and Squarespace, its the perfect location to build out your portfolio and simultaneously build a following on Behance. One of the greatest things about Adobe Portfolio is that its built purely for creative people to share their work. The handful of templates available are also beautiful, and they focus viewers/visitors on the work, not the interface around it – which was often the case in the old days of a Fireworks/Dreamweaver workflow.

If you haven’t done so already, check out Adobe Portfolio, its well-worth a look. Its time to ditch that ugly ‘under construction’ page from 2005!



A new look for Insta

Today Instagram announced a new logo. Moving away from the skeuomorphic logo we’re all familiar with, Intagram has flattened their icon and given it an ombré makeover. As with any rebrand, it has generated a range of opinions, voiced strongly via twitter. Regardless of opinion over the new icon, people seem to be embracing the new app design; putting user generated content at the forefront of the app interface.


Whether you love it or loathe it, check out the rebrand video below, one has to agree that it’s pure design genius; illustrating a snapshot of the design process and reasoning behind the refresh in under a minute. A pitch without words, and possibly the most powerful and convincing one I’ve seen for a long while.

The following video link focuses on user interaction and features a killer track from Basement Jaxx… I was initially skeptical about the new icon, but the accompanying audio tied it all together for me. Or perhaps it just reminded me of early uni days (circa 2003) slaving away at the mac, late at night, accompanied by likeminded designer friends. Anyway, check it out and consider it for yourself.

Minimalism – The Film

In my journal entry at the beginning of the year I mentioned a personal goal I wanted to work towards in 2016, ‘to live with less’. Four simple words, but no easy feat!

However, during January I started that process, and quickly realised that making a shift toward living a more minimal lifestyle isn’t a change that would magically happen overnight. Instead, it would take time, just as forming regular exercise habits take time to become part of a daily routine.

A source of inspiration over the past three months has been Essential: Essays by The Minimalists. I’ve been reading it on my Kindle and it’s well worth purchasing. In small, bite sized articles, both Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus take you on a short journey through minimalist lifestyle philosophy and where it all sits within the context of our multi-faceted daily lives.

Here’s hoping their new documentary will be available online for worldwide viewing soon. The trailer for their new film looks really interesting, it immediately struck a chord with me. Particularly in terms of our seemingly normal compulsion to consume. Seeing this may even pique your interest to consider shedding some of the ‘stuff’ holding you back.

To read more, go to The