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5 Steps to Streamline your Creative Process

As a designer I’m always trying to optimize my creative process. Since I started, lots of things have changed in my workflow, some things got simpler while others got a little bit more complicated. With these changes came the experience of learning from the mistakes but also from the successes. In this article I will summarize how I try to streamline my creative process to make it as efficient as possible. Basically everything consists of 5 steps: 1- Understand the work "A well-defined problem is half solved."Michael Osborne - Principal, Michael Osborne Design It might sound obvious but sometimes we tend to assume that we know what we have to do when we simply don’t. It’s really important to know exactly what it is that you have to do before you start doing anything. If you don't, it would be like going to the supermarket when you’re hungry. You want to buy everything... The understanding of the project will filter exactly what you have to look for, it will give you directions and the context of the work you will have to do. But what's the use in knowing what you have to do if you don't know who you're doing it for? That will lead us to the second step... 2- Audience "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."Douglas Adams - Creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy So, you now have a firm understanding of the work, but now the question has come to: for whom will the work be intended? The audience is key in this equation because it filters and reduces even more the range of your search for inspiration. Once you have the audience figured out, you really have to get in your mind that it's 100% about them, which will lead us to the third step. 3- Business "Every night I pray that clients with taste will get money and clients with money will get taste." Bill Gardner - Principal, Gardner Design The biggest difference between commercial design and art, for me, is that we design something for the audience and not as a means of self-expression for ourselves. We solve problems for them, we make it easier for them. As far as graphic and visual design goes, most of the problems arise in communication. Essentially, we’re the middle man between the client and the consumer. Our goal is to make the communication better for them (which in most cases means simplifying), and not to interfere in the communication with our own personal tastes and influences. 4 - Challenge "We spend a lot of effort trying to make things look effortless." Alexander Isley - Principal, Alexander Isley Design With a solid understanding of the work, the audience, and the question of solving problems, we now face the challenge: the designing part. The challenge creates the motivation to look for the details that will make your work better and superior. 5 - Try "You will never really like anything you do, and you will die knowing that you still have to do your best." Garth Walker - Orange Juice Design The previous steps won’t necessarily guarantee that you'll come up with a good design, they're merely there to form a foundation, or a stepping stone, if you will. To recap, the understanding of both the work and the audience will create the context. Keeping in mind the business perspective will avoid you losing focus on what's important. And, finally, the challenge will give you the motivation to look for the most innovative and efficient solutions. But the only way for you to come up with a good design is to take all these things and TRY. This is the workflow I’ve been using since I graduated from college. Like I said, this workflow has been modified based on what I have learned throughout these years, through the wins and losses. The process should change depending on your personal way of working, but I think the one thing that will always be the secret to a good design and therefore should be a key in everyone's workflow is simplicity.

Brainstorm #9 Logo Process

Last month Carlos Merigo, from Brainstorm #9, one of the biggest and most prestigious Brazilian blogs, contacted me asking if I would be interested in redesigning his blog brand. I was totally amazed by the opportunity to work on a project like that. I knew it would be challenging because of the target audience, mostly advertisers and people who really know about that matter. Briefing the design process The first thing when designing a logo, is to understand the context, history and what's the image it has to deliver to the audience. Asking Carlos about the meaning of the logo, he explained to me that the logo was, of course, related to “brainstorming”. Brainstorming is a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem. The method was first popularized in the late 1930s by Alex Faickney Osborn in a book called Applied Imagination. Osborn proposed that groups could double their creative output with brainstorming. - Wikipedia Now, about the number #9, it was a really nice story: he was looking for something that would make the name stand out, Brainstorm was way too simple. Then he saw on his table the famous White Album by the The Beatles. He decided to take a look at the name of the songs and found the Revolution #9. That gave him an insight, because even John Lenon himself once said that that song was the weirdest, longest and probably most hated Beatles song. John Lennon wrote this with contributions from Yoko Ono. It's a highly experimental piece, which Lennon once called "The music of the future." It is the most controversial and bizarre track on the album - you have to have a very open mind to appreciate it. The work is credited to Lennon/McCartney, though it was primarily the effort of John Lennon. (This was Lennon and McCartney's standard practice, to share songwriting credit on all songs written by either or both.) George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono made small contributions, while Paul McCartney did not actively participate in the track's creation. Ono's avant-garde influence on Lennon's compositional style is clear throughout "Revolution 9." - Wikipedia I had to listen to the song, and it’s definitely a crazy song, full of looping and sort of a collage of different things, pretty much like a brainstorm. That was the current logo. So the keywords from my little brainstorm were: Loop Collage Avant-garde Logo References and Sketches Before going straight to the computer, I worked on some sketches, exploring a few concepts using the keywords that were selected before. Also I visit for some logo references. You can take a look at some logos I used for reference at the Ultimate One Color Logos Inspiration article. Logos from logopond for design references The first idea was to keep the # symbol and add another element. In this case the lightning bolt. I know, I suck at that but it's helpful ;) First Idea After having some interesting ideas on paper, it was time to go to Illustrator and work on the symbols. Below you can see one of my ideas, mixing the # and the lightning bolt. The first symbol mixing the # with the lightning bolt It was a nice idea and a good symbol in my humble opinion. It had a nice link with the previous logo, but there was a big problem: the number 9 wouldn't work well along with that symbol. First Idea with the Logotype and versions Selected Idea Even though the first version came out quite nicely, I decided to work on another version, trying something different and using the number 9. With that in mind, I decided to mix the number and the lightning bolt symbol. Second idea mixing the number 9 and the lightning bolt Logotype With the Avant-garde influence on the song Revolution #9, I simply had to use that font. I really like it, despite the fact that here in Brazil it was a default font in Corel Draw, the most popular software for vector design here. But what does that have to do with the font? Well, imagine that this is the default font... so when people send business cards to the bureau and forget to send the fonts, which one is used instead? Yes, maybe it was the most used font ever here in Brazil, but with a few tweaks it would work fine. Exploring the idea of looping, I played with some characters, mainly in the word Brain because ideas and complex thoughts are born in the brain, so it had to have a clear relation between LOOPING in the Brain. Also I used gradients to add some depth to the connections between the letters. In the last letter, the "M", I nudged the symbol a bit over the letter, leaving a little gap between the symbol and the letters to avoid problems with the monochromatic version. Selecting and playting with fonts Final Result I really believe that the new logo achieved the goals we had set in the very beginning of the project. A simple and iconic logo, relating to the Beatles song, Revolution #9. Versions Braincast Braincast, the Brainstorm #9 screencast. Site Also I worked on the web site, but that's another story for perhaps another post in the future.

Sikbox Logo Design Process

For the last few weeks I've been working on some projects, but there is one in particular that I think will be really useful for the blog community. It's called Sikbox. Sikbox is a web app that allows you to add a live search to your site, or any site. It uses the Yahoo Boss api and it actually works better than my Drupal default search system. This project was done pretty quickly. I had the honor to work on the logo and web design with my brother, Eduardo Sasso, the Ninja programmer, and Fabiano, the CSS samurai. Anyway, in this post I want to share a bit of the ideas and the design process for the logo creation. Doing the home work The first thing we did was look for references. We visited lots of sites and also used the very helpful Below are some of the references we had. First ideas The basic idea for the logo was to create a clear association with search. The most common and iconographic symbol for that is the magnifying glass. However we wanted a very subtle element and the first thoughts and sketches we had, tried to avoid that. For the first designs we tried to use the search box result and the cursor for the symbol as you can see below. I'm terrible at drawing but they always help ;) Back to the roots After some sketches and designs we decided to forget about the other symbols and try to go with the magnifying glass (but again something subtle and discreet). The idea we had was to create the "b" with that element. Also we had to rethink our idea for the best font style, we gave up the idea of a serif font. Refining the idea. Our first thought was use shadow to create the 3D effect, but as I always like to do the negative version, the shadows wouldn't work well in that format. We decided to make the effect without the shadow instead. Final design Of course the whole process was much longer and painful :) but we think the end result was really cool and, despite the fact that we didn't want the magnifying glass symbol in the very beginning of the process, it ended up a lot better than we had thought. That's again why I think we have to like the design process otherwise this sort of starting from scratch thing can be very traumatizing, but if you learn to enjoy that everything will flow much better. Site Design with the logo.