designer (de|sign¦er)

Pronunciation: /dɪˈzʌɪnə/noun

a person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans.

Being a designer these days to some people means putting something together quickly on Adobe CS, without worrying about what it means and why it was done a certain way. To me on the other hand, it’s completely the opposite. Within a piece of work that you are developing or designing, its meaning and context are just as important if not even more so than the overall finished look of the piece. What’s the point in having a piece of work that looks amazing but does not serve a purpose for what it does? Anyway, let me go on to explain who I am. My name is Jason Keenan and I’m a creative individual and visual communicator currently studying for a BA in Graphic Design. Communication is something we encounter on a day to day basis; it cannot be avoided. Whether it be signs straight from the road side or the way certain things are portrayed to us through the use of colour, layout and different mediums; all were done for a certain cause and effect. This type of visual communication is something that has been in my opinion carried on into my work.  Hopefully after reading my own version of The Four Steps to Achieving Good Design you too can effectively stop trying to be a designer and be a designer.

#1 Initial Research

Within all of my work, the first thing to be looked at will be a background study of what ever is going to be designed. Whether it is a flyer or magazine, poster or a leaflet, every bit of ground is covered. If the piece you are designing is for a corporate company or organisation, reading into what they do, services they provide and why it was all started is a must. This way you can get a fuller image of the companies or organisations values and it can help you push your design further when it comes to it. For example if you had a company that provided recycled clothing or anything along the lines of that, perhaps printing your final work onto recycled stock would not only have a visual aesthetic quality to it but you are also fortifying the backbone of that said companies values and even traditions. Research doesn’t always stop there though and can be looked into even more. Similar to what was said above, if a flyer is to be designed why not look into the history of the flyer and different types of flyers and really impress your client when it comes to that all important presentation.

#2 Development

To me this is the most critical stage as it’s when you have the freedom to really be creative and push boundaries. Within my early years of designing, jumping straight into a digital situation would be something that would normally happen. Hours and hours sat at PC or Mac with no starting point is no good. This is something that has been realised and developed by myself through out my own work.  Instead why not pick up a pencil and paper and do it that way. Its natural and you can really push creative boundaries and cross every path before putting it on screen and making it look fancy. A good way of working effectively and efficiently and is often a good starting point once you have an idea is to start drawing out layout thumbnails. These are layout sketches of different arrangements that can be achieved quickly and give you a feel for what you are doing. As they are done quickly you can see them all on one page and perhaps pick one or two that you are happy with to work further into and develop. Within my own work again, layout pads are often good for this as the page are partially transparent and lightweight and help if you need to copy something exact from a previous version of the same design.

#3 Trial and Error and Experimentation

This is often an important stage in the whole process for me as it’s when you can really play round with the detail. Typography, colour and layout are all to be considered here. If I’m designing a certain piece of work there is a certain technique that helps me know when everything on the screen is in the correct position. It always seems to work for me and results in an aesthetically pleasing outcome. What happens is when looking at work on screen and moving certain parts around to my satisfaction, slight glances away from what I’m doing and looking at my work in a peripheral sense helps. Sounds strange right? In my head it makes perfect sense to me as people often see things in a peripheral view anyways – when driving to work and spotting a sign or a poster on a walk down the street. If that sign or poster works from a  design perspective in peripheral sight then its most definitely going to work and deliver and communicate when look at closely. Sometimes you can be working on a piece for so long that your eyes get used to what they are seeing. This is often a time to take a break and come back to it with a fresh approach. Again peripheral vision designing works for me and it may not work for you but it has always given me outcomes that are pleasing. On the other hand though when it comes to down the minutia, it’s always important to look closely at what you are doing especially within typography.

#4 Finalizing and Printing and Presentation

After all you’re hard work of constructing a real elegant piece of design it’s worth taking a while to look into printing and what different types of stocks are on offer. The internet is a wonderful resource of different contacts that you can get in touch with for an affordable price for stock and printing but yet it still looks presentable. In my opinion this last step is as vital as the first as it’s your chance to sell yourself as a creative individual and visual communicator. Take the time to present your work with due care and professional qualities and it will pay off.

These four steps are something that are taken into account with everything that has been designed by me whether it’s for University projects or live briefs within the industry and have really worked for me. It’s been said before and its being said again – Don’t try and be a designer, be a designer.

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