Monday, December 22, 2008

Color Palette update

My entry for MONDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2008 "Building and presenting color palettes" illustrated a range of primary and secondary colors proposed for a client's communications. Over the past two months, dozens of comps have been generated using the palette and some have worked nicely. Others are positively hideous.

As the basis for a communication strategy and long-term design guide, having a chance to test concepts before they are included in a brand stylebook is a luxury. Either the client can afford a costly and time-consuming process whereby the designer tests each proposed application before the stylebook is published, or they suffer through endless edits and compromises. Neither process can be called the best, however, I have had a chance to develop pieces and the stylebook simultaneously and learned a lot about creating a usable guide for a corporation.

Mainly, I'm not locked into a bunch of colors that I thought looked nice together but that don't make very good graphics in actual working solutions. While it has delayed the stylebook, the result will be a lot closer to the tool it is intended to be.

Photography resource

I recently learned of a new on line stock photo agency, They use a system of pre-purchased credits, either just enough for one image or a pack of credits you can use as you choose. The average price is the main advantage—$15.00 per image. Now, if, like me, you do projects where the ad is a small local black and white where you need some punch, you can create something eye-catching without blowing the budget.

I do a lot of jobs for clients, especially non-profits, who simply don't have budgets for much more than the media they are purchasing. While istockphoto's images suffer from the same problem most stock images do—trite concepts—they are reasonable enough that you can afford to use a chunk of one for an illustration base, or simply an accent.

Creative applications of images, say as parts of montages or blown up as a background or even just a visual field can lend a lean ad some heft. The resolutions available allow you to take part of an image and enlarge it until it is filling an average frame or covering a large ad.

And at the prices they are asking, istockphoto's images are within the reach of small design shops and students.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The single bright light of creativity

While browsing my email, I opened an update from fontbureau®. A news bit caught my attention.

I quote, "Cyrus Highsmith’s Eleventh Digit

No, Cyrus Highsmith doesn’t have an extra finger (although that might explain his prodigious output!). “The Eleventh Digit” is the title of a workshop Highsmith presented in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October. “The idea was to invent a new number that appears compatible with the others but cannot be confused with any other character. It gets the students thinking about the structures of glyphs, the role of handwriting in their evolution, and the design of a glyph as separate from its structure. It’s pretty fun.” archives/114

Side note: Highsmith's font "Escrow" has absolutely gorgeous numerals.

While in school, during a creative problem solving session, our professor, Victor Papanak (google him) gave us a challenge. Gaining weight was an issue in 1970 too and we were to come up with as many ideas as possible to solve society's problem. The two that stuck with me were: letting wild (preferably man-eating) animals roam the streets; the other was four-foot high curbs.

While there were many in-between, (and yes, we did think of and discard potato chips that gave you diarrhea, and now we have Olestra®) we held on to a few of the most far-fetched ideas to help create a spectrum. It kept bringing us back to possibilities that really, were simply impractical but would work.

The more good, or at least, in my judgment, effective, design I see, I also see the free-for-all thinking that is necessary to get out of the obvious solutions and into creative outer space.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watch out it's coming to a design near you

A quick update. Swirls are everywhere. The popularity of florid swirls will go on long after their design life has peaked. Don't wait for the big fall. Find something new. Rough cut, clunky fonts, hand mangled, are holding on strong. And stop using Rosewood Fill, damn it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dialogue and productivity

The loss of my mother distracted me from doing much work for the past two weeks. I had done comps for a client but neglected to set up a meeting. Hoping to get voicemail, I called at four on Friday afternoon. She picked up the phone and said, "Come right over." The comps were already in my messenger bag so I mustered the strength to present five versions of one idea. This client liked looking at work product so I had about twenty mounted examples of discarded ideas in another pocket. When I mentioned it, she jumped at the chance to see them. I spread the various abandoned ideas on the tiny table. In brief, she loved several ideas and sent me back to burnish them. Her choices also solved some issues such as how to get brilliant photography for a dozen pieces and stay on budget. We agreed that public pieces, those distributed outside the organization, would use the images we already had. In-house brochures would use a single graphic solution in various colors to differentiate their messages. Enthused client, problem solved, closer to completion, closer to billing.

Now read, "Enthused professor, closer to degree, closer to job. Most design classes break into three tiers. Promising designers, designers who will develop into promising designers and those who's careers will not be involved with Adobe® products.

Procrastination is a hallmark of creativity. The first two tiers display this early on in their pursuits. The sense that any idea completed is only another step toward the "right" solution hobbles them. The meeting avoided, the incomplete solution, simply not showing up with some excuse plague designers.

Maintaining communication and the visual dialogue with work progress and ideation—with the right clients and teachers—expands the realm of exploration. Bite the bullet, move forward, seek criticism. It does pay off.

Oh, it helps if you have nice comps, well mounted and organized and that you pick an appropriate time and setting to present your ideas. Nice shoes are optional.