Designing in a vacuum
As with the vast majority of white collar professionals these days, designers spend a lot of their times staring at a computer screen.When we are designing something, we tend to spend that time in our own heads. I don’t know if this is true for every agency but from my experience, when I’m doing the work of design, I tend to spend the majority of their time in their own heads or staring at a computer screen working on projects. This is an inherently singular experience. I may have weekly, or daily, or even hourly meetings to discuss work but when I’m actually doing the work, I tend to be just by myself. This is true for the smaller agencies and freelancers that I know and it is not conducive to “good” design.
We designers are looking to solve problems. As a logo and branding designer, I want to make my client’s business stand out from the crowd. I want to show their identity through the things I create, tell the client’s story using the simplest of visual queues, typography and colours. I’m self taught and I find it quite difficult to gauge my work. It comes down to more than aesthetics. Aside from my work as a designer I also work for a software development company. In that position I get immediate feedback from my peers, other employees on my team and management. Getting the same dynamic feedback can be quite difficult in my small design firm. I am sure every designer knows the annoyance of completing something only to come back later and find they have spelled something incorrectly. This actually happened to me recently, and I really hope I am not the only person it happens to. I became so engrossed in getting the idea finalised that I didn’t check the spelling of the wordmark I was creating. Thankfully some time away from the design allowed me to notice and correct my error before the client became aware of it. I don’t know if I would have noticed it had I been on a tighter deadline with the client.
Coming away from the design, letting it sit over night, or just walking away for an hour and coming back was essential to finding and correcting my error. I worked on the logo for hours without noticing a spelling error that would have appeared via any word processor. I routinely write these posts and then leave editing them for a later time. This is so that I can gain some distance from the work, making editing an easier task. With design I need to do the same thing and I am coming to understand that it is for more than just editing reasons. When I remove myself from my computer, go for a walk or spend the night sleeping on an idea, it gives me some distance and allows me to interact with the idea as if I was getting feedback from a team. I can approach the design from a fresh perspective. This is conducive to good design, which is to say, fresh ideas and ways to approach solving the client problem.
I try to complete a few daily tasks to stretch my creative muscles, mainly around the #dailylogochallenge on Instagram but I aside from these daily tasks I can spend a lot of time thinking about a client’s needs and other idea exploration tasks. Getting away from that space and giving myself room to allow new ideas to grow is essential to my work. When external feedback is not available, we need to distance ourselves from the work to ensure that we are looking at it objectively. No one wants to admit their baby is ugly even if it looks like that thing Harry Potter left under the bench at King’s Cross station in Deathly Hollows.