Airside, a creative agency, has posted a synopsis of their process for designing the Airplot identity (announcement here). It’s a fantastic example of a typical and successful (in my opinion) design process. They hit the nail right on the head with the following statement:
“On the occasions Airside has presented its process talk ‘I Don’t Like It’, [we] were puzzled by the audience’s surprise at just how many sketches and worksheets contributed to a finished design.
We hope that by presenting the ‘scrappier’ parts of a project that most agencies would seek to hide, a lot of the mystery behind the design process can be swept away and reveal the work that goes into such an undertaking.”
Design, at its best, is an amalgam of very directed, purposeful thinking and editing, combined with creative, brave, and insightful exploration. Their post gives a hint of what that looks like from the inside.
I encourage those in decision-making positions at any organization, the typical clients for designers, to appraise a given designer’s work against examples such as this one. There’s a dash of black magic in any creative process, but graphic design is not a wishy-washy thing whose fruits are determined by whimsy and arbitrary flights of fancy. Your designer should be able to articulate, either in writing or in person, the reason(s) for any given decision. If not, consider rethinking the relationship.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind the less-apparent but crucial lesson of Airside’s post: a bulk of the design process is laying out all of the ideas you don’t use, and deciding which ideas those are. This is one of the many reasons I rarely present more than one logo or layout concept to my clients. It’s my job to determine which ones are worth consideration, and to have the foresight to select those that will best achieve their goals. Logo presentations that contain more than one solution often reflect ambiguity in the project goals or client’s directions, rather than an abundance of ideal solutions.
(This story came to my attention via Brand New.)