Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Deploy the designerly techniques!

Perhaps the things which get me through the creative aspects of my life; the dailies of designing things at work with a shred of a brief, making films with the mental starting point of a fresh pad of watercolour paper, writing fueled by the merest fragrance of an idea floating past me in the air - perhaps these things, light as they inarguably seem, are actually the floatation devices which will keep me bouyant throughout this project.

Pffffft! Pull the rip-cord and bob safely in the cold sea of research until someone sends out a search party.

Awful metaphorical abuse aside, and as an elaboration on my last entry, I'm thinking about how I go from A to C though B in my work practises. I have followed many creative paths, in a variety of modes- dopey fan, fine artist, and commercial artist, but as a starting point I'll think through my practices as an industry professional.

I work as a Graphic Designer where I turn around many print jobs a day. Small ones like designing postcards, larger jobs such as designing brochures, and creatively challenging ones which involve creating broader visual concepts from scratch, and spinning them across a variety of print media or collateral.

I do these things daily on a creative smell-of-an-oily-rag; that is, I have little time to sit around and wait for inspiration to hit. I have to get moving and design on my feet. I think now that a lot of time some kind of inspiration, or it could even be conditioning, takes over, and I don't even go through what could be called legitimate processes anymore. If I do, I'm certainly not aware of them, they are deeply embeded and reflexive. I'm so emersed in the work, and so much on rails that I routinely draw text boxes to spec, or shapes to exact size without measuring, pausing only long enough to be unduly impressed by myself, and move on.

Additionally, I'm not designing in some rarified creative environment where I can pause to flip through a coffee table book about architecture or painting and decide to draw apon the colour scheme of an Op Art masterpiece for inspiration. I work in a harried environment, with multiple requests and many demands on my attention. I have to answer the phone, burn CDs, help people with technical dramas, locate files, swear, find crucial papers, drink cup of tea after cup of tea, un-jam the printer, look at proofs. Actually a really good way to attract ridicule would be to voice the need to wander outside to get some air and find inspiration.

What I'm telling you is that in my professional life, inspiration doesn't come, I can't wait for it to come, and I have to deliver anyway. I wonder now too, whether inspiration of the drifting-downward-like-a-feather variety is even legitimate. For me, it isn't - I force my advantage instead. What I do do is think about the client, think abot the tone of voice. I go with my instincts and lunge at some colours. I hate purple and avoid it, arbitrary distaste being entirely my perogative. I think about an idea, a greater flavour or concept. Something which interests me, or has struck me as beautiful of late. I think about where the work needs to go and the design applications it needs to cover.

Then certain unavoidable biases and quirks start to emerge, which mark the work as mine alone, and I couldn't escape if I gave running away, zig-zag fashion, my all. Because the decisions you would ultimately make to avoid doing things the way you would ordinarily do them are still the choices you have made and will make. You are unavoidable. What I mean by this, in practical terms is this; I favour clean and bright design. I like crisp, legible communication, accompanied by sharp, bright graphics. I like lots of punchy colour, and I like to play with typography to bring a bit of subversion to my work. These aesthetics inform every decision I make along the way, and seem to be inescapable, and as a result my work always looks like... well, mine. It's like a filter of personality that you can't get away from long term, and it is best to indulge, because in truth it is generally the best of your work.

So what I do is get all the information into the document or design, to size up what I have to play with in the constraints of the brief. This involves mathematics, which is a very funny joke played on me by the very same universe which smite me with a complete antipathy and lack of skill for maths in the first place.

More elaboration shortly...

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