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The Digital Creative Process: What the graphic artist won’t tell you.


The popular picture of the ‘creative guy’ in an organization is that expressive, non-stereotyped guy who cooks up beautiful stuff that we all love and the clients would be glad to pay good money for. Not to say that there are no ‘creative gals’…(Hey! I’m sure you get what I mean.)

Studies have shown that Creative individuals are more spontaneous and are given to a kind of flexibility of mind. These folks are unbound (No offence, Superman), they trust their own ideas and judgements. Being in the eyes of the beholder, it’s clear that beauty isn’t exactly an objective thing. It’s subjective and even more so for a true-blooded artist, and that’s where commercial design literally binds our previously unbound creative guy! (But we’ll get into that later).

So now we’ve sort of laid out what we do know, but what you probably don’t know is that there is a science to creativity. Yup! You read that right; Science. Ever since I discovered this I started imagining myself in a beaming white lab coat, big spectacles, goofy front teeth and freckles. Okay, that’s a little overboard. But my point is just the same way the laboratory scientists follow processes in their inventions and experiments, Creativity has a systematic process to it. And the truly successful creative designers follow the same processes, even without being conscious of it.

For personal art the first two stages are pretty much downplayed (if they apply at all). Ready? Here we go:

1- What’s the Problem?

Commercial designing is all about solving a problem. So the first step is to understand what exactly “IS” the problem. What is it they want done? This is where a crispy clear brief comes in handy. If you’re anything like me you’d probably prefer being told verbally what the job was all about than to read those long boring briefs with long boring sentences. But whatever your preference, this step comes first. Understand exactly what the client wants done.

2- Who is it for?

Now here’s where many upcoming creative guys have problems. By nature we are our biggest fans! We get on our canvas or computer and we churn up something that from our subjective corner of the room is totally awesome and should totally sell! But alas, Commercial design is not about you neither is it intended for you. It is for the final consumer and so all energies must be streamlined to satisfy their aesthetic tastes and values. Getting this point will save you many return trips to the old drawing board.

3- Get Cracking

The next step is on the board. We open our canvas and start playing with ideas. Here’s something you probably don’t know: When you see us seated and looking all serious like we know what we are doing, the truth is we really don’t know exactly where we are headed. We do have a general direction though, or a vague picture in the distance; But more often than not the design forms beneath our pen. We put a line here, change it to a curve, erase it, replace it with a circle and then change it to an oval. So experimenting is a vital step in the creative process.

4- Get Away

Now I know we have deadlines, and many times the bosses want the job ready like yesterday and clients want them ready on the day before yesterday,but this step is just too important to overlook (even though many creative guys do). Nothing makes you see better than looking away for a few minutes. Take a walk, watch a short video, go and grab a bite or a cup of coffee… Do anything. Just get away! And then come back to the job with a fresh set of eyes. You’ll see things you probably didn’t see before and you’ll even have some fresh ideas to play with.

5- Get Feedback

Here’s the nerve-racking part of the process: Evaluation. Where you have to show your work to folks who sometimes may not come anywhere near you in terms of CQ (Creative Quotient… *I made that up so please don’t Google it) and watch them beat your brain child around and criticize or pass comments on it. So it helps to separate yourself from your work so you don’t get upset at this stage. See the judges as a sample of the big world out there. Truth is, they’d probably see stuff you don’t see from your corner of the room. So take any beating that comes your way in solid good faith. Your work can only get better.

There are probably a couple more processes I could add but I think I’ll leave it here for now 🙂

just me

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Uzoma Azuonye is the Creative Designer for Wild Fusion Limited. He has experience in Graphic Design, Illustration and Multimedia development. He’d love to go sky-diving someday.

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