Design is a Messy Job

Design is a Messy Job

It’s no secret... we kill a lot of pixels. Concept after concept. Idea after idea. And there’s nothing more difficult than realizing that your first idea... well... it sucked.

That’s a powerful lesson that many designers have a tough time coming to grips with. Realizing that their idea, the one that “felt so right”, turns out to be a dud.

It’s okay. It happens. In fact, it happens to the very best of us. Every single day. And yes, the hurt still hurts, but you’ll get over it when you see the result you eventually come to.

What can help you? The question is more likely who can help you? There’s tremendous value in having another designer, or better yet, group of people that you trust, to give you the feedback you need. Find someone with different, or even better, taste than you. It’ll help you grow, and improve the overall quality of your work.

To illustrate my point, here’s a look at the development of our latest series artwork. This went through a bunch of iterations ruled by ruthless reviews, before ending in a solid solution.

Sometimes when we start the artwork, we have a really good idea of where the series is going, other times, we need to use our imagination to fill in the gaps. This was more of the latter... we had a title, but not much more. The original direction was “maybe a typographic solution”.

Full disclosure: this series idea is squarely based on Willow Creek’s series of the same name. We’ll be bringing our own flavor to the teaching, but there’s no reason not to acknowledge the inspiration. Plus, you’ll see how to take someone else’s title and make it into something new for you.

We started in a safe place. Something based on our “house font” of Avenir. But honestly, it just wasn’t bringing anything fresh to the problem.

Concept 1

That led us to thinking about swapping out the typeface... still, no magic happening.

Concept 2

Maybe a more drastic typeface selection... maybe a stronger color... maybe new layered treatment in the background. Personally, I still like this particular flavor, but we kept pushing, and I’m now glad we did.

Concept 3

Maybe we’re not thinking about the title enough... maybe it needs a little more dimensionality about it. Maybe the typeface still isn’t “just right”.

Concept 4

Same idea as above, slight tweaks to the treatment.

Concept 5

Okay, we’re on to something here... again, I like where this particular concept is heading, but others in the office aren’t convinced, so we push forward.

Concept 6

Finally, something that’s really “feeling” like what it’s “saying”. Better typeface selection. Better background treatment. (In fact, we went through another six versions of background and typographic effects to land at this final version.)

Concept 7

So, that’s how we landed where we did. Small tweaks lead up to big change. A color here, a typeface there. All part of a messy creative process that helps the best solution find its way out.

How does this process differ from yours? Do you go through more concepts? We’d love to hear about it... drop us a line in the comments!

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Greg Vennerholm
Design Director
Venny serves as the Design Director for Church on the Move. He brings his passion for crisp, clear design to everything he works on at COTM, which includes interactive and print projects. His 25 years in the agency world did not, however, prepare him for the ridiculously fast pace of Church on the Move.