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WHY THE

GRID IS IMPORTANT

April 2012 $6.25

WHAT IT TAKES TO START A NEW STUDIO, HOW TO STAND OUT FROM THE REST BECOME A BETTER DESIGNER, TIPS FOR BEGINNER FREELANCERS April 2012 1


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Creativity is Transferable

4 April 2012


This is the word according to Zolmo’s creative director, Ian Wharton As Vinent van Gogh said, “It’s a pity that as one gradually gains experience, one loses one’s youth.” I firmly believe that creativity is best practised while embracing the characteristics of youth, which are inherent in all young creatives. The trick is giving yourself the best platform to put them into practice.

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creative is only as good as their ability to sell themselves. This is the most important lesson any designer, illustrator, photographer, filmmaker, writer or entrepreneur can learn. Paul Arden put it far more eloquently than I can: “Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.” Many of the creatives I’ve met are reluctant to sell themselves and their ability. Often this is for fear of the stigma associated: ‘If I tell people how good I am, they’ll think I’m arrogant!’ That stigma is completely mythical. Self-promotion is a crucial part of developing a career. When exercised with humility, stumbling into arrogance is wholly avoidable. A confident and humble creative who is proud to showcase and discuss their talents will have employers kicking down their door. Consider two creatives who are equally exceptional. Candidate A has an online portfolio. Candidate B also has a portfolio online, but

actively networks as well – they send their work to creative publications, make the effort to know their peers and enter awards. It’s clear who is more likely to be spotted by their favourite agency. Make it your mission to get your work the recognition it deserves. Just don’t wait for it to come to you.You may think, ‘If I just do good work, people will find me.’ Unless you’re lucky, you’ll be waiting a while.Vocal creatives who give themselves opportunities are the ones who get to tell the ‘right place, right time’ stories. Don’t be afraid to make some noise about who you are. Part of the job description is to communicate. Whether selling an idea to a client, your film to a distributor or yourself to an employer, become at ease with the thought of self-promotion. Promote yourself, not just your portfolio. The art of selling yourself doesn’t end at showcasing your work effectively. It includes

communicating your vision, ambition and the value you can add. Having the confidence to put yourself up for promotions, new roles or projects is what will evolve your career. Last year, a talented friend of mine began searching for senior design jobs in New York. His position at the time was also senior designer. I suggested changing his title to art director, then applying. A few months later, he’s an art director at a top New York interactive agency. Don’t sell yourself short. I’ve always believed that if you’re passionate about creating something from nothing, and you make that thing a labour of love, then this can be applied however you see fit – creativity is transferable. Generally speaking, we’re taught from early on in education to find a specialisation in our preferred field and stick to it. For me, that drastically undersells human potential. As a young creative, you have the gift of agility. Now is the perfect opportunity to explore as many facets of creativity as you like. April 2012 5


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The consequences of specialising too early will hamper your career. Once you’re continually hired to do what you became adept at early on, your willingness to learn decreases. Always be prepared to embrace new things and apply yourself to them. Creativity dries up quickly if you aren’t inspired. The best projects – the ones where you wake up and say, ‘This is what I want to be doing’ – are the ones that propel your career further than any others. If the thought of the coming day’s activities doesn’t excite you for a while, change what you’re doing. The older you get, the harder this becomes. 6 April 2012

Mark Twain once said: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

reputation or your position in a company. Individually, there’s the worry of letting down your peers or the realisation that our invincible creative facades have a fragile ego underneath.

Unfortunately, when we think about committing to a new venture, we’re often confronted with the fear of failure. In a professional capacity, there’s the concern of tarnishing a

Understanding and developing your ability as a creative comes from enjoying trying to succeed whether you do or not. To quote the great Michael Wolff, “Leap before you look.

However, the best creatives fail. The best entrepreneurs fail. And then they fail again. Thomas Edison famously said, “I haven’t Young creatives have an obligation to put their ideas into prac- failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways tice. Innovation relies on younger it didn’t work.” You learn more from embracing a failure or two generations challenging what is than from a thousand successes. conventional.


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Understanding

the

Grid Grid is an important tool for graphic design. Commonly people used to think that grid is related to engineering and architecture, but this is not true. Today the graphic designers use grid extensively for website design. It is a very popular tool in present times. Grid is not just about squares but proportion. This is the 8 April 2012

most important element of grid theory. Art historians are of the opinion that the famous Dutch painter Piet Mondrian should be regarded as the Father of graphic design because it was he who used grids in the most sophisticated way yet classical. It is believed that artists have been highly influenced by classical grid theory for thousands of years. The conception of dividing the components of a theme can be traced back to days of mathematical concepts developed by Pythagoras and his followers. They used to define numbers as ratios rather than single units. The followers of Pythagoras believed that mathematical patterns evolved by Pythagoras

must have been divine as they occur so often in nature. They called this pattern as the Golden Ratio or Divine Proportion. Using the Golden Ratio a line can be cut by dividing its length by 1.62. This wizardly number 1.62 is in reality 1.6180339 which is quite irrational and represented as “Phi”. Don’t worry, I am not going to discuss the details of this theory or explain it, for it’s too complicated and I myself am a bit weak in math. The most important matter is that all these will not make you a better designer, so it is better to leave the topic right here and move on with our discussion. But here the question arises as


how does this ratio help in graphic design? Well it is believed that compositions divided by lines that are proportionate according to the Golden Ratio has an aesthetic appeal. The Renaissance artists of 15th and 16th Centuries used divine proportion to create their paintings, architecture or sculptures. In the similar fashion the designers today use this ratio while developing posters, layouts and brochures. Designers are of the opinion that instead of relying simply

on artistic ideas, divine proportion is more useful in giving logical guidelines for developing layouts which are not only attractive but has unique appeal.

You will find at some point of time that everything in your layout is fine

The Rule of the Thirds

There is also a simplified version of the Golden Ratio. It is the Rule of the Thirds. Using this rule, a particular line cut by the Golden Ratio is being bisected into 2 sections, whereby one section is about twice the size of the second one. Thus it is a simpler way to apply divine proportion without the help of your calculator. Here the composition is divided into thirds.

For a simple and quick layout experiment of the idea, let us start by drawing some simple rule of thirds grid with pencil and paper. Draw a rectangle, and then divide it into two-thirds both vertically and horizontally. Now draw a line every vertical line to make 6 columns to work. Now having done, we have six grids in front of us to start off with our composition. The big main rectangle here represents the container, which has been described in the section-“Web Page Anatomy�.  April 2012 9


Using this particular method of layout design, let us place the largest block first. This largest block will represent the content. Then according to my first rule -of –the- thirds grid, let me keep the content block within the two-thirds of the layout at the bottom right, then I keep my navigation block in the middle third block from the left side column. Next I keep the text portion of the identity block across the left side of the content, while the image portions of the identity across the menu. Ultimately, I put the copyright block below the content that is the right sided column of the grid.

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The 960 Grid System The 960 Grid System developed by Nathan Smith has been one of my desired tools for laying out website components. The templates and the sketch sheets are simply wonderful.  This 960 Grid System is mainly a CSS framework that has been developed after being highly inspired by articles published by famous web designers Mark Boulton and Khoi Vinh. The widths of the templates have been inspired by the words of Cameron Moll. Speculating as what width would be the best to fit within 1,024px wide displays, Cameron Moll decided it to be 960px and mentioned that the number was divisible by 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 15 and

16 – which makes it a perfect width for grids. Nathan Smith mixed this notion into a framework and thus developed three layout foundations: 1) 12 columns 2) 16 columns and 3) 24 columns I however like to use the 12 column layout as it helps me to easily divide my content into quarters in four columns; thirds by spanning three while halves by spanning six. You have the option to use different arrangements for your own layout work. Use the columns of the chosen grid as

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Georgia Typeface Georgia is a transitional serif typeface designed in 1993 by Matthew Carter and hinted by Tom Rickner for the Microsoft Corporation, as the serif companion to the first Microsoft sans serif screen font, Verdana.


human mind responds well to structure, grids and ideal proportion and love to use them in different creative medium. Often it is seen that layouts that is looking unattractive or “doesn’t look quite right” can be easily fixed by resizing or moving a few elements here and there on the grid.

field, making it easier for players, spectators and officials to understand where the play is taking place, no matter where they are standing.

Therefore, if you have problems with a particular layout, simply keep on experimenting. Remember Robert Bruce? Yes try, try and try till you succeed.You The American football will find at some point field is laid out on a grid of time that everything with a base unit of one in your layout is fine. yard. Every five yards, All is balanced. the hash marks are replaced with a gridline that crosses the entire alignment guides for the identity, content, navigation and footer blocks.You may wish to keep all your elements in one or two blocks, but I will advise you to avoid it as this will not look good. Rather try to keep some elements in another column or off from the grid altogether. Many designers opine that in using grids the composition somewhat looks boxed and unattractive. The red columns that you find are from the 16 column (960 Grid System) template but it doesn’t exist in the real website. The columns

are invisible in the real website so there is probably little chance to realize that it has been created using a grid. Famous graphic designer and author of Grid Systems in Graphic Design, Josef Muller Brockmann says,” The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice.” It has been proved that April 2012 11


10 tips on

How to become a better designer

Daniel Gjøde spares us the slick quotes to deliver his top 10 down-to-earth tips for being a successful designer.

Dear designer: Just like you, I’m flooded on a daily basis with super inspiring, life-affirming, pocket philosophical and wise impressions from the design world. Everything has gone global and it doesn’t require much more than adding ‘designer’ to your email signature for you to become one (I’ve been there). I’ll therefore spare you the references to Sagmeister’s books and the ShitMyDadSays Twitter feed. Instead, I’ll humbly give you 10 down-to-earth, practicable tips on how to become a successful designer.

12 April 2012


03 01 Love the process. I simply don’t agree that life as a designer is dull until you get to work for Coca-Cola or Nike. That’s bull. The process behind any new project is valuable and educational, so let go, feel the moment, explore the detail and try to truly understand the projects you’re working on. The more you’re involved, the more you’ll come to love the process and the result – no matter the name of the client. In short: you have to like what you’re doing to do it well.

02 Forget about your own taste. This isn’t an encouragement to make ugly stuff; rather it’s a reminder that if you’ve used the same three colours for the last three identity projects, then an alarm ought to go off. Forget about your own taste. Love the premise and your client’s hideous logo. As a designer, you’ll know your client’s needs, and you’ll know how to align design and content to make everything co-operate. When you forget about your own taste, you can start making great designs.

Everybody is creative, right? As a professional, you’re capable of more than just making smashing things. However, how often do you start off with the words ‘I think…’? When you say, ‘I think green is prettier than yellow,’ you seem no more creatively competent than the client you’re working for. Learn to argue for your design decisions. Go crazy and experiment, but make sure you put it all in order at the end. Don’t be afraid of a bit of craziness, but alongside the process remember to pin out what it’s teaching you about your client and the product.

04 Don’t hold yourself back. Make sure you know how to play, even though you’re a grown up – if you don’t know how, you need to learn – otherwise you’ll be holding yourself back.

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07 05 Learn how to give and receive feedback. For me, this is a lifelong learning process. To give constructive and useful feedback is one of the hardest things to do. You have to conceptualise the design, put it into a bigger context, and you have to explain what’s working and what isn’t – don’t use the ‘I think…’ argument. To receive feedback can be just as difficult, but it’s truly a gift if it’s delivered in the proper way. 14 April 2012

06 You are creative – and creativity is about inventing. Use your imagination and don’t stick to routines. Try to be aware of the culture and the physical environment that exists at your workplace and make sure you don’t get carried away with routines. Make an effort to nourish and develop your creativity and imagination.

Learn how to write. I’m not saying you should become a copywriter, but you need to be able to show off your ideas – which includes through text. Often you need to start designing before the copy has arrived, so the ability to jot down some sort of copy to create a context is a huge help in almost every design process. Therefore, cut off the old excuse: ‘I’m not a copywriter, so why should I…’ and learn how to write.

08 Don’t pitch. I’m well aware that this can lead to a gigantic discussion, so I’ll make it short: don’t pitch. Life is too short for that.


09 Be cool. Creative people often, by nature, reject discipline and set surroundings. They are absent-minded, starry-eyed and they hate systems. And that’s cool. But no matter how crazy-creativerock‘n’roll you are, you need to: * Make your appointments – and always be on time. * Respect your company and its ways of handling things, such as filing and registering time. At the end of the day, this is what brings home the bacon.

10 Enjoy the ride. All right, so these tips ended pretentiously anyway. But seriously, you ought to enjoy the ride.

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