Graphic design is a being able to effectively use the elements of design and your surroundings to make something worthwhile. Designing something takes a special talent, it cannot all be learned in a classroom setting, and it also can’t all be done without any formal education. To me, that is the joy of it all. Being challenged is part of what makes life better, if nothing had a challenge to it, everything would be so boring. Graphic design can be described in as many ways as there are things that it is involved in. Everything that can be seen touched, heard and sometimes even tasted and smelled have some type of design work put into them. In this way, graphic design is a full sensory experience. The evolution of products always involve design, whether it is the design of the product itself, the change in packaging, or the way it’s marketed to the public. Even services have tons of different marketing ploys to pull in their audience. Design has its creative little paws in everything. Even a chef is sometimes considered a culinary artist. I can’t begin to say what types of graphic design have influenced the person or ‘artist’ I am today because there is so much of it, that 90% of the time it’s not even consciously noticed. I’m typing this on a keyboard that was designed to (I assume) be easy to use. I love that it has the volume buttons, but I don’t notice a keyboard’s differences until I use one that doesn’t work the same. Sometimes the ones at school don’t have functional home and end keys, then I notice, but that would be in the design of the computer’s settings, not a problem with the keyboard. As I’ve said before, I like to make things that look cool, that other people also find appealing, and that also serve a purpose. I like that graphic design can be there and not be loud and obnoxious. I like that it can be subtle, but still make a statement. I like that it can do its thing and make people love it when they don’t even know it, or know why. I have officially graduated, and am one-step closer to being that person who designs things that people like, that they’re willing to spend money to have. I know I have only scratched the surface of what there is to learn, I’m glad I started in this direction even if the REAL first step was from the ‘weird girl’ in my English 111 class telling me I should try the visual communication degree and that “they always have free coffee in the art building.” What did she know about me? And I don’t even drink coffee... Through all the education and long hours thus far, I’ve learned that I was once the person walking down the street, or a hallway, or an aisle of a grocery store, clueless, but now I know a little more of what I was missing. I know that things are positioned a certain way because it will make me want to buy it, I know that the color of that box is meant to appeal to someone in my age group, I know that there is a reason that the corners of Doritos corn chips are rounded. It makes me feel smart and sneaky that not all people know this. Not all people know that they are being bombarded with design but that’s a good thing because if they did, they probably wouldn’t be as excited about it when they learn little tidbits of why they like a certain thing over its competition.
So graphic design is a lot more than the average person thinks it is, it’s important, it’s fun, it’s sneaky, and it’s very necessary, it’s our job to do what we can with what’s put in front of us, and if we can do it to make a difference, all the better.
The method to my madness begins with figuring out exactly what there is to do and deciding how I’m going to put things together. My ideas are either there when I get the project, or they take their sweet time coming along to help me out. It is much easier to deal with, of course if I can get the ideas going fairly quickly, but when they just aren’t there, it’s to the tried and true methods of inspiration I must go. My inspiration comes from many places, but usually the first place I turn to is the internet. I can quickly search for pictures of words that I’m thinking of, which lead me down different avenues and to different thoughts. Sometimes the internet isn’t always good though, when your own creative ideas haven’t started to come out. The internet can show you so many things that it can be discouraging when you realize yet again, that just about everything has been done before. Of course the ideal place to go for ideas is to other creatively inclined minds. Brainstorming as a group is the best help, IF your group of helpers is AT LEAST on the same level as you are. Feeding off of each other makes things so much easier and more productive. It actually is true that more is better where thoughts are concerned. I hate brainstorming for something by myself... But I also hate brainstorming with a group who doesn’t know what they are talking about. That is why being in class was great, unless the good ones were absent. (Haha!) After the ideas are there, I usually prefer to start right out on the computer with ideas. I hate drawing, I am very bad at it, and it would be great if I could just hire someone to look in my mind and draw stuff sometimes, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I have gotten better with making my ideas come to life on the screen. Back in the day, in Digital Graphics Design, I could think of awesome ideas and I didn’t know how to make them on the computer, that’s gotten easier now, thankfully. I think that the other reason I just like to get started is that it’s easier for me to get rid of those ideas that I really still don’t know how to make. Even back in VisCom 2&3, I couldn’t make the thumbnails evolve to look like they should sometimes. I think that could have been solved if I would have tried for 5 minutes to make it on screen. Once in a great while I’ll want to sketch something out, but that is not my main road to the final version. No matter what path I follow through to the end, it all has to be organized. I usually do all my rough ideas on one file (especially if it’s in Illustrator where there is a lot of extra space). That file is usually packed with all different versions that come to be, and all the files will have pretty exact or descriptive names. I have to keep all the files organized in folders and with the right names or it will drive me insane. I’m a perfectionist, and sometimes I have to let that go with the actual work, great design isn’t always an exercise in perfection, but the files must be easy to find. Even if I wasn’t around to tell someone else trying to find something, I’m sure they could find what they needed. That’s how you’ll find my hard drive. Probably the tidiest thing I own.