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Typical Work Processes

Lesson 8 from: Graphic Design Fundamentals

Timothy Samara

Typical Work Processes

Lesson 8 from: Graphic Design Fundamentals

Timothy Samara

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Lesson Info

8. Typical Work Processes

Lesson Info

Typical Work Processes

So you have all these tools to work with, and then you have to do something with them, and you've got a project and you're like, what do I do with this stuff? And it's a process. It's that you're asking some questions and you're providing some answers, and then you're asking different questions. So. Every designer designs or follows a process from beginning to end in a different way. I mean, there's no one set process. Some people work in a kind of spiral, nonlinear way, some people are very methodical and build step upon step upon step, some people are kind of all over the place, and then kind of like, ah, picked one, and then they start to refine that, and sometimes that really depends on the nature of the project, it's just the way it is. But for the most part, designers, when they're in school, are essentially taught a relatively linear process. It's still an iterative process, that means it doesn't really quite go in one line from point A to point B and you're done. It kind of sta...

rts at A and then goes over here and then comes back to kind of like A and a half and then it goes to B, and then when you're at B you might come back to like, A and a half again but kind of merge it with B and then go to C, so that you're always kind of circling back and then kind of narrowing, and then getting more specific and then adjusting and refining and making it more clear, and then arriving at this little nugget of ultimate perfection. So the first phase is always research, the way that one is taught, typically, and that is to find out what's what about the project. You have to know what the subject matter is that you're talking about, and so you have to read about it, you have to go online, you've gotta wiki it, you've gotta get some books on it, you've gotta dig into your library, if you have one, and you should always be adding to, developing, a library of resources, not just about graphic design, but about subjects that are related to it, economics, marketing, sociology, psychology, history, history of different parts of the world, cultural differences, and so on. You can go online, of course, the internet is a tremendous resource where you can find a lot of stuff very fast, which is often useful, because you're working under a deadline, and you don't have time to read like, 12 philosophical treatises on the subject matter at hand, but you can also get a lot of information from your client by conducting interviews or just talking to them. The client is not like this kind of scary sort of demon overlord that you can't talk to. You're gonna be doing something for them and you have to know what they're all about. They don't know what you do, they don't do what you do, they don't understand it, and you likely don't understand what they do. I mean, you might have kind of a basic idea. Okay, you sell widgets. Okay, you're a banker. But really what is that about? And then you have to kind of find out, well, not just what it's about in a literal way, but how am I gonna relate that idea to other people? In what particular way am I gonna relate it? What's the story I'm going to tell about this thing? If you're doing an advertisement for cellphones, you can't tell people about the fact that you can call on it, this is not a phone, that you can call on it, that you push buttons and you can get text and pictures and so on. Everybody knows that. You have to tell them the story about how this phone and the way that it works fits into their lives. How does it make their life better? What can they do with this phone that's not something they can do with another phone? Why are they gonna do it differently? How is that gonna affect the way that they communicate with their friends, with their family, with their coworkers? And then what does that mean on a larger cultural level? If you wanna take it that far. Like how romantic do you wanna get about it? There's always romance. In the silliest widget, there's some romance. I mean, ultimately, all these things are made by humans, and that's a story all by itself. The next phase is ideation, what is more commonly referred to as concept development or concepting. That is, you've done your research, you know what you're supposed to be talking about, and you've gotta find a way to show it. So that usually starts with some kind of sketching, whether it's by hand or digitally. And what you're looking at here are thumbnail sketches for a poster that you're actually gonna see later for a poster, and some people sketch by hand or with paint, some people use cut paper, some people use combinations of those and also work back and forth between the computer and more conventional kinds of technology, these are some blown up hand sketches. These are often referred to as thumbnails, because usually you do them very small, so you're really just kind of getting the big picture about layout, what kind of elements are gonna go in there. These are page spreads from a book that you'll also see later. Generally, during that concept, that ideation phase, all of the iterations, all the explorations at various levels of roughness or refinement are kind of pinned up. People talk about them before the client sees them, and you sort of pick out which ones are really the most viable ones. Sometimes you might invite the client to that discussion, but that can be a little bit dangerous because then you get a kind of not-so-objective viewpoint. But usually at this stage, then, some direction, some particular candidate among these different conceptual options seems to call out as, for whatever reason, and usually a number of reasons, as the most viable, the one that's gonna get you the furthest and solve the client's problem in the best and most compelling and interesting way. And then you go into refinement, is that you start to really sort of test. What do you really mean by that shape? How big is that part? What color is it? Where does the type go with it? Is this part going on the left or the right? Is it really that round, or is it more elliptical? What's higher or what's lower? So then you start to really get, how does it reproduce at a small size? Especially like, as with here, if you're talking about a logo, that's gotta be shrunk down on a business card like this and also has to appear on the side of a truck, potentially. It's gotta function at both sizes, be absolutely clear without sacrificing any of its identifying information at a very small size and at a very large size. And the refinement process, whether it's for a logo or for any other kind of publication is really about sort of fine-tuning how that thing is gonna be used by the audience. And also making it pretty. Don't forget the pretty. 'Cause that's also, those two things, function and beauty are simultaneous and inextricable in designing. They're both have to be there. If you don't have one, you have dull, and if you don't have the other, you have useless. So it's utility and evocation at the same time. And last is execution, that is, that you're gonna be making the thing, or somebody's gonna be making it for you. So most designers are not themselves print-makers or wire and chair fabricators or signage fabricators or internet coders, and so they hire out or they engage colleagues to handle specialized kind of modes of production. But most designers coming from a print background are experts in how printing works, what happens when ink hits paper, and what do you have to do to your files or to the artwork to prepare it for that kind of production. And then they go on press and watch it happen and they help the press person make adjustments to ink flow and so on. There's that. And then last is for digital media, there's coding involved. Whether it's HTML or CSS or JavaScript or DeepSEA, or flash based media or aftereffects or you're working with motion, that's also digitally based. Is that either you, if that's part of your skillset, or one of your colleagues, or someone that you hire out is going to implement from your plan from your specifications, from your files, what you give them, the actual thing that works out in the real world. I'm not one of those people who can code, so I, when it comes to digital media, I make lots of diagrams and drawings and layered files that I give to someone and I say, make this do what I'm asking you to do. I've just started, actually, learning how to do some coding and some actual web implementation myself. I guess I'll be like a quadruple threat. But it's the putting together is the last phase where you're releasing that thing after that long process out into the world.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Syllabus - Graphic Design Fundamentals.pdf

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Ad+Poster-Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf
Book+Web--Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf
Color-Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf
Form+Image-Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf
Identity-Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf
Intro-Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf
Layout-Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf
Typography-Timothy Samara Presentation.pdf

Ratings and Reviews


This is more about all of your courses - It would be really nice for instructors to answer questions during break times or even after the class. There a lot a fabulous questions that I see that never get answered. I would like to go back even the next day and see a short note for at least some of those questions. Just an idea to help out this wonderful format that you have going. I am sure to make use of the promote question when I see an interesting one.


I LOVED this class! I learned so much and since I had the foresight to purchase it, I can go back for a refresher anytime I want. Plus, the downloads are spectacular! Almost a book's worth and so helpful! Thank you Timothy, you are great teacher!

a Creativelive Student

This was an outstanding course, would love to see a more in depth typography course from this guy. I'm a proffesional photographer with a formal education in design, I hardly ever use it, so I forget things, this was great both as a review, and to pinpoint things I didn't know or thought I knew. thanks once again! well done!!

Student Work