My Creative Process

My creative process

I’d like to share my creative process, in hopes that it can inspire you and help you in your creative work. If nothing else, it’s a snapshot in time of what my evolving creative process looks like. Anyways, here it is.

Research

Usually, I start creative projects by conducting research. This can include Google Image searches, and browsing Dribbble or Pinterest. It’s a fun way to get my creative juices flowing. I’ll save anything I like into a folder on my computer.

I also check my “spark” folder. Full of design, websites, photos, videos and music, all items that sparked something in me when I found them. (I got the idea for a “spark” folder from creative director Blain Hogan.)

I’ll make sure to research the big players in that industry, and see what they are doing design-wise. My goal is not to copy them verbatim, but to take note of common themes, styles and trends. I want my design solutions to speak the language of the people I’m trying to reach.

Sketch

After doing some research, I’ll push myself to put to paper as many ideas as I can. This usually involves quick thumbnail sketches, and sometimes includes word lists as well. Once I’ve exhausted my ideas, I’ll push some more. Sometimes it’s only after I strain my creative muscles that interesting concepts emerge.

After working at a computer most of the day, I find sketching with paper and pencil to be a refreshing change of pace.

Depending on the project, I may pick a few concepts and sketch them in higher fidelity. This lets me explore ideas without investing significant time.

It’s rare that I show clients sketches, unless done in meetings to illustrate an idea. It might have to do with my limited fine art skills, but I prefer to flesh out ideas in mockups for the client. That way, they have a good sense of the concept and how it might look when completed.

Mock-up

At this point in the process, I’ll review my sketches and decide what concepts are worth pursuing. Up until now, I haven’t created anything on the computer. But now it’s time to open Photoshop, InDesign, or a text editor and begin mocking up a few concepts.

As I go, I’ll scrap concepts right away if it’s clear they’re not working. Or I’ll think of new ideas, or combine concepts and work them into my mock-ups.

Once I’ve exhausted the ideas worth mocking up, I’ll pick the top options and share them with the client. I make sure to get full buy-in before proceeding. There are times when one concept is so strong that I’ll only share that one concept. But even then, I’ll make sure to get feedback from the client, and lean on their industry expertise.

Build

It’s finally time to build it! Depending on the project and what it entails, I’ll break this down into pieces to meet the deadline.

Technical constraints will sometimes affect the design, but the concept remains the same.

Deliver

Now it’s time to print, publish, promote and share! I have a personal goal to always exceed expectations, which makes this step so rewarding.

Feedback

Once the project is complete, I assess the project success by all available metrics. I’ll also do an honest self-assessment of what went right and wrong, so I can improve with my next project. I’ll take note of any client feedback as well, and glean what I can from that.

Closing Thoughts

My process has continued to evolve with each project I work on. I have no doubt it will continue to evolve as well. I’ve also learned a lot from watching other designers, developers and directors. I was very inspired by and recommend the Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design. If you do creative work for a living, no matter your profession, you should definitely check it out.

I hope I’ve inspired you in some way through this post. Whether you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts. You might even have a different creative process altogether. I bet I could learn a thing or two from you as well.

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