A recent New York Times article explores how scientists are trying to track creativity in the human brain. In the article, Rex Jung says “Creativity is kind of like pornography — you know it when you see it,” I liked that statement but wonder if it really is that simple in the real world. I believe the definition of what constitutes creativity, like pornography, is determined by the individual exposed to it. It seems as graphic designers, the way we promote and define creativity to our clients has changed.
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We blame clients too often. We blame them for not having an understanding of what we do as designers. We blame them for not meeting deadlines, and for being upset with additional charges. We blame them when a project doesn’t come together as we had hoped, and we blame them for not providing a clear budget. I am guilty of each of these thoughts from time to time but the reality is the client is my responsibility and sometimes I forget that.
For me, logo design is an exercise in minimalism, balance, and abstract forms. It is something that doesn’t lend itself to discussion but rather to exploration and experimentation on paper by one individual or a number of designers working individually and then coming together.
What clients rarely ask when selecting a studio is “Who designed this particular piece, and will they be working on my project?” It is seldom discussed, but portfolios can contain work by designers no longer with the studio, or who will not be working on every identity project. Is there any value in seeing work you like by a designer who will not be directly involved in your project? What can clients and designers do?
The topic of revisions is one of the more confusing aspects of any design project and possibly even more so when designing a logo. A great logo is usually a simple image in perfect balance, where nothing can be added or taken away without having a negative effect. Because of this delicate balance, small changes to the design can have a big impact. There are times when the goals of a project, and therefore the client, are better served by starting over, rather than changing and weakening a presented concept. It is a subjective decision that needs to be made by the designer and client every time revisions to a presented concept are requested. The difference between a revision and a redesign is open to interpretation, so it’s important to provide as much clarity as possible.
A well-designed logo is the distillation and prioritization of information regarding a specific set of behaviors, needs and goals. A logo created without critical thought often rings untrue, does not provide value and can in fact, do damage to a brand. A creative process ensures that clients have a substantial personal investment in their visual identity, as they should. A visual identity should be viewed as a long-term investment of time, capital and resources. Guiding clients towards making that investment is one of the functions of the creative process. When clients are guided through a creative process they are investing in exploring key business decisions and exposing critical issues they may not have been aware of or were choosing to ignore. They have to be able to answer the questions above for a designer to create an appropriate visual identity.