My Creative Process

My Creative Process
I recently got the question of “What’s your process when starting a design project?” My first reaction, for some reason, is always panic. I always fear that I really don’t have a design process, and that I always fly by the seat of my pants when I get a new project.

Although I do have a process that I always go through when I start a new project, I have never truly written it down. I think writing it down solidifies it, and makes it a tangible set of rules to follow with every project. The more often you can be consistent and tell you’re clients exactly what to expect from you, the smoother your project will come together.

So here it is, my process from the point of view of a freelance designer from when the client contacts me to the point of handing over final files.

IS THIS CLIENT / PROJECT FOR ME?

The best way to find out whether a project and client are fit to work with you is to have a questionnaire that your client fills out before you ever talk to them.

But here I am, giving you this advice, and I still don’t have a questionnaire!

I have, however, listened to a couple great podcasts that talk about filtering clients. So although I don’t have a questionnaire written out yet, these podcasts have helped me ask the right questions before I agree to take on a project.

The first time I ever heard of a client questionnaire was from Sean McCabe of seanwes. When he was still doing client work, he would put his questionnaire right on the contact page of his website. A possible client would have to fill out the form before having direct contact to him.

Paul Jarvis has a different approach. He keeps a mental checklist of requirements that clients have to meet and discusses these points with the client to figure out whether or not they would be a good fit.

 

CLIENT CALL / INITIAL CONVERSATION

For me, this is the most important piece of the creative process. This initial conversation with the client is when you not only confirm that this client and project are a good fit for you, but you also learn the scope of the project.

This is when I get as many details as I can from the client about their goals for the project. Target audience, preexisting branding, overall goals and even if there are other assets I can help them build that they didn’t originally plan on.

CONTRACT

I find this to be one of the biggest questions designers have for each other. Where do you get a contract?

I have built my personal contract from other free resources I’ve found online. Some people advise against doing this, but I believe it’s just important to know exactly what’s in your contract, and to know that the contract protects you from all possible outcomes.

RESEARCH

Research is surprisingly one of my favorite parts of a design project. I love to look at what good design is out there, and how I can apply it or avoid it in my designs.

From the information I get in the initial call, I do research based on what the project is, who the audience is, what style or preexisting branding should be used, and what’s already been done.

SKETCHES

This is my absolute favorite part of the process. Putting pen to paper is so relaxing and refreshing for me!
This is the phase of the project where I get out all my ideas, both good and bad. I usually don’t show the client my initial sketches so I use it as a free for all to put down any possible concepts I have in mind.

And I like to do as many sketches as possible. I aim for 50 – 75. That gives you enough to explore your ideas, but still is enough to push you to try ideas that are out of your comfort zone.

DIGITAL COMPS

Once I’ve done my 50-75 sketches, I narrow them down to about 6 – 8 of my very best ideas.

I then take them and translate them to illustrator. Sometimes I photograph or scan the sketches and then build on top, or I jump right into illustrator and start building shapes.

I work with these vectors until I’m happy with 3 – 5 options. Then, before sending to the client, I choose color schemes and apply color schemes to each logo.
I put these digitized logos into a nice little pdf with their color and black and white versions and send it off to the client for review!

 

EXTERNAL REVISIONS

In my creative process, I allow for 2 rounds of revisions within the scope of the set price of the project. Once they have made those two rounds of revisions, I charge an hourly rate for additional work.

This keeps the client in check and forces them to gather all their revisions at once, so they’re not coming back to you every other day for the next month with things they want to change

 

FINAL PRODUCT

When the client has landed on the final design for their project, for a web project, I put together all the digital assets needed (jpg, pdf, png) and send to the client.

For print, I get all the necessary information from both the printer and the client and prepare the file for print and send to either the printer or the client.

It’s important at this phase of the project to be in close contact with the client, you need to know exactly where they will be using the design and in what formats.

So there it is. My process as a creative working with clients! Feel free to email me or shoot me a message on social media if you have any questions about my process!


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