Eye For Design

Eye For Design

Design is everywhere.

To develop an eye for design you do not have to travel far. Whether you are sitting at your desk or using the creative world around you. No matter how big or how small, design will always be there.

What is design? Where does it come from? How can it be used to the best of its ability?

Much like beauty, design is also in the eye of the beholder which makes questions like these very difficult to answer. With artist and designers having their own unique way of finding their inspiration and ideas, there is never a right or wrong way. To develop an eye for design we must first understand the definition.

de·sign

dəˈzīn/

noun 

1. a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made.

2. purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.

verb

1. decide upon the look and functioning of (a building, garment, or other object), typically by making a detailed drawing of it.

2. do or plan (something) with a specific purpose or intention in mind.

One aspect of a great design is when it leaves a good first impression. Do you remember a time when you were walking through the grocery store and that one out of many cereal boxes caught your attention? While developing your eye for design you’ll notice first impressions are happening constantly.

Another aspect you’ll notice is organization and legibility. I don’t know about you but when I go to the optometrist, the first thing I notice is how badly designed those eye charts are. They are always so blurry and not legible at all. I can never read them!

When it comes to the information that is being portrayed, how easy is it to extract from the design? Multiple factors play a huge part, such as the style of font, maybe the size or color and even the visual hierarchy as well. It can be a good practice to not only take note of which designs are easy to read, but what exactly makes them easy to read as well.

Designers whether it’s graphic, interior or even architectural and more will have a good sense of their range. Learning to always make room for adjustments as they might see fit. Standing out in the context of other designs is important. In developing an eye for good design, it is good practice to view designs in a more contextual way.

We all have decisions. Big or small, decisions will always need to be made. Have you ever looked back at an old yearbook only to see your picture and wonder what were you thinking? I call those the blunder years. We all have them, and design can subconsciously play a huge role into those decisions.

Have you ever wondered why red is used in a lot of branding? Red is an attractive, energetic and powerful color. It’s used to grab your attention. Most fast food restaurants have Red in their logo to grab your attention and pull you towards their direction. One way to develop an eye for good design is to explore your living space and think about what kind of graphic designs have attracted you.

Often, clients go to designers wanting that trendy hip factor hoping it will help them stand out above the rest. When realistically it’s more important to communicate what their values are and who their target audience is. Having this information will allow the designer to show those values through their design.

Good design is not only to be concerned with the nature and appreciation of its beauty, but where the visual brand aligns with what the company is. If you want to see good design, you should experience what the company actually is. For example, when you go to a restaurant does the food live up to the expectations the logo presented? Maybe even the interior or exterior of the building will play a huge roll. It’s up to the designer to make sure it does.

One aspect of design that I love is the fact that it will always be changing and evolving. You will continue to learn and be inspired by new things. At least once a day and for some even multiple times a day. When you think about the history of design and what we see now you can’t help but get excited and motivated to start creating ideas of your own. Ideas that will help shape the future of design in all different aspects. I’ll touch more on the history of design in a later blog post.

The design process can be tricky when you are just starting. Here are some tips I use and believe will help sharpen your eye for design and get the creativity following.

1.Inspiration 

Inspiration will always be the first step in your creativity process. This is my favorite and the most important part when it comes to starting a new project. You will always need to be inspired by something or someone to create something amazing.

A great example would be music, it was 1979’s hit song “Good Times” by CHIC that inspired The Sugar Hill Gang to sample Nile Roger’s guitar riffs for “Rapper’s Delight” and 34 years later help inspire Daft Punk to summon the help of Nile Rogers for their album “Random Access Memories.”

No matter how original you might think it is, you will always be able to trace back the multiple levels of inspiration that helped create that design.

Inspiration can happen from anywhere and anytime. When you feel stuck and the creativity is not hitting you, browsing online is a great way to help get the creative process started.

With the right hashtags, Instagram is a great resource for inspiration. I am inspired by all sorts of design from interior design and graphic design to even entrepreneurs. There are other great social platforms such as Pinterest or even Google. Searching different phrases and keywords will help you find a lot of good resources.

2. Research 

Research is highly important. A great design will not happen until the research aspect has been accomplished. Looking up similar brands or styles will help you get a feel for things and will make the process of your design go much smoother. Remember element of design has a purpose and you should always be able to trace back what it was that helped inspire your creation.

Looking up the meaning of colors, definitions or a thesaurus are just some of the many ways it can greatly help you with your designs.

3. Execution 

You have your inspiration and you’ve done the research, now you’re ready to execute. Practice doing some quick concepts. Grab a pencil and some paper to sketch your layouts. Having multiple options always helps in case one does not work out the way you initially intended. Keep in mind these are rough sketches so it’s okay if you’re name is not Pablo Picasso!

Grab some coffee and listen to some music. I have no idea what I would do without Spotify. For me, nothing helps make the design process easier than listening to some music. Remember to take a break occasionally, and refuel. Working for a while without eating is just asking for bad design. Something I’m familiar with unfortunately but working on! You will make mistakes and that’s okay, that only means you’re trying. It’s how you learn and adapt from those mistakes that makes the difference.

4. Reflection 

Look back and reflect on your work. Think about what is was that inspired it and how you got to where you are now. Looking back can always help you with your work later. If you struggled during any of these steps, what was it that made you struggle? By taking the time to reflect will only help improve your pace and work out those kinks for the next project.

These are just a few ways that help me with my design process. Every designer is different and has their own way of doing things. As you continue sharpening your eye for design, you will pick up on what works for you and what doesn’t. Eventually molding your own design process and individuality from this huge creative world.

– Brian Garza | Graphic Designer | CuraMedia, LLC

What are some other ways that help you develop your eye for design? Leave a comment and share your story below! 

Why Graphic Design Matters in Business

Why Graphic Design Matters in Business

Why Graphic Design Matters in Business

By Nhan Nguyen, MD, JD, MSF, Chairman

Often owners of businesses, small and large, overlook one of the most critical aspects of business and marketing – graphic design.  Whether stating a mission statement, trying to communicate what the business sells or markets, or attempting to market a promotion, businesses typically approach the strategy as, just “put the word out” and hopefully they will come.  However, that is often not the case.

That’s because often the message has not been communicated effectively textually AND visually.  Reflect on all the ads, marketing promotions or copy that you have seen throughout the years trying to pitch you something, either a product, service or goal.  Likely the most memorable and impactful business campaigns included a “visual hook”, or something to pull you into the message, something to elicit an emotional response or a reaction to connect you to the message.

Therein lies the key reason why graphic design matters in business.  Effectively communicating through words is important.  Tying those effectively communicated words with a visual context provides the “visual hook” needed in business, the emotional response to cause an audience to take action – whether it be to use a service, buy a product or to commit to a goal.  The old adage of “a picture says a thousand words” could, in turn, be stated in business as “a picture can mean a thousand (or more) dollars”.

How does a company utilize graphic design effectively?
The following list are just a few ways to utilize graphic design in creating that visual hook:
  1. Create an impactful first impression. As they say, “you only get one bite at the apple”.  That applies in marketing as well.  You only have one chance to make a first impression.  And conclusions about a first impression takes only a few seconds to make.  Does your first impression make your business appear credible?  Does it instill confidence in your product or service?
  2. Tell your story through design.  What is your company about?  What’s the history of your company?  What are your company’s mission and values?  Rather than verbose text that a client would have to read to understand your company, effective graphic design can effectively communicate these ideas in a single visual.  Bold colors, simple design, fine detail, all each signify a different meaning to the audience that can elicit a feeling toward what your company is about.
  3. Branding your company. Ever wonder why there are thousands of McDonald’s restaurants across the country and internationally? One often cited reason for the success of McDonald’s restaurants is because a Big Mac in Seattle will taste almost the same (if not exactly the same) as a Big Mac in Miami.  The same could be said about the entire menu.  The message here is that consistency in product or service is what makes repeat customers.  The same can be said about branding your company with effective graphic design.  Consistency in branding your company and associating your branding with quality products or services will create and retain customers for the long-term.  That’s because consistency through branding creates an association your customers can rely on.  Mention the “golden arches” and what do you think of first?
  4. Compel your audience to action. Good communication in business is not only about informing. Effective business communication should be more about converting.  Converting your audience into believers of what your company is about and taking stock in your story.  This in turn compels the audience into action to buy your product, use your service or take part in your goals.  Tying words with graphic design, in a sense, can impose upon your audience to help make a decision – a simple decision – to act or not act.  Effectively used graphic design should be compelling enough to cause an audience to act.

Of course there are many more ways and goals for utilizing effective graphic design in business.  This short list should be at the forefront for any business embarking on the usage of graphic design in their communication and promotions strategy.  Because this strategy is so critical to businesses, finding a solid graphic design firm with creative ideas and enthusiasm is a wise investment on the front end and in the long term.  As the old adage states, “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a meal.  Teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.”  And with the creation of effective “visual hooks” your business can be fishing for customers for the long term as well.