Design: Keeping the axe sharp

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As designers we work on a variety of projects, for a variety of clients.  Each project is unique, and requires special care from a designer in determining the best ways to tell each product’s story.  Of course in our business, time is often of the essence in order to get a new product or promotion to market.  Sometimes there isn’t sufficient time to go out and seek inspiration for a project with an imminent delivery date.  That is why we as designers must constantly seek ways to keep our creative instincts sharp and alive.  Much of what makes a display eye-catching is a splash of the unexpected mixed in with the familiar.

Where does that unexpected bit of magic come from?  It’s impossible to predict really, so as artists it is important for us to constantly seek inspiration through varied outlets.  Much can be learned from a directed study of nature and the contrasts of form, color, proportion, and functionality that define beauty in wildlife, plants, and landscape.  Motion pictures and television shape the expectations and perceptions of consumers within specific demographics in terms of ‘What does the future look like?’ or ‘What is edgy? Or Cool?’ 

Touchstones found within media such as video games or YouTube videos can help us to connect at retail with an audience of a certain age.  Exploring other art forms or disciplines, trying new sports or activities, travelling to exotic destinations in odd ways, all of these can help us to ‘shake things up’ and keep our perspective fresh!  Finally, visiting retail outlets with our trained perceptions can help us to understand what has worked for others, what hasn’t and why.

In the end, our clients have an exciting story to tell.  Consumer products are the result of sometimes years of inspiration, feasibility studies, design, development, and focus groups (rinse, repeat).  Our job comes at the end of that development cycle, when it is time to deliver the message of what this wonderful thing is and why you can’t live without it!  As designers, as artists, we must always come prepared to help our clients articulate that story in the most compelling way imaginable…on a budget.

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