The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Personal Matter

It is always easy to neglect these things, especially as a creative. Sometimes, you are in a state of flux, you are being overly productive and in the middle of it, and you do not want to stop. Taking a break in order to eat, drink and sleep is hard. Gee, even standing up to go for a pee is. But it is necessary – not only to keep her runnin, but to maintain the level of quality. So if you feel tired, sleep, for heaven’s sake! Wake up in the morning and you’ll be thankful that you listened to me.

4. Time is a rare commodity. Spend it wisely

Let’s be honest, friends: being on time isn’t exactly one of our most renowned values. We might be excellent designers, but sometimes, we could just be not so late. Can you refer to this?

Well, many creatives I know can. Its because of the nature of our business. Read rule #1 of Workflow: You laugh at nine to five. So it is necessary to undertake certain steps to ensure our punctuality and credibility.

  • Don’t take on more than you can manage. When you start off in the design field, you’ll probably take every job you can. You’re in your early years and besides needing the money, you’ll want to gain experience – and referrers, because you know that your happy clients are the best source for new jobs. And this is my point exactly: Happy clients generate new clients. You won’t do your client a favor by delivering crappy and unsolid work due to a lack of time – nor will you do yourself a favor.
  • do not wait for the last moment to start work. Even if you think that you are able to do a job standing on your head, you should start working on it early. The longer you are in the business, the more you learn that a project’s true extent is being disclosed in the process. So do not make the mistake of underestimating your workload. This directly reflects on our next tip for time management

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Workflow 4

Iffyness can stem from a lack of self confidence. If you are not sure which version is to be the final one, try one of these approaches:

  • Set up a contest and let your tummy be the judge. If you have got more than two possible finalists, put them in direct competition to each other. If you are working on a print job, print out all versions. Stack them up, turn them around (so you see the blank backside of the sheets) and randomly pick two. Place these next to each other – now act on impulse: pick the one your stomach likes best. Put the winner aside and pick the next two, eliminating half of the stack like that. After round one, repeat until you have only one final left.
  • Compare your possible finals with the earliest version. Another possibility is comparing each of your potentials with your earliest comp, or outline. By doing that, you can see the benefits and disadvantages more clearly.
  • Add context. If you are doing a print ad, open up the magazine or newspaper in question. If you have done that already at an earlier stage (which I recommend in any case), do it again. Play around by placing print-outs of your different comps in the magazine. Which one looks best in their natural surrounding?
  • Outline possible follow-up variations. Assume this is to be the start of a series. Which version is most flexible while emphasizing the CI?
  • Ask for an outsider’s opinion. For that, you have three possibilities:
    • Your friends and family. People not in the business. They can point out flaws and open your eyes for things you haven’t considered. They give you a glimpse at the real world’s perception of a comp, even if it seems worthless: I like blue better than cyan because blue is my favorite color can be valuable information.
    • Fellow designers. If they are not your enemies, they can give you a professional opinion and lead you the right way.
    • A design related community. Various websites form a community where creatives can post their comps and get feedback from other community members.

Here we go!

These are the 5 Rules of Workflow and Getting it Done I consider vital for creatives. They are not intended to be ultimate rules – rather guides that have proved to be useful and work for us. Maybe they can help you come to better results with your work – being in the creative business myself, I wanted to share them with you. Can you relate to these guidelines? Also, possibly you have a rule of your own I haven’t mentioned? Share your thoughts!

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You might be familiar with accidents turning out to be a major benefit of your design. If you know this, why not extend your options? In the realm of creative freedom, you can stumble over most interesting approaches by simply playing around. Sure you know your stuff, but you can do so much better.

Experiment! Color Dodge instead of Color Burn! Make the dashed line 1 mm instead of 1 px! Make that gradient radial! Use another brush! Add a third layer mask! Make it different! Play around! You may come to interesting results by simply using what you left behind as you grew older: your play instinct.

4. If you are not a perfectionist, you are not a designer

Tell me: in Photoshop and Illustrator, how much time do you spend at 6400% magnification? How often do you hit Ctrl+Z because you think a line is placed half a millimeter too low? How extensive is your changelog for an average composition?

Because we know that even the most minor change of an element’s attribute can make the difference between Hillary and Britney, we blatantly take the word perfectionist as a compliment.

It comes with the job and a certain amount of self-respect. You have no other choice than to identify yourself with your work – because on the reverse side, your work will always identify with you, that is why you should always, always, always quintuple check your design before calling it a final. Then again, we have one rule left:

5. There is no such thing as the final version

This, our final rule of workflow in design and advertising, is a vital one. With possibilities given and creative juices flowing, you will usually have a hard time deciding that this is it. Instead, you go on and on, changing this, tweaking that, adding and deleting, sharpening and softening, enhancing and simplifying. And again, it is in the nature of our profession. Because there is not a single way to do it, but at least a couple, if not a thousand possible avenues, we have to possess the integrity and self-confidence to set an end to a design.

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Personal Matter

  • Be generous with your time estimates. When your client asks how long you will need to deliver, always add at least 50% of the time you think you are gonna need to the estimate. In fact, better double it. You think you need five days to design the website? Say you need 10! You estimate a total of two months for the campaign plan? Name three. do not hesitate to be liberal with your time estimates. you will bite your butt if you can’t deliver on time and need to call for an extension – that only makes you look unprofessional. The second benefit is that if you are able to do it in half the time you estimated, you will make a terrific impression. This can be most important for your success – paired with our fifth and final rule of personal matter:

5. do not try to be a ticket of ten

Especially when you start off as a freelancer, you will want to take every job that is available. You most likely do not have a solid client basis yet – but you need one, and you have to start somewhere, right? Well, not quite. You shouldn’t start somewhere – you need to start in your niche. As a designer, you are supposed to create identities. Why be inconsistent when it comes to yourself?

If you are a topnotch web designer, and you want to be a shining star in that field, you should focus on web design and not necessarily do flyers, posters and calendars. Many freelancers tend to spread their field too widely, often into areas they are not so good in, only to deliver bad work. That results in bad reputation. Remember our happy clients? They want solid work, and only if you can deliver that, you will be hired again – either by them or by the ones they recommended you to – because you made them happy!

So, instead of being a mediocre all-rounder, focus on your profession and find people to network with. If you know a killer identity guy, call him up and form a relationship! Send him the identity you get, and let him send you the web development jobs he runs into. Networking is key: Not only will it give you more jobs in your field, a better reputation and more awareness, but it will also make your clients happier because you can provide them with more options and resources. Plus, it will give you what you want and need: it will make you happy, simply because you are doing what you love to do. Tell me, how important is being happy to you?

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Workflow 2

  • You perform to be the chosen one. When you have a new job in prospect, your creative juices usually start flowing immediately. Even before you accept the assignment, your mind is busy inventing ideas and approaching avenues. If you are a professional, you know this very well, because you never take a job blindfolded.
  • You fall in love. If you had this glorious first idea, it is so huge that you get all excited over it. You start building up an emotional attachment to the idea. You begin craving it and you end up loving it to death – after all, it is a part of you, and before it, there was nothing.
  • You exchange engagement rings. You simply love your (initial) idea so much that you can’t even think of another approach. that is because when you love something so much, you can’t think of anything better than that, right? So right now, your emotions are blurring your objectivity. To open up for other possibilities though, you have to free yourself from this emotional bond. Take a step back and forget about the idea. It will not run away, you have put it on paper already. Free your mind and go back to square zero.
  • You wake up. Finally, after having detached yourself from your first love, you are able to come up with new ideas. Your mind is free and now capable of exploring your creativity to its fullest potential. This results in a bunch of ideas, including your first love, spread out on your desk. Now you only have to choose the best one. Sometimes, your CD or the client will want to do this for you. Sometimes, you will find that you had far better ideas after you let go of the first one. And sometimes, you will find that after all, your first idea is still the best. Sometimes.

3. A mistake can lead to very interesting results

The endless possibilities Photoshop and Illustrator offer are truly astonishing. When you are a noobie, they can be overwhelming. But wait, do not give up yet! There is a very good reason to let your mouse and pen have its own mind.

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Workflow

This is the third installment in the 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising. So far, I have covered:

  • Part 1: Basic Rules
  • Part 2: Rules of Composition

Set 3: The Rules of Workflow and Getting it Done

Whether you are working for an advertising agency or you are a freelancer, there are a few things everybody I know in the creative business incorporates. The nature of or jobs makes it necessary to rely on a few techniques that get our creative juices flowing.

1. You laugh at nine to five

you will have to forgive me for this one – it may sound harsh and insulting to some people, but it is the full truth in the creative business. A standard 9-to-5 job is the exact opposite of what the life of a designer looks like. Especially when you freelance, you do not usually start your working day at nine in the morning, take a break at noon and clean up your desk at five. This has two main reasons:

  • There is no routine in creativity. With inspiration being the driving force of our productivity, we can’t look at the clock and say Now you have gonna be creative for eight hours. Inspiration comes and goes. you will find yourself standing up and working on a job in the middle of the night, just because you had that great idea that needed immediate attention.
  • Design is not an everyday job. A designer will not usually pull a line between work and fun. We do not go to work because we have to – but because we love what we are doing! That is, if you are a designer at heart and soul. You then (start to) notice that design is all around. You start walking through life with open eyes and absorb everything you see. Especially when you are in advertising.

2. You can spend hours and hours tweaking and turning a comp upside down, but sometimes, your first idea is still the best

Sometimes, you have this fantastic idea that you love so much. You get all excited over it. You start outlining the idea right away. At some point though, you do notice that you need a couple more ideas. That may be for the reasons mentioned above, or simply because you are such an ambitious designer, which is very good. But you simply can’t come up with anything else. Why is that?