Expert Tips For Starting A Graphic Design Project

July 23, 2013 General 0 Comments

How To Start A Graphic Design ProjectSo you have been assigned a project… Now what?

As a Graphic Design student, you may find it difficult to start working on your school projects. Though you may have many ideas, you might not know how to translate these ideas into the formats or final products you need for your class.

Even at the professional level, starting a project can be difficult. Most experts begin with client briefings and research regarding the company and its competitors. But, after they have the necessary information, what is their next step? Here are some expert tips getting started with design:

David Airey’s “Design”

Graphic Designer and author, Airey recommends creating a structured design process. He believes that working within this structure may not only improve your work, but may ensure the best possible outcome for all of your projects.

His second step after meeting with the client and completing research is simply titled “Design” – but it incorporates many important steps in his process.

To get started, Airey reviews the “brief” he creates from his meetings with the client. The brief includes background material and identity standards that remind him of the company’s brand and its needs. He believes this review “ensures understanding of the project context and your corporate requirements.”

Based on the review of this brief, Airey begins developing draft concepts and preliminary designs.

Kayla Knight’s “Brainstorm, Research and Inspiration”

Freelance designer, developer and founding blogger of, Knight recommends some space from the business side of design before starting your drafts. To start her design process, she researches similar or competing designs, seeks out inspiration and brainstorms.

To find inspiration, Knight recommends:

  • Reading a book
  • Visiting a museum
  • Free writing
  • Unwinding

Once you have found your inspiration, may brainstorm ideas. Brainstorming may allow you to organize your inspiration into a coherent form that can then be translated into a design. Include ideas, styles and elements that you may want to incorporate into your design – even if it is only a rough outline.

Brainstorming may also allow you to sketch layouts, test color schemes, experiment with typography and find different ways to present your graphics. Knight believes this phase allows your “general idea for the design to come into focus.”

Lisa Kurt’s “Thumbnail Sketches”

Kurt, a founding member of the ACRL TechConnect Blog [], believes the research process should easily give way to doodling and brainstorming.

Once ideas have been generated in the research phase, you may begin sketching a series of thumbnails. These sketches are small and many not be detailed or intricate. Make them as rough – or as detailed – as you see fit.

Kurt recommends doing as many sketches “as you can muster… Do it until you are sick of it.” In this way, the series of sketches may exhaust your ideas. From there, you can expand the sketches you see as most valuable to the project.

Peter Vukovic’s “Sketching and Draft Designs”

A designer and creative director for an advertising agency, Vukovic specifies his design process for those interested in logo design. After doing the appropriate research, Vukovic recommends sketching dozens of logos. He suggests spending as little as a minute on sketching a logo with paper and pen.

From these dozens, he selects five to seven of his best ideas and expands on them. Vukovic advises that even in the draft design step, you should keep your designs simple. Save details, such as color, for later stages in the design process.

Steph Uprichard’s "Initial Concepts Presentation”

Creative director of Tree Frog Interactive Inc., Uprichard’s graphic design process starts with a presentation of initial concepts. This comes after an initial meeting with the client and brainstorming session in which she sketches her ideas. By presenting these initial concepts to her client, Uprichard can move forward in the design process with specific feedback from the client.

The presentation also provides her with an opportunity to explain her motivation and inspiration.

This step may seem less applicable to you as a student. However, you may want to present your ideas to a classmate or friend. Discussing your ideas out loud for a school project may help you revise and refine your design.

For more tips on starting your school projects, talk to your Graphic Design instructors or program advisors.


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