An obsession for lines, shapes and colors
Mathematics and science never did it for me. I was just never good at it. This brings me to my hobby of drawing and my sister’s comic books have always inspired me: the anatomical details of the character’s bodies, the design of their heroic costumes and the emotional traces of their facial expressions.
All of these details are made up from the elements of lines, shapes and colors: the basic blocks in the world of graphics. It’s amazing how these simple elements can communicate, when used in the right harmony and balance. In order to achieve that, one must have an eye for aesthetics. And on many levels, aesthetics can be highly relative. Having a feel for it does not come with certainty of logic, digits or rationality. This lack of certainty only creates an unlimited space to play with, in expressing one’s feelings and telling one’s story. This is the haven I found in drawing a simple flower or a field of green grass, blue skies and the yellow sun. Drawing has always been fun. It was probably the simplest way for me to express myself.
I’m human and I NEED to communicate!
Everybody has a story to tell and there are several mediums that can serve as a canvas.
One can share his or her story with a friend who would lend an ear. One can write a love song. One can paint their blue tainted feelings, to the rhythm of their emotions. Or one can sail away, writing a novel on a fine summer’s day. Communicating is human and it’s a need that we often unconsciously experience.
Being a graphic designer means being able to communicate visually. Everyday we imagine how we would convey the stories of our clients through a play of typography, colors, shapes and lines. We have to decide which medium we should use from an array of forms, such as: poster, postcards, brochures, flyers, billboards, name cards … take your pick. Most importantly, representing clients to their target audience requires the ability to tune in. It’s not just about designing from our own point of view. It’s about being inspired by observing our surroundings, listening and exchanging ideas with others, as well as being open to receiving feedback. The bottom line is to find a solution that best suits our client’s needs.
Our contribution in the advertising world
Just like individuals, companies also have the need to communicate with their customers.
With so much competition in the market, companies need to differentiate themselves uniquely from all the rest. Sending out one’s message in order to reach the intended audience effectively needs a custom made communication strategy.
With this, promotional tools are needed to bring out the message. Promotional tools come through the basic channels of the web, print, television and radio. Behind this, lies a big industrial family of art directors, creative directors, account managers, copywriters and graphic designers … only to name a few! These different roles eventually contribute under one umbrella, aiming for one goal. One message.
As a graphic designer, our job is to visualize an image that would appropriately suit the client’s story. It’s not just a matter of how ‘pretty’ it looks. It’s about bringing the idea of creative directors into life visually, alongside the help of art directors. Every individual has different perspectives, which is great in bringing colorful ideas and shaping the final product. A graphic designer does not work alone. In the end, it’s amazing what kind of product we can deliver when we combine multiple ideas into one.
The drawing room: it’s all about the music baby!
At my work, an account manager would usually come by my desk with a project in his or her hands. A project pretty much comes in a form of a problem, challenge if you will, for which we are to find a solution for. For example, a company wants to have a tool in promoting how great their work environment is to building a career. The sad part? Their current tool was a folded, A4 sized paper printed in black and white. An amateurish layout that was obviously made with Word. Looking at it, the impression I got was: a menu from a pizza delivery tent. While discussing with the account manager, we thought that this representation just won’t do, especially when the people from the company are intelligent, intriguing and open!
The next step is to brainstorm with the creative director who will develop an idea on how to communicate the message. The medium would then be an A5 horizontal, mini, glossy magazine that is handy to carry. It’s going to be young and fresh. It’s also going to be dynamic! It is meant to show off the company’s people as inspiring, in their daily, unique colors. Knowing that we have developed other promotional material for this company in the past, a new question popped up.
How do we develop a promotional tool that is so new and yet, still connected with their previous material?
So I’m off in my own world, for a while … and at times like these: it’s all about the music! Together with references of old material, inspiring design books and online information … I play with graphic elements on my screen. Now and then, I would discuss with my fellow colleagues: designers, the creative director and also the account manager. The more perspectives we exchange with one another, the better! The process of developing a product from the beginning to the end may go in unexpected directions. It often takes awhile in the development process that we reach the satisfying peak. It is also crucial to have a thorough understanding of what the client is all about, as well as the message they want to convey.
A well-designed product is more than an ‘attractive’ package. It’s got to be interesting content-wise and it’s got to function well for the intended audience. There is no general, logical formula to a well-designed product. Every client and case study is unique. Therefore, every time a custom-made solution must be provided.
I’m happy with the product. Are you?
There is nothing more fulfilling than making a client happy. And receiving the end products fresh from the printers only adds to the accomplishment! Though in reality, it often happens that before we reach this final stage … a long, difficult process takes place.
Worse case scenario? Clients are just not happy, even after we’ve sweated blood and tears. This is only routine in the advertising world. And from experience, we can only learn to do things better in time. Last but not least, I love my profession as a graphic designer.
I find that in general they are cool, laid back people who are young at heart, if I may say so myself :).
The writer, Sesilia Ken Andansari Sunarto, is a Graphic Designer working at Darling Agency in The Netherlands.