/tagged/Design/page/2

Joy and Revolution

Justlucky met Ambrose

This month I had the privilege of doing a design workshop at an Ambrose workshop in Holland, MI. Ambrose is an after school program for High School students. Its’ goal is to raise the bar for the Arts in West Michigan. The topic of the day was Process. This very idea of process is vast and overwhelming so Adam and I decided we would focus on just one element of process; brainstorming. We made it our task to simplify the idea of brainstorming & sketching down to the most basic element… Shapes. Shapes are the visual realization for every idea. Without them our ideas would remain an unknowable mass in our minds.

This exercise was paired with a new project for the students — Designing a logo for the Holland Area Arts Council. The logo project came with a small brief to help the students understand the needs and concept behind the project. We then asked the students to interperet the needs of the project in only shapes.

Teaching a class was a great excercise for me. Just sitting down to think about my own process was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. When you are communicating something to a group it really makes you refine your own thinking quickly. I saw a lot of holes in my own process. I realized how often I was just going through familiar routines without really thinking through specific project needs. All of the steps in a successful project normally get overlooked by the big picture in my head.

Thanks to Adam at Ambrose for having me and the volunteers who helped keep the class engaging for the students when I ran out of things to say. I was honored to have the opportunity to pass along some of my experiences.

Download the full presentation PDF here.

Pro-Tip: Don’t wait for something you love. Make something you love.
Pro-Tip: You have to sacrifice. There’s no other way…
– Paul Rand
Pro-Tip: No one creates in a vacuum.

How do you create?

I have been noticing myself becoming more and more interested in creative spaces… Not the cool office spaces often featured on design blogs. I’m talking about physical and mental spaces where people do work, write briefs, make discoveries, tune out noises. Places that people feed off of. Instead of working in one location with one person, object, technique I have observed more people moving locations or switching techniques as they embark on projects.

It’s about working hard but its also about creating spaces to do the work. What works best for you? 

Make it yourself

I’ve had an aversion to built-in fonts lately. If you can’t tell by looking at justlucky’s portfolio you’ll see a lot of newer custom typography work. I have been finding ways to insert custom typography wherever possible. You could say I am obsessed. It started with me just copying work that I liked in my personal time. I would sketch in my Moleskins for hours just to get a feel for the type. I still do.

I have noticed a heightened level of satisfaction that comes from this approach. I almost feel like a cheat when I type in a sentence in Gotham. There is nothing wrong with using these fonts, they are excellent tools for designers. But every time I use a built-in font I don’t really learn the font — And usually I don’t think to tweak it much.

1,000 people can use the same font just by typing it out and selecting a predetermined weight option. There is nothing unique about that. Every time I work on a project and make my own typography I become more skilled at using type. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be perfect to be compelling. Every project is an opportunity to actualy learn your craft by getting your fingers dirty.

It may not be perfect but it will be you and I promise there are people out there that love you.

U&lc - Classic design magazine curated by Herb Lubalin. Get to know it. 
Oh and read the text on the page. It’s extremely interesting.

U&lc - Classic design magazine curated by Herb Lubalin. Get to know it. 

Oh and read the text on the page. It’s extremely interesting.

Designing Experiences

I hear so many complaints from businesses when they work with designers that they don’t return phone calls or emails promptly. Many times the client feels as if the designer is haphazard and disorganized. This lack of communication causes unnecessary frustration and distrust during a project.

Creatives believe in designing great products. But what about designing great experiences? Once we have established a product an excellent client experience needs to be an integral part of the design process. Qualities such as Professional/Clear/Concise communication, detailed project planning, consistency, etc. These qualities are not just smart business ideals. They are smart design decisions. Make every customer (within reason) your trophy client. If every part of your process is geared towards the client they will be more likely to take you and your work seriously. In addition this will help generate referrals quickly. A thrilled client will be quick to talk about the incredible experience they’ve had with you.

Some things to try: Call clients to confirm appointments. Send gifts such as thank you cards or discounts on future work. Call and let them know how much you appreciate their business and love working with them. Ask them how you can improve your process for future projects. Ask if you can show of a project you’ve done together, this might be assumed but this is an opportunity compliment them and make them feel good about the work you’ve done together. As them about something other than work sometimes! Get to know them.

Tell us about some great client experiences you’ve designed.

Great Project or Great Process?

I was reading a statistic recently that stated that the freelance community of graphic designers would more than double in 2010. This means a lot more talent, wit, management, etc. Will be entering the arena and competing for the same work.

It will also mean that designers will be focused on creating compelling work. Now don’t get me wrong. I love shiny portfolio’s with lots of glossy images. I spend more time than I’d like to admit just browsing through them… The problem I see occurring as I collaborate with more creatives is too much focus on the product. They want to create amazing work. But they also want it fast and they need to make money. Almost as if putting out lots of work will bring customers from all over the globe.

In the mean time they do a terrible job of communicating with their team (designers, developers, etc) and worst of all, their clients. They take on too much, they don’t share work well, and when it comes down to a great experience they end up pushing lofty ideas withouth proper resources. In the end everyone is stressed out because the focus was the project, not the process.


Great process always trumps a great project over the long haul. If you focus on making the creative process one of continous exploration & clear communication it helps everyone get on board and share. We have too many great ideas getting killed because we miss the gold along the way.

As a company evolves, as this one has - so does visual identity. But a brand is much more than a logo it’s the people, the environment, the total experience that makes it memorable.
– Alexander Brebner, designer, writer & extraordinary creative entity 

Appreciation Feedback

I just finished the book Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. I would highly recommend it to any creative or entreprenuer out there.

One of the thoughts that stuck out to me though we a brief section on Appreciation Feedback. Sounds a bit too “nice” for my taste to be honest but it makes a lot of sense. Here is an excerpt from the book:

People need to relax to be able to discover. Our unconscious won’t come forward and help us see things when we are too logical and focused on criticism. Sometimes some one will say, “I just want to know how to improve, not what is good.” People think that pointing out faults is the only way to improve. Appreciations are not about being polite. They are about point out what is alive. The recipient must take it in and incorporate it.

In another example earlier in the chapter the process of appreciation feedback is implemented by bringing in designers for first round reviews and instead of criticism. Everyone in the room says 3 things they love about the piece. The designer is then sent off to work in a revision before a formal critique is held. Almost always the revised product is much improved before an actual critism. This helps reduce the “negative moementum” we all face whenever we step out to execute and idea. It helps us focus on forward  progress not arm chair quarterback tactics.

I’m thinking about implementing this myself. Has anyone else experienced a feedback system like this? If so comment or tweet with your experience please.

Satisficers & Maximizers

Since I have been on a kick about options, simplicity and the “underdo” concept in general I thought I would talk about Maximizers…

Schwartz relates the ideas of psychologist Herbert Simon from the 1950s to the psychological stress which faces most consumers today. He notes some important distinctions between, what Simon termed,maximizers and satisficers. A maximizer is like a perfectionist, someone who needs to be assured that their every purchase or decision was the best that could be made. The way a maximizer knows for certain is to consider all the alternatives they can imagine. This creates a psychologically daunting task, which can become even more daunting as the number of options increases. The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. A satisficer has criteria and standards, but a satisficer is not worried about the possibility that there might be something better. Ultimately, Schwartz agrees with Simon’s conclusion, thatsatisficing is, in fact, the maximizing strategy.

Many clients ask for 3, 4, 10 concepts to review for the final products in hopes that they will be able to eliminate obvious bad choices and make better decisions. In theory this makes sense but often it burns out designers who have to push through mediocre work instead of focusing on 1 or 2 excellent concepts and dialing in on great ideas. Not to mention most clients will them mix together 2 or 3 of the designs they like in hopes to get the best of everything. 

Balancing creativity and productivity is always a struggle for me. Knowing when to take some time and wait for an idea or push forward a good idea with excellent execution is always hard. Design is not a 3-step problem/solution process. Give 10 designers the same project and you are garunteed to get completely different solutions.

Don’t let perfect get in the way of unique ideas. 

Give ‘Em What They Want

Clients hire designers to visualize something they cannot. Otherwise they wouldn’t need the designer. They would a mouse and keyboard.

5 Minutes

A story from Signal Vs Noise:

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

What to charge is a constant topic of debate among designers and clients… Actually most of the time it’s between the client and designer. We try to quantify our product by the amount of effort it takes and if something comes easy its especially hard for clients to feel like they are “getting what they paid for” in terms of work. Just because something is simple, basic, easy, black&white, etc. Does not subtract from its value as a piece of Design.

Designers don’t take the true cost of their work into account most of the time and with each hourly proposal clients will ask for more for less.

Clients aren’t just getting the hours spent on their project directly.

They are paying for all of them and that can’t be quantified.

Joy and Revolution

Justlucky met Ambrose

This month I had the privilege of doing a design workshop at an Ambrose workshop in Holland, MI. Ambrose is an after school program for High School students. Its’ goal is to raise the bar for the Arts in West Michigan. The topic of the day was Process. This very idea of process is vast and overwhelming so Adam and I decided we would focus on just one element of process; brainstorming. We made it our task to simplify the idea of brainstorming & sketching down to the most basic element… Shapes. Shapes are the visual realization for every idea. Without them our ideas would remain an unknowable mass in our minds.

This exercise was paired with a new project for the students — Designing a logo for the Holland Area Arts Council. The logo project came with a small brief to help the students understand the needs and concept behind the project. We then asked the students to interperet the needs of the project in only shapes.

Teaching a class was a great excercise for me. Just sitting down to think about my own process was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. When you are communicating something to a group it really makes you refine your own thinking quickly. I saw a lot of holes in my own process. I realized how often I was just going through familiar routines without really thinking through specific project needs. All of the steps in a successful project normally get overlooked by the big picture in my head.

Thanks to Adam at Ambrose for having me and the volunteers who helped keep the class engaging for the students when I ran out of things to say. I was honored to have the opportunity to pass along some of my experiences.

Download the full presentation PDF here.

Pro-Tip: Don’t wait for something you love. Make something you love.
Pro-Tip: You have to sacrifice. There’s no other way…
– Paul Rand
Pro-Tip: No one creates in a vacuum.

How do you create?

I have been noticing myself becoming more and more interested in creative spaces… Not the cool office spaces often featured on design blogs. I’m talking about physical and mental spaces where people do work, write briefs, make discoveries, tune out noises. Places that people feed off of. Instead of working in one location with one person, object, technique I have observed more people moving locations or switching techniques as they embark on projects.

It’s about working hard but its also about creating spaces to do the work. What works best for you? 

Make it yourself

I’ve had an aversion to built-in fonts lately. If you can’t tell by looking at justlucky’s portfolio you’ll see a lot of newer custom typography work. I have been finding ways to insert custom typography wherever possible. You could say I am obsessed. It started with me just copying work that I liked in my personal time. I would sketch in my Moleskins for hours just to get a feel for the type. I still do.

I have noticed a heightened level of satisfaction that comes from this approach. I almost feel like a cheat when I type in a sentence in Gotham. There is nothing wrong with using these fonts, they are excellent tools for designers. But every time I use a built-in font I don’t really learn the font — And usually I don’t think to tweak it much.

1,000 people can use the same font just by typing it out and selecting a predetermined weight option. There is nothing unique about that. Every time I work on a project and make my own typography I become more skilled at using type. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be perfect to be compelling. Every project is an opportunity to actualy learn your craft by getting your fingers dirty.

It may not be perfect but it will be you and I promise there are people out there that love you.

U&lc - Classic design magazine curated by Herb Lubalin. Get to know it. 
Oh and read the text on the page. It’s extremely interesting.

U&lc - Classic design magazine curated by Herb Lubalin. Get to know it. 

Oh and read the text on the page. It’s extremely interesting.

Designing Experiences

I hear so many complaints from businesses when they work with designers that they don’t return phone calls or emails promptly. Many times the client feels as if the designer is haphazard and disorganized. This lack of communication causes unnecessary frustration and distrust during a project.

Creatives believe in designing great products. But what about designing great experiences? Once we have established a product an excellent client experience needs to be an integral part of the design process. Qualities such as Professional/Clear/Concise communication, detailed project planning, consistency, etc. These qualities are not just smart business ideals. They are smart design decisions. Make every customer (within reason) your trophy client. If every part of your process is geared towards the client they will be more likely to take you and your work seriously. In addition this will help generate referrals quickly. A thrilled client will be quick to talk about the incredible experience they’ve had with you.

Some things to try: Call clients to confirm appointments. Send gifts such as thank you cards or discounts on future work. Call and let them know how much you appreciate their business and love working with them. Ask them how you can improve your process for future projects. Ask if you can show of a project you’ve done together, this might be assumed but this is an opportunity compliment them and make them feel good about the work you’ve done together. As them about something other than work sometimes! Get to know them.

Tell us about some great client experiences you’ve designed.

Great Project or Great Process?

I was reading a statistic recently that stated that the freelance community of graphic designers would more than double in 2010. This means a lot more talent, wit, management, etc. Will be entering the arena and competing for the same work.

It will also mean that designers will be focused on creating compelling work. Now don’t get me wrong. I love shiny portfolio’s with lots of glossy images. I spend more time than I’d like to admit just browsing through them… The problem I see occurring as I collaborate with more creatives is too much focus on the product. They want to create amazing work. But they also want it fast and they need to make money. Almost as if putting out lots of work will bring customers from all over the globe.

In the mean time they do a terrible job of communicating with their team (designers, developers, etc) and worst of all, their clients. They take on too much, they don’t share work well, and when it comes down to a great experience they end up pushing lofty ideas withouth proper resources. In the end everyone is stressed out because the focus was the project, not the process.


Great process always trumps a great project over the long haul. If you focus on making the creative process one of continous exploration & clear communication it helps everyone get on board and share. We have too many great ideas getting killed because we miss the gold along the way.

As a company evolves, as this one has - so does visual identity. But a brand is much more than a logo it’s the people, the environment, the total experience that makes it memorable.
– Alexander Brebner, designer, writer & extraordinary creative entity 

Appreciation Feedback

I just finished the book Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. I would highly recommend it to any creative or entreprenuer out there.

One of the thoughts that stuck out to me though we a brief section on Appreciation Feedback. Sounds a bit too “nice” for my taste to be honest but it makes a lot of sense. Here is an excerpt from the book:

People need to relax to be able to discover. Our unconscious won’t come forward and help us see things when we are too logical and focused on criticism. Sometimes some one will say, “I just want to know how to improve, not what is good.” People think that pointing out faults is the only way to improve. Appreciations are not about being polite. They are about point out what is alive. The recipient must take it in and incorporate it.

In another example earlier in the chapter the process of appreciation feedback is implemented by bringing in designers for first round reviews and instead of criticism. Everyone in the room says 3 things they love about the piece. The designer is then sent off to work in a revision before a formal critique is held. Almost always the revised product is much improved before an actual critism. This helps reduce the “negative moementum” we all face whenever we step out to execute and idea. It helps us focus on forward  progress not arm chair quarterback tactics.

I’m thinking about implementing this myself. Has anyone else experienced a feedback system like this? If so comment or tweet with your experience please.

Satisficers & Maximizers

Since I have been on a kick about options, simplicity and the “underdo” concept in general I thought I would talk about Maximizers…

Schwartz relates the ideas of psychologist Herbert Simon from the 1950s to the psychological stress which faces most consumers today. He notes some important distinctions between, what Simon termed,maximizers and satisficers. A maximizer is like a perfectionist, someone who needs to be assured that their every purchase or decision was the best that could be made. The way a maximizer knows for certain is to consider all the alternatives they can imagine. This creates a psychologically daunting task, which can become even more daunting as the number of options increases. The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. A satisficer has criteria and standards, but a satisficer is not worried about the possibility that there might be something better. Ultimately, Schwartz agrees with Simon’s conclusion, thatsatisficing is, in fact, the maximizing strategy.

Many clients ask for 3, 4, 10 concepts to review for the final products in hopes that they will be able to eliminate obvious bad choices and make better decisions. In theory this makes sense but often it burns out designers who have to push through mediocre work instead of focusing on 1 or 2 excellent concepts and dialing in on great ideas. Not to mention most clients will them mix together 2 or 3 of the designs they like in hopes to get the best of everything. 

Balancing creativity and productivity is always a struggle for me. Knowing when to take some time and wait for an idea or push forward a good idea with excellent execution is always hard. Design is not a 3-step problem/solution process. Give 10 designers the same project and you are garunteed to get completely different solutions.

Don’t let perfect get in the way of unique ideas. 

Give ‘Em What They Want

Clients hire designers to visualize something they cannot. Otherwise they wouldn’t need the designer. They would a mouse and keyboard.

5 Minutes

A story from Signal Vs Noise:

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

What to charge is a constant topic of debate among designers and clients… Actually most of the time it’s between the client and designer. We try to quantify our product by the amount of effort it takes and if something comes easy its especially hard for clients to feel like they are “getting what they paid for” in terms of work. Just because something is simple, basic, easy, black&white, etc. Does not subtract from its value as a piece of Design.

Designers don’t take the true cost of their work into account most of the time and with each hourly proposal clients will ask for more for less.

Clients aren’t just getting the hours spent on their project directly.

They are paying for all of them and that can’t be quantified.

Joy and Revolution
"Pro-Tip: Don’t wait for something you love. Make something you love."
"Pro-Tip: You have to sacrifice. There’s no other way…"
"Pro-Tip: No one creates in a vacuum."
How do you create?
Make it yourself
Designing Experiences
Great Project or Great Process?
"As a company evolves, as this one has - so does visual identity. But a brand is much more than a logo it’s the people, the environment, the total experience that makes it memorable."
Appreciation Feedback
Satisficers & Maximizers
Give ‘Em What They Want
5 Minutes

About:

Justlucky is made up of a group of talented individuals who come together around a project. This has been an excellent way to service each client appropriately. Our strength is not in our size but in our scalability. We have been able to collaborate with individuals and corporations from LA to Europe because of our robust network of professionals. This is exactly what gives us the ability to confidently respond to a variety of project requests.

Our design community is for those with ideas, for people who have something to say and want to say it better.

www.yourjustlucky.com

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