Designer Secrets Part 1: The Creative Process

I’m on a call with a new client and everything is going great. I’m really connecting with their brand and business. My head is spinning with tons of creative ideas. Then they hit me with those four feared words, “What are you envisioning?”

Quite honestly, those four words really trip me up, especially with new clients. I usually have many ideas I’d like to explore and my best creations often come to me while I’m playing around with the files and after I've done some research. When I send a client “proof 1” of a design, it could actually be my tenth version. Sometimes the ideas in my head don’t translate well on the computer, so I scrap it and start fresh in another direction. Sometimes I need to just test out various fonts and colors to see what works. Sometimes I need to sketch things on paper first. And sometimes I hit a creative block and need to explore the web for inspiration.

I don’t always have the answer to “what are you envisioning” on the spot. If a new client asks me that, I usually blurb out something generic or spurt out whatever comes to mind first. Will the final design look like this? Probably not. But it buys me time to really explore some ideas and come up with something they'll love.

To really dig in to how my creative process works, here’s a behind-the-scenes look. Keep in mind that my branding process is completely different and a lot more in-depth, but I'll get more into that later.

Initial sketches for Green Ox cleaning product logo.

Step 1: Client Call

This is where I get inside your head… what do you like, what do you dislike? What are 5 key words you’d use to describe your business or project? What does your ideal client look like? Designers are visual communicators. I take your words and translate them into graphics. This conversation is what gets the tables turning… don’t put a plug in it yet, I’m just getting started!


Step 2: Research

I want to see what your competition is, what ideas have already been explored and what trends are worth following. I search Pinterest, Behance, Google… all looking for sources of inspiration and to get the creative juices flowing!


Step 3: Let the Sketching Begin

Good ole pencil & paper can do wonders for a creative mind. I’ll whip out my notebook and start drawing anything and everything that comes to mind. Some sketches get scribbled out immediately, embarrassed that I even drew something so awful, while other designs get circled so I know to come back to them!


Step 4: Adobe Suite Lovin’

My favorite part begins: I take all of my ideas, inspiration, and sketches and start to version out the final designs on the computer. I begin pulling fonts and color combinations, then piece things together and move them around on the page. One idea leads to another, and before I know it, I could be up to “version 8” of a design!


Step 5: Narrowing it Down

This is the hardest step for me. I flip back and forth between all of the drafts and have to narrow it down to a few designs so I can present only the best ones to my client. I consider the psychology behind each one… which design leads your eye through the graphic best; which one has the best balance; which image is the most emotionally captivating? There’s a lot more to design than just fonts and colors.

Can you empathize with me on my fear of the words “what are you envisioning"? Come back next week for more designer secrets; and comment below with some questions YOU have about designers that I could answer for you!