stephen.news

hypertext, words and more

Design Process

  • Back in 2017, Resident Advisor visited Paul Nicholson. He shares his creative design process for Aphex Twin’s (Richard D. James) Selected Ambient Works Volume II (sometimes abbreviated as SAW II) album artwork. Novel and fun to hear him talk about some of the design choices he made. You can tell he’s giddy to expand on some of the deliberate artwork choices (like the chart symbols corresponding to different tracks on SAW II).

  • From Lost Type Co-op:

    pro·spec·tus: noun

    1. A document that advertises a product, service, venture, institution, or event for the purpose of attracting potential clients, investors, participants, etc.
    2. A new and bold contemporary serif typeface, with optical sizes, designed by Dave Bailey, exclusively from The Lost Type Co‑op.

    A lovely, light-hearted typeface. Full of spirit and originality. Glistening with nostalgia, but full of energy. Lost Type Co-op describes it as:

    A recognizably crisp, bold, and contemporary choice for all of your editorial, fashionable, intellectual, and satirical typesetting needs. Designed by Dave Bailey, and available now, only from The Lost Type Co‑op.

    So much fun. Get it here, pay what you want for personal use.

  • The Memory Remains

    Frank Chimero, is a Brooklyn-based designer and author. He has a captivating blog and an incredible resumé. I'll spare you his backstory, but it's worth checking out. Thanks to Austin Kleon I discovered he recently interviewed with Milanote  (a fantastic blog) regarding his design process on various projects. At Chimero's own admission, this process probably won't work for everyone and every project but it's really something:

    I’m a big proponent of ‘once through, cleanly’. You think about your idea, sketch, then put some glue in your chair and bang it out in one sitting. All of my best work happens this way: posters, collages, essays, outlines for talks, and so on. The work seems to be more cohesive and the energy more concentrated and palpable. If you sit down and what you make is bunk, you walk away, come back later and start over. You don’t keep any of what you’ve done before, you only retain the memory of what went wrong. It’s a silly method, but it works for me.

    I work in a pretty similar way. The most exciting work happens in quick sprints and explorations. Most of the time, it ends with good work and that's the end of that. But, if I'm forced to revisit the work at a later time and find myself frustrated or burned-out — I start over, tabula rasa. Literally re-building a project from the ground up can be really cathartic for me. I've never given it any thought before until now, but the memory of the failures or problems remains, even after the work is gone. This is how you become a better writer, designer, developer or better person in general — retaining some record of failure, frustration or inspiration.

    That's what pushes us forward.

    @jerin1405 on Unsplash

    As a side note, when I was in college, there was a sort of saying that went around and I'm certainly paraphrasing my mentors here:

    Technology has sped up the rate at which designers produce work, but it has not sped up the rate at which designers produce great work.

    It's true. Technology has sped up our processes. But it doesn't speed up great work. The time it takes to reach good work can still vary tremendously. Mainly because creative problem solving depends on different conclusions from different processes.

    While some may have messy or complex processes, others have simple and iterative processes. Technology has allowed us to go lightspeed with briefs, projects, and deadlines. But creativity, inspiration, design processes and learning new things — these all have an unknowable trajectory. And that's okay. It's important that others understand that too. Jeez, no wonder it's so difficult to plan for anything.

    It's okay to sit there, staring at the screen and say, "I dunno about this. I don't know what to do." Just table it, trash it or come back later. Start anew if you have to. But no matter what, the memory remains, even after the work is gone.