Creative Processes

Our lives are dominated and controlled by processes. Registering on a website, signing in and out of websites, filling out forms for endless life laundry tasks, if we stop to consider all the formulaic behaviour we have to endure then it is clear how often we find ourselves moving through a process of some sort.

Finding structure in the chaos.

As a Project Manager I have a daily process or work method that allows me to do my job effectively. As a writer I have a less defined method when I settle down to write something, as creativity can’t be scheduled or predicted, but I often goes through stages ofΒ  brainstorming on post it notes, typing more detailed outlines, then writing draft one, two, three and so on. My writing method also includes blood, sweat, tears and an endless supply of coffee. Those last few are guaranteed.

The process of others.

It is with great interest then that I learn about how others work and it fascinates me how a designer, writer, director or other creative soul turns the very early idea into the final polished website/article/film.

I’ve recently been reading The Art of Wall-E by Tim Hauser and Andrew Stanton, a stunning book that chronicles the production of the film Wall-E from conception to release. Here are some pics from the book:

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It makes for an insightful read into how a film, for the most part without dialogue, was put together, discussing visual storytelling techniques and all other strands that are involved in the process.

Illustrating the process.

On his website, illustrator Quentin Blake highlights his creative process by showing his rough sketches through to the polished pages. He also has a slideshow of his workspace and tools, both integral to any creative process. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, he illustrated the Roald Dahl books. An example is below and I urge you to check out his website where you can also see videos of him in action.

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Start to finish (and everything in between).

Thinking back to the web, every design project goes through a creative process and it’s important for peers, prospective clients and for your own record, that these projects are well documented from start to finish. A portfolio is fine for showcasing the visuals but for a real insight into the effort, concepts, ideas and final design there is nothing better than a case study.

Case Studies

Some people loathe them, but presented in an aesthetically pleasing way with well written copy, case studies can and should be a key component of any website for people involved in creating and designing.

One of my favourite websites for how they present their own work is Huge:

Scholastic Case Study - HUGE (20091106)I’m also a big fan of Squared Eye and their case studies, leading the reader through the project step by step and making it clear what services they contributed, the challenges they faced and most importantly, the end result.

Family Life Network - a case study of Squared Eye, the web company with a monstrous appetite for details! (20091106)

Case studies are an opportunity for you to tell your design story and they should be written accordingly. Who are the characters involved in the project, what was the beginning (the brief), the middle (the creative process) and the end (the finished product).

As with all captivating narratives, challenges should be included along with how they were overcome (if they were) and every step of the project should be included.

And finally …

Check out the methods other agencies and people adopt. They won’t necessarily fit your own work ethic or clients but we can learn from others and improve our own creative processes. Just remember to document it and share it with others.

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