Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Price tag for design without disciplines

When we were at school, our instructors cared less how we finished our projects as long as they are delivered on time. It is also true to the design industry. Disciplines are always mentioned but not emphasized in our classes or at work. I think discipline is one of characters to determine how far a designer can go in his/her career.

Having a good design habit makes everyone's life easier. I have recently received a Photoshop file from a designer who is supposed to send me a print ready file. The file contains 20 layers and groups. They were not properly labelled. Bleed was missing. Unused layers were still in the file. A simple 20M Photoshop file has become 40 M because of these junk and unflattened layers. Another time a designer sent me a PDF for a tabloid spread (4/0). For a design with solid yellow background with a few small photos on it, the file came to be 250M. We later found out that the designer shrank the large photos without resampling them. The most horrendous experience that we have ever had was a designer sending us a series of 6 posters (4" x 6" each. Yes. It was set to such small size though the finish size should be 4ft x 6ft) in AI files with one photo and one clipping path in each poster. It turned out to be 3G in total and he complained that he was not able to upload the files to our FTP. How he managed to "upsize" these small designs is still a mystery.

Many people just jump right to the computer when they receive a new project, dropped everything to the canvas and play around. Size does not matter because their computers are fast enough to handle the job. They finish the job, hand it out and hope tomorrow will be a brand new day. The truth is these incompetent "mutants" that they created will come back to haunt them someday. A few years later when the client comes back for an update, all that have remained is a few files with some layers turned on and some turned off but look familiar and some missing fonts. There was no sketches or written ideas to be traced because they do not have the habit of sketching or writing. Their computer can only tell about the present but not the past. Finally, they have to hire a hypnotist hoping to bring back the memories from a few years ago when the mutant was created...

Please be considerate to yourself and to others who work with you. A few hours design process and good practice won't hurt and it will make your life much easier for the years to come. Good luck.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Talent and mind setting. What should come first?

I used to think that if someone is smart, he/she can become anyone - a doctor, lawyer, geophysicist or even astronaut but I am wrong. David Carlson's opinion on "A lack of design knowledge" and the responding articles from other designers have made me realize that there is really a portion of talent to define success. I have work with many "designers" whom believe that they have the capability to "design". Some of them did not receive proper training. Their design could not speak their clients' message or did not follow the design spec. They work as "graphic designers" either for money only or because they know how to use the software, so they think they can design.

To me, the priority of design is to communicate. We speak our clients' message in their language through graphics. This is my simplest definition of graphic design. I have met some designers who simply created something visually stunning but lost the purpose of the design. I guess it is a matter of mind setting. As a graphic communicator, creating eye candies is of course important but bearing in mind what we are doing and why we are doing it should be above any steps in our design process. My advertising direction instructor once asked us what message we are trying to leave to the audience after they have seen our ad -- did we make them think that the product is really better than others? Did we educate them as we intended to? Did we trigger their urge of owning the product? This is the designer/art director's responsibility. If we can't leave anything in our audience's mind after they saw our design, we have wasted our time of doing it.

After all, I think setting the right mind is more crucial than having talent.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reality vs. Dream

Art class was the only class that I enjoyed throughout my entire academic life. This was why I chose art as one of my electives in high school. I still remember there were only 3 of us who picked art class because we really love drawing and we wanted to do something with it after we graduate. Other students picked this class because it was the only elective that didn't need to study for exams.

After high school, only one of us -- Chan continued to pursue his dream to study theatre design. There was a time that I didn't know what to do with my interest, so I gave up my love of drawing for biology. It was a rare opportunity that in my last year at university I met someone from Fine Art who has brought me back to drawing and design and helped me realize that turning my dream into my career is what I really want. I have never thought of my childhood interest will become my life long career one day.

I see my friends giving up on their dreams for a living. I am lucky to live my dream everyday and enjoy it. What I am trying to say is that believe in ourselves and treasure every chance to turn our dreams into reality.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ideas Bank

We all live on ideas. Either creating our own or living on others' ideas, our brain needs it everyday. The Global Ideas Bank is surely a place to feed our hungry minds. Some of them are just for fun. Some of them touch the global issues, politics, business practice, etc.

One of the most recent ideas here is to set up a bank account for the earth. Yes. You hear me right. It sounds bizzare but considerate. Practical? Not real. But it is a great idea to get people to think about how we can make our earth a better planet to live. We do things to keep ourselves healthy and live longer but less thought that we put in to keep the earth a pleasant place to live.