Solving design problems is my thing. I like to research by reading the brief, having a chat, sometimes seeing how others have solved the problem – although with logos I prefer not to do this for fear of influencing my quiet brain… but the one thing I have to do is…

sleep on it

By my bed you will find a sketchbook where I work through ideas before going to sleep, or to capture them as I fall into, or wake from, sleeping. If you can hold onto a question that you want to solve – your lovely brain has a whole night to try and figure out the answer for you.

Sometimes these are complete ideas, or they might be just notion of colour, or pattern, a phrase, or a feeling I need to explore.

feed the notion

To feed, or explore the fine threads of the awakening of an idea, I will start burrowing online or in the books of work by my favourite artists for inspiration, to connect the spaces between those first thoughts, or reject them. As I start to hone in on the ‘feeling’ I am trying to express – that I want to resonate in the final solution, shape and colour will also start to form. If it’s not quite there – I will again, sleep on it.

If you’ve ever worked with me, you may well have had an email that said something like:

‘I was up early because I thought this might work better’.

Bob Dylan by Milton Glaser

Bob Dylan by Milton Glaser

designing for yourself

In whatever field of expertise, the hardest problems to solve, are the ones for yourself. And they take the longest – hence the term ‘cobblers shoes’ – everyone but the cobbler has great shoes, which is why interestingly, quite often a big design agency will outsource their own visual branding – that way, it gets done, and they can be objective.

Which brings me to finding visual branding inspiration for my own website, especially that most important element, the main mast. I knew I needed a picture of me, because that’s what my clients buy. I also wanted to show that I was very ‘human’, so included a smile – a wry smile, because I will challenge!  I also knew that it needed to say ‘something’ about me – my work is shown in the portfolio, and that speaks for itself. I found my inspiration in Milton Glaser (most famous for I ♥ NY) – notably the 1966 Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits album cover. You can see it’s not a copy of the work, but I used a few cues from it. I wanted my design to make me feel happy, and full of promise, and not ‘as expected’ when I looked at it. So it has multi-colour swirls like Dylans’ hair, but used to block off the bottom of the image, it’s a bit ‘rainbow’ – because – who wants just one colour! I included the circles that I had been using in other graphics for myself; a bubble cloud for my thinking; a butterfly for those random ideas that can create big changes – it’s a monarch butterfly (with a bit of pink) – which is a pretty phenomenal creature. I am in black and white, supported by colour, and allowing free thinking. I still like it very much, but I will be compelled to make a change at some point. Because like my logo, which I’ve had since 1999 with a font tweak, I like to keep rolling.