This blog article is about something that I am sure happens to all designers at some point in their career – You are asked to design something you don’t actually like. Now it’s not that what you are designing is wrong, in fact it’s perfect for the intended market. However, you yourself are not the target market and the brief does not encompass your style. Therefore, you do not like what you are actually creating.
Whether it’s keeping your designs clean and simple or layering things up with lots of textures and illustrations, us graphic designers all have our own natural style. This is what is great about our industry, we all have our own individuality. It’s this that sets you apart from other designers and is often a strong factor as to why the client chose you in the first place.
However, occasionally you are asked to design something that you wouldn’t normally design. It’s not that what the client is asking for is wrong, it’s just that you don’t personally like it, it’s just not your style. How do you go about designing something you simply don’t like?
World Beach Rugby
As we’ve mentioned many times, we design a range of rugby clothing for the devon based company, WBR World Beach Rugby. Designing the first range was great. Based on the brief we designed a range of surfy / sporty themed t-shirts. However the brief changed during the second year and we were asked to create much more simple, blocky designs leaning towards a rugby theme rather than surf. We are keen wearers of surfy style clothing and during the summer months can be found lounging on a beach somewhere next to our VW campervan, so we now stopped being in the target market for this product and were asked to design something that we not only didn’t like, but wouldn’t wear.
Now I’m not saying that we can’t design something that we aren’t the intended market for, quite the contrary in fact. It’s quite rare that we work on design projects that we are the target market for. It’s just that when it comes to rugby clothing we aren’t too keen on what’s in the market place and what we were asked to design. In the end the client loved the clothing designs and they sold really well (much better than the surfy style of the first range), prooving that their vision of the brand, and the subsequent designs we produced were much more targeted to the intended audience.
However, it was particularly difficult to design something we didn’t like. We still supplied the same level of perfection ensuring all the usual design rules were followed. For example, the typefaces all worked well together and the design made good use of space etc, etc. In fact, the level of ‘quality control’ was much higher for this project as we were trying our hardest to like the designs. It certainly took us longer than any other project as we were unsure when to stop as we didn’t like the final pieces. We were, therefore, constantly questioning if the design was actually finished.
It’s great when you get to design things that you like and are proud of, but I do believe it’s not a bad exercise to design something that you don’t actually like once in a while. It certainly forces you out of your comfort zone meaning you explore new areas of design, therefore pushing your own personal boundaries. Although you may come out of the project unimpressed with the work you produced, as long as it fulfills the design brief and appeals to the target market then the client will be more than happy. Also, if you look back over the design process I expect you will have learnt something new, and that can never be a bad thing.
Have you ever been in this position? How do you design something you do not like?
Posted by Lu