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What’s your favourite part of the graphic design process?

Favourite part of the design process

A client recently came to us with an excellent idea for a site and I couldn’t wait to meet with them and get stuck into designing the visual. However when I thought about building the site I could feel a mild headache coming on. This got me thinking, what’s your favourite part of the graphic design process? I realise every project is different and some projects are a pure pleasure from beginning to end whilst others are just painful from the outset. However I still think there must be one part of the process where you think “I’m really looking forward to working on that…”

As you may or may not know, Eightyone Design is run by myself and my partner, Steve. We both have very different skill sets and as such enjoy different aspects of the design process more than others. We have recently published articles about our design process and also how we prefer working, under pressure or with an endless deadline. In this post we thought we would explain what we enjoy most about working in the design industry and what is our favourite part of the design process.


Without any shadow of a doubt, my favourite part of the graphic design process is when the research has been done and my thoughts and ideas are coming to the forefront. I can then put pen to paper or open up Photoshop and Illustrator to finally let all my thoughts and ideas flow. I look forward to that moment once the penny has dropped and you can work away watching your ideas come together whilst the visual is forming. 

For me, it is so easy to get lost in this part of the design process. I always try to focus on the whole piece evenly rather than concentrating on one aspect. This stops me creating something far removed from my design brief. Another reason I design ‘evenly’ is because it allows others to see where I am headed. Unlike some freelance designers, there is two of us involved at Eightyone Design so I am constantly asking Steve’s opinion. If I’ve ‘gone to town’ on one element rather than the piece as a whole it’s hard to gain feedback from others and ensure that the project is on course. 

I can’t even say that I prefer one media over another. I enjoy creating the initial shape of a logo in illustrator, cutting out images and adding gradients to my web projects in Photoshop and creating styles in Indesign and watching my creation come alive! No matter what it is I am creating, I simply love that ‘creative’ part of the design process where you get to try new ideas and techniques. 

For my creativity to flow, I ensure I turn off all distractions such as emails and Twitter. I then turn my music up really loud (but not so loud that I can’t listen out for the phone, which has to stay on at all times!) and set to work.

I love and relish every part of this and be very wary if you try and interrupt me… I will growl at you!


Unlike Lu, my favourite part of the graphic design process starts when all designs have been signed off and all concepts have been approved. Whether it’s building a website, finalising a logo design for output to eps or creating a grid based layout for a catalogue or brochure, I simply love the technical aspects of any project.

We spend the first half of any design project mocking up ideas in order for proofing to the client. At this point we do not worry too much about the finer details of a concept, it is merely an exercise in communicating our ideas and thoughts to the client. Once a concept is chosen we move on the the second part of the design process. This involves taking the aspects from the concept stage and re-building them from the ground up in order for them to become a finished piece.

This is where I really come in to my own! I love spending time pouring over the finer details to any piece and conceiving a plan as to how I am going to put all our ideas into action. For example, for a website design, before I hit the computers, I print out numerous copies of of the design visuals and spend a great deal of time scribbling over them, drawing out and devising layouts, adding notes to myself as to how I am going to achieve something using CSS, calculating dimensions for my elements including padding and margins (believe me this can save a huge amount of time during the build) and working on a cheat sheet for colour swatches, fonts and font sizes to improve my workflow during the build.

At this point I hit the computers. I get a great feeling when all my elements fit precisely together so that everything is aligned. I have started to develop a keen eye for these finer details and as such can normally identify an element that is even just a pixel out of place!

This passion for the technical aspect of a design project also carries through to non-web projects. One of my favourite parts of a logo design project is flattening and simplifying my illustrator documents to include just the base elements. This can include using the pathfinder tools to cut sections out of shapes below them and finalising the colours used. I get a great sense of achievement when our final eps file contains only a few compound paths as opposed to the numerous layers used to create the design.

Similarly, when working on print based projects such as catalogues or brochures, I really enjoy the devising of a baseline grid to suit the piece. I also get satisfaction from the final check of margins and alignment before outputting the document to whatever spec given to us by our printers.

Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy the creative side of design. However, it’s the open ended aspect of the concept stage that can bother me. When working on the ‘build’ of a project, I have a clear finish line and although I have a lot of work to do before getting there, it’s the finishing of a project I love, especially knowing we have completed it to the best of our ability knowing that everything is ‘technically’ perfect.

To sum it up…

I guess we each have aspects of our job which we prefer doing more than others. However, as designers it is often beneficial to break out of our comfort zones and work in areas that we are perhaps not as happy. As you can probably tell from our favourite aspects above, we generally tackle a project with me addressing the first concept stage and then Steve performing the second half. This way we utilise the best of each of our skills. This process works very well. However, we occasionally reverse our roles in order to keep Steve’s creative juices flowing and my technical knowledge up to speed. As I said, whilst it is fun to work solely on your favourite aspects of the design process, it can be easy to get stuck in your comfort zone. After all, a change is as good as a holiday (I think!!!)

So what is your favourite part of the design process?

Posted by Steve

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Posted on Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 9:58 am
Posted In Freelancing, Graphic Design, Logo Design, Web Design | Tags: , , , ,

6 Responses to “What’s your favourite part of the graphic design process?”

  • My favorite part of the graphic design process is coming up with the ideas, sketching, researching, thinking of solutions, etc. Although I also love the end of (most) projects when everything comes together and it looks great and you can stand back and say “Hey, I made that!”

  • Lu says:

    Hi James,

    My fav bit is just after yours then, when you’ve found a solution and your seeing it come to life! Yeah it’s great when you have a project that you are particularly proud of, I often have to fight the urge to show my Mum!!


  • I’m like Lu, I love the creative and ideas formulating bit, but when it gets to the detail and the technical stuff, I find that very much a chore.

    For instance, brochure work starts of fun, but a few pages in and I start to just want it to end :)

    As far as building websites is concerned, I initially used to offer that as a service, but then I realised over time that I actually loathe this with a passion and eventually ended up offering ‘front end web design’ only – so that’s the creative bit and not having to actually build the design.

    I pass my clients onto other people who are more like Steve and enjoy the minute details required in building a website and other tasks like that.

  • Shauni says:

    I think, like Lu, my favourite moment in design is when something ‘pings’ inside of you- like two puzzle pieces coming together- and you know you’ve found the design you’ve been looking for. That can be right at the beginning or way into development, but it feels so wonderful! Everything falls into place and you can start scribbling away with your new idea.

    And then of course… the end product is what makes it so rewarding and worthwhile. I don’t know about you, but when you complete a design, do you keep on opening it up and staring at it lovingly like I do? Haha!

    I can relate to Lu in this sense…but I also think the creative idea stages of design can be so stressful! Sometimes it feels there is such an infinite number of fonts and logos out there, you wonder if your idea just wouldn’t be as good as another designer’s.

  • Ha ha … “opening it and staring at it lovingly”, that is totally what I do!

  • Lu says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Good to hear that you’ve homed your business in to what you love doing most. I think all us designers stare lovingly at the work we’ve created! We’re all proud parents in a strange kind of way!

    Hi Shauni,

    That’s a great way of putting it – like two pieces of the puzzle coming together.

    Thanks for stopping by guys!


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