Designer and founder of Brand Nu, Radim Malinic, has written a “Book of Ideas”, which gives plenty of practical tips on how to become a better designer.
Get the work you want
Getting new client work can seem like a dark art. Getting the right type of work can seem even more difficult. There are many different ways of getting hold of projects and each type of creative outfit employs a different tactic.
New projects can be won in pitches, they can be agreed over lunch with a long-term contact, or while the new business people and agents cold-call the earth. Some work is done for the love of the craft, some for money to keep the studio going. The first type of project usually goes in the portfolio, the second type gets hidden and forgotten.
When prospective clients start looking for a creative, the process usually begins in one of three places: a Google search, word of mouth recommendation or first hand experience with the work you have created. The client will browse sites, compile a shortlist, then proceed with an email enquiry.
From the client perspective, this should be straightforward. The client emails five people selected from their online portfolios. Those five emails will be met with as many different responses. One or two emails won’t get answered for a few days, the third person will quote rather cheaply, the fourth person will send a quote which is double that. The last person will analyse the email and think about the project and what value they can add. Is it suitable for them? Is it playing to their strengths? Can they do a great job? They will pick up the phone and call the sender back to find out more. Although their quote might end up the most expensive, they are the most likely to get the job.
It is so easy to see enquiries as passing traffic. If clients take the time to make the initial contact, it’s silly to simply reply with a robotic answer. Even if the current enquiry isn’t fully right for you, stay in touch.
No email will ever beat a phone call. Regardless of the business size, the key is to be personable and to show willing to turn the client’s brief into a success. People will buy into your enthusiasm more than your Photoshop skills.
I am yet to meet a person who would tell me that their career, however illustrious, has been totally free from struggles or regrets.
Everyone has hopes and dreams but not everyone acts on them. We are much better at making excuses than making things happen.
Why do we feel we have to finish up one thing before we can start another? Alternatively, why do we start 20 personal projects and never finish a single one of them? How many sketchbooks do you have that are filled with ideas for projects that are yet to get started?
After trying many ways to conquer this, I’ve come up with my own solution. I split my year in half. For the first six months from January, I embark on the planning stages and sketching of ideas. I simply note down whatever comes to my mind and try not to pay too much attention to it. During this time, I tend to think about what I can do with some of these concepts, even if it’s just to validate their viability.
For the second six months of the year, I get into design and production. Even when my regular workload is challenging, I weave in personal projects – they are now written on my to-do list every Monday so I can’t avoid them. I treat my own projects in the same way I treat client work. And just like clients chase on deadline day, I set my own deadlines to ensure my personal work gets done.
I could easily try to spread these personal projects over the course of the whole year, but a having limited timeframe works just perfectly for me. Even though I can pick up a project when I feel like working on it, it’s the end of year urgency that gets the work done. I’m realistic about what I can achieve and I have cut down on making excuses to myself. In fact, I am working on cutting excuses out of my life for good.
The Rule of Opposite
Average design is a means to an end, good work gets the job done, but great work gets people talking. Great work doesn’t rely on clichés; it stimulates thoughts, actions and movement. It’s great because it was made with substance and ambition. It surprises people, and it makes them envious for not having that idea first. Great work is rare. Good work can be found. Average work is everywhere.
One way to decipher the enigma of great creative work is the rule of the opposite. Discard the obvious choices and dig deeper to find something which answers the brief in a much more exciting way.
Here’s a simple exercise – let’s put together a logo brief for a company that sells organic food. You can set up your brand values and target demographic. Let’s name the company ‘Fresh’. What are your initial thoughts on the logo design? Simple type, maybe a minimal font and logo device – maybe a little green leaf? What other ideas come flooding to you? Take a mental note of a few options. Next open a web browser and do a Google image search for the name of this company. It’s more than likely that your initial idea is waiting for you there. It’s been done a zillion times before because a zillion ‘designers’ thought it would be a good way of solving the brief.
People like to engage with what you create and will reward you for making them stop and think for a while. There’s no need to take the obvious route just because you can get your job done in five minutes. Creating engaging work should be an everyday task. Kick out the clichés for good.
Book of ideas has been published by Brand Nu and written and designed by Radim Malinic . For more info head to www.bookofideas.co.uk