Like most freelance creatives, I’ve had to figure out my process through trial and error. I’ve never been part of a big design agency, and have never been mentored by someone who was. Over the years, I developed a design process that I found comfortable, that felt right for me. I made many mistakes along the way, but I learned from them and applied the lessons right away. Some of my friends have been really supportive, and would give suggestions every time I had a problem with a client. I’ve also taken them to heart and applied what I could.
Being a work-at-home mum with no household help, I experience limitations in the way I can deal with clients. For one thing, I can’t go out and meet clients in person at the drop of a hat. Or at all, for that matter. Add to that the fact that most of my clients are not even from Singapore, and you get how it can pose problems. So I devised a really detailed questionnaire (using what I learned from my previous life as a Psychologist) that really helps me get a good idea of what the client wants. The initial email discussions also help me to get hints about the client’s personality – just enough to help me create a design that meets their taste. A lot of it is largely intuitive now, and I’ve also added the insights that a moodboard will give regarding the look that the client has in mind. Most of the time this process is close to perfect (for me).
I really love it when a client says things like, “I love my design so much, it’s like you read my mind!” That’s how I know that things are really working; and I’m happy to say that I get that feedback a lot.
There have been a few times when things didn’t work out quite so perfectly. I noticed that in all these cases, someone else discussed the design details with the client and I was just given a summarized brief of the design requirements. These were the few times when I certainly did not nail it quite so easily. These projects took longer, had several rounds of edits, and oftentimes left me (and probably everyone involved) very frustrated. It turns out that personally interacting with the client (even through email) is crucial in my design process. I cannot immerse myself into the client’s brand unless I get to know the client as well.
I’m thankful for these bumps in the road because otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered how crucial those steps were in my process. But, as I said, I’m learning through trial and error. It’s really one big adventure, if you think about it. The important thing is to learn from the experience and apply what you learn. It pays to step back sometimes and analyze how things are going. Oftentimes we get so caught up with details – the to-do lists, the emails we need to answer, the little things that make up our day – that we forget to see the bigger picture.
How about you? What is your creative process like? Do let me know in the comments.
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