22 Sep The Creative Process

Every designer has a unique point of view and their own take on the creative process. It’s that idiosyncratic perspective that results in the innovative art we see every day in our museums, brands, and city streets. A good design calls for originality and these distinctive methods are necessary for creativity. However, every skill set has a rulebook of sorts, and every designer was once just an imaginative person with a pen and a few ideas. So, for those who are just starting out or design veterans who want to return to their roots, let’s take a look at the creative process.

We asked Tyler Smith, one of Idea Associate’s in-house designers, for his take on the creative process. “To start, I try to gather as much information about the client as possible, including their target audience and what work they’ve done in the past. Then I try to marry what they are looking for, what their audience will like, and what design style meets their needs. Always let the client’s needs dictate the style, not the other way around.” As Tyler noted, research is an important first step. Whether you’re a freelancer or working for an agency, you are likely working with clients in multiple industries. Before you start developing a design, it’s important to get an idea of the kind of environment the creative work will inhabit. Assessing common layouts, color combinations, and fonts will help you create a design that meshes with the industry standard or, if applicable, appropriately stands out. For example, a design for a law firm will yield wildly different results than a design for a video game developer. Doing your due diligence in the research phase will help you pinpoint the right strategy for your client.

After you research your client’s industry, then you can narrow your focus to your client’s unique vision. You should study the client and ask key questions in this phase of the process. What message are they trying to convey? The service, product or statement the client wants to communicate should be clear in the creative design. Who is their target audience and where will they be looking for your client? A younger demographic may be primarily focused on online or email marketing. Maybe direct mail has proven to be effective or even a banner in front of the business has yielded significant results. Learning the who and where of your client’s demo can help you create the design most impactful for that audience and their chosen medium. Do they want a brand-new design or a piece that harkens back to their old style? Study artwork the client has used in the past and determine how and if a previous design should be incorporated into the new look.

Once you’ve established industry standards and your client’s specific needs, you can start drafting and revising. This process starts with your initial concepts for the design. When you’ve found an idea you like, you can begin etching out defining features like color, size, and shape in your preferred editing program. Now that you’ve created something that you like, it’s time to see if the client likes it too. Getting feedback from the client is integral to the creative process as a great design doesn’t guarantee it’s the right design for the client. Keep an open door of communication with the client to ensure you’re on the right track and update the design as needed when they provide feedback.

And finally, after making the necessary revisions to the design, the last step of the creative process is delivering your work to the client. Be sure to create the appropriate file formats of the design so it can be placed on all applicable channels. As you formulate your own individual design routine, you may alternate these steps or forgo the process all together. Exercising distinctive practices allows your original perspective to shine so don’t be afraid to color outside the lines every once in a while. But if you ever need a few guidelines or want to go back to the basics, the creative process is here to stay.


Sibet B Freides