Back to the Drawing Board (Step 4 of my Creative Process)

Like most occupations, it's helpful to have a process in place as I go about my work. I haven't seen many creatives approach this subject, so I thought it might be helpful to spend the next few weeks sharing my own creative process. While my method may not work for everyone, my hope is that these posts will encourage you to streamline your own process and think through the steps you take as you go about your work.

In a perfect world, first drafts would be the only drafts and no revisions would have to be made. But that isn't usually the case in the design world. It isn't always the most fun step, but revising and reevaluating allows me to refine my work, challenges me to become intentional in making design decisions, and results in an even better solution for my client. Here's a look at how Step 4 plays out for me in my creative process.


Before I reveal any work to my clients, I spend some time making revisions to my rough drafts. It's important for me to take a step back and evaluate so that I'm giving my clients the best representation of my work right out of the gate. I check for errors in spacing and composition, I double check colors in my Pantone book, search for any typos, etc. If this step is overlooked and mistakes are seen in the client meeting, it can make you look careless and unprofessional. Self-editing is a strong trait of any good designer.

Separate yourself from the project

In college, I dreaded critiques with a passion. I would walk into the studio after having spent countless hours working on a project, pin my design on the board, and shrink in my chair when my professor and classmates critiqued it to pieces. I can probably attribute my misery to my people-pleasing and perfectionist tendencies, but I think that every person struggles somewhat with taking criticism.

It's easy to get wrapped up in your work and become attached to what you create, especially when you've spent time and energy coming up with a great solution. But I've learned that in order to give your client your best work, you have to emotionally detach yourself and receive feedback and criticism with grace. As much as I hate to admit it, taking the feedback to heart from those class critiques in college always made my work stronger and challenged me to think through my design decisions. 

Clearly communicate with your client

I wrote on this subject a couple weeks ago in Step 1, but it's important throughout the entirety of each project. When I reveal drafts to my clients, I walk them through my thought process and explain why I made each design decision. I've learned that educating my clients is a large part of communicating well. 

Then it's my turn to listen and receive feedback. I take it to heart and ask a lot of questions along the way for clarification, just to make sure we're on the same page. 

Go back to the drawing board

Once I've met with the client and discussed what they like and don't care for about my first drafts, I go back to the drawing board. I make small edits, change one typeface for another, explore other options - whatever needs to be done to meet the needs of my client while staying true to the elements of good design. 

More posts in this series