To Sketch or Not to Sketch? That is the Question.
By Lois Knight
Should Graphic Designers Sketch For Their Design Projects?
And it is a very good one. Why do we need to sketch if we are designers? Most of us have no talent as artists, even though we may be top producing in our field. Personally, I have about enough talent to draw a stick person and my sketches tend to show it. And for that reason, I was petrified to show my work to anyone, teachers and clients alike. But I learned something along the way. I found out that drawing out the most primitive of sketches is equivalent to creating a road map. Would you go on road trip without some sort of directional tool? There was a time when I would, but not any more.
So where do we start? Start by listening. Listen to what your client wants and needs. Take lots of notes to refer to later, you may need them. Do you have an epiphany in the middle of your meeting? (By the way, epiphany is a great idea or light bulb moment). Take your pen and draw it out real quick on the edge of your notes. Show it to your client. Is THIS what they need? If not, ask if you are on the right track. They really don’t mind, in fact they kind of expect it.
Who is the target audience? What is the message? Are there budget restraints? Are there special instructions, colors, logos, etc. that need to be considered? What about photos? How many pieces do they need? Is this project going to be part of a media blitz or a one shot deal? The questions can go on and on, but you start to get the picture. The key is to ask the question then be quiet until they are done answering. Then if you need clarification, ask another question. There is a reason you have two ears and one mouth. Utilize both in proper proportion. Answer all the questions you have, but don’t waste the client’s time. Go to work. Even if you have to go to your vehicle and take five minutes to sketch out your immediate impressions. These will act as prompts later when you have more time to lay out a proper sketch. This practice is extremely helpful if you have several meetings in a row.
I used to hate to show my sketches to anyone. My talent was not as advanced as others with more experience. I would drag my feet; find a half a dozen other more important things to do, spend hours on the computer, coming up with what I thought my clients wanted only to have to start over again and again. It wasn’t until one of my mentors sat me down and showed me his rough sketches. WOW, what an eye opener that was! His sketches were actually worse than mine! But he could look at them and tell me exactly what he was thinking. That is the sole purpose of sketches, to guide us. Get over your stage fright and go to work.
So, how many sketches is enough? It depends on how many ideas you have. You notice I didn’t say anything about how many good ideas. All ideas are good and some ideas that I thought were horrible, were best sellers. Everyone likes choices and clients are no exception. I try to give my clients at least three or four, sometimes more if the creative juices are really flowing. But, as with everything in life, moderation is key. You have to remember, this is not Baskin Robbins, and they don’t need thirty-seven flavors. Keep it simple.
Okay, we know about how many sketches to make. How long should it take? Most of my rough sketches are done in less than five minutes. If I’m having an epiphany, it has been known to take less than a minute. Remember, this is just a guide. If you want to show the client six sketches, allow about thirty to forty-five minutes to produce them.
Sometimes a client will like aspects from several ideas, not just one in particular. Always take your tablet with you for just this reason! Sketch it out right there. Show them what it might look like with those aspects. Once they see what they like, ask them to sign off on the one they like. And I do mean sign it, not initials. Then you sign it and date it. In this way, you both know this is the vision your client is seeing in their head. This will allow you to go to work and get paid.
You Might Also Like This Article - How to Overcome Your Creative Block.
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By Lois Knight - You can also see Lois Knight’s Articles on Freelance Folder
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