Monday, September 11, 2006

DO-This is My Process

Michael Bierut recently posted a commentary on design process in relationship to a client.

When dealing with clients, Bierut says, they want an outline of how the process will proceed right at the beginning. For instance, "(t)his project will be divided in four phases: Orientation and Analysis, Conceptual Design, Design Development, and Implementation." He points out, however, that this process is rarely true. It is simply something done to make the work sound more valuable to that client. Somewhere along the way (or right after the intial meeting), that proposal goes right out the window.

In actuality, he listens to what the client has to say, hopefully has some knowledge about that particular area, and then an idea pops into his head "like magic."

After that, it is all about the sell. Basically, the client just has to trust him.

I find that very interesting. In the end, it isn't really about hard work or a long, drawn out process. It comes back to talent.

When teaching students, we have two combating schools of thought. One is to reward them for the final piece; the other is to grade heavily on process expectations.

I tend to grade on both, but weigh more heavily on the final piece. I expect process, and count them down if they don't meet expectations. That isn't to say process isn't important to learn. I think the "magic" only happens when you are comfortable enough with yourself as a designer, (and I sure don't have magic every time I try to make something, so take this with a grain of salt) and have learned to discard bad ideas in your head. Truthfully, many projects need to be pounded out to reach a final solution. Quite often, however, one of those intitial ideas plays heavily into that final solution.

So, I would advocate process in entry level classes. The problem that comes into play is this; sometimes marginally talented students get by early on by hard work, but in the final semesters find other students, more talented ones, blow them away in class. Then, at least the ones who care, bust their butts to compete. Once they reach the "real world," will they ever get so long to work on a project? When the final solution has to be cost effective for the company there are few four week/eight week projects?

What does that make? Someone with a very hard work ethic that is (maybe) in the wrong field. (I was told, for instance, that I would make a fine asshole, but found that position doesn't pay well and has many applicants just standing line, waiting for their chance). I know we have a review system in place to supposedly stop this from happening, yet we let BAs graduate each year. We would be doing a them a service to point out that they are smart, extremely capable people who should do something they are better at?


Blogger marydorsey said...

This brings up many interesting points. Educators hate to see someone's heart broken because he/she is in the wrong field, but the students are usually better off in the long run.

I agree that process ia all-important in beginning classes. Students in entry level classes that I teach are generally successful if they attend class, participate, and complete assignments at a quality level. Beginning Photography is required for art majors, and is a popular elective in the College of Arts and Sciences.

My advanced classes are more strenous and B/Cs are common. Hopefully, that thins out most students who should not be there, and advising also helps.

But a few slip through. The really tough part for a professor is that letter of recommendation that has to tell the truth.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Number Ten said...

very interesting take on his comment. I got from what he said that it is more about how you communicate and sell your idea. if you come up with an idea to illustrate chocolate milk, it doesn't necessarily matter how creative an idea it is in the design world, it just matters that you convince the client that it is. so i feel that it basically comes back to business and the sale.

11:23 AM  
Blogger marydorsey said...

I remember hearing that the most successful sales people are C students and youngest children!

4:18 PM  
Blogger Professor Melis said...

Very thought provoking...

Are we attaching our educational programs too closely to the business world? Maybe we have to if we claim in some way to be a pre-professional program. If we were a liberal-arts graphic design program would we have to worry so much about how our students interpret graduating from our program? It seems like we worry at K-State that our students will think average grades and projects and graduating with a BA are enough to find a job in their field. We think maybe we should cut them off before they get to that point or hope they'll realize not being allowed to get a BFA is a hint. And maybe we do owe that directness to them given how much we (university wide, not just in graphic design) focus on how our majors connect to jobs. If our students came in to graphic design expecting, in large part, to gain a broader understanding of the world through many areas of study with an emphasis on graphic design (as I think would be the approach in liberal arts), and maybe get a job in it or maybe in another field, would we feel such pressure? Should we either way?

3:44 PM  

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