The process designers go through to take a project from rough concept to final product to can often seem like a bit of a mystery to the layman. Even though we take special care to collaborate closely with our clients, there’s always a period between our initial creative meetings and the eventual design presentation where, like the Wizard of Oz, we seem to disappear behind a curtain, perform some magic and – boom – out pops pretty design.
Of course that’s not what really happens… There are a million steps and a unique process in between that helps determine the quality and direction of the final product. That process is extremely important but it differs from person to person. We’re always interested in learning how different designers work, so when when the AIGA GMU chapter president asked Tomas to come and help judge their upcoming design battle, we jumped at the opportunity. For the uninitiated, a “design battle” is a live artistic competition where a bunch of designers are given a project with a specific theme and criteria and then produce a design based on said theme for a live audience. It’s a relatively new (and weird) concept, but we already love it and can’t wait to see more.
It was a pretty great event. There were five contestants and two rounds of elimination leading up to a final showdown between two students. As we mentioned previously, the students had to produce designs in a set amount of time based on specific themes and criteria. For example, the first round’s theme was “WTF,” and the criteria was that they could not use any photos or typography. After thirty minutes of hectic and speedy work, a group of local designers including Tomas would comment on each design and then fill out a secret ballot to choose who went on to the next round.
It was really interesting to see the different approaches each student took with the exact same project. Some would sit down and do some initial sketching to firm up their idea while others would hop right into Photoshop or Illustrator and being production. Others would spend a few minutes Googling for inspiration before settling into a groove.
But like Highlander, there could be only one (winner) and after three wonderfully chaotic rounds that winner was Joseph Le (who we’ve actually met a few times before at previous GMU events). “He was so fast,” Tomas commented to the rest of us in the studio the next day, “he’d just sit there doing nothing for a few moments and then he’d suddenly be working furiously for the next couple of minutes” They had pretty great prizes for all the contestants including a bunch of gift certificates from two of our clients (Taylor Gourmet and matchbox), which were really popular with the terminally hungry, I-survive-on-ramen-alone college students.
In addition to the design battle, there was also a huge wall dedicated to an open doodle contest. Anyone at the event could wander up to the wall and leave their mark, and people were able to vote for their favorite doodle with post-it notes. We thought that was a really nice touch as it gave the audience something to do besides just sitting there passively watching the competition.
All in all it was a fantastic event and we hope we get invited back next year. Congrats to Joseph and the rest of the contestants – you guys all did great work! Special thanks to AIGA GMU chapter president Adey Chaplin for letting us use her photos in this post, and a huge thanks to talented designer, GMU professor and buddy-o-ripe Eric Hansen for getting us involved with GMU in the first place (and for doing a great job MCing last night)!
Update 4/24: Looks like the oh-so-professional AIGA GMU chapter has a spiffy video of the event (courtesy Vinh Le)! Here it is:
Other news this week
Did you see the space shuttle Discovery flying over DC this week? We unfortunately missed it (which is ridiculous considering we had a perfect place from which to view it), but it lead us to an interesting post about the evolution of NASA’s logo on Logo Design Love – worth a read. Every logo should have a nickname like “the worm” or “the meatball.”
Our Junior Designer search is, of course, still ongoing (y u no apply?) – so here’s an update on the typeface popularity contest: Akzidenz Grotesk is still holding strong in first place with Archer, Futura and Gotham tied for second. Didot and Univers are trailing behind in third. Tobias Frere-Jones continues to be the only type designer anyone cares about by an extremely wide margin. See you next week!