Lessons in design

By Andrew Vohmann

“Don’t take it personally.” This is a phrase that gets thrown at designers on a regular basis when their creations get torn apart. And while it can be hard not to take it personally, it’s important to remember that between what the client wants, what the creative director suggests and your own personal preference, design will always be a collaborative effort. When I first started working in the advertising industry it took some time to adapt to the notion that not every client will see eye-to-eye with you on every design that you put forth, especially straight off the bat.

Lesson #1: Design in reverse.

A bad habit that I learnt throughout university is trying to design your perfect concept first. This comes all too naturally at uni when you are effectively your own client. However, in the real world you need to always approach the job with what the client wants foremost in your mind. It will not always work, but when it does a sweet compromise will naturally occur and you’ll come out feeling great.

Lesson #2: More is not more.

All designers know this, but some clients don’t. “Can we just make everything 15% larger? I want to make everything on the poster stand out!” While it’s easy to understand their thinking, the reality is that making everything bigger just ensures that nothing stands out. In cases like this, having a strong knowledge of colour and typographic skills will help you re-establish hierarchy. This will help bring back some order to the design, even in the darkest of times.

Lesson #3: Have faith in your ability.

When it goes all wrong, and what was your perfect design now looks like the leftovers of your cat’s food bowl with the best bits left on the floor or pushed into weird crevices, trust that you can still design. These moments are part of the job and that’s why you should always remember to savour the moments where you get to run with something you and the client both love and enjoy, as this is always the most satisfying part of the job.


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