More feedback from the emails I sent out this time from James Mckay. He seems really friendly and I managed to have a bit of banter with him in the emails I sent which was really nice, I think I'm going to at some point as him for some professional design advice about my portfolio. The work at Tank is very much what I would like to do, very strong identity based with a breadth of application and clientele.
Here's an answer for you. I'd just like to point out that I am not the studio owner here at Tank and that these are my personal views. Though of course I have been influenced by practice here at Tank.
On retaining individuality:
When answering any design brief it is important to do as much research as you can. You need to research companies in your client's field to see what's out there, and this will help you create something that will stand out. I also search for general visual inspiration so I can then create a moodboard – this really helps me with the visual direction of the work which follows. But I am constantly collecting (more like hoarding) visual inspiration whenever I see it – it's so important to keep your eyes open. I think it's important to expose yourself to the work of others to keep inspiring yourself – no-one can work in a world void of visual stimulus.
It's vital to a design project's success to engage with and fully understand your client and their brief. Each client has different needs and ambitions, and the purpose of a design project is to meet these highly specific needs. So therefore each piece of work you create must be unique in order to do your job properly!
It's also incredibly important to make decisions throughout the design process. You will need to present the thinking which led to the design solution you present to a client. A client might not like the fact that you used one colour here or another there, but if you have an overall scheme in mind it's easier to defend your work and hopefully persuade them to accept the visual decisions you have made.
I can put my hand on my heart and say that I do not breach copyright in my work. It's very important to check licensing agreements and/or contracts before using photography or illustration.
I left Scotland with a few projects in my portfolio which my previous employer didn't want out in the public domain, yet they were projects I wanted to show to potential employers here in Norway. I solved this by adding the projects to my website behind a login page and only logging into these pages in interviews, and of course not leaving the login details behind when I left. I spoke to my previous boss about it and agreed on this solution before going ahead with it.
As for other people copying my own work, perhaps I only see it as a form of flattery?! Web design is by it's very nature totally public – I get a kick out of seeing something I create live for the world to use. I'm confident in my integrity as a designer to create original works which answer a design brief.
On more design in the world:
The explosion and continuous sophistication of online content is something I find incredibly exciting. To work in the field of web/ digital design is an amazing place to be just now. Some days I feel overloaded with visual inspiration, but on the other hand I now have access to an incredible array of visual work spanning many disciplines through sites like Behance, ffffound and almost too many others to mention.
I absolutely think online exposure opens up new opportunities. Working as a freelancer ten years ago was a completely different story from today. Now you can find clients online through networks and recommendations on LinkedIn, video conference them for free with Skype, email files back and forth or share them online through Dropbox, manage your projects and log your time online with sites like Active Colab and Basecamp, and tap into any number of sites, blogs and twitter feeds for information or advice about just about anything.
I actually think that truly "unique" design or visual style is incredibly hard to achieve or discover. Illustrators like Genevieve Gauckler developed their style for years to bring fresh new visuals into the world, only for the style to run on one campaign and thereafter seem like old news. And that's very exhausting. I think that "unique" design shouldn't be the holy grail for your design work – rather effectiveness. For all the ego-boosting and back-slapping that goes on at design awards ceremonies, your real aim should be to help your clients be the best they can be, to build relationships with them that can help to sustain your workflow, and to build your reputation by doing good work. And by doing it on time
And thank you again James, sounds like you almost enjoyed writing on this subject.