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Nothing starts finished

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

Feeling a bit burned out, I decided to so some sorting and organising of old files to give the creative part of my brain a rest. As I glanced at endless .ai files called things like spring_2016_rough_24 I started to pull some of the images into a document to make little charts of progress from early work, middle points and finished products.

I often look through my folder of old work, there's a certain comfort in looking through one's existing stuff for the 'I've done nice work in the past presumably I still can??' value.

But sometimes you're feeling so fatigued and lacking in creative energy or confidence it's more comforting to remind yourself that your best stuff started out rubbish.

Buses that look like they were drawn on MS Paint. Cobbled-together collages of stock images and scrawled cursive. Letterpress effect that - actually I quite like the initial letterpress-style rough below.

But it's a long way from where I ended up. The bus and the umbrella designs are pretty simple ideas, a single dominating image where I just needed to work out the details of how to render that to its best effect. The Treat Your Shelf poster is something with enough complexity (and enough distance from anything I commonly do) I couldn't have envisioned when I started. I had to trust myself that if I started playing with one idea that was nice but couldn't fill a whole poster (i.e. a letterpress-style treatment of a strong headline), the process would lead me into further good territory.

Sometimes the version that got used on posters is not the only or even best possible rendering I come up with of the basic idea. I have to pursue what is most fit for purpose, what will look best given the printing and positioning of the poster, what will do the best job of communicating to customers swiftly and clearly. That's not always the same as what would look best in other contexts or my personal favourite.

Of the images below, the fourth along is the one that got printed to posters. But I subesequently edited for a version that looked better out of the context of a window (i.e. smaller, where the whole poster is scene rather than forming a backdrop to products etc). That's the version on the far right.

But actually this selection is an sample of something else - where I'm very happy with the final(s) and thought they were the right direction to take the idea in for the brief in question but personally I think an earlier version is better. I love the second along best!

It wouldn't have worked for windows but it's just so simple and confident!


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