Heads up—this is a pitch but I think its important.
I have a class through MCAD Continuing Education starting on Monday, June 9th (Developing A Visual Identity) and as I was doing some final prep for the course I realized that the main content of the course—designing an identity system—was actually the least important part of what we’ll be doing in the class. I mean, its a major component in that a new identity system is the final deliverable but the bulk of the work is around how we arrive at the deliverable—all the ideation, testing, and workshops that we’ll do to get there. So, the class is at a sufficient enrollment level to run but I think more people should take it because there’s real value in what I’ll be covering over the six classes. Here’s why:
1. Strategic Projects
This idea has become a passion of mine over the last two years. When I call a project “strategic” I mean that it is a means towards an end for the person initiating it. Instead of doing whatever seems interesting at the moment, you look at (or create) a defined goal and ask “What does this project need to be or do to get me toward that goal?”. This can be scary for people that don’t have or are afraid to set goals and liberating for people who have a hard time choosing what to do at any given moment (like your faithful correspondent). Over the Spring semester I ran about 20 projects using this methodology and it was easily the best semester I have had in 6 years of teaching. This mode of choosing projects also translates really well to how you work with clients. If you have a hard time moving personal projects forward or are resistant to setting goals around your work or career then I recommend you take this course.
2. Lean Design Methodology
This is the name we use to refer to our work and yes, its clearly a reference to Lean Development. Our process is iterative, highly collaborative and fast. We used to work the old way: get a brief, disappear for a month, come back with 2 or 3 completely finished options (but really only like one of them), get massively hurt feelings if the client wanted changes or didn’t like the work, and basically have a love/hate relationship with being a designer. Now we work for a day or two, show at least 5 ideas and could care less if they get rejected. As a matter of fact, we now start our design presentations by telling clients that its totally fine to say “I don’t like any of this.” And our work is better.
I’ve spent the last couple of semesters lamenting the fact that I still have students work the old, stupid way since that’s how most (well, all) employers will expect them to work even though I would sooner quit design than go back to the “Here’s two things that I spent a really long time and am super attached to. Please pick one and think it’s perfect.” All the deliverables in this class will be based on the Lean approach we use on MVA projects: tons of research, ideation, strategy upfront and focused bursts of execution-minded design at the end.
3. Ideation Process
I don’t think there’s a “right” way to design but I do think too many designers are doing it the “wrong” way and that is depending primarily on a creative insight (this is like the old school Mad Men “big idea”) or formalism (things that have “being beautiful to look at” as their main function). Both of these share a problem in that they both require you to be a genius in order to make great work. But you can’t be a genius all the time so this leads to trend-jocking, so-called “designer’s block”, angst, doubt and overwork. I believe you should have a process you trust to generate results and then if you get a burst of insight or a brilliant formal idea, its like a surprise bonus. The first 3 classes will examine different ways to generate ideas, approach projects and think about metaphor and narrative. And we’ll examine the Bedno diagram, a morphological device that totally changed my work and led to this and this.
So, yes, the class is about identity design and all of this stuff will be geared towards that end but really, this course is about making you a better designer with new ways to see your work and more ways to do it.
One more thing—I’m making this last-minute push for more students because I think this stuff is important. Its made my work easier and better and I think it will do the same for yours. I have no financial stake in the numbers. MCAD pays me the same amount whether the class has 5 people or 15.
Class starts Monday at 6:30 PM in Room 410. Sign up here. Or, if you’re really procrastinating show up to class with a check or credit card.