I recently finished a graphic design course at Shillington in London. I wanted to develop a new skill that would allow me to communicate more effectively visually. The course spanned 3 months and I found it very challenging. My background is mainly accounting/ finance and I haven’t done anything creative prior to taking the course. The only think I knew then was that I enjoy organising information and synthesising it such a way that is easy to understand and remember. I did not really think that this would lead me to graphic design. Like most people, my understanding of graphic design was narrow and mostly uninformed. I thought only people who could draw well could get into graphic design. It was not until I started doing some research about visual communication that I realised that graphic design is actually more than just pretty colours and nice layouts. It is about solving problems using effective communication through visual language. It is about thinking in the box and then outside the box.
One of the things required during the course was to submit a weekly visual diary. A visual diary is essentially a collection of design clippings that caught your attention — generally, people tend to collect examples of good designs but it could also include designs that may not be good as well.
At first, I didn’t really appreciate that we had to do the weekly submissions on top of all the school work we had — why waste time trawling through the internet and magazines for design examples. Should we not be learning good design by actually creating them? It was ignorant thinking. Later in the course, I realised that the whole point of it was to develop our design eye.
If you constantly look at a good design, consciously noting why it is good or bad, then you’ll start automatically thinking in such a way that will help you produce good design.
The visual diary was a way to feed our brains with design. It’s like knowing what is good coffee after drinking loads of different kinds of coffee and from different sources and until one day you just know whether a certain cup of coffee is up to your standards.
It’s been a while since finishing the course and I haven’t updated my visual diary but knowing why this is important, I have resolved to collect 1 design example every day for a year. I reckon by doing this everyday I would end up with 365 examples by the end of the year — that could be 365 inspirations for new projects, 365 ideas for colour combinations, 365 references for type.
Below are the questions I’ve come up with to help me in critiquing my design clippings:
Do you have ideas on how to make a visual diary exercise more effective? Please share your thoughts here!