The Design Mind: From Noodle to Doodle
Getting your brain down on paper
by Jamie Odum Thompson, Designer, H2M
As a graphic designer, I face the challenge of coming up with logo designs, posters, packaging, anything that is thrown at me really, to build a product. I spend a lot of time doing research in books and on the web to figure out how I want to develop and build a brand or design.
One of the key tricks I picked up during college was to draw out a logo one hundred times, in different variations, before you start working on it on the computer.
I’ve also tried to draw out as many ideas as I can with other ideas where it can be developed in many forms. It helps narrow down what ideas are working and which ones don’t. By shifting my focus on to a certain point when building a brand or idea, I’ve ended up with concepts that I’ve been happier with in the long run. I’ve found in addition to my doodling, I tend to write down ideas of what colors something would be, how it could be applied or what ever else I need to remember where my mind takes me on a project.
Word association plays a huge roll when I’m developing a logo or a brand. It’s always a challenge to come up with a concept that will resonate well between the client and their audience. A thesaurus is a handy tool for figuring out word association for a brand or for use as a building block for sketches. It’s a way to bring in other elements that can be drawn into the brand and still convey the overall message. For an example of the products we’ve worked on for Lobana, word association pushed me to draw more than just leaves and ingredient elements, but to work with ideas for moisture, skin care and healing.
In all reality, I doodle because it helps me keep my brain awake and helps me retain information from a meeting, random train of thought or a tutorial better. My sketchbook helps me draw or write down all my silly, random ideas. Whether it be something as crazy as a Cactopus (aka. an octopus with cactus spikes), to a disgruntled unicorn, to a flowery logo, it goes in the sketchbook. By getting some of those weird random thoughts on paper, it helps clear the mind for other projects.
A lot of what influences how I design comes from the video game industry, along what other artists are doing on t-shirts, posters and other mediums. Another huge influence is Studio Ghibli and the whimsy that comes out of that studio. By keeping up with what is out there, I feel like I have a better understanding of what elements will remain timeless, vs. others that will get overused. By drawing out my ideas and thinking them through, it takes out the here today, gone tomorrow, trend that design can have.