GRAPHIC DESIGN NEEDS MORE RESPECT
Maybe this is more of a personal rant but I am asked all the time to literally do design favors for people. I don't mind this when a close friend asks me but it got me wondering if attorneys and doctors get bombarded with requests to take a case for free or check a pulse on the house.
I've been asked to do posters, t-shirt designs and even logos for free. I like the barder idea trading design for a dinner or a day at the spa but people don't realize the time it takes to come up with a concept and execute it not to mention the cost of the software to create such designs. Now, I do well as a designer but us creatives need the most robust computers and many designers prefer to work on Macs. This little machine can cost over 3 grand! The software can cost hundreds for annual upgrades. I'm just sayin'.
IS A DESIGN DEGREE WORTH IT?
There are pros and cons to getting a graphic design degree. One of the biggest cons is that design degrees are expensive. Also, the courses can be intense. But, getting a graphic design degree does have its benefits. Most importantly, the degree gives a graphic designer credibility in the design world. If a student wants to work for a top design firm, they will find that having a degree or advanced degree in graphic design is important, if not necessary.
There are a lot of opinions about a degree in the arts. A college degree has gotten so expensive you have to weigh the tuition costs with salary return in the future. Personally, I decided to go to a 4-year school so if I couldn't earn a living as a designer I would have a degree from a decent, accredited 4-year institution. I went to UC Davis in the mid-80's just before computers took over the arts. At the time I think the tuition was roughly $5000 a year. I went through the design program with an emphasis on business graphics. I thought it would be crazy getting a fine arts degree. I would probably be selling silkscreened t-shirts on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley if I had got that degree. At Davis I learned drafting, painting, pen and ink, collage and much more. I felt the most valuable thing I got out of the program was the critique sessions. This involved 30 design students who would collect in a room and put up their own projects on a wall. We would pick apart each student's piece. It was rough at times but it taught me to have a tough skin. It also gave me the ability to speak, "design". I could put my thoughts into constructive feedback to the other students. I do wish there was a class on the business of graphic design. I think many designers have no sense how to run a design business or what it takes to run a successful freelance business.
I learned the computer while working at Chevron as an in-house designer. I am grateful I did learn to actually draw and draft at school instead of the computer. I think many design students only work on the computer these days. Knowing the Adobe Creative Suite is one thing but using pen and ink is another. I also think you either have it or you don't. Just like if you can sing or you can't. You are born with "it" or not. I don't think any program in the world can teach you creative talent.
It's a tough profession. I continually have had to pay my dues every time I start a new job. The college degree will get you an interview but it's about your experience every employer is looking at. No one teaches production design but I am constantly looking for designers who have been in a fast-paced, team oriented environment to get the job done. 80% of the time as a designer is spent doing mechanicals, presentations or production art. You have to enjoy or this gig is not for you. I digress, a graphic design degree not only increases your chances of getting a design job, it also increases your level of income and some top agencies won't even consider a designer without a design degree.
The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic took home best sporting event of the year from the Business Sports Journal. Why this is significant for me personally? I was the designer of the event! Designing for a Berkeley-based design firm called Moss Sports, I designed the "look" of the event. We had created the design the year before but the NHL strike of 2013 postponed the event a year. It was played at the Big House at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It was the only time in the history of the 110,000 capacity Stadium that branding was allowed. It was a sell-out crowd with a huge rating broadcast fro NBC Sports. I am proud to be involved with this event and kudos to my very special design team at Moss Sports.
A quote from Don Renzulli, Vice-President of Events at the National Hockey League:
"Last night the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic received the award for "Sports Event of the Year"! Everyone had a major part in the success of the game on January 1 and should be proud of this accomplishment. This is the second time the Winter Classic has received this award, the first for the inaugural game in 2008. Thanks to you and your staffs for all the hard work put forth in making these games a reality. The sports world is taking notice of our games which now raises the bar for all future ones.
Everyone should take pride in what we collectively have accomplished with this event. Lets keep it going, thanks again."
Check out the link to the Business Sports Journal on the award.
Zachary's Chicago Pizza put up a small profile about me on their new web site. I thought I would share this light-hearted blog posting with you.
Click here to go to the Zachary's story on Ian Ransley.
It's a funny thing how adding a frame to a piece of art makes it, well, nicer. How you present yourself to clients is another story. I'm speaking of presenting your design work to a client. It's essential to spend some time packaging your designs when presenting to a client. You may well have created a truly exceptional design that fulfils a clients brief. The last thing you want is to present the work in such a way that the client is unable to properly visualise it's final usage. You want the client to be captivated and one of the best ways of getting this across is by showing the design in context.
The response to designs presented this way is instantaneous. It leaves no doubt in a clients mind as to the end result. Presenting designs in context is particularly useful for large format work where physical proofs are out of the question e.g. billboards, shop fronts and vehicle wraps.
Better still, is to present the design on the actual building or shop front where the design is to appear (rather than mocked up on stock imagery). When taking the original design brief, ask for a site visit.
It doesn't matter how cool that poster design is or how creative that poster is if it's not presented well. I think I've almost seen it all; stacks of crinkled paper, projects mounted horribly crooked on matte boards and scrap books of color copies.
If you don't care about your own work, why should anyone else? Create an Indesign template you can use over and over with your own logo and slug line in a corner. Create a unique information bar, buy a domain name and create a website with password protection for presenting designs and concepts to clients. Think out of the box!And most of all, make sure to let your passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm out as you discuss your work. You are selling your work but you are also selling yourself!
When pitching to a potential client or delivering concepts; how many is too many? Is more better? When designing a logo I can sometimes generate up to 20 options. I'm currently designing a branding look for a major football bowl game. I have created 6 different designs but I don't plan on showing all of them. When I'm working on a design team we will have an internal meeting to decided what are our best efforts. At our firm, we have developed a questionnaire for clients to try and pull out what they are looking for before we spin our design wheels. This doesn't work most of the time because people generally don't know what they are looking for until they see it. If you show too many design options it looks like you are not confident in what you are delivering. It's even more difficult when you are working with a committee which has people with different ideas and tastes. I personally feel 2-3 options is plenty especially if it's a design pitch. Keep it simple, too many options can be confusing. Costco does not carry too many options of each product and has far fewer overall products than other stores their size. About 1/10 as many as a regular supermarket. They believe in presenting fewer, hand picked, options to their customers and have seen how it leads to more overall sales. They not only offer most products in only one size, but they usually only offer one or two flavors as well. As designers can we learn from such retailers? Absolutely.
Check out the unique way I was promoting Ian Ransley Graphic Design 20 years ago. At about the same time I decided to silkscreen my resume on t-shirts and send them out to Bay Area design firms. It did get some attention. You can check out what I have been doing lately at www.berkeleygraphicdesign.com.
You can also browse some of my other poster designs following this link to the print section of my portfolio website.
I have been designing stadium graphics for over a decade now. I have 5 Super Bowls under my belt, several NHL Winter Classics and Stadium Series games played in Yankee Stadium and Soldier Field. I have also designed for the Cal Bears, USC, San Diego State, University of Miami & Syracuse University to name a few college teams. I have designed for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos. I have designed the photo collage in the Dallas Cowboys locker room. I have designed the graphics for the BCS National Championship game and the Fiesta Bowl.
I have also traveled to England and designed the graphics at Walker Stadium for the Leicester City Foxes which was a great honor having dual-citizenship in Britain and the U.S. These are just a few of the major stadium and event graphics I have designed. Please check out just a few of the more recent projects and let me know if you have any questions. Here is the link to a few photos of some of the projects I have designed. Please email me with any questions.
Ian Ransley DESIGN
Ian Ransley is a Bay Area Digital Artist, Graphic Designer and Illustrator who has designed some of the most popular large-scale sporting and corporate events in the world.