How I Work
I treat each project uniquely to the makeup of the team, the deadline, the goals, and of course, the requirements. But if there is an established method in place by the team or client, then I am flexible and adaptable.
I like a good intro meeting or two. I love braindump documents and discussions about objectives and vision, whether clearly defined or nebulous and vague (trust me, I’ve seen it all). One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone doesn’t know the answer to something and still moves forward instead of asking for clarification. It ultimately slows down projects and often leads to unfortunate mistakes. To that end, I’m not afraid to ask questions to make sure I have all the pertinent data, and I will always provide as much information as I have to ensure a two-way flow of communication.
Also, I like to know the deadlines, what is expected of me, and any areas where I might lend an extra hand. I’m a huge fan of project management dashboards, Google Calendar, and spreadsheets, and I also have my own system of task management that keeps me on it like a bonnet. (Todoist is my go-to app for this.)
The Joys and Curses of Brand Standards
I like it when a client gives me a well-rounded set of brand standards. Knowing what’s expected of me in terms of design and branding makes it a lot easier to adapt to a company’s visual voice. On the flip side, it can be frustratingly restrictive, but that comes with the territory of corporate design; I’ve experienced both sides of the coin. Recently, I had to work with a client whose branding was so broad and all-over-the-place that it was hard to nail down a central look that meshed with their objectives. On the other hand, I once had a client who had finally promised to give me a project with wide-open creative prospects, only to tell me I could do whatever I want so long as it fit the theme of “pink flamingo topiary.” You grumble, you eat some chocolate, and then you get down to work.
Labels and Folders Exist for a Reason, People
My job in college was working at The Container Store. If you’re familiar with that company, then you can imagine the kind of person it takes to work there. I am extremely organized, especially if assets are shared with a team that might not understand the context. I don’t often go so far as color-coding, but I usually name my layers, especially the pertinent ones, and I use the folders within layers prodigiously. Nothing is worse than having a file passed off to you that is lacking in structure.
If it’s for a particular day’s social media post, it’s probably something as simple as 02282021 FB. If it’s the second draft of a marketing piece, it will be like Bronzeville survey postcard v2.
I don’t always agree with everything Adobe does, but this feature is a real beauty, especially when sharing it with a team. Here is one of my most used client libraries: https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/1fff4547-eded-4c86-5cf0-2be69b9779fb
Here are two examples:
I’m not a big fan of designing vector-heavy projects in Photoshop, but sometimes my clients request it, and most web developers only know how to use PS to interpret designs, so I make do. On a site I’ve recently been working on, I brought on a developer to help do the heavy lifting of the WordPress theme development. I know how he likes his files laid out – each theme page to its own PSD – and with strict versioning. Here is an example of our second round of designs: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1f8IhXjZcZFSMzIjDttr3PQkXiP3yeK-P?usp=sharing This also includes a combined PDF that we showed the client.
I was brought on as a subcontractor by one of my more regular clients, Warhol & Wall St., to help with a fundraising event held by one of the local YMCA branches. A collaborator had already written several social posts and given them a sort of title, which I used as the file names for each of the graphics. For social media, I usually have one file with multiple artboards assigned to each social network. Here is how it turned out: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ML07pMuinrdWL7va9Vt4H1MSFGfa3MHs?usp=sharing