Where graphic design is concerned, just how important are rules and laws? Should you conform to set standards, break away from the norm, or strike a balance between the two directions?
Marc Rapp at Uniquely the Epitome recently asked some creative type people (me included) about their own rules for design, with the aim of building a design resource of rules and laws.
A lot of what Aaron at miLienzo had to say (what are the laws of design?) resonated with me:
People can make recommendations and best practice tips that they’ve picked up through years of experience, and these are worth learning if you’re young and inexperienced like me. But as soon as these start becoming laws and rules, limitations and constrictions are put in place, and worse still, people’s expectations are funnelled to a narrow perspective.
Hopefully I’m not taking the tangent too far away from Marc’s original plan.
Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi gave a similar interpretation in his recent blog post – Changing the Rules:
Breaking rules brings up one big challenge though: you just end up being defined by the rules you tried to break in the first place. These days I don’t want to just break the rules. I want to change them.
So here (similar to Michael’s design guidelines) I’m going to offer up three short tips of my own that I live and work by, rather than laying down the law. Besides, I am but a humble designer, learning new things every day. Far from the finished article.
Patience isn’t only a virtue
I’m not sure who said first labelled patience as a virtue, but in the world of design clients, it’s not only a virtue – it’s an absolute necessity too. Exercise patience in everything you do and I believe that you’ll be a much more employable designer.
Step away from the computer
Almost all design work nowadays is done using a computer. That’s not to say our methods of idea generation have changed. I take time out every now and again to get myself outdoors, carrying a sketchpad and digital camera with me.
You can find inspiration in the most remote places, and I’m fortunate to have Arthur’s Seat (the highest point in the photo above) overlooking my city.
What can you remove?
Edit, edit again, and when you’ve finished, edit a little bit more. You might begin your design work using grids, then find you’ve moved away from them, but whatever your course of action, clean and focused works for me everytime.
There are many more things I could list, but I’ll refrain from rambling.
Have your say
Are design laws important to you and do you have a set of rules you design by? Perhaps you make a rule of neglecting rules, thus contracting yourself. Whatever your take, I’d love to know.
The ‘have your say’ heading is an idea borrowed from Jon at SmartWealthyRich. Thanks Jon.