The Importance of Art Education: Nurturing Creativity for life

The Importance of Art Education: Nurturing Creativity for life

“The benefits of the visual arts are lifelong. Visual art does not have boundaries. It enables people to play with materials, to express their thinking, to problem solve and make sense of emotions,” says Dr Lindsay, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of Wollongong’s School of Education, “Art makes us resilient, it is great for problem solving and understanding the world. It helps us develop our creativity across every aspect of our lives.”

Innovative thinking

As we head into a new era of technological development, with advances in Artificial Inteligence, robotics and other various science-based wonders, it would be a mistake to dismiss the human element in education. Arts education – across all creative fields – visual arts, performing arts and music – all contribute to the development of innovative thinking.

We are at a precipice. At the moment AI is functioning on what we have and can input into a dataset. It is not functionally sentient. It is interpreting human content, rearranging, and presenting it back to us. It is not creating something completely new and unique. It is an amalgam of human achievement. Once AI and quantum computing become both prevalent and stable, these systems will be self-sustaining, and the space left for humans will be in creative innovation.

The creative element of new endeavor remains the domain of people. Skills for the future of humanity, and future economic participation are deeply rooted in arts education.

NAAE (National Advocates for Arts Education) advocates for the inclusion of Arts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to create STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in order to better prepare students for the future. We don’t know what the jobs of the future will look like. Many jobs that exist today were unheard of 40 years ago. A diverse and thorough education gives our children the best possible foundation for the future. While specialization is important, a strong foundation provided necessary skills for future learning.

Transdisciplinary engagement

Skills from Arts education, and their outcomes are important for transdisciplinary engagement – from critical and creative thinking to communication with collaboration and teamwork. One example of this is science communicators. Interfacing between science, media and the community requires a skillset that is not found solely in STEM education. Communication and teamwork skills are intrinsic to a school drama class. Should a student be exposed to both STEM and Arts learning, there is the opportunity to engage and understand interpersonal creative learning.

We also should not think that creativity is limited to the arts. An engineer without creativity is unable to ideate to develop, design and build a bridge. We should not underestimate the amount of creativity across all STEM disciplines. By also being exposed to Arts education, we encourage people to experiment and grow, skills which can then be applied to all aspects of life and learning.

Enriching lives

Aside from flexible career skills, arts education also benefits people in everyday life. A willingness to experiment and problem solve is vital to many aspects of life, from organizing your household, cooking delicious food, communicating with friends and family or even developing fulfilling hobbies.

As mental health is becoming better understood, the balance arts provide for some is invaluable. The arts cultivate empathy, cultural understanding, and creative thinking, fostering well-being, empowerment, and a deeper appreciation of the human experience.

Benefits of arts exposure is not limited to individuals, as engagement with public arts projects creates a sense of belonging and community. Art nurtures and enhances problem-solving skills, and encourages innovation. Perhaps bringing people together to spark new business or social enterprise.

A more colourful, creative life experience

Irrespective of whether a student goes on to practice art as an element of their career, learning the fundamental skills associated with the arts is beneficial in all aspects of life, both working and personal. Lifelong learning of any kind enriches and enhances experiences not only in the direct area of study, but across all aspects of human experience.

Cover image by Alexander Ant / Unsplash

Behind the scenes on a very beachy Christmas

Behind the scenes on a very beachy Christmas

Christmas gives us an opportunity to create something unique – something to celebrate the season and the year that has been, and the year to come. Each year we try to create something engaging, fun and different.

Some years these ideas flow easily, others take a little more time. The KRD Christmas project is put on the WIP list on 1 July, and we keep a file of ideas. These then tend to be formed into a single direction later in the year.

This year’s theme ‘a very beachy Christmas’ developed to combine the shared European (winter) history of Christmas with the Australian experience of a summertime celebration.

Starting point is the end format

Our starting point is knowing the formats we want to produce. In years past, this was mostly printed with a simple digital accompaniment. This year we started with the knowledge we wanted to create an animation as the primary piece. We also need a suite of material for social media, emails and our website. In the studio it gets a job number and treated like a client project, and is worked on incrementally as workflow allows.

Our starting point for this years animation sequence was Australian flora and beach landscape imagery. This becomes the overarching theme and narrative.

This is the point where we create (now digital) mood boards to capture the type of imagery, colour, vibe and aesthetic for the project. Initially we work on simple sketches to communicate ideas within the team.

 

Inspiration

When deciding the graphic style of the pieces we find a lot of varied inspirational images for both techniques and styles. The beach theme brought the broad brush stroke textures to our rendering, reminiscent of sand. The illustration components are simple shapes that get their personality from the colour and textures used.

Sometimes along the way, there are happy accidents. In this case, when storyboarding an animation of a flower made from beach themed icons, it was noted that the final frame looked a lot like a snowflake. And so, the idea of a summer snowflake began.

The idea that a traditional motif from a European Christmas could be flipped to an Australian summer theme was the hook needed to bring the project to conclusion. Taking the motif of the snowflake, we altered this to apply to summertime.

Thematic colour choices

Initially we were working with the traditional Christmas colours, but this was not creating the look we were after. Changing the colours of a piece can do so much to change the feel and the messaging.

To really push this to an Australian theme, we needed to find a colour pallet that communicates ‘Australian’ and ‘summer’ that was also beautiful and sophisticated. We drew inspiration for our colour pallet from Bluey, which so wonderfully illustrates the Australian landscape using tertiary colours for nuance and feeling.

Final storyboarding and test animation

The next storyboard was made to show how we could bridge the two vastly different Christmas environments together. This included how the scenes would transition, how the individual elements would move and the timing. Also, how this would incorporate our Christmas messaging. An idea of a scene was developed for the summer snowflake to morph into, including an iconic seagull who would become the star of the production.

All elements were then built and illustrated as separate components to be synchronised within the animation, with final testing focusing on the speed of transitions and incorporation of sound effects and music to complete the scene.

Reaching our audience

To serve a business purpose, the animation must also incorporate important dates and information. The end credits are a signoff to the animation, but are also covered elsewhere to ensure consistent messaging. From a business perspective, it would be nice to think everyone in our audience will watch all of our video. We know however, that audiences are fragmented, and consume media and information from varied sources. As such, it’s important that vital messaging is repeated in different formats and locations.

The final step in what becomes our ‘Christmas Campaign’ is to ensure that our messaging is distributed effectively. That means sending the video as part of an eDM, incorporating matching messaging in our email signatures, posting to socials, and even putting this article up on our recourses page. Ensuring that messaging is across as many touch points as possible to reach our audience how they like to consume information.

The Power of Visual Storytelling

The Power of Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling starts for most people with picture books when they’re children. Images form an integral part of the story message. The images and text combine, creating evocative messaging to resonate both intellectually and emotionally.

Visual storytelling is the essence of graphic design. Graphic designers take information and present it in a way that makes sense, tells a story. In today’s media landscape, visual storytelling is increasingly complex, with various mediums to communicate through. Effective and cohesive visual storytelling must work across print and digital media, including static and video or animation formats.

With a more complex environment, and an increasingly crowded marketplace, it is important for brands to create consistent, engaging and relevant visual material. To be able to cut through the white noise, a brand must stand out with unique, compelling visual stories.

Imagery – especially video – can convey much more in a few seconds then a headline ever could. Video stories are dense communications, while also being simple for a viewer to decode. Consistent branding and brand story allows for a whole ethos to be communicated through a short video, viewed in context. The viewer needs to bring less knowledge to the interaction.

Entertainment value

Successful and engaging visual storytelling leans more heavily towards emotions and entertainment than product information. An example KRD worked on is the #LikeABosch campaign for BSH Home Appliances – where videos created by the Bosch Gobal team combine humor and product interaction to create engaging social media advertising material. The campaign also allowed for still imagery to be taken from the videos to use across various print and outdoor advertising sites for consistent visual storytelling. The #LikeABosch campaign was produced in Germany, and adapted by KRD to local market requirements. Global campaigns for BSH have flexibility for in-country modification.

The #LikeABosch messaging is a parody of “Like a Boss”, which itself is a parody by comedy hip hop troupe The Lonely Island, of a song by hip hop artist Slim Thug. The campaign draws upon the comedy credentials of the parody it is parodying – so has layers of meaning and cultural reference which go a way to explaining the more outlandish ‘stunts’, like the toddler with a bottle throwing it into the dishwasher. If you want to see the original parody, there are clean and explicit versions available on YouTube.

Visual storytelling has the ability to reach multi-lingual audiences, as it is not reliant on words. The #LikeABosch campaign was produced in many languages worldwide which meant that the humor was conveyed as a whole – however there are enough sight-gags to still be entertaining without sound and language.

By using parody, the #LikeABosch campaign was able to capitalize on trending themes, and stand out in a crowded marketplace. At the same time, the humor of the clips stands alone for audiences who are not familiar with the existing parody.

Visual storytelling is at the core of what we do as graphic designers. It is not limited to motion graphics, or story books. Every piece of graphic design work produced is a vehicle for storytelling – communicating a message. Video marketing allows us to add layers to the messaging that may be limited across other mediums. How effectively this message is conveyed is the measure of successful visual storytelling.

Image created with assets from unsplash, ballons by Jean-Philippe Delberghe, landscape by Johanes Plenio

Planning a website build

Planning a website build

Developing a new business website is exciting. It’s the digital home for your business. Just like a real shopfront, you need to be sure that the foundations are secure.

Developing a website can be a little bit of a chicken and egg situation. It is literally not there until you add the content. Once you add the content, it springs up almost like magic. This isn’t strictly true – there is a lot of thinking, planning, and building that has to take place to make sure everything is in the right place and is searchable and logical to a visitor.

Plan your user experience

Content needs to be planned in a way that makes sense to a visitor. Think of them as a virtual customer in your real shopfront (if you are a retailer). What is the customer journey?

How can we mimic that experience online?

What do people expect from a website in your industry?

How can you incorporate standardised features to smooth the experience for your customers?

This should be discussed thoroughly with your designer – being so close to your business or idea, it can often be difficult to see where new user questions may be. Your designer can look at your business with fresh eyes and place themselves in the role of customer to help configure your site plan.

Organise your content

Once you have your structure in place, gather images and write content. While websites use low res images for speed, provide your designer with high resolution images that they can crop and optimise as required. If you are struggling to write the content, engage a copywriter – a professional may be more affordable than you think. The site plan you have created will be helpful to know how many text segments are needed, and how long they should be.

Generating traffic

Once you build it, how will people find it? Search engine optimisation is an art and science. Be sure that your content is well written and useful. Publish content of value and don’t add fluff pieces to bulk out the site. Become a source of useful content for your industry.

Incoming and outgoing links are useful to add validity to your content. Incoming are particularly useful to becoming a ‘trusted source’ within your industry. Add content and update regularly so your content does not become stale – don’t create another abandoned blog. Set a realistic schedule for new content and plan ahead.

Consider starting a news section where you can publish updates – think content that you might publish on social media. This way, you have control of the content, and are not dependent on social media platforms to showcase your brand. If a social media platform ceases to exist, you loose all the content and engagement you generated, unless you have it on your website too. You can also direct people to your site, where they are less likely to be distracted by other offerings on a social media platform.

Make sure your URL is memorable and accessible – add a link to your email footer, to your social profiles, anywhere you communicate. Then when you integrate analytics to your site, you will be able to see how people are accessing your site and tailor any future marketing activities accordingly.

Editing and future-proofing

One of the best things about websites is that they are not static. You don’t just finish them and walk away. Connect up your analytics and see what content is performing. If something isn’t getting the traction you want, change it. Engage with your site, update whenever something changes in your business – by keeping it current and relevant you are more likely to engage your visitors.

Be sure to keep any CMS software you use up to date. One of the most popular CMS systems we use is WordPress. WordPress is open-source software – making it free to use – but it is constantly evolving to improve and to combat malware and hacking. Keep it up to date to reduce the risk of your site being hacked. Also, backup your site regularly so that if anything goes wrong you can restore it quickly and easily.

Download our website planning guide to get started

Working with graphic designers

Working with graphic designers

Perhaps you’ve never worked directly with a design team? Or you might be a recent marketing graduate wondering how to engage graphic designers, so you speak a common language?

Tips for getting the best from your design team

You may have experience working with designers and want some insights on improving professional interactions. The following are thoughts from us. These are by no means exhaustive or industry-standard, however, they may spark an idea on where to start.

Details, details and more details

First and foremost, designers are detail-driven. Of course, there are projects where you want an out-there solution. However, it is likely there will be parameters. The design team needs as many specifications as you can find. Make sure when briefing the project to get measurements/spec sheets from external print suppliers. If there is a booking number for an ad, supply this. If there are other vendors involved in the project, let the designer know so they can work cooperatively. If you cannot get details, let the design team know, so they understand what is missing. It’s a rare task with an open-ended budget or time, and to keep everything on track, specifications are necessary.

Second is to explain the context of the project. The more the design team understands about your company, the wider industry, your niche, competitors, or small nuances, the more considered the solutions they will come up with. Designers are by nature curious individuals; they love research and kernels of fascinating information. Discuss current local/national/international events, how is this impacting on where your product/service is performing? Do the sales team have valuable feedback? Is another division working on a project tangentially aligned?

Getting to know you

Inject your personality into discussions. Sure, there are plenty of serious projects/topics however, it is remarkable how the sparking of conversations between client and designer can alight on a strong solution. Loosen up a little and allow the discussion, within reason, to meander. Your enthusiasm for the project will be catching. If you are engaged, this easily translates to the design team. Like team building within a company, an open and friendly professional rapport between client and designer often makes for the best working outcomes.

Don’t worry about being a ‘visual’ person, that’s the designers job. Some clients provide simply a scribble or wire frame. Some projects require a mood board – a collection of images, colours, styling ideas, previous projects – which can be valuable. The thing to remember is that the design team will take care of the visuals. It is unnecessary to spend time creating mock-ups or layout drafts to show the designer. Your time is better spent collecting information and writing the brief / preparing content, depending on the project. We suggest Milanote as an online mood board resource.

Providing information in a practical way

If you are marking up an older/previous project for updating, we suggest using Adobe Acrobat® and making clear notes in a logical progression. Some projects may require markups and a Word® file or Excel® spreadsheet to be supplied. The more concise and organised your markups, the more efficient for all involved.

From the first draft, offer constructive criticism. Avoid generalisations. “I don’t like it” might be your first reaction but the best course of action is to analyse the draft/s against the brief. Check the colours, fonts, images, positioning, prioritising. Narrow down what is working for you and what is not. There are projects where clients need to see various options to figure out what is right, and if this was agreed in the scope, then its ok to say, for example: “I like this here as its working according to the brief. How about we combine it with this other element which is also working”.

Being open to new approaches and ways of working

Occasionally, projects go back to the drawing board. This is ok too; it may be as the client you realise the brief was not quite right. The design team will let you know if this is a change to the agreed scope.

Related to this is to allow the design team space to provide creative input. If the project is too restrictive you are not maximising the skills your design team has. Step back and trust in your briefing and allow them to make suggestions. Its ok to ask the designer questions and have them explain the thinking behind the artwork. Often this will be the quickest way to clear up any queries or work out a plan for refining the layout.

Occasionally, certain projects may end up emotionally charged. This can be the case with branding. Experienced designers understand the impact a brand has on a business and should always be mindful of this. It is important to remember that while some artistic elements may be subjective, graphic design is a commercial practice that uses universal theoretical foundations to ensure enduring and functional results. There is no one set ‘answer’, try to keep an open mind and work cooperatively to ensure the best outcome.

Writing a design brief

Writing a design brief

The aim of a design brief is to ensure both the design team and client are clear on the project outcome and can work with efficiency. It is a project management document and can be likened to a map.

Organising your ideas

To get your thoughts and briefing started, organising your ideas into bullet points is an excellent first step. The brief needs to be both succinct and detailed enough to inspire the designers. It is a reference for them to check back they have met the goals discussed in the meeting when going over the written brief. It also supplies a clear outline for project quoting.

Most design studios/agencies will have a briefing sheet they can supply to get you started. There is no industry standard however a briefing document should cover the following:

• Contact details (brief author, date issued, brief version)

• Project scope

• Project/Product overview

• Value proposition

• Background, including market conditions, competitors

• Business objectives

• Communication objectives

• Key messages that must be conveyed by the project

• Single minded proposition (one sentence to explain the most important factor)

• Target audience (primary and secondary including demographic information)

• Actions the creative will inspire when people receive/interact with the piece

• How will the design be used?

• Project timing/s with clear requirement of deliverables

• Current branding requirements to be followed/considered

• Further information to assist with project scope

Requirements and restrictions

The trick to writing a brief is to make sure the project requirements are clear and that you have left room for the design team to input their creativity within these requirements.

A vital inclusion in briefing design teams is to make sure the project has context. This may be explaining how the business sits in the marketplace; plans for expansion; feedback from customers; feedback from your sales team. It might be a technical consideration/process or material. It might be a walk through the workplace or project site or dig through a room of archives. No one knows precisely which small detail will ignite the idea or tie the project together. Often, contextual information that is beyond the immediate project scope is the key to bring a design together. Experienced designers will mesh this information and pull the strands into their visual solution.

Providing content

If the project requires content from the client, the next step is to prepare the written material and collect hi res images. We suggest Word files for text, with Excel for specification documents. Hi res images should be kept in a folder and named clearly. If you have captions to write, suggest numbering a grid in Excel with image names, so it is clear what belongs where. Alternatively, embed a small image thumbnail in Word, with the caption.

The key is organisation and being methodical when collating content, which will make the project streamlined for all.

The act of creating a full design brief will help you focus on exactly what you want and need the project to be and achieve. It will also make working with a designer simple and enjoyable as ideas become reality.