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

A day in the life of a design studio

A day in the life of a design studio

A design studio is a fast and flexible working environment. Projects vary in size and scope, with often concurrent timelines. The team dynamic is important to keep things running smoothly to ensure we complete projects with upmost quality, on time. As a small studio, KRD team members work on projects both end-to-end as well as shared between us.

Project planning

At the start of the week, we discuss upcoming projects for the week, timelines and delegate tasks. Often projects are continued over from the previous week, and new ones are added in throughout the week.

Projects in the studio are assigned a client unique code, which allows for easy tracking and filing. For our larger clients this is indispensable, as we constantly reference previous jobs for images or text. We store all these codes – along with brief descriptions – in a database hosted on our server. This is accessible and searchable on our network via a browser.

For clients that we prepare work for on an ongoing basis, and we often have larger regular projects that require updating. A lot of imagery is stored on our server for easy access, or we access imagery via the client’s media library, available online.

Project management

Depending on the stage of a project, we may receive feedback or changes via email or phone. Clients may visit the studio to sit with us and work on changes in real time. Post-Covid, we also utilise video calls for briefings and more complex project alterations.

Days often vary with the kinds of projects in the studio; larger data intensive projects such as video editing take hours of time. Smaller tasks like web image creation or retrieval, or small edits to print pieces can be quick, again depending on the project. When one team member has larger projects to work on, we move the smaller tasks around.

For more complex design tasks, like brand development, everyone gets involved. We will work on research and concept sketches, then view them together to discuss direction. Smaller projects can also present interesting design challenges. This is especially true for pieces that need to fit a lot of information in a tiny space. When this happens, we reach out to the team for thoughts – sometimes a solution is easier to find when you’re not in the middle of a project.

Variety of work

The types of projects can range from print through to digital. In the morning we may be working on catalogues, packaging and point-of-sale. The afternoon may bring website updates, social media campaigns and video edits. Interspersed is writing and editing content, project management, print deliveries, and, always managing deadlines with client and suppliers.

Urgent requests

Occasionally there are super urgent requests. These are often to supply print and/or digital advertising when Marketing teams are offered distress rates from magazines. This is known to happen on Friday afternoons and can mean last minute finishing and uploading to meet the print deadline, often with a level of panic involved.

Brand Guidelines

Much of our client work involves careful understanding and following of brand guidelines. We pay careful attention as global brands are constantly refining their corporate identities with new assets or adaptations for evolving technology. This information is shared between the team and discussed regularly.

Larger projects

For larger projects, there may be site visits, eg. Interpretative signage or collaboration and input from suppliers. This may be with a marketing consultant, copywriter, photographer/videographer, printing companies or manufacturers. Suppliers often visit the studio, calling in with samples, deliveries, and answering important production questions. There is constant managing of deliveries of printed materials and following up on delivery receipts.

For point-of-sale projects we often create print tests and take to a local retailer to check instore. This is vital to ensure measurements are correct and materials will work in the situation required. Particularly on complex projects there can be new products/methods/technology and this will require liaison between ourselves and suppliers, including press checks and factory visits during manufacturing.

Pack and despatch

From time-to-time we undertake pack and despatch. This may be intricate mail outs requiring careful attention and specialised gift wrapping. The studio can become a small factory on these days, with a couple of Studio Assistants helping. Larger projects are worked on by mailing / fulfilment houses.

Team interaction

Importantly, a small team needs time to converse each day and keep up to date with relevant local, national, and international events. At various times of the day there will be lively conversations. For example, we discuss podcasts, articles or books we’ve read, TV shows, movies, and all kinds of pop culture. Like most teams, we have numerous ‘in-jokes’. We quote lines from the IT Crowd. We share stories on technology gripes with all major software updates. We discuss our personal projects. Recipes are shared. Traffic and weather anecdotes are on high rotation. As we’ve noted in our article ‘What makes designers tick?’, we believe in life-long learning and constant curiosity of the world around us to enhance our daily design journey.

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

Evolving as a designer

Evolving as a designer

This overview is aimed at recent graduates; however, we’ve included general advice based on our experience, suitable for all designers. As you embark on your professional journey, it’s important to recognize that the world of visual communication is a dynamic and ever-changing field. Our designers at KRD embrace lifelong learning, and in this article we share what we have learned for enabling growth and evolution throughout your design career.

Embrace the learning curve

As you begin in the professional world, be prepared for a continuous learning curve. It is impossible to gain complete industry knowledge in a tertiary course and you will find there is much to learn. This learning arc extends throughout a career: the industry is constantly developing, driven by broad macro-economic directional shifts, technological advancements and changing design trends. Our advice breaks down to:

  • Write notes. It is proven that writing instructions moves them from your short-term memory to the long-term. It also provides a quick check list to make sure you have understood client instructions and you can then cross-check after completing the task.
  • Share information and ask questions. As a recent graduates new to the workplace, ask plenty of questions. Keep notes of the answers to refer to later. Remember to share learnings with your colleagues so everyone benefits: “Hey, I’ve worked how to do this cool thing…”
  • Stay hungry for knowledge and invest in your professional development. Seek out workshops, online courses, and design conferences to expand your skill set and stay abreast of the latest design tools and techniques.
  • Design skills are transferrable across all facets of visual communication. The fundamentals apply across digital and print. The important point is to keep learning and honing your skills.

Seek inspiration

Inspiration is the material that drives creativity. Surround yourself with diverse sources of inspiration such as art, design, photography, and other creative disciplines. Visit galleries, read design blogs, follow influential designers on social media and embrace new ideas. By staying inspired, you’ll keep your creative juices flowing and continuously push the boundaries of your own work.

Don’t limit yourself. Design can be likened to journalism, where the opportunity to learn about areas of life you have no firsthand experience is key. Fuel your mind with science, nature, current affairs, travel, craft, music, history, philosophy, sport. Whatever themes or topics motivate you.

Lifelong learning

As you begin in the world of visual communication, remember the journey is a continuous process of growth and evolution. Keep in mind, success as a graphic designer lies in your willingness to adapt, learn, and evolve. Embrace the challenges, listen and reflect on feedback that is given to you. Ask yourself: ‘how can I improve’? ‘What would I do differently’? Finally, act on critiques. Demonstrate to your employer and professional colleagues you are willing to learn and improve. A designer should always be observing, consolidating knowledge and seeking to understand the world around them. This in turn, enhances your visual skills and has practical outcomes in your work.

Why is proofreading essential?

Why is proofreading essential?

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is the final stage in the preparation of a document that is to be used by other people. It involves checking for clarity of expression, spelling, punctuation, grammar and consistency in formatting. English-speaking documents are checked for consistency in use, for example, of UK English or US English, throughout.

What is the history of proofreading?

Proofreading takes its name from traditional printing presses, where ‘galley proofs’ were mockups of a printed manuscript to see how the published document would look. These proofs were checked for mistakes and corrected before being used to print the final piece.

Why does proofreading matter?

1. Reputation is protected and, possibly, enhanced

Do you want to give the best possible impression to your clients or perhaps a prospective employer?

Documents that are expressed clearly and without errors convey the message that the individual or business cares about their image. It demonstrates the organisation or individual took the time to make sure that their work was presented in the best possible way.

2. Clarity of message: ensures we say what we mean

When the intended message is clear it allows the reader to focus on the information, not the mistakes, and contributes to the overall positive impression you are trying to achieve.

For example, punctuation – in this case, commas – can show completely different outcomes:

Woman Without Man

A professor wrote the following sentence on the board and asked his class to punctuate it:

 

Woman without her man is nothing.

 

Half of the class punctuated the sentence in the following way:

Woman: without her, man is nothing.

 

The other half of the class responded with the following:

Woman, without her man, is nothing.

 

It’s clear, from this example, punctuation is indeed, important!

Typing errors can also alter the intended message:

ABC Company is not seeking new staff to join its team.

ABC Company is now seeking new staff to join its team.

3. Can save money

Mistakes found after a document has been printed/published can lead to funds needing to be spent on reprinting. This leads to waste in marketing budgets and/or limitations on other projects. It can also prevent embarrassing or expensive retractions.

4. Improves the chances of getting a job

When applying for a job, you want to give the best impression possible. Documents being used in an application need to be carefully proofread to improve your chances of being selected for an interview. First impressions count.

How to proofread

Proofreading is a highly detailed skill and can take time to master. Once your document is ready, check it yourself and then ask someone else to check it. Finding errors in your own work can be difficult as your brain is seeing what it thinks was written. Handing drafts to a colleague from another area of the business is useful as they will be able to spot an error the rest of the team has missed due to viewing the document multiple times.

Always use the spellcheck function in your word processing program and pay attention to whether you have chosen UK English or US English eg. programme vs program. Make sure you are consistent in your spelling.

Punctuation

“I’d really like to eat grandpa.”
“I’d really like to eat, grandpa.”

10 of the most common proofreading errors are:

When proofreading your work, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these types of mistakes.

Professional Proofreaders

Professional proofreaders are available. A Google search will list those available close by. They have years of experience at document preparation prior to publication/printing. We highly recommend engaging one. We offer proofreading as an additional service to artwork and content creation. Please contact us to discuss further.


Suggested Reading & Resources

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Lynne Truss, 2003

Have You Eaten Grandma? Gyles Brandreth, 2019

Australian Government Style Manual. https://www.stylemanual.gov.au/

References

Examples above are in general usage on the internet.

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