Graphic design is a profession with eclectic influences. There are strands from fine art, from pop culture, from all forms of media, throw in history, aligned occupations, a dash of experimentation and wide-ranging interests from outside commercial work. Constant curiosity about the world is vital to keep imagination firing and updated on industry trends. Each designer will have their own set of topics, ideas and activities that intrigue them.
We highly recommend student and entry level designers have a broad range of interests to visually energise their thinking. It might be as simple as a daily walk through a park to experience the weather and its ever-changing patterns. It is important never to limit your visual horizons. All designers should aspire to life-long learning.
Designers from all professions are known for quirky personal collections. Some may seek out obscure album cover art. Some hunt around for historical packaging of one specific product category. There are collections of original Penguin book covers, matchbooks, Matchbox® cars, hats, shoes, figurines, menus from cafes, postcards, watches, and jazzy tea pots. Literally as broad as the limitations of time and budget. The important take out, is always seeking and curating, learning about the world beyond daily parameters.
Wide ranging artistic activities
Creative outlets are not limited to collecting. Some designers apply their skills to cooking, making fancy baked goods or complex recipes, admiring the culinary art of chefs. Some will collect and grown bonsai, immersing themselves in the intricate patterns and small cuts required. Fine art painting, printmaking, illustration, calligraphy, and life drawing are also popular. Many designers will take up gardening, starting with a few pot plants and increasing the scope throughout their life. Visiting art galleries, museums, architectural landmarks are also high on the list of engaging activities.
Music and musicians
A cursory search will demonstrate the close and inextricable link between all forms of music and graphic design. The interchange is obvious, and the trove of cover art is a testament to this. There are many celebrated musicians who studied at art school, and in particular, graphic design, prior to their musical careers. Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, David Bowie, Pete Townshend and Freddie Mercury, to name a few. In turn, many designers have music as another creative pursuit. For example, playing an instrument, joining a band, or going to gigs, not to mention, listening to music while working.
If you question a designer, many will have a non-commercial outlet for their personal projects. This is the space where their creativity can run free. We are going to share some of ours here.
Kym Ramadge / Design Director: in my spare time I pursue fine art photography, primarily working in black and white, focusing on long exposure, minimalism, detail, texture, and pattern. First introduced to photography during high school and codified during tertiary studies, in the last 10 years have reached obsessive levels of interest, as time permits. Working as a professional graphic designer has meant collaborating with many talented commercial and landscape photographers. I’ve learnt something from each of them along the way. The difference with my personal work is, I am not under pressure to get the shot on the day, I can take my time, refining, re-shooting and re-visiting locations. Working primarily with digital, I have also joined the current Zen wave, slowing down and again shooting 35mm film. I was humbled to have three of my images commended in the 2022 Mono Awards.
Emma Echter / Lead Designer: in my spare time I alternate between illustration and quilting. During the Melbourne lockdowns, I invested a lot of time honing my illustration skills. As a young girl I dreamed of being a professional illustrator – creating illustrations for all my school projects. I started quilting about 15 years ago, and quickly fell in love with it – it is tactile, versatile and when hand-pieced, portable. Quilting is a way of illustrating and creating graphic patterns that is as close to 3-dimensional artwork as I can get. The next step in my creative journey is to find a way to combine illustration and quilting, and with the availability of digital fabric printing, the possibilities are endless…
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.
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