Deadlines force graphic designers to act, to focus, and to create. Without a deadline, projects can easily drag and lose momentum and the designer’s interest along the way. I find the most difficult logo projects are the ones for myself. If a client inched a job along the way I do when working on my own branding, I would go nuts. Like many graphic designers, I feel limits are what drive inspiration and creative problem solving.
I recently completed both the idApostle and Processed Identity logos. While the Processed Identity logo was completed in a respectable two months, due to a deadline, the idApostle identity was kicked around, forgotten, revised, and obsessed over for almost one year.
As I worked on these two identities, two thoughts about time and my creative process came to light. I work best when time is limited in some aspects, and expanded in others. I do best when the project has a deadline and also allows time for reflection.
Limiting time sparks my creativity. Increasing time for reflection refines it. The act of putting a project aside for a few days enables me to look at it with fresh and critical eyes. After a few days away I will likely want to tweak something about the identity that I did not see before. What may seem like trivial changes, combine, resulting in a refined logo. Too often projects are rushed, and this time for reflection is squeezed out — often the first victim of a time crunch.
Time for reflection for both the graphic designer and client is essential in making an attempt to understand how a logo will settle into the minds of the intended audience. I suggest that while clients consider their first reaction, they also weigh how they feel about the logo a week later, as their audience will be looking at it for years. A week, or at the very least, a few days of reflection seems like time well spent to me. A small tweak to a logo is a change to every single time that logo will be seen in the future. Considering it this way can magnify the value of these changes.
The problem with reflection and a designer, however, is that most graphic designers would go on forever changing things. So the client brings that all-important creative limit, thankfully — a deadline. The balance between the two is what I will be looking for in the future.