Welcome back to Design Basic’s Getting to Grips! In this series we chat to industry pros, revealing the inside scoop on their processes, practices and preferences.
It’s safe to say that (generally) creatives fall into one of two categories; the iterator or the perfectionist. Whilst they may take the same amount of time to execute a task, a perfectionist will spend the whole time thinking, taking hours to painstakingly and meticulously work on a single piece – crafting something totally perfect by the end. Meanwhile, an iterator will produce something equally wonderful but will have a million versions of the work between the beginning blank page and the end result.
Whether you’re one or the other (or a little bit of both), we believe you should be proud of whichever method you define your practice. After all, what works for you, works for you. We’re all incredibly different, and our minds are so individually complex. So when helping craft the industry landscape we want to see, it’s our duty to make it as accessible, neuro-divergent-friendly and understanding as possible. If we all worked, dressed, and designed the same, the creative scene would undoubtedly be far less interesting.
We’ve chatted to our resident industry pros about their own unique approaches to design, peeking behind the curtain and finding the method behind the madness. Different studios, different ways of working, different outputs, but all brilliant work.
Over to you, dream team!
WHAT STYLE OF DESIGNER ARE YOU? ARE YOU A PERFECTIONIST OR AN ITERATOR (OR BOTH!)?
NO: A big big iterator! I like to think through making and through my hands (or the digital equivalent—my mouse) and trying things out in multiple ways. As soon as I try one layout, I immediately think, well, what if that’s placed there instead, leading to many versions of a thing. It feels like playing with clay, moving things around until you find the final form. It’s definitely a messy and sketchy start, and then slowly as the form is found I start to tighten things up and lean into the more perfectionist and precise mindset.
OB: Painfully a perfectionist. It’s always hard to let go. We mostly use iterations as part of testing before sending to print or to proof a solution in case of line extensions with naming or other variables. Sometime ago we heard Paola Antonelli saying “The opposite of beautiful is lazy, not ugly” which resonated a lot with us.
TMS: With there being two of us, I think we always had slightly different ways of approaching design, which can be a good thing. When we started out Malone was more of a perfectionist whereas Ben was more on the iterative side, but I think over the years that has kind of shifted a bit and we are now more in the middle. Being able to be flexible while designing is a big plus as it really speeds up the process and you don’t end up getting bogged down early on with the nitty gritty. We think that the start of a project is the place to be experimental and playful, and as you move towards the end, that’s the time to start reeling things in and getting into the details.
LT: Yes, probably both — but it changes a lot depending on the stage of the project. Jeremy and I are both generally pretty loose and work super intuitively and quite quickly at the beginning of a project, when we’re in the concept stage. We don’t get too hung up on perfecting early on, so in that respect we’re more iterators. But when it comes to refinement and creating a final thing, ready to show the world, we like to spend time crafting every detail so that it does feel just right. I guess it’s then that we bring in a level of perfectionism!
I’d say, personally I’m more of an iterator, though I can have perfectionist tendencies and work on details for a long time. I tend to be the type of designer that makes a lot of variations of something. Probably because I’m really visual and it helps me define the direction we are working on. If we see possible tweaks and don’t test them we could miss a spark that can lead to a great idea.