Cultivating the Creative Eye

One question I get frequently from non-designers wishing to create nice brochures or fliers is: How do I make it look good?

You might as well ask how can you learn how to paint like Picasso.  That eye for shape, color, contrast, form and movement isn’t something you just turn on or turn off. It isn’t something you can pick up in a handy two-hour seminar either.

Not to sound presumptuous, but this is what designers get paid big money for. It’s a talent they grew up cultivating and growing through classes from grade school to college and beyond. So the short answer is: I can’t teach you how to “Make it look good”.

The long answer is that I CAN teach you, but it has to be something you want to do and are willing to put the time and effort into. Here are a few projects for you to complete that will help you get an eye for shape and design.

Learn Typography

  • Create a 3×3 inch design for your company using only one font, one size, no pictures or shapes and no color.
  • Create a 3×3 inch design for your company using only one font, multiple sizes no pictures or shapes and no color.
  • Create a 3×3 inch design for your company using only one font and no color.
  • Take a camera and collect photos of shapes that make A-Z letters without actually being letters. (See examples here)

Learn Color

  • Collect a large pile of magazines and clip out pieces of colors you like, lots! Then sort the colors into piles that match similarly and glue them into a notebook for reference to colors you like.
  • Paint with water colors, oil paints and acrylics once a week for three months to get a feel for color balance.
  • Visit art museums and write a report on your favorite paintings and what colors were used and why.

Learn Design

  • Go through a pile of magazines and clip out all the ads that catch your eye. Glue them into a notebook for reference. Write notes under each one as to why the ad caught your attention.
  • Purchase design magazines like HOW and repeat the step above. Mark trends of the design types you like, where your eyes go, if the message of the ad is successful or if you can’t tell what the ad is for.
  • Create similar designs until you develop your own style.

Good luck! I wish you all the best! If you have questions or would like more projects, feel free to send me an email at velexia [at] msn (dot) com.

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