”Establish and undertake a small client-led project in response to another person’s graphic design needs:
- write a brief
- develop a range of ideas
- finish your artwork to pre-press
- work out roughly how much you might charge for the job
- reflect on the process – how you found working with a client. You may want to get some feedback from your client about their experience of the process. Given the amount of time you spent on the assignment, how much might you have charged your client? How does your client feel about this price? How might you approach other client-led projects differently in the future? Summarise your reflections into a short evaluation (around 800 words) and submit this with your assignment.’
The timing of this meant two suitable projects came along for me to work on. One for the Barnstaple Samaritans and another for my friend who is a professional photographer.
The Barnstaple Samaritans have run a poster competition for local schools to raise awareness and celebrate 50 years of listening. Once the winning entries had been chosen, the Samaritans need certificates designed to present to the winners.
This task was obviously not a large project…As the Samaritans have a countrywide identity, it was really important to stay ‘on brand’. Consequently, there’s little scope for creativity as such, and it was very much a ‘closed brief’. This is not such a bad thing though! I like using the skills I’m learning to do something meaningful and useful…That feels good.
Designing the posters involved creating some options that were (moderately) decorative but in keeping with the Sams style. The challenge with this was to keep within the spirit of the brand but allow just a bit of embellishment that didn’t look out of place.
Here’s a screenshot of the Barnstaple section of the Sams website, and the competition poster designed/approved by head office.
Some years the Samarians use their secondary colours (the purple and the teal) other years they fade into the background. The green always remains.
I had a quick look online at certificates, along it wasn’t all that inspiring!
I had already discussed that these would be produced digitally. Calligraphy isn’t my strong point and hand rendering would be very time consuming. This was the first batch I emailed to them for approval:
The feedback was that they were unhappy with so much white space and wanted something that covered the page…
I sent a second round of ideas like so:
The feedback was positive, and they liked the ‘dotted line’ border. We stuck to the green only, as I mentioned this is the enduring colour that won’t age. At this point, we decided to switch to landscape and I produced the final set of posters. I won’t show them all, but heres a sample…
Certificates of participation
Winners (in total 3 schools won, as there were three age categories)
These were then printed off on a Samaritan’s home computer, framed and presented to the children involved.
That was ‘the starter’, here’s the main…
Landscaper Photographer Rachel Burch has designed a set of Oracle Cards* inspired by Dartmoor. She would like me to design a box cover for the cards to be kept in. In addition, she would like an A4 leaflet to explain the cards, which must fit folded into the box.
Rachel’s photography can be see at http://www.rachelburchphotography.com
*Oracle cards, I have learnt, are similar to Tarot, but with no ‘sinister’ connotations. They are any size deck, usually with inspirational or thought-provoking comments on each card. They are not intended to offend people of any faith. In fact I have come across both Buddhist and Christian inspired oracle cards.
Rachel’s preferred printing firm is at http://www.makeplayingcards.com. She has already started the project by uploading her images onto a set of cards and had one set printed by them to check quality. The typeface she has used is Fanwood.
She has emailed images of her cards, which gave me a good starting point, and her choice of Fanwood also suggests the ‘feel’. The mood is rather mysterious and is flavoured with a slight celtic/folktale aesthetic. Dartmoor, of course, has a rich history both in fact and folklore.
Some of Rachels cards. (She had lowered the opacity on the back and added her text in Fanwood – for some reason I can’t currently find this image, but you can see her work below)
Lastly, I need to bare in mind there’s quite a tight deadline as she has pre-sold sets, which need to be approved, printed and posted before Christmas.
The Box. Before I narrow my focus, I did some general research to open things up a little, in order to offer my client some packaging options. Although I’m fairly certain she would prefer card packaging, why not see what is out there?
Looking at oracle and tarot card inspiration. What packaging materials could be used?
Card/mixed media boxes
Medium and heavyweight card boxes
Card styling. This part has already been completed by my client, but it’s interesting to see ideas.
I love this flamingo – the flourishes, the change in tone and the typeface.
Sourcing packaging materials
Wood – obviously you would need to think about fit. If larger than needed, whether it might be possible to add a few ‘bonus items’ or allow more room for a bigger leaflet. (NB I assume the cards would be inside a cardboard container, not loose inside the box) Postage costs need to be considered too. Here’s an example of the style of box…
The box could even be stained, painted or personalised for the customer. As this set may well sell as a gift item to be treasured, packaging and personalisation are things to consider closely. Some boxes I found were too small for the cards though.
Fabric bags – this site will print on the bag with your design or even photo on it. An image/text from the card set, or perhaps the customer’s name?
Perhaps there might be scope for a standard version (in card packaging only) and deluxe (inside a wooden box or fabric pouch) This could even be developed at a later date, as Rachel will need this done in good time for Christmas, not forgetting overseas shipping, we may need to simply get the standard version out and done first!
After speaking to Rachel, she confirmed that she would like me to use a box template from the same printing company as the cards she has already printed. This way we can be sure of quality and a good fit.
I downloaded the box template, which is a rigid box with a base and a lid.
The Leaflet. I also looked at various options for leaflet folding. Some are really elaborate, as demonstrated by Trish Witkowski at Lynda.com. Her day job is at Foldfactory. There is an amazing array I’d never heard of – my favourite being ‘the travelling snake’.
The other brilliant thing Foldfactory offers is a free template generator. Could be useful eh!!
Rachel would like me to make a leaflet from an A4 sized document.
So back in the real world, I experimented with folding A4 paper to get a feel for what the options might be. It will need plenty of panels and to fit inside the card box.
The 9 panel option seems a safer fit, so I went with that.
I was confident I could find templates online, but it was much harder than I thought, as there are a lot of different folds and I wasn’t even sure what to call mine…
Here are some of the basics:
Apparently, a ‘z fold’ is specifically a 3 fold, and ‘accordian’ is 4 or more.
But when you factor in two-stage folding, I got a bit lost as to how to describe mine…
I did find this – so one of mine can be described as a “concertina fold three times, then crossed folded in half”. No template available for this particular one though! Sigh.
And this cross folded version achieves a similar result
I then decided the best way forward was to adapt Z and Concertina fold leaflet templates. I hunted around a lot to find the answer to my next question – does a z fold (ie 3 fold) leaflet have a narrow panel like a tri-fold (the last panel tucking in). The answer is….No. Or at least not in the examples I found.
I went back to foldfactory.com and entered my requirements which resulted in a couple of templates I can modify for the extra folds. (Not before I spent ages trying to get it to generate exactly what I wanted but I just couldn’t make it fit my requirements) Hey ho, lesson learnt.
I actually feel I overcomplicated this hugely – it would have been far easier to simply set it up in Indesign without trying to find a template.
Rachel has provided me with a range of images to use, and the typeface was already established. I didn’t discuss alternatives fonts with Rachel as she had already spent hours setting up her cards, and I also think Fanwood is a good choice.
I printed Fanwood out at a variety of font sizes to check legibility.
I also played a little to explore its potential including a nice array of glyphs.
As I was looking at the ‘mysterious symbols’ in the glyphs panel (mysterious if you only speak English!) One thing that occurred to me is that maybe some of these shapes could be re-interpreted as design elements…For example, these remind me of birds.
Looking through Rachels photos, I tried to narrow down what I thought would work well as a cover image for the box. She has altered her images post processing to give an otherworldly, painterly effect, so I don’t want to introduce too many additional elements. As this is meant to showcase her photography, her images ought to take centre stage. At this point, I mocked up a few alternatives.
You can see I have paired Fanwood with a sans serif font. The red border obviously marks the top of the box.
I love this blue door with the gorgeous twsting symmetry of the tree above…
Then it occurred to me that the box lid doesn’t have to be restricted to portrait! This really helped me to have the option of larger text.
Next I gathered together my ideas relating to Dartmoor and the ‘bird’ shapes from the glyph panel of Fanwood. What emerged was growing shapes – birds, twisting stalks, flowers and brambles. I wanted to suggest that the flowers might turn into birds and hint at something otherworldly.
The bramble shape again repurposes the ‘bird’- (v shaped) element from the Fanwood glyphs panel.
I used these ideas to create a vector overlay to suggest Dartmoor as a slightly magical place. I then sent Rachel these options to ask for her feedback. (And also the plain ones)
A slightly different approach, where I isolated the bird in Photoshop…but I wasn’t that keen on changing her images so radically, as they wouldn’t match her card deck.
Rachel chose the above image.
The lower part of the box looks like this
I then printed off my design and assembled the box to check all was well….I realised my mistake, which was I should have printed off the plain net and assembled it prior to any design. As it was I hadn’t fully absorbed that this design needs to work in 3D (!) I didn’t fully visualise how the design and flourishes of the upper and lower box need to compliment each other, not get tangled.
I repositioned some of the vector plants and re-checked my work by printing again and assembling. This took several goes until I was fully happy.
Next I turned my attention to the leaflet. I thought I could reuse the same elements successfully, though of course in practise it took a lot of tweaking! I wanted the leaflet to have a simple design and title on the visible panel when folded, then open into a larger design.
My first attempts weren’t sitting very well…
Although the front panel looks OK, the open image is a bit clumsy.
Then I went a bit overboard with the birds…
I can see the images are interfering with the text! Especially as this is black and white.
Eventually I managed to wrench my brain into ‘less is more’ mode and simplify a little. You can see I used the sans serif in the first section to suggest a separation from ‘about Rachel’ and the subject of the cards.
She wanted a full bleed on the back in colour – like this. A good choice, as it effectively shows off her image to full effect.
Once Rachel had seen and approved both the box design, and the leaflet I produced them as printable PDF’s. The box design had to correspond with the net provided by http://www.makeplayingcards.com. and their print requirements. Once finished, I emailed this over to Rachel, who uploaded the pdf for printing from their website.
I originally made the leaflet as a pdf suitable for home printing, but as her customer orders increased it became cost effective to pay for professional printing. Consequently Rachel suggested using Moo.com. I checked the print requirements on their website and made a few tweaks to fit their pdf requests – 4mm bleed, text converted to outline etc. Here’s a screen shot of the PDF they requested, and the colour setting.
I’m happy to say everything is back from the printers and my client is happy with the result. Phew!
She kindly emailed me some images of the printed items – she has taken this on the moor!
When Rachel kindly sent me my own printed set, I was able to see the results first hand…Lucky for me, she is happy with the box as it is, but there are some tweaks I would ideally make for future editions. Firstly, I would possibly not extend the design on the bottom of the box along the side panels, as they do clash a bit with the lid. (Though its a small point, I think it shows my inexperience of working with packaging) Secondly, as the leaflet changed from being designed for home printing to professional printing, I would like to reverse it out. Obviously home printing would use too much ink, but presented on a dark, almost black colour (to match the base of the box) would be a nice touch. I discussed these suggestions with Rachel and she remains happy with the base as it is, but would be interested in the leaflet change. We are now discussing a companion set with a new pack of cards. The sets will be themed daytime (this set) and night time (the next project) and will also be available as a pair. – so I can hopefully learn from my mistakes and produce a new and improved box design next time.
Reflection (approx 800 words)
I really enjoyed working on some ‘real world’ projects, particularly as they both went to print. The Samaritans was a bit frustrating, as there was a big gap between how I would like to work and the information/resources I actually had. I would have liked to get the brand guidelines from head office, so I had the exact colour match, and access to their specific fonts. In reality, I had to bodge certain elements in photoshop (such as the samaritans logo) and find a similar font to the one used. It would have taken a lot of pushing to gain this information, and in fact previously the competition poster was originally intended to be designed by me, but was simply designed by the graphic designer at head office when Barnstaple branch approached them. I understand their need for quality control but it was a bit frustrating! It’s difficult to explain this sort of thing without sounding like a diva as most people are happy with similar fonts, but its part of the unseen ‘magic ingredient’ that conveys a polished look – even if people can’t put their finger on why.
I didn’t charge for this work, as it didn’t feel appropriate (there are no regional paid staff in Samaritans at all) This is something I really like about the Samaritans, that they are very frugal and it is truly a voluntary organisation. The funding for the competition came from a local community grant, not the Samaritans themselves.
I know we have to be very wary about giving away our time for free, but I volunteer for them anyway, so it was simply part of that relationship. One volunteer is a carpenter, he built shelving for free – you get the idea.
Rachel Burch’s project was far more challenging as it was my first design using a net. She is a good friend, so I was (hopefully) fairly in tune with what she was after. Also, I know Dartmoor very well and share her love of the countryside there. My main anxiety was getting my work up to a suitable standard as I knew she had purchasers waiting! I found her very easy to work with, she gave me clear instructions and quick decisions too which was very helpful. There was very little I needed to clarify, as she sent lots of information via email which was great. I didn’t suggest alternative printers, as she has already had her work professionally printed many times – it really would be a bit arrogant of me as she’s already got the experience I haven’t!
Pricing is tricky, and I think it will take me quite a long time to work it out. For my web design work I usually charge £18 per hour, and I do usually invoice friends as I feel it’s reasonable to charge for my time. Naturally, when you are learning as I am with print design, I don’t feel its fair to charge for taking longer than usual!! So I would probably do my best to estimate the time needed up front, track my hours and discount a little if I feel some of the time is down to inexperience.
In conclusion, I felt fairly confident about writing a brief and asking the relevant questions of my client, because I am some experience doing this. I’ve previously learnt that a clear brief is hugely important, so is managing expectations. What this has highlighted for me is the need to be both assertive when necessary and let go of control when appropriate. Tricky balance!
Rachel has now produced her companion set of images, so I’ve just completed a second design for her. As it’s very similar to the first, it took a fraction of the time. I was also able to explore the corrections I mentioned earlier. It’s currently going to print, if it arrives in time I will upload here.