This week I entered a wedding invitation contest held by Minted, an online design marketplace that sells stationery and home decor. While I was working on my design, I felt proud and driven to complete my idea. But within half an hour of submitting my entry I felt deflated and uneasy. I immediately thought how feeble my design looked next to the other two thousand plus entries that were so incredibly well done. While comparing my work and feeling like I was an amoeba with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, I started to think of what I would do differently to improve some of the problems with my invitation. I was deconstructing the other entries to find out why I thought they achieved a level of elegance and professionalism that I did not reach. This is a good thing. It means that by doing, I am learning and therefore entering the contest was not such a bad idea.
As an artist I have an advantage through experience thinking creatively and focusing on composition. But as a graphic designer I need to keep in mind some principles that might exclude some of the more detailed pencil and watercolor illustrations that I have been doing lately. Graphic design, especially for print material is about accessibility and conveying information in an eye-catching and recognizable way. Because the print space allotted is limited and because we can only look at and take in a few elements at a time, good design must do a lot with very little.
I am reminded of silkscreens, lithos and woodcuts that, because of their printing processes, are known for long stretches of saturated flat color, thick outlines and worlds made of shapes. They can appear to be overly simplistic, or rich and complex at the same time. I want to start looking at some of my graphic design projects through a printmaking lens. How many colors would I need to use if I were making a woodcut of this brochure? How many plates would I need for this postcard if it were a litho print? I still think of myself as an artist and printmaking learning how to become a better graphic designer.
You can vote for my Minted wedding invitation entry here or vote for one of the other inspiring designers that made me look super lame. Here are my top picks: