In the video below, freelance graphic designer Aaron Draplin describes the method and resources that he uses to design a logo. The first few minutes are particularly worthwhile, as they outline a method that too many people take for granted. Draplin begins his projects by sketching. The video reveals how sketching is not just a matter of transferring ideas from the head to the page, but rather it is a form of active thinking. It is as if he is thinking through the page – using the pen and paper not to record ideas, but to generate them.
Sketching is often described as a process of visualization, but Draplin does not have an image in his head before he starts to draw. Much of his best ideas are discovered serendipitously. The shapes that are drawn on the page are not planned, but drawn intuitively, and aesthetic judgements are made afterwards. Throughout the process, Draplin is reflective and responsive; he responds to the shapes on the page or screen as he draws them, describing how his lines ‘feel’ right or wrong.
Draplin uses the practical example of starting with a brand name. He begins by writing the name in different styles of handwriting. As he draws the strokes of the letters, he becomes aware of the lines and angles that have potential to be transformed into abstract shapes at the heart of the logo. These realizations, he argues, cannot arise from simply thinking about the name or seeing it as someone else has written it. The process of making a line on the page gives the drawer a tangible sense of the quality of the line, and invites associations with other potential lines and shapes. This responsiveness leads to inspiration.