Caffeinate, Create, Sleep, Repeat.

Why I still carry a pencil and a sketchbook with me everyday

In this technologically advanced age of high-performance ultra-portable laptops, having the Adobe Creative Suite already available via Cloud Computing, and where every other tool that a designer needs to get work done is being ported to mobile devices as a downloadable app — tech-lovin’ kids might be surprised to see that there are some of us who still carry a sketchbook along with our MacBook that’s already installed with AdobeCS.

Aren’t you guys just old-fashioned?
Well it depends on what you mean by ‘Old-Fashioned”. If you mean sticking to the basics of designing by first doing at least a little research about the project at hand, then collecting my thoughts and drawing wireframes or drafts on my sketchbook before actually jumping in front of my Mac to start designing mock-ups — then yes, I guess you can call me old-fashioned.

One thing that some kids don’t understand about Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw or any other design software is that they’re all  just productivity tools — they don’t ’empower’ you to design per se, they’re just there to help make the whole design process easier and faster. You do not automatically qualify as a bona fide professional designer (at least by my books) just because you have access to an Adobe CS6 Master Collection or whatever design software you may be using – In the same sense that you do not automatically become a bona fide professional photographer just because you own a Canon EOS-1D X DSLR camera.

But wouldn’t sketching on paper equate to doubling the work?
Think of it this way: If architects and engineers straight away started the construction of a skyscraper without doing due diligence such as researching about the geographical conditions of the location, and let’s say without drafting a blueprint for the building’s design  — do you think it would equate to lesser work if halfway through construction, they’d find out that there’s something wrong with the design? Another example would be surgeons immediately cutting up patients to ‘fix’ what’s wrong without prior diagnosis — now that would be scary. You might be thinking, “Well, you can’t compare architect, engineers and surgeons with designers…”. Well, why not? They’re all professionals, right? And if you consider yourself as a professional designer and not just an enthusiast with access to design software, then you really should consider sketching up drafts/wireframes before actually designing mock-ups.

But I could do that straight out of Photoshop…
The thing with designing right of the bat from a computer is that it is really hard not to be sucked in to polishing up the supposed ‘sketch’ into the actual final artwork. What’s great about sketching in paper is that the whole process detaches you from the advanced tools, the filters, the effects and the whole ‘why-don’t-I-just-finish-this-piece-so-I-already-have-one-mockup-to-present’ mentality. Actually I find the whole process of wire-framing/sketching on paper to be more creatively stimulating than doing it on PS because it allows me to concentrate more on the basics, and choose early in the process which the direction/s I want to take for the artwork without spending too much time on creating almost-complete mock-ups that would later all go to design purgatory.

When you design on paper, you tend to give more emphasis on the function of each element rather focusing on the form — which is good, that means you’re designing with purpose in mind and you’re not just merely dumping in random effects/filters on your artwork just for the sake of making it look fancy.

Can you do this straight in Photoshop?
Imagine sitting on a bus in the middle of your commute to a client presentation, then out of the blue an award-winning concept hits you. So what do you do? Pull out your laptop/tablet and start making a half-assed mockup that you’d later show to your client who would think that your mock-up was so half-assed, its quite possible that you are outsourcing the design work to someone else; or pull out your sketchbook, draw the sh*t out of that ‘Yellow-Pencil-worthy’ concept of yours, then later, present it to your client as a freshly brewed concept and impress the hell out of them with your wicked raw talent in sketching/drawing.

Clients can easily be impressed when they see that you can take their brand to new heights without even using a design software. I know this for a fact because I’ve done successful pitches and client briefings where I didn’t even have a tangible presentation to begin with, I’ve sold logo and ad concepts to clients by sketching a rough draft in front of them while letting them imagine how the final artwork would look like as I elaborately describe to them the direction I’d want us to take for their brand.

Rockstar for hire.
I help businesses create memorable branding experiences for their customers.

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