Designers are strange beings; we love coffee, treats and get very touchy feely when printed material arrives! But what actually goes on in a design studio? We’re letting you in on our studio lifestyle and explaining some of our processes and strategies.
Coffee, coffee, coffee
After the initial fight through the morning traffic to get to the studio, first order of business is, of course, coffee (Sarah is a huge fan of the caffetiere) followed by the daily planning meeting. This is an exercise that allows our sleepy designer brains to switch on. Nothing starts before a huge cup of coffee. Once we are caffeine fuelled and ready to go, we begin discussing the current work and potential work that is passing through the studio. It is an important task for scheduling purposes. However, it doesn’t always go as planned due to last minute urgent requests made by clients….you know how it is! We all catch up on the progress of projects and plan the day around the current workload. It allows us to get our work done more efficiently and turn our design projects around within specified deadlines. Here at Martin Hopkins Design we pride ourselves on the speedy turnaround and acracy of all projects that pass through our doors.
Design ideas and marketing strategies
Any new design projects are given job numbers and discussed so all of our designers and production staff are aware of the requirements and deadlines, then the work is scheduled in time slots to each designer, based on their skillset and familiarity with the client. We put extra time and attention into market research at the start of a design project, prior to putting pen to paper. We then discuss the best possible approach, brainstorm initial marketing strategies / design concepts. This usually involves rough sketches and idea generation; a particularly interesting (and often humourous) part of the day! Once we have our methodology in place, and we are fueled up with more coffee (sometimes biscuits if we’re lucky), we begin the design process, which we regularly review throughout the day to make sure we are on target.
Trust us…we’re professional creative thinkers!
Walk into the studio after our morning meeting and you will see our heads buried into the computer as we design away for hours; an immersive experience which puts us ‘in the zone’, where we can place ourselves into the brand identity and surround ourselves with the relevant content to get creative juices flowing. Once we’re in, it’s hard to escape. Kath refers to our computer time as a productive time warp; for every hour you feel has passed, four will have actually passed and before you know it you have your design! (I guess that shows how much we enjoy what we do!) You emerge from the design only to give yourself a well deserve cuppa or to ask the opinions of other MH creatives.
Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated
Design work is complex. Imagery is often key; finding a beautiful image is easy, but finding one or more that speak for a company’s brand…well that’s another game entirely. All of the images must work in harmony and we have a responsibility to our clients to ensure that every piece of brand material is always encompassing their ethos. In a similar way, body text and headlines must relate to the imagery and deliver a clear message that communicates well with the target audience. The language used is also vital. You would not want to use playful language when delivering a serious brand message, so the tone of voice you use is just as important as the message you need to communicate.
There are often multiple facets to a design project, from researching and copywriting content to illustration design, map design, image retouching, website and digital design. Every project has its own individual requirements which we carefully consider to create a bespoke design.
Our strength comes in combining the items in a layout that is not only attractive and modern but functions correctly and communicates a brand’s message. It’s important to find the correct visual balance to any design. We would never send a proposal to a client until we are happy that it fulfills the brief. Less is more and the skill is in the details. Pulling a successful design together is a learnt skill, and all of our designers have solid backgrounds in the creative industry and are able to debate and analyse the merit of a design proposal. It can get quite animated but there are plenty of laughs while we discuss the multiple possibilities. We’re all actively involved in every project, which we feel gives it the diversity it needs to truly meet it’s brief.
As creative thinkers, we have a wide ranging appreciation of beautiful and well-executed design; something we always strive to deliver to our clients. So you will often find us comparing design inspirations on Pinterest or passing around beautifully designed objects that we have unearthed when out and about. We are constantly back and forth between us, asking opinions and checking the designs against their original briefs. You will often hear us whispering to each other “James, James, Kathhhh, Sarah, check this out…”. Before sending any design proposals to our clients, we all sit down collectively one last time to absorb the chosen designs. This is one of the best parts to the day, as we get to see all of our hard work come together in hand crafted designs. Once we make our final tweaks and are happy with the final proposal, we are ready to send it off to our lovely clients (after all – happy designers means happy clients!).
So there you have it! While that is not all that goes on, it does give a snapshot of a normal day in the life of a graphic designer at Martin Hopkins. Our creative studio is diverse and day to day workings can really vary, but some things are constant…like creativity and coffee!
Start your project
Martin Hopkins is owned and run by award-winning creative minds. If you have an exciting new project, submit your brief and we will be in touch to give you a project quotation based on your requirements.