Last week I went on a walking-meeting with a brand strategist (now friend!). I was telling her about The Kubrick Project, which I always try and get to talking about this because a) clearly after 6 years, it’s a huge part of my life – and who’s kidding, I’m a smudge obsessed, but mainly b) I assume once I share this aspect of myself and my work, they will instantly understand me.
… not so fast there, bub.
I realized a few years ago that in order for people TO understand The Kubrick Project a bit better, I’d have to produce some tangible, VISUAL results. I also realized that this would take some serious time to make happen. My “solution” was to show more of my process. People will at least see that I’m doing something! Right? Maybe hopefully? Well whichever it is, this is where I’ve been living for a little under 2 years.
Which takes me back to two fridays ago and this awesome walking-meeting.
Can we just take 5 seconds to talk about the brilliance of a “walking-meeting”. It’s exactly what it sounds like. We met up, we walked around for an hour and a half, and we discussed. It. was. amazing! I’ve been steadily getting more active, so having a productive chat with an incredibly gifted woman who’s also running a business AND getting in more cardio? Oh my goodness, YES!
So back to the meeting. We left, and I resolved to send her some of the charts that I had posted on this blog. I threw the links in the email, and was convinced this would solve the issue. But instead, her response gave me some much needed reality.
“Girl, you’re gonna have to walk me through the Kubrick project. Makes no sense to me. But looks purdy.”
A clarifying moment to say the least.
Here I am priding myself on communication, and can call out instance after instance of information others take for granted– but me? To and for myself? Whoa reality. Slice of life has been SERVED.
I felt like the forrest who had never realized the variety of trees and wildlife within her.
I took a look at my client notes for the last week and noticed similar things popping up. Seems like I take really well to grouping and organizing large batches of “seemingly random” information and make sense of it. Seeing that this also my definition of a designer, it makes good solid sense why my experience in an advertising agency left me screaming “I’M NOT DESIGNING!”. Ahh. It all makes sense now. Not just regular sense, either. SUPER MEGA EPIC MAGICAL SENSE.
When I start working for a client, I ask them questions and have them collect visual inspiration. I call the questions an FAQ, but really it could be an interview, a chat, or even deciphered through email. It’s a huge assortment of information-y goodness, and I simply sort it out. I’m sure before The Kubrick project, I probably organized these notes mentally in nanoseconds beyond realization, but now in the fully-fledged summer that is self-awareness, I draw out little charts. It’s easier, healthier and a whole lot more organized I can tell you all that. Paired with the visual inspiration, I’m able to combine and reorganize how different elements can support and play off of each other in conceptual gloriousness.
Here’s some notes I made for recent clients to define how their brand would come together. I like to divvy up the information and assign roles. How can these elements work together to best support the entirety of your youness, or in this case, their their-ness? I use the different adjectives the clients use to describe themselves with the reactions/responses with inspiration to help organize each client’s parameters.
Client A used words: ” Confidence, security, romantic, luxurious, rustic, candlelight, string light, barns, celebratory, union, thoughtful, resourceful, strong, soft, warm, creative, loves kids on the dance floor, driftwood, flowers in your hair, on time, bud vases, mercury votives.”
An interesting mix of mood/concept words, actual objects she uses for each event she plans, and outward moments she experiences at her favorite types of events. Since I’m a more-is-GREAT-at-this-stage kind of designer, I enjoyed the challenge of defining these aspects of her business– but was absolutely equipped to do so thanks to the thorough-awesomeness of her answers. I worked up this little ditty of a chart in 5 seconds, but it saved me so much design time! I was able to understand how her visual inspiration translated to these ideas & words she was showing to me in a way that paved the way to integrate all of them in a plan. Yes, yes, doubley yessy yesssss yes.
Client B is a good example of what happens when I have gaps in information. I see the pathways, but I’m not always able to pair them up with a tangible or conceptual execution. It’s clear that she has some really nice variety in how her clients feel about her and the relationship she has with her clients in general. What’s not quite working for me yet are ways to connect her quirky sensibilities (which I also have yet to see, which is an interesting thing to bring up to someone) with how she interacts with her clients. It’s interesting to me to have physical proof of my lack of connection in these ideas. We’re currently resolving the issue (which is hardly an issue at all, and just part of the beautiful wonkery of branding process) by having her go through a large (200 images!) of various samples. Getting her feedback on such a large swath of choices will tell me a lot more, and will allow me to find places to explore design-wise that aren’t so thought-probing. Everyone is different, and I truly believe that being more flexible with people allows you to be more productive. Learn and grow; all I’m saying.
Fully indulging this side of myself for the “purpose of this blog post” (further indulgence), I wanted to do something I’ve actually always wanted to do. There’s been this mega chart in my mind for a while that plots all of the various clients’ I’ve designed for on a glorious graph (yes, glorious. It’s a thing). It came to me after a client a few years ago asked for a “warm and inviting but still sophisticated and cool” website. I was simultaneously baffled and tickled. All the directions! At once! In a balanced way!! It may sound silly, but I really do think that it’s these moments right here and how we handle them that define what kind of designer we are. I used it as a way to show the client the various ‘degrees’ in mood and tone and told them how strangely opposite this sentence was. I knew they had a great sense of humor so we all laughed about it, but I will always remember the awkwardness of trying to rectify all of that in one brand.
This little graph always pops up in my brain of when I think of mood and tone, and I made one super quick-like in relation to the work on my site. Even things like warm and inviting but cool and sophisticated are all together probable, possible, and even potentially practical, it’s all in how you do it. This is how I do it. Apparently.
The charts I’ve been working on (and super enjoyably) for the last two years, the way I understand client’s feedback and direction, they are essentially the same thing. That is to say: it’s at least how my brain works in digesting and organizing large chunks of information. It may be what makes a designer, but that’s not the point. It’s what makes the Jenny Ambrose. It’s why I can be a designer and enjoy the artistry, the anthropology, and the mathematics at the same time, and it is something I will definitely not be taking for granted ever again.
P.S Did you see we rebranded? Yes, I am super aware that I should be blogging about that first, but this seemed cooler, and I’ll be blogging about the huge-o change next. Sit tight, it’s happening.