Swoosh, There It Is

The Process Behind the Design

Swoosh…There it is…Or is it?

The design process for graphic designers is, at times, a very lonely place. As a designer, you are charged with creating a visual representation of a client’s needs. Not only must you be talented, but you must understand and listen to the client. Half of your work resides in fully comprehending the needs of a client. As a designer, the process, though exciting, is extremely challenging. Now that I am designing as freelance work, I think it is time for me to establish my design process. Though I can research and imitate the process many use in their established practices, how can I distinguish my process from the others? What will make my process unique enough to warrant me solidifying my design style?

In reading the articles related to Carolyn Davidson’s design of the Nike logo in 1971, it was refreshing to see the time she took in designing the logo (approximately 17.5 hours). Sometimes, I think I am slow in my process, although I do feel justified in working so thoroughly.  Though I am a perfectionist, I must recognize and accept the fact that designing takes time, research, patience, and perseverance. In order to improve my skill and ability to design well, I have two goals. First, create a process that works for me and secondly, continue to improve my skill and technique through practice and lifetime education.


Carolyn Davidson / Nike

Carolyn Davidson was a student at Portland State when she designed the Nike logo. She was paid $35 for her logo, but was given stock later (now worth $643k). Mr Knight, founder of Nike originally said:  ‘Well, I don’t love it, but maybe it will grow on me’. (7 Most Famous Logos and How They Were Created)

A Process As Unique As The Designer


Not only will I use this blog to write for class, but I think I can use it as a chronicle of how my thought and design process evolves as my experience and client list grows. Using the most recent experience and my project management experience, here is my proposed process for 2015:

  1. Talk/listen to my client. Develop a rapport and relationship with them, as that rapport will work to my benefit in creating something based on their style and needs. Maintain open communication throughout the process, so that the project maintains the integrity needed by the client.
  2. Research other designs and current trends/designs related to this project. In researching, consider the best programs to use to accomplish the goal.
  3. Art Skills: Once ideas become free-flowing, they can be separated into various sections/options. Using these options will help funnel the final design concept. Even if there are three different concepts, they can each be designed and used as options for the client. With each option comes a more defined identity. At this point, these ideas can be sketched by hand and/or created digitally. I like the idea of manipulating images, so printing them and placing them together, like a puzzle, is advantageous.
  4. Create the first drafts digitally, using the appropriate software. This is an extensive process because the possibilities are endless. The key is to remember THE CLIENT’s needs and not embellish your own creativity.
  5. Revisions will be a part of the final process as the client has offered their input. Hopefully, the work has emulated the client’s needs and does not include a complete redesign!




For Future Thought

I hope to maintain this blog throughout my design experience, as I think it is a wonderful source of information into my ideas, goals, and objectives, as well as a resource for the many links, photos, and videos I amass in my research. For now, I think my next post should be related to maintaining and improving my design skill set by donating my work to causes and continuing my education with regular classes, tutorials, and research.

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7 Design Process Steps Designers Should Follow

7 Most Famous Logos and How They Were Created

Creator of Nike’s famed Swoosh Remembers Its Conception 40 Years Later

Famous Logos

From Concept to Completion: 50 Examples of the Logo Design Process

I Never Get Tired of Looking at It

The Ideal Design Process?

Nike Swoosh Designer Discusses Her Iconic Creation

The Woman Who Designed the Swoosh