‘Everyone knows of the Elements and Principles of Design, well, I liken them to good bones and pretty clothes. One builds structure, the other dresses that structure with the ‘wow’ factor of exciting design.’  Cathy Jack Coupland

How do you achieve a good design? The simple answer is time and a lot of hard work.

Time to think, ponder, consider, reflect, deliberate, mull-over, meditate, brood, and ruminate.  And that’s even before pen goes to paper.

Let’s not forget the time to imagine and use our minds-eye to fantasise and daydream.  Be curious about everything.

‘Now, with all the pretty things in front of you, it’s time to dress your design’  Cathy Jack Coupland

Gather your inspiration together on a vision board. Give it some sort of order of arrangement.  I find it helpful to begin with colour and often make a swatch of the colours I intend to use.  This gives me immediate inspiration about where to utilise those colours.  I’ve also now begun to make pattern cards.  Just small cards with a pattern worked entirely over it.  These can be placed on a design to give an idea or illusion to see if that pattern would work there. It’s visual – I can see and assess immediately.

Working up a design is like a sensitive and discerning orchestra.  You’re the conductor – the one and only person in control and everything must work the way you want it to work.  Whatever ideas are there, whatever’s in front of you, try to find those connections and join the dots to unify and unite each member of your orchestra.  Make visual music through how you use line, shape, colour, size, value, and texture.

  ‘Coalesce each element until that connection is doing what you want it to.’  Cathy Jack Coupland

Simplify or add complexity?  Is there visual contrast to excite the viewer’s interest and hold their attention.  Is it telling the story you want it to?  This is where all those questions must be answered.

Take the plunge and start somewhere.  If it’s not right, begin again and again and again.  Add, delete, move, rotate.  Don’t give up.  Sleep on it, then look at your work with fresh eyes each morning.

‘The more one does, the more one can do.’  Amelia Earhart

This is my favourite part of the design process.  I’m a blank-page aficionado – it’s the one and only place to suffuse ideas into cohesion.

‘If you have the good bones of a strong design, dressing it with pretty clothes is the easy part.  Just get those good bones first before putting that party dress on.’  Cathy Jack Coupland

Be willing to spend time.  In fact, don’t even think of time, just get it right.  So right that you just can’t wait to take it to the next part of the process.

Revel in your achievement.

Next week – an astonishing book.

cathy jack coupland