June 9, 2021
If you start with how it looks, you’ll end up with something that looks great but without the supporting depth. If you start with how something feels, you’ll build it into something beautiful.
The title “Art Director” has made me feel uneasy since we started our dooka journey. My industry background is in research and development for leading global tech brands, not art. Although I can lend my hand to a number of different artistic disciplines and I am pretty sure I have a good eye, “Art” sounded like a fairly shallow depiction of my role. Like the frizzy haired primary teacher who told you how to make purple (it’s by mixing blue and red btw). However, having sat with it for over a year now, I realised that I was focusing on the wrong component, it’s not about the art. It’s about direction.
Direction is the beer mat sketch. Direction is connecting the individual components. Direction is leading. Direction is decision. Direction is ownership. To me, this means that not every artistic output has to come from my hand, but it does have to pass by my good eye (not like I’m Gabrielle, they are both in pretty good, working order. Just you know; “the phrase”).
Having been coddled into appreciating its significance and relevance to me I have decided to write about some of the tasks that I take as resident “Art Boi”
I will begin with the initial visualisation of research that falls into my responsibility; Moods. The objective of Moods in our process is to articulate the direction of the brand. The essence and cornerstone of the direction that we believe it is going in.
We usually do this prior to the initial workshop with the client so that we have something to talk around from an unadulterated perspective.
A Mood is more than pretty pictures that we’re going to copy. It’s about the emotion behind the imagery, the textures that we want to be able to feel through the visuals, the memories evoked, the senses that are pricked. A mood is about positioning a brand as a sensation we want target customers to feel when they interact with a brand touch point. Much in the way a restaurant experience isn’t dictated by the food, the location, the service or the sounds that play. It is all these components culminating into the theatre of atmosphere. Down to the audacity of the desert spoon.
A graphic designer may show purely aesthetic directions, a software developer may show a UX/UI landscape that could correlate across digital platforms. At dooka, we look at things holistically. This likely stems from our experience as product/service designers. Solving problems is what we do; and our Moods reflect this. If you start with how it looks, you’ll end up with something that looks great but without the supporting depth. If you start with how something feels, you’ll build it into something beautiful. There is something in there about marrying the right girl, but I’m conscious of my inherent obsession with analogies and metaphors.
What’s immediately more apparent than where the brand should go is where it shouldn’t. If you have researched meticulously, understood intimately and positioned these Moods effectively, it will formulate an interesting conversation regardless. But typically, people don’t enjoy being told who they are, they want to tell you. So it’s important not to be disheartened if a lot of the work that goes into these boards falls by the wayside. There will be something they like, there will be a lot of stuff they don’t understand(wouldn’t have picked themselves) and there will be stuff they don’t like (stuff they would avoid). The job of the art director (and everyone else in the room who wants the best for this project) is to translate the comments into objectives, decipher the clues into insights and, most importantly, discard the crap.
This is understandably the initial step into the brand journey, followed by much more orienteering from dooka. However, a word of warning; Set off in the wrong direction at your peril! This is a key moment to cement our position as the expert guide, challenge any preconceptions and delve into personal ambitions. Particularly at this early stage in the project, this is an opportunity to make sure that both parties are working towards the same goal before embarking into any original work.
Funnily, we have found conversations are by far the most valuable insights of any brand direction. Facilitating the best conversations usually means distracting a client with something that draws out their opinions when they least expect it. That’s how we get the juicy stuff. I’ll be going into some of the sneaky methodologies we use at dooka for getting the most out of these conversations as we go forward. But first things first: Moods. Drive with research. Build with emotion. Showcase with knowledge.
Thanks for reading,