time and effort in the design process


Time and effort. Oftentimes people assume graphic design work happens overnight. They expect a perfected logo to be finished the day after they request it. That simply doesn’t happen. Maybe a few times initial sketches become the final logo, but that would be considerably rare.

Instead, it is a process of research and evolution. Everything from the size of the company to their goals is considered. Maybe after researching, you compile a list of words and phrases to run through your mind while working on the project. Once you have a few sketches, you try to further develop those ones. And from there, take the best into Illustrator. Maybe you sketch some more along the way and further develop them into a final piece.

Your initial sketches are likely far different than your final piece. The process of evolution happened. I think this graphic design evolution process is similar to the process of building a camping tent. It seems like an odd comparison, but the entire reason for this post is a quote that I found and enjoyed. It comes from Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent product line, but it’s more like a subsidiary. They produce high-end outdoor gear that’s been tested for quality in extreme environments.

The quote is about the evolution of their Katabatic expedition tent. National Geographic and Backpacker Magazine have not only spoken highly of the tent, but awarded it as the best of the best.

Perfection is all about time and effort. They even killed the project due to lack of quality, but eventually returned to further develop, and even finish it. The quote is also about setting high standards. If you want to sell the best of the best, you need to either perfect every detail or don’t release it. You likely don’t want to release something that isn’t your best possible work, unless you can explain how you benefited from it.

“It took us four years, since September of 2008, multiple prototypes, a lot of sessions with the design teams and testing on the world’s highest mountains. When the wind kicked up to 35–40 mph, that concerned us. We went to the second prototype. It was a little bit better but still fell short. Came out with our third prototype, spent three weeks at 13,000 feet and it was good, but not good enough so we brought out our fourth prototype. Spent a few hundred nights in it, once we got back, we found out they built 300 of these tents; it just wasn’t ready.

It performed quite well up to a certain evolution. We once again found that it wasn’t up to our standards. We weren’t quite comfortable with the product so we pulled the plug on it. If we’re going to sell it, it’s got to work. The best is barely good enough. Nothing goes to market without the design team’s full approval. We went back to it and tweaked a few things and spent three weeks on the ice in Antartica. It worked a lot better. It did a good job; it survived three weeks of storms, high winds, lots of snow, but we still weren’t satisfied with it and worked on it a little more. We didn’t take any shortcuts and the final Katabatic tent is ready.”

-First Ascent & Eddie Bauer

I can definetly see the similarities between this and the graphic design process, so I thought it was worth sharing.