From Idea to Product: The Graphic Design Process

By on May 2, 2016 in Inspiration
From Idea to Product: The Graphic Design Process

When you see a design on a website, do you think about how it got there? Imagine a desk in Palo Alto, California, or Tokyo, Japan, or Mumbai, India where a freelance graphic designer is scribbling furiously on a sketchpad or endlessly clicking in Adobe Illustrator trying to make the simple, yet detailed, seemingly effortless images that are used on websites all over the internet. A picture is worth a thousand words, but have we ever given it that many? Here's half of that exploring what it takes to employ great graphic design.

I talked to Alisa Foytik of Graphic Market and Nicole LaRue of LaRue and Company, two experienced freelance graphic artists about what it takes to make a great design:

The Creative Process

From inspiration to final product, the designer undergoes a series of steps all their own known as the creative process. This varies from designer to designer and can take a few days, weeks, months, or even years, but it usually follows the same general layout: inspiration, visualization, realization, and finalization.

What Inspires You?

Every design starts with an idea inspired by something. Designer Nicole LaRue gets inspired by each individual task she meets, "I really love putting things together, and that encompasses researching a specific project, doing a lot of looking around, and brainstorming fun and quirky concepts." Alisa Foytik tends to follow her impulse to create "Ideas are all around us," she says. "Sometimes I smell a great idea in the air, and all I need to do is catch it."

Seeing the Idea

Once an idea captivates you, it must be clearly visualized in your mind from all angles. "Usually I think about the set I want to draw for a week or two: thinking about the perfect color combination, each element, and their presentation," says Alisa. She spends much of her design time fitting these together in her mind.

Making the Idea Real

Now that the idea is visualized, it has to be put somewhere. Whether that be paper, a canvas, or a computer screen is up to you. After thinking for a few weeks, Alisa usually puts her designs out in an evening burst when all her emails for job offers and new contracts have been dealt with. As you'll see below, her designs happen all at once in a computer program. This is how one of her Sugar Skulls for a Dia de Los Muertos graphic set came together:

Here is Alisa's final clip art set:


Putting it All Together

It's time to finish strong. Take care of all the details and make that design come together. For Nicole, once everything has been sketched, drawn, scanned and cleaned up, it's all about putting it back together on the computer. "I sort of build [the design] once it's digital," she says. Like a homemade puzzle, Nicole pieces her design back together from different parts.

The above parts were assembled with color to form her vector pack "Tricky".


One Last Note

ENJOY YOUR PROCESS! You're creating it so make it your own and make it fun. "When I'm alone with my laptop, the magic of drawing begins," Alisa says. "It's hard to stop." "It's good fun indeed," says Nicole. "I love to work and draw."

Final Thoughts

Although I've explored two designers' individual creativity, there are as many paths to creativity as people in the world. Does exploring other artists' creative methods help you shape your own? What's your unique creative process?

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  1. creatifolio
    • Staff

    Inspiration also is extremely important in my design process. I'll often add a product to a collection or like a product on Creative Market because the display images are inspiring. Music is also part of the process as well. For me, baroque music really helps my brain stay organized. :)

  2. JeromeCollinge

    Inspiration plays a big part in my design process, all it takes is for me to see or hear something that I enjoy and I'll start thinking of ways to turn that into a design of some sort, whether its a song I've just heard or an advertising poster I've seen whilst in the city, inspiring things are around us every day, every where, its just a matter of if you choose to see them or not.

  3. Scottmarlow2

    I've only just discovered Creative Market, and I think it's wonderful. Some of the things I can pick up for only a small cost are very high quality and browsing the various artists is inspiring. However, as I do this, somehow I feel guilty. I'm a designer, I have clients, and, if I purchase one of your (lovely btw!) vector sets and use that in a piece of work, say an animation or poster etc, It somehow feels wrong? Like I'm passing off someone else's hard work as my own? Maybe it's a mindset change, after all I'm buying a product just as I would a stock photo etc. It's something that's been at the back of my mind ever since I discovered CM. What do you think?

  4. JeromeCollinge

    What's up @Scott Marlow I hear what your saying, to start with I was actually using the Envato marketplaces to sell my creative resources but then discovered Creative Market and switched over because it just seemed a lot nicer to use from the community here to the freedom they offer in items you sell.

    I don't think you need to feel bad for buying items and using them in your own projects because it's not like you buy an item and use it straight up how it is, you apply it into your own projects and mix it with your own style if that makes sense, see them as starting points and tools to help you do your job.

  5. sana.shaikh.7355

    Great article! Being a Graphic Designer myself I completely agree with the whole process of idea formulation and the gradual implementation of the same. Anything can inspire you. Its like a lightning strike, or like a seed germinates that sets off a chain reaction.

  6. krivc

    @Scott Marlow As long as you are adding something to the overall design and only using the items as pieces in the final product, not just reselling the thing and posing it as your own, i don't feel like that's an issue. Like with using pre-made fonts, stock images or textures in your work.

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