As I have mentioned before, my first year students are working on a basic magazine front cover and double page spread. These are some quick examples that I put together to help them see how they can develop their double page spread from their initial designs through to the finished article - developing it out from layout to final positioning.
The text is not part of the article and just there to show them how to use columns. Have a look, see if you like.
At the moment my first year students are learning about the importance of grid systems and typography whilst designing a magazine front page and double page editorial. This got me thinking about when I learnt the importance of grid systems within my design work.
I undertook my degree at Glamorgan University, and before you say where? let me tell you that they now have an amazing design campus in the centre of Cardiff, and the guys that taught me design there have been some of the most influential people in my life, both personally and as a designer. But it wasn’t until the beginning of my second year of the degree that I learnt a very good lesson about the use of grids in design.
The project in question was for the hotel chain Malmaison, and it was to create an interactive experience for hotel guests to find out more about the hotel chain. As I never took a foundation course, I went straight from finishing my A Levels into university and in some ways this was a great display of trust in me from my lecturer Gareth, and the potential he saw in me as a designer. You see, I wasn’t the most outlandish designer, but I came from a background of engineering and technical drawing, and this gave a different slant to my designing. I didn’t fear doing something different, because at this moment I didn’t focus on what I couldn’t do and took each experience as a learning curve and my designing really did become different to those around me.
As such, the hangover from my technical drawing background meant that I understood the importance of spacial awareness in my designing, making sure that elements had a hierarchy and were visually balanced. However as I developed over my first year I started to become a bit looser with my designing, and the culmination of this was the start of the second year and the Malmaison project. I made it look artsy, using typography and images, and forgot about the fundamental importance of the conventions of design.
Cut a long story short, I got destroyed in the critique. I worked myself to the bone to create a lovely artistic solution, but forgot about all the basics.
This really made an impact on me as you can probably tell, and it was a lesson that I have learnt from and to this day will always focus on the basics of layout before focusing on making something look pretty.
It was a turning point in my fledgling design career at that point and to have someone that I respected as much as Gareth give me such a bollocking, I knew I needed to go back to my roots.
I can only put across how important it is to make design clear and legible before anything else. Without this principle, you lose the the fundamental purpose of what you’re designing, which is to communicate effectively, to everyone, not just to show off and be pretentious, design should never exclude.