Thursday, July 1, 2010

Front Magazine Festival Spreads

I just finished the last big project in a very loooog line of projects I've been busy with for the last month or so. It's a group of three two-page spreads for Front Magazine and a set of 15 "badge" graphics to go along with the story. This was an interesting assignment and I wanted to write about it in a little more detail than usual.

The article is a guide to becoming the "king of the festivals," and follows a young guy from the meager start of his festival journey to becoming a crazed maniac by the end. It lists different achievements you must acquire to become the festival king, such as impressing girls, destruction of property, etc, which is what I had to design the badges for.

Below are the sketches I was sent by Front Magazine paired with my final artwork for the spreads. They don't have any actual text or content yet; that will be added later by the magazine:

Fresh-faced at the beginning

Getting into some trouble

Manical king of the festivals

The reason I posted the sketches is because I want to point out my favorite thing about working with Front: they actually tell you what they want. If you want to make a graphic designer's every dream come true, just explain to him in as much detail as possible what you want him to draw for you. Front is always great about this and I can't thank them enough for it. Many times I get requests for logos, album covers, etc, and when I ask people what they want I get the usual reply of "I don't know, do whatever you want." This is probably the worst direction a graphic designer can be given. The reason is that the client always has a picture in their head of what they want, but they figure that you're the designer so you should have to figure it out rather than them wasting their time and explaining it to you. If you are wondering why this is such a bad way to deal with designers, let's take the same logic and apply it to an every-day situation:

You walk into a McDonalds and the employee asks what you'd like to eat. You tell them exactly what you want: "Double cheeseburger, no mustard, fries and a Dr. Pepper."

Now, think about if you were to say this when asked for your order: "Oh, I don't know. I mean there's really only one thing I'll be happy with, but why don't you just bring me out different variations of items until you get it right so I don't have to actually think about it."

Which do you think will go smoother and take less time?

This is a lose/lose situation, because not only is it hard on the designer since they are trying to guess what you want out of an infinite number of graphic possibilities, but the client gets frustrated too because they don't understand why the back and forth takes so long. I get quite a few short term requests, and I just can't get some people to understand why it will take much, much longer to get the final piece to them if they don't tell me what they want.

There isn't any kind of specific recent instance that brought this on or anything, it's just coming from years of doing this kind of work, and from being so appreciative when someone is willing to cooperate for the good of both parties!

As far as these pieces go, they were a lot more fun to do than I had previously anticipated. I was cramming them into an already airtight schedule, so at first I was focused more on the work aspect than the fun and creative aspect. I really liked being able to tell the story of this guy, especially using color as narrative tool. I also enjoyed coming up with a new character of sorts. The whole festival scene isn't really my thing, and honestly I think you'd have to be kind of a jerk to become "king" of the festivals, so I drew him to look like your average out-of-control college guy. Interesting how different personalities have specific physical traits, isn't it?

I'll post the badges tomorrow!

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