From client brief to creative design: A chat with our Art Director

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It may have been declared dead on quite a number of occasions, but print has lately been making something of a comeback. And so, we thought it high time to chat with our Art Director, Kannis Ho, about how The Giles Agency approaches transforming client briefs into beautiful, professional print proposals.

Kannis outlined the steps involved, and also shared some go-to sources of inspiration.


Step 1: Brainstorming

Having digested the client’s brief, the designers proceed to brainstorm all possible types of layout. Using mind maps, they branch out from the overarching themes into increasingly high-resolution topics and design elements.


Step 2: Researching

The design team finds inspiration in a variety of places. Favourite go-to sites include Designspiration, Pinterest and Behance. “This helps a lot on the colour side,” says Kannis. “Designers need to mix and match colours as well as research trends.” She adds that using contrasting or unorthodox colours can help a design stand out from the crowd – for example, why just stick to pastels for Easter?


Step 3: Mood boarding

Research done, the team is ready to commit to a design direction and get to mood boarding. Mood boards can show the look and feel, as well as colours and theme of a design. This board’s swatches include the theme pattern and colour palette for the newsletter of a luxury brand.


Step 4: Sketching

It’s now time to get down to the nuts and bolts. To design the elements of the layout – sections, columns, picture placement and white space – the team sketches by hand. As Kannis explains, “Preliminary sketches can save us a lot of time on the computer.”


Step 5: Refining

Sketches in hand, the designers use programs such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop to create two to three layout options for the client. “That’s why brainstorming and mind maps are so important,” says Kannis. “They enable us to take our ideas in different directions.” This is also the stage at which the designers fine-tune the colours and details of each layout.


Step 6: Presenting

The team creates a professional, branded presentation, showcasing the various layout options. Included in the PDF for each layout is a breakdown of the theme, mood and design elements.

So that, in a nutshell, is the concept phase of print design. To learn more about the work we do at Giles, check out our portfolio. If you’re looking to get your own print project off the ground – or even just toying with the idea – do drop us a line.