My Process


I previously completed Graphic Design: Core Concepts OCA module which, early in the course, laid-out a flow of events through the design process as seen from the point of view of the designer. This model has been on my mind ever since.


Not quite a bolt from the blue but a coalescing of realisation about how those stages of progress to finished work fit with my personal activities has today emerged.

The original list was roughly…

  • Receiving the brief
  • Analysing the brief
  • Research
  • Visualisation
  • Critique
  • Finishing your artwork

The Illustration module ha a similar thread running through it whereby a process from brief to final artwork is marked out in stages comprising different activity. What has changed for me is that I’ve arrived back at a very similar set of stages from looking at my own process and how to make it work better.

In the past I have had trouble finishing the artwork – I could have lots of ideas, I could explore and develop them and then, at the end, looking back, and with pointers from my tutors, I would see good potential ideas that had not been used. The end result was weaker because of this.

I was thinking about study types (or situations). I like working in Cafes, but I’m not sure why. I wundered if the different stages of work could be associated with certain environments for best results. I imagined, for example, that the final stage of producing the artwork would best be achieved in quiet isolation without distractions. The opposite might be true in the initial stages of research.

My List

So here’s my list:


  1. GET INSPIRED Experiences, Immersive, Inputs [Blue Sky]
  2. BE CREATIVE Have ideas, Open – outside the box, Make connections [Grow]
  3. MAKE PLANS Make choices, Rationalise, Distillation [Harvest]
  4. TEST RESULTS Others’ opinions, Roughs, Visuals, Negotiate [Prototype]
  5. PRODUCE WORK Focus, Application [Art]

The important thing about my list compared with the list I originally read in the GD1 course is that it came from inside me – it has been generated by my struggles with my process so it fits my own ideas of my process.

I can already see important things that are not included… maybe the list needs to become a process to include them or maybe I just need to make sure that those omissions are included within my understanding of the process at each point.


  • FEEDBACK LOOPS I used to feel that iterative refinement was a large part of my process, and it is important, but I’ve found that it can stop progress because I end up continually refining an early stage and never progressing to a more practical plan. Nevertheless there is a need for it. Test Results might change the plans… there may be a big flaw that needs to be re-planned.
  • THE BRIEF is not mentioned. It would act as a ‘container’ for my list.

My Locations

These are the type of places where I do my work:

  • MY DESK is where the computer is, where I draw and store reference but it is also in the middle of the family home between the kitchen and the living room, under the open-plan stairs. There’s no escape from whatever else is occurring (unless I wear headphones). Working late at night often works best when the children are asleep.
  • GARDEN is nice but British weather is so unpredictable this only works in mid-summer (sometimes).
  • MY CAR I drive my family to places occasionally and find I spend a few hours each week waiting in the parked car. These are quite solitary times and I can do some study then.
  • MY WORK There is no time at work to do anything and it’s a bit full of people except during the school holidays.
  • A CAFE I love sitting alone in a cafe to study but these opportunities are rare. There’s a limit to the kinds of activities that would be tolerated in a cafe too… painting might be awkward. A cafe with WiFi is even better – can be an opportunity to add to my Study Blog.


I feel I might be able to work better if I can know in my mind what stage I’m in for each project. I think I do get lost and repeat research stages after I’ve done them, trying to find new, further-off-the-beaten-path ideas. I also fail to move forward because I don’t know clearly enough what the next stage is – what is the kind of activity that comprises the next stage?

I’ve found a slightly better list of words to describe these stages…

  • SOW
  • GROW
  • REAP
  • PEEK
  • ART

…which also rhymes in a way that suggests three macro-stages… SOW/GROW (Creative-Imaginative), REAP/PEEK (Development-Design) and ART (Art).

In terms of ‘feedback loops’ it makes sense to allow more to-ing and fro-ing within a macro stage… so there’s a SOW-GROW cycle that repeats a bit, and a REAP-PEEK cycle that repeats a bit, but less opportunities to go back from REAP/PEEK to GROW/SOW or from ART to an earlier stage.


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