Being an active listener

Being an active listener

Every project starts with listening. Sometimes we listen to a brief sometimes to our own guts. Authentic designs are created only if we never stop listening.

Creating something as personal as a birth announcement or marriage invitation happens through a constantly encouraged dialog with your client. It's an amazing opportunity to work with people who believe in you and are willing to work together with you. For the first briefing meeting ask your clients to prepare examples of designs which they find appealing.

Let them inspire you with surprising colour combinations, styles and fonts. Listen carefully on what is important to them. Ask questions that encourage a discussion, avoid questions that have yes or no answers. Your clients probably have their side of things, their story, and their way of looking at things. Wouldn't you find it inspiring? Open-ended questions work better during briefing. Asking "why" questions often doesn't give much of an answer, rather a defence trying to come up with some reason. The reality may be that our clients simply don't know why they want to show us something.

Listening is a fascinating and active process.  It does never mean to sit and stare at someone. To be effective in understanding another's perspective you need to be able to communicate. Help your clients through a difficult creative process. I often draw the process on a simplified timeline during the briefing. I let my clients know when can they expect first concepts, how much time does it take to develop the final design and how long printing may take. Thanks to a good planning from the beginning we avoid stressful breakneck speed on the end and misunderstandings. We manage clients' expectations and have more time to tweak the small details until they’re right.

At our job we must be creative and always ready to learn new things. Being a good listener means that we want to embrace the unknown. By listening actively I learn how to be creative with limited resources and use criticism to inspire my (very weak) competitive edge. I become more willing to face my fears and rise to challenges I haven't before.

Above: Geboortekaartje for Marit, daughter of Sophie and Tim
Design by Agata Smok Print Drukkerij Swings

If you are curious to hear more about what I can offer, do not hesitate to get in touch. Send me your brief and learn how I work.

designer and art director specialising in visual identity projects.