1. 1:  Research

    At the core of your profession is ‘analysis’— sustaining a critical mind. Thus, immerse yourself in your subject matter to acquire deep understanding. Approach your research from multiple points of entry—aesthetic, literary, scientific, psychological, philosophical, political, social, etc… Organize your research so that the entirety of the subject at hand is accessible to you. You can organize it in a binder, or in a blog, or taped all over the walls, or all of the above.

  2. 2:  Ideation / Concept Development

    Allow for the research to speak to you—listen and observe patterns, possible relationships (both, congruent and incongruent). In other words, through observation and play, allow ideas to emerge. Each idea is a pool of visual potentialities. Explore ideas, imagine what ‘it’ can be and make notes, both verbal and visual. Ideas are the images of thought. Ideas are stories. What is the story you will tell? Foster serendipity by exposing yourself to the visualization of your research, to imagining and daydreaming, by trusting your intuition. When patterns emerge, tend to them. Create a special board or web page for this ‘potentiality’ and go deeper into researching its voice, look and feel.

  3. 3:  Creative Direction

    In this phase, you define the event and its surroundings, the mise en scène, the ethos — character, mood, feeling, essence, principles, rationale, attitude, voice, looks — of your idea. If in your idea there is a horse, here is where you choose it to be an Appaloosa, for it’s semiotics — the signs and the symbols, their use and interpretation. This is when you create mood boards — a physical manifestation of what the research looks and feels like, and of what your thoughts and imagination looks and feels like. Take photographs, cut magazines, draw, collect materials, textures, abstract forms. Literally paste them up on your walls, and you may classify them by kind.

  4. 4:  Design Direction:

    The creative direction determines an overall direction whereas in this phase, you become more specific. If in your story there is an Appaloosa horse, what color and size are the dots on what tone of light hair of its pelt? Is the typography upfront and severe, or upfront and serene, what font? If the idea is about emptiness, what does that specifically look/feel like? In this phase you edit your mood boards to arrive at the desired and appropriate aesthetic, poetics, mechanics (dynamics), semiotics, etc…. You commit to a vocabulary of expression—of visuals, sound, movement, etc…. You refine your decisions and you simplify, but make sure you do not weaken the vitality of the idea.

  5. 5:  Communication Strategy:

    How is the idea going to reach its audience? How and when will it launch? How will it stay relevant and vibrant? What is the point of enunciation? What is the appropriate media to disseminate these messages, this story, this myth? Is the message to be enacted in an art intervention, or an advertising campaign, or a virus on the Internet, or all of the above?

  6. 6:  Design:

    During this phase you design the specifics (with exactitude) of each one of the elements of your visual vocabulary, from graphic elements—color palette, typography, logotypes, symbols—to photography, videography, and illustrations. You also define your spatial, material and auditory elements.

  7. 7:  Production:

    During this phase you will continue to refine the design and you will produce each one of your elements. Research thoroughly all production methods that are appropriate and relevant for your piece. Most important is to plan ahead and be realistic of the amount of work you can produce with good craftsmanship. Production is key for the success of a piece. So many great works end up destroyed by poor production.

  8. 8:  Distribution:

    Research onto dissemination strategies is critical for those entrepreneurial artists and designers. Fostering partnerships with already established distribution organizations, i.e. D.A.T. for book distribution, is recommended.