The Creative Power of Happy Accidents
Often, when discussing design projects with clients, the question of exactly how the finished product is going to look comes up. Now, I may have something swirling around in my head, or maybe my client does, but I am always careful to make no promises. As an experienced graphic designer, I know well the importance of staying open to exploration. Why? Because that’s where the happy accidents occur.
Taking the time to explore is important because these happy accidents don’t often happen right away. It can take several different iterations. I create pages of sketches and keep them because I never know when an element from one of my later ideas will circle back to work with one of my initial concepts.
Many times, the final, approved project looks nothing like what I had originally envisioned. Design is a journey, and I’ve learned to embrace those unexpected twists and turns along the way. For example, in creating initial logo concepts for Você, a high-end Nashville neighborhood development designed to preserve the beautiful old trees on the property, I went with a rustic font to express the verdant surroundings. It looked pretty good, but when I started messing around with the “V,” stretching it this way and that, it began to mimic a tree branch. What if I sat an illustration of a bird on that branch? It was a spontaneous and whimsical idea that I thought would never “fly,” but I decided to throw it in alongside several other concepts. To my surprise and delight, the client and their team loved that little bird!
I was recently in the process of creating a simple timeline chart for a client when I accidently hit the “transparency” button in my design program. Whoa! I had unwittingly created a color gradation that made the timeline much clearer and more visually stimulating.
This is not to say that we are not intentional in our creative work. Operating under tight deadlines, we have processes in place to ensure efficiency and on-time delivery. But even with those boundaries in place, we purposely leave a little space for happy accidents.