Design Case Studies

design case studies

Design Case StudiesDesign Case studies is a feature where graphic designers/illustrators are invited to show off a piece of work and talk us through their design process from initial ideas through to their final design.Jeremie Werner (pictured left) is featured this week and talks about one of his designs

poster design

1. Your Name?
Jeremie Werner

2. Your Location (City and Country)?
Strasbourg, France

3. Your Website or Blog URL?
Website :
Blog :

4. Project Title?

5. What was the brief?
I was asked to participate to an exhibition called “Rock’n’rulz – A tribute to Rock’N’Roll”, and to illustrate the U2’s famous song “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.

6. What sort of research did you do?
I’ve read many articles about Ireland’s war, looking into newspaper’s archive and of course google.

7. How did you start? (eg. planning, brainstorming, sketching, moodboards etc)
First of all I listen to the track a few times, and read carefuly the lyrics. Then I’ve done some research on Ireland’s religion war. I tried to feel what this conflict might be for an irish teenager, and started the composition of my poster.

8. Where did your inspiration come from?
Of course, my inspiration came from the song. I thought this song was about an infinite war, that start over and over. No-one can get rid of this conflict, altough anybody wants. It’s like some permanent headache, something you have in your mind and won’t get out.

9. Where did you go from here? (talk through with client, work up visuals etc)
I tried to illustrate this problem : the division of one Ireland man into two opposite feelings : the presence of war, and the wish of revolution, of stopping the conflict.

10. How did you present the concepts? What sort of feed back did you get from the client?
The red stars symbolize the revolution. It’s formed by some blood, telling that each revolution make civil dead. The center of the poster show a man with his face hidden, so anybody can identify to this suffering man. He is anonymous and represents every people of Ireland. On top right is the representation of the headache : war symbolized by tank/planes and splatters, and freedom by birds.

In order to link the poster to the song, I use some typographic work displaying the lyrics. It’s part of the headache : keywords repeats more and more, as the war get’s murderer.

11. Where did the design project go from here?
*To the exhibition 🙂

12. What are your thoughts on the final design are you pleased with the outcome/anything you would like to change?
It’s one of the design I like the best. I think I wouldn’t change anything

Any designer or illustrator can take part in Design Case Studies. Ideally I would like to be able to show the designer’s initial sketches and concepts if these are available.

Time – A Designer’s Friend or Foe

A Guest Post by Bryan Zimmerman from

alarmI cannot count the number of times that I have woken up in the morning, only to have a dozen or more great ideas running through my head. I jot down the ones I can remember, but I know it is in vain as I never know which one to start on first. I am no longer freelancing, and have a normal (for lack of better words) day job, which has limited my time severely. Yes I know, you are right, that is just a lame excuse. I had the same problem when I was a full time freelancer. But I digress.

This morning, after checking email and news feeds, I decide that I want to start on one of these great ideas. I sit and stare at my list for what seems like forever (I swear, one of these days rigor mortis will set in). I try to decide which project I should dive into first, but they all seem just as important as the next one. Keep in mind this does not include any freelance client work. These are personal projects I want to accomplish during the down time.

Eventually I pick the lucky winner, but fifteen minutes into it I come up with a cool idea for one of the other projects and switch gears. This accomplishes absolutely nothing other than the fact that I am now working on two projects, and have confused the situation. What makes this even more difficult is that one project may be an idea for a new logo, and the other a screenplay for a short film. Sometime I wind up shutting the computer down and going out for the day to fulfill my other passion – photography. Of course when I get home and upload the photos it reminds me about getting my online store up and running to sell my photos. AAAAARRRGGGHHH!

Does anyone experience this same problem, and if so how do you handle it? If you do nothing you feel like hell because you have wasted valuable time, but on the other hand if you do pick something to work on, and put in a good chunk of your time, you may feel like your precious time would have been better spent on project X.

I know it comes down to time management and prioritization, which I am good at when it comes to client deadlines, but for some reason I cannot do it for my own personal work. Any thoughts, comments or psychologist’ phone numbers will be most appreciated.

Thanks for this community. I have joined my share of online forums, but have never experienced such wonderful and compassionate individuals who are not afraid to share their wisdom and ideas with like-minded people.

Bryan J. Zimmerman

If you are interested in writing for Graphic Design Blog you can find out more here

A Closer Look at Comic Book Design

A Guest Post by Philipp

7 Designs From the World of Comic Books

Here are some interesting covers from the wild world of comic book art which may inspire design ideas!

comic design

This is a cover from the species “painted covers.” Far from being extinct, this species grows more and more popular on the US comic book market. Typically, the interior of the comic book will be drawn by someone else, and the cover is more lavish just to attract readers. This particular cover from the series Battle of the Planets is done by Alex Ross, who also created the poster to the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony. Alex Ross, who uses actors and photos to achieve some of his realistic work, is not loved by everyone; master storyteller & artist Alex Toth once called him an “idiot savant,” saying the art of those working too close from photographs is “lifeless.”

comic book design

Batman: Black and White was an anthology showcasing different artists drawing short stories. The cover, by Alex Toth — who we got to meet above — is ultra simplistic. From an overflow of colors to shades of gray.

comic cover design

Many comic book heroes grow more mature over time. The cover designs often go along with them. Some people welcome these changes, while others believe that some of the silliness and fun that appeals to kids is lost. The above one is from a series called Decalogue which ran in the Daredevil books, written by none less than Kevin Smith of Clerks fame written by Brian Bendis.

Tintin cover design

This is one of the many covers of the series Tintin, hugely popular in Europe and other parts of the world. Artist Hergé from Belgium was a storyteller whose artwork was highly detailed but always serving to get the story across. His style is called ligne claire, or “clean line”, because there is not a lot of cross-hatching or other elements to add shade and volume to the pictures. But notice above how the characters are simple, but the background and scenery is far more detailed. Comic book scholar Scott McCloud in his groundbreaking analysis Understanding Comics argues that simpler character designs help the reader with identification; the complex background, on the other hand, represents the often dangerous and mystic outer world. Ever wondered why kids get so easily hypnotized by the TV when there’s a cartoon showing? This may be part of the reason.

comic book design

This stylized action cover by Hiroaki Samura is from Blade of the Immortal. We roughly associate art work like this with the Japanese Manga style. But Manga art, while sharing common traits, comes in different flavors. One of these flavors is the so-called “superdeformed” style of drawings, with extra-cute characters having unproportionally large heads, with smaller bodies. What’s interesting to note is that while these figures may be more unrealistic by an objective definition, they may (as with ligne claire style, discussed above) help identification as they may be closer to the representation of “self” which the psyche creates: in our self-concept, we have a disproportionally stronger focus on the head, the hands, and the feet.

comic book design

Artist Dave McKean, who illustrated the cover to The Dreaming as shown above, combines painted elements with photographs into dream-like collage works. He is often shown on covers of the Vertigo imprint of publisher DC (who otherwise also publishes more mainstream titles like Batman).

cover design

This comic book shipped in vastly oversized, thick paper format. Schizo by artist Ivan Brunetti is the half-joking, half-serious and always nihilist autobiographical account of a man fed up with live and his own unimportance. Every line of his retro, highly abstract drawings works as cartoon as well as ironic reflection on cartoons. Alternative publisher Fantagraphics, who has this title in their array, is the number one publisher if you want to not just entertain, but also enlighten yourself by digesting comic books.

To see all kinds of different covers, you can also visit, where I’ve put up over 100,000 covers of all kinds so far. There’s everything from trash to pulp to cheesiness, from comic books to magazine and book covers, and hopefully there are a couple of inspirational gems for you as well!

Why is it So Difficult to Design for Yourself?

A Guest Post by Jorge Goyco

Have you ever tried to name your rock band? How long did it take you to come up with the names of your kids? Your dog? Your company name? Your domain name?

Did you run it past anyone first?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think designing for yourself is one of the hardest things to do. I can design logos all day for other companies. In fact, I could probably come up with a decent logo for another design company, but when it comes to my own stuff, I’m mostly at a loss.

I’m thinking quite a bit about this lately because I’ve got to design a brochure for a convention I’m attending, and I don’t want to come across as ”expensive” or ”too flashy”, but ”casual” and ”affordable” and “easy” would be good for this group of potential clients.

I’m guessing it’s difficult to design for ourselves because we want to put our best foot forward. Our website or logo must be the coolest thing anyone has seen or else they might not use us. Right?

When I eventually get over myself and produce something for myself, I give it about a month and I’m wanting to change it.

That’s the other thing…finding time to design your own stuff. The moment you get a chance to update your online portfolio, you get a call from some magazine wanting you to design every ad and editorial in the book in a week, and you’re out of time.

The truth is, as of right now, I don’t even have a logo for my company, unless you call ”FuturaExtraBold” a logo.

So, what I’d like to know is: Do you go through the same process as you do with clients when designing something for yourself? You know, thumbnails, a few mock-ups, color changes, tweaks, etc. Are you as hard on yourself as your clients are? Do you have other designers look at your new designs before you launch them? Have you ever been hired by another designer to come up with something for their design company?

Maybe I should take my own advice:

1. Treat yourself like a client
Thumbnail, sketch and mock up several designs before you choose one. We do it for them, why shouldn’t we do it for ourselves.

2. Schedule your work as a project
If you schedule time to work on your own designs, just like you would a paying client, you’ll be more apt to finish it. Shouldn’t it take you only as long as it takes you to produce something for a paying client? MAybe it’s not a priority, but a couple hours a week won’t make you miss any deadlines.

3. Run it past other designers
All our designer friends have free advice and criticism for us. Sometimes you might have to wade through them trying to be polite and not hurt your feelings, but once you get past that, it’s gold. Their eyes are as critical of good design as you are. Take them out to lunch or something. This might even make them reevaluate their own design and update it, and maybe even ask you for advice. What better way can you think of to challenge ourselves to be great.

4. Put it away for a few days
Post it to a “dev” folder, hide it under job folders, whatever, but take your eyes off it for a few days, then when you look at it again, you might see something you missed or might want to change.

Hope this helps.

JorgeJorge Goyco is a designer working out of his home in College Station, Texas. He’s been making clipping paths since Photoshop 2.0.1. He likes to make things that look really cool and write children’s stories. His online portfolio is, and please have a look at his design/webmaster blog.

A Tasty Way to Promote a Design Company

Sarah Talbot Design StudioSarah Talbot who owns a Cornish Design Company called DesignStudio has an innovative way to promote her design company through a cook book she has designed. I asked Sarah if she would consider an email interview for Graphic Design Blog and she kindly agreed. My thanks to Sarah for taking part.

1. Please could you tell us a little bit about you and your company and the type of design work that you do?
I run a graphic design company called DesignStudio, we typically work with small to medium sized businesses helping them to strengthen their ID within their marketplace. We build open and professional relationships with all of our clients, in light of this we are able to understand and pinpoint their needs, likes and dislikes which has led to producing the best possible design solutions to meet individual requirements, from a simple brochure or a much broader campaign.

2. The idea of creating a cookbook as your design company’s brochure is very unusual, what gave you the idea?
The recipe book has come from a very unique service that we offer our clients, we bake them their favourite cake and take it along to development meetings. So popular has this service become I decided to make it a feature of my new brochure.

3. Has cooking always been a passion of yours as well as design?
I love cooking, anything foody and I’m there. The fact that I now combine two of my passions in life is fantastic!

design cook book

4. I understand that some of the recipes came from your existing clients, how did they respond to your unusual request for recipes?
They loved the idea, most of the recipes are mine, but some are from clients. Some of my suppliers have pages as well as initially they were upset that they weren’t in the book. It’s also a thank you to my clients for their support for my first 2 years in business.

5. How has your book been received by potential new clients?
Brilliant, people’s eyes light up when they see it. It has been described as ‘porn for foodies’. It’s great because, although at the end of the day I’m selling my business and looking for new clients my new brochure contains nothing about my company, no services, no features, nothing. People’s guards go up when you try and sell to them – this does exactly the opposite.

6. How do you plan on distributing the brochures, will they be used as a direct mail piece or handed out at meetings and events?
They are being handed out at networking events, they will be used as a direct piece of mail and followed up with cold calls. They will also be given to my existing clients to hand to possible referrals.

7. Have you any further plans for spin offs of the brochure ( e.g. recipe postcards as marketing material)?
Yes! I will be starting my own networking event by the end of the year. Called ‘afternoon tea with sarah’, this will be informal, invite only and instead of having a guest speaker we will have a guest baker who will cook their fav cake, with my help, live in the DesignStudio kitchen! I can’t wait…

8. Do you think you will do a follow up design cook book next year?
With out a doubt, I can see a whole series of books, maybe one day I’ll do a Delia style ‘all in one’.

9. Has the concept been successful in terms of generating new business, or increasing the profile of your design company ?
I have only had the book for a week, so too early to say as yet. But I think absolutely, it had already increased my profile, I have 2 live studio radio interviews this week I will be appearing within the Cornish press. And I think because the book so interrupts the traditional selling, I think it’s a certainty of not only generating new business but attracted exactly the types of companies that I’m looking to work with.

10. Have you ever done any other unusual marketing campaigns for your design company?
Not really for my company but I have sent out live penguin boxes containing clockwork penguins for one of my clients John Richards Shopfitters. hopefully should explain it!

Have you had success with an unusual marketing and promotional campaign for your design business? Drop me an email if you would be interested in sharing your idea on Graphic Design Blog.

How Do You Sell Your Ideas to a Difficult Client?

A Guest Post by Jeff Williams

It can be the worst feeling. You pour your creative soul into a presentation. You know the design is great. You meet with the client, and they immediately start picking at the design: “The logo needs to be bigger” “I don’t like green” “This isn’t what I want at all”

These situations are never easy. I always calmly explain to the client why I made certain decisions. I tell them that negative space can be a way to make something, like a logo, stand out more. Sometimes I show examples of other designs produced by large and successful companies. I try to alleviate their concerns and demonstrate why my design works. Does this always work? Unfortunately no, and sometimes I am forced to give in.

What are your thoughts on dealing with difficult clients?

I would love to hear some of the techniques that other designers use when faced with these kinds of situations.

JeffJeff Williams is a designer and illustrator in San Francisco, California, USA. He has worked as a graphic designer and senior graphic designer for the past 9 years creating advertising and marketing graphics. He loves to write and talk about design, advertising and art.
His online portfolio is at

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