For week 8, I will be baking a cute Korean lunchbox cake. I'm not a good baker, and quite honestly, I'm terrible at working with icing. However, I believe I’m a good cook, and I feel there is a metaphorical connection with my graphic design skills. Cooking is not an exact science; it’s more based on taste and knowledge of techniques. A bit of focus and love added to any dish will produce a good-tasting dish, just like a design project. However, to take my graphic design skills to the next level, I want to level up to the status of a baker. Bakers practice an exact science, putting in utter attention and care to their work. They can also get creative, but the fundamentals need to be explicitly and meticulously studied and mastered to create a delicious baked good.
Why a lunchbox cake?
I likened this to how I conceptualize ideas. I have a craving or an idea, one that I can’t remove from my mind. I’ll think about it, obsess over it, sometimes even scared to approach it. But this is when my mind tricks me into thinking I can actually do it, even it’s a very complicated thing to do, and I might not be able to pull it off.
So this time, the idea is there, but I want to take a different approach to ensure that the result or the outcome is somewhat acceptable (or hopefully beautiful).
Step 1 - Baking the Cake
I'll be documenting the process in a video. The video captions, which would normally display ingredients, measurements, instructions, etc., would instead spell out my process. For example: Instead of writing "Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes", I would write, "I let the idea bake in my head for about a day or two." (procrastination, or time away from ideation)
Step 2 - Decorating the Cake
Because an important part of this cake is to be decorated, quite often with words, I wanted to display an important takeaway from this analysis of my working process. At the moment, my biggest weakness is that I'm scared to share my ideas. I often think the ideas are silly or dumb, so instead, I'll develop the ideas into a concept that is weaker than if I had shared the initial idea in the first place and gotten feedback on that. This is something I'll write on the cake in icing or those little premade icing letters. I'm not married to this takeaway, and it might change as I further develop my personal work process. I'll allow this final message to develop naturally.
Step 3 - Eating the Cake
I'll be eating the cake once it's finished, like swallowing my pride, accepting my weaknesses, and feeling that sugar rush, a sense of optimism and happiness to improve and move on.
An Introspective Moment
To create the video, I’ve come up with a little exercise to help me connect the instructions of a recipe to my personal design process.
What is my design process?
I want to use the double diamond design process as a model to compare to my own to see where any gaps may be.
Let’s look at one of my previous design projects as a case study:
Case Study: A Branding Project
In 2020, I was commissioned to work on a logo, identity, and accompanying illustrations for an annual event.
The event is part of a larger initiative with a logo and a color palette but lacks any real identity.
Explicit instructions from my client were to maintain the brand colors as certain elements from the initiative logo when designing for the event.
Other deliverables included revamping their website, producing digital banners, a handbook, a brochure, and several other printed giveaways. Here was the process of this design journey, from start to finish:
This project had no brief or prior brand guidelines. The client has guidelines online that I could find and read to get a sense of which direction to go with visually.
I had a chat with the team to get an idea of their hopes for the outcome of this project. Comments included creating something playful but also versatile. Other requests included making certain deliverables easy to edit for usage within the team and limited resources or knowledge on graphic design.
If I could do things differently: I could have surveyed the larger team or past event participants to feel how they view the event.
EXPLORE and DEFINE
The already existing website and social media channels served as my basis for researching how the event was carried out and what kind of graphic design solutions, apart from the stated deliverables, was needed for this project.
Through my research of the initiative and the event, I outlined 5 key messages that stood out to me.
To illustrate those messages, I put together a mood board to get a feel for any style that worked best for the event.
If I could do things differently: I should have shared the communication messages as a starting point for ideation and organized a brainstorming session to get the team more involved in the design process.
DISCOVER and TEST
I submitted several logo design options but only one illustration option.
The logo design options went through several rounds of feedback before the team, and I was happy with one.
After taking feedback on the initial illustration option, I scrapped the idea and went with a different style, using only the messages as the common point between the old and the new.
The team gave their go-ahead on the new illustrations, only offering feedback on smaller elements but not the overall style.
If I could do things differently: I should have shared my mood boards with the team before working on my own illustration options. This would have better prepared them for what’s to come or also given them the chance to voice their opinions on any style they liked or did not like, thus aligning all of our visions.
DELIVER and LISTEN
The final logo options and illustrations were applied to various giveaway templates.
The team gave their feedback on the repetitiveness of the application, and that’s when I discovered new ways that the logo visual identity can be applied to different mediums.
I put together a guidebook on the usage of the logo and mockups for vendors contracted for the prints and giveaways.
If I could do things differently: Before submitting the logo and illustrations, I should have taken the time to explore different applications to see where any changes or additions can be made to the overall identity.
What is my takeaway from this?
The common theme I have across all design phases is that I rush through some of the processes, forgetting steps that could bring valuable insight to the project. Most of the time, I’m too scared to share the inner workings of my process and only share the outcome, which might be a little difficult for a client to digest without having understood how it got up to that point.
"I’m scared to share ideas, so I rush to deliver outcomes."
Let's get to work!
I started by organizing the ingredients and setting up a workstation on the dining table at home.
I chose to start filming at around noon, as the lighting was optimal at that time. Each step was filmed for a duration of at least a minute or two. This way, I was able to save my camera battery and space on the memory card. I knew that all steps wouldn't be used in the process, but it would be difficult to recreate the steps later when the lighting had changed.
I knew exactly what the message should say, and I had an idea of how I wanted to execute the decorating part of the cake, but as an absolute baking beginner, I should have focused a bit more on the technique. This proved to be an issue later on as the final result wasn't quite how I wanted the cake to look. The pink was too dark and looked almost red in the footage. The blue was splotchy and not as soft as I had intended it to be.
After the filming was finished and the cake was made, I planned the editing phase by creating storyboards for each scene. This helped me organize the content that I had shot and sift through unnecessary footage.
The storyboards also helped in planning the text overlay for each scene.
At this point, because the first cake wasn't exactly how I wanted it to be, I baked another and decorated it on camera once more.
This time, the colors were a bit closer to where I wanted them to be, but there were still some flaws that I had to ignore due to lack of time.
Once I had this extra footage, I started the editing process. Adobe Premiere was my choice. I simply overlayed the message on the footage for each scene, keeping the ambient background sound just as it is to provide a smoothing audial accompaniment to the visuals.
The result is this video, an unconventional take on my design process:
Thoughts and Conclusions
This week actually took me two weeks to carry out. The result isn't where I want it to be, but it was fun nonetheless and an experience I value. If I were to do things differently, it would be to pay more attention to minute details in decorating or practice more specific techniques.