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Developing Ideas and Design Concepts
Illustration by John Hersey

Using the free-association process


From:

Developing Ideas and Design Concepts

with Craig Smallish

Video: Using the free-association process

Having already cranked out some strong concept foundations and several good core values, we're going to keep the gears turning. Our goal remains to come up with as many different ideas as we can. Our next concept strategy free-association is actually a Sigmund Freud retrofit that's geared for the creative industry. Where Freud, the father of modern psychology used this process as a tool for psycho-analysis. We'll be using it as a resource to uncover additional concept ideas.
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  1. 8m 45s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. The importance of the original idea
      2m 50s
    3. What is concepting?
      2m 4s
    4. Demystifying "the process" in the creative process
      2m 39s
  2. 8m 48s
    1. Working with clients
      4m 14s
    2. Defining the project
      3m 0s
    3. Defining the project obstacles
      1m 34s
  3. 7m 44s
    1. Doing your research
      2m 22s
    2. Avoiding the pitfalls of mediocrity
      3m 28s
    3. What is a concept plan overview?
      1m 54s
  4. 11m 2s
    1. Using storytelling to determine core values
      3m 33s
    2. Using questions to distill the core values
      3m 46s
    3. Determining core values
      3m 43s
  5. 8m 59s
    1. Using the free-association process
      3m 39s
    2. Starting with seed phrases
      2m 55s
    3. Using the power of collaboration to increase ideas
      2m 25s
  6. 9m 48s
    1. Honing your ideas
      4m 20s
    2. Reviewing your descriptive words and sketches to find the best ideas
      2m 29s
    3. Experimenting with your ideas
      2m 59s
  7. 8m 2s
    1. Maintaining a diversity of ideas
      1m 0s
    2. Using search engines to fuel ideas
      4m 50s
    3. The rough concept retrospect
      2m 12s
  8. 9m 48s
    1. Defining the rough sketch
      4m 34s
    2. Visually defining your ideas
      2m 57s
    3. The strength of iteration
      2m 17s
  9. 5m 16s
    1. What is 180-degree thinking?
      2m 46s
    2. Demonstrating the approach
      2m 30s
  10. 9m 29s
    1. Defining the revised sketch
      3m 25s
    2. Demonstrating the approach
      3m 46s
    3. The importance of exploring variation (perspective, media selection, and stylistic approaches)
      2m 18s
  11. 6m 36s
    1. Defining the refined sketch
      2m 23s
    2. Demonstrating the concern for detail
      4m 13s
  12. 5m 3s
    1. Revealing the final concept "comp" solution
      3m 19s
    2. Reflecting on the process path
      1m 44s

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Developing Ideas and Design Concepts
1h 39m Appropriate for all Aug 16, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

After landing a client, the designer's first chore is to communicate and develop the initial idea, whether it's a storyboard for a film or ad, or a multifaceted marketing campaign for a product or service. Learn how to transform a client's request into a presentable concept in this course. Craig Smallish walks through the development process for various creative scenarios, from assessing the client and the scope of the job to free-associating and sketching your ideas. Learn to create descriptive copy to accompany your visuals and create iteration after iteration of your design. Finally, Craig shows how to choose your strongest idea through a process of refinement.

Topics include:
  • What is concepting?
  • Working with clients
  • Doing your research
  • Determining the core values of a product or service
  • Using free association
  • Building the written descriptives
  • Using search engines to fuel ideas
  • Flipping your ideas 180 degrees
  • Creating a rough sketch
  • Defining the refined sketch
Subjects:
Design Design Skills Design Business
Author:
Craig Smallish

Using the free-association process

Having already cranked out some strong concept foundations and several good core values, we're going to keep the gears turning. Our goal remains to come up with as many different ideas as we can. Our next concept strategy free-association is actually a Sigmund Freud retrofit that's geared for the creative industry. Where Freud, the father of modern psychology used this process as a tool for psycho-analysis. We'll be using it as a resource to uncover additional concept ideas.

Free association is a relatively simple process and it works through building lists of related things. Phrases, images, whatever comes to mind through spontaneous thought. We'll begin by using our core values as a springboard. From there, we'll jot down the very next thing that comes to mind and followed by the next and so on. The aim is for spontaneity to lead us into uncharted territory revealing concepts that we may not have considered.

It's important to keep the flow spontaneous without too much premeditated thought about either our client or the project. As an example let's begin by using one of the core values that we previously identified for that floor cleaner product. A sense of youthful confidence. With that in mind, I compose my list of free association terms, leading with Steve McQueen. Checkered flag, that led me to a pit crew, and victory lap, and so on.

The fact is, that list could have gone on indefinitely. As we run through the process, we'll want to document the output. Even quick notations are fine. Followed up with small visuals is helpful is helpful for reference as we move from written word to sketched image. We'll want to repeat the process as many times as possible beginning with all of our available core values. We can even use elements from our story telling and question and answer process when we start free-association.

Again, the emphasis is on creating volume. Even though we have a brief list, let's see if we can't target something to spur an idea. As we're scanning through the list, we now need to consider how these things could relate conceptually to the floor cleaner. Now, I'm being drawn to these two themes, efficiency and speed and the pit crew. And I'm associating them with the idea that this floor cleaner works so well. It's kind of like having your own pit crew in your house, helping you get things done quickly and efficiently.

I can easily see a concept developing there. In actual practice, we'll have a much more substantial list of free-association material to draw from. But even with this short list, we can begin to see content and value. Sometimes the content will be closely related to the product. Other times those relationships are going to be pretty distant. Either way is fine. This is a prime example of how important it is to create a volume of material to work from. It's also really important to acknowledge the fact that the vast majority of the stuff that we produce might never be used.

The more we produce though, the greater the selection we'll have. When we use free association, it allows us to expand our range of ideas and covering even greater potential.

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