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Creative Workshop Bonus Challenges

These are 10 bonus challenges in addition to those that you'll find in "Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills," which is out now from HOW Books.

They were released at South by Southwest Interactive at my author's talk.

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Creative Workshop Bonus Challenges

  1. 1. BONUS CHALLENGES You’re speaking Greek, I mean Latin. Having fun being carded. Charting the path of your design decisions. This ad is confidential. Going nuts over dangerous nuts. I wouldn’t touch that client until you did. Two-person identity mashup. Just what is that scent? Redesigning careers. Signs of beautiful progress. For more challenges, click here to buy the book Creative Workshop from! verrated Redacted ss h t Cla rg n Grap e ere 85 GoingNuts.O n 87 Shared Spac ume is O latio , Firs 86 Realpolitik gn H Concept, Desig ans c tivity se Si ifftasti in Tr 88 Perf Crea y Plea 83 M Lost 89 R 84 82 90 81
  2. 2. Lost in Translation 30 minutes Layout, writingYour ad reads: “Lorem ispsum consequat dolor ix voxpopulii.” Either your audience is fluent in designer’sLatin, or you need to roll up your sleeves and start challengewriting some real headlines. Crafting copy for a Find a foreign-language adver-design project can be fun if you have a strong tisement and redesign it with textcommand of your native tongue—though if writing is you’ve written in your native tongue.not your forte, the process can be nerve-wracking. Try not to adjust the layout to fitBut don’t be scared. You’ve probably been a your words. What will help thiscopywriter at some point in your life. Just think back foreign ad make sense to thoseto when you took a trip to a foreign land. When who speak your language?confronted by cryptic billboards and bewilderingad images, you couldn’t help but write sales copyon the fly. How else could you process that otherwiseunintelligible mass of foreign characters atop asmiling, bikini-clad woman clutching a piping-hotcappuccino? “Most advertisingUse the following challenge to take a journey into experts agree thatthe mind of a copywriter. an attention-getting headline is thetake it further key ingredient in aFind a television advertisement in a foreignlanguage, take screen captures from key scenes successful advertisement.”that incorporate written text, and retouch them with —Robert W. Bly, The Copywriter’s Handbookdialogue in your language that makes sense of theprogression of images.2 Exercise 81
  3. 3. Creativity,First Class 60 minutes Illustration, photographyOn my desk is a pile of postcards at least three inchestall, sent to me and my wife from people all over theworld. They are inscribed with sentiments evoking a challengespecific sense of place. Ask a friend to write a paragraphFor example: Here’s one of “The Bean” in Chicago’s for you from a vacation destinationMillennium Park, or a pink-purple sunrise over the wet- they returned from recently. Takelands of Hillman Marsh in Ontario, or a bald cypress that paragraph and design a post-tree at sunset in Louisiana. There are also many card for it that evokes a sense ofcolorful landscapes of the mind: Andy Warhol’s silk place from that destination. Then,screened “Four Monkeys,” classic paintings by Matisse when it’s complete, send it to your friendand Chagall and van Gogh, a lovely gouache happy with the paragraph written on it.face by the late designer Alan Fletcher. Postcardspurchased from art museums and bookstores, ordiscovered in attics or at flea markets—often tellingtales of places that no longer exist, whose historyis preserved through these yellowing squares of take it furtherthick paperboard. Ask for multiple paragraphs from people thatIn the following challenge, you’re going to design you know, then create an accordion-foldedyour very own postcard, but for someone else’s travel postcard book that links the locations throughobservations. Will they recognize the spirit of the place the overall design.they’d visited from what you create?“Like all great travelers,I have seen more thanI remember and remember morethan I have seen.”—Benjamin DisraeliCreativity, First Class 3
  4. 4. My Design Graph 60 minutes Information design Don’t believe it when other designers tell you,“You’re only as good as your last project.” It’s the trajectory of our career that tells the story of our growth as designers. Some designers just keep “Habit is necessary; creating the same project over and over again— it is the habit of having which may lead to some solid design work, but it does little to push them into new and unexplored habits, of turning a trail territory. The resulting portfolio will show competency into a rut, that must in craft, but little curiosity. be incessantly foughtMuch in the same way that we meander towardthe coffee shop around the corner for our espresso against if one is tofix, breaking ourselves out of professional ruts takes remain alive.”concerted, mindful effort over time. In this challenge,you’ll dive into the nuts and bolts of what makes your —Edith Whartonwork tick, and uncover what new directions you maywant to take in the next phase of your career. challenge Look over at least 10 of the past designs you’ve created. Based on patterns that you detect in use of typography, grid, color, photo and illustration use, and other factors, create an 11"x17" chart that quantifies major trends in your work. Use this chart to highlight opportunities for new approaches you can attempt in the next few months to spur your growth as a designer.take it furtherDraw inspiration from the work of Nicholas Felton at and createan annual report of the trends you’ve exhibited across your last year’s completeportfolio, as well as any other artistic outputs.4 Exercise 83
  5. 5. Concept, Redacted 60 minutes AdvertisingWhen providing documents under the Freedom ofInformation Act, our security agencies sometimes seefit to strike through confidential information with boldblack bars. When those documents are printed online “The closer and moreor in magazines, we often spend more time trying to confidential our relation-decipher exactly what’s missing rather than usingwhat is provided for context. ship with someone, theUse this visual trope to create a novel promotion for a less we are entitled tolocal nonprofit in your town. ask about what we are not voluntarily told.” —Louis Kronenberger challenge This is a two-person challenge. In 45 minutes, you are both responsible for creating individual advertisements for a woman’s take it further health center. The ad’s headline should read: “It’s a Private Matter.” Incorporate your ad concept into a pamphlet For the last 15 minutes of the challenge, that can be distributed on college campuses. swap your ads. You are now required to selectively redact ten words from your friend’s ad with a black marker. What will you delete, and how will it influence the meaning of your friend’s ad?Concept, Redacted 5
  6. 6. GoingNuts.Org 60 minutes Interactive media, researchThe humble peanut is a staple of the American larder,present in everything from lunchbox sandwichesto granola bars to ice cream to addictive peanut challengebutter-filled pretzels. Whether we’re aware of it or Create an interactive point-of-not, peanuts find their way into pet foods, cosmetics, purchase display intended to helpand a host of other household products that line our people understand how peanutsgrocery store shelves. are grown, harvested, and pro-Due to the recent peanut scare, where dozens of cessed by manufacturers for use inproducts have been recalled due to the possible household products. The displaypresence of salmonella, some of those shelves have must convey an editorial slant grounded inbeen bare—and some people are finding new foods your initial research on the subject, consider-to replace the peanut as part of their diet, much to ing questions such as: Are peanuts an impor-the chagrin of farmers and manufacturers. tant part of our daily diet? What is the impact of their growth on American soil? How criticalDo people understand how the peanut came to is their presence in available products andprominence in our daily lives? Do they have all the industries beyond processed foods?facts about the recent recalls? In this challenge,you’ll help to separate fact from fiction, and educatethe populace. take it further“Since new developments Bring the thinking behind your display into a mobile are the products of a application that you can use while you’re in the store. creative mind, we must Include in the application not only peanuts, but all kinds of nuts that are utilized in processed foods. therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.”—George Washington Carver6 Exercise 85
  7. 7. Realpolitik 60 minutes AdvertisingEvery designer needs to have a clear ethical stancetoward the client projects that they’ll take on. Manydesigners would rather not help sell industrial-grade challengeweaponry or promote industries that may not This is a challenge for two designers.contribute a net-positive benefit for society. Part 1: Write down on a slip of paperHowever, designers often don’t know their own three products that, for ethical orboundaries with clarity until they’re offered what political considerations, you justseems to be a plum project, only to realize as they can’t bring yourself to take on asdig into the client problem that the end result runs a client. Trade lists with another designer.counter to their beliefs. Choose one product from their list andThe following challenge will help you better under- sketch the most compelling, polishedstand the slippery slope that all designers face when billboard design you can muster promotingtaking on a client problem that may not align with that product.their personal politics. Part 2: You are now a key decision maker representing one of the products you would never take on as a client. The designer that“Realpolitik, n.: politics based on practical created a billboard for your company must and material factors rather than on theoretical give a three-point presentation as to why or ethical objectives.” their design will meet your product’s needs—Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 6th Edition in the marketplace. You will be allowed to ask three questions regarding their work, press-conference style, in order to better understand the ethical stance they aretake it further taking with regard to said product. ThenCreate a poster that you’ll keep in your studio that out- you must trade places with the otherlines your personal policies towards the kinds of work designer, and present your billboardyou’d like to do in the future—and the kind that you concept to them—while they play-actshould always decline. being your client.Realpolitik 7
  8. 8. Shared Space 15 minutes Identity development, stationeryDesigners band together in many ways: through theirtribal appreciation of typefaces, their consideredpurchases of well-crafted products, their affinity forsocial media chatter, and so forth. “It’s really hard to beDesigners also share their studio spaces, seeking roommates with peoplecamaraderie through long days spent sketching outideas, kerning headlines, finding that perfect photo if your suitcases arefor the otherwise pristine web page layout. All workand no fun over just a few days can make designing much better than theirs.”feel like… work. —J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the RyeIn this challenge for two designers, quickly determinehow you can share not only your workspace, but alsothe space that you share on paper. challenge In order to save on rent for your new design studio, you’re going to split it with a fellow designer. And to further slash your operating costs, you’re also going to share letterhead, while still pre- serving the identities of each of your separate businesses. Over the course of 15 minutes, deter- mine how you can integrate both of your design identities into a single sheet of paper for client communications.take it furtherDesign a portfolio website that highlights both of your efforts separately—and thatcontinues the conceit of your stationery system.8 Exercise 87
  9. 9. Perfume Is Overrated 60 minutes Branding, packagingNeedles floating down from a Douglas fir. Popcorn ina big ceramic bowl, fresh from the kettle. Salt waftinghigh on the morning sea breeze. challengeWhole industries have been built from laboratories Invent a new brand of “naturalsynthesizing perfect simulacra of things that exist natu- scents” for men and women thatrally in the world around us—then selling those scents are neither deodorant nor us, whether through highly seductive advertising or This brand will require a new cat-the “bonus” smells that assault our nostrils as we inter- egory and method of selling them,act with people throughout our day. meaning you can’t stock them in perfume shops, pharmacies, or department What would the world be like if people relied more on stores. Consider how these scents would“natural scents” that we enjoy out in the world, rather be applied on the body, at what price point than those that were designed by perfumers? With this they would be sold profitably at volume (or challenge, let your nose lead you to a novel answer to not sold at all), and summarize your recom- that question. mendation in a one-page cheat sheet that explains everything a person would need to know about your brand.“I love the smell of juice boxes in the morning.” take it further Design how one would apply your “natural scents” as—Robert Duvall a physical prototype with instructions. Give them to a friend and see if they can understand what it is and how it’s utilized.Perfume Is Overrated 9
  10. 10. Rifftastic 30 minutes Poster designFinding steady employment has been hard for manyof today’s designers. challengeA few years ago, when our economy slowed down,many agencies and companies ended up cutting Your local municipal governmentback on marketing, advertising, and other core has tasked you with creating anactivities that require designers. In the aftermath, the eye-catching poster promoting themarket was flooded with thousands of highly talented new career center that just openeddesign professionals. in your town—specifically speaking to retraining out-of-work designers.In conversations with some of my out-of-work Can you sell your creative peers on why theycolleagues who have struggled to land a stable gig, should find alternative employment?many of them are now using their time off to seek outcreative and fulfilling work—whether for new clients orfor their own personal projects and efforts. For thosethat haven’t fared well, there often aren’t many stonesto overturn for new jobs—and some are falling back take it furtheron previous professions or other skills lateral to design, Design the career center from the inside out, knowinguntil they can land just the right gig. you’re creating a space for people to give up whatThis challenge is for you to help convince designers, they want to do. What would the experience be like?through design, to not be designers. What kind of materials would a designer receive there that they couldn’t find anywhere else?“Hunger is not the worst feature of unemployment; idleness is.”—William E. Barrett10 Exercise 89
  11. 11. Please Sign Here 30 minutes Environmental graphicsI worked with an excellent proofreader whose cubicleyou would never approach until she had flipped alittle sign from “No Coffee” to “Had Coffee.” challengeAt that same job, one of the designers kept a mini- Create an interactive piece ofwhiteboard up to date with her ongoing projects, signage you can place on yourwhat’s on her plate, and when she was planning to design studio door, desk, or othertake lunch—so she wouldn’t be surprised by rogue clearly visible place. The signageproject managers while she was running out the door. must be easily modifiable to note your current project status, overallThese designed moments become part of our studio mental state, and any other data points thatenvironment and culture. So for this challenge, show are critical to the health and wellbeing ofus how you share your status to your co-workers— yourself and your only a designer can. take it further“A sign on the Door of How would your sign translate into an iPad orOpportunity reads Push.” mobile application?—AnonymousPlease Sign Here 11
  12. 12. For University Bookstore sales, contact F&W Media at 1-800-289-0963.My Design Shop: Amazon: The first 24 pages are available free on Scribd: 12 Exercise #