When you hear the words graphic design, computers and design applications most likely come to mind, and you would be right. These are valuable tools we “creatives” use to deliver the final product. Whether your graphic design work is published online or in print, the moment you see it live or feel it in your hands is special and exciting. That feeling never gets old.

As designers, our processes are centered on generating ideas — taking these ideas from start to finish always has a process. Although designers all have different ways to bring their ideas to life, one common denominator is often the act of putting them down on paper.

Nick's sketch bookThe straight and sometimes narrow path to the end goal is just jumping on the computer and diving right into a project. But to me, this eliminates the process of sketch-storming — doodling or drawing many ideas, letting them evolve on a notepad, scratch paper, napkin or the palm of my hand.

Sketching is a major part of my process. I’d love to do more of it. Each time I have taken that pencil to paper, I’ve imagined notions that simply wouldn’t have seen the light of day had I jumped right into a computer design application. It’s this process that facilitates elimination of some ideas and the evolution of others. I dare say that taking the time to sketch-storm has streamlined the entire creative process for me, helping to ultimately justify the integrity of the winning design.

Here are a few sketch-storming pointers:


Don’t over think it and don’t stop. It should be fast and easy. Remember these are literally visual THOUGHTS on paper.


Don’t worry about how rough your sketch looks. They’re doodles…not masterpieces. Chances are, no one will ever see most of them.


The sketch-storming process is YOURS. Draw what makes sense to you.


Take the time to pause, re-evaluate and re-sketch the ideas you really like. The more you noddle the idea, the more likely notions in that one or others may mature. Everything you create has the potential for evolution — embrace it.


A designer I follow, Spencer Nugent, has always inspired me to doodle, sketch and draw each day. Even when the ideas are hard to reach. His thought on personal improvement in design — by doing at least one sketch a day — has been a huge inspiration to me as a creative director, designer and artist.  Check out Nugent’s Sketch-A-Day site.

I hope my inspiration will encourage you.

Leave a comment to share your personal idea-generating approach. I’d love to hear it!