Why Do I Sketch?

Updated: Jun 9

One of my favorite steps during each project is exploration through sketching.

Some people have asked me why the heck I sketch when I could do everything inside a design program with a mouse or a stylus. In the beginning, I was also wondering why I prefer the "traditional" method of sketching. Now I think I have a more clear answer. Let me explain…

Even if it looks old school or somehow romantic to some, believe me, I don't do it just because it's fun. To me, it is very important. Sketching can reveal anything my mind is processing around an idea. It forces me to kill any insecurities and doubts as a creator. It helps to spill my thoughts onto a piece of paper, from the tiniest little ideas (even the ones you feel are silly) to the most amazing things that you would never expect to see coming out of your head.

Sketching takes place after I am done word mapping. Now, word mapping is the process where I write down words or phrases for everything that surrounds the brand. It helps to build a web of the useful information, background, meanings, and values of the brand. This is what we could call "the womb" of the creative process and the mirror of the brief. From there, you can start visualizing anything that can be visualized as a representation of the brand ecosystem.

Sketching is the next step. I don't say it is not possible to just throw your first ideas on the screen. After all, what's best is always what makes you feel more creative.

The main reason I like to use the pencil is speed. The pencil and the eraser are faster than a few clicks and undos. And when I say speed, I don't necessarily mean speed measured in milliseconds but measured in expression. If there is such a thing as expressive speed, then the pencil is your friend.

While you are in the exploration phase, the goal is to discover all the possible combinations of symbols and meanings you have in hand, and you want to do this in the most productive and unique way possible. I imagine it being something like a password hacking program… There is only one key to successfully unlock a lock. There is only one logo (in a designer's mind) to best represent your client's brand. The pencil is the lock pick.

Something important to understand is that for the sketching process, having drawing skills is not a necessity. Saying that is like claiming that someone needs to know Adobe Illustrator tools 99% to be able to draw a stick figure. Your sketches DO NOT have to be pretty. All they need is to be productive.

I could even say that the real design process lies somewhere between your prettiest and ugliest sketch. I can get even riskier and say that design is the planning process before you create the final product, and most of the time it happens outside the computer. The software is there to digitalize and make everything even, and beautiful. Design is a bit of a vast term anyway.

Look how Wikipedia defines design:

"A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specification in the form of a prototype, product or process."

So why do I sketch? Because having a plan is crucial.

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