British graphic designer Dominic Tunstall has started a challenge titled "365 Days of Design" where he creates a new design every day for 365 days. He was inspired to start this challenge in hopes over overcoming his problem of perfectionism. "For too long now I’ve been struggling to maintain a consistent workflow, as I’ve been in a downward spiral of perfectionism," says Dominic, "Great work comes with making constant mistakes, experiencing trial and error and letting go of making everything pixel perfect."
DD: It must be challenging to think of a new design for 365 days straight. Where do you draw inspiration from?
DT: Inspiration for me, is a huge part of my 365 Days of Design project, as the output is daily, I've had to completely re-invent the way I think. Some days I am more inspired than others, and some days I have too many ideas to work with, so I've had to fine-tune this process for myself. Inspiration in its simplest form is extremely useful, raw ideas are hard to come by but I try to use my surroundings, my emotions/mood for the day, or even something completely different, like an Italian marble staircase that I saw a few days before. This is how I generate new ideas, through shapes, patterns, colour, textures, form, etc.
DD: Once you find some inspiration, what's next? How do you start your workflow, on paper or computer?
DT: I always carry my Moleskine notebook around with me. This way, when I see something that inspires me I can write a note, draw a shape, or sketch something rough to help remind me later. But even then, I may forget about it straight away, but a few weeks later, I may think "Oh!" and remember, then potentially use it for something completely different than previously planned. It's all about swings and roundabouts, information and inspiration is constantly recycled. With this in mind, I usually refer to my notes and drawings. For new designs, I'll start new, but I'll always refer to old sketches to see if anything I've done previously can help me. I then jump on the computer and start digitalising my sketches. During this process, I then start to decide whether or not it's working in a digital format before I proceed to finalising my designs.
DD: At what point do you then decide when a design is done?
DT: I decide a design is completed when I feel happy that I have achieved what I set out to do, sometimes it won't be exactly what I had in mind, but as long as I can justify to myself or the client, that my thought process through ideas, concepts and rationales is understandable, then I am always happy. I focus on simplicity, sophistication, and clear communication. I feel any design that has followed these, will be good.
DD: You are currently working at a branding agency Toast Creative, where you design based on clients. With the 365 Days of Design challenge, do you find it easier as you don't have specific clients, or is it actually more stressful?
DT: Client or no client, it's always stressful, but this is what I love. For sure, clients can be tricky and hard to deal with at times, sometimes because they have no understanding of design, or just because they feel they can art direct you, either way, it can be tough. But as a designer, I feel it's my job to overcome this, to create a new system to make the process easier. It's all about how you approach a client. Show them what they need, not what they want. Create that need, and they will learn to want. Designing for myself for my 365 day design project has definitely been tough, there will always be a little part of me that judges my work, and second guesses my decisions, but with the project, this is what I am trying to overcome. The trouble is with a lot of designers, is that they're constantly comparing their own work with other peoples, this is very deconstructive, and does not help at all.
"I focus on simplicity, sophistication, and clear communication. I feel any design that has followed these, will be good."
DD: Seeing the work you have done so far, these seems to be a repeating aesthetic language you like to use. Would you say your work has a strict aesthetic style or does the style tailor according to each client/project?
DT: I would say generally yes, my work does follow a style, with simplicity, sophistication and clear communication in mind. However, I always keep my style open for adaptation depending on the client, I'm always looking to broaden my visual style and skill set to meet my clients' needs. Every project/client I take on, I approach them with a unique mindset and creative process, this way idea generation flows much more organically. I am constantly experimenting with new medias, last week I was focusing on animation, learning new skills within motion graphics and 3d rendering software. I feel you must always keep trying to improve in your field, the industry is constantly changing, so should we.
DD: Do you ever go through phases where you focus on a technique or style?
DT: Yes, I go through many phases of design styles for sure, when I think of a new idea, by myself or someone with else, I really love to see how far the idea can be taken in terms of design output. I feel you should never just settle for one option, you should always strive to explore as many different outcomes and possibilities as you can, through thorough research and exploration. This way you will always feel much more fulfilled knowing you tried your best, by exceeding your limits, to then make an informed decision on your strongest technique/style within design. I believe you have to do something hundreds of times, repetitively, over and over again, in order to truly understand the process, I feel this applies to all mastery. It's all about the journey.
DD: How has the 365 Days of Design challenge helped you overcome your struggle with perfectionism so far?
DT: My 365 day design project has really opened me up to a completely new way of thinking. So far, it has been great for me, while working at Toast Creative in Sydney, I am constantly learning new skills and techniques, breaking new barriers and overcoming the problems I was facing before. Over time, it has laid down a great structure for my design career and has taught me to be much more consistent, by improving my work flow and completely changing my mindset. 105 days into the project, and I feel I am definitely on my way to overcoming perfectionism, and now the project has taken on a new agenda, to improve my skill-set, focus on new media and broaden my client base. I'm looking forward to seeing where this challenge takes me. I know my skills are improving and I'm creating a systematic way of working, for myself. I'm more dedicated and I'm so engrossed in design now, much more than I ever was, which is great.
"Never just settle for one option, you should always strive to explore as many different outcomes and possibilities as you can, through thorough research and exploration."
DD: At Design Disco, we often have aspiring graphic design students. What is a piece of advice you would like to tell them?
DT: Great work comes with making constant mistakes, experiencing failures and letting go of making everything pixel perfect. Passion, dedication and determination takes time, the rest will follow.
To view the rest of Dominic's works, visit: