Routine, Rebirth, and the Sixth-Sense

How to: Contemporary Design

I love rules.  Particularly, I love methods and techniques that are quantifiable and can be applied to tasks so that desired outcomes can be obtained.  Any goal that can be accomplished by following “[number] easy steps to a perfect [noun]” is a goal that I like.  Appealing design, as laid out by the tutorials on, is something that I can accomplish by following the various tips, tricks, and methods posted.  In one hour’s time, I went from being a novice to a competent visual designer.  I learned how to effectively integrate text to images, pair different fonts for emphasis, choose a cohesive and interesting color-palette, consistently brand my designs, work with background tools, add visual aids to infographics, and work efficiently with the utilities available on

This rule-based approach to creating and editing designs provided me with an excellent foundation for working with design.  Even though I had taken classes in high-school dealing with creating flyers and webpages in Microsoft Publisher, my experience with design dealt only with the placement of items on my canvas.  After completing seven tutorials from Canva, I learned how to bend colors and text-styles to my creative will in ways that are proven effective to illicit positive reactions from viewers of my work.  Like the Daily Creates I discussed in my last post, the low turn-around-time of the tutorials encouraged me in my ability to succeed at creating designs.


Stark Re-imagination

While Canva laid down the law of design, Paula Scher defined what it means to take design to the next level. Throughout her Ted Talk she seeks to create a distinction between work that is solemn and work that is serious.  At first, I had no idea what she meant by this distinction.  By the end however, I realized the meaning of this dichotomy: solemn work is done in a style that exists and is known to be successful, while serious work breaks free from existing rules to showcase a new style of design.  By its nature, serious work does not last long. As the public receives new styles from serious works, the styles are broken-down into methods and absorbed into the repository of accepted rules for design.  After this artistic osmosis occurs, works carried out in these styles become solemn, merely following the newest cookie-cutter mold for success. As a law-abiding designer, this idea that honest creativity can only be had through explicit breaking of rules challenges me to re-evaluate the methods I learned from Canva.  While the provided stepping-stones lead down the path of definite acceptance, to be truly successful I need to lay my own path and think outside of the text-box.

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It

Whereas the previously mentioned sources deal in creating, following, and defying the rules of acceptable design, David Carson brings a different idea to the table.  In his Ted Talk, Carson indicates that intuition is the most important part of real design, jesting that, “… it’s very hard to teach people the four steps to intuitive design, but we can teach you the four steps to a nice business card … or newsletter.”  Many of the designs showcased in Carson’s presentation did not follow the design principles from Canva: some were difficult to read due to writing that was too small and colors that blended together, and others did not adhere to any kind of alignment.  Freed from convention, the designs relied on the inspiration behind them more than the methods with which they were created.

So Where do I Stand in all of This?

With my tool bag full of Canva utilities, I marched onward into the realm of design.  Yesterday’s Daily Create proved an excellent place to unveil my first Canva creation.

At this point, I am not a master creator with brilliant ideas and millionaire clients seeking designs, so I need to take it slow and find my style as it comes to me.  There is no harm in relying on proven methods until then.

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