BendyConf: One Art Please
A guy walks into a web shop.
I’m thinking of starting a travel blog,” he says.
“I’m sure you’ll need a logo.”
“Oh, a logo? Can you make me one of those?”
And so begins the act of arting, as Bendyworks designer Kelly Rauwerdink calls it, a black box process to many of us outside of the art and design world. At BendyConf, our internal conference dedicated to sharing our passions, Kelly spoke on her design process, breaking boundaries, and challenges she faces along the way.
After talking with her client about what they are looking for and things they like, Kelly turns to perhaps the most universal tool: Google. She keeps her search simple: “travel” in the case of the aspiring travel blogger. Images of globes, oceans, and airplanes appear, but they don’t strike Kelly’s fancy.
“Why not weird?” she asks. And then Kelly’s imagination takes over. She imagines mini shampoo bottles, fanny packs, kitschy travel knick knacks, and airplane peanuts. She knows her client loves wine, so she throws in a bottle with a travel-inspired wine label. With concepts in mind, she sketches her idea out on paper:
She brings the sketch into Photoshop to clean up the lines and turn it from a static sketch into something she can tweak in Illustrator:
Once she’s got her visual assets, she polishes her design and shows the results to her client, iterating and refining as necessary:
When you’re creating a design, “get weird with it,” Kelly said. For example, she’s used ketchup and mustard (straight from the Bendyworks fridge) to create 404 error splashes. When she did paintings for the Madison Ruby conference stage in 2012, she made stamps out of potatoes and used the stamps as her painting tools.
“I grew up doing things by hand,” Kelly said. “I like doing things that other people don’t do. I don’t mind getting messy and trying things. It makes everything original and authentic.”
It’s “hard to get out of myself,” said Kelly. It can be difficult to back out of ideas she has or to go with certain colors or font styles that clients prefer. People have strong opinions, even if they don’t realize it. Nevertheless, she aims to please the client, and she’ll iterate until she’s sick or the client is satisfied. Along the way, if necessary, she just might nudge them toward sharing her design vision.
“Customers don’t come to me for something that they’ve seen before,” Kelly said. “It’s my job to look outside of what has been done. My tendencies usually go toward weird since that is my personality. When you reveal your process to a client, they become more invested since they have an insider secret. They don’t know that what I did was invest in ‘weird,’ they just think it’s interesting.”