Musings from the Coffee-Fueled Minds of Digital Designers

A peek into the life of the designer, as told by the Hashtag Design Team

Ah, the life of the designer– it’s full of wonder and mystery. To some, we’re like digital magicians, we take something intangible like a concept and translate it into something you can physically share with other people. But there’s actually no magic involved at all. Behind each  clean, crisp image with cute, minimalist characters and impeccable choice of typography to match, comes hours of caffeine-fueled hours in front of our screens, days of back-and-forth revision emails from clients, and the occasional late night snacking. Our output is the very tip of the iceberg and not a lot of people know what’s brewing under it all. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes action that a regular person might miss out on, and here’s your chance at a sneak peek into the elusive lives of the digital designer:


What is a sleep schedule?

Like most creative careers, we don’t know when our brains will start pumping out fresh ideas. There are days when our imagination is as dry as a desert during the working day, but just as quitting time is around the corner, a great thought about a project you’ve been working on comes strolling in to say “Hey, friend! Here’s a great, very urgent (but also quite vague) idea that you need to work on!” So you do the only sensible thing to do: work on it. Then before you know it, that epiphany that was once an inkling of an idea has become an amazing design and in a timely manner, the sun peeks out of the window to say “Congratulations! You stayed up all night.” With that being said…

Coffee is our friend

Coffee is our friend

It starts off with just having a cup or two of 3-in-1, you know, just to stay alert during the work day. Then you graduate to brewed coffee, then maybe 2 cups a day isn’t enough, and you decide to ditch the milk.. Suddenly you’re at 8 ventis a day and before you know it you’re walking around the office hooked up to a litre bag of espresso via IV insert. COFFEE IS OUR FRIEND.


It’s 70% Research, 30% Actual Designing

Being in the arts, we need to keep up with the times. With the rise of social media and easy-sharing platforms, trends in design are popping up like wildfire; we need to stay updated so our work doesn’t get outdated. A lot of our time is spent researching to help us conceptualise great ideas, then the rest is actually putting them to work.


It's up to you to develop your sense of method and style.

The sky’s the limit

There is no set standard for design. Once you get the foundational skills down, it’s up to you to develop your sense of method and style and it can be the most liberating thing. And if your agency is nice enough, this rule extends to clothes. Casual Fridays all day errday, baby!!


Difficult clients makes the job harder

A designer-client relationship can yield great results, sometimes without a fuss, but other times it can make both parties want to pull their hair out from frustration– and that’s why our team wears wigs, we don’t have anymore hair. The more difficult the client is, whether it be because of vague creative briefs, endless revisions, or multiple last minute changes, the harder it is to get things done efficiently.


There's one constant thing in a designer's life, it's revisions.

Revisions: it’s complicated

There’s one constant in a designer’s life, it’s love revisions. They’re there for learning experience sometimes, but other times they just prolong the process. A few revisions are doable and productive because it really does take a team effort to make a great design, but when a client gets very nit-picky about the most trivial details, it becomes a waste of time for everyone. One thing to note about revisions if you’re a client is if we insist against something you want to change, it’s probably to better deliver the brand message you’re trying to convey. Trust us, we know what we’re doing and the Papyrus font is NOT a great idea. Don’t even get us started with Comic Sans.

“Why did we even hire you when the design is so simple?”

Why don’t you catch us outside, HOWBOWDAH? What some clients don’t realise is a lot of times, the simpler the design, the more brainstorming and planning was put into it to get it to the clean image you see in front of you. Think about it– we take an entire creative brief and somehow turn all those words and explanations into one simple image that reflects it all. We use the minimum number of design elements to deliver the message in the most impactful way possible.


“Exposure” won’t pay the bills

If we had a dollar for every time we’ve gone through this song and dance in our careers, we actually could be working for exposure. We’ll even throw in a free puppy for your support. Unfortunately for us, we can’t live on exposure, but if you find a way, please, let us know! Good design is worth investing in – otherwise you may only get what you pay for when it comes to free design help.

Designers are not actually magicians.

Designers are not mind readers

Yes, the concept of turning a thought into a tangible reality is almost magical, but designers are not ACTUALLY magicians. So we’re sorry if “based on the reference attached, design something that’s exactly similar but entirely different. I can’t explain what I just said but just create something. I know you can do it” JUST. WON’T. CUT. IT. One thing we need? DETAILS! Write us a novel of the idea you have, we would appreciate it more than “give me the essence of this feather.” Talk to us, we don’t bite… most times.


Unreasonable Deadlines

“Hi yes, can you make me this super great design with the most intricate of details by end of day? Kthxbyemwahugs!” You hired designers, not The Flash. The city of Rome wasn’t finished by the end of the business day, so please be reasonable. Like any conflict in relationships, we can talk it out and meet halfway so everyone’s happy.

Being part of a successful campaign makes all of it worth it.

But in the end, it’s all worth it

Design, can be tumultuous and stressful, especially when working with other people. Turning an idea into reality is difficult, but more often than not it takes different personalities, styles, opinions, teaming up and collaborating to come up with a kickass campaign. Having said that, the process comes with the arduous task of aligning all ideas through a series of figurative (and maybe some literal) acrobatics and back-and-forth revisions to get the main message out. Butwhen you are part of a successful campaign that reflects the work you put into it, suddenly the countless revisions, crazy deadlines, and lack of sleep becomes worth it. No matter how many projects we encounter, the finished product makes us want to throw our wigs in the air and rock the air guitar with our coffee IVs out of happiness from a job well done.

Love, Hashtag Designers

on February 27, 2017