July '20

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6 2 G R A P H I C S P R O J U L Y 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G R E G A R D I N G D E S I G N used as venues for additional art- work. Would a tribute to the avian preserve be an appropriate theme, and help to demonstrate the retailer's good will and commitment to the neighborhood? Could this art bring extra context to the project and add value to the guests' experience? The concept was embraced immedi- ately, and we promptly set about the re- search, design, and fabrication of a suite of metal bird sculptures, a different style for each species. The project was a delight to work on. We did deep research and made a meaningful contribution. We pushed ourselves artistically, learned new fabrica- tion skills—and we tripled the amount of our original contract. Let's remain for the moment in a purely commercial vein. One way of looking at experiential design is to ask, "How can I get more work? What am I leaving on the table?" These are important questions, certainly. The marketplace is competitive, and successful entrepreneurs look for the upsell. But we'll get much closer to the defini- tion—to the essence—of experience de- sign when we ask these questions instead: "What does my client really need? Which story needs telling? How can I best in- form, engage, and surprise the audience? Where can I make the greatest contribu- tion?" In this way, we also begin to answer that mumbled question from the first paragraph—how can I improve my own work? I recall an anecdote told to me by a mas- ter sign painter and mentor regarding a suggestion he once made to a customer, a hard-working and earnest used car dealer. My friend proposed that the image of the car lot might be given greater authority by changing the copy on the owner's building sign from "Al's Used Cars" to "Transporta- tion Specialists," a decision—so the story went—that led to the eventual transfor- mation of the humble auto dealership into a nationwide truck leasing company, and to a lucrative fleet lettering contract for my friend. It is a wonderful yarn (perhaps of ques- tionable accuracy) but it has a point for us, and a challenge. Are we willing to represent ourselves to our clients—be it a car dealer, national park, retail chain, or medical institution—as qualified members of their team? Candid con- versations of a project's greater pos- sibilities and implications carries risk, responsibility… and the chance for boundless opportunity. PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS The formula for expanding your own practice into an experienced-based one begins with clearly understanding the problem to be solved. The solution—in the sage words of Louis Dorfsman, one of America's greatest designers and advertis- ing experts—"is always found within the problem." An example: Perhaps your vehicle wrap customer is resolved to cover his trucks with the same art he uses in his newspaper ads—an indecipherable smear of product photographs smashed against an endless list of every service he provides… and don't forget the illegible logo designed by his brother-in-law. You recognize a prob- lem, and (with your most professional diplomacy) you present a solution: simpli- fied, alternative designs that present your client's business in a clear and dynamic way, better suited for quick viewing, and give a glimpse of the exciting experience in store for his customers. "WE'LL GET MUCH CLOSER TO THE DEFINITION— TO THE ESSENCE—OF EXPERIENCE DESIGN WHEN WE ASK THESE QUESTIONS: 'WHAT DOES MY CLIENT REALLY NEED? WHICH STORY NEEDS TELLING? HOW CAN I BEST INFORM, ENGAGE, AND SURPRISE THE AUDIENCE? WHERE CAN I MAKE THE GREATEST CONTRIBUTION?'" This themed gift shop in Ocean Shores, Washington, leaves no doubt of an experi- ence to follow. Imagine that you received an invitation from the owners to propose a way to increase their retail traffic. How would your solution solve their problem? (Im- age courtesy Mark Oatis) This delight- ful facade at Rayen, a vegan restau- rant in Madrid, embraces the experience with whimsy and restraint— a triumph of a lot with a little. Could this problem have been solved any better? Not likely. (Image courtesy (fos))

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