Lamar Graphic Design Blog

Lamar University's Graphic Design Department Blog

Designing Within Constraints (Part 2) by Jordan Gonzales

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 2.14.11 PM

In my previous post, I covered quickly why designing using constrains, as a guide is important, and how it can help designers challenge themselves and grow to create stronger work. This type of work ethic, or style of thinking about solving design problems, doesn’t simply start to happen naturally at the beginning of a career – it is a learned problem solving style that begins with a designer’s education.

Think of yourself (the designer) as a detective. Detectives are given a mystery or crime to research; they search for clues, make inferences, and solve problems (or crimes). Designers in many ways do the same thing! We are given a mysterious challenge, which we then must research, find clues as to what elements work and which ones do not, make assumptions about what clients would react well to, and ultimately solve the crime. Alas, we do not come to be able to solve these complex riddles over night, even the great Sherlock Homes needed to learn and fine-tune his craft. Collegiate education is often the path pursued by willing designers, and the majority of potential career opportunities are available to those who have a degree. The most well educated designer gets to solve the most mysteries.

Educators often trick students into solving design conundrums by masking it as “homework”, but do not be fooled – they are training you to be a top-notch problem solver. The basics often presented in these classes can truly serve as career long lessons in design principles if taken accordingly.

Below are three examples of early projects I completed in my first two graphic design classes, all teach different lessons about design principles:


1)   This was called a Word/Object integration project; the task was to illustrate in a realistic manner an every day object from around the house, and to accompany it with a word that would convey some meaning. We were not allowed to use any color, and only one word. This project successfully teaches ideas such as simplicity of message, basic illustration techniques, and using form and space to your advantage.

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 2.14.11 PM

2)   This “Zoo Animal” project was used to teach us to come up with creative solutions that would add to someone else’s design. We were tasked with creating a dinosaur style illustration that would fit in with the style of another designers work. It had to look like they created it. This taught us to creatively come up with solutions and to think like someone else would to solve a problem.

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 2.14.21 PM

3)   In this project we were tasked with coming up with lecture posters for events related to graphic design and art history, and they had to be events we would wish to see. It helped instill ideas of being interested in the history of our medium while still coming up with creative layouts that would fit into the style or evoke a mood that hinted as the topic of the lecture.

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 2.14.35 PM

All in all, I hope readers at least take away a few key points from these blog posts. Designing can be an extraordinarily fun puzzle that you are meant to solve, and with a solid education you can build a career piece by piece. Just remember to have fun.


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This entry was posted on May 10, 2013 by in Graphic Design, Student Writing.
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