If you've been following me for any amount of time, you know that I'm big into sharing the process behind my projects. I've written articles before on sketching and refining, but I'm always improving my methods by experimenting and learning from others. I wanted to take a little time to reflect on why it's so important to continuously share the process behind your work.
So, why should you share your process?
1. Because we can.
In Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work, he explains how, in a pre-digital era, it made sense to keep your process a total secret. This was back when the only way an artist could connect with an audience was through a gallery show or a writeup in some fancy art magazine. Today we can share as much of what we care about, as frequently as we want, at little to no cost. This is incredible. We can use these tools to form a unique bond with our audience. A bond that makes the audience feel like they are part of the work.
2. Your process is valuable
Sharing content around the process can be educational, entertaining and interesting for people see. Remember that TV show How it's Made? My favorite episode was about how they made metal chain. Seeing all the mechanical processes just made my jaw drop. It's still on the air making new shows, because it's fascinating!
People are fascinated by the inner workings and going behind the scenes, even for mundane things. Often people are even more into the process than they are interested in the finished product. Sure it's a little different when you are making things one at a time, by hand, but it still holds true.
3. Sharing the process instills trust.
I touched on this in my recent article about the biggest mistakes I've made while freelancing, but this is worth mentioning again. The vast majority of the world does not know what lettering is, let alone how to make a successful piece. You can show them how it's done – it just takes a little effort. When you consistently and confidently teach what you know and how you work, you will be seen as an expert in that field.
4. Understanding drives appreciation for the finished product
If you've never seen the TV show How It's Made, you're missing out. In one episode, they break down the methods for how metal chain is created in a factory. So cool! The next time I saw a chain out in the world, I thought about all of the beauty behind what it took to get there.
Just like the metal chain, logos and lettering are a means to an end. They communicate a message and accomplish a goal. There's an art behind it, for sure, but that can be said about anything!
When the average person sees a lettering piece, they take it at face value and they can't appreciate how it's made because they don't know.
How should we share the process?
Write it out
It's a great exercise to practice writing out how you work. If you can communicate it in a few short paragraphs, that becomes a tool for getting more clients and customers. Even better if you can make a video. This is something I'm working on to make it easier to digest.
If you don't know your process, that's because you haven't written it out yet. If you've made something, odds are you used certain techniques, stages and methods that led you to the finished product.
Post works-in-progress online
I'm not going to tell you which social media platforms to use to share your process, because they are constantly evolving and changing. At the very least you should have it on your website. I use Instagram to post sketches and explain my process. This way clients can come and see how you work. Pro tip: Use whatever platforms that your target audience is already on.
Break it down, and be honest
I used to be afraid to share the details process I was afraid that it would turn people off. Why would people care? Maybe I should fake it and make it look pretty?
All of these doubts changed when I learned that customers and clients actually want to know the whole process beforehand. If a client is going to tell you how to work and what to do the whole time, that's probably not going to be a successful project. It's our duty as the professional to start that relationship on the right foot, and set the proper expectations, so things go smoothly. This gets into more of the business process, which I am going to save for a future article.
Speaking of sharing the process, it's finally October so I will be restarting up my Vectober series. I'll be going back through my sketchbook and choosing the best concepts to refine and vectorize, like this one below.
Keep an eye out next week for some more vector goodness, along with tips and tricks for refining lettering in Illustrator.
I hope this article convinced you to start sharing your process more often and putting your work out there. If you have any feedback, or questions related to lettering, I'd love to hear about what you are struggling with or working on.