Return to Thesis

Design is a solution through a strategic & creative process.

A "Design is" process blog & designed by Amit Jakhu.

A designer must offer a solution to a specific problem. The end solution however, follows the design process which is both strategic and creative. Design is not simply a solution to a mathematical equation, because although there is one problem, there may be many answers; as such the designers' role as a creative comes into play. Strategy and creativity go hand–in–hand just like yin and yang. There must be a perfect balance between the two otherwise the design will undoubtedly fail at some point.


Blog 9: My Mentor

Bob Phillips

My mentor since the beginning of my high school career has been Bob Phillips. I had the privilege of having him as a teacher through all four years of high school. Whether this was by luck or sheer coincidence, I truly am thankful for all that he has taught me. I learned a great deal about the arts (Fine arts, contemporary, etc.), gained skills and insights into the creative world.

As a student, just starting high school I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do with my life let alone my career goals. I chose Visual Arts as my ‘open’ course because I always loved to draw and sketch. Soon after, I began to pick up skills and knowledge about the elements of art, colour theory, hands-on crafting and etc. As the years progressed my passion for art and design began to grow because I always felt as though Mr. Phillips was always pushing me to do and learn more. I believe the process of learning and teaching cannot fully realize its potential unless both parties are passionate about the subject. Mr. Phillips was always willing to take questions, help outside of class and motivating through intrinsic rewards (i.e. self-happiness and goal accomplishment) instead of solely through extrinsic ones (i.e. grades). He constantly reminded us to explore and try new ideas which let me find my own path and passion. As one of the few teachers, he didn’t focus too much on the grades, because he believed in the thought process, effort and time put into the work.

By the fourth and last year of high school, I had the honour of being in two classes taught by him, one of which was Visual Arts, the other was a brand new course designed by himself; Illustration. I can honestly say I spent most of my time of that year in the arts room working on in-class and extra-curricular assignments for Mr. Phillips. He pushed me to join clubs outside of class to enhance my learning experience and for that I am truly grateful, because it taught me if you are working in a creative field, it is something you have to love and put time into instead of the nine to five job. Mr. Phillips always kept resource/inspiration material in his class to learn from artists and designers outside of our mindset.

Not only has he taught me a great deal about art, illustration and design, but the most important gift he has given me is motivation. Motivation to do what I love. I love design because I want to solve problems using my creative abilities and furthermore help people. I always have wanted to help people and motivate them. If I can accomplish this goal and love it then I can’t ask for more.

I want to thank Mr. Phillips for everything he has done for me and for anyone who had the pleasure of experiencing his teachings. I want to say,

I would not be where I am today and will be tomorrow without you.

I appreciate everything, no matter how much I hated it at the time, you have taught me. I hope to keep in touch in the future and discuss the experiences we have had since our last encounter.


Blog 8: Command X

Command X is a reality show presenting ‘up-and-coming’ designers to the design world. Produced by Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler of Number Seventeen. The designers present their work to an audience of 1,500 individuals in the industry.

The contestants for season 3 are the following:

The first day they were to have a logo ready in advance, in which they were given a week to prepare and present to the audience and judges for the hit television program, American Idol.

The top five presentation techniques seen from Day 1 were:

  1. Wendy Hu goes directly into the application of the logo on t-shirts, television and on stage. Doing so, helps the client get a better sense of the visual.
  2. Wendy Hu also provides background information on how she arrived at her final design solution which relates more back to the client on a human level.
  3. Matt Hunsberger had done research on how viewers of American Idol perceive the program which is a good practice to get into for an already established brand.
  4. Susan Murphy repeatedly responds with, “yes” when the judges ask what the logo could be?
  5. Jesse Reed researched the brand on a global scale and displayed variations of the logo which would be applied to different nations.

The worst presentation techniques seen from Day 1 were:

  1. Spencer Charles, when asked why he made the logo 3D, he responds with, “Anything in TV needs to be exploding into space.” Which is very much an aesthetic purpose, however it adds no reason for his logo to be chosen, especially amongst an audience of designers.
  2. Matt Hunsberger at some point asked a question towards the judges. Which signifies he isn’t positive about his solution.
  3. Matt also hints at negativity towards American Idol which may not go off so well with an actual client.
  4. Jesse Reed talked about the criticism he received and Ellen Lupton, one of the judges, points it out as a major error. This is because it puts off the client and doesn’t reassure the confidence the designer has put into his work.
  5. There seemed to be a lot of hand movements which may be found distracting. Although, it does help in some areas, waving them around often certainly doesn’t help.

Read more:

Watch the episode:

Blog 7: My Incomplete Manifesto

  1. Back to basics
    When you are assigned a new project, bring the product or service back to the basics. Strip it down to the bare minimum and think about the purpose or reason of being. What does it essentially do? Then add the layers of relevant information on top of that. This will help you start from fresh when everything is clouded.
  2. Forget about the client’s wants
    Focus on the end-user’s wants and needs before anything else to fully communicate the message. This will filter out the junk and give your product/service legs to stand on.
  3. Ideas, research, sketch/plot
    Start off naive of the entire picture and the competitors. Brainstorm ideas that are crazy and possibly not be anything. Then start researching and observing. Collect all of it and start plotting out your plans, sketches and thoughts. Get all of your ideas down and have fun with it. Don’t be afraid of disapproval.
  4. Focus on one thing
    Once you have your sketches and research laid out, start focusing on one concept and idea instead of trying to come up with 6 half-ass products.
  5. Observe, observe and observe some more
    Keep looking at moments happening all around you. Not only at designs specifically but just the actions/moments/reactions and take it in. Start asking yourself questions like, “Why did they react like that?”, “Who was that targeted to?” and so on. This will keep your mind constantly active and thinking.
  6. Ask questions
    I don’t mean ask people questions but ask yourself questions; in your head of course. Observe what’s around you (refer to #5) and continuously ask yourself questions about everything occurring around you. However, don’t make yourself go crazy.
  7. Details matter
    Once you have your overall concept, you have to focus in on all the details. Don’t expect them just to come, every pixel counts. Use grids, rulers, lines or whatever you need to see the details and adjust them to your own perfection. This can take a design from mediocre to amazing. BTW this step takes much longer than you’re thinking right now.
  8. Take breaks. Constantly.
    I tend to take a lot of breaks. Every 5 minutes or so. However, this is only the case if I’m not completely focused on the process. If you are you should take a break every 20 minutes. This will help you take a step back and look at the world around you. I also tend to look at online resources to get some inspiration. Oh yeah I forgot to mention you should eat every once in a while as well.
  9. Talk to people
    These conversations don’t have to be specifically be about the project at hand; more like a casual conversation about news, etc. Just have fun and get your mind wandering so once you step back into the project you have more of an outsider perspective, which is crucial in the process of designing.
  10. Keep nick-knacks
    Have some small toys or fun things around you to make you smile every so often; it definitely wouldn’t hurt.
  11. Look at videos/Listen to music
    I often visit YouTube a lot when I’m designing just because it keeps me inspired, makes me laugh, depresses me, throw fits of rage and so on. This helps to get me in the world of the end-user and ask questions like, “Why would this make me take any sort of initiative?”
  12. Stay up late
    Staying up late, especially on weekdays is incredible. Everyone is dead and it’s just you. I like to walk around outside or drive for a while and just clear my head. Designing with no noise is like crack and I hope you try it at least once. By “it” I mean staying up late to design or letting your mind wander with no aim at all.

Blog 4: Values, Beliefs, Paul Rand & Me

Paul Rand in my eye was an amazing designer with a great design theory. I do however believe he was a little too straightforward at times but that is not a bad thing especially for young designers. In most cases, I agreed with Paul Rand when he talks about his process of creating a logo design. Rand designs one logo that he ends up showing the client. However, he works on focusing that logo down to the best possible design he can manifest. I always believed that to be the best method of creating a solid piece of work because, why do designers create a set of designs to show the client when there is one problem to solve? In this situation, we are doing this to please the client, to make him/her believe we actually put effort into the project. Although, I still believe if there are other directions which the design can take then it does call for multiple designs, but if there is one solid solution to solve the problem then craft it to be the best it possibly can be. Otherwise, you will be messing around with a bunch of half-ass ideas.

"Solving Problems."
- Paul Rand

I absolutely love the idea of solving problems that someone is having. I always wanted to help people and if the designs I create can help someone then that is the greatest gift I can receive. I have always been leaning towards Interaction Design because I believe that it is a growing area of development and also because I feel I am solving the user’s problem instead of just the clients. I think once you can connect and blend the problem the client and user is facing then solve that one single problem, you have truly achieved the optimal solution. I am not someone who makes things look good, I am someone who solves another’s problem.

This leads me into the idea of creating a design that also looks and functions well. Paul Rand believed in improving the quality of the company/product as well as improving the appearance. Solving a problem might seem as just creating a design that functions well but it also has to have a pleasing experience. Otherwise, the design solution is not living up to it’s full potential. Which goes back to the premise of focusing on one perfect solution instead of five or 10 mediocre ones.

Notes I found to be important or true from Paul Rand’s talk:

Blog 5: Reflections on Heidi’s RGD Visit

RGD Ontario will help me in my future professional life by allowing my name to stored in a directory of registered Graphic Designers of Ontario so that anyone can hire me if they so wish. Also, the web conference videos are a great resource tool to aid one’s knowledge and advance a designers learning all in one place. The final reason I believe it will help me in my future professional life as a Graphic Designer is that I will have assistance whenever I need it, this will include legal issues, finding a studio and more. All of these reasons I listed above will be important for me in the near future.

My opinion on “spec work” is it is valid to a certain degree. If I or anyone decided we are designing for a client, we should be compensated. Whether that is monetary, service-based or otherwise. I believe, if we as designers put work into solving a problem for a client then we should receive compensation in some shape or form. However, I also want to take into account my own experiences and my philosophy. I think, if we find an opportunity in which it is beneficial to us to jump into a project or create it for a client for our own personal reasons then we should have the right to do so. Business is not just business, it affects all areas of our lives, even personal. If I find a project to pursue that will allow me to explore my idea or talent for no gain then I should be have the ability to do so. I truly believe in the philosophy of equivalent exchange

In order to gain something, you must sacrifice or offer something of equal value.
- Fullmetal Alchemist

However, what if you design for the sake of design and think of it as simply solving a problem. I think sometimes if we offer something of great value without asking for anything in return, we will gain something of far greater value in the long run. But, this is all up to you as the designer but this is what I have learned through my personal experiences, knowledge and other creatives in the field.

Heather Lowry and Heidi touched upon the following key point I find very important; in some cases, the client does not know what is “spec work” and that a designer should be compensated for their hard work. You must keep this in mind, because you have to keep on educating your client on what the process is and how we as designers work. It is simply not enough to just take a brief and create the final product. We must be always communicating back and forth with the client to come to agreements on certain ideas, plans, concepts and payment.

Blog 3: “Design is…” Take One

Design is a strategic method to solve a problem. Design is not art because art’s purpose is simply to be art. Whereas design analyzes the problem and figures out a solution. It is also meant to be a creative solution rather than a mathematical answer. Although, one must keep in mind that design is very structured and well-thought out.

However, I must still seek the answers to the following questions, “Does design have to be unique to be considered design?” Or “does design not need aesthetics whatsoever?” “How much does aesthetics play a role in design and how many designers find it important?” All of these questions have plagued me for a while now, but by going through my design theory process, I hope to discover my own unique definition to design.

Blog 2: Creativity & Innovation: Eminem

Eminem is a Rapper who came up in Detroit, MI. He has been named the best-selling artist of the decade by Nielson SoundScan which calculates the Billboard’s charts. In the interview by 60 Minutes posted above, around the 5:00 min. mark, Eminem talks about how he slurs and annunciates words to make them rhyme more coherently.

"You just have to figure out the science to breaking down words."
- Eminem

His mind is always thinking about words and constantly trying to put them together to make his music. He goes on to explain that if he has these words put away in his head, then he could essentially pull them out whenever he needed them. However, he does keep countless sheets of scrap paper and junk where he scribbled down notes and lyrics in boxes.

I chose Eminem as my subject because I find his thinking process is not too different from any other creative out there. We as designers need to always be thinking about our tools and ideas to create amazing things. But, my personal opinion is that I don’t find analysing or making notes in any way distracting anymore, because I have begun to do it subconsciously and I believe that as creatives we need to reach that point where our minds are built to create.


MTV News Article


Blog 1: Introduction

I am Amit Jakhu, a second year student currently attending Humber College’s Graphic Design program. This is my fourth semester here and I am trying to learn as much as I can before I graduate. I work part-time as a graphic designer; building and creating websites for clients. I also create the marketing material for the company I work for.

I have been interested in Graphic Design since I was in grade 7 at Great Lakes Public School in Brampton, ON. I installed Adobe Photoshop 7 on my computer to create a Spider-Man wallpaper for myself. Since, then I have never stopped designing. I joined forums and design websites to learn from other people and eventually grow my skills slowly but surely.

My definition of design is, “A strategic and creative solution to a problem." Design must solve a problem otherwise it is not design, it is simply art. I created this blog to share my thoughts and experiences on design and where it will be headed in the future.

The future I see for design is definitely heading towards the digital realm, where a lot of design will be viewed and seen through a monitor. However, I do not believe physical design will be in anyway extinguished, however, physical designs will be more of a stepping stone to lead the user/viewer to the digital world. The line separating the two worlds (physical and digital) will be far more interconnected and the challenge designers will face is to successfully join these two seamlessly.