When I was in high school (before Macs were omnipresent with creatives), I was constantly doodling. In very class, I was drawing as much as taking notes (and somehow I still graduated!). From class to class, study hall to study hall, my trusty sketchbooks always made their way with me. They call it sketch noting now… back then it was borderline slacker behavior.
Fast forward a few years and I’m in college, still doodling. Though now it’s the beginning of my career in the design world. Learning the handskills, about composition, color theory… all towards building my understanding of how “commercial art” (as it was called then) works. All the time drawing, figuring things out, scratching through the bad and moving on to the next.
Sketching has always been something I love, but it wasn’t until my first serious design gig what it became apparent… this skill is the lifeblood of how I think. It lets me run through several ideas before wasting time in a layout app, which also saves me from investing hours or days into bad foundations.
Here’s something else that an art director once taught me: If you always start your work on the Mac, you’ll likely see the same solutions a lot.
Said another way: a blank piece of paper and a pen is a wonderful starting point. It makes you think. It makes you start over. A lot. Again and again. Crumple it up and move on. No layer sets to crutch on. No typeface du jour to be influenced by. Theres time for that… just focus on what’s important first: the idea.
I’d like to encourage you to get a sketch book… and fill it up. Put all your crazy ideas in it. Draw them out. Have fun. Let your brain play. Then, and only then, move it to the layout apps of your choice.