Step into the mind of designer Jack Chitty, the creative force behind Chitt & Co. In this conversation, explore Jack’s vision, design philosophy, and the inventive spirit that drives his work. Jack shares his process with us, and the ways he continues to expand his creativity.
Question: What is your design process like? How has it changed as you’ve evolved in your career?
Jack: I’m very lucky to have been a junior designer growing up with social media. This helped me get direct insight into other successful designers’ processes. Not only that, but I never professionally trained in graphic design so I haven’t had any processes forced onto me.
This handy combo meant that I could stress-test elements of other designers’ processes and see what worked for me. If it didn’t work, bin it, and try something else. I’ve done this consistently over my career and still look to refine my process every day. As it stands, my identity design process looks like this:
I provide my clients with a briefing questionnaire which saves me trying to decipher any homemade briefs and ensures I get the key information I need. Along with this, I ask my clients to pull together a mood board of logos, colors, shapes, layouts, typography, etc. that a) they like and b) is how they imagine their new visual identity to look. I do this for two main reasons: it makes them feel part of the creative process (because they are) and it gives me a great idea of their design taste.
Once I’ve eked out as much insight from the brief and mood board as I can, I begin researching the industry, the competition, the audience, etc. trying to find any learnings that can help inform my design decisions.
With a lot of the heavy lifting input stuff done; on the left-hand side of a fresh page in my sketchbook, I jot down the main keywords from the brief. I then take 6 of these words to use as the start of my word map to which I start annotating limbs of related words and ways to visualize them. It’s super important I don’t sketch anything here, I want to be bursting with ideas once I’ve completed this stage.
This is the fun stuff. By this point, I’m able to vomit all my ideas out onto several pages. Good, bad, and ugly. Speed is the primary focus here. I’m purely trying to get the gist of an idea down ready for the next one. I do this until I feel I’ve exhausted all avenues I can think of. Sometimes this is within 50 sketches, other times it’s over 100.
Now I look through the heap of semi-recognisable ideas and highlight some that have promise. I’ll take a little more time to sketch these out again but with more considered pencil strokes. By this point, I’ll have a handful that I want to take onto the computer and tune-up. But, to be honest, there’s always one that I know is the winner although I’ll still work on the others in Illustrator to make sure I’ve selected the right option. Up to this point, I’ve only worked in black and white as I believe if a logo doesn’t work in black and white, it sure as hell won’t work in color. Now I’ve finished the design I want to present, I can start to mess with some type (unless it’s a wordmark logo) and colors. Hands down, my favorite part.
Final or feedback
I’ve done the best I can do with the design having walked my client through a beautifully thorough presentation that details all the above and brings the identity to life through industry-specific mockups. All that’s left to do is get their initial and consolidated feedback. I take initial feedback straight after I’ve presented and jot down a few notes but nothing is final until they’ve sat with the design at least overnight. Only then will I take their feedback seriously. Good or bad. Then it’s either sign off or make some tweaks and we’re good to go!
Q: Where do you look for inspiration?
J: It’s so cliché to say but pretty much everywhere although most of the time I don’t actually ‘look’ for it. All the good stuff smacks me in the face when I least expect it. To give you more of a helpful answer, I like vintage shops and anywhere I can find old brand design work but I try not to search for inspiration unless I’m stuck.
Q: How do you get your head back in the game when you’re feeling burnt out?
J: Luckily, I’ve got my process to a point now where I don’t get burnt out very often but when I’m struggling for ideas or feel a little foggy, I always go for walks in nature. Bit tricky to find this living in London but when I do she never disappoints, ol’ Mother Nature.
Q: If you can share, what do you think is your ‘secret weapon’ when creating? Please explain how you developed this skill.
J: What an interesting question! I don’t think this is particularly groundbreaking but I’ve always loved telling stories along with my designs. The way I present and the way I create content online is all about telling a story and I think when done right, it can be captivating. I’d put a lot of my first-time sign-offs down to the story I told, not necessarily just the design.
Q: Looking back, what are some hurdles you had to overcome personally that impacted you? They can be big or small.
J: There are two that immediately come to mind. The first is the reason I relentlessly pursued a career in graphic design and the second is how I took my business to the next level.
After leaving the gym in October 2019, I had a brain aneurysm. There were several ‘final goodbye’ moments between me, my parents, and friends and I’m so unbelievably lucky to have almost no lasting damage. It’s the most life-changing thing that’s ever happened to me. Lying alone in my hospital bed at night, I realized that I hadn’t been living out my potential in the advertising job I had at the time and I decided then and there that, if I made it through, I would dedicate the rest of my life to becoming the best designer I could be.
Fast forward to November 2022, I was made redundant from my in-house design job. Completely out of the blue. I’d been running my little studio on the side for a couple of years but it wasn’t in a place to go full-time yet. I managed to scrape through to April with the odd job and some savings but when May hit I was faced with getting back in the job market or giving Chittco the business. I devised a content strategy switching from a mix of static and video formats to focus fully on video and get my face out there more. This brought a lot more attention to my work and it completely changed my design career. You wouldn’t be reading this if I hadn’t done that. I’d be back at an in-house position still dreaming of a life running my show.
Q: What do you like about Stills? How is it a good resource for designers?
J: My absolute favorite feature on Stills is being able to search by color code. It’s such a great way to keep some imagery on-brand and to compliment an identity. Another mind-bendingly cool feature is the exclusivity option of the Vault. So often I see other design work and I’m thinking, “That’s Unsplash, that’s Pexels”, but with the Stills Vault, it can look as though you’ve hired a photographer, studio, lighting, talent, etc, for your project. And you won’t be seeing those images elsewhere.
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