Creative thinking

from scamp to fruition

“But how do you, you know, actually come up with ideas?” As a designer, it’s a question that comes up a lot. While I can’t claim to have the definitive answer, I wanted to share my thoughts and show you how I work.


Every piece of work I’m involved in starts the same way: with a clear brief. A problem that we creatively need to solve. Now, this is how I work. Others might do things differently.

Once I’ve digested the brief, read the supporting documentation and got my head around what needs to be achieved, I turn to my trusty pen and pad. And, well, I start jotting things down. Think Scribble Repeat – that’s pretty much my creative process. I’m always keen to get early thoughts down on paper. In my career as a designer I’ve amassed volumes of layout pads full of initial sketches - the place where my ideas form and grow.

These sketches are often the beginning of an idea. A direction. No more, no less. It’s never about execution at this stage. My sketches help me to see if an idea works. The beauty is that I can rapidly create iterations of an idea and by their nature there is a low commitment to a particular route - making it easier to scrap a thought and move on.

This may be a rough idea for a logo, an illustration, a page layout, an adcept or animation, or working out a UX/UI solution – these scamps are my equivalent of the architect’s sketch on the back of a beer mat. It’s how I explore and evolve ideas. Often during discussions with colleagues, rough sketches change and evolve. Once the team are happy internally with the ideas, I can then jump onto Google Figma or Photoshop to progress them.

I thought I’d I share some of the more interesting evolutions, from the very first thoughts at a meeting where I use scribbles as a kind of designers short-hand, through to the end result: Jim's design evolution.

Like examinations (of old, maybe!), it’s always good to show your workings. I find re-visiting these initial ideas/scamps useful and interesting: it’s great to see where a finished piece of work first started off. Long live the scamp! Long live the rough visual! Long live great ideas!

Post by

Jim Scudamore