Yesterday I did an odd thing.

If you know me, you’re probably thinking ‘that’s every day for you, Grant.’

Sure, you could think that, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong.

What’s this odd thing I did? I added a couple ‘case studies’ to my site. This is exactly the type of content that should be on this site, right? Yes, but these are print-related case studies. Print design? That is odd.

It’s been at least five years since I sent anything to print. It’s a former life. A life before I installed a code editor on my computer.

Why examine old print projects when I have plenty of digital projects that could be dissected and examined? The truth is I’ve planned to do case studies for some time but felt blocked. I’d think through structure, I’d sketch on paper, take screen shots and even do some writing. However, when I sat down to make those ideas reality, I couldn’t do it. I’d become filled with self doubt about the direction I was about to take. I was focused on creating the perfect case study (whatever that might be), rather than building and iterating. I’d start over and rethink the approach.

A couple weeks ago, I was looking through one of the hard drives I’ve hoarded over the years. I opened the folder named My Pdfs, and started looking through my print career. As I was reminiscing, I realized an idea was forming. I was looking at this work in much the same way one would if they were planning to write or talk about it.

I opened Figma and began sketching out some ideas. I’ve been using Figma lately. I’ve been using it for a few reasons. I liked what I saw when colleagues showed off its features. And, the Sketch license I purchased but is now a yearly subscription (still salty about that) needs to be renewed. Test driving software and learning at the same time. That seems like a win. Afterall, if I’m going to moan about missing the features I love from InDesign, why not complain about a free piece of software, right?

After I was happy with the design direction, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to second guess. I jumped in and started building them until I had something to look at in the browser. Basically, I did what you’d do with any product. I made prototypes. You can see them here and here.

These are far from perfect. The writing sets up the atmosphere but barely covers process. The design could stand refinement. The system needs to be solidified and made reusable. Outside of that, I’m happy I built and pushed these out, warts and all.

I feel more focused on what it is I want out of case studies. And am ready for the next iteration. I also feel like I learned a few things.

While our internal compass should generally point us toward the future. Looking back on the path you’ve blazed can be important, if not therapeutic. The context of our experiences helps reveal where we are and where we hope to go. I was a good designer and art director. I wasn’t the best. No matter what that SPD Gold Medal (shameless plug) says. The colleagues I worked with made me better. Looking at their work day after day, and week after week pushed me to be better and do better work.

I found some fond memories in those old pages. And frankly, I found a bit of confidence I had lost somewhere along the way.