Creative Keys x My Portfolio x My Recent Products Spotted in Learning Express - Beachwood Mall, Ohio

As seen at Learning Express Stores: Product created by Creativity for Kids & Faber-Castell product teams under my creative direction & leadership 2016-2017.

Creative Keys X Delanie West X BeSuperCreative: What is Product Design?

 Creative Keys X Delanie West X BeSuperCreative: What is Product Design?

Creative Keys X Delanie West X BeSuperCreative: What is Product Design?

Product design as a verb is to create a new product to be sold by a business to its customers. A very broad concept, it is essentially the efficient and effective generation and development of ideas through a process that leads to new products. Thus, it is a major aspect of new product development.

Due to the absence of a consensually accepted definition that reflects the breadth of the topic sufficiently, two discrete, yet interdependent, definitions are needed: one that explicitly defines product design in reference to the artifact, the other that defines the product design process in relation to this artifact.

Product design as a noun: the set of properties of an artifact, consisting of the discrete properties of the form (i.e., the aesthetics of the tangible good and/or service) and the function (i.e., its capabilities) together with the holistic properties of the integrated form and function.

Product design process: the set of strategic and tactical activities, from idea generation to commercialization, used to create a product design. In a systematic approach, product designers conceptualize and evaluate ideas, turning them into tangible inventions and products. The product designer's role is to combine art, science, and technology to create new products that people can use. Their evolving role has been facilitated by digital tools that now allow designers to communicate, visualize, analyze and actually produce tangible ideas in a way that would have taken greater manpower in the past.

Product design is sometimes confused with (and certainly overlaps with) industrial design, and has recently become a broad term inclusive of service, software, and physical product design. Industrial design is concerned with bringing artistic form and usability, usually associated with craft design and ergonomics, together in order to mass-produce goods. Other aspects of product design and industrial design include engineering design, particularly when matters of functionality or utility (e.g. problem-solving) are at issue, though such boundaries are not always clear.

Lodestar Leadership x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: Building Creative Leadership Skills

 From my personal office library, books on leadership.

From my personal office library, books on leadership.

What personal investment do you make in leadership and creative growth? In effort to make sure I continue to build my skills, I enrolled in leadership coursework at University of Michigan via Coursera.

One of the final course exercises was to identify the "why" of what I do in my creative business role (Vice President, Product Development & Creative at Faber-Castell / Creativity for Kids) It was a solid exercise and my classmates had good critique for my below submission:

Questions 1 - 3

1. As designers and developers, why do we do what we do?

2. What does success look like?

3. How must we act to ensure success?

My Answers:

A 1. We create products and product experiences for consumers so that they may experience the joys of visual creative activities. We wish to give them the foundation in tools, materials and knowledge in order to continually learn and grow their creative techniques.

A 2. Consumers who are continually building on their skill bases, and experiencing graduated degrees of art and creative knowledge. They are happy with their accomplishments and are confident in continuing their creative journey. Our company is credited with giving them this amazing experience.

A 3. We must continue to serve the customer’s need for new experiences and great products. We must continue to ask if our process is serving them well.

This exercise I'll definitely take with me in my next career challenge. 

Excerpt from: Loadstar Leadership: A Product Development and Designer's Notebook © 2018 Delanie West

Creative Keys X Delanie West X BeSuperCreative: What is a Creative Director

 Creative Keys X Delanie West X BeSuperCreative: What is a Creative Director

Creative Keys X Delanie West X BeSuperCreative: What is a Creative Director

creative director is a position often found within the graphic designfilmmusicvideo gamefashionadvertisingmedia, or entertainment industries, but may be useful in other creative organizations such as web development and software development firms as well.

A creative director is a vital role in all of the arts and entertainment industries. In another sense, they can be seen as another element in any product development process. The creative director may also assume the roles of an art director, copywriter, or lead designer. The responsibilities of a creative director include leading the communication design, interactive design, and concept forward in any work assigned. For example, this responsibility is often seen in industries related to advertisement. The creative director is known to guide a team of employees with skills and experience related to graphic design, fine arts, motion graphics, and other creative industry fields. Some example works can include visual layout, brainstorming, and copywriting. To assume the role of a creative director, one must already have an existing set of skills and expertise in many areas. Often, these types of artists start up from the very beginning in fields that can relate to motion graphics, advertisement in television, and/or book (or magazine) publishing.

Delanie served EK Success, Wilton Brands as Creative Director in the early 2000’s.

Lodestar Leadership x Delanie West X BeSuperCreative: Leading Creatives - Art, Craft and Toy Segment Development & Design Projects

 "Papergami" Creative Dimensional Origami Crafts Mockups - This was a concept "Pitch" that never went to market. (The images were FPO, but concept and packaging was developed by me) You've got to pour through loads of ideas to identify what works! It was fun none-the-less.

"Papergami" Creative Dimensional Origami Crafts Mockups - This was a concept "Pitch" that never went to market. (The images were FPO, but concept and packaging was developed by me) You've got to pour through loads of ideas to identify what works! It was fun none-the-less.

"Papergami" Planogram Pitch
"Papergami" Planogram Pitch

Over the years, I've tried to share the most relevant content as it relates to design, creativity, product development technologies, and women in the workplace. 

As a leader, managing a team of creatives in the toy and craft segment, I would most likely share projects and products giving accolades to the team, rarely would I give any credit to myself for a particular item or sku. 

In effort to be more transparent with you, and those who may have no clue what it is I do professionally, I'll be sharing "Lodestar Leadership” and “Creative Keys" content that shares details of projects I've managed, projects that I delegated, projects that were executed by teams whom I believed deserved a great sense of autonomy (not micromanaged). I'll be talking about the inspiration and history attached to those projects. The details that you as the consumer never know about. 

While I was much closer to some projects than others, I signed off on every product and graphic collateral that passed my desk. I had the pleasure working with an uber talented team, who were very capable. WE did some amazing things together during my time at Faber-Castell. 

"About 60% of the CEOs polled by IBM cited creativity as the most important leadership quality"

#besupercreative#thinkcreatively #creativeworkplaces #creativethinking #lodestar #loadstarleadership #creativekeys

Creative Keys x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: How Baking & Starbucks influenced Mixed Media Product Development Ideas

Sharing some of my product legacies: These were both fun projects!

Texture Cards were inspired by both my standing in line at Starbucks viewing the beautiful artwork on the gift cards at the register and my love of baking and all of the clever texture & pastry brushes offered to add detail to cakes and sauces. With the growing popularity of artist textures for the mixed media consumer, I wanted to present an inexpensive solution for mixed media artists to manipulate their texture of choice. 

Texture Luxe, also an answer for a luxurious texture experience for the mixed media artist. It was developed in three colorways: Silver, Gold, and Pearlescent. 

Texture Luxe Gel Medium Whipped Spackle, Gelatos and Texture Cards
Silver Texture Luxe & Texture Cards
Texture Luxe and Texture Cards
Unprinted first samples for approval.

Creative Keys x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: Vision Boards - Creative Direction - Product Development & Design

This was an interesting project. All the materials were included to create your custom vision board and help you visualize and your goals! Learn how to create vision boards that are both beautiful and inspirational #Visionboard with #design_memory_craft #Vision Board kit! (Instructional kit, fabric planning board, pens, #listing sheets and embellishments)


Lodestar Leadership x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: Abandoning Routine in the Workplace Product Development and Design Executive - Delanie West (Repost)

Delanie West formerly served senior executive at the US headquarters of world’s oldest and largest pencil manufacturer where her focus was in leading product development and design teams in the creation of of the brand's marketing and sales materials.

She also dedicates her services to pro-bono social good projects as a component of her volunteerism pledge. She recently sat down with Trend Hunter to discuss the ways in which she chooses to get inspired and innovate in her work. This is a repost and updated forward of the previously published article.


How do you ( your team) generate great ideas and do you have specific rituals to make creativity happen?

 I think most important to facilitating [innovation] is making sure that we assign the time for creative thinking and planning. We have to schedule it to ensure that we have open-ended time to tinker and discover. You can easily get caught up in the process and the projects that you’re working on, your current schedule, and you almost feel a little guilty for having this "free" time. It may feel like you’re not getting anything accomplished, but it’s the absence of deadlines and actual process that leaves you open to innovation. So just ensuring that you block out that time for creative, free-thinking in your schedule is crucial.

 What are some barriers to innovation, and how do you get around them?

I feel like it’s not having enough time, or feeling like you don’t have enough time. Not setting aside the time for it, that’s one of the easiest things that limits your ability to innovate. The other one is working is a silo, if you’re working in a silo and you’re not looking outside of what you’re focused on that’s really a huge barrier.

I always like to invite others into the process, other people that are outside my department, outside of marketing and sales. Invite other team members that don’t have anything to do with product development into your process, because that always awakens something and unveils something you weren’t focused on. Something that’s always great to do is running a project by a different team – a group of people that normally wouldn’t work on something could uncover some really cool things. Different teams and team members collaborating always yields some interesting results.

How do you identify trends and what resources does your team use to spot trends and insights?

I think it’s about being present. There is so much to be gained from being present in the moment and actively participating in life. I mean, even going to the grocery store, experiencing trends happens the second you walk through the door and as you’re walking through aisles and looking at signage and packaging.

We subscribe to a variety of different trend reports and we read them and we interpret them, but we also attend trade shows. So seeing what’s happening on the ground, talking to people that are also attending, talking to people that are exhibiting, and engaging at all these touch points. At the end of the day, we are able to connect the dots to see what resonates strongest. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, you have all these different inputs to make a decision. I wouldn’t say that it's one of these that’s going to give you the strongest pulse, it’s the combination of all of these actions that’s going to help you connect the dots, which is what reveals a trend or a pattern. 

Do you have specific rituals for resetting to be creative? 

In my business, we are developing products for launch cycles and so I look at each cycle as kind of a "season" or "year." Within that season, I like to build certain things or a "resource base" to inspire. So when I go in or I see each development cycle, we kind of hit the reset button. You throw out the things that inspired you last cycle and you’re collecting new media, books, magazines, new conversations. You’re refreshing yourself, you’re having a refreshed look at what is different. Just looking at what everybody else is experiencing in this new season. Before Pinterest, there was what you call a trend board – you’ll see creatives with these boards in their office and they’re pinning things that are inspiring or stimulating them. Each season I refresh my pin board and I start adding these new points to start to make a new direction for the new season.

 Has there ever been an instance where another industry has influenced a new [ idea? ]  ( innovation at your company?)

That’s a given. In my work development & design career, we focus on crafts and toys, and art supplies – but we’re also looking at interiors, we’re looking at home, baking, fashion, automotive. We’re looking at it all because through viewing these industries, you’ll be able to identify something that sparks a new direction or a new thought. In some of these industries the ideas are cyclical – you’ll see something rise in one industry and it will cycle in a different way to the next. What’s really interesting is when you have an idea that’s cycling more than one or two or three industries at the same time, that’s when I see a strong rise to a trend. It’s very visible and approached in a very actionable way by these industries. We’re always looking outside of our industry for inspiration, we kind of have to.

What are some examples of things you can do to create a culture of innovation?

 [ Be rid of the routine.] Thinking about where you work on a daily basis and pretty much doing the same things to get to work every day. You’re driving the same way, you probably stop at the same place to get your coffee, work in the same cube. It’s breaking a pattern. I find that helps me think differently. Making sure you’re giving the freedom to your team to explore outside the confines of their environment or their cubes. So changing your environment helps to prime your mind for creative thinking. That, for me, is always the easiest way to start innovation. In creating that culture you just have make sure that your team members, the people that you manage, the people that you work with, that it’s ok not to be in your cube today. Why don’t you go work in another conference room, why don’t you go work in an art museum – break your pattern. 

Also, always being plugged into the consumer, talking to the consumer, watching how they shop and experience products. That’s a really important part of that too because doing all those other fun, out-of-routine things too is great, but you have to tie that into who you’re creating those product experiences for. I always like to say experiencing culture in other locations and other cities, reading regional magazines so you can understand what people in the Midwest like to spend on versus what people in the Northeast like. Industry shows, going to a car or a boat show might change your perspective. Just talking to people, talking to other designers in other industries always gives you some perspective, and also challenges you to think in a different way about how you are being creative.

 What's the most unconventional thing you have done to get creative inspiration? 

I wouldn’t say it’s crazy but I’ve gone to some unusual industry shows to better understand subcultures. So I would say the "craziest" for me was going to Comic Con. I had always heard about it, I never really knew what it was and nobody could really explain to me what it was, you really just kind of have to go. It was one of the most eye opening experiences, for me. I was introduced to consumers who follow brands in a really honest, unique way. Just to see how passionate they were about these brands that they love, and how they wanted to engage, kind of opened my eyes to a different way to experience a brand.


Creative Keys x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: Visual Appeal in Designing the Path to Purchase - Packaging Redesign

“Most consumer purchasing decisions are purely instinctive and reactive. Eye-tracking studies show that consumers read on average only seven words in an entire shopping trip, buying instinctively by color, shape and familiarity of location. Best sellers succeed by appealing to the reptilian brain, which decides before logic has a chance.”  Therefore it is incredibly important as designers and developers we prioritize how to best present a product to a consumer during their self-guided walk through retail aisle, appealing first to aesthetic sensory, what something looks like, and secondly logic, by explanation of product features and benefits via titles and descriptive copy, telling the consumer what it does. - Delanie West 

"Excerpt from Before and After: A Product Developer's Notes - Re-designing packaging to give a product new life. "