It’s great to get some insight into how some of your heroes think. This slideshow from the New York Times shows the step by step process that John Maeda went through to design a cover for their real estate supplement, Key magazine.
I’m a big believer in the use of intuition, letting your experiences and senses be your guide. Intuition has a down side, which is that in a process-oriented culture following your instincts can make it impossible for others to really understand, or participate in, the design process. But this slideshow has some simple examples where Maeda clearly just made decisions because it looks better. I like that. I like the crappiness but effectiveness of his thumbnail sketches, too. They’re unfinished and raw, leaving plenty to the imagination.
I seem to really pick up on heroes who are information visualizers at heart, and Maeda is another of those. His work is probably some of the more early examples that I ever saw of what he calls kinetic design. This stuff is more commonplace now, but he really pre-dated some of the guys who came later in the Flash scene, like Joshua Davis. His early work of calendars and greetings cards for Shiseido particularly inspired me. Most of his work is available on this site, although I’m having trouble running a lot of it because of Java plug-in issues.