The other day, we have been talking to a graphic designer about our magazine, and she mentioned the two basic approaches to putting an issue together – content first and design first. The former is about writing stories, the latter is about art.

I realized that it is a useful framework for other creative projects as well. For example, with blogging, I’ve been thinking that a neat productivity hack would be focus the posts around photographs. Simply letting the images speak for themselves and, at the extreme, allowing the viewers create their own narrative about them if they want. That would be analogous to the ‘design first’ approach.

Yet I personally prefer reading stories illustrated by images to watching slideshows with extended captions. Besides, every image has a story behind it, even if it is not necessarily a profound one. For example, this sketch could stand on its own, just as my doodling impression of a sunny day at the beach. But what makes it meaningful for me is that I made it trying out my birthday present – a set of design pens markers.