Behind the Project: Subjective Guide to Life

In this series, we’ll look deeper into some of the projects on that were especially admired in our community. Michael Pharaoh is a New Zealand based graphic Designer. His other projects include a rebranding of Cadbury’s chocolate using 3-D modeling and a brand identity for a hypothetical bicycle club. We spoke with him about his recent project Michael’s Guide to Life, a guidebook based on personal experience and advice, modeled after family health books.

What was your inspiration for this project?
I personally just wanted a way to collect what I thought were important pieces of advice or skills I’ve picked up that have helped me through my life. I’ve always liked the design aesthetic of those big family health guidebooks, so I drew inspiration from that and wanted to create one for life.

Can you describe your process in creating this project?
First, I had to figure out what I wanted to call it, and what exactly I actually wanted in the book. I called it ‘Michael’s Guide to Life’ because my name is Michael and it’s my subjective guide to living life. I then wrote down what I thought was important and what I wanted in the book, later editing that down and then separating everything into sections (i.e; Advice I’ve Been Given, Skills That Are Handy, etc.) and designed the pages accordingly. I applied it to business cards, a notepad, USB storage drives, badges, pencils, letterheads and last, but not least, a scented candle.

Did you expect it to be as popular as it’s been on The Behance Network?
I was very pleasantly surprised at the attention it has garnered on Behance. I’ve actually never really had my work in the public eye before; so even starting a Behance profile was a step for me. Now that I have though, I can definitely see the value in it.

Did you go through many versions and iterations before coming up with these final pieces?
Definitely—not only visually, but also in terms of content. I had to do a lot of selective culling when it came to choosing what to actually put in the ‘Michael’s Guide to Life’

Do you feel that this project is “done,” or is there anything you’d like to improve on or change in the future?
My brain never really stops working, so when I’ve ‘finished’ a project I always think of ways I can keep going or add to it. I try to translate that line of thinking into a new project and go from there.

Did anything interesting happen as a result of the success of this project? (fans contacting you, job opportunities, blogs picking it up, etc).
Yes, I’ve been contacted for interviews regarding design and branding and also for my project to be featured in Computer Arts Magazine. A few blogs have asked if they can feature my work, to which I gladly agreed. A lot of fans have shown interest in the process of creating my work and have even asked for internships… but I’m 22 years old and still living at home, so I’m not sure if I can cater to that request! I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have Behance as a platform to launch my work into the public eye. It is humbling and amazing.

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