While I am in the midst of brainstorming the campaign, you are having Conversation #34 with the client about how they need to pony up the big bucks for the media buy. Or when I'm having a stakeholder interview with the ornery CEO, you are dutifully distilling our conversation into intelligent soundbites that easily weave into the user experience brief.
Can I imagine life without my trusty partner in (non)crime, the account manager?
After you've worked in a lot of creative shops, things start to blend together: hectic days, never-ending meetings, major deadlines looming like fiery blimps on the horizon just threatening to crash down and raze whole townships.
And then there's the art directors. At my first few agency jobs, I just couldn't figure out where they were coming from. Add more "air" to my layouts -- did you mean leading, sir? Shall we spend yet another hour pondering the esoteric quality of the letter "b" in a serif or sans serif typeface for that identity? Every new job seemed to bring a new personality to the table. I would need to learn to take feedback from them in a constructive manner.
I feel like I've been doing this long enough that I'm finally starting to recognize the various hats that we may wear throughout each day. (Some more so than others.)
Designers, do you recognize any of these characters as your boss? Art directors, did I miss any of our ilk?
The good old metaphor of the blind men and the elephant works in a pinch, but I think it's played out. With the advent of social media, we're sharing enough information about crappy brand experiences that you can see the whole elephant, and you know what? It's not an elephant. Elephants are big, hungry, fast-roaming, vegetarian, and kind of cute. It's more likely a DogCatCow. Today's poorly maintained brands are made of expressive mishmashes of competing behaviors that hide the true wonkiness within confused corporations. If your company barks like a dog, eats like a cow, and scratches at you mercilessly like a cat... then you know something is really wrong.
I'm teaching an hour of the New Media seminar at Seattle Central this Friday, and wanted to kick off my presentation with a little design humor. Of course, since the class is comprised of designers, photographers, and printers in equal measure, I couldn't just trot out the old "Why I am a Designer" chart and leave it at that...
This week, after reviewing a ton of portfolios, it struck me that the very best design work I've seen recently inspires calm, awe, and respect. Emotionally, my response to each piece of work was narrowly focused. I was feeling what the designer wanted me to feel.
The weaker design work, by contrast, caused a wider range of emotions. Since many of the pieces that I saw weren't cogent design, I would see what the designer was trying to do. The effect of the work was all over the map. Hence the above chart, which inverts the Richter Scale.
In an earthquake, as you zip up the Richter scale the magnitude (and destruction) increases exponentially. When reviewing portfolios, it's the opposite. Really great design work that makes an impact on society has an exponential, focused effect, but instead of leveling cities, it simplifies decisions and inspires emotions (including envy). Weaker design, on the other hand, destabilizes the populace and becomes another layer of visual clutter.