I Didn’t Snowboard, but I made Friends
And Also Had Epic Adventures at Montues, so.
Earlier this week I sat down in a local coffee shop to get started on the day’s work. I was immediately impressed by the stunning and precise drawings of the guy next to me. His work was true artistry. We struck up a conversation and I discovered that he was a freelancing architect. Our conversation was varied and reflective on art and design and he left the most significant impression when he told me, “It’s in their benefit for designers to give a s**t about what they do.”
Give a s**t. I think we’re all familiar with the topic of empathy — it’s a common thread of discussion in the design community, and for good reason. Care about the people who will be impacted by your design. Care about your designs because they will impact people. And care about the people who hired you to design in the first place because they often want to impact lives, too.
Research and experience has taught me that ‘sexy’ design isn’t always functional or useful design. There are times when we need to start on the opposite side of the spectrum and determine the best user experience through inquiry and research practices before first tackling the visual aspect. Oftentimes we approach the design from a surface perspective, designing for what we think people will find attractive, unaware of what the design truly needs to achieve.
As a creative, I strongly believe in the power of beautiful aesthetics. Visual design has its place and is an integral part of the design process. But I have also learned to prioritize designing for people with real needs. While there’s work out there that’s absolutely worthy of all those 💖s, those fans or followers aren’t always your end users.
Anyone who identifies as a designer has the responsibility of understanding their client and arming themselves to solve the problems that the client brings to the table. Perhaps this complicates the urge to focus primarily on the visuals, but it’s crucial to first build an informed foundation to design on. Value your client. Take the time to truly understand them and their product before the visual process even begins. This enables you to start implementing a thoughtfully crafted structure for success.
If you work with a team, lean heavily on collaboration. Each person has their own set of strengths, which, when brought together, can push projects to the next level. In my experience, working solo has often limited my creative output and the ability to problem solve towards workable solutions. Don’t isolate yourself from obtaining feedback.
Care about your work and about the people you design for. Care about solving problems and creating impactful products, rather than solely garnering the gratification of likes. Join forces with people you respect and learn from them. And lastly, never stop caring. Like my new coffee shop buddy astutely said, try giving a s**t.