I got inspired by Cobbenhagen Hendriksen’s ABC Primer — Rainbow Series to create a rainbow series of my own. Screen printed posters are now in the works, with each featuring an aspect of a project and something that I learned through the process of working on that project. These posters will be functional to me in two different ways:
• They require me to go back through my work from the past 4 years and reflect upon what I’ve learned throughout, which is fitting as I near the end of school.
• The second reason is a secret (but will be disclosed soon, sorry!)
What follows is 13 things that I’ve learned thus far at school. All are subject to change, replacement, disappearing, etc. at any given time—I’m always learning.
A foundation is required to push things too far.
You have to have some measure of a start to really begin experimenting and playing, and for something to be broken it must first be made. This means learning how to kern letters by cutting them out and gluing them back together, even if it’s tedious and painful—the fundamentals will last a long time.
“There is beauty in everything but not everyone sees it.” — Confucius
But often designers help people see beauty. Thus, when approaching design, I must not ask “How should it look?” but rather “What must it do?” But this must still be balanced with aesthetics, for “If the practical solution is not appealing, we know it’s wrong.”
Walt Whitman wrote, “The greatness of sons is the exuding of the greatness of mothers and fathers.” Family is present in the beginning, middle, and end of our lives, however we define it—it’s an important investment. For myself this includes my immediate family, friends, and my Father.
Design comes from the heart.
It should mean something to us, especially if want our work to mean something to others.
You can represent people as data but they’re still people.
It is essential to remember as designers that we can use data and even photographs to build an argument, but the people that comprise that data and the people in those photographs are still people. We must retain a sense of empathy.
“A good designer is a great listener.” — Jennifer Morla
The client usually has the answer, we just need to listen for it. If we aren’t hearing it, it doesn’t hurt to ask and look for it.
Designing requires a lot of trust.
We need to trust in others, and especially trust in ourselves—trust in our instinct and intuition. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” said a fortune cookie that I once opened.
Discover through making.
To conceptualize is good, but it cannot be everything. Often more is discovered through the process of making (especially with our hands) than thinking. And besides, it’s enjoyable.
“Too many stylists, not enough designers.” — Jon Sueda
Design that’s an inch wide and miles deep is better than design that is miles wide but only an inch deep.
Limitations beget creativity.
Creativity inherently exists because it is required. In the face of the enormous and immovable is when new solutions shine and arise, and there’s no limitation like a deadline.
“A rut is also a groove.” — Christopher Simmons
Just because we get stuck doesn’t mean we have to stop moving forward.
Design is for others—go outside.
It’s easy to forget about the world while working long hours in our rooms in front of computers. Nothing grants perspective like seeing nature (i.e. Grand Canyon) and realizing that we are very, very small.
“This is supposed to be fun.” — Bob Aufuldish
Being a designer involves every emotion on the spectrum and a lot of sleep-deprivation, but ultimately it’s a blessing—not everyone can do it.
That’s it for now. I got tired towards the end and began writing less and less, but I hope it’s sincere.
If you have any feedback or questions, please send them to me—thanks!