It’s Friday! the end of the week, and as I look back over the weeks activities I, like most graphic designers, can’t help but ask myself;
Did I really do good work?
Was I just hacking my way through that last website design, or did I actually create something to be proud of?
Is the client going to hate my ideas and if he does, can I come up with a better idea/solution, or am I tapped out?
Will I have to go back to scrubbing toilets?
I think inside every designer there is that little (or sometimes not so little) voice that is constantly poking and jabbing, saying “you call that good?” And what I’ve come to realize is that on the one hand, that voice can move you to never give up in the pursuit of quality work. On the other hand, unless you get control of that voice and learn how to tell it to SHUSH every now and again, you’ll be stuck in a spiral of dissatisfaction.
So, over the years, I’ve learned a few helpful things to combat this internal dialogue. One of the things I like to do is ask myself, “What would Rand do?” And by Rand I mean, Paul Rand. Now don’t tell me you don’t know who Rand is. Well, maybe you don’t know the man, but you definitely know his work. Paul Rand was the designer behind the logos we see everyday such as IBM, ABC and UPS. Not to mention Westinghouse and NEXT (the computer company started by Steve Jobs…). And so Rand had a few philosophies that still hold true today, even in this technology-driven, interactive society in which we live. Here are a few gems:
“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.”
– Classic stuff. Undoubtedly, somebody somewhere may have had the same idea as you. And some people are better at things than others. So just try to be as good as you can. Funny thing about this methodology is that invariably you end up coming up with something that’s not just good but great.
“Order, variety, contrast, symmetry… the language of form.”
– No matter what, good design always contains these elements. It doesn’t matter if it’s a product, a logo, a website or a car. Good design always speaks the language of form.
“No matter how perfectly you do something, it can still be improved.”
– So true, so true. Though one should not settle for mediocrity, perfection is an illusive fantasy that can never be achieved.
So what’s the point. The point is that no matter what your job is, or which big company you own or work for, just do the best you can. Sometimes graphic designers really push themselves and other times we might “phone it in.” And sometimes we over exert ourselves when we’ve actually done enough. Truth be told if we can see it, it’s graphic; and if it’s graphic, it’s art. At the end of the day, web design is an interesting business, but at it’s core, it is still just design which falls squarely under the banner of art.
All I know is that if Paul Rand was designing websites today, he would treat it as what it truly is; art. In other words, he would use design as an approach, not as an afterthought. And I can guarantee it wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be good!