Over the summer, I read a thought provoking tweet and was intrigued by the author’s perspective.
Between getting kids back to school and a bit of travel and reflection, I’ve had some time to think about it. Personally, I agree with him.
I believe good design is thoughtful and has a purpose. It can be minimalist or maximalist. It doesn’t really matter. Just be original.
I recently had a great conversation with a friend who moved to New York City in the late 1990s. He owns and runs an agency just like TWIST. I asked what he thought about the evolution of creativity in the city and what has changed in recent years. His answer: “Isolation.”
Even in the Design Capital of the World where creativity is celebrated and creative risks are taken, we are finding the death of aesthetics. We are working alone, becoming more dependent on social channels and screens for ideation.
We live in a “copy and paste” world where everyone — I mean everyone — rips off ideas from Pinterest, Behance, and the like. Sad but true, we have all succumbed to this method of working, myself included.
With this, trends have evolved. The criteria of good design have changed. We all know social media is a blessing and curse! We adore it, are addicted to it, and despise it at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong. I truly love Pinterest and use it as a source for inspiration. However, I pride myself on being a bit old school when it comes to design thinking and process. What does this mean? Design is in the details. It takes time to appreciate the beauty. The details might be subtle, and with everyone moving so fast, there isn’t time to notice.
This leads to the homogenization of design. We are living in an Instagram world. How have we lost the distinct visual experiences that once inspired us? How did this happen?
— A loss of individuality.
— A loss of craftsmanship.
— A loss of “thinking” in creative solutions.
— A loss of taking risks.
Add in clients wanting everything faster and creatives trying too hard to mimic what they see on social channels. There’s also the over saturation of design references on the internet, allowing creatives to pull from established models. Our industry is seeing a rising number of professionals who think they are graphic designers but have little design training; they simply know how to use the software. They have never worked three-dimensionally. They have never looked at a paper sample.
— Let’s get people back to working in-person.
— Let’s reconnect as teams.
— Let’s have conversations.
— Let’s listen to each other.
— Let’s have designers collaborate with writers and content teams to bring brand stories to life — words and visuals.
Mature creatives can certainly learn a lot from their younger colleagues — reverse mentoring – which I truly enjoy! I’m always learning more efficient ways of working with technology and new perspectives on global movements. Gaining knowledge and insight from my team has been very positive.
In the same way, less experienced creatives can learn “old school” techniques: sketching, brainstorming, and getting thoughts down on paper. At TWIST, we even “cut and paste” in real life when workshopping a project, creating mood boards on the walls or printing pages of large annual reports. Moving them, taking them down, using tape: it’s fun, collaborative, and creates in-person synergy among teams.
My advice to young creative minds: Spend more time when outside of work away from your screens. Go explore. Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the music we listen to, different cultural experiences we have, conversations with friends and family, travel, museums, restaurants, and the food we eat, your next-door neighbor, the colors and textures of nature, and all of our day-to-day surroundings.
In my same trip to NYC, I had a conversation with my daughter, a sophomore at Parsons School of Design. After looking at a fashion exhibit at The Met with beautiful, intricate gowns from the past, she said “I wish women still dressed like this.”
“This is your time,” I told her. “You are the new generation of changemakers. Gen Z’s can bring any aesthetic back with a fresh perspective.”
My message to you is the same. Study the past to revitalize the new. Start by drawing inspiration from life. This is where the magic happens.
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