Is it enough that something looks good?
Any discussion about graphic design or marketing these days, often
centers around some seriously pragmatic concepts; e.g. process,
demographics, psycho-graphics, testing groups, eye-movement-tracking,
data-mining, and the list goes on and on… We become so wrapped up in the
mechanics, that we sometimes completely lose the plot. I’m not
suggesting that these processes & methodologies aren’t useful. If
nothing else, they give us a place to start, as well as inform our
creative decisions. For most creatives, that can be half the battle.
However; the best graphic designers have always kept a dark, dirty
little secret… which is that we believe (or half believe, did I mention
secretly?) that graphic design is an art. That a beautifully crafted
environment or filmed advertisement, whatever the medium, can in fact be art. Most of us fear that were this to get out to our clients, they’d fire us on the spot! So, what we’re supposed to present is a
cold, calculated way to influence the influential, and manipulate a
market into remembering or buying a said brand or widget.
My experiences thus far have been very interesting though. I have seen
again and again, that at the very center of every ‘great campaign,’
there was a spark of genius somewhere. It likely came from a very
inspired designer, or two, who completely connected. May or may not have
had reams of market data to look at ahead of time, but really these
things require more instinct than rationale. Somehow or another, they got
it – instantly, or were passionate about the subject, or maybe loved the
client enough; and stumbled upon that vision that makes great design
great. Most times this person is hidden away from the actual client by
an agency, and the poor soul never gets a stitch of credit. And from
this tiny spark comes the entire campaign. Commercials, billboards,
marketing collateral of all shapes and sizes; but now from a completely
pragmatic point of view… And, the look is cut up, rearranged and
beaten to death, until everyone is sick of it and no one can remember
what the heck they liked about it in the first place. Sounds depressing,
but actually this is what keeps us working. Quick summary: Come up with
great idea > Implement and refine > Beat to death > and Repeat. It’s
what makes the design/agency world go round. Plus, we’ll throw in at
least three account execs to show you test group footage.
All that said, what makes me get out of bed, what makes me love this craft, is
creating better and better work every time I pick up a pencil. My
favorite design is the one I’m working on; and I want to design work I
like. No, love. So there, I’m out of the design closet. I love design and
it’s art. Please don’t tell anybody.
A Note on the Business of Creativity by Joseph Steck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.