We’ve been designing for a while now. Nowhere near as long as some, but a while. Without wanting to sound too nostalgic about it, things have changed a lot since we first set foot in the big, scary world of paid employment. Trends have come and gone (and come back again), technology has made huge steps forward, something called the internet has started up, and we have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to make a few waves…
But this post is not a moan about the good old days. We’re not here to whine about how everything was better when it was Freehand as far as the eye could see and young’uns these days don’t know they’re born. No. We want to talk about how little we know and how brilliant it is.
Not a day goes by without discovering (or being told) something that we were completely unaware of the day before. The amount we are yet to be educated is ridiculous. And we’re not talking about pub-quiz style general knowledge, we’re talking about design. The discipline we’ve been studying, consuming, critiquing, copying, talking about, arguing about, writing about and working with pretty much everyday since leaving school. At the risk of offending our dear readers, you still have a fair amount to learn too. Regardless of who you are, how long you’ve been in the game and how creaky your award shelf is, you don’t know it all yet and, sorry to break it to you – you never will.
To many people this might sound obvious and it would certainly be conceited to claim that we do in fact know everything there is to know about our specialist subject. But it is something that’s easily forgotten. The comfortable satisfaction of knowing what you’re doing because you’ve done it before can be a slippery slope. Left unchecked too long and before you know it your work begins to look the same and, even worse, you get bored.
How do you avoid this? Keep in mind how little you know. Someone I used to sit next to at a previous job kept a notebook on which she had written ‘Every Day is a School Day‘. She was a brilliant designer and her attitude towards finding out more about everything made her even brilliant-er. Every project has a multitude of learning opportunities buried in it, every client brief can teach you something you never realised you didn’t know, every person you talk to can impart knowledge (often unintentionally) that can help you become a better, more rounded designer. Every Day is a school day.
Things have changed. We know a lot more now than we did when we started and we now take for granted the knowledge we weren’t equipped with on our first day at work. But we’re not stopping now and neither should you. The things we’ve been taught over the years have shaped us as designers and we hold onto them dearly – but it’s the stuff we’re yet to discover that we’re excited about. The things that are going to surprise us, help us in ways we didn’t know we needed help and make us look at what we’re doing from a completely different angle, the best thing about them? We haven’t got a clue what they are yet.
Thanks for reading,
Phil & Tom