Just a quick note this morning. I spoke yesterday to Mitch's graphic design class at Rhode Island College. Saw one of my professors too - Nanch Bockbrader sat in on my lecture. I have to admit - that was pretty cool. Much of what I do and how I work as a designer was shaped by Nancy. She was adamant about being able to communicate about design: what you did, how you came to the choices you made about typography, why you used particular color palettes. Every project had to have an accompanying paper - could be only a paragraph or two - but it had to clearly educate the reader on your process and point. As a designer - that's critical.
Paul Boag talked about this on the most recent Boagworld podcast that they recorded at this year's SxSW. The segment was actually the audio track to his presentation on 'Pain Free Design Signoff'. The 'pain free' part is actually referring to the client, and much of the pain they experience, and in turn do we, can be mitigated by better communication on our part. He talks about making sure that communication is there from the start, and can help bring the client along for the journey and ensure that they are sitting next to you at the table, not across. This simple analogy is really important: next to you versus across, which is automatically an oppositional position. By talking to your client and giving them some of your education and explanation about why a particular color is used or font selected, you help keep them part of the process, strengthen their understanding of your expertise and focus them on what they know best (their business and their customers) and trusting your exptertise in design.
My lecture was focused on Web Strategy and why understanding the web and how it relates to what they know now about graphic design. I've always been involved in design, technology and strategy with the web - since the first days of college at RIC. Studying design, working in Publishing Services on campus making the school's first web site (testing in Mosaic and Netscape 1!) and balancing that with the needs of the College set a course for me that has captured my attention for over 15 years.
I love what I do.
Really - it's a big thing to me. I love this stuff. I'm passionate about it, think about it, read about it, write about it, speak about it. All the time (sometimes to my darling wife's chagrin). And that's why I quit the agency where I was working for a couple years last fall. I wasn't in love with getting up and doing my job. I was actually pretty miserable. So I left. I wanted to get that spark going into a raging flame again, and I'm happy to say that it's worked. I'm working with great clients, doing just the kind of work that I love, and am getting to write and speak about it more and more. Reading DRiVE for the Business Innovation Factory's book club this past month really sharpened that notion for me, and reminded me just how important it is. If you love what you do, that passion carries over to those you do it for. It's a self-reinforcing cycle.
I love what I do.
I also love how things relate. I was listening to the podcast on my way down to Newport to work with newschoolyard on their new CMS platform for independent schools, which has me all kinds of fired up. I'm acting as the 'platform architect' and it is a fantastic project. From there it was off to RIC to talk to students about design and web strategy. Paul's SxSW talk was a perfect fit, and was definitely part of my talk.
I guess that's part of being a designer - seeing connections and relationships between things that spark even more ideas an intersections. Guess that's just another reason.
I love what I do. Find your own passion for what you do. It's a pretty great way to feel every morning.
Thanks Mitch for inviting me to talk, and encouraging me to teach. Thanks also to Nancy, Hee Mong and Charlie for getting me started on this path.