Category Archives: training

Designers are Wankers

by Lee McCormack

I don’t know about that. But the author of this book is certainly a wanker. He’s aiming pretty low with this stuff, although to be fair, the sleeve clearly states that this is a book for those entering the profession… basically just-graduated newbies. McCormack wants to teach them the practical aspects of the design profession, the business side of things, or at least, how to deal with those on the business side.

But first of all, maybe he could define the design profession. Because he never explicitly states it, but gradually we become aware that he is talking about industrial/product design. Sure, there are aspects that any designer – graphic, web, magazine, etc. – can benefit from. But only if they don’t know much at all! Here’s McCormack’s view of his target audience:

“Being a designer, or being creative in any way, seems to make this transition [from education to the workforce] even harder than usual. You are at a disadvantage when it comes to relating to the needs of industry because studying creativity actively takes you away from it. You are emotional, insider, idealistic, ambitious, intelligent and thoughtful, but have little grasp of what makes industry tick. You are pumped up with ideas that can change the world, holding the view that no-one else seems to understand where it’s all going or how good it could be. Creative personalities like designers tend to be almost child-like…when making the leap into the professional design business, the designer can find it a struggle to relate to more mundane, financial or business aspects.”

McCormack’s first advice is to adapt the business mindset:

“It is important to apply the business mindset to design. The business mind then becomes a yardstick for measuring the design. That is not to say that it is the only yardstick by which a design can be measured–there are, of course, others, such as its purpose, its relevance, its relationship with other design, its commercial success, the ability to manufacture and distribute the product, and whether people are receptive to it.”

Er, okay…

“It’s important to be able to understand the business mind. The business mind is always looking at the broader picture. The business mind has to account for all the factors surrounding an idea. The business mind has a measure of detachment from its work. It gives a project a sense of purpose and realism and often applies a logic that well-read people who aren’t designers don’t always consider.”

Am I really reading this? The assumed reader is a college graduate, right?!

One of his key pieces of advice for budding designers is to develop their own style:

“Try to find out what your own style is. Look through your work and notice the common threads that run through it. This may just be he starting point of something you can develop. When you find your vibe, look at it, explore it, play with it; it will become your asset. It will become the unique offering that separates you from everybody lee, and it will be something you can rely on in the future. You shouldn’t feel stuck to it, however; let it evolve and develop naturally using your experiences of life and how you relate to the world around you. Ask yourself these questions:

What are you interested in?
What do you believe in?
What are you searching for?
What are you trying to create?
What is the point?”

Maybe it’s just my jaded and bitter mature self that finds all of this very obvious and trite. Perhaps if I’d read the book when I was just starting out, it would’ve made me a better designer, or a better freelancer at the very least. But I’ve learned the hard way? And if I recognize all of this as true and obvious, then, well, so it is. And the younger designers may benefit. And I’m a wanker.

Category: design, training | Tags: , ,