As we approach the final post here at Be A Design Group I have been reflecting on how I have changed as a designer since my first post here four years ago. As I strive to be a better designer, the list of attributes that I try to emulate are things that on the surface don’t have much to do with design. Here are some characteristics that don’t normally get mentioned on most lists of designer skills…
You know the kind of person who seems to know a little bit about everything? No, not that know-it-all who always wins at trivial pursuit. I am talking about the kind of person who can have a meaningful conversation with anyone from a surgeon to an olympic athlete to a trash collector. A curious person asks intelligent questions and can pull comparisons from diverse and relevant fields. Designers are always working with different people and it should be obvious how valuable it is to be genuinely curious about our clients and their lives.
Design is a frustrating business. I doubt there is a perfect client and teaching and explaining will always be a part of our job. Software will always have bugs and computers will crash. If you can master the art of being patient you will have an advantage over the designers who are always complaining about clients/bosses/software.
An true act of kindness comes from sympathy. I am not saying that we should feel sorry for everybody, but if we can learn to sympathize with people’s situations then good things will happen. We all care about design, but if our insistence on good design overshadows what our clients or co-workers care about then we aren’t doing our job. An atmosphere of kindness will breed good design.
Being the best designer in the world is a tough burden to bear. The hardest part is continually convincing people how great you are. Sometimes it is hard to find the time to do an interview. If you don’t toot your own horn a little bit, your monograph might get lost in the shelves at Barnes and Noble. Perhaps the design celebrities can get away with this kind of arrogance, but the rest of us could benefit from a more humble stance.
Don’t you just stand in awe of great communicators? I think there is a raw talent aspect to great communicators that most of us will never attain. For those of us without natural speaking ability, the best we can do is be aware of how we communicate – good and bad. Try to sense how people are reacting to what you are saying. As you listen to people’s response notice how their words affect you and respond (not react) in a manner that hopefully they can connect with. Do you speak with lectures when a brief response will do? Do you use marketing language that sounds like hot air? Are you agreeing, just to be agreeable? Do you know when to speak up and defend your work? By being sensitive of how you communicate you can only get better at communicating.
At the end of the day, designing a logo is relatively easy. Being a good person is the real challenge. I believe that it isn’t enough for a good designer to just do good work. A good designer must also be a good person. What are some virtues that you believe help make a better designer?