The easy answer is probably.
You see, I love design. Properly love it. When i’m out and about I analyse things I see, remember things that may influence stuff I do in future, and talk about it a hell of a lot. But I have this nagging doubt now that the things I used to like, which used to influence me, just don’t anymore.
For example, Kidrobot. Now don’t get me wrong I loved this stuff, you wouldn’t have found anyone more excited when they had a pop up shop in Selfridges in London, or when I found out they were actually opening a London store. However, I don’t want any of it anymore. I look at the Dunny ranges, and feel uninspired with them, i don’t care for them any more. Designers like Huck Gee, even though I would be (and have been in the past) destroyed for saying my reaction to his work is ‘meh’, I really feel that designers like this are living of their reputation, and are being far from creative anymore. What was once fun and different has been replaced with mundane repetition. I use Huck Gee as an example because this guy could spit on a piece of paper and some
fools collectors would pay exorbitant amounts for it. They are buying ‘Huck Gee’ rather than buying what they like.
Now I am not saying for one minute that I don’t think that Huck Gee isn’t a good designer, just one that has found his style, settled into a routine, churns out a few limited or one off pieces, sticks them on ebay, and makes a fortune. He then dishes out designs for the blind boxes, of which none have blown me away for a few years. I mean, if you could do that, make the money, then we all would - I just feel that this sends the wrong message out to up and coming designers.
I would never encourage my students to play it safe with design. Design is about taking risks, thats why we are designers. If I wanted to play it safe, or for them to play it safe I would tell them to go and work in Tesco. As a designer it is the opportunity to inspire those around you with your work and creativity that should drive you forwards. To not play it safe and to set trends and develop them rather than replicate and follow trends.
A designer I knew very well, when overlooked for a position within a consultancy that offered me a position actually said to me ‘Why did they offer YOU a job, I’m a much better designer than you?’. I have never forgot this, and it still pushes my creativity to this day. The simple answer is that I took risks. I didn’t care if someone told me my end product was crap, as long as I was happy that I had produced something that was my own, oh it may well have had influences from other designers, but the key was to have it inform and direct my own creativity, than than try to replicate what I wanted to produce in their style. This is what the other designer used to do. Take whatever was flavour of the month design-wise with them, and shoehorn it in whatever they were working on. Well of course their end product was supremely polished, because they knew what it should look like. Design should be about breaking new ground, opening up new experiences to the masses and encouraging others to explore their creativity. You should be exploring you own end product, and there is nothing more exciting, but fear-inducing as the halfway stage in a project where you don’t know whether its going to turn out ok or not.
Which leads me back to my original question, do I think I am a design snob?
Well for all intents and purposes, yes, possibly, probably. Do I care? Not really.
I wish that sometimes that some areas of the design industry would take the chip off their shoulder, the one that rubs so many ‘non-designers’ up the wrong way. Yes we can all laugh at the amateur use of comic sans, or clip art in someone’s design, but when all is said and done, they don’t need an ‘expert’ to patronise them. They know they aren’t designers, thats why they approach design agencies to assist them and their businesses, but on the token, this is why people are going it alone and not consulting design agencies. I know many people who have been patronised and belittled when dealing with ‘well-known’ consultancies, made to feel stupid, and forced into going along with the ‘style’ of the consultancy. This is where I feel ashamed to have been a part of this industry, people don’t trust designers, not like they used to. People are more informed these days and rightly can make an informed decision about the direction of their project. There is an air of arrogance that surrounds many designers, who find their own self importance much more of a concern than the needs of Mr Smith the local butcher who wants to revamp his business, but to maintain his heritage, snow ploughing him into things he may not have the fortitude to disagree with, considering they are the ‘professionals’.
Now I am not saying that I have not been guilty of this in the past, because I have been. You almost get pushed to be self confident to a fault in an agency, and because there is such an atmosphere of self competition, it can cause many issues to arise. I left the mainstream industry and I am totally glad that I did. I would not like to become the person I found myself becoming whilst working in the industry ever, and I would rather be snobby about design, and what I like and dislike within design than to think I knew better than everyone else. It is my opinion on design which matters to me, it isn’t my place to tell others what good and bad design is, we are created to be objective, and thats what everyone should be. Just because I don’t like comic sans, doesn’t mean you are wrong to like it…….
but you are.
I don’t know where I stand within design anymore, have I hit a point where the design cycle is passing me by and I am starting to get fed up of current trends? Maybe. All I know is that each and every day I find something new that I love, every day seeing something different, created by some of the most creative people in the world. Do I care that I won’t be fawning over Huck Gee’s new releases? Not at all, but then again, he probably doesn’t care what I think either.