#30doc - Day one
Some lovely typographic and inspirational wallpaper!
Look out for tomorrow and the rest of my thirty days of creativity!!
Why should other people care about design if you the designer doesn’t?
Do you spend that extra half an hour in the studio or college, to maximise your potential, or do you skip off into the sunshine?
It is incredibly hard balancing lecturing, designing and life, but you know, I just manage to do…
New post over at Designlecturer!!
For @createstuff between June 1st & 30th we will do something creative each and everyday and post it up on the blog.
Please please follow us here » jamesy & gemma designs
and find out more about the challenge here:
We are both lecturers and graphic designers so will probably warm up with some of our work and work we like!
Hey guys! If you haven’t read this issue of Ampersand yet…..why on earth not?!?!
(Also can people reblog this so more and more people will see it?? I never usually ask for such things but please just this one time? Thank you lovelies!)
Don’t forget you can also be in the next issue by answering a simple question…
‘What does creativity mean to you?’
Same as before:
REMEMBER TO INCLUDE…..
Your website/blog/portfolio address
A photo of yourself!
‘What does creativity mean to you?’
Same as before:
REMEMBER TO INCLUDE…..
Your website/blog/portfolio address
A photo of yourself!
This is my column in Ampersand explaining why I have worked so hard in whatever spare time I have to get the project off the ground. Laura kindly drew me last minute, and I’m really glad she did - please head over and read my column as you may understand just why i’m so passionate about creativity!
Now let me put this into context, I sat with my a few of my students today looking at concepts which could help them further their current project, when we clicked over to www.thedieline.com - a site I regularly use and peruse to see new exciting designers and design work. We sat there and looked at one design, and we all came to the same conclusion. Over the duration of this post you’ll hopefully understand our reaction to it and why it created such a strong sense of feeling amongst us - so sorry if this is really long (clairewaterworth!!) but please try and stick with it.
The design which caused so much reaction was a simple redesign of an ice cream brand. The brand in question was ‘Mr Creemy’ a localised brand of ice cream usually only available in Wales and the redesign was handled by Bluegg, a ‘design’ agency from the Welsh capital Cardiff.
Now; before I go any further, you can go read the post at the dieline before reading mine if you want, just to make sure I’m giving you the chance to be objective: www.thedieline.com/blog/2010/11/19/before-after-sub-zero.html
Back to my original question, creative design, why bother? Whilst reading through the post at the Dieline we all started to get annoyed at the blatant ‘inspiration’ that has obviously informed the design process here. So annoyed, the question of why are they even bothering to learn to be creative and individual when this sort of design can win awards was risen.
The fact that this design has won an award we all felt sickened by. Yes, it is a nice slick design, much more modern than the previous packaging, but really? It won an award? (and no it wasn’t an award for most blatant ‘lifts’ from other designs)
The fact that we could all sit down and name at least half a dozen different products it riffed on is testament to not only my students observations in graphic design (which was slightly reassuring as their tutor!) but the fact that Bluegg have obviously not thought about the exposure such an award would bring to the product.
Kevin Jenkins, Chief ice cream maker said, ‘I couldn’t have asked for more from Bluegg . They have created a completely new brand, which is vibrant and imaginative. Their approach is always full of personality which is why they’ve been able to capture everything that Subzero is about.’”
Now I have to admit, I have somewhat experience in this field which is why I feel that I can pass comment. Whilst working as a graphic designer, I too worked on a brand of ice cream only available in Wales, which had a rich heritage, but wanted a modern twist, without compromising and neglecting their history. They were incredibly demanding clients, but we all worked really hard to ensure that we captured everything they were about. Now when you reflect on the statement from Kevin Jenkins, take a moment, try and consider what ‘Subzero’ is about…..Typography? Black? Waitrose? Simple?
First off, my students thought it was a beauty brand, a bit like Lush, someone else pointed out it looked like Gu puddings, another said it was like EAT. and another championed the similarities of it to the Waitrose range of food. You see as disgusted as I was when first faced with this design, the true annoyance I had was when we opened up the ‘exciting and creative’ website. Now a picture says a hundred words, so look at the homepage and play count the rip offs……
It defies explanation.
If all this sounds a bit harsh for something so insignificant, well you might have missed the point. Its not the blatent rip offs that disappoint me within this design, it is the fact that a ‘well-known’ design consultancy has so clearly been quite uncreative with a design but yet it has been positioned into being able to be referred to an award winning packaging design. What message does this send to the next generation of designers such as the ones I am working with?
I try to push every single one of my students to be as creative and individualistic as they possibly can, whether it is creating their own typography, their own photography and most specifically not to make their work look like something else. Then they see something like this that makes them despondent.
It isn’t forward thinking, it is not exciting and it most definitely isn’t ’21st century’.
This is a case of Bluegg liking a style and positioning it to the client, the client should always come first, and never be asked to compromise the integrity of their product, whether directly or indirectly.
Obviously many design consultancies have their own style and use similar layouts and direction in different designs, but if you go through Bluegg’s website you can see many similarities on other pieces, not even nice direction at that.
I just feel sorry for really creative designers and students that can either not get get into design consultancies, or will be asked to compromise their creativity for the sake of the ‘house style’. At a time when designs like this are ‘award winning’ I really fear for the creative industry, because consultancies like this will continue to diminish the creative pool, as more companies are swayed by the label of ‘Award Winning Design Consultancy’ (again something that the boss of the consultancy I worked at used to labour to every new client, and it grated on me even then) Design and creativity should be measured in success and public reaction, and I would be very surprised that if this ‘rebrand’ would increase revenue sufficiently to label such a drastic change as ‘award winning’.
Street Advertising (obviously mocked up :/ )
So thank you if you have continued to read through this post, because I know it was long (and a bit of a rant!) but it really is an issue that really concerns me, as it appears this type of situation is becoming more and more of a regular occurrence.
So i’ll finish by giving you some links so you can make your own decisions!
(please be aware this is all personal opinion, and not a direct attack on anyone!)
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.