some old thoughts on design
About ten years ago I had the urge to—felt the compulsion—to put some pithy comments about my field of professional practice on my then website. Here they are, largely unedited.
Thorough design exploration almost always produces a few unplanned outcomes; and there's often room for the unexpected or unintended to be incorporated into a final design. Happy accidents do occur; the key is to know when to run with them and when to run away from them. 'Good accidents' can usually be understood and rationalized in formal or intellectual terms 'after the fact. Institutional
Whatever research reveals about the broad context a design will inhabit, it's just as important to understand the client's immediate context. Step into the client's shoes. The internal politics of any organization always play a role in the design process. If your work-product is perfectly suited to the larger context, but is untenable inside your clients organization for whatever reason; you've done nobody any favors.
Money is ugly, and awkward, and feels like the antithesis of 'creativity.' But money is here to stay and has a role play in every project; even 'pro-bono' projects have to be balanced out as an opportunity cost relative to paying work. Internalize the constraints of any budget at the outset of a project, then get creative maximizing the budget. It's much easier to accomplish great things with unlimited resources. Where's the challenge in that?
Design projects are amost always the result of a collaborative process. The collaboration might involve only the designer and the client, or it might also involve writers, photographers, developers, printers, and other specialists. The designer is usually in the center of the storm and must keep their eye on the ball at all times.
Some projects appear more interesting and exciting than others, but every project is an opportunity, and every project has the potential to be the best in some manner or context. Wether it be an opportunity to set perfect type, an exercise in working within an existing graphic standard, the potential for high financial reward, or the first tentative step in a new client relationship, every project has potential. If there is no potential, why take on the project?