Gazing into the crystal ball

We are almost a full month into 2018 and I still keep coming across predictions about the year ahead. Pantone makes their predictions on the color of the year. Another will prognosticate on the hot buttons for adverts. Still someone else speculates on what’s the latest trend for logo design. Lately, I keep coming across tons of predictions for what’s ahead for UX

Here’s the funny thing: I’m hoping the creative community reads all these predictions, takes them to heart and does their very best to make them all come true. That way I will know which directions to NOT go.

Week links, #03

Designer interview tests: should designers write?
… if good designers write, could a written exercise be part of a designer’s recruitment process? Because, truthfully, if you can’t write, can you design?

Why Business Design is the Most Important Skill of the Future
The times of pure Design Thinking are over: Certainly, the last years have seen the rise of Design Thinking and similar processes (most lately design sprints) that help entrepreneurs and managers to create more user-centered products and services. They are great tools to spawn desirability in customers. Nevertheless, they often fall short in creating a sustainable business model. Business Design is the remedy to this problem.

Along those same lines…

Your Business Model Is Like A Yoghurt, And 7 Other Lessons From Alexander Osterwalder

Five Ad Creatives Share Their Treasured Finds
Tim Brunelle, Rosie Geozalian, Nitin Srivastava, Enrique Renta and Nellie Kim share their favorite resources.

Annals of Small Town Life: The Logo Stops Here
This essay was originally published in September 2006, when Jessica Helfand lived in Falls Village, CT. We urge you to read it again because the Connecticut Department of Transportation is considering scrapping the historic Herbert Matter “NH” logo and colors on all commuter trains as part of a rebranding effort. We urge you to contact CTDOT and/or your local state representative to express your opinion.

The Lesser-told Stories of the Women Who Shaped Herman Miller
Let’s try something new: a telling of Herman Miller’s graphics history through its notable women designers.

Chain Letters: Richard Ting
This interview is part of an ongoing Design Observer series, Chain Letters, in which we ask leading design minds a few burning questions—and so do their peers, for a year-long conversation about the state of the industry.

Also from Mr Ting:

The Atomization of Your Brand Experience
The media fragmentation train continues to roll on. While the desktop internet has evolved into mobile, mobile has evolved into social, social is now evolving into messenger apps, and technologies such as smartwatches, chatbots, and voice assistants are giving consumers even more touchpoints to connect with brands. For brands, it creates the challenge of representing itself beyond just a logo signifier or as just a single channel experience. At R/GA, our belief is that a brand shouldn’t be about just signifiers, but that your brand equals the experiences that you design, create, and connect together for consumers across all channels.

And a few thought pieces…

Everyone’s a copywriter. Right? I really like Clare.

Technology And Wisdom

Up the wall

Asshole Is Not Another Word for Creative Genius
Ernie is a genius, by the way.

Please don’t kill the blogs
An open note to Google from Seth Godin

Starting with a blank sheet of paper

Starting with a blank sheet of paper can be intimidating. Most would agree it’s much easier to start when something is already there.

I’ve never been one to pick up where someone left off. I find it easier – and more challenging – to capture the idea and nurture it to maturity rather than pass it off to an adoptive parent.

Carrying that analogy further, I do, however, indeed benefit from a nanny intervening at times. Someone to proof me, make sure that I’m still a fit parent and rising my idea to become a proper citizen of the world.

In Keith Richards’s autobiography Life that came out a couple of years, he talks about being able to start a song but getting stuck at a certain point. Almost every time. That’s where Mick Jagger’s brilliance came in. He was able to pick up where Keith left off.

I suppose some of this is the difference between writers and editors, or designers and production artists. All are valuable in making the final product shine.

When confronted by a blank sheet of paper (or screen), ready to create something, I almost always hear in my head the opening chords to Sonic Youth’s The Empty Page.

But that’s all right
You’re here to stay
Sing out tonight
The empty page

Sonic Youth, The Empty Page


When I grow up

This past week I listened to a lengthy interview with Paul Weiland. If an interview is a good one, it gets you to thinking. About the interviewee’s life and yours.

I heard a number of parallels between me and Weiland. A passion for advertising, hard working and asthmatic to name a few. But I also heard differences.

He talked a lot about wanting to be a director, even from early on in his career. This got me to thinking about why I got into the business and where I want to go.

I never wanted to be an artist or a photographer or illustrator or painter or printer or anything else other than a designer. Part of it is that I’ve always had a passion for ephemera and communications that are of a graphic nature.

Ahhh … a page from the 1977 Letraset catalog. Heaven!

The other part of it is that I could never be an artist. Really.

I could never be an artist because I’m not particularly good at initiating a project out of me own head. Yes, I have inspiration and I think about things all the time — like a series of t-shirts I have in mind at the moment — but I’ve never have this burning urge to express myself that way artists do.

Latest idea rumbling around in my head – a series of t-shirts.

Rather, I take immense pleasure in helping other people realize their vision and bring their ideas to life. Even better, if someone tells me what they are wanting to do and they let me go figure out the best way to achieve it. Problem solving.

I’ve always wanted to be a designer, never anything else.

Sure, I might call myself (and even be) an Art Director, a Creative Director, Production Artist or a Webmaster, but at the heart of it all I will always be a capital “D” Designer.

This is mainly because I have a very designerly approach to life and work. It doesn’t matter if I’m working on a new ad campaign, a fresh graphic identity or writing a business proposal, I use the same methods every time.

Charles Eames, considered one of the greatest designers of the 20th century, always thought of himself first and foremost a craftsman. I’ve always liked that. Too many creative folks struggle with who they are and who they want to be. If you want to make art, grow a pair and get your art out into the world. If you want to write novels, get out of the agency biz the Peter Mayle did.

Be true to yourself and you will come out in your work, even if you feel you have nothing to say.