Design you dirty little whore

I’m sitting here on my couch, watching my wife watching some brain dead show on tv. It’s not too bad, it does what it’s supposed to, entertain. I should be preparing for this big workshop tomorrow, but I picked up a book instead. Needed to get out of my head for a minute. Didn’t really work, now I’m writing this (should have watched TV instead). The book I was reading was Tropic of cancer by Henry Miller. I’m about halfway. If you’re not offended by some explicit language and erotic writing, it’s a good read. Now here is the quote that got me thinking.

“Germain was a whore all the way through, even down to her good heart, her whore’s heart which is not really a good heart but a lazy one, an indifferent, flaccid heart that can be touched for a moment, a heart without reference to any fixed point within…”

I’m Germain, or that is. My design/work is Germain. It’s this flaccid, lazy and indifferent body of work that might get the motor running for a couple of minutes. But after awhile it’s just an empty, soulless shell. Why? Not 100% sure, but I think I might know one reason.

I’ve been working (professionally) as a designer for approximately 5 years now. And all along Ive been chasing the dream of making something mind-blowing, some never before seen, crazy ass shit. The kind of thing that wins every award, gets millions of views on Behance and makes it to the popular page on Dribbble. Thus far I haven’t come close. I’ve made some decent stuff, I’ve gotten a couple of followers here and there. But to be honest, most of my work has turned sour, lost its panache, fizzled out and faded. The flame burned strong for all about 15 likes and dissipated into the trendy-braindead fog that is Dribbble. I’m not going to blame everything on trends, because following trends is a huge part of being a designer. Especially when it comes digital design, where you have to stay updated or you will be outdated. This can, however, lead you to becoming (or at least your work) a huge heartless whore. Just like chasing trends, I’ve found chasing awards just as heartless and frivolous. Best case scenario you get to go on stage, show everyone how big your dick is. Then leave the stage while a predominantly bitter and jealous crowd (whom most of them believe their dick to be bigger and better than yours) give you an insincere round of applause. Worst case you don’t even get an honorable mention, leaving you not only feeling like a dirty whore, but an ugly bitter unfuckable one.

So how the hell do I avoid becoming an bitter, ugly, lazy, unfuckable whore? Avoid my work dissipating into the fog of mediocrity?

The only solution I’ve found, and also the one others I respect keep mentioning is, to find a reference point that is fixed to something within. Find out why you or your clients do what they do. Why are they proud of their business or product? Find that special something that makes them tick, and hopefully that will rub off on you. If it doesn’t or if you completely disagree with the things they stand for or do, then have the balls to drop it. If not your design is going to leave you with an empty hollow feeling and you and/or your client are probably not going to be happy with the end result.
That being said. Finding a reference point, finding that unique something that separates your idea or the client from the rest of the brainless sheep isn’t a guarantee that your design is going to end up amazeballs. You can (and will at some point) end up with a flaccid deformation in your hands. But at least you can take some pride in knowing that it came from a clean, loving, wholehearted, creative place. And that the idea or philosophy you were trying to communicate or sell was, and is, fucking awesome.

You can (and will at some point) end up with a flaccid deformation in your hands.

I’m not going to elaborate too much on how to make good design, what tools to use etc. Because frankly. People a lot smarter than me have spent years writing articles and books far more elaborately and eloquently than I will be able to. But in my opinion good design should be rooted in at least one of two things.
First. Be helpful. Good design should always help the user understand what they are using. Don’t hide function behind beauty, shit pisses people off! Read anything by Dieter Rams (10 principles for example) and you’ll know what i mean. Dude is a fucking genius.
Second, passion (sound fucking cheesy i know). But seriously. Make something that has roots in the depth of your heart. Don’t be another entertaining brain dead TV show. It might get my wife’s attention for a minute or so and you’re ego might get a boost. But in the long run you’ll fade, dissipate and grow sterile. No one is going to remember you, no one is going to miss you. Your design will die, alone and cold in the dark, begging to be liked. Try to find something in every project that has heart. That has some emotion. Just fucking find something to love or hate. Give your design some life.

Now, I realise that this might be one of those, “young designer douche discovers something new that everybody already knew”, moments. But fuck it, I’ll write it down, send it out and maybe, just maybe, this will be inspirational and/or helpful information for someone. Or, someone is going to tear me a new one and tell me all the reasons I’m wrong. Share or learn, either way, I’m happy! And that is sort of my point. Find something you’re passionate about, find some way of communicating that and fuck the award/ trend/ approval chasing sheep. I mean who wants to win the biggest dick award when you’re balless and sterile.

One last quote to sum things up before i leave this article here to die.

“I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.”
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