Drifting Into the Rumble Strips

I’m an excellent driver. But occasionally, on long drives, I drift toward the shoulder and the unmistakable “brrrrraappp” of the highway shoulder warning echos through the car and I am snapped out of my daydream.

I’ve recently realized that I love the basic premise that design offers. The designer is tasked with taking something that is aesthetically or functionally incorrect, and find ways to make it more beautiful, simple, valuable, or to generally improve the experience of the user. It’s a tinkerer’s paradise.

As I started my design career I had the great fortune of working for small startup companies where my job was to tinker with design. I was tasked with learning how to get images and illustrations, I was creating, off my computer and printed. A simple task, but one that involved endless tinkering and incremental improvements on the process. For years I was immersed in a daily ritual of discovering ways to make every aspect of the process better.

Eventually I moved from small local startups to what I percieved as the “big leagues”. I became an Art Director at an advertising agency. I was thrilled that major brands that I loved, would entrust me to use my eye for aesthetics improve the appearance, and clarity, of their communication. By all accounts, I was really good at my job. I was able to infuse my personal sense of style into my work, improve processes, and create a portfolio of work that I was very proud of. But I began drifting “brrrrraappp”.

Within 3 years I moved from Art Director, through Sr. Art Director, and then to Associate Creative Director. I felt like a rock star. As an ACD, I got my first taste of team management. I still worked on designs and solutions for improving processes, but not as much as I worked on listening to people, solving conflicts, and making staffing decsions. I made minor corrections to stay in my lane, but in my new role I continued to drift. “brrrrraappp — brrrrraappp” Within two years of becoming ACD, I was promoted to Creative Director over a large and prestigious pice of business. The agency’s recognition of my hard work felt amazing. I got that rock star feeling again.

“Brrrrraappp — brrrrraappp — brrrrraappp ” I have been Creative Director for over three years now and I am increasingly concerned that I am drifting toward the guard rail. My passion for my design and the challenges it brings have been relegated to personal projects and the occasional Power Point deck template.

This tool will serve as my journal, and open forum, for my design journey to pull myself back onto the road, out of my rock star day dream, and back to a focus on what I truly love. Design. The endeavor I was most excited about before I took my eyes off the road.

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