What does Chewbacca have to do with design?
Chewbacca has nothing to do with design itself, other than maybe the fact that wookies and remote contractors can get away with just wearing a bandoleer and no pants while working. Remote workers can probably pull this off most days, unless of course you use google hangout, in which case you should probably put your shirt on. This isn’t chatroulette.
A Chewbacca designer is much like the best friend of Han Solo you see from the Star Wars franchise. He’s a huge supporting role to the space smuggler, much like a big fuzzy swiss army knife. Chewbacca designers are able to assist with a multitude of tasks.
What Chewbacca designers are good at
They have super strength
When you’re in a heated argument about defending a design, it’s always good to have a Chewbacca around to back you up. He can do the research, test the issue and provide the data and muscle to back the team up. Wookies have the knowlege and know-how to act on issues immediately, sometimes cutting out a middle-man.
Wookies are more than happy to toss a storm trooper around if he has to.
When deadlines are tight and the major team leaders are busy doing lots of important things, Chewy designers can easily take over the controls for a while. Since you’re a supporter and multitasker, people know they can rely on you to take care of a whole multitude of things.
They’re mechanical engineers
Can’t go into hyperdrive? Chewy can fix it. Is your service droid all f*cked up because he was being a dumb ass? Chewy probably doesn’t know too much about droid mechanics, but you know he’ll figure it out in time.
Chewbacca designers are great at learning new things and are very open to change, since that’s the type of environment they thrive in. You never really have to worry about a Chewbacca designer being stuck in their ways.
What Chewbacca designers aren’t so good at
He’s no good to anyone by himself
If you left Chewy alone in a public place for ten or so minutes, most people would assume he had a bad night, considering he’s not wearing any clothes and speaking gibberish.
I’m not saying Chewbacca designers can’t freelance, they’re actually quite good at it since they could probably design and develop a kick ass website. The problem with being a Chewbacca designer is we get bored easily, and will probably overwhelm ourselves with too many things since we want to solve all problems because we’re just naturally curious. We like to see how things tick.
Stop comparing yourself with Han Solo designers
Okay, so maybe you never launched an app by yourself, or for yourself. You’ve never been a founder of an actual company, created your own brand or even designed a f*cking t-shirt. You probably dont have over 9000 followers on twitter, too.
Chewbacca designers excel at building awesome things within a team. Han Solo designers rely so much on Chewbacca designers because of their loyalty and dedication on getting the job done. Chewbaccas can fix the ship, fight off tie fighters and kick tons of ass while Han can just focus on what he’s doing. While Han Solo designers focus on one awesome element of a project, whether it be the brand or whatever, Chewbacca designers provide major support by figuring out a load of other tasks so no one else has to worry about it.
Focus on being reliable. Answer emails. Show up to meetings on time. You man the f*cking gun turret on the Falcon and blow up those bloody imperial scum.
You’re a valuable asset!
Make your niche being a master team member
I’ve been told plenty of times that a jack of all trades is a master of none, and most blogs I read or podcasts I listen to cast a negative shadow over being a designer and a coder, or a “Unicorn.” They say you can’t be the best designer and a good coder at the same time, or visa versa.
But no one talks about being a master team member.
I believe everyone has a hand in design, whether you’re a designer or product owner. I also believe that the more a person tries to comprehend the gears that turn within a project, the better team member they can be. I’m not saying you should micro manage everything at all, but at least try to comprehend both the design and technical side of a project.
I feel that some people are just born with different abilities that make them unique, useful and necessary.
My opinion is you should never compare yourself with famous designers, but rather try and be the best you can be at your company, and launch cool projects that make them look awesome.
Be dominant in one role, but have enough understanding in other coinciding roles that you can provide better input in whatever project you’re working on. Be a team member your co workers can rely their projects on. Be attentive, take awesome notes, don’t be a pompous ass and get shit done.
You can follow Casey on twitter @caseyhald. He enjoys riding his 78' xs750, surfing and drawing puppies. You can view some of his art on dribbble if you want. He works with a bunch of Lucha donqs at Nasdaq OMX (we’re hiring) and loves a good pale ale. Casey occasionally speaks about himself in the third person.