The War Between Craft vs. Crap

An ad keeps popping up in my feed telling me to “get the perfect logo for $5!”

My first thought: WTF?

My second: Wow, people are actually buying into this.

What does this say about the value of good design? For that matter, what does that say about the value of anything thoughtful and well-crafted, if it can be so easily commoditized? Do people even care about product quality and craftsmanship anymore? Do people not respect their own craft enough that they are willing to take $5 for their work?

These days people are not only okay with crap, they don’t even know that their crap is crap. We live in a digital landfill wrapped in clickbait so overwhelming it requires strategic thinking and perpetual filtering to have even a marginally decent online experience.

The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.Jeffrey Hammerbacker

Brad Frost gave an incredibly thought-provoking Creative Mornings talk called “Things that are genuinely good will be shared.” He points out that “any one of us could pull out our phones right now, click a few buttons and generate a website,” and asks “What does that mean if you’re a Web Designer?”

But Brad also points out that “people find ways to circumvent bullshit.” The more crap that’s thrown our way, the better we become at finding ways around it. We start to recognize clickbait headlines. We bounce off websites that bombard us with pop-up ads, never to return. We see that the $5 logo doesn’t take any of our business considerations into mind. We start giving more support to people who are building things that are useful.

The beauty of living among crap is that it challenges those of us who do want to make something incredible. We now have to push our creativity to new levels to break through the noise, avoid ubiquity and be useful to people who interact with our work. For those with passion, it’s a welcomed challenge.

When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive.James Gleick

There will always be a market for crap. But more importantly, there will always be a market for experiences and products that are well-designed, meaningful and enjoyable; things that have the end user in mind and are made specifically to make people’s lives better. There will always be room for people who are passionate about their craft and want to create beautiful and useful things that make people happy.


Originally published at backroom.io on July 16, 2015.