You’re not wrong, you’re just an asshole.

Let me preface by saying that I shouldn’t even write this. I should just let all the negativity just roll off my back like a serene waterfall and go make a smoothie or something. Maybe it’s because I’ve been sick the last few days and my patience is at an all-time low. Maybe I’ve been watching too many Anthony Bourdain specials and his general disdain for humanity has osmosis’ed all over me.

Or maybe it’s because the majority of commenters on design blogs are thoughtless asshats and I’m just plain exhausted of seeing it and thought I might be able to shed some light.

Right. Who am I (underlined) to shed some light? I’m a scrub of a self-taught designer. I’ve been at this ten years. I couldn’t tell you what the importance of a grid was until a few years ago and honestly, the bezier tool still gives me mild diarrhea.

But, despite what some may say, I am a decent human being. I generally treat others with respect (when they deserve it). I love what I do and consider myself lucky to do it. I will share my opinion and truly do value the opinion of others. And I think that criticism, constructive or not, deserves a place in the design industry.


Every morning I check Brand New. It is a brief round-up of what’s happening in the brand identity sphere. Armin and Bryony, the site’s proprietors, have been running a tight ship since 2006. Every weekday morning they post three bits of branding news to satiate the appetite of those of us who give a shit. It provides those interested in branding a space to weigh in on changes and trends. To create dialogue. Insight. To push the industry forward.

Unfortunately, assholes exist.

A friend of mine once waxed ‘Hell is an internet comment section.’ And the comment section on Brand New is not exempted.

Every “looks great” or “I wonder if they explored”-type comment is rebuked with a “this fucking sucks” or “my daughter squeezed this out into her potty last night”-style of diatribe. Comments from designers who remain nameless, faceless and, I’ll say it: clientless.

You thought I was going to say gutless!

Well, they’re that, too.

Before I continue, let me just state that I’m obviously not one for rainbows and gumdrops and unicorns with chocolate donuts on their heads. I’m ok with a little bit of tussling. With the odd row. With people sticking their neck out and offering up their opinion, right or not.

What I’m not ok with is people weighing in without thinking about the bigger picture.

It is our job as designers to provide the best possible work for our clients. They hire us with a problem that we need to solve, and we go through our processes until we want to shove the barrel of a vintage Smith & Wesson in our left ear and then we present it and they have feedback and then we present again and they have more feedback and then we’ll squeak out some more changes and they’ll sit on it for four days and then give a little more feedback and just when our finger is about to pull the trigger, they approve a design that somewhat resembles our initial idea and we move on to the next job.

What probably started out as a well-thought out and rationalized approach got watered down over time. This happens. We can fight as much as we want to with the other side of the fence, but sometimes we’ll lose those battles and we move on.

If clients didn’t exist, two things would happen. a) We would design the most gorgeous and well-thought out pieces known to man and b) those pieces would never fucking exist because WE NEED CLIENTS IN ORDER TO DO OUR JOBS.

When I see comments like the one from ol’ Ralphy here, I can’t help but get mildly frustrated. Not only does it not help, but it shows that Ralph was sipping his morning coffee (probably a complex concoction that has given his local barista permanent impotence) and just wanted to be heard by someone. It seriously has no weight, doesn’t help anybody, and is just another comment in the 50% that exist on Brand New of high-horsed, fancy-sock wearing knobs who should just go soak their heads.

It becomes so apparent to me that there must be a magical land where these types of commenters live. A land where they all sit in Eames lounge chairs smoking menthol cigarettes and listening to Tycho and their clients serve them lemonade while approving every bit of genius that is spewed out.


My Dad isn’t going to comment on Brand New. My neighbour probably won’t, either. Brand New is a site made by designers FOR designers, as cliched as that is. It is meant, as I stated earlier, to create dialogue and encourage strong work.

Here’s what I’d like to see — and really, it’s pretty simple: understanding. I would love for everyone who feels the need to share their .02 to have an understanding of the problem the agency was trying to solve. To have an understanding of the theory that went into working out a solution. And an understanding of the changes that must have happened when the client saw the result of hours of hard work and requested 28 rounds of revisions.

And if you don’t understand, and if you really don’t care to, you should probably just go back to working on whatever 250x250 banner ad is on your to-do list for the day and let the rest of us try and make our industry a little better.

I know. I know. I totally just kumbaya’ed the end of this little thinkpiece. I’m sorry. You can all just say it with me now, though: “Shut the fuck up, Steve.”

And so I will.

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