March 7, 2010

Words: One of the Designer’s Best Natural Resources

I’ve become more interested about how designers describe themselves on their websites. The designer’s ability to arrange words in a layout; be it printed or digital, on a surface large or small, requires skill. The skill of describing what one does as a designer, or expressing one’s attitude as a designer, is what I’m honing on.

I’ve discovered a lot of well crafted—that is to say, well worded—statements by designers about themselves, like this “About” wording by Artist and Musician Scott Hansen of the popular design-and-music blog ISO50:
“Design, to me, is the search for efficiency. Efficiency in conveying a message, efficiency of form. In this way I see some of my own work falling into the category of design, while some of my other work falls under the umbrella of illustration. With the more illustrative pieces my primary goal is to create something beautiful or striking in a visceral sense. These goals remain intact when I create a purely design-driven piece, but there is the added goal of minimalism and efficiency which constrains the process and limits the content. It is these constraints that force us as designers to reveal the core of the idea we are trying to express and to seek the most direct route to it. In this way, all of the periphery and excess of illustration and fine art can be shed to expose the roots of visual communication and express them in a concise and instantly understandable form. When I see something that embodies these ideals it is always very moving, these are the things that drive me to create.”
I wonder if these “About Me” sections are read or largely ignored, but they fascinate me. I’ve heard, depending on what pro gives the writing advice, that writing what you know is what not to do, perhaps because it’s too easy. Even so, it could be the hardest thing for a designer to do. Though all people—not only designers—are in daily situations where they talk about what they do for a living, it’s impossible to also listen at the same time. I would find it helpful to have automatic playback of my telling about who I am, how I think and why it matters in a way that is clear and fits with my personality. Putting all this in a tidy sentence or a succinct paragraph is a tall order. Noticing and reading statements by designers, whatever the discipline, about themselves helps learning about designing and writing.

Author Samuel Johnson said that, “What is written without effort is generally read without pleasure.” Designers strive for results of effortlessness; though creating something which projects that effect, more often than not, demands considerable effort.

At first, I wanted to start a blog exclusively dedicated to this topic of how designers describe themselves, but why not add it as a new category called Designer’s Self-Statements to this blog, plus it’s so easy to set up yet another blog at the start. I see this category (for now) as a dedicated place to collect and point to designers’ “effortless” expressions when they reveal themselves, one “About Me” at a time.