I am going to start this post by being bluntly honest. When it comes to graphic design, visual communication and conceptual creativity I am very critical. Where does that critical nature come from? I have spent about 13 years in graphic design which includes school, co-op, full time employment, freelance work, seminars and soaking in tons of graphic design media through the internet, books, magazines, TV and video games. Needless to say, I have seen a lot and learned a lot.
In that 13-year period of time one of the things I have done the most is simply observe what I see. As a visually-minded person it is my nature to see things and filter them with all things I see landing in one of two categories, like or dislike. Now there are a myriad of reasons why I may like or dislike something which can range from colour, font, layout, visual element, concept or the execution of the piece of work in question. Whether or not we share the same background, we all do that.
Now lets switch gears for a moment and consider what the Internet has done over the last decade. If there is one thing the Internet has done, it has empowered people to share their opinion on virtually anything. In the last few years alone, Facebook and Twitter have become beehives of opinions. Over time we have all become critic's ready to give an opinion on anything and everything whether it's wanted or not, whether it's right or not. Now I am aware that an opinion is just that and we have been told that there is no such thing as a wrong opinion, but I have will just say I disagree with that logic and move on because a whole different post could be birthed from that statement alone. Some opinions are right and some are wrong, what education and experience is found supporting those opinions is the determining factor.
The entire post centres on a revelation I had not too long ago. The revelation was that if I dislike something I see I have to consider that fact that it might not be for me. It might not be made in such a way that it is meant for me to like it. I, like everyone else, have personal taste and when I see something it gets checked against things that resonate with my personality, tastes and preferences. We all have a filter like that and I think we are all guilty of the same thing to some degree. The problem is that we have all been bred to be very critical.
What is most important is directed at the people reading this who are directly involved in the direction of branding exercises and web projects who are working with agencies or designers to complete a project. I have been involved in many projects where personal tastes have ruined good ideas and design. I can even admit to there being times where I have let my personal taste get in my way on a project. It takes time and wisdom to get yourself out of the way to see a goal clearly and work in the best interest of a means to an end.
The most important thing you can hold on to when going through a project is to focus on who the message is directed at. If it is a group of people that are quite different than yourself you need to fight everyday to remember that what you are working on is not for yourself. That can begin simply by not being critical of everything you see as having to appease your own tastes. I know that philosophy has made a significantly positive impact on my work as a designer.
So, to take all the conjecture I have placed in this post, put it in a blender and pour out a smoothie of wisdom I will conclude with this: Opinion can be a dangerous thing if it is not properly filtered through knowledge and relevant experience. Great care must be taken when guiding and critiquing design work because at the end of the day it might not be for you.